The practice of Sudarshan Kriya yoga focuses on four breath forms: Ujjayi, "victorious breath;" Bhastrika, "bellows breath;" the chant of "om;" and Kriya, "purifying breath." Kriya yoga breathing techniques can effectively address symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to a 2009 study published by the Harvard Medical School. Sudarshan Kriya yoga requires discipline and dedication; however, its breathing techniques are easy to learn.
Sudarshan Kriya Yoga Breathing Technique
Begin by assuming a comfortable seated position. Expect to spend a minimum of 15 minutes performing the breathing exercises. The hOMe Foundation suggests placing in your line of sight a silent clock with a moving second hand or a digital clock that measures seconds along with minutes and hours.
The Sudarshan Kriya yoga exercise alternates between Ujjayi, Bhastrika, Kriya and om chants. Perform Ujjayi by slightly contracting your larynx and glottis to obtain increased control of your breathing pattern. Take 2 to 4 breaths per minute. The Bhastrika uses short, forceful inhalations and exhalations. Take approximately 30 breaths per minute.
To perform kriya breathing, take several elongated deep breaths. Breathing in and breathing out should each take about 10 or 15 seconds. As you breathe in, direct the pranic energy, or life energy, into your heart center. This energy flows from the back of your head, through the medulla and into your heart. As you exhale, the flow of energy reverses itself. Finish with the repeated chant of "om," which creates vibrations in the abdomen, chest and throat.
Sudarshan Kriya Yoga Breathing Benefits
Practicing yoga postures and breathing exercises can relieve stress and make managing chronic health conditions easier. Sudarshan Kriya breathing exercises have assisted with the mental and emotional recovery of survivors of Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Australian veterans of the Vietnam War. Two studies compared Kriya yoga with conventional depression treatments for hospitalized patients and patients at an alcohol detoxification program in Bangalore, India. They showed improvement rates of 67 percent and 75 percent, respectively, for the patients who performed yoga exercises, according to the Harvard Medical School. To achieve maximum benefit, take a slow, steady pace, and concentrate on gentle poses and stretches.