Pranayama – Unexpected Benefits of Breathing as a Spiritual Practice

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Holistic solutions, Natural health, Pranayama, Self-care, Yoga | 2 comments

Introduction: My Unplanned Journey

Embarking on an unplanned journey can often lead to unexpected revelations.

I wasn't planning to complete a 2-year program in Pranayama of the Rishiculture Ashtanga Gitananda tradition when I signed up in March 2022.

I was even late to the program, missing the first month before I finally decided to join. That indecision is a great indication of how I’ve changed. It wouldn’t happen today.

The fact that it was a Sadhana program (structured, regular practice) where you paid month-to-month reduced any friction I may have had.

The teachers were already my spiritual guides and the Parampara has been a boon to my yoga spiritual practice since 2020.

(Unexpected) Benefits of Pranayama

Pranayama is widely translated as “breath control.” In fact, that interpretation of the spiritual teachings reflects our compulsion to control things.

Pranayama is far more nuanced and expansive than even “breathing practices.”

My teacher Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani defines Pranayama as “the art of expanding our awareness or Prana.”

This understanding has been a guiding light and compels me to proclaim Pranayama is far more expansive than just breathing practices.

Pranayama - Unexpected Benefits of Breathing as a Spiritual Practice- Two women practicing pranayama and yoga on a mat in a garden, sitting cross-legged and performing a chest-opening pose.

Over the past two years, I've observed profound changes in myself through my Pranayama Sadhana.

There were no preconceived notions of what I would obtain along this journey; there were unexpected benefits that unfolded naturally over time, with practice and self-observation or svadyaya.

After teaching a Pranayama workshop, a student asked me,

“What specifically has changed in you over the last two years since beginning this practice?

Here are the six outstanding benefits of my Pranayama Sadhana:


1. Deeper Relationships

I've developed more soulful connections with myself and others, especially those closest to me and with my Gitananda Yoga family. I've become less emotionally volatile, which has significantly improved my relationships.

2. Clearer Perspective

My view on life, particularly work, has expanded. It is easier to see what things matter and what do not. Through discernment (or viveka) many circumstances that might have ruffled my feathers either do not or if they do, they appear as a warm gust of air instead of a tornado that decimates my peace.

3. Improved Decision Making

Making decisions, like choosing to give up alcohol, has become easier. I do not spend nearly as much time deliberating over whether or not to do something. I just do it (or do not).

4. Self-Regulation

I've cultivated instant access to my deep, powerful inner resource that helps me self-regulate my thoughts, emotions, and nervous system. The capacity to self-regulate with greater mental clarity and compassionate discernment is beyond any price.

5. Self-Care

I've become a champion of self-care, taking the best care of my whole self than ever before.

6. Physical Well-Being

My physical health, particularly my heart health, has improved. Conscious deep-breathing practices and how I carry myself have been instrumental in my quick recovery from heart surgery.

Pranayama - Unexpected Benefits of Breathing as a Spiritual Practice- Hand stitching a colorful woven fabric with intricate patterns and textures using needle and thread.

Conclusion: The Power of Breathing

At this time, the most significant gift from my study and practice of Pranayama has been my ability to recognize when there is a strained seam in the multi-dimensional fabric of my being and turn attention to mend it.

My sequence of awareness – discernment – action allows me to move toward my grounded state of harmony and being when I stray from it.

Breathing has become a spiritual practice.


  1. Amanda Paulson

    Dawn, what a beautiful expression of your 2 year journey. I hope this inspires others to be drawn to pranayama

    • Dawn Browning

      Thank you Amanda for taking the time to read and comment. I hope the same…and I hope the same too.


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