15 Jan The Anti-aging Effects of Pranayama Breathwork
You’ve been blowing off all that money on expensive creams and serums when there’s natural, holistic and FREE way to slow down the ageing clock!
This article was originally written for publication on Namaskar Magazine Asia
We’re all familiar with the positive effects yoga can have on our physique. But can the ancient method transform even our faces to look younger? According to evidence-based research, the answer is yes.
It is well-known to most that yoga can help improve strength and flexibility, relieve back pain, boost energy and even manage stress. But there is more to the 5,000-year old practice. In recent decades, research collated by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health has shown that on a molecular level, yoga may have a direct correlation to ageing—particularly ageing of the face and skin.
To put it simply, practicing yoga not only keeps your mind relaxed and your body strong, it also delays visible signs of facial ageing such as wrinkles, skin discolouration or age spots, sagging, and dry or flaky skin.
The Power of the Breath
Did you know that breath-work lies at the heart of the yogic practice? The marrying of asanas and pranayamas is what makes the method effective in keeping the body energised and youthful—both inside and out.
Pranayama is the practice of breath regulation.
Mastering proper breath control can help us prolong our physical well-being and is a powerful tool to counter aging. Deep breathing slows down the heart rate and relaxes the nervous system, combating the stress hormones that are released into our bodies on a daily basis as a product of our fast-paced and busy lives. Increased oxygen levels that come with deep breathing also restores vitality to our facial features, translating to rosier, more supple and radiant skin.
Pranayama breathing also engages our bandhas and helps us restore inner balance. Employing the energy locks through breathwork can directly transform the face by improving tone, adding color and increasing vitality to the skin. It also enables cells to revitalize more efficiently.
A bandha is a lock or bind in yoga, which is performed in order to direct and regulate the flow of prana (life force energy) to certain parts of the body.(Yogapedia)
If you were looking for a simple but effective anti-aging hack, you just found it! Incorporate these pranayamas to your daily yoga routine.
This nasal breathing exercise is believed to provide the body with deeper and purer levels of oxygen compared to other breathing techniques. The face receives better circulation through Ujjayi breathing as well, making skin rosier and more radiant.
How To Do It: Take a seated position with your spine straight. Take a deep breath through your nose until your lungs are full. As you breathe in, direct the air toward the upper palate of your mouth and then to the back of your throat. As you exhale slowly through your nose, let the air again pass through the back of your throat and toward the upper palate of your mouth on its way out. Both inhale and exhale should produce a gentle, whisper-like sound.
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If you’re feeling tired or sluggish, the Kapalabhati technique can help revive your energy and breathe—literally!—life back into your face. This diaphragmic breathing exercise cleanses the sinuses, clears air from the lungs and increases circulation.
How To Do It: Sit in a cross-legged position and lengthen the spine. Place your hands on your knees with your palms facing up. Inhale through your nose and then take one deep exhale (also through your nose), emptying out all the air from your lungs. Inhale again comfortably and begin a sequence of 16 breaths. Exhale sharply through the nose and follow with an immediate involuntary intake of breath. Repeat for 16 counts.
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Feeling anxious? This calming alternate-nostril breathing technique can help you feel more relaxed. Practice this regularly to contour your nose and prevent it from drooping with age.
How To Do It: Sit in a cross-legged position. Use the thumb on your right hand to block your right nostril. Inhale with your left nostril into your belly. Block your left nostril with your right ring finger and hold your breath for a moment. Release your thumb and exhale slowly and steadily through your right nostril. Inhale again through the right nostril. Block both nostrils again and hold. Release your ring finger and exhale through your left nostril. Repeat the sequence three times on each side.
Of course, getting old isn’t the same for everyone, and breathwork alone isn’t enough to keep us young. But when done properly and with purpose, the breath can deliver endless benefits to our lives—body, mind and face. So why not take advantage of this beautiful tool? Tap into the power of the pranayama; it wasn’t called ‘life force’ in Sanskrit for nothing.
Hagen, Annalise. The Yoga Face: Eliminate Wrinkles with the Ultimate Natural Facelift. Avery, 2007.
Beri, Kavita. “Breathing to younger skin: ‘reversing the molecular mechanism of skin aging with yoga.’” U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 9 May 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5137887/.
About the author
Patty Andamo is a freelance writer and digital marketer based in Manila, Philippines, specializing in social media content development and management. Follow her on Instagram @pattyandamo.
Yoga Instructor Maria Merolla holds anti-ageing pranayama breathwork workshops both online and in person at Flex Studio Central and One Island South. Enquire or pre-register for the next class by contacting us by WhatsApp at +852 5740 9420 or by emailing [email protected].