Balance your Hormone Secretions through Bhramari Pranayam

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One of the most underestimated pranayam techniques is BHRAMARI.  But this is one of the most powerful of all pranayamas and most easy to do techniques with the lowest risk of doing it incorrectly.

Benefits of regular Bhramari practice over time:

  • Helps reduce anger, anxiety, mental agitation, promotes, relaxation and calm, and can bring you as close as possible to a meditative state of mind. Studies have shown that Bhramari Pranayam relaxes the cerebral cortex and activates the parasymathetic system that is responsible for calmness, relaxation and promotes sound deep sleep.
  • Stimulates the balanced secretion of hormones by the endocrine glands. The vibrations produced by the nasal bumblebee like tone when chanting Mmmm sound during Bhramari stimulates the hypothalamus.  The hypothalamus is a small pea sized part of the brain which helps maintain homeostasis. It forms a link between the nervous system and the endocrine glands by releasing hormones that stimulate the pituitary gland to either secrete or inhibit the secretion of hormones by the endocrine glands in our body. Together the anterior and posterior pituitary gland secrete hormones that control the production of the growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, lutenizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, prolactin, vasopressin, oxytocin and the neurotransmitter dopamine .
  • Corticotropin (CRH) releasing hormone is secreted by the hypothalamus in response to stress. Higher CRH is associated with Alzheimer’s and depression. It stimulates the production of pituitary adreno-cortico tropic hormone (ACTH) which is produced in response to biological stress and results in increased production and release of cortisol by the adrenal gland. Increased cortisol has negative effects on the immune system, lengthens wound healing time, and leads to osteoporosis by reducing bone formation.
  • Dopamine ( a neurohormone released by the hypothalamus) has an influence on the motor control centers. A loss of dopamine is associated with Parkinson’s disease and pain associated with Parkinson’s. Imbalance in dopamine levels has found to be associated with social anxiety, apathy, schizophrenia etc.
  • The nasal tone humming/buzzing Mmmm sound during slow nasal exhalation boosts production of nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide dilates arteries, improving blood circulation  and oxygen to the heart, decreases plaque growth (which causes atherosclerosis)  and blood clotting, lowers high blood pressure.  Nitric oxide is produced naturally in our tissues and sinuses when we breathe through our nostrils, but if we breathe through our mouth we cannot utilize this nitric oxide.

According to http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.200202-138BC

“Nasal NO was measured with a chemiluminescence technique during humming and quiet single-breath exhalations at a fixed flow rate. NO increased 15-fold during humming compared with quiet exhalation.”

When to practice?

Practice twice a day if possible for ~ 5 minutes in morning or 5 minutes in evening which should come out to 20 breath cycles/rounds each.

How to practice?

shanmukhi-mudra-300x266

Image: http://www.abhyasayoga.in/shanmukhi-mudra/

 

Sit comfortably.  Make sure you have a good posture or back support if needed.

Close you eyes. Place your thumbs on the ear flap/cartilage and press down gently to cover the ears. You may place the tips of the index finger near your third eye and the tips of the middle  fingers gently on the inner corner of your eyes and the remainder fingers just rest below on your face in a natural position. Alternately you may do this in Shanmukhi mudra with the ring finger may be placed on either side of the nostrils and the little fingers rest on either side of the mouth.

Mouth should be closed, lips touching gently but teeth slightly apart and jaw relaxed. Your tongue can rest gently behind the bottom palate.

Begin by inhaling (3-4 seconds) and as you exhale slowly through your nostrils start chanting Mmmm.(Short but full inhalation and slow exhalation).

The sound you emanate should resemble the buzzing of a bee.

Note:

  • Avoid any yogic, meditative or pranayam practice immediately after a meal.
  • If your arms get tired it is ok to take a break. You can break down your practice into 4 sets of 5 rounds each. So a total of 20 rounds or more based upon your preference.
  • If you get breathless it is because you are holding your breath while chanting Mmmm sound. Make sure to exhale an a smooth controlled manner through your nose as you chant.
  • Upon completion it is better to not get up immediately, but to sit for a few minutes.

References:

http://www.news-medical.net/health/Dopamine-Functions.aspx

http://www.biology-pages.info/H/Hypothalamus.html

https://www.drwhitaker.com/boost-nitric-oxide-levels-to-improve-health/

http://www.normalbreathing.com/index-nasal.php

http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.200202-138BC

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The Miraculous Sudarshan Kriya- For Depression and Anxiety

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Quotes

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Quotes

In today’s post I’ll be sharing something quite personal.  It is difficult, but the reason why I started this blog was not to just share articles that sound great in theory, but also to share personal stories of struggle and solutions I found that helped me overcome these challenges; to help anyone going through similar struggles.

Last September I read an article about a young woman who had suffered from a tumor. After 3 months of practicing the Sudrashan kriya as taught at the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Art of Living program, her tumor had disappeared.  You can read her full story here:

http://artoflivinglifestories.blogspot.com/2011/01/kamlesh-barwal-art-of-living-experience.html?m=1

At the time I had been suffering from severe depression, severe insomnia resulting from traumatized nerve cells, and horrible panic disorder for 7-8 months which started in early 2014. I had dealt with anxiety disorder in the past, 15 yrs ago and had overcome it with the help of Ayurvedic (Indian herbal) medicines.  This time around the problem was exacerbated due to the severe insomnia, leaving me with no respite or temporary escape.  I lost 13 pounds in 4 weeks.  I couldn’t swallow food and had to force food down by washing whatever little I could chew on with some juice or milk or water. Even prescription sleep meds failed to give me sound sleep. My own doctors didn’t handle my case properly.  They were just interested in putting me on a long term anxiety med, which did not address my severe sleep situation that needed immediate help. I had no energy and couldn’t function at all.  I was utterly confused and couldn’t understand what was even wrong with me from a medical stand point. I displayed symptoms that mimicked symptoms of other auto immune and neurological illnesses but all test came back normal. But it kept eating into my subconscious that something was wrong and doctors were taking it too lightly resulting in me spiraling into a deep depression.  Four months of this torment continued, until one of our family friends who is also a doctor prescribed me something to take at night to help with the sleep and anxiety.  For the first time in months I woke up feeling rested mentally and physically. I continued taking the medicine to get to a stabilizing point.  But after months of not being able to function normally I was in a hurry to get back to my normal self. I would get off the medicine and then find that I was back on again which is what (I believe) caused me to develop a tolerance to this medicine.  I had to increase the dosage and even that barely helped me with my sleep. I was still very depressed and hopeless about my condition and worried if it would ever really go away.  I spent a lot of money on things like acupuncture and other therapies hoping and praying they would help.

Two months into my health crisis I had attended an Art of Living Program upon my sister and brother in law’s behest. It was a very difficult period for me as I barely had the strength. A complete stranger (now a friend) who was also attending the program and lived close to me drove me to the center and back 40 minutes away for the 3-4 days. I learned the kriya/technique but wasn’t able to practice it as recommended at the time due to too much weakness.  In June I made a trip to India and sought Homeopathic and Ayurvedic treatment.  The herbal preparations helped pry me out of the deep well of darkness that I was in.  It strengthened my nerves, but the insomnia prevailed and I was still struggling with the decision of whether or not to take the prescribed medicine for insomnia. It was as if my nerves had snapped after being stretched to their maximum limit. I decided to take the prescribed medicine for insomnia and anxiety regularly, but I continued to feel hopeless that this waking hellish nightmare would never end.  The panic disorder symptoms had gone down considerably, but were still present. It was like after some steady improvement with the herbs, my progress plateaued and I was ‘stuck’.

After I read the article about the young woman mentioned above, I told myself I would do the kriya also for a period of 3 months and see if it made a difference. I religiously practiced the kriya without analyzing it or judging it. I noticed a subtle difference the very first time.  It was small but it was there.  For the first time I found myself laughing and cracking a joke in months. As time went by I found that I was returning to normal routines and day to day tasks, laughing, socializing.  Slowly the dosage of my sleep meds went down. After 3 months I stopped taking the meds completely and switched to over the counter milder forms. After a month I stopped even that and survived with just minimal, poor but natural sleep which left me feeling tired. But I continued with kriya.  My nerves are now almost back to their normal state.  I have been getting naturally drowsy and been sleeping at first just 4 hrs/night then 5-7 hrs/night.  Mentally I feel happy, strong, confident and positive like never before. This Sudrashan kriya has really been a blessing, miraculously improving my health.  It is the best gift for people in this time and age when there is so much stress and worry.

I have always been a health conscious person and strived to lead a healthy life, physically and spiritually. But sometime a problem creeps into our life and before we realize it takes over and devours us.  Everything that I had learned and that had helped me in the past just seemed to be having system failures. Meditations, mudras pranayams all just failed. I couldn’t understand why.  Looking back I realize my problem had become too big. I had also stopped my meditation process for several month prior to this, due to a bad job of prioritizing and at the same time I was taking on excessive worry and imagining fearful outcomes. So consumed was I that I didn’t even realizing the damage I was unleashing on myself.

Anxiety disorder and depression carry a lot of stigma in places like India even in this day and age, where people are quick to mock and judge attributing this illness to weakness. It is not considered a real problem by people who have never suffered from it. Sooner or later we all go through it but in varying degrees because sooner or later we all go through some tragic or traumatic life changing event, whether it is a job loss, loss of a loved one, loss of health or financial insecurity.  If the emotions associated with such loss persists for a few months it manifests as depression and panic disorder. No human being is immune to the lows of life.

This ordeal made me more spiritual, more empathetic and compassionate (not that I wasn’t before, but it took me farther and deeper). I leaned heavily for support on my family, parents, sisters and brothers-in-law, mother in law and select friends. They were my rock.  It brought me even closer to the Universal Spirit/God and my loved ones. I read the famous religious texts Ramayan and Bhagvad Puran (as translated by Kamala Subramaniyam) from which I derived immense strength. I am even more hungry for spiritual evolution than I’ve ever been).

If you are suffering from anxiety/panic disorder, depression, stress, excess worry, negative thought don’t be hopeless. There is CERTAIN help.  You will get better. You will laugh again. The dark clouds inside will disperse and the sun will shine again and your world will be a beautiful place once again. Please give this Sudrashan kriya a try.  It’s the BEST GIFT you can give yourself. It is not meditation. Just a technique which involves repeated sets of breathing at different rhythms. Very Simple; Even a child can do it.

Ayurveda ascribes anxiety disorder/depression etc. to three factors:

Poor diet/nutrition, poor lifestyle that increases the element of air/vayu and mental agitation and weakness and also astrological reasons.  In the past I have shared my experience with astrology (not your daily horoscope as printed in magazines and newspapers, but your customized horoscope based on your personal birth details). The shadowy planet called Rahu (the head/dragons head) is responsible for all sickness and disease above the neck which I know now. My horoscope shown to few astrologers by my dad in India and upon my request indicated a severely bad phase of mental stress due to Rahu.

You can read more about the Ayurvedic Approach to Anxiety at this link:

http://drrajeshshrotriya.com/anti-anxiety-drugs-in-ayurveda/

http://ayurveda.md/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=126&Itemid=1

http://ayurveda.md/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=126&Itemid=1

Please feel free to share your questions either in the comment box or privately through the Contact Me form. I’d be happy to help and answer your questions.

How Yoga Combats Depression

Today’s article is a guest post by Ryan Rivera.  He is the founder and publisher of calmclinic.com .  His area of  expertise is helping people with anxiety, stress, panic attacks and related issues.  His work has been featured in local radio and TV shows.

How Yoga Combats Depression

Depression is one of the most common psychological conditions with over 120 million people suffering worldwide. A lot of those suffering from it seek professional help and are prescribed some antidepressants, which reportedly do not yield the desired results expected from these treatments. As depression persists, a person finds himself more and more unable to get energized or excited about life and the things they used to love. Worst case scenario is that they compromise their health by being lethargic most of the time. While there are a lot of ways through which people can combat depression and stop anxiety naturally, one alternative that will definitely motivate people to try and eventually become a habit is yoga.

How yoga can help

Compared to strenuous physical exercises, which will eventually become intolerable for most people suffering from depression, yoga gives natural relief by generally paying attention to their breathing. This makes the person become more attentive to other sensations in their body, thus making yoga an attractive way to get fit and combat depression at the same time.

Yoga helps cultivate a relaxed mind, and the exercise, when executed properly, also becomes some form of meditation. The heightened sensations in your body give you the feeling of being in touch with your inner self, allowing you to ease up the stress and anxiety that you are dealing with.

Nowadays, yoga is recognized as a long-term solution to mental and emotional conditions. It is also used as therapy for those who have been traumatized and allows stressed people to let out the negativity in their system. Yoga helps reunite the mind and the body and gives people the chance to be in a higher state of consciousness and to respond to their body’s needs. It is an ideal way to release all the burdens of the mind and body. It also helps improve our body functions through proper breathing and relaxation.

How yoga works for depression

By starting out with a few poses and with proper breathing patterns, a person suffering from depression will start experiencing the pleasurable effects of yoga. Correct breathing will bring greater amounts of oxygen to the brain, which helps in blood circulation and allows the organs of the body to function better. The oxygen also strengthens the muscles in the body, which promotes greater movement and agility.

Regularly doing yoga protects you from depression by keeping you in tune with your inner self, allowing you to know yourself better and respond to your needs more appropriately. Yoga alters your body’s biochemistry through the changed breathing patterns. These breathing exercises are crucial when battling depression because it will give you the invigoration and relaxation that your spirit needs. Yoga also brings lightness in feeling. It can be a great release from all of your worries and anxieties.

Yoga is a perfect way to combat depression naturally. It eases your spirit and helps improve your body functions. It will inspire you to enjoy life and keep doing the things you love without altering your routine. So if you need a release from depression, yoga will definitely give you the long-term positive outcome you desire.

 

Recommended Reading: Suryabhedi Pranayam for Depression and Anxiety

Suryabhedi Pranayam-For diseases such as Hiccups, Arthritis, Asthma, Parkinson’s, Memory loss, Stroke, Paralysis, Anxiety, cold hands and feet and Negative Emotions,

sunriseSuryabhedi pranayam has been praised in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika as the pranayam that cleanses the skull, destroys wind related diseases and removes worms (microorganisms like bacteria and viruses).  Diseases such as hiccups, arthritis, asthma, Parkinson’s, memory loss, stroke, paralysis, anxiety, depression, cold hands and feet and negative emotions, nervousness, fear, anger, suspicion, jealousy etc are attributed to an imbalance in vayu (wind) element.

Close your left nostril by applying gentle but firm pressure on the left side of your nose with the help of the little and ring fingerof your right hand.  Inhale steadily through the right nadi (right nostril)  then slowly exhale through the left nadi (left nostril) while closing your right nostril with your thumb. Repeat several times.  Another variation is to hold the breath per capacity upon inhalation through right nostril, followed by exhalation through the left nostril.

According to the Gherand Samhita, practicing Suryabheda pranayam helps awaken Kundalini energy and destroys feebleness and death.

NOTE:

Suryabehdi pranayam increases heat in the body; hence one should avoid doing too much in the summer time.

Foods that bring warmth to the body should be consumed if one is afflicted with an imbalanced wind element.  Hence consuming foods that are inherently and temperature warm/moderately hot can help restore balance in people with wind/vata imbalance related disorders. Examples: Hot cereals, warm teas, warm milk, nuts, honey, sweet fruits, ginger, cloves, peppers, sesame oils, almond oils, olive oils.  Self massage with these oils is also highly beneficial.

“Prescription Meditation”

If you suffer from insomnia, disturbed sleep, chronic anxiety, depression, mental and physical fatigue and feel impatient, restless, cynical, angry, negative and frustrated its time to give meditation a sincere try.

Numerous people suffer from everyday stress and more and more people than ever before are turning to prescription drugs, alcohol and illegal drugs to help ease the symptoms of stress.  Prescription pills and even over the counter sleep aids, herbal preparations that promise relief, but actually leave one feeling physically and mentally lethargic, befuddled and with a hangover like feeling.  Consistent use of drugs leads to dependency and not to mention a whole list of dangerous side effects.  Prescription medications don’t produce lasting results.  In some users these prescription medications can aggravate the symptoms of anxiety several fold.  Stress is a part of everyday life.  The threshold for stress varies from person to person.  It causes a great number of health disorders.  Visit American Stress Institute for an elaborate list to learn more about the kind of havoc stress can wreak on your health. Western medication is manipulative medication.  It doesn’t work at the root cause of the problem, but instead does a very poor job at a very superficial level of masking your symptoms.

Your thoughts affect your cells. Stress produces blockages and imbalances in the body. Negative thoughts weaken your cells resulting in sickness in the body. The vibration of healthy thoughts and positive emotions will help restore the healthy vibration of the cells in your body.

Read Thought Power.

Meditation is considered to be a panacea for a wide range of physical, emotional and mental health problems.  It balances and heals all your chakras.  It will help return your endocrine glands to a healthy vibratory level so they would produce hormones in healthy amounts.  Your cells will vibrate at a healthy frequency.

It will help shift you to a more positive thinking.  You will notice a serious decline in emotional outbursts, worry and negative thoughts.  There will be no need for you to repress your emotions and suffer internallly.  Meditation will give you a higher threshold.  Petty things won’t bother you anymore. You will enjoy a renewed zest for life, more confidence.  You will feel in control, and naturally happy.  What might look like an obstacle to most people, will seem like an opportunity in disguise to you.  Everything will come to you easier.  Ideas, solutions, answers, inspiration, creative thinking will all be yours.  Step back and watch even little mundane desires manifest.  You will see things from a totally different perspective.  Immediately after one good session of meditation you will notice an undeniable and significant improvement in your overall wellbeing.  You will enjoy deep undisturbed sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and energized.

While practicing meditation it is important to focus on healthy eating.  Consuming caffeine and foods that are gassy, inherently hot, temperature hot and spicy can agitate the mind and increase anxiety.  Stale food, processed food and sugary food will leave you feeling lethargic.  Consuming high vibration fresh and healthy meals will have a calming effect on your mind and a healthy affect on your body.  People with a healthy vibratory level exude charisma, positivity, energy and a glow.

To learn more about the three categories of foods, read my article https://yachnayoga.wordpress.com/yoga-asans/recommended-yogic-diet/

My favorite meditation is Soham meditation. Start out with 15 minutes a day and slowly increase it to 30 minutes eventually graduating to 40 minutes.  It is after the 20 minute mark that the real magic begins.  You can click on the link below to find more detailed information and guided videos etc about Soham.

http://www.swamij.com/soham-mantra.htm

Related links you might like:

Guidelines for Practitioners of Meditation

Meditation

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101025101636.htm

http://karunavine.com/ayahuasca/vibration-of-food/

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