Amazing Health Benefits of Breathing Exercise, Yoga and Meditation

Amazing Health Benefits of Breathing Exercise, Yoga, and Meditation

Practicing 20 to 30 minutes of highly focused breathing per day can work wonders in reducing stress and anxiety. And this is not about taking a 30-minute nap. The point of concentrated breathing is to feel connected to your body and to be present and conscious of the feeling of moving further and further away from your concerns.

Many professionals in different fields, from physicians and therapists to yogis and athletic trainers, strongly believe in the benefits of deep, mindful breathing. Though these methods can have different effects on different individuals, you can never go wrong when you take a moment to relax your mind and take a breath.

Yoga is a traditional practice of ancient Indian culture and is considered a holistic living science. Various practices in the Yoga tradition include disciplined lifestyle (Yama and Niyama), cleansing procedures (Kriya), physical postures (Asana), breath control (Pranayama), concentration (Dharana), and meditation (Dhyana) recommendations on how to modulate breathing and also how to control health and mind have appeared centuries earlier. Pranayama ("breath management") yoga was the first doctrine to create a paradigm about respiratory function, maintaining that regulated breathing was a way to improve longevity as mentioned in Hatha Yoga Pradipika 2002.

A study from the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 2019 indicates that Pranayama or yogic breathing practices have been shown to enhance the body's neurocognitive capacity, autonomic and pulmonary functions, biochemical and metabolic activity. 

The clinical population studies show the effects of yogic respiration in cardiovascular variables modulated in patients with hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias, relieving the symptoms and enhancing bronchial asthma pulmonary functions as an ancillary aid in modifying the body weight and symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis, improving mood for patients withdrawing from cigarette smoking, reducing the reaction time incompetent children, managing anxiety and stress in students, modulating pain perception, improving quality of life and sympathetic activity in diabetes patients, reduce cancer-related symptoms and enhances the antioxidant status of cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Thus, cost-effective and safe yogic breathing practices could help prevent and manage various non-communicable diseases. They may also help in managing communicable diseases like pulmonary tuberculosis.

As per the ancient Vedic texts, meditation is a consciousness exercise that leads to the expansion of consciousness beyond the daily experience of duality. It is a bonding experience that decreases tension and brings increased innovation and productivity to the internal faculty's functioning. This is an exercise happening without the process being directed by the mind. In physical exercise, the mind is not telling the muscles to get stronger; instead, the exercise process automatically strengthens the muscles. Likewise, the effects are obtained naturally in this practice of consciousness: meditation, not by manipulating the mind or any other mental manipulation. The meditation process goes beyond the mind into the inner Self's deepest level, as Hari Sharma concluded in research published in an international Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda 2015.

There are different forms of meditation. The object of meditation as described in ancient Vedic texts is fulfilled by the meditation period described here. This meditation method transports the mind from the empirical world's outer dimension to the inner faculty's inner realm (including mind, intellect, ego, and Chitta-the storehouse of all memories and impressions of life). Finally, it goes beyond both the outer and the inner realms to reach the deep inner self. This deep inner self is the unchanging true awareness that observes the action of the inner faculty.

The inner faculty is the functioning mind that is continually evolving. Going beyond the changing inner you to the unchanging pure consciousness provides inner peace and bliss, which removes the accumulated stress of life as mentioned in Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Practicing meditation and yoga positively affects gene expression, as published in research in Psychoneuroendocrinology 2013 and Asian Journal of Psychiatry 2013.

Telomerase is an enzyme that prevents and maintains the length of telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that help to keep them stable. Accelerated aging and related diseases are associated with shorter telomeres. Chronic stress reduces telomerase activity and speeds up telomeres' shortening and premature aging, as published in Aging Research Reviews 2016. Practicing meditation and yoga improves telomerase activity and the telomere length as published in Lancet Oncology 2013. Research investigating the effect of meditation on the aging process showed a significantly younger biological age for long-term meditators than short-term meditators and control. Meditation has resulted in a significant reduction of a government health insurance agency's payments to physicians as published in research in the International Journal of Neuroscience 1982.

As newborns, we inhale into the universe. We exhale on leaving. Breathing is so obvious to live that it is no wonder that humanity noted its value long ago for survival and the functioning of the body and mind and started controlling it to improve well-being. Today, the word "meditation" is broadly used to refer to a wide range of different techniques. The true purpose of meditation, according to Vedic science, is to connect oneself to one's deep inner Self. Techniques that attain the goal serve the real function of meditation. The practice of meditation originated in the ancient Vedic era of India. Meditation is one of Ayurveda's methods, a comprehensive system of holistic healthcare as described in ancient Vedic texts.

Amazing Health Benefits of Breathing Exercise, Yoga and Meditation
                                             Photo by Erik Brolin on Unsplash 

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