‘The best things in life are the nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.’
Robert Louis Stevenson
It’s pretty obvious really. Breathing’s good for you. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even a Scottish novelist to tell you that. But can a practice of Pranayama really make you a more impressive, compassionate, vibrant and happy person? At So We Flow..., we did a ten-day home experiment and noted the transformations. Here are the results.
First and foremost, let’s outline the specifics of the test. Now, nobody is expecting everyone to do all of this before heading to work in the morning, but if we’re going to try and find some proper results and discover the true benefits of Pranayama, we might as well throw ourselves in the deep end. Therefore we went in hard, got the Ayurvedic tea on the stove and worked through 6 yogic breathing practices, every day, for ten days.
Here’s our self-experiment outline, which lasted about 75 minutes per day. We did it first thing, before any food, before any work and before any bother.
- Neti pot and turmeric tea
- Kapalabhati – 3 rounds of 2 minutes
- Bhastrika – 6 x as many as you’re comfortable with (we did 10)
- Agnisar – 5 x rounds as many as you’re comfortable with
- Nadi shodhona – 3 x rounds of 2 minutes
- Bhramari breath – 6 rounds
- Shitali breath – x 5
- Sitting meditation – 10 minutes
(Explaining all of these practices is for another post. Luckily, we’ve put one together for you. Read it here.)
The Results: 7 Benefits of Pranayama
After 10 days of practice here’s what we found.
Pranayama Benefit 1: Cleaning
We started the test under the weather with a bit of a cold. However, all that blowing, movement and agitation gets things shifted. It’s literally like a jet wash to the patio or replacing the crummy Moulinex with a Dyson. We evacuated phlegm, we cleared our sinuses, we relieved our blocked ears and - maybe as a knock-on - we got rid of our fuzzy head.
Pranayama Benefit 2: Mental Clarity
With a bit of a cold, it can be easy to get grumpy. Not with pranayama. Every morning we felt a mental reset to a sense of peace and equanimity. We’re not just saying that either. We had more patience, more considered decision-making, we were calm, we were focused, and we had a better self-awareness. It’s a real meditation, a focus on self and a commitment to an escape from an afflicted mindset.
Pranayama Benefit 3: Psychological Lift
The Abraham-Hicks emotional guidance scale puts appreciation right at the top of the upward spiral of human, good-feeling. And there we are, post-practice, grateful for our improvement in mood. Thankful for the world around us, our life, nature and pretty much everything.
Pranayama Benefit 4: Increased Sensitivity
Rolling a Dyson through the corridors of your body does wonders for the senses. Immediately after we opened our eyes from a round of bhastrika, we’d swear we could see more colours, we could hear better and we had a better awareness of our own physical condition. Give yourself the opportunity to truly experience how you’re feeling.
Pranayama Benefit 5: Better Physical Health & Fitness
Possibly the most surprising benefit of all this breath control was an improved definition of abdominal muscles. This felt like a combination of regular fasting (you don’t eat for a minimum of three hours prior to practicing pranayama) and activation of core. We felt a better circulation to our extremities, a reduction in cold symptoms, a reduction in fatigue and a better sleeping pattern.
Pranayama Benefit 6: More & Firmer Erections
Getting the blood and breath flowing, means some positive sexual side-effects. We didn’t expect that we’d be getting boners mid-practice. Crikey. It wasn’t only our psychology that was getting a lift - this stuff is potent.
Pranayama Benefit 7: Connection
Combine everything: a cleaner self, a clearer self, a more appreciative self, a more acutely sensitive and fitter self and a sexually alert self. Then what happens? Well, you connect better. We had a better affinity, warmth and gratitude for everything around us. This stuff is good.