Benefits of Pranayama and Yoga
BENEFITS OF Pranayama YOGA
- Benefits of Pranayama is to decrease Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia are among the most common reasons for individuals to seek treatment with complementary therapies such as yoga. Yoga encourages one to relax, slow the breath and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system and the flight-or-fight response to the parasympathetic system and the relaxation response. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rate, decreases blood pressure, lowers cortisol levels, and increases blood flow to the intestines and vital organs.
- One of the main Benefits of pranayama and goals of yoga/ pranayama is to achieve tranquility of the mind and create a sense of well-being, feelings of relaxation, improved self-confidence, improved efficiency, increased attentiveness, lowered irritability, and an optimistic outlook on life. The practice of yoga generates balanced energy which is vital to the function of the immune system. Yoga leads to an inhibition of the posterior or sympathetic area of the hypothalamus. This inhibition optimizes the body’s sympathetic responses to stressful stimuli and restores autonomic regulatory reflex mechanisms associated with stress. Yogic practices inhibit the areas responsible for fear, aggressiveness and rage, and stimulate the rewarding pleasure centers in the median forebrain and other areas leading to a state of bliss and pleasure. This inhibition results in lower anxiety, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output in students practicing yoga and meditation.
- Consistent yoga practice improves depression and can lead to significant increases in serotonin levels coupled with decreases in the levels of monamine oxidase, an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters and cortisol. A range of therapeutic approaches is available for the management of depressive disorders, but many patients turn to complementary therapies due to the adverse effects of medication, lack of response or simply preference for the complementary approach. A number of studies demonstrate the potential beneficial effects of yoga interventions on depression, stress, and anxiety.
- Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. With continued practice comes a gradual loosening of the muscles and connective tissues surrounding the bones and joints; this is thought to be one reason that yoga is associated with reduced aches and pains. Yoga helps to build muscle mass and/ or maintain muscle strength, which protects from conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain. During a yoga session, the joints are taken through their full range of motion, squeezing and soaking areas of cartilage not often used and bringing fresh nutrients, oxygen and blood to the area, which helps to prevent conditions like arthritis and chronic pain. Without proper sustenance, neglected areas of cartilage will eventually wear out and expose the underlying bone. Numerous studies have shown that asana, meditation or a combination of the two reduced pain in people with arthritis, Carpel Tunnel syndrome, back pain and other chronic conditions. Yoga also increases proprioception and improves balance.
- Yoga increases blood flow and levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells which allows for more oxygen to reach the body cells, enhancing their function. Yoga also thins the blood which can decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke, as they are often caused by blood clots. Twisting poses wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in when the twist is released. Inverted poses encourage venous blood flow from the legs and pelvis back to the heart and then pumped through the lungs where it becomes freshly oxygenated. Many studies show yoga lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve the maximum uptake and utilization of oxygen during exercise. Consistently getting the heart rate into aerobic range lowers the risk of heart attack. While not all yoga is aerobic, even yoga exercises that do not increase heart rate into the aerobic range can improve cardiovascular functioning.
- While yoga is not a cure for a cancer, nor a definitive way of preventing it, yoga increases physical, emotional and spiritual wellness, and brings about a certain peace, of which many cancer patients desire. Benefits of Pranayama, breathing exercises, and meditation can reduce stress, promote healing, and enhance quality of life for patients with cancer. The growth of tumors and other cancer indicators are exacerbated by stress, thus it is especially important for people with cancer to reduce and manage stress effectively. Several premises exist as rationale for applying yoga-based interventions with cancer patients. Research suggests that yoga can produce an invigorating effect on mental and physical energy that improves fitness and reduces fatigue. Additionally, when practicing yoga, a fundamental emphasis is placed on accepting one’s moment-to-moment experiences creating mindfulness and not forcing the body past its comfortable limits. Having this healthy sense of acceptance is especially important for individuals dealing with life-threatening illness as it decreases the stress one experiences from unpleasant symptomology. Initially, cancer patients likely benefit from the poses themselves which are designed to exercise each and every muscle, nerve and gland throughout the body. The postures precisely address the tension, holding, and blockage of energy in any particular joint or organ. As this tension is released, energy flows more readily throughout the body and allows patients to experience a sense of increased well-being and strength as well as a balance of mind, body and spirit.
- While stimulation is good, too much taxes the nervous system and yoga provides relief from excess stimulation and the stressors and hectic nature of modern life. Restorative postures, savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses which enables downtime for the nervous system, the byproduct often being improved sleep. Pharmacological treatment of insomnia is often associated with hazardous side effects such as states of confusion, psychomotor performance deficits, nocturnal falls, dysphoric mood, impaired intellectual functioning and daytime sleepiness, especially in older adults. Therefore, alternative forms of therapy for improving sleep are becoming utilized more frequently. These alternative therapeutic approaches can be generally classified into three categories: behavioral based educative methods (e.g. avoiding caffeine or other stimulants before bedtime), relaxation techniques (e.g. progressive muscular relaxation, yoga, and meditation) and formal psychotherapy. Because of its ability to increase relaxation and induce a balanced mental state, yoga has been studied to evaluate its possible effects on sleep and insomnia.
- In summary, stress has a negative impact on the immune system and prolonged exposure increases susceptibility to disease and leads to physical and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Practicing yoga and meditation as a means to manage and relieve both acute and chronic stress helps individuals overcome other co-morbidities associated with diseases and leads to increased quality of life. As a non-pharmacological form of treatment, yoga based interventions are an alternative option for the treatment of mood disorders. Further investigation of yoga as a therapeutic intervention in depressive disorders is needed and future studies should seek to identify which of the yoga-based interventions is most effective and what levels of severity of depression are more likely to respond to this approach.
- In addition to the effects of yoga on mood disorders and stress reduction, yogic practices are shown to improve cardiorespiratory performance, psychological profile, and plasma melatonin levels and also significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, and orthostatic tolerance. Furthermore, yoga helps to improve the cardiovascular efficiency and homeostatic control of the body and results in improvements in autonomic balance, respiratory performance, and overall well-being. Yoga based lifestyle modifications were also shown to aid in regression of coronary lesions as well as to improve myocardial perfusion in patients with CAD. Inevitably, cardiovascular parameters alter as one ages, but these age-related deteriorations in cardiovascular functions are slower in persons who practice yoga regularly as yoga practitioners had lower heart rate as well as lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than matched controls.
- Numerous studies show that asana, meditation or a combination of the two can reduce pain and disability while improving flexibility and functional mobility in people with a number of conditions causing chronic pain. Additionally, in some cases use of pain medication was reduced or eliminated completely. Yoga was also shown to improve gait function and reduce age-related changes in gait among a group of healthy, non-obese elders.
- Regarding yoga’s effects for cancer patients, results show a decrease in post-chemotherapy-induced nausea frequency, nausea intensity, intensity of anticipatory nausea, and anticipatory vomiting. Additionally, yoga subjects reported decreased anxiety, depression, and distressful symptoms and also showed significantly reduced toxicity scores compared to the controls. Results from another study showed patients experienced significantly lower levels of pain and fatigue, and higher levels of invigoration, acceptance and relaxation following participation in a yoga intervention. Yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation can reduce stress, promote healing, increase energy, decrease adverse treatment effects, and enhance quality-of-life for patients with cancer.
- Benefits Pranayama / Yoga’s ability to increase relaxation and induce a balanced mental state was studied to evaluate its effect on sleep quality and improving insomnia. Regular practice of yoga resulted in a significant decrease in the time taken to fall asleep, an increase in the total number of hours slept, and in the feeling of being rested in the morning. Additionally, yoga had a positive influence on sleep patterns in individuals with lymphoma. Furthermore, participation in yoga classes improved self-reported quality-of-life as well as measures of physical function among an elderly population.
- According to Buddhist philosophy the roots of addiction are in the mind and the practice of mindful meditation encourages addicts to accept the basic impermanence of human experience and helps them to develop a detached awareness of thoughts. Benefits of Pranayama / Yoga and meditation practices exert positive influence on addictive behaviors. Through the practice of yoga, addicts shift from self-inflicted harm and disrespect toward their bodies to more respectful, caring, and loving behaviors. Eating disorders are a specific type of addiction and yoga appears to be beneficial in improving body image disturbances and useful in the recovery from eating disorders. One study found that female yoga practitioners attribute their positive feelings and sense of well-being to yoga practice and report less self-objectification, greater satisfaction with physical appearance and fewer disordered eating attitudes compared to non-yoga practitioners.
- The findings of the aforementioned studies examining the psychological and physical outcomes of yoga prove difficult to summarize and draw concrete conclusions due to variation in the research designs, differences in the duration and frequency of yoga classes, and differences in the specific yoga programs and populations being studied. Nonetheless, results for the included studies demonstrate many of the numerous therapeutic effects, benefits and profound healing power of yoga/ pranayama.
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