Can Kriya Yoga Breathing Techniques Improve Health and Eliminate Depression?

Can Kriya Yoga Breathing Techniques Improve Health and Eliminate Depression?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am inseparable from breathing techniques for the improvement of all aspects of human life. 

The ancient yogic science of breath is the science that deals with body, breath, mind, soul, and ultimately, the universe itself.

Sudarshan kriya yoga (SKY) is a type of cyclical controlled breathing practice with roots in traditional yoga that provides relief for depression. It is not a proprietary technique but one of mixed use of various kriya yoga pranayamas taught by is taught by the nonprofit Art of Living Foundation. It has been shown to have numerous physical and emotional benefits.

It has four distinct components:

  1. Ujjayi or “Victorious Breath”: This involves experiencing the conscious sensation of the breath touching the throat. This slow breath technique (2–4 breaths per minute) increases airway resistance during inspiration and expiration and controls airflow so that each phase of the breath cycle can be prolonged to an exact count. The subjective experience is physical and mental calmness with alertness.
  2. During Bhastrika or “Bellows Breath,” air is rapidly inhaled and forcefully exhaled at a rate of 30 breaths per minute. It causes excitation followed by calmness.
  3. “Om” is chanted three times with very prolonged expiration.
  4. Sudarshan Kriya which is a Sanskrit term meaning “proper vision by purifying action” is an advanced form of rhythmic, cyclical breathing with slow, medium, and fast cycles. 

Medical science is currently rediscovering and validating many of the ancient health practices from traditional cultures worldwide. SKY is one novel practice that is undergoing extensive research to show it as an evidence-based treatment. SKY has been reported to be effective not only for treating stress and anxiety, but also for PTSD, depression, stress-related medical illness, and substance abuse, and for rehabilitation of criminal offenders.

Breathing techniques (pranayamas) are well-tolerated tools that can be easily integrated into diverse community care models. Controlled breathing can relieve stress and develop an individual's mind–body–spirit so that they can be happier and healthier. In the competitive modern world, in which stress and anxiety are part of everyday life, adding time-honored, evidence-based breathing practices may facilitate a healthier life!

You owe it to yourself, learn breathing exercises and improve the quality of your life! 

Dr. Lorn Allison


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