The human machine
Waah! What a wonderful system this human body is, able to work restlessly around the clock for hundreds of years together. This is not the man made system but an unparalleled gift of Divine with hundreds of bones and muscles, seventy two thousand nerves and millions of tissues infused life into it. It is a wonderfully perfect system of ultimate with wonderful organs such as heart, lungs, liver and kidney including brain. Even the most highly complex machine must have a control centre where all activities are coordinated and decisions are made. Same is with human body. Beside all important organs, fabulous endocrine glands and other parts of body we are blessed with the most efficient nervous system that includes brain, spinal cord and the autonomic nervous system. This is the system that is always on duty to protect from possible threats, guide us in all what we do and coordinates the entire activities. Our brain enables us to discriminate between right and wrong and decide what is favorable as it contains the centers of memory, reasoning, intelligence and understanding. It is intelligence and understanding that enable us to follow the Dharma (worth doing) and place man above the rest of animal kingdom. It is rightly said,
Aahar nidra bhaya maithunam ch,
Samanyam etat pashubhi naranaam.
Dharmo hi eko adhiko vishesh,
Dharmein heeneh pashubhi samana.
Eating, sleeping, fear and desire for sex are common traits in men and the animal. It is Dharma (Power to discriminate and decide with Viveka) that makes the difference between the two and place men above all creatures. Among the three main faculties of human brain memory is of greatest importance as it enables us to learn, understand and transmit our ideas to other people. Even while going through a book we can understand the mentioned facts only because we have already stored the meanings of words and phrases in our memory. When we go through the articles our memory flash through our minds and help us understanding things perfectly. In nutshell our whole life is shaped by memories of the past and our ability to reason and think. It is true that not everybody is born with same capacity and talents. It depends upon the arrangement of genes, the environment and the use an individual makes of the talents and available opportunities. We have to be very careful with our brain and nervous system as these two are so easily affected and damaged by certain poisons, injuries and inherited conditions.
It is the science of yoga that works wonderfully in channelising the mental powers and improving and strengthening the faculties of human brain may it be weak due to hereditary reason, environmental effects, injury, disease or improper food habits. The mental strength and balance gained through yoga can prevent different diseases such as encephalitis or inflammation of the brain, headache, meningitis, strokes, dizziness, epilepsy, hysteria, sleepwalking, fits and fainting, nervous breakdown and anxiety etc.
Yoga and mental health are closely interrelated. Those who practice Yoga experience tremendous changes that have a deep effect on their mental health. The easing of tension and restoration of flexibility are some of the important mental health benefits derived from Yoga. Yoga helps in freeing the mind from mental disturbances. It steadies the mind, decreases nervousness, irritability and confusion and eases depression and mental fatigue. The benefits accrued through Yoga differ from person to person as the degree of mental involvement differs. Here is this easy yet effective yoga capsule to regain and prevent brain drain
It is a wonderful and risk free yogic Anteh Pushti Kriya (micro exercise) that can be performed at any time by all. Even the mentally retarded people can be benefited with it.
Stand straight with feet together, eyes closed and hands folded in front of chest like flame of a Deepak. Touch both the thumbs to Kanth kupeh (the central depth of collar bones) and press the ribs of chest with upper arms and concentrate on Divine with deep feeling of gratitude.
This pressure exercised on chest gives upward flow to Manowaha Nadi that brings mental concentration, releases all mental stress, tension and suspends all irritations thus permits repair of decaying tissues of brain. It gives us peace wonderful balance and cures many diseases. This posture could bring ultimate peace and self control in Bhakt Dhruva, Prehlad and Gautam Buddha.
Sit in Padmasana with legs crossing each other and heels resting on thigh joint of the opposite leg. Spread your arms to place palms on the floor in front of your body. Share the body weight on arms and balance your body weight on hands and knees. Contract the hips keeping your back straight in inclined position. Inhale and open your mouth to maximum, bring the tongue out towards the chin, gaze in between the eyebrows performing Shambhavi Mudra and roar like a lion. Close the mouth to inhale through nose and repeat again five times.
This asana purifies the throat, lungs, improves self confidence and central nervous system is switched on that influence the core structure around the hypothalamic-limbic system. The Alpha waves generated in the optic system by closing the eyes. Crossing them in Shambhavi Mudra these waves spread to entire head and produce a relaxed state very quickly. Strong pressure on the palms relieves stress, tension and improves blood supply in entire system. It is specially useful for nervous, introvert and stuttering people.
Sit in Vajrasana in kneeling position with toes on one another and heels wide open. Place the palms on top of the heels with fingers pointing towards one another. Hold your head and back straight, close the eyes and relax. Breathe very slow and deep to make you feel that it is moving in and out of the eyebrow centre. Set your head relaxed lose bending back side and bring your awareness at the eyebrow centre. Don’t impose or expel any thought, scene or color etc. simply be an observer without any indulgence.
It is a wonderful asana to awaken Agya chakra. It also checks decaying tissues of brain, adds calmness to mind and brings deep relaxation to nervous system.
Sit in Padmasana as described above, place your wrists on the knees, close the eyes gently and relax to be with yourself. Close your ears thumbs and eyes with the index fingers. Now inhale slow and deep using full yogic breathing and at the end of inhalation close the nostrils with the middle fingers, upper lip with ring fingers and the lower lip with little finger and retain the breath inside as long as you find comfortable. Concentrate on any manifestation of sound and withdrawing the pressure of middle fingers breathe out slowly through nostrils only. This is one round start another round immediately. Lower your hands to end the practice and relax.
It balances the internal and external awareness and commands sense withdrawal or ‘Pratyahara’ It alleviates vertigo, sharpens the memory, stimulates and relaxes the nerves but people already suffering from depression should avoid this mudra.
Sit in Padmasana or any meditative posture. Relax your mind and be with yourself. Fold the index fingers and allow them to touch the inside root of the thumbs. Keep the other three fingers in straight position and keep them also relaxed. Now place your wrists on the knees with palms facing down and relax the hands.
It is a wonderful yet easy finger lock. In this mudra a circuit is produced when finger touches the thumb. This circuit controls the energy from being dissipate into the environment and leads it to travel back up to brain.
Surya bedhi pranayam
Sit in Padmasana with left feet placed firmly on the right thigh in such a way that left heel is touched near naval and right on the left. With regular practice the heels should come so closer that they touch each other near the naval. Keep spine, neck and head in one straight line. This padmasana is already defined as rare posture that benefits all and every body can attain pure wisdom with regular practice of this asana.
Idam Padmasanam proktam sarv vyadhi vinashnam,
Durlabham yene kenapi dheemta labhyatei bhuvi.
Now attain Gyan Mudra (psychic gesture of knowledge) with wrists gently placed on your knees and close your eyes to relax deep your whole body. For Surya Bedhi Pranayam perform Mool Bandha by pulling up the muscles of the pelvic floor and contracting your perineal / vaginal region. Close the left nostril with the ring finger and inhale slow and deep through right nostril. Now close both nostrils with right ring finger & the thumb, retain the breath and perform Jalandhara Bandha (throat lock) by pressing the chin tightly against the chest at center of your collar bones. Hold this inhaled position just for a few seconds in the beginning. Release Jalandhara Bandha and exhale gently through left nostril keeping the right nostril closed. Now relax the Mool Bandha. This is one round of Surya Bedhi Pranayam. Repeat the same process at the same side for 10 times. Increase the retention gradually beginning with a ratio of 1:1:1 to reach 1:4:2 gradually. You are advised to practice it under expert guidance to train your awareness go deep.
In Sanskrit Surya means Sun that refers to Pingla nadi and bedha means to pierce or pass through. This pranayama is practiced to stimulate and awaken the pranic energy by activating Pingla or surya Nadi. It helps to come out of depression and is specially recommended for dull and lethargic people. It makes the mind more alert and perceptive.
The practitioner must be aware of general precautions to be taken before beginning yog sadhana for having maximum benefit of yogabhyas: The most appropriate time for practicing Yoga is in the morning, when the mind is calm, composed and fresh and body movement is considerably easier.
- Have confidence in yourself and the guru.
- Clear your bowels and bladder before you begin every day; clean your nostrils and throat and drink a glass of lukewarm water. Wait for a few minutes and then start.
- Practice in a calm, quiet, ventilated, dust free, moisture free and distraction free place.
- Use your personal Yoga mat made of some comfortable material but avoid synthetic stuff.
- Yoga is a source of ultimate joy. It is not a punishment so withdraw if you feel fatigue in between. Yoga must energize and not cause weariness and depression.
- Perform Yoga with long and deep rhythmic breathing. Keep your mouth closed and inhale and exhale only through the nose only.
- Balance your diet and prefer fresh food to satisfy your appetite. Overeating and fasting should be avoided. Avoid stale food as much as possible.
- Wear loose and as comfortable cotton clothing.
Brain strengthening Herbal Diets
Fresh fruits, vegetables and cow milk must be taken. Consuming two walnuts (which is by nature in shape of brain) in winters and chewing two to three grams of Buch (acorus calamus, a semi-aquatic herb having medicinal properties) has been very effective in strengthening the performance of brain. Combination of Almonds, Brahmi, Shankhpushpi, white pepper and cow milk have proved wonderful brain strengthening drink especially in winters. Makkhan and Mishry (butter and sugar kendy) has been popular brain tonic in India. Lord Krishna is also said to have been fond of it. Even mother Yashoda is depicted by poet Surdasa missing the pleasant moments of memory with Krishna’s childhood as:
“Prateh hot mere laad ladente makhan mishri bhaave.” (my loving child Krishna used to love eating butter and sugar kendy early morning).