Benefits of Yoga Breathing

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Apr 22, 2010

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Yoga breathing can affect longevity, enhance meditation and alleviate depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a research review published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (2009; 1172, 54–62). The review focused on studies of a yoga breath program called Sudarshan Kriya Yoga [SKY], which has four components: three-stage slow resistance breathing (known as Ujjayi breathing in Sanskrit), bellows breath, the Om chant and Sudarshan Kriya, described as cyclical breathing.

Mindfulness of breathing begins the process of “awakening” in many East Asian traditions. Ancient Vedic texts state that the aim of yoga is to “cut the seed of sorrow before it sprouts”—not only for the individual practitioner but throughout the world community, in an act of compassion. When 180 survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami were taught SKY breathing, their symptoms of PTSD and depression dramatically decreased.

Study authors determined that yoga breathing is beneficial because it stimulates both the nervous system and the brain in ways that enhance brain functioning. To learn more about the studies, go to



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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at