Wellness Benefits of Controlled Breathing in Yoga and Meditation

Research from many studies suggest controlled breathing practices, often performed in yoga and meditation, have significant health and wellness benefits.

Woman near water practicing yoga and mindfulness

It has been around for thousands of years, yet yoga and meditation are more popular in mainstream culture than ever. While engaging in these mindfulness practices may seem like just another fad, corporate executives, professional sports teams and school officials are turning to yoga and meditation as a means to improve health, focus, and professional success.

What used to seem like an alternative lifestyle activity reserved for fancy retreats in exotic destinations, yoga and meditation have become a prominent fixture in popular culture. Mobile apps like Headspace and Calm offer guided mediation sessions in the palm of your hand and yoga studios are just about as common as neighborhood gyms. It is also not uncommon for companies and workplaces to offer some kind of wellness program that involves yoga.

Successful household names like Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington and Kobe Bryant have cited mediation as a key practice in their daily routine that helps lead them to success. And while these public figures often influence popular trends, it should not be ignored that people have participated in yoga and meditation for thousands of years. More recently however, scientists and researchers have been taking a closer look at the different ways yoga and mediation increase wellness.

Several studies suggest that just a few minutes of mediation a day can lead to sharper skills like memory, focus, concentration and increased creativity. In our fast paced, demand-driven and information overload society, it is easy to become distracted from tasks at hand or managing relationships. Many see practicing mindfulness as a way to tame the chaos of everyday life.

Yoga and meditation can help to manage daily stress and chaos

One elementary school is even using meditation as a replacement for disciplinary actions like detention. Some were hesitant about the new program, but the school has noticed incredibly positive results. According to school administrators at Robert W. Coleman Elementary in Baltimore, there have been zero suspensions since enacting the mindfulness program. A nearby high school started a similar program and also noticed a decrease in suspensions.

The program’s impact is clear when it was noticed that students seemed to be taking their new habit home with them. According to the program’s partner organization, Holistic Life Foundation, parents were being taught how to control their breathing and return to a place of calmness by their children, “We’ve had parents tell us, ‘I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, “Hey, Mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe.'”

These kids are absolutely right by wanting to teach their parents the benefits of meditation and controlled breathing. It is a central part, if not the most important part, in making yoga and meditation a successful practice.

 

The Core of Yoga and Mediation: Breathing

Breathe neon sign outside yoga and meditation center

Pranayama, or breath control, as it’s referred to in yoga, is a critical part to increasing focus and a developing a sense of calmness. There are more benefits to controlled breathing than simply feeling “present,” however. Research from studies in recent years have produced medical and scientific evidence that suggests controlled breathing is beneficial in managing anxiety, stress, PTSD, insomnia, depression, in relaxing the nervous system, in increasing immunity and even in improving the digestive system. Deep breathing can also help obtain healthy hair. Visit HairLossRevolution.com for more information.

A New York Times article chronicled some of the evidence from a few studies. The article mentions the findings from Dr. Richard Brown, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and co-author of “The Healing Power of the Breath,” who explains how different types of breathing impacts the body and brain responses:

“I have seen patients transformed by adopting regular breathing practices…When you take slow, steady breaths, your brain gets the message that all is well and activates the parasympathetic response. When you take shallow rapid breaths or hold your breath, the sympathetic response is activated.”

Another professional researching the effects of yoga and breathing on the body, Dr. Chris Streeter, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at Boston University, found positive results in her study when measuring yoga’s impact on a group of individuals diagnosed with major depressive disorder:

“After 12 weeks of daily yoga and coherent breathing, the subjects’ depressive symptoms significantly decreased and their levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid, a brain chemical that has calming and anti-anxiety effects, had increased. “They [the findings] show that a behavioral intervention can have effects of similar magnitude as an antidepressant.”

An additional study conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina resulted in evidence suggesting controlled breathing can have a positive effect on body systems:

“Controlled breathing may also affect the immune system. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina divided a group of 20 healthy adults into two groups. One group was instructed to do two sets of 10-minute breathing exercises, while the other group was told to read a text of their choice for 20 minutes. The subjects’ saliva was tested at various intervals during the exercise. The researchers found that the breathing exercise group’s saliva had significantly lower levels of three cytokines that are associated with inflammation and stress.”

These studies are just a snapshot of the growing research on the topic, shedding a new scientific and medical light on the positive results that have been identified from practicing yoga and mediation.

 

Control Your Indoor Air Quality, Control Your Breathing

Clean air from a Venta is helpful for yoga and meditation

With all of this information on the benefits of controlled breathing, there is another piece of the puzzle that is worth addressing: air quality. There is hardly an advantage to practicing yoga and meditation if your indoor air quality is unhealthy.

Air quality has a significant impact on our health and wellness. Whether it be dry air in the winter or allergen-filled air in the summer, the quality of your air can have a tremendous effect on your breathing.

Countless studies have been done to measure the impact of indoor air on health, focus, productivity, and even school performance. It would be foolish not to take air quality into account when considering the benefits controlled breathing through yoga and meditation.

If your primary focus of starting a yoga or mediation routine is to increase your focus and concentration, breathing in irritating allergens that make your eyes water, nose itch and throat scratchy would not be ideal. Similarly, if you become sick from dry winter air, your motivation to practice is most likely going to decrease. Maintaining healthy indoor air quality goes hand-in-hand with controlling your breathing for increased wellness.

This is why Venta crafted the perfect indoor air machine with the 2-in-1 humidifying and purifying Airwasher. We believe air is brain food and the secret to total wellness. The Airwasher is ideal for yogis and those looking for quiet moments to practice mindfulness because it runs with whisper-quiet operation.

While some humidifiers dangerously produce too much moisture, the Airwasher never over-humidifies due to our unique and revolutionary process called Cold Evaporation. As the unit is humidifying, it is also purifying your air of irritating pollutants down to 0.3 microns, all without the use of filters. Filter-free operation means the unit is incredibly hygienic and does not produce trash. In fact, the unit is extremely energy efficient and runs on less energy than a light bulb. Feel good about your and your energy consumption!

In addition to providing perfectly humidified and purified indoor air, Venta-approved essential oils can be used with the unit. Specially formulated and exclusively developed to use with the Airwasher, Venta’s line of aromatherapy oils can transform any indoor environment into a relaxing oasis, perfect for practicing yoga or mediation.

Essential oils from Venta Airwasher to provide a relaxing environment for yoga and meditaion

The Airwasher is the clean air and clear mind product for anyone wishing to get more involved with practicing mindfulness. As mentioned, its whisper-quiet operation is a significant benefit for those looking to experience quiet relaxation. With all the health benefits of yoga and meditation, taking control of your indoor air quality is the next step to taking control of your wellness.