Yoga Breathing for Pain Reduction

It has been over a month since my last blog post because I have been extra busy authoring five new home study courses on evidenced based mind-body practices.  Writing these home studies provided me with an opportunity to read many recent research articles on the topics of yoga and tai chi, giving me many new ideas for my blog.

Today, we are going to examine a pranayama technique that has been shown by medical researchers to be an effective pain reliever, double length breathing

A 2010 study conducted by Zatra and colleges showed that controlled breathing at a reduced rate can significantly reduce feelings of pain for both health individuals as well as those suffering from fibromyalgia (a chronic pain disorder).¹  This study compared a yogic breathing technique that reduces the normal respiratory rate by one-half to breathing at the normal respiratory rate. Compared to normal breathing, slow breathing reduced ratings of pain intensity and unpleasantness in all test subjects.

Please try this technique yourself whenever you are experiencing pain for 5-15 minutes.  After performing double length breath for that, you should feel significantly less pain.  Please note this breathing technique should be utilized with any other treatments your physician and/or physical therapist recommend.  It is not intended to replace usual care practices, but to enhance them.


  1. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position and begin to breathe in and out through your nose.
  2. Without changing your breathing pattern in anyway, count how many seconds you normally take to breathe in and out.
  3. Slowly lengthen your breath until it is taking twice as long to perform each inhalation and exhalation.  Try to have both parts of the breath take the same amount of time.
  4. Continue for 5-15 minutes breathing slowly and evenly.



  1.  Zatra, A.J., et al (2010) The effects of slow breathing on affective responses to pain stimuli: An experimental study.  Pain, 149; 12-18.

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