The Breath vs The Pose

Last week, I conducted a research project measuring the benefits of yoga asana vs the benefits of breathing. Specifically, I wanted to see which element of a yoga practice was more effective in ameliorating the symptoms of stress and anxiety in the body and mind. I compared a basic vinyasa practice to a practice that only included breathing (and no asana) to see if they were equally effective or if one was more effective than the other. Being a breath junkie myself, I hypothesized that the breath was going to emerge triumphant.

My observations were focused on changes in the experience of physical tension in specific parts of the body, as well as changes in the area of specific mental/emotional feelings and perspectives.

In regards to physical stress, each participant, in both classes, experienced improvement in their sensations of physical tension. Although the results were very close, the asana class was slightly more effective. Now, although the breath came in second,  it still says quite a bit about the power of the breath. It is amazing that, in regards to physical tension, sitting and breathing can be as almost as potent as a vinyasa practice. Let me rephrase that, breathing- without moving the arms or legs at all- can successfully release tension in the neck, jaw, low back, upper back, abdomen, chest, and ankles. Pretty freakin’ cool.

In the area of mental and emotional perceptions, both the breath group and the asana group seemed to be equally effective in improving perspectives that were already positive. However, what I find fascinating is that, in regards to improving negative perspectives, the breath practice appears to have been far more effective than the asana class. The breath class more successfully reduced feelings of fear, anger, anxiety, sadness, agitation, and weakness. Isn’t that interesting? That just sitting and breathing can reduce negativity in the mind and body!?!?  It is worth mentioning that these students were new to yoga…imagine the benefits of a regular breathing practice! Freedom is possible

So, bottom line, yoga makes life better. Whether you are sweating through a sun salutation or practicing your breathing in a supported savasana, you are healing; but, for all you Negative Nancy’s out there, if you really want to confront the negativity that has a firm grip on your psyche, take a deep breath. And then another one. And then another one.

If you want to do a little breath exploration on your own, check out the links below. They will take you to a few different site’s with instructions on how to practice some of the basic breaths we did in the research class.  If you would rather have some personal attention, set up a private session with me, via Skype or in person, and I will teach you. We can create your own personal breath practice that will send you on your way to a healthier and more positive existence.

Happy breathing…

Sama Vritti

Nadi Shodana 

See Saw Breath 

Three Part Breathing

Bees Breath 

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