Breathing… so essential to life, yet it is something that we probably don’t pay much attention to. For almost all of my life, I had never had to think about breathing. It is second nature, with every inhale and exhale running like clockwork. Until I have to write 4 yoga blog posts and prepare for a yoga exam by this weekend… I can’t breathe now… I thought yoga is supposed to be relaxing?
The idea of breathing exercises or ‘controlling’ my breath had never occurred to me. To me, exercising has always involved big physical and high intensity movements. Took me a while to embrace this idea of Pranayama as I had always thought that sitting down with my eyes closed equates to a waste of time. Turns out, there are quite a number of benefits to justify that time spent doing nothing but breathing:
- Reduce stress – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734635/
- Improve sleep quality – https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/54/suppl_63/PA577
- Improve lung function – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0975947616300675
- Pain management (For a more detailed technical explanation on this, please refer to Ray’s blog post below. He used Wikipedia as his source, so he knows what he is talking about… And I was there with him at his latest needling appointment. He seemed to be in joy rather than in pain. Power of Pranayama. )
The key benefit that I can personally attest to is improved lung function. With just the 5-10min practice on the weekends, I’ve noticed that I can now hold my breath underwater longer when swimming. To be specific, I used to come up for air every 3 to 4 breaststrokes in a 20 lap session, but I can now stay under for 5 to 6. Maybe I should try practicing the various pranayamas more diligently so that I can hold my breath underwater for 6 min like Tom Cruise and shoot the next Mission Impossible… https://www.businessinsider.com/mission-impossible-rogue-nation-how-tom-cruise-did-underwater-stunt-2015-7
I can probably say that it did help with reducing stress and improve sleep quality too, if not for having to write these blog posts and the upcoming exam.
Ok, let me try to do a pranayama now and see if I feel better…………………..
It felt great!
Or maybe I should have spent that time actually writing another post and I might feel less stress too?