Sudarshan Kriya yoga (SKY) is a rhythmic breathing technique, derived by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to help de-stress and remove toxins from the body. It’s practised through controlled breathing patterns ranging from slow and calming, to rapid and invigorating. Through these breathing techniques, SKY becomes a powerful management tool for health conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a long-term illness consisting of several symptoms including severe tiredness, feeling unwell and in some cases – pain. The causes of CFS are still unknown, but can be triggered by infections, weak immunity or mental health problems such as stress, depression and anxiety. There is no cure or agreed treatment plan for sufferers, and traditional medicine—such as painkillers—only provide short-term relief.
Living With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
A typical day with CFS involves feeling depleted and tired throughout the day, possibly starting with getting out of bed in the morning. Daily tasks may involve muscle cramps and joint pain, and even simple commitments may be met with an inability to concentrate, and frequent headaches.
How SKY Can Help Reduce Physical Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
SKY has become popular in helping reduce the stresses of daily life by calming the mind and body through yogic breathing exercises. This technique offers a low-cost and effective alternative treatment for numerous physical ailments related to CFS. These conditions—like muscle fatigue and aching joints—gradually diminish with SKY due to the increase in respiratory sinus arrhythmia(RSA) that occurs. When your RSA rises, so does your heart-rate variability, which has been shown to accelerate the physical recovery of high-level athletes.
How SKY Can Help Reduce Mental Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
CFS can be caused by several triggers including psychological stressors, such as mood dis-orders and depression, are often linked to the onset of CFS-related symptoms. Rapid breathing combined with slow controlled breath used in SKY techniques, has been shown to greatly reduce cortisol levels, thus improving stress-related symptoms. This results in better sleep, reduced anxiety and increased mental clarity.
SKY Breathing Techniques For CFS
Poor breathing habits lead to constricted blood vessels and higher alkaline levels in the blood. This restricts what is known as the Bohr effect, or attaining proper levels of carbon-dioxide in the blood in order to utilize oxygen more effectively. This results in less oxygen reaching the brain and muscles, causing light headedness and lethargy, both of which are closely linked to CFS. The four breathing techniques within SKY all offer different benefits without inhibiting the Bohr effect.
There are four breathing techniques within SKY offering different benefits.
- Ujjayi: The Ujjayi breathing technique, also known as ‘oceanic breath’, relaxes and stimulates the body and mind simultaneously. This deep rhythmic breath can help reduce the dizzying symptoms of CFS.
- Bhastrika: Bhastrika breathing may help manage emotional issues—as well as blood pressure and heart rate—using swift, powerful inhalations and exhalations.
- Kriya: Kriya is the practice of slow, medium and fast cyclical breathing patterns which can detox the body from toxins and purify the system.
- Om: Extended exhalation of the Om sound through repeated chanting, provides soothing internal vibrations which helps connect the mind and body.
With a slew of holistic benefits, SKY is a great option for combatting CFS. Since SKY isn’t a physically demanding style of yoga, it’s appropriate for all body-types. Despite this, it’s not recommended for pregnant women, those with extreme mental illnesses, or those going through alcohol and drug abuse. It’s strongly advised to only learn SKY breathing techniques under the guidance of a trained professional.
To learn more about SKY and find a certified instructor near you, visit The Art Of Living. Founded by SKY founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar himself, it has all of the resource you’ll need to begin your journey towards ending chronic fatigue syndrome.
LANA ANDERSON is the head instructor of Yoga By Blisstopia in Blaine MN. She has a Master’s degree in Counseling and Psychological Services, and is a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner through Healing Touch International. She’s also a certified Doula through Doulas of North America(DONA), and has helped deliver over 400 babies.