Why Prāṇāyāma?

Modern Science establishes Prāṇāyāma as one of the leading mechanisms to a hoard of health benefits. Prāṇāyāma is known to lower blood glucose levels and serum cholesterol levels, regulate systolic and diastolic blood pressures, enhance blood circulation and sleep, and combat depression. By regulating the breathing process, Prāṇāyāma relaxes the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, thereby resulting in a lowered stress response. By balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, Prāṇāyāma results in better mental and physical health.

प्राणायामात् खेचरत्त्वं प्राणायामादरोगता।
प्राणायामात्तथाशक्तिः प्राणायामान्मनोन्मनी।
आनन्दो जायते चित्ते प्राणायामी सुखी भवेत् ॥

prāṇāyāmāt khecarattvaṃ prāṇāyāmādarogatā।
prāṇāyāmāttathāśaktiḥ prāṇāyāmānmanonmanī।
ānando jāyate citte prāṇāyāmī sukhī bhavet ॥

By practicing Prāṇāyāma, one can attain power of levitation, salubrious living, Śakti (divine energy,) and stillness of mind. An inexplicable joy is experienced, and the practitioner remains ever happy.

– [Gheraṇḍasaṃhitā, 5.57]

Prāṇāyāma practices have been scientifically proven to enhance cardiorespiratory responses. Prāṇāyāma is helpful, also in detoxifying the body. The most significant contribution of Prāṇāyāma to a better lifestyle, is the mental calm it engenders. By regulating the HPA axis and its response to stress, a deeper sense of calm is experienced; a mental stillness that allows man to better function in society and to better identify himself with a higher force.

प्राणायामेन युक्तेन सर्वरोगक्षयो भवेत्।
अयुक्ताभ्यासयोगेन सर्वरोगसमुद्गमः॥

prāṇāyāmena yuktena sarvarogakṣayo bhavet।
ayuktābhyāsayogena sarvarogasamudgamaḥ॥

When practiced properly, Prāṇāyāma helps in combating diseases, and when (Haṭha) Yoga is practiced in the absence of Prāṇāyāma, the practice paves the path to ailments.

– [haṭhayogapradīpikā, 2.16]

By lowering the heart-rate and regularizing systolic-diastolic blood pressures, Prāṇāyāma is believed to enhance life expectancy.

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