Oxygen, a simple prescription for better health?

One of the most basic of human activities could hold the key to better health. It’s so obvious that most people usually don't think about it.

That activity is breathing.

Yoga practitioners are promoting the benefits of “breath control,” known as "pranayama" (the Sanskrit term). Some say improving one’s breathing is the simplest way to promote better health and, yes, also to achieve some degree of inner peace.

Swami Ramdev, a teacher of this form of yoga, in an interview in the Toronto Star, sustains that “breathing is a form of medication because it increases the oxygenation to your cells and hence the blood to your body. This generates more energy and balances your internal system, including your hormones.” Ramdev claims that people who follow his techniques for 30 minutes a day, and stick with a vegetarian diet, can noticeably improve circulation and prevent a number of diseases like diabetes, for example.

Dr. Andrew Weil, the noted proponent of "integrative medicine," also believes in the benefits of certain breathing exercises. He propose three specific exercises and says on his web site that "practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders." You can read more here.

One of the leading authorities on stress relief through improved breathing is the Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

For a general overview of pranayama exercises, see this link to about.com.

Photo courtesy "Stock.xchange": http://www.sxc.hu/

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