SKY Breathing: An Overview

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SKY Breathing: Enhanced Health and Well-being

Concept and Practices

  • Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY), a term derived from Sanskrit, signifies “proper vision through purified action.”
  • SKY incorporates a series of structured breathing techniques:
    • Ujjayi breath: Restricts the throat, involving 2-4 breaths per minute.
    • Bhastrika breath: Rapid inhalations and exhalations at a rate of 20 breaths per minute.
    • Chanting of “Om”: Performed three times at a slow pace.
  • Sudarshan Kriya is an advanced breathwork technique that gradually increases breathing rate from 20 to 80 breaths per minute.

Therapeutic Benefits

  • Research indicates SKY’s positive influence on the immune system, reducing oxidative stress and mitigating COVID-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • SKY has demonstrated efficacy in reducing symptoms of depression, as evidenced by an eight-week study.
  • A four-day workshop in SKY has been shown to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Regular practice of SKY breathing for 30 minutes daily can alleviate anxiety and stress.

Physiological Mechanisms

  • SKY’s focus on breathing has physiological consequences:
    • Ujjayi breath stimulates the vagus nerve, enhancing respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), which is associated with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
    • Bhastrika breath briefly stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, followed by a sense of calm and alertness.
    • Chanting “Om” improves brain function and heightens awareness.
  • Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated the impact of yoga practices, including SKY, on brain regions associated with stress and emotion regulation.

Clinical Applications

  • SKY may be beneficial for individuals with anxiety who find mindfulness meditation challenging.
  • SKY’s focus on breathing provides an alternative approach to managing anxious thoughts.

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