Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
From Pharmacist to Breath Practitioner, Niraj Naik explores an ancient and natural way to reclaim health.
While working for one of the largest supermarkets in the UK, Niraj Naik collided head-on with his fate — a tryst with an auto-immune disease that wasn’t getting better through conventional medicines. The ‘Renegade Pharmacist’, as he was popularly known, switched to the transformative power of meditation, yoga, and Ayurveda when he was left to choose between a rock and a hard place — a surgery to remove his colon entirely or to participate in a risky trial for an untested drug.
This quest through the paths of ancient wellness helped him establish a new breathwork school — a treasure trove known as SOMA Breath. The techniques of SOMA Breath are crafted to revolve around an overarching goal: to improve the lifestyle of people with an emphasis on healthy breathing habits.
Remember, breath is the code for your autonomic nervous system. Unlike many other bodily functions, breath can either operate on its own or can be controlled consciously. At times of stress, we tend to breathing in a way that can harm body long-term. But with conscious control of your breath, we can restore its balance so that you stay healthy, happy, and strong.
There is a wide array of breathwork techniques which, when applied correctly, can awaken your ‘inner pharmacy’. Through conscious breathwork, you can turn off stress, turn on digestion, activate your immune system, and achieve much more.
Here are 5 Reasons to Focus on Your Breathwork
1. It improves your stress response
Stress is the archenemy of a healthy body and mind; it drains the mental and physical juices needed for healing and balancing the body. Use of conscious breathwork can signal parasympathetic nervous system to calm back down. Through rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing and Kumbhaka (breath holds), you can balance the two branches of the nervous system (central and peripheral), enabling it to switch off the stress response in a healthy way. By practicing proper breathing, you will start experiencing reduced anxiety, reduced oxidative stress, a focused mind, and a deeper feeling connection.
2. It Helps to Create Heart Coherence
Effective breathing allows us to create a state called heart coherence; it is achieved when the oscillations of your heart rhythms are coherent and consistent for a long duration. Our heartbeat fluctuates throughout the day (measured by a parameter called Heart Rate Variability (HRV)). HRV says a lot about one’s health, it can predict illness and quantifies our experienced energy levels. A cohesive heart and an HRV that syncs with breathing patterns help body maintain a dynamic balance. This, in turn, uplifts the operational efficiency of our cardiovascular and respiratory systems. A coherent heart also gives us access to what are commonly referred to as ‘peak states’ or transcendent states of mindfulness, connection and harmony.
3. It Strengthens The Immune System
Conscious breathwork keeps your body centered by balancing your physical and emotional elements, lessening the overactive stress response. As a result, your cardiovascular system starts supplying oxygen to your inner tissues and organs (even to dormant parts of your brain) more effectively. This strengthens the immune system and boosts stamina. Holding the breath in a specific way creates small pockets of safe, beneficial, and high carbon states in the body. It is a type of resilience-building hormetic stress which can strengthen the body’s disease-resistant and regenerative capacities.
4. It Improves The Quality of Sleep
Unanimously, every doctor agrees that good sleep is essential for maintaining physical and mental health. With the modern world moving at breakneck speeds, good sleep has become a distant dream for many of us. Slow and rhythmic breathing communicates to the brain (and every other part of the body) to calm down.
5. It’s Conducive to Positivity
Focusing on the breath can ease the emotional turbulences in the mind, it helps us be more present and can also help us redress old emotional wounds. It effectively reduces mental depression, PTSD, and anxiety as it helps us unlock repressed emotions and process them in a new way. All this creates for us greater clarity and positivity, from which we can live our lives.
Niraj adds that all these benefits can be achieved by practicing SOMA Breath techniques. SOMA Breath puts the fundamental techniques of Pranayama in a particular order and makes it effective and accessible for everyone.
Unlike some breathwork schools, SOMA Breath doesn’t focus on just one breathwork technique. It uses intermittent hypoxic training, rhythmic breathing and relaxation and adds movement, music, visualization, and other yogic practices to boost its efficacy over other techniques. The result? A pharmacy of techniques to improve every area of your life.
Today, SOMA Breath and its followers have expanded their wings across multiple countries in the world. It even has its own curriculum followed in wellness centers and retreats across Europe, the USA, and Asia.
Niraj Naik is happy to share the technique that has powerful relaxation effects for the body and mind:
Savitri Pranayama + Slow Rechaka
- Sit comfortably with your back straight, in an upright position
- Inhale fully through the nose and via the diaphragm for 4 seconds, filling your lungs with air. Place your hand on your abdomen to ensure that it expands before the chest
- Without using any force, exhale fully through the mouth for 8 seconds
- When you have exhaled, lightly breathe in fully again for 4 seconds. Create a continuous and smooth rhythm.
- Repeat this 20-30 times
- Then take a full inhale, purse your lips gently, pushing the air out as if you were breathing out through a thin straw. Do a body scan to make sure that you are not tensing any of your muscles whilst exhaling
- During the exhalation, visualize an ocean wave of relaxation, cascading down the front of your body, from the crown of your head to the tips if your toes
- Continue breathing and visualizing in this way for 5-10 minutes per day. The longer you continue, the more your blood pressure and heart rate will drop and the deeper into a state of relaxation you will plunge
Discover more about SOMA Breath and Niraj Naik through his website to kickstart your journey towards higher consciousness and harmony with your inner self.
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