For those who wish to lose weight, pranayama can help reduce physical food consumption.
You won’t feel like overeating, because you get all the nourishment you need from the prana itself.
– Swami Satchidananda, The Breath of Life: Integral Yoga Pranayama
There is no feeling worse than being bloated and feeling uncomfortable in your own body.
I know this from experience… Thanks to SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), I experience bloat daily, mostly all day long.
My hormones are also out of whack because of it, so even though I eat very clean and move my body at least 3-4 times a week, it is a constant challenge to look and feel my best.
If you’re like me and have tried tweaking your diet and regularly move your body, this pranayama (yogic breathing) exercise can help you curb food cravings, suppress appetite, boost metabolism, and even improve digestion.
I practice these principles daily and it’s really helping me reduce cravings and appetite.
Pranayama is yogic breathwork technology used for thousands of years as an effective tool for self-regulation, and the cultivation of mental, emotional, and physical health.
The word literally translates to:
Regulation of prana (vital force energy) via the breath.The regular, consistent practice of #pranayama offers us a proven way to manage food cravings, appetite, and digestion more efficiently. Click To Tweet
3 Ways In Which a Daily Pranayama Practice Can Help You Manage Your Weight:
1- Helps lower cortisol, aka the stress hormone.
Deep breathing is a common component in yogic breathwork.
It’s also referred to as belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing because breathing in this way expands the lower belly and engages the diaphragm, the muscle underneath your lungs and over your digestive organs.
Several studies indicate that diaphragmatic breathing can help mitigate the stress response thereby lowering cortisol levels. (1)
This is awesome news because high cortisol levels have been linked to weight gain and weight loss resistance. (2)
2 – Helps balance blood pH levels, which leads to fewer cravings and reduced appetite.
Every deep, conscious breath you take during your pranayama practice helps to regulate your blood pH levels which directly impacts your food cravings and appetite.
Breathing unconsciously, especially if you’re stressed or anxious, can sometimes lead to over-breathing or taking in bigger breaths than necessary.
Over-breathing creates an imbalance in your blood pH causing it to become too alkaline, which triggers the body to try to balance this out by craving acidic foods (ie: sugary processed foods) and increasing your appetite.
The pH scale measures the level of acidity and alkalinity in your body.
It’s a scale that goes from 1 to 14.
Values 1-6 indicate acidity with 1 being the most acidic level, 7 is neutral (the Goldilocks Zone is around 7.35 – 7.45), and values 8 to 14 indicate alkalinity.
You inhale oxygen, which is alkaline, and therefore raises blood pH levels.
You exhale carbon dioxide, which is acidic, and therefore lowers blood pH levels.
Your body is extremely intelligent, and always striving for a balance point (the Goldilocks Zone) so when levels get too high or too low mechanisms kick in the bring the scales back to balance.
Yoga trainer and physiotherapist Simon Borg-Olivier explains this mechanism like this:
“The body will balance what you do with your breathing, with what you do with the rest of your life.
And the most significant thing to affect pH or acid-alkaline balance is what you put inside yourself in terms of your food.
If you breathe in a way where you become very alkaline by breathing in too much and blowing off all the carbon dioxide, you will start to crave lots of food, because most food is acidic.
And so the more you breathe the more you’ll want to eat.” (3)
Regular pranayama practice helps you cultivate the habit of breath awareness so you avoid or reduce any over-breathing patterns you may have.
In fact, in its essence, pranayama is a breath reduction practice that can help optimize virtually every system in your body.
3 – Helps better manage stress and anxiety by activating your body’s ‘rest-and-digest’ relaxation response, (and therefore helps you tackle emotional eating while improving digestion.)
Numerous studies outline the beneficial effects of a regular pranayama practice in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depressive disorders.
This is because the simple act of breathing mindfully has the power to send safety signals to the brain, which activates your body’s ability to relax and calm down, thereby enhancing digestion which supports your metabolism and can reduce bloating. (4)
Also, the calmer you feel the more in control you will be regarding your food choices, which will help reduce automatic emotional eating.
According to breathing coach for Olympic athletes and author of “The Oxygen Advantage,” Patrick McKeown using breath reduction techniques like nostril breathing and breath holding (both of which are also pranayama components, by the way) can not only suppress appetite but also increase calorie burning and accelerate weight loss:
“For over a decade I have witnessed hundreds of people achieve a safe method of appetite suppression leading to steady, effective weight loss using breath reduction techniques.
… People often found themselves to be eating more healthfully with less desire for processed food and more demand for water.
What’s more, this weight loss and change to better eating habits occurred easily and without effort.
In many cases weight loss was actually a secondary benefit, as most participants were applying the breathing exercises to remedy asthma, anxiety, or snoring.
The only instruction they were given with regard to their diet was to eat when hungry and stop when satisfied.” (5)
Practice This Simple Pranayama Exercise AT LEAST 5 Minutes Daily!
And finally, here is a simple yet proven breathwork exercise you can practice daily.
The more you practice this routine the better, but do at least five minutes daily to gain the true benefits.
Follow the prompts and just breathe along with me below:
(5) McKeown, Patrick. The Oxygen Advantage: The Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques for a Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter You.