Voluntary Breath Regulation in Yoga: Its Relevance and Physiological Effect

Regulating the breath is an important part of yoga practice. Descriptions in traditional yoga texts mention breath regulation as a way of getting spiritual realization. In yoga, there are several ways to modify breathing, such as changing the rate and depth, holding the breath, breathing through the mouth, or breathing alternately through one or both nostrils. These voluntarily regulated yoga breathing techniques are called pranayamas in Sanskrit. Brief descriptions of these techniques in traditional yoga texts as well as their physiological effects are given here.

Yoga and Depression

Aside from its direct effects on behavior and well being, depression is a highly significant health risk factor.  It is associated with many other disorders.  The prime example is heart disease. Moreover, in  heart disease, the occurrence of depression predicts heart failure and death.  As medical treatments for depression vary in their effectiveness, alternative and complementary methods are of great interest.

Review of Scientific Research on Iyengar Yoga for the Treatment of Depression

The writings and teaching of B. K. S. Iyengar have fostered the development and promotion of Iyengar Yoga as a therapy for physical and behavioral disorders and scientific research on its effectiveness.

Yoga Therapeutics and Research

In medicine, the general attitude toward yoga and CAM is at best skeptical, with continuing reliance on drugs and surgery, and the attitude that yoga as a treatment may not meet the standards of "Evidence-Based Medicine." It not clear how often physicians refer patients to yoga therapy, probably not much. If asked by a patient they may sometimes but otherwise are likely to advise that yoga is counterindicated for their condition.