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Pranayama: Just Breathe

Just Breathe. We do it all day without thinking about it. Our autonomic nervous system takes care of our breathing without us having to think about it like a car on autopilot. Pranayama is simply taking control of our breath like we do when driving and override the car’s autopilot by taking control to tap on the brakes or step on the gas pedal to handle road conditions to be able to go with the flow of traffic. Pranayama practice gives us the ability to speed up or slow down our breath to help navigate our moods to find balance, energy or a sense of calm despite the potholes, detours and obstacles we encounter on the road of life.

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Ocean-sounding Victory Breath

Ocean-sounding victory breath (ujjayi) is a staple breathing exercise (pranayama) in yoga. Ujjayi can be practiced in a comfortable seated position, lying down or throughout a yoga asana sequence. Ujjayi both calms and energizes the body to create a state of mental alertness. The sound made while practicing ujjayi is similar to ocean waves which makes it easy for you to mentally transport yourself to the beach anytime and experience the calm it produces.

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Yoga PI: adverse events

Yoga has a myriad of benefits but like any other physical activity it is not 100% risk-free. After combing through available yoga research to investigate the frequency & severity of adverse events (AEs) related to yoga practice, I found mostly case studies and meta-analysis. Many of the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are small pilot studies which rarely mentioned AEs. When reported, the frequency & severity of yoga AEs were comparable to the active control groups and rarely led to discontinuation.

More rigorous studies with a larger sample size are needed to truly determine both the benefits & risks associated with yoga practice. The current literature indicates yoga is generally a safe intervention. Yoga, like any other physical activity, should be practiced carefully and ideally under the guidance of qualified instructors.

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Yoga PI: Mechanism of Action

Stress induces an autonomic nervous system (ANS) imbalance: decreased parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) activity increased sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity GABA under-activity increased allostatic load Depression is exacerbated by stress. Antidepressants (i.e. SSRIs) help increase GABA levels in the brain. Yoga practices are thought to improve stress-related disorders and restore optimal central nervous system (CNS) balance…

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Yoga PI: Dosage & Administration

Medications for depression & anxiety are taken daily for about 2 weeks to see improvement in symptoms and 6 weeks for maximum effect. If you are practicing yoga for mental health, the benefits of yoga can be seen early on but can take time to achieve the full benefits. In a perfect world yoga would be dosed daily, much like an antidepressant. In the real world, daily practice can be challenging. A panel of experts got together to set recommendations on yoga.

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Yoga prescribing information

I created a YOGA PI based on a review of available literature to help healthcare providers and prospective yogis get an idea about the risks and benefits of yoga practice. Disclaimer: none of these statements have been approved by the FDA. While yoga is not a panacea for all disease, yoga should be considered an adjunct to other existing treatments to help improve overall health and quality of life.

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yogic 3-part breath

Yogic 3-Part Breath (dirga pranayama) creates a state of mental alertness while calming the body & mind. Dirga pranayama helps you learn how to breathe deeply. Extend the length of the exhalation to enhance the calming effect. Practice this breath lying down, sitting, standing, walking down the street, driving a car: any time or place whenever you need to practice a little chillasana.

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Breath of Joy

Breath of Joy is an energizing yoga breathing exercise (pranayama) and kriya (cleansing practice) that calms and focuses the mind. Breath of Joy helps: manage symptoms of depression; counter shallow upper-chest breathing; energize the body and release tension .

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