Pranayama to uplift the mood !

Pranayama Biological-Psychological mechanism

    01-Sep-2022   
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Mediyoga

Low mood, sadness, and depression

Pranayama Occasionally, we all experience feeling low, sad, anxious, frustrated, agitated, or emotionally exhausted. The causes of low mood can range from simple day-to-day stressful events to major loss, illness, or setback. Triggers, such as Monday mornings and heavy rains, can also determine our mood and make us feel dull and sad. Pranayama Sometimes, it may happen for no obvious external reason. It is normal to experience low moods from time to time, and it often gets better in a few days. But if it is prolonged, severe, and affects daily life, seeking help is necessary.

 
 

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Role of yoga:

Usually, a low mood can be improved by simple self-care practices and minor changes in daily routine. Since life is a complex phenomenon, the solutions to its challenges also require a holistic approach. Yoga is such an approach focussing on the body, mind, and spiritual level. It is low cost, accessible, easy to learn, and simple to perform. Bhagavad Gita mentions, “yogo bhavati dukha-ha”, which means that yoga destroys all sorrows. Pranayama, the yoga practice of regulated breathing, can work wonders to uplift the mood, and reduce depression, anxiety and stress. Healthier people experience increased energy, alertness, enthusiasm, and positive moods with pranayama practice. The latest clinical trials have shown measurable benefits of yoga breathing practices in coping with low mood and major depressive disorders.  Also read this...Hand mudras for peaceful mind

How does pranayama uplift the mood?

Biological mechanism:

Pranayama practice regulates and balances the nervous system. By activating the energy channels in the body it has a stimulating effect. It increases the secretion of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Serotonin, often called as ‘happiness hormone’ regulates mood and sleep. It promotes a cheerful mood and positive feelings. Pranayama breathing activates the cerebral alpha wave activity. Brain imaging studies reveal that breath-activated pathways affect areas associated with emotion regulation. Pranayama works at the cellular level and mitigates depression-related cellular decline.

Psychological mechanisms:

Our breathing patterns are associated with our emotions. When we feel low, sad, or stressed out, our breathing is shallow or irregular. This obstructs the free flow of vital energy in the body. Through pranayama practice, the natural relaxed, and rhythmic breathing pattern is re-established. This restores the unobstructed flow of vital energy. As a result, an improved feeling of well-being is achieved. Pranayama helps in controlling the intensity and frequency of negative emotions. Also read this...Healing Vibrations of Bhramari Pranayama !

It also helps reduce repetitive thoughts about the past or future. Living in the present moment allows us to filter unwanted thoughts and distractions from the mind. As a result, pranayama practice can improve how we feel. It helps to lower the depression and uplift the mood with an energizing effect. Often depressive states result in low self-esteem and feelings of worthless, failure, and helplessness. Self-esteem can be improved through classical yoga practices that promote compassionate and non-judgmental acceptance of one’s limitations.

Pranayama practice to uplift the mood:

Fast pranayama:

Fast pranayama is a hyperventilation practice involving rapid and deep breathing. They should be practiced with extreme caution and under the guidance of a yoga professional. Faulty practice or certain health conditions can cause harm and serious complications. 

· Bhastrika Pranayama:

· Known as the bellows breath technique, this pranayama detoxifies the body and purifies the mind. In this pranayama, both inhalation and exhalation are done deeply, fully, and rapidly. It stimulates internal fire and has an energizing effect. Confidence and mood can be elevated with this practice. Reduction in anxiety and a negative state of mind is achieved. It aids in weight loss by speeding up the metabolism. Care should be taken as this pranayama is not recommended for people having hypertension, heart disease, recent surgeries, migraine, psychiatric disorders, and lung cancers. In case of extreme tiredness, it can lead to exhaustion. 

· Kapalbhati:

· This popular practice is a cleansing process, according to many gurus, however, considered pranayama by some experts. It is called a skull shining breath and involves forceful exhalations followed by passive inhalations. This helps to decrease the negative thoughts and energize the mind and body. As a result, lethargy is removed and we feel energetic. It relieves depression, especially when associated with anxiety. Often promoted as a miracle cure, this practice has innumerable benefits. However, it may not be safe for everyone. People having hypertension, hernia, heart disease, recent abdominal surgery, cancer affecting the lungs, or psychiatric disorders should refrain from kapalbhati practice. Women should not practice it during menstruation. Also read this...Pranayama for Inner Peace

Slow pranayama:

1. Anulom Vilom Pranayama:

· Recommended by experts, this is one of the best breathing practices to beat stress, anxiety, and depression. It improves concentration and mental stability and boosts the mood. This practice helps in regulating emotions by balancing the activities of the brain hemispheres. It relieves fatigue caused by depressed mood and increases energy levels. In this pranayama, inhalation is done through the left nostril, and exhalation is done through the right nostril. The next inhalation is done through the right nostril, followed by exhalation through the left nostril. This completes one round of pranayama. Ten rounds are practiced. The breathing is performed slowly, gently, and with awareness.

 
2. Surya-Bhedana Pranayama:

· This means sun-piercing pranayama that is heat generating, stimulating, and energizing pranayama. This practice strengthens willpower, promotes enthusiasm, and stimulates the vitality of the body. Anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts are reduced. It improves self-esteem and helps overcome shy introvert nature. The practice is recommended for people experiencing intellectual dullness, oversleeping, and lethargy. In this practice, the inhalation is done through the right nostril and the exhalation through the left nostril. Ten such rounds are performed.

This pranayama is not suitable for people with hypertension, heart disease, and heat-related disorders. Women should not practice it during menstruation. If we consider our body as a vehicle, the right nostril inhalation can be compared to an accelerator with a stimulating effect, while the left nostril inhalation works like a brake with a calming effect. Both have important roles in the proper functioning of the body. The accelerator-right nostril breathing is required when the mood is dull, and the energy level is down. The brake-left nostril breathing is required when the mind is stressed out with overthinking and the system is on high alert mode.
 
3. Bhramari Pranayama:

· In this pranayama, following a deep inhalation, a humming sound is made while exhaling the breath. The vibrations are felt, reverberating throughout the body. This practice has a soothing effect on the brain. It influences the brain waves and induces a subjective feeling such as 'bliss.'This helps to uplift the mood and overcome the dull feeling. Bhramari pranayama works at the cellular level and improves energy. It effectively reduces depression, anxiety, sad mood, frustrations, and agitation. The results are immediate. Within minutes of practice, negative thoughts are reduced. It serves as a relaxation technique that makes the mind peaceful.

4. Ujjayi Pranayama:

· This is also called victorious breath, ocean breath, or snoring breath. It can be performed while standing, sitting, or lying down position. It can be practiced during asana, as it instills endurance and the ability to remain in the pose for a longer time. In Ujjayi pranayama, slow, deep and smooth breathing is done while contracting the throat so that a soft snoring sound is heard. During the practice, the throat contracts, and gently compresses the carotid sinuses in the neck. This regulates blood pressure and slows down the overthinking mind. As this mechanism of breathing affects the brain processes in subtle ways, Ujjayi is sometimes called the psychic breath. It has a soothing effect on the nervous system. This pranayama helps to calm down the mind by focusing on breathing. It brings the mind to the present moment awareness. Anger, irritability, overactivity, insomnia, and anger can be reduced by practicing this gentle pranayama.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is for informational purpose only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Yoga practices mentioned here must be learned under the guidance of a qualified yoga professional.

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Dr. Anjali Joshi

Dr. Anjali Joshi works as a yoga therapist at HCG NCHRI Cancer Center, Nagpur.
As a researcher, she focuses on the psychosocial and emotional well-being of cancer patients.
In recognition of her contribution to yoga, health, and wellness, she has received many awards and honors.
Her articles on yoga, a healthy lifestyle, and wellness have been published on many platforms, reflecting her love of writing. Her holistic health philosophy is based on her 23 years of dedicated yoga practice.