Thursday, December 2, 2010

Breathe Deep! The Power of Your Breath

Power Of The Yoga Breath
A 2006 study on the effects of pranayama (yoga rhythmic breathing) in patients with severe COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) examined forty eight patients randomly divided (24 each) into two groups.
The study group patients were trained to do pranayama daily, six times a week, for 3 months for at least half an hour duration and both the groups were allowed to continue with their usual physical activity and medications.

Pranayama consisted of six breathing exercises: Bhastika Pranayama,'Kapalabhati Pranayama, Vhasya pranayama, Anulom-Vilom pranayama, Bhramid pranayama and Udgeedh pranayama.

Lung function tests, spirometry, and blood gases were taken and compared with the control group.

Amazing Results
The results showed that there was improvement in the lung function parameters in the study group which in turn had an overall positive effect on the patients. “Patients had reduced symptoms, became more actively involved in their own health care, more independent in performing their daily activities, increased exercise tolerance and therefore were less dependent on family, friends, health professionals, and expensive medical resources. There was improvement in the psychological function of the patient with less anxiety and depression and increased feeling of hope, control and self- esteem.”

The researchers concluded that yogic breathing is a “noncompetitive, personal, inexpensive and enjoyable activity which can produce truly amazing results.”

Your Breath
Your feelings and emotions correspond to your thoughts and actions and the subsequent flow of the breath.

Yoga philosophy teaches that where the breath goes the mind follows and vice-versa, highlighting the distinct relationship between how you breathe and your individual physical and spiritual well-being.

The average body takes approximately 21,600 breaths every day, which equates to 15 breaths per minute. We are all breathing but all too often the breath becomes held, rapid, or uneven in response to events that either exist in the mind or are actually happening in the present moment. These events include, fear, laughter, and even stress.

Maintaining a full and steady breathing pattern not only benefits the mind and body by promoting a relaxed physical state and clear decision-making but there is also an abundant supply of oxygen to ensure completion of daily tasks while the cells of the body are nurtured and stale waste products are eliminated, ensuring better overall health.

Connecting with the flow of the breath is also a spiritual tool that draws you closer to the quiet place within while acting as a means by which to train the mind to maintain a single-pointed focus.
Conscious awareness is further strengthened by concentration on the rhythmic breath.

Simple Techniques to Practice
Awareness of each of the senses, and whether one is more active than the other, assists you in not only regulating the flow, rate, and rhythm of the breath, but helps you to make better choices in relation to the thoughts that you produce and their impact on you and your surroundings.

You can embrace the senses and the breath when you are walking outside, perhaps in a park, the beach, or the countryside. Synchronize each inhale and exhale with each step while noticing what you hear, feel, smell, see, and touch. As each step becomes linked with each breath, you can cease the awareness of the senses and draw closer to the rhythmic flow of the breath.

You can also link the breath and step with an affirmation or with each word of your affirmation.

Breath Affirmation
Affirmations are a proven and powerful method of changing the way the mind thinks and creating a positive (or negative) outcome.
  1. Recognize what you want.
  2. Create language that affirms what you want.
  3. By repeating and believing what you have written, the mind will gradually replace the outdated patterns and images with ones that support you in achieving a new reality.

I fill my body with light
I release all impurities
I am free and strong

Or you can try the following method:

With each inhalation I breathe in ….(add a word)
With each exhalation I breathe out …(add a word)

Role of Pranayama in Rehabilitation of COPD patients - a Randomized
Controlled Study. S K Katiyar, Shailesh Bihari
Dept. of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases Dr. Murari Lai Chest Hospital
G.S.V.M. Medical College, Kanpur
Indian J Allergy Asthma Immunol 2006; 20(2) : 98-104

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