Biochemistry of Sudarshan Kriya

“If we reduce the number of oxygen radicals, we improve the antioxidant status in our body and live longer.” – Manoj Jain

Ever wondered what causes us to age, resulting in death of our body cells over the years, or develop heart disease leading to plaque in the artery, or suffer from cancer causing cells to mutate and grow erratically? The answer may be simpler than we think.

Some researchers say the common denominator in all these conditions is the antioxidant status — the level of a chemical process that takes place in our cells and genes. Like we measure our cholesterol level, researchers argue, we can measure our antioxidant status and determine how vulnerable we are to diseases.

In a pilot study, biochemists at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) studied the effect of Sudarshan Kriya on the antioxidant status of individuals. Sudarshan Kriya is a well known rhythmic breathing technique promoted by The Art of Living workshops. It is preceded by Ujjayi Pranayam or long and deep breaths with constriction at the base of throat and Bhastrika or fast and forceful breaths through the nose along with arm movements.

Before we talk about their findings, let’s step back into our biochemistry class and understand what antioxidant status means. According to the free-radical theory, the cells in our body are being constantly damaged and destroyed by oxygen radicals, similar to what dirt and rust do to our cars. Oxygen radicals are different from oxygen gas in that they are molecules that are highly charged and detrimental byproducts of cell reactions.

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