PRANASYEDAM VASE SARVAM,
TRIDIVE YAT PRATISTITHAM.
MAATEVA PUTRAN RAKSJASVA,
SREESCHA PRAGNAMCHA VIDEHINA ITI
Whatever exists in three worlds,
Is all under the control of Prana.
Prana, protect us as a mother protects her sons,
Give us affluence and intelligence.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is the collection of numerous mind body techniques from ancient Eastern cultural practices with the main theme of unification. The Sanskrit word “yok” means to unite or equalize.
What is Yogic Breathing?
Yogic breathing is also called as Pranayama. Prana governs the whole universe. PRANA – means force/vital energy. Pranayama means channeling or regulating this force. Pranayama is the science related to vital force supplying energy and controlling the body mind complex.
Thirumoolar, a saint from ancient times, wrote Thirumanthiram, a Tamil literary work containing several yogic and tantric methods. There are 14 songs in Thirumanthiram specifically on yogic breathing (versus 564-577).
Dr Balasubramanian ( Dr B), a research assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, decoded the Thirumoolar breathing techniques from Thirumanthiram. He noticed that the pranayama mentioned in the verse 568 helped create more saliva production, and began to study them. As salivation is one of the parasympathetic activation responses, his group hypothesized that Pranayama might activate salivation and the proteomic profile would be different from basal saliva. Saliva ( 0.75-1.5 L/day in humans) contains numerous biologically active molecules, and regulates the digestive, immune and respiratory systems.
Dr B did a pilot study with 20 participants who completed either a yogic breathing exercise or read quietly for 20 minutes. Researchers collected samples of their saliva at 5-minute intervals. Samples taken from participants who did the 20-minute breathing exercise had molecules or biomarkers in their saliva after the breathing that weren’t there at the start. Sixty percent of the samples showed a marked increase in nerve growth factor level found only in the yogic breathing group. Nerve growth factor (NGF), a trophic factor is involved in the development, maintenance and survival of peripheral nervous system and the cholinergic neurons of the central nervous system. This is significantly reduced in Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegenerative conditions.
The current NGF therapy uses invasive methods including intracranial injection of adeno-associated virus based gene delivery vector. In this context non-pharmacological modes of treatment such as meditation and yoga has been considered as alternative approaches to treat neurological disorders. This is the first time the molecular expression of NGF is in response to Om chanting and Thirumoolar pranayama.
Along with the increase in NGF, the study revealed significant changes in 22 proteins in the saliva following the yogic breathing technique. The majority of statistically significant proteins (36%) belonged to immunoglobulin family, thus suggesting that yogic breathing induces these molecules to promote immune response as a first line of defense to the mucosa. Interestingly, there were four tumor suppressors that were stimulated after yogic breathing-
- Deleted in Malignant Tumor 1 (DMBT1)
- Mucin -7 (MUC-7)
- Cysteine-rich secretory protein 3 (CRISP3)
- Prolactin inducible protein (PIP)
DMBT1 is significantly downregulated in a number of cancers affecting multiple organs including brain, lungs, pancreas, oral cavity, prostate, cervix and skin. Stimulating salivary DMBT1 by a nonpharmacologic, noninvasive, behavioral intervention such as yogic breathing could hold several health benefits including maintenance of an effective innate immune system and production of tumor suppressors de novo.
Ig lamda -2 chain C region (IGLC2) elevation was also observed in the saliva after yogic breathing. This is increased in several pathological conditions including HIV infection, multiple myeloma, and influenza A virus infection suggesting that this induction could be involved in protection against infection and immune response.
This indicates that yogic breathing could increase salivary secretion that contains proteins with key role in immune response.
Guidelines for Pranayama
Empty stomach, preferably at twilight time, in a clean place, with loose cloths, sitting tall on the floor or in the chair with both feet flat on the ground, with total surrendering attitude, asking for the presence of divine. The hands should be placed on knees, facing upward with the mudra of grace or mudra of gnana.
Facing the sun is of great value. Clarity of direction, mind and vision defines the East.
Make sure to be in your comfort zone. Don’t rush into breathing. If you feel discomfort, stop the technique and focus on the breathing. Stay in place.
- Humming/ Chanting Om – hum or chant Om as follows:
- Slow deep inhalation through nostrils. Fill the abdomen, diaphragm and a little more.
- Slow exhalation through mouth while humming or chanting Om. At this step, perform a slow and complete exhalation.
These two steps are repeated for 10 min. During the entire period, the participants keep their eyes closed gently.
It is suggested that humming and Om chanting increases cutaneous peripheral vascular resistance, auricular branch vagal nerve stimulation, and improves mid-latency auditory provoked potential, which is lacking in 40% of Alzheimer’s patients. It also causes a deactivation in the limbic brain regions, amygdala, hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, insula, orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortices and thalamus.
- Thirumoolar Pranayamam (TP)
- Close right nostril and inhale a deep breath through left nostril and then close both the nostrils so no inhaled air escapes. Air should not escape through mouth either. The timing for inhalation is counted as time taken for two chants of a small phrase (such as I’m beautiful; I am relaxed etc. Typically, inhalation lasts for about 4 seconds). Counting is done with fingers while chanting within one’s mind.
- Hold breath in this position for 8 chants as above while counting with fingers (This step typically takes about 16 seconds).
- Open Nostril 2 and exhale for 4 chants as above (Exhalation takes about 8 seconds). Complete exhalation is required. Abdomen will slowly curve-in as the participant exhales. This is normal and encouraged. No air should leak through the right nostril or mouth.
- Go to inhalation as in Step a
It is well known that right nostril yogic breathing (RNYB) and left nostril yogic breathing (LNYB) have diverging effects on the autonomic nervous system, where RNYB caused sympathetic activation and LNYB causes parasympathetic dominance.
567: Breath Control Yields Life Nectar
Let Prana merge in Mind
And together the two be stilled
Then no more shall birth and death be;
Therefore, learn to direct breath
In streams alternating left and right
And in silentness chant “Aum”
Then shall you sevile of the nectar of life.
568: Puraka Kumbhaka Resaka Alternated–Cleansing of Nadis
Purakam is to inhale by left nostril matras six and ten
Kumbhakam is to retain that breath for matras four and sixty
Resakam is to exhale thereafter for matras two and thirty
Thus alternate from left to right and right to left
With Kumbhakam in between.
Benefits of Yoga and Pranayama
A growing body of research evidence supports the belief that certain yoga techniques may improve physical and mental health through down-regulation of the hypothalamopituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system.
- Stress Management by decreasing levels of salivary cortisol, plasma rennin levels, and 24-h urine nor-epinephrine and epinephrine levels.
- Decreases heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressures (hypothesized that some yoga exercises cause a shift toward parasympathetic nervous system dominance, possibly via direct vagal stimulation)
- Reductions in low-frequency heart rate variability.
- Control blood pressure by restoring baroreflex sensitivity.
- Increases regression and retards progression of atherosclerosis and increases nitric oxide.
- Help manage hyperlipidemia and obesity by increasing insulin sensitivity
- Boosts immune system and modify gene regulation.
Types of Pranayama
- Surya Bhedan/ Chandra Bhedan (Alternate nostril breathing) – The meaning of “Surya” is Sun and the meaning of the word “Bhedana” is piercing, enter or breaking through something. It is said to stimulate the brain and increase body heat. It means right nostril breathing. The meaning of “Chandra” is Moon and “Bhedan” is piercing. This is left nostril breathing. It is said to sooth and calm the brain by activation of parasympathetic system and increase vagal nerve response.
- Bhramari – It is also known as Humming Bee Breath, is a calming breathing practice that soothes the nervous system, increase nitric oxide and helps to connect us with our truest inner nature.
- Bhasrika – It is also known as Bellows Breath, is a heating breathing practice that mimics fanning a fire with a steady flow of air. Bastrikais a Sanskrit word meaning “bellows,” and it describes the active filling and emptying of the abdomen and lungs during this practice. Bhastrika pranayamastokes the inner fire of the mind and body, supporting proper digestion on all levels.
- Ujjayi – It is also known as the Breath of Victory, is a widely used pranayama in the yogic tradition. Ujjayicomes from the Sanskrit prefix ud, which means “bondage” or “binding” as well as “upward” and “expanding.” This prefix is combined with the root ji, which means “to conquer” or “acquire by conquest.” In other words, ujjayi pranayamais about obtaining freedom from bondage.
- Shitali – It is also known as Cooling Breath, is a breathing practice that very effectively cools the body, the mind, and the emotions. Sheetali comes from the Sanskrit root sheet, which means ‘cold’ or ‘frigid’.1Sheetal translates roughly as ‘that which is calm, passionless, and soothing’.
- Sitkari – According to theHatha Yoga Pradipika, in addition to its cooling effects, sitkari balances the endocrine system and builds vitality.
- Murcha – “Murcha” means “fainting” or “swooning breath” in which the breath is inhaled slowly and retained for an extended period. This exercise promotes happiness of mind, achievement of bliss and removes lustiness.
- Plavini – Plava means floating. Plavini is that which makes one float. Practice of this pranayama demands skill on the part of the student. It is said that he who practices Plavini can do Jalastambha and float on water for any length of time.
Risk of yoga and pranayama practice
Although many forms of yoga and pranayama practice are safe, some are strenuous and may not be appropriate for everyone. In particular, elderly individuals, during pregnancy, respiratory, circulatory disorders or those with mobility problems may want to check first with a clinician before choosing yoga as a treatment option.
- Health Impacts of Yoga and Pranayama: A State-of-the-Art Review. Pallav Sengupta Int J Prev Med. 2012 Jul; 3(7): 444–458.
- Rapid Gene Expression Changes in Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes upon Practice of a Comprehensive Yoga Program. Su Qu, Solveig Mjelstad Olafsrud, Leonardo A. Meza-Zepeda, Fahri Saatcioglu; PLoS One.2013;8(4): e61910.
- Mahajan AS. Role of yoga in hormonal homeostasis. Int J Clin Physiol 2014; 1:173-8
- Induction of Salivary Nerve Growth Factor by Yogic Breathing: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Sundarvaldivel B, Jacobo EM, Amy EW, Int Psychogeriatr. 2015 Jan; 27(1): 168–170.
- 5. Effect of uninostril yoga breathing in brain hemodynamics: A functional near- infrared spectroscopy study. International Journal of Yoga. 2016; 9(1):12-19.
- Alterations in Salivary Proteome following Single Twenty -Minute Session of Yogic Breathing. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 376029, 10 pages
- Importance of Breathing – Dr Shamanthakamani Narendran. MD( Ped) PhD ( Yoga Science) http://www.slideshare.net/drshama65/importance-of-breathingpranayamappt