When most people think of Yoga, they think of impossible stretches.  Others may know of the religious background to yoga.

Romanian Mircea Eliade was the first European to study yoga in depth.  Eliade,  studied Yoga for his PhD.  He later became an expert on the history of religions.

Now, you can learn all that Eliade learned about yoga and more for a Masters.  There are several universities which offer PhDs in different elements of yoga in the west.

However, most yoga teachings are shallow, instructors who have only just half learned a few Sanskrit words share their ‘expertise’ with tens of thousands of followers.

But if you know a little more about yoga, you know that ‘prana’ means ‘breath’, and breathing seems to be even bigger than stretching.

Here are some of the breaths we found to be beneficial from an article in the “Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine.(1)”

Brahmari – breath in through your nose, and hum like a bee on the way out.  Female honey bee breath


Ujjayi breathing… or breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth…  victorious breath or psychic breath

level 1 – breath on the windscreen

level 2 – darth vader

Nostril breathes

These have been claimed to do everything from reduce stage fright to

Dangers of bad pranayam.

Either progressing to fast, doing the breathes incorrectly, or neglecting to see your specific needs could be harmful.  Certain breaths have side effects, and may pose more of a danger to people with certain conditions.  Good descriptions will say not to perform this or that pranayama if you have a headache, or if you have a cold.

Some yoga breaths may be harmful for those with underlying conditions.  Mukha Bastrika (sharp breaths out through the mouth.  ‘Mukha’ means ‘mouth’) seems to have sped up reaction times in adolescents.  (1)  But it should be avoided by those with high blood pressure, as it can simulate hyperventilation.  If there are benefits, it should be practised under the guidance of an expert.

Kapalhabati (a rapid series of breaths out, Kapal means skull) seemed to increase the making errors in recognising letters.  It should be avoided before operating heavy machines, while in moving vehicles, or in any case that involves the need for accurate concentration.

  1. Saoji, Apar Avinash; Raghavendra, B.R.; Manjunath, N.K. (2019, Jan-Mar) Effects of yogic breath regulation: A narrative review of scientific evidence.  Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 10(1) 50-58 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0975947617303224

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