Pranayama and the scientific inquiry into breath
Sandi Cornez's insight:
Breathing comes naturally to us. and for most of us we don't give it a second thought.
Did you know that breathing in a certain way can improve your immune system.? This summer I was experiencing issues with my ears after having driven up to a much higher elevation than I'm accustomed to driving. I have very small ear canals and the pressure had built up so that the pain in my ear was very uncomfortable.
A friend suggested that I breathe through my nose on both inhale and exhale. I remembered that I had learned about Pranayama Breathing from Dr Sue Morter and had even practiced doing it. And so I breathed this way every 15 minutes or so. And within less than an hour the pain in my ear was gone. WOW – just breathe a certain way and your pain goes away.
Scientists are now saying that giving each breath a thought might actually lead us to a place of deep and lasting happiness and health. According to neuroscience, the act of breathing consciously paves the way to enhanced immunity, inhibits flight or fight response to stress, induces a state of relaxation, creates emotional stability, improves cardiovascular and respiratory health, is so much better for depression, and so much more.
What is Pranayama Breathing?
It is a technique in yoga that puts the controls to breathing back in your hands Pranayama means "extension of life force" and the practices engages you with the nuances of breathing. It allows you to go to those places in your body that you might be afraid to go. It works in the realm of the nervous system to greatly improve it and it influences what we always thought was beyond the realm of influence.
Pranayama Breathing tones the vagus nerve and manages anxiety. Through conscious breathing one can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system through the vagus nerve whcih runs from the base of the brain all the way to the abdomen. Heart rate is reduced, blood pressure is reduced, and hypertension can be managed. One becomes focused and in a space of relaxation while feeling positive emotions.
The on-going life time practice of Pranayama can scientists say prevent diseases of the nervous system such as stroke, migraine headaches, or Parkinson's Disease. And Rranayama stops grey cells from diminishing with age which means that as you grow older, you can be the very best you can be no matter how old your age is. Your memory and focus remain intact. And your body's stress response can be changed in a way that can potentially slow down the body-minds reactivity to stress. This automatically improves immune function, metabolic activity, and insulin secretion.
Pranayama is a wonderful example of how through awareness and observation of your breath, your entire biology can be influenced and manipulated to engage your pre-frontal cortex, not your primitive brain. The pre-frontal cortex of your brain is where emotions and many other mental aspects reside. When you alter your consciousness around your breath, your consciousness is activated to change your mind-body for optimal wellness.
Try it and see the beneficial results for yourself.