After reading this article you will learn about how yoga can help to reduce stress and tension in your life.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word derived from the root “Yuj” which means “to join”. The process of joining is neither physical nor chemical. The process is so subtle and super fine that when once this joining is complete the man loses one’s own entity completely and becomes one with God.
Yoga is the conscious and directed activity of an individual aspiring to a supra-sensory and supra-intellectual experience which is to one of spiritual value and which fully or to some extent transforms or deepens one’s life and his knowledge or understanding of reality and of oneself. In other words, the aim and purpose of yoga is to bring about a higher and more accomplished state of mind which transcends men usual and every day experience and opens for one a new field of vision and the capacity to grasp that vision.
The whole personality is transformed and can function in a new dimension hitherto unknown or inaccessible to it. Knowledge is widened, deepened and increased and there is a sense of communication with the Infinite or with reality as a whole. Once the link with that vital force is established the individual is no longer cut off from the whole.
Yogasanas have edge over the physical exercises like wrestling, gymnastics etc. Firstly yogasanas have a direct impact on the internal organs whereas other exercises only affect the muscles outwardly and thus on apparent look the latter may show better results but in real sense real health is built with healthy internal organs.
Secondly yogasana is effective cleaning process which makes functioning of the body more efficient by throwing all wastes of the body. Numbers of cells that are formed in asanas are larger in number as compared to the cells that are breaked during the process of asanas. Thirdly yogasanas increases elasticity of one’s body, normalises one’s blood pressure which make one look younger whereas other exercises make muscles stiff and hard which pave for early old age.
Fourthly Pranayama expansion and contraction of lungs take place and in this process blood get purified as oxygen reaches innermost portion of lungs. Fifthly by yogasanas, flexibility is brought in spine which controls entire nervous system and blood circulation system. Sixthly yogasanas are systematic as it makes correct blend of stretching and relaxation of muscles and thus it don’t make feel tired after its practice.
Patanjali, the father of yoga, has suggested the following steps which from part of yoga to liberate man from sorrow and to obtain desired physical and mental levels:
Control and discipline (Restraint). It is self-restraint through Ahinsa, Satya (truthfulness), Astets, Brahmachariya and Aparigraha (non-covetousness).
Rules, methods and principles (observance). They are Shaucha (purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapa, Swadhyja.
Making body postures.
Controlling the normal breathing cycle in order to get control over prana, the vital force.
The withdrawal of the senses from their respective outside objects and projecting them inwards. It is revolving the matter in the mind in order to understand it.
Concentration, fixing one’s mind on an external object.
Meditating with constant attention on the object of concentration.
Contemplation, when the mind becomes one with the form of the object of its concentration in dhyana.
In order to facilitate the practitioners, these steps were later grouped under different yogas according to their nature and substance:
1. Jnana Yoga covers Yama and Niyama,
2. Hatha Yoga covers Asanas and Pranayamas,
3. Karma Yoga covers Pratyahara,
4. Raja Yoga covers Dharma, Dhyana and Samadhi.
1. Jnana Yoga:
It is a science of acquiring proper knowledge. It covers all those areas of nature, society and the self, whose knowledge is essential forwarding off sorrow and maintaining a healthy and happy life. It is a realization of a man’s own divinity through knowledge.
2. Karma Yoga:
It teaches how to avoid undesirable elements in various actions of an individual and how to act so that a satisfactory result is obtained. It is a manner in which man realise his own divinity through work and duty.
3. Hatha Yoga:
It is primarily concerned with bodily postures- a technique with air, physical excellence but practise of this is important for creating good impact on mental health as well.
4. Raja Yoga:
It is a science of mental excellence. It implies a complete mastery of the self. Raj a Yoga and Hatha Yoga form complement to each other and form a single approach toward liberation. The basic three steps are Concentration, Meditation and Contemplation. It is realization of divinity through control of mind.
According to Yoga Science an individual is supreme. He is powerful being. He possesses all the powers himself if he knows how to use his own powers properly, he can obtain what he desires. He alone is the maker of his fate and destiny.
The basic yogic theme about an individual and one’s inherent powers can be summarised as follows:
(i) Everyone is responsible for what one is today and what one will be tomorrow.
(ii) One is as good as anyone borne in the past or living at present.
(iii) Everyone possesses physical and mental powers both of which can be developed and increased.
(iv) Fulfillment of one’s desire depends upon one’s own actions and thoughts.
(v) One can change oneself.
According to yogic view, spine is comprised of three basic channels which are as follows:
1. IDA nadi starts from left nostril and it is called a nadi of moon.
2. PINGALA nadi starts from right nostril and it is called a nadi of sun.
3. SUSHUMNA is in the middle of Ida and Pingala nadi and hence is called channel of equilibrium. It is the main channel of nervous energy and is situated inside the spinal column.
All the above three channels of energy are tapped through:
(d) Mudra, and
(e) Through other discipline control the basic force is believed to be generated from Mudra where anus and gentals meet which moves upward through sushumna nerve channel to the saharrar.
Based on certain definite scientific principles, some of the yogic exercises twist the body forward, others help the lateral movements of the spine, yet others keep the thyroid in a healthy condition and supply abundant blood to the brain, and seek to develop the diaphragm and the muscular partition between the chest and abdomen. The western systems of physical exercises develop the superficial muscles of the body.
It is left to yogic exercises to exercise thoroughly the interned organs such as the liver, spleen, pancreas, intestines, heart, lungs, brain and the important ductless glands of the body. Some of the asanas promote digestion and circulation of the blood and make the kidneys, liver and all other internal viscera work efficiently. The ancient Rishies of India have formulated these Yoga Asanas not only because they preserved a high standard of health, vigour and vitality in the practitioner but also aid in their moral development and spiritual attainments.
The Need of Asanas:
(a) To improve health.
(b) To maintain health.
(c) To cure certain types of pain in the body/back.
(d) To overcome tiredness.
(e) To increase the resistance to cold and minor ills.
(f) To keep and improve the shape of the body.
(g) To mitigate the strain and tensions of modern living.
(h) To increase vitality and promote a feeling of well-being.
(i) To improve the circulation of blood.
Asanas can cure flabby thighs, building waistline, and sagging stomach. A series of exercises (asanas) are said to isolate the mind by freezing it from attention to bodily functions. As one gets older, one’s muscles tend to get shorter and harder. With this contraction, come loss of activity, extra weight or flabbiness, stiffness, wrinkles, aches and pains which in turn create tension. All this can be avoided by asanas which keep the muscles stretched strong and supple.
“An ounce of practice is better than tons of theory”, says Vivekanand. This is true for realisation of real self through the purification of body and mind.
Some of the asanas which help in reducing tension by reconditioning of body and mind are as follows:
One is required to lie down with the back on the ground in a relaxed state, facing the sky, eyes closed. One concentrates on the breath.
By doing Shavasana the frequency and intensity of both proprioceptive and denteroceptive impulses in the person gets reduced. This helps the practitioner to become introverts and withdraw from outside world.
It is fact that hypothalamus is the locus of the mind where thinking process for an individual takes place. When the mind has thoughts of worry, the inner harmony gets disturbed and this itself becomes cause for the disturbing various muscles of endocrine glands, harmonal balance, and autonomic nervous system.
During Shavasana, mechanism of hypothalamus goes slow which reduces the blood pressure. In this process one is away from tension. This reduces proprioceptive impulses and this relaxes body muscles.
2. Yog-Nindra – A technique for Relaxation:
Yog-nindra can be considered to be the next stage of Shavasana as it leads the mind into different layers of consciousness. Shavasana is considered adequate if undertaken for five to fifteen minutes whereas Yog-nindra is required to be undertaken for minimum ten minutes and may be extended to an hour.
In Yog-nindra, one is required to lie down with back on ground, hands and legs also on ground in a relaxed state, eyes closed a pose similar to Shavasana. In this technique a sense of deprivation is created by stopping all messages from all senses to enter the body, concentration is done on breathing and each breath is consciously taken in and out.
In each breath constructive suggestion is given to mind by consciously thinking that all diseases are going out of the body. After this conscious effort is made, it is necessary to look into the state of affairs of each part of body and relaxation is induced by conscious effort through constructive ideas.
In last stage an effortless approach is made to make oneself alert towards outside realities and atmosphere. After this eyes are opened and a thoughtless stage is induced. The practice of Yog-nindra for a long period of time helps in bringing relaxation to an individual and thereby tension bearing capacity of a person gets drastically increased.
Yog-nindra helps in calming down of mind, slowing down of heart beat, less consumption of oxygen, lowering of blood pressure, and increase in alpha waves and thereby relaxation of mind is achieved. It is a technique in which conscious effort is made to relax each part of body and thereby muscular, mental and emotional relaxation is induced. Yog-nindra is a stage which lies between full sleep and active awakened mind. It produces better effects of the effects that sleep produces.
In this asana, one lies down on one’s stomach, with face towards right direction by resting left side of face on the ground. Right arm is bent from the elbow so that palm and fingers of right hand rest on the ground at about 15 cm away from nose. Left arm lie straight. Right leg is bent in such a way that the right foot heel comes near the left leg knee.
In this, entire belly and chest touches the ground and the whole body is left loose in a relaxed state. Deep breathing is done during this pose. The above posture is repeated on the other side by keeping right leg and right hand straight. Left leg and left arm are bent as stated above.
The asana produces very good results in generating sound sleep and for creating relaxation in body by controlling the thought process. When mind withdraws itself from adverse outer environment and attention goes towards inner self, then one gets peace, enjoy the calmness and tranquility. This process is called meditation in Raj Yoga.
This asana consists of 12 steps required to be done with systematic breathing system of inhaling and exhaling. Step one consists of standing pose with folded hands near chest with breath out. Second step consists of taking the arms up vertical to body, bending backward with breath in. Third step consists of lowering the upper portion, touching the ground with hands facing the knees; this is done with breath out.
Fourth step consists of keeping one leg between two hands which rest on ground, the other leg is stretched out in full length, and upper body is bent towards back, with eyes towards sky. This is done in inhaling stage. Fifth step is done with hands touching the ground, mid-portion of the body stretched up with face down to ground and then placing body pressure towards the side.
This is done in holding the breath inside. Sixth step is done in breathing out with body going to touch the ground with pressure on hands, body weight on ground. Seventh step takes Bhoojang Asana pose. Thereafter 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st step are repeated so as to make 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th step respectively.
Suryanamaskar reduces both physical and mental tension.
(a) Steps up cardiac activity.
(b) Improves the flow of blood throughout the body.
(c) Tones up the nervous system by successively stretching the spinal columns. The functioning of para-sympathetic and sympathetic nervous system becomes more acute.
(d) Ventilates the lungs, oxygenates the blood and acts as a disintoxicant by getting rid of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases through the respiratory tracts.
(e) Stimulates and normalizes the activity of the endocrine gland.
This asana has other beneficial effects on skin, shoulders, neck, wrists, thighs, ankles, abdominal muscles etc. This asana is very effective as it always checks worry and calms down anxiety.
5. Paschimottan Asana:
In this asana one sits on the floor stretching out both the legs in front and keeping the heels and toes together. Spine, neck and head are kept erect. Then breath is consciously taken in and hands go up and then slowly bend down while exhaling and head is buried in between the knees, the elbows are kept on ground and hands hold the thumbs of the feet.
This asana normalises the functioning of nervous system and thereby it has a good conditioning effect on the mind. Its other benefits include in removing the disorders of spine, kidneys, liver and spleen. It helps in strengthening Sushumna nadi. This pose helps in rousing spiritual forces which normally lie dormant at the base of spine.
In this, one first lies down on the back and stretches one’s body. Arms are rested on the sides with palms facing the ground. Then one lifts the legs slowly by placing pressure on the hands by making 90 degree angle, bending the waist by way of half circle, legs are taken beyond the head till feet touch the ground.
This asana is useful in reducing tension as it is very effective in increasing mental and physical energy. It provides fresh blood to the spine and its ligaments. It has beneficial effects on liver, pancreas, spleen and kidneys.
In this asana one lie down on the back with hands’ palms touches the ground on the sides of the thighs which are resting on the ground. One slowly raises one’s legs by placing pressure on one’s hands, staying for a while at 45 degree position and bringing them to 90 degrees and stay for a few moments.
Then one raises one’s waist also and takes the legs beyond one’s head by bringing legs parallel to the ground. Here one exhale, and start lifting the hands from the ground bending the arms from the elbows, is placing hands on the back for proper support. We raise the legs upwards with the elbows resting on the ground. Here the normal breathing takes place.
This asana is very useful in reducing tension. As the name suggests, it gives strength to all parts of body. Nervous system gets toned up with this asana, makes a person more capable of handling one’s day to day problems. Thyroid glands become healthy. This asana strengthens circulatory, respiratory and ailmentary systems of the body, it makes spine elastic and removes disorders of thyroid, tonsils, neck, lungs and ears.
Pranayam is a purification technique of mind which helps in strengthening nervous system, memory and concentration power. It affects beneficially liver, stomach, kidneys, digestive organs etc. Pranayama is control of breathing to rejuvenate the physical body. It stabilizes the rhythm of breathing in order to encourage complete respiratory action.
Pranayama when practiced regularly helps one to have control over one’s sense organs and the mind. Manu has rightly said “just as the impurities of metals (gold etc.) are removed by the flame of fire, the indriyas (senses) throw out their impurities through Pranayam”.
It has been scientifically found that pranayam creates beneficial effects on emotions as there is a deep relationship between emotions and breathing. By controlling one’s emotions one can get rid of tension. Pranayama literally consists of Prana and Ayama. The Sanskrit word ‘Prana’ means ‘life’ or vital force and ‘Ayama’ means control, i.e. in total it is a control of Prana. In pranayama pressure and release of pressure and done in the trunk at the thoracic level (above the diaphragm) are the abdominal level.
In breathing with the abdominal control there is struggle between the muscles which lower the diaphragm and push the organs downwards. The contracted abdominal wall is pushed forward which resists that pressure instead of yielding to it. This results in intra-abdominal pressure which produces beneficial effects.
Pranayam plays a vital role and effects different parts of the system which in turn perform different functions of the body.
Pranayama do functions of the body though it has been given different names for the purpose of identification of force:
1. It circulates in the area around the heart and central breathing (Prana).
2. It circulates in the lower region of the abdomen and controls excretory functions. (Apana).
3. It stimulates the gastric juices and aids digestion (Somana).
4. It remains in the thorartic cage and controls the absorption of air and food (Udana).
5. It spreads throughout the body and distributes the energy from food and breath (Vyana).
6. It relieves abdominal pressure by provoking erciation (Naga).
7. It controls the eyelids so as to prevent foreign bodies from entering the dazzling light from harming the eyes (Kurma).
8. It prevents certain substances from rising into the nasal cavities or descending into the throat causing sneezing and coughing (Krkara).
9. It ensures the absorption of extra oxygen into a tired body and causes yawning (Devodutta).
10. It remains in the body even after death and sometimes causes the body to swell (Dhanajaya).
Any imbalances in the functioning of any of the points mentioned above are likely to produce tension of various degrees. The art of Pranayam teaches one to limb up the ladder of mental peace. Pranayama restores calm and equipoise of the disturbed mind and helps in restoring self-confidence.
Emotional excitement affects the rate of breathing and conversely deliberate regulation of breathing checks emotional excitement which helps in controlling tension. The process of disciplined breathing acts on one’s tangled and inchoate nervous system and produces miraculous effect just as rubbing is a bar moecules over an ordinary piece of steel polarises its mollecules and creates a new power in it.
How Does Deep Breathing Help?
If one increases the volume of intake of air in one’s breathing, it has a very beneficial effect. This volume of air, to be specific, is a combination of various ingredients e.g. oxygen, nitrogen, moisture, pollutants etc. and it is actually measured as tidal volume. In normal breathing one intake about 500 ml (millilitre) of air, out of which 150 ml goes waste.
If breath intake is increased by fast breathing, the intake of tidal volume 170 ml/minute and against this if one takes deep breathing as is being done in yoga Pranayama, the intake of tidal volume is 1000 ml/minute. By this process, lungs get a lot of oxygen which purifies blood and makes the system more effective thereby increasing one’s tension bearing capacity.
It has been scientifically established that there is a close link between emotions and breathings. It is observed that the breathing changes its rate and style under different emotions that man produces. Pranayama plays an important role in changing breath quality that is bound to create positive emotions.
To get a complete picture that Pranayamas effects produces, it is necessary to understand that yogic breathing combines the following three different forms of breathing:
(a) Diaphragmatic breathing:
According to this process the base of lungs is ailed with air and rhythmic lowering of the diaphragm helps the organs of the body to function normally. Diaphragm is basically a strong position of muscles separating the chest and the abdomen.
(b) The Intercostal breathing:
It helps in filling the middle section of the lungs which allows the fresh air to enter in abdominal respiration. This process is done by raising the ribs through dialation of the thoracic cage or chest wall.
(c) The Chavucular breathing:
It provides fresh air to upper section of the lungs. This process is done by raising the collar bone and shoulders.
One breathes through both left and right nostril. The flow of prana through the left nostril is done by Ida or Chandra Nadi, which brings cooling effect and influences the left part of the body and controls human thoughts. It has Tamas Guna. The flow of prana through the right nostril is done by Pingala or Surya Nadi.
It controls the right part of the body and rings heat producing warm effect. It is supposed to have Rajas Guna. The objective of Pranayama is to bring proper balance between Ida and Pingala for the purpose of attaining spiritual attainment through Susukshmna. Balance between the three Nadis gives strength, health and peace.
Pranayama is different from normal breathing as it is a specific way of inhaling and exhaling.
The three ways of controlling breath in Pranayama are:
1. Pooraka – filling the breath.
2. Rechaka – throwing the breath-out.
3. Khumbaka – holding the breath in or out. Holding in the breath is Antrik Khumbaka and holding it after throwing breath is Balya Khumbaka.
The different Pranayamas suggested below are basically different combinations of Pooraka, Rechaka, and Kumbhka:
1. Shawans-presha Pranayama:
(a) In this pranayama each breath is consciously inhaled and exhaled with closed eyes. When this is done for a long time, it helps in overcoming tension.
2. Chandra-bhedi Pranayama:
In this pranayama, inhaling is done from left nostril and exhaling is done through right nostril. If this type of inhaling and exhaling is combined with closure of hearing and concentration is done on an internal buzzing sound of any type, then it becomes very beneficial in overcoming tension and helps in subsiding aroused emotions.
3. Bhramari Pranayama:
In this type of pranayama, ears and eyes are closed with fingers keeping the palms of the hands open. After inhaling fresh air, breath is retained for a few seconds inside by doing antrik khumbaka and exhaling is done afterwards by slowly producing the buzzing sound of a Bhramar (i.e., bee). This pranayama strengthens the tissues of the brain and keeps the mind alert. This is very useful in relieving the tension.
4. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama:
Purification of subtle perception paths. This pranayama, as the name suggests, helps in purifying the nerves and thereby strengthens the nervous system.
This pranayama is done in a comfortable sitting posture; breathing is done in a normal way. First, right nostril is closed and slow inhaling of air is done by left nostril. When the full breath is taken in left nostril is closed or breath is retained inside by doing antrik khumbaka for a few seconds.
After lifting the thumb from the right nostril exhaling is done slowly by keeping the left nostril closed. After this, similar process is done by inhaling from right nostril retaining the breath inside exhaling from left nostril. This makes one round of Nadi Shodhana. It is important to remember the ratio of inhaling, retaining and exhaling of breath which for beginners is 1: 2: 2 and later on 1: 4: 2: is considered to be ideal.
The secret behind wonderful effects of this pranayama is that one holds one’s breath in antrik khumbaka, the intake of fresh and pure air purifies lungs and when one throws the breath out (i.e. Bahya Khumbaka) then the cells of the lungs contract to squeeze out the impure air. In simple breathing, the pure air which one inhales is being exhaled immediately and as such pure air is not completely utilised in the body.
This pranayama produces the most favourable effect on nervous system and lungs.
5. Sheetli Pranayama (Beak Tongue Pranayama):
This pranayama is done in a comfortable pose. First of all, tongue is brought out; its edges are turned inside to give it the shape of a drain. This is done to avoid the entry of any foreign substance into the body as this is the only pranayama where inhaling of air is done through mouth by making a hissing sound. The antrik khumbaka is performed with all three bandhas. After this, bandhas are released – first uddiyan, then jallandhar and then moolbandha and lastly exhaling is done through nose.
This pranayama produces a cooling effect on body and mind. If it is practised regularly, it is useful in changing the temperament of a person in a positive direction. The beneficial effect of this pranayama is also on blood purification level.
6. Kapal-bhati Pranayama:
In this pranayama an effort is made to force out all the breath that one has inside and normal inhaling process is done. Initially an attempt is made to breathe out 15-20 times without consciously taking breath inside. After this, breath is retained outside for few moments by doing bakya kumbaka.
This is combined with mool bandha, the jallandhar bandha and uddiyan bandha. After bandhas are removed and normal inhaling of breath is done. This pranayama is particularly useful in purifying the impurities of nerves of the skull region and helps in controlling the sense organs. It is very useful in bringing relaxation of mind.
One has two types of energy i.e. Prana and Ayama. Prana energy controls various functions of the body above navel and is termed as positive force. Ayama energy controls the various functions of the body below navel. In moolbandha, prana shakti is moved upwards by lifting the rectum up. In uddhiyanbandha this prana shakti is pushed spine. In Jallandharbandha, ayama shakti is pushed down. Miraculous results can be achieved by the union of prana and ayama shaktis of the spine point behind navel.
Bandhas are safety-locks which are necessary to practice at the time of breath-retention for getting optimum utilization of oxygen that one inhales. For increasing tension-bearing capacity bandhas produce good results by calming down the agitated feelings.
Mudras and bandha has served to control and guide the psychic and pranic forces engendered or set in motion. To practice pranayama without bandhas can be disastrous. They perform the function that a transformer/fuse dose in circuit of electricity current. This bandhas play a protective role in avoiding pranic short-circuits in the body. The three bandhas which help in tension reduction.
(a) Mula bandha (Anus-lock).
(b) Uddiyana Bandha (Fly-up lock).
(c) Jallandhar Bandha (Glottis-lock).
(a) Mula Bandha (Anus-Lock):
The essential elements of this bandha are:
1. Simultaneous and continuous contraction of the internal and external anal sphincters.
2. Contraction of muscles lifting the anus.
3. Contraction of pelric floor.
4. Contraction of the lower abdomen to push back the viscera towards the sacrum.
Efficiency of Mula Bandha depends on contraction of two sphincters that close the anus. There is external anal sphincter which closes the extremity of the digestive tract but it is essential that the second muscular ring, which is internal and lies two/three centimetres above in rectum must also be contracted. Contraction is done first in external and then on internal anal sphincter which leads to the contraction of the whole anal area and of the perineum.
The contraction of the second sphincter plays an important role in the evacuation of the faces affects colon, the abdominal wall and diaphragm. Anus, rectum and colon are sources of illness and they get cleaned up through this bandha. Contraction in this pose is done in a series of twenty contractions.
Mula Bandha is the contraction of the roots of whole skeleton i.e. sacrum. The sacrum is composed of five sacral vertebrae fused together and provides a passage to sacral nerves. The pelvic nerve goes through the pelvic plexu from which some nervous current is sent to all pelvic organs through the nerves.
These nerves connect fibres colon, rectum, anus, bladder and thus play an important role. In breath- retention parasympathetic nerve produces beneficial effects as this directly the activates origin at the base of brain and slowly this excitement spreads to whole para sympathetic system which increase the constructive, anabolic, functions of the body.
By performing Mula Bandha excitement is at the point of origin and then spread to other parts. Stimulation at sacral and pelvic parts of parasympathetic system is avoided in this bandha which otherwise also must be avoided as the same can create imbalance in brain. By this bandha, stimulation goes to whole system instead of restricting it merely to origin point.
Mula bandha establishes direct line between the centres of consciousness of Sahasrara chakra, the brain and the root chakra. Inhalation and exhalation is respectively done by prana vayu and apana vayu. Apana vayu usually moves towards the outside in order to reject the impurities of the body and mostly towards the lower part of the body-urination, defaecation, ejaculation, menstruation and child birth. During breathe retention when Mula Bandha is combined with Jallandhara Bandha the strong pranic current is generated. This energising current created at the base level rises along the susukshmna in the direction of sahasrara chakra.
This bandha helps in giving strength to inner muscles and activate their functioning. It has a very beneficial effect on the nervous system which increases the capacity of a person to bear tension producing factors.
(b) Uddiyana Bandha:
During its practise one has the feeling that the stomach rises, literally ‘flies away’ upward. This bandha, like Mulla Bandha, must be practised on an empty stomach and the most propitious time is after the morning asana session. Lean slightly forward, place your hands on your thighs, above the knees or close to the groin, and empty your lungs completely (the weight of the torso must rest on the arms).
Then raise the diaphragm by false inhalation; the intestines are forced back towards the spine as the abdomen retracts. Hold it for a few seconds, then release the bandha and inhale again. Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha complete each other, since the organs concerned are closely related and perfectly synchronised. One should practise these bandhas together. After learning and mastering them separately they should be combined as a single exercise.
(c) Jalandhar Bandha:
The best results are obtained by combining the three bandhas that is by adding Jalandhara Bandha. When the lungs are filled with air, the ribs are lifted (which causes the thorax to expand), the neck is lowered until the chin exerts pressure on the body. To practise these bandhas, it is desirable to choose a quiet place where one will not be disturbed.
When one practise the bandhas separately one must always concentrate on the muscles one is contracting whereas, if the three bandhas are combined, one must first concentrate on Mula Bandha, then on Uddiyana Bandha which is next, and finally on Jalandhara Bandha. Remain concentrated on the three bandhas. When they are released (in reverse order: first Jalandhara, then Uddiyana, finally Mula Bandha) concentrate on each bandha as it relaxes.
All diseases produce tension and mudras help in overcoming various problems leading to tension. Human body is consisted of five elements i.e. fire, air, earth, water and ether. The characteristics of fire.
These five elements are present in our body in the form of five sense organs other has the characteristic of sound, which we hear without ears. The characteristic of air is touch, which we feel through skin. The characteristic of fire is light, which we feel with our eyes. The characteristic of water is taste, which we feel with our tongue. And similarly the characteristic of earth is smell, which we experience through our nose.
All diseases produce tension and Mudras technique helps in overcoming such problem produced by diseases.
Our body is considered to be consisted of five elements:
(d) Earth, and
All these elements mentioned above are represented in different fingers of our both hands. Thumbs of both hands represent ‘fire’ element, first finger represent ‘air’ element,
second finger represent ether (sky) element, third finger from thump represent ‘earth’ element’ and last finger represent ‘water’ element.
Mudras represent different poses of different fingers of the hands whereby different pressure is created on fingers which have the effect of increasing the speed of the cleaning processes of different elements present in these fingers.
1. Gyan Mudra (First Finger and Thumb):
In this Mudra upper portion of thumb of hand is pressed with the upper portion of first finger. The pressure created; represent unification of ‘fire’ and ‘air’ element. When pressure is created on the upper portion of thumb, this has the effect of subsidising the agitated feelings.
This pressure besides affecting ‘Gyan Kendra’ has the direct effect on pitutary and pineal gland. This mudra has direct effect on mental faculties. It smoothens the agitated feelings created by anger. It removes uncertainty, anger, fear and tension created therefrom. It strengthens nervous system.
2. Vayu Mudra (Back side of first finger and thumb):
In this mudra, first finger is bending towards palm and pressure is given on the back side of this finger by thumb. This mudra has remarkable beneficial effect in removing the diseases of artharitis, paralysis, trembling etc. When this mudra is combined with ‘aapan mudra’ then it has the direct effect in removing the diseases relating to heart, thyroid gland.
3. Shunya Mudra (Back side of second finger and thumb):
In this mudra, the back side of second finger is pressed towards palm of the thumb of hand. Continuous practice of this mudra helps in removing hearing problem, and it has direct beneficial effect on thyroid gland.
4. Prithvi Mudra (Front top tip of third finger and thumb):
In this mudra, the upper portion of third finger front tip is pressed with the upper portion of thumb. This mudra helps in removing those diseases and increases capacity of body to increase capacity of the body to combat with diseases that spread due to deficiency of ‘earth’ element. It removes weakness of body, deficiency of vitamins and helps in creating balance in body.
5. Aapaan Mudra (Middle two fingers and thumb):
In this mudra second and third finger from thumb is pressed towards palm by the pressure created on the back side of these fingers by the thumb. This mudra helps in cleaning the body and in creating sattvic (positive) feelings. This mudra helps in removing blockage in urinary track.
6. Prana Mudra (Pressure by tips of last two fingers and thumb):
In this mudra, last two fingers of the hand are pressed on its tips by the upper portion of the thumb. This mudra has direct effect in increasing the visibility power.
7. Shaant Mudra:
In this mudra, second finger from thumb presses the base of nose and the rest of three fingers only touch the nose. In this mudra, only light pressure is created by these fingers on the nose. This mudra helps in subsidising the agitated feelings and the feeling of ginger is replaced by calm and composed mind and feelings.
8. Lekhni Mudra:
Lekhni is boon from the Goddess Saraswati. When we hold pen then pressure on thumb has direct bearing in creating pressure on ‘Budhi Kendra’. First finger which represent ‘Vayu’ (Air) element increases the speed of Arash (ether) element represented in the second finger and this process also give shelter to ideas generated from ‘Budhi Kendra’ i.e. ground element is provided by earth represented by third finger. This process also effect the water element represented by fourth finger from thumb which basically give flow to these ideas like flow of water.
Different Mudras effects different elements represented in different fingers of hand. Each mudra in itself helps in removing tension created in body different due to deficiency of these elements.
Concentration on Chakras – Tension Reduction Technique:
The literal meaning of ‘Chakra’ is wheel. As per Tantra Yoga, there exist seven subtle Chakras in our body out of which five exist in spine, sixth in the forehead in the centre of the eyebrows and seventh at the back of the head at Brahmarandhra. Concentration of these Chakras at the time of doing asanas or at the time of meditation leads to the purification nerves and nerves fibres. Persons with unstable and restless mind should cooncentrate on Mooladhar Chakra and Ajna Chakra. Concentrating on different Chakras helps in purification of body and mind, which helps in getting peace of mind and remove tension?
Relaxation through concentration of Chakras is based affected by directly affected on our Central Nervous System. In this process the primordial energy ‘Kundalini’ situated in the sacrum bone at the base of spine on being activated rises up, pierce the five subtle Chakras and then unites with the all prevading cosmic energy after piercing Sahasrara Chakra at the top of the head. This stage is known as the stage of self realisation. At this stage subtle cool breeze starts flowing from the palms of the hands and top of the head. One attains blissful stage with profound physical and mental relaxation.
In human body there are three subtle nerve channels (Nadis) which runs along the entire vertebral column. On the left of the spine is Ida; on the right is Pingla and in the centre ‘Sushumna’. These nerve channels cross each other at certain nerve centres, and these nerve centres are called Chakra in Tantra Yoga.
(a) Muladhara Chakra exists in the region of conccy (bone ending spinal column) slightly above the rectum. Mula = root; Adhara = support or vital part.
(b) Svadhisththana Chakra exists in the sacral region and occupies the area of five lower vertebrae of the spine. Sixa = vital force; Adhisthana = seat or ahode.
(c) Manipuraka Chakra occupies next five vertebrave from below after the first five occupied by the Swadhisthan Chakra. It is located nearthe navel in the lumber region. (Manipura = Navel).
(d) Anahata Chakra occupies place near the heart and exist in the upper spine. This chakra occupies twelve of the vertebrae.
(e) Vishuddhi Chakra is in the neck and occupies the remaining seven vertebrae of the vertebral column. It is in pharyngeal region. (Vishuddi = pure).
(f) Ajna Chakra is located in the centre of two eyebrows. This also is the place of the divine light and the third eye.
(g) Sahasrara Chakra is at the back of the head at Brahmarandhra. This is the highest of all the subtle Chakra and is reached in the highest state of sadana.
Chakras correspond to the endocrme glands which supply hormones and other internal secretious to the system.
The corresponding gland position in Neuro endocrines system as compared to these Chetna-kendra (Psychic Centres) are as follows:
By concentrating on a particular gland or its corresponding Psychic Centres the powers of that gland can be controlled to get the desired result and this helps in getting rid of diseases and tension produced by these diseases.