Friday, November 04, 2011

Different pranayama and their `personality'

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The other day someone left a question in my blog -- after posting it, I realised I could not locate it. So, here is the answer to that query. The person wondered why I had said Bhramari was heating when she thought it was cooling because it calms the mind. Now for the actual facts. Calming does not  mean cooling. It is just calming. We should not confuse words and therefore the effects of the pranayama. Calm is different from cool. When we  use the words in relation to the pranayama, it means the emotional effect is calming and the physical effect is heating (in the good sense of course). If you practice regularly you will understand what I mean: Bhramari cools the mind, but heats the body. If the bhrarmari is long and winding and if you move into its advanced version which also includes breath retention then u can actually  feel the heat. A good bhramari requires focus and effort and these two mental efforts will always whip up a good sweat. Those who do a weak bhramari are just feeling the practice and not fully experiencing it. Which, I am afraid, is where such doubts come from.

So a brief description of some of the classic pranayamas, so you can appreciate that their mental effect is different from their physical ones.

Basic Anulom Viloma -- alternate nostril breathing -- In its minimum ratio or no ratio as some schools (WHY!) prescribe it or if one with one nostril (as the Bihar school advised beginners) it can be cooling.

Physical effect: cooling
Mental effect: Calming, harmonising, creating a sense of balance. Objectivity.

Advanced Anulom viloma (alternate nostril breathing), with a ratio of 1:4:2 for inhalation: retention: exhalation this becomes progressively challenging if either you increase the counts, or the number of rounds. Beginners should first focus on increasing the rounds and then only move to the advanced ratio.

Phyiscal effect: Heating.
Mental effect: Calming. Balancing,  harmonising, creates objectivity and dispassion. Boosts willpower and discipline.  

Is a kriya, cleanser.

Physical effect: Heating.
Mental effect: Heating (Can aggravate anger but can help with anxiety through the hyperventilation). Stimulating.

Same as above, can cause exhaustion if hyper anxious or physically weak.

Physical effect: Heating.
Mental: Calming . (To be avoided during clinical depression).

Physical effect: Cooling.
Mental effect: Cooling.

Physical effect: Cooling.
Mental effect: Cooling.


Anonymous said...

Shameem its better to do Bhramari before going to sleep /evening
do it in morning?.

Shameem Akthar said...

Bhramari is fine anytime, like anulom and ujjayi -- all promote sleep:)