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Counter Insomnia with Brahmari Pranayam

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty in falling asleep. Sleep is the gift of nature. It is essential & and an important part of our life because we get special strength for physical capacity and mental working ability. Sleep not only helps regain used up energies but also gives rest to the strained muscles & nerves. 

The body and mind become healthy & make us free from all problems, worries, anxiety and stress of life. Seven to eight hours of sleep a night is optimal for good health. It is essential for the formation of the various hormones, which are utilised during the activities done for the whole day. It is also essential for rejuvenation of the heart's muscles that tire during the day's hard work. People, who suffer from sleep disorders, really understand the true importance of sleep. 

They feel tired, exhausted and fatigued when they wake up in the morning. It can affect their energy level, mood, health, immune system, job & family. Insomnia that occurs most nights and lasts a month or more is considered chronic insomnia & should be considered a serious disorder.


THE AUTOMATIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (ANS)

The ANS is divided into two parts: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The sympathetic nervous system has an active pushing function; the parasympathetic has mainly a relaxing function. When the sympathetic nervous system over stimulates, it results in numerous adverse physiological changes such as anxiety, panic attack, stress & increased blood pressure. People with insomnia problem must have noticed that whenever they want to sleep their mind becomes more active and lots of thoughts, programmes etc. start coming into their mind & they find it difficult to fall asleep. To counter these changes, we should follow certain techniques to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system counteracts the stress effect, calms you down, slows heart rate, increases digestion, and so on. This is the state; you want to be in before you go to bed.

HOW TO ACTIVATE THE PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM

The easiest Yoga technique is to breathe in & out through the left nostril to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. To do this breath exercise, use the thumb of the right hand to close the right nostril. Breathe in & out through the left nostril as slow as possible until you fall asleep. You can do this sitting or lying down. This exercise can be done before going to bed or anytime you want to fall asleep or calm down. Another relaxation technique is Brahmari Pranayama which has shown excellent results in curing insomnia. This Pranayama lowers stress levels from both the mind and the body, which leads to a deeper & more restful sleep.

BRAHMARI PRANAYAMA

Brahmari is an excellent breathing technique which not only cures sleeplessness but helps a number of problems like worry, depression, anger, anxiety etc. Brahmari Pranayama has positive effects on the endocrine system (especially thyroid gland), immune system and nervous system.

In Sanskrit Brahmari means a bee. In this Pranayama a buzzing sound is produced similar to the buzzing of a bee, hence the name Brahmari. The deep inhalation should be done and then the voice like humming of the black bee is to be produced from throat. The voice comes out through the nose. While making a buzzing sound, we get vibrations in the brain which create a soothing effect on the mind & the nervous system. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which induces muscular, physical, mental & emotional relaxation and is very effective in curing all the above disorders.

The long-time practice of Bhramari Pranayama gives good and deep sleep. People who have the problem of insomnia should practice Bhramari Pranayama by closing the ears by index fingers. The elbows should point downwards and it should not be horizontal. Do not touch the face. It can be practiced on empty stomach. It is particularly beneficial for insomnia if it is practiced before going to bed at night.


METHOD

SITTING POSTURE
Sit in any comfortable posture with the spine & head erect. You can keep your hands on the knees in Gyan Mudra Posture (join the tips of the index fingers to the tips of the thumbs while keeping the other fingers extended & loose). Close your eyes gently & relax all the muscles. Your lips are together and your jaw is relaxed, the teeth are separated slightly throughout the practice. Spend a few moments being aware of your natural breath as it passes in and out of the body.

TECHNIQUE

• Bring your hands up to your ears, with the elbows pointed downwards and plug the ears with the index fingers or just press the earflaps. Bring the awareness to the eyebrow centre.

• Inhale deeply through the nose and as you exhale, make a smooth & steady buzzing sound from the neck via the nose in the nasal passages. At the end of the exhalation take a long deep breath in and repeat the process. Focus your awareness on the vibrations inside the headspace. Do it consciously & slowly.

• Practice initially for ten to fifteen minutes. In case of extreme mental anxiety, tension or for therapeutic uses, one can build the practice up to thirty minutes. In insomnia problem, do Brahmari before going to sleep.

PRECAUTIONS
• You may feel little cold or a tingling sensation in the throat due to sound; but this is normal.
• Under no circumstances, the proportion of the breathing should be forced.

SOME MORE TIPS
• The roots of sleeplessness or insomnia are within the minds of the people themselves. For minor reasons they are caught in whirlwind of thoughts, which otherwise can be solved with some understanding & introspection.

• When you lie down to sleep, go backwards through the memories of the whole day. Don't start from the morning, start from the immediate. Go back step-by-step. While doing so, you will fall asleep.
• Deepen and lengthen your breathing patterns. Count 8 seconds for inhalation and 8 seconds for exhalation. Continue doing it until you fall asleep.

• Take a deep breath and hold it. While holding your breath, tense up the muscles throughout your entire body and hold both for 30 seconds. Exhale completely and relax. Continue doing it until you fall asleep.
• Place your hands on your stomach, inhale & expand your stomach like a balloon. Then exhale slowly through your mouth. Continue doing it until you fall asleep.

• Still if you are unable to fall asleep, get out of the bed, get on to the computer or do some light reading or listen to stimulating music or turn on a bunch of lights or do anything else that stimulates your brain into high gear. Purchase a Brain Entrainment CD and some ear buds (they are the most comfortable to help in sleeping). Make sure the CD is designed for sleep. If worse comes to worst, consult a doctor.

• You could be a very confused person today. Calm down and peacefully think about the reasons behind your confusion and what is troubling you so much. If necessary, write out you thoughts or discuss them with a friend or family member. You will be able to clear your mind in this manner.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna
Aum Shanti