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20 minutes of this simple breathing technique could lower your inflammation

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Photo: Dina Ivas by Tim Gibson for Well+Good

Ever struggle to keep up with the heavy yoga breathing that everyone around you seems to do effortlessly? Well, it’s time to hone in your skills—in the name of gut health.

According to a new studypranayamaAKA the Ayurvedic breathing technique practiced in yoga—may lower stress-related inflammation in the body, Psychology Today reports.

Inflammation can lead to GI conditions like Celiac disease, as well as allergies, skin issues, headaches, and chronic diseases, doctors say. And Frank Lipman, MD, even argues that you can slow down the aging process by lowering inflammation in your body.

In the study, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers gathered 20 participants and told half to read for 20 minutes, while the other half focused on yoga breathwork—10 minutes of om chanting and 10 minutes of rhythmic breathing.

The researchers tracked levels of biomolecules in the body called cytokines in the participants’ saliva every five minutes and found that by the end of the session, three stress-related biomarkers had decreased in the yogis, while none had changed for the readers. (But don’t ditch reading quite yet.)

In just 20 minutes, the participants were able to relax and let go of stress—which allowed their inflammation to go down instantly—by breathing in for two counts, holding for eight counts, and exhaling for four counts. (Easy enough, right?)

Yoga has already been associated with serious health benefits—from a longer life and lower risk of heart disease to stress-free happy vibes—but it turns out that, with yoga breathwork, you can now add gut health to that list. (Time to book a class?)

Need a refresher? Find out how to breathe properly during any workout. Or stress-proof your mind instantly with this five-minute meditation sequence.