Is pranayama hurting my nervous system?

5 posts in this topic

I have what i believe to be a hyper-reactive sympathetic nervous system which fires off now hundreds of times a day. i have hyperarrousal  very badly

this isnt a medical condition. its caused by stress and anxiety and is a vicious cycle that feeds off itself

my question is : is doing pranayama aggravating my sympathetic nervous system and perpetuating the cycle?

here is where i stand with my practice

Ive been doing pranayama for about 2 months and havnt had any results in soothing my problems

i do nadi shodhana for a few minutes then bee breath for a few minutes followed by about 15 minutes of ujjayi

i dont do any breath retention

im very desperate in getting rid of my problems so any help is very much appreciated


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Hello, you are right that pranayama, breathing methods, can be very harmful especially for the conditions that you describe. Pranayama can also be very helpful if you are able to find the method that works well for yourself. And you are the only person that can determine this for yourself. Maybe a really good teacher could help. But all anyone can offer is some ideas for you. And you may wish to combine breathing with a posture. For example if your mind is concentrating on balance it is harder for your mind to wonder away from the breath. Concentrate on the exhale and extending the exhale.

I would suggest you should stop all of what you are doing now if it is not working for you. Start from the beginning, relearn the very basics to find what actually works for you. Not what someone else tells you should work. Having good advice is always good but be sure you know how to make it work for you.

The video below is very good. It becomes more interesting after the first 5-10 minutes so try to watch the whole video. I think you may find some help from the video. There are breathing methods and postures.



afriske likes this

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thank you for the reply

i found this video VERY interesting and informative!

ive been doing ujjayi, bee breath and nadi shodhana because i was lead to believe that they are calming and would strengthen the parasympathetic system.

for a normal person i guess that would be true, but for someone in my position, i guess that it has been detrimental.

im very curious about the postures mentioned in the video.

some people on another forum have suggested that i stop pranayama for the mean time and take up meditation. they say that ive been stimulating with pranayama without the counter balance of the quieting meditation.

im going to stop pranayama, take up meditation and start exercising daily.

hopefiully when my nervous system has calmed down and i finally decide to get back to my breathing practice i think it would be cool to do them in the posture in this video. the one with the legs on the wall.

ive heard that some pranayama should only be practiced in seated position. are there certain ones i shouldnt do in the inverted posture?

thank you for your time in reading this 



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I think it is important to know what pranayama and mediation both mean. Pranayama is breathing. Mediation is thinking. We can have many other more complicated definitions but they are not helpful unless you understand what it means to you. We can not stop breathing or thinking even if sometimes we can’t control them.

Mediation can be used for quieting. Pranayama can be as well. We can’t stop breathing or thinking so the two have to work together well for good results.

With any postures or practices you just have to learn and work with them slowly and cautiously to find out if they are good for you. Start cautiously with the simple recommended ones and work slowly and safely.

You mentioned starting daily exercise which sounds like a good idea. Also look at other things. Situations that affect you. Food, drink, any drugs that you may have to take. Even something like sugar which isn’t classified as a drug but probably should be. It is important to treat it as a whole not just one. If pranayama is used as band-aid and the cause is always there pranayama is not a good solution. It is better to deal with the cause directly. But pranayama may help you do that. If you can find someone to help somehow that would be a very good thing. It also may be very difficult to find that help.

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thanks for the response.

i dont intake any caffeine and only get a small amount of sugar daily(about 35 grams which is the rda for a male)

that inverted posture in the video is so appealing! i look forward to trying it when i get back to pranayama.

i read that strenuous exercise excites the sns and that staying below 130 bpm in wont activate it. im going to try to get on my spin bike every day.

with regards to finding a teacher, i wish i lived in india and had a master yogi to guide me! it will probably take some good searching to find an expert where i am. hopefully not too hard of a search.

thanks again for the advice. ill be sure to let you know how i go in the future

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