Reduce the Stress level to practice Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama)

Reduce the Stress level to practice Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama)

Nadi shodhana pranayama or Alternate nostril breathing is one of the most necessary practices on the path of yoga. Due to its various stages and ratios of inhalation to exhalation, it is also suitable for most people. Keeping this in mind, the Manushi school of Yoga Research Foundation undertook a research project from May 2016 to study some of the basic psycho physiological effects of nadi shodhana pranayama on 15 students enrolled in the Teacher Training Course at the Manushi school of Yoga (MSY). The experience shared here.

The practice of nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breath) restores, equalizes and balances the flow of prana in the body. The word shodhana means to cleanse or purify, the word nadi refers to the network of pranic channels in the body. Effect of Autonomic Nervous system Physiology of nostril breathing practices and its probable relation with nostril and cerebral dominance.  Kayser, renowned rhinologist defined nasal  cycle as a phenomenon of the alternating congestion, decongestion response of erectile tissue of nasal turbinate and septum of two nostrils, which effectively altered the unilateral nasal resistance and was existent on account of prevailing sympathetic or parasympathetic tone. This pranayama helps to clean and rejuvenate your channels of vital energy, thus the name nadi sodhana (purification of nadis or channels). The English name, alternate nostril breath, is due to the fact that we alternate between the two nostrils when we do the breathing.

Manushi school of Yoga systematic oraganised yoga practices in nadi shodhana pranayama practice, Sympathetic vasoconstriction will decrease air resistance allowing greater passage of air while parasympathetic vasodilatation will increase nasal resistance and will decrease the air flow. Thus the alteration may reach the transition point where air flow may be transiently equal bilaterally. In another way we can say that sympathetic or parasympathetic activity alternates automatically in our body, which is important for our survival.

Due to our hectic and stressful life, this naturally occurring alternate breathing cycle gets disrupted and we suffer from different ailments. And these ailments are due to imbalance of functions of autonomic nervous system and can be resolved by practicing alternate nostril breathing (Nadisodhana pranayama). It’s just like returning back to nature Practicing ANB regularly keeps our both hemispheres (brain) active and also keeps both the autonomic nervous system in balance we will get following result.

Regular practice of nadi shodhana pranayama will:

  1. Reduce yoga participants’ stress
  2. Increase breath holding time (BHT)
  3. Increase peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR),
  4. Normalize pulse rate (P) and set it at a reduced normal value
  5. Normalize systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP & DBP) and set them at reduced normal values
  6. Balance the swara

Now the reader will have to understand elementary human physiology. We have a healer inside us which is the most powerful healer and the best doctor in the world called the immune system. This has to be kept in good working order all the time. When we were mere hunger gatherers in the forest, our only cause of premature death was predation.

Nature then endowed us with a very intelligent extra system called the autonomic nervous system which would keep us going when we are seriously injured as we did not have intensive care units then. What the intensive care unit does has been done by the autonomic nervous system in a better way. It could close up cut vessels, make the blood clot, get our blood pressure up when it went down, and see that the vital organs got enough blood by redistributing blood more efficiently. In case, we saw a tiger, the same system would make us capable of running away from danger by elevating our blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol and other sterols as a life saving measure.

Now that we are in a (un) civilized world, involved in our rat race to make money and get positions, we have to deal with human tigers every day. Many a timesthese tigers live with us as our near and dear ones. We are yet to evolve enough to get rid of the autonomic nervous system, and that might take millions of years of evolution. As of now we get the flight-fight-fright reaction of the forest tiger sighting with the same biochemical reactions and consequent altered blood parameters and rise of BP.

While in the forest the elevated levels used to be burnt up to give us energy to run. Today, we cannot run away from the metaphorical tigers. On a chronic basis we accumulate these elevated blood parameters and become hypertensive, diabetic, and what have you. So it is not the tail, elevated blood pressure, which wags its dog, the silent killer. It is the abnormal consciousness of fear and fight reactions of our atavistic human mind that does the trick. Manushi school of Yoga (MSY) practices according to scientific research evidence and applications of modern lifestyle. Unfortunately, in reductionist medicine we do not look at the whole and try to deal with the end result or symptom.

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