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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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.

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