A simple breath switches our nervous system from Stress mode to Relaxation mode. A simple breath awareness provides a focus for our mind that allows us to trigger the Relaxation Response.
Pranayama work is quite different than simple breath awareness.
Practicing pranayama takes quite a bit of focus and is a good way to take our mind off regrets about the past, worries about the future, or negative reactions to the present.
Now let us understand what Pranayama Is and glimpse of its reference in various texts.
Pranayama act as a bridge between body and mind. It is a breathing technique by which breath is regulated and controlled in order to regulate “prana”. Its practice helps to control our Autonomic nervous system and prepares the mind for Dharana and Dhyana. There are references of Pranayama in our tradition texts. One of the earliest recorded references to pranayama as a breath related practice can be found in hymn 1.5.23 of the “Brihadaranyaka Upanishad”.
In Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 4, verse 29. The text highlights the use of conscious inhaling, exhaling and breath retention to effect trancelike states.” Apart from this there are references of Pranayama in Various hath yogic texts and also Raja Yoga text “Patanjal Yog Sutras”:
तस्मिन् सति श्वासप्रश्वासयोर्गतिविच्छेद: प्राणायाम: || PYS 2.49 ||
चले वाते चलं चित्तं निश्चले निश्चलं भवेत्।
योगी स्थाणुत्वम् आप्नोति ततो वायुं निरोधयेत् ||HYP 2.2||
Breath act as a bridge between Involuntary and voluntary nervous system. We cannot control the functions of our body, such as heartbeat, digestion, blood pressure, and all the functions that are involuntary, and while we cannot tell our nervous system directly to slow down our heart beat, digest our food more or to start relaxing right this minute, we can control and regulate our breath through Pranayama.
A lot of Researches have been done which shows the effect on different Pranayama on our nervous system and its functioning. Let’s move ahead and discuss outcomes of few Researches on Pranayama Effect: –
INCREASES DECISION MAKING POWER
Anulom vilom Pranayama reduces the “Reaction time” which in turn increases our Decision-making power by improving the sensory motor performance and enhancing processing ability of the CNS … 1
INCREASES PARASYMPATHETIC TONE
When our parasympathetic nervous system is activated, it increases our digestion rate, metabolism, calm downs our mind and gradually helps us to enter in the state of relaxation…2
Millions of people suffer from test anxiety which may prevent them from doing the work they love which eventually effect their Career. Practising Pranayama daily help us to reduce anxiety and increase our performance in day-to-day life…3
With age our memory reduces, only memories related to rewards, punishment or any special occasion stays on our mind for longer duration but that also fades away after some time However by practicing pranayama daily we can restore our memory…4
Considering all the evidences discussed, it is fair to conclude that practicing pranayama daily enhances nervous system functioning as it improves the way of our brain functions.