Pranayama as Meditation

In pursuing the topic of the previous article I would like to note that the adequate practice of Yoga should form a new corporeal stereotype. That’s why the basic wish for the complex shall be its continuously generated feature of novelty (A.G. Safronov. “Yoga: Physiology, Psychosomatics, Bioenergetics”). Asanas and pranayamas should maintain the degree of unusualness and discomfort for a practicing person – this will create the ability to go beyond the framework of inefficient psycho-emotional stereotypes and generate more harmonious ones.

Here is the illustration.

In the course of our research work we have witnessed the inhomogeneity of the way a practicing person responds to performance of a pranayama (the pranayama has been already known, not explained again). The reaction consists of stages that can be presented in the following way:

1. The stage of breathing stereotype formation and initial performance of the pranayama – the practicing person arranges his body in compliance with the stereotype set by the pranayama and starts breathing rather effectively and easily.

The stage lasts for ca. 1 minute. Sportsmen and people with good athletic performance can have this stage last for 1.5 – 2 minutes.

2. The stage of the psychosomatic posture (somatic type) actualization – 1-2 minutes later we start to observe some paradoxical reactions. There may appear muscular tensions both in the zone involved in the pranayama as well as in the reflected zones (pathogenic arcs); the established breathing rhythm becomes uneven; the emotional reactions (irritation, aggression, joy and so on) get intensified.

This reaction can be determined as the psychosomatic crisis.

On their behalf the practicing persons observe the state of discomfort that is associated with one’s inability to restrain the emerged corporeal and emotional reactions. There occurs the need to cease performing the exercise, to change the performance (in form of “insuperable” desire to scratch oneself or to laugh, or to talk, or to change the pose).

In fact, this desire is just a manifestation of the psyche defense mechanism. At the stage under consideration some emotional and muscular reserve is being exhausted; current, already existing muscular tensions, constraints, unexpressed emotions etc. do display. It’s like a person cracks open a door of the closet where his “skeletons” are stored — the unsettled problems that one will have to see and to start resolving. So that at the threshold of the picture that starts to come out the inertness of the body and mind gets activated and the desire to leave everything “as it is” goes off.

If to talk about psycho-physiological mechanisms of the described phenomenon we can assume the exhaustion of the resource of the tissue itself (of the muscle, of the organ) that has been weakened by the non-harmonious state, and the revealed incapacity of the neural control in mode of increased and calibrated load that in fact is the pranayama.

3. The stage of rearrangement – if one manages to preserve the suggested algorithm of breathing there shall come significant relaxation of the tensed muscles, sometimes accompanied by the sense of warmth in the relaxed zone. The necessary breathing rhythm is formed, a delicately calibrated one that is fairly easy to maintain. The practicing person gains the confidence in performing the pranayama and “the second wind” is found.

4. The stage of the new stereotype imprinting – it is after the stage of rearrangement that the real performance of pranayama is actually done, accompanied by corporeal memory about the new somatic type, new functional nervous connections.

In case of rather long-lasting performance of pranayama the afore-described stages (the formation of stereotype, psychosomatic crisis, rearrangement and stereotype imprinting) may repeat several times in a row revealing even more delicate nuances of one’s somatic and psychic type.

Thus we may say that a properly selected pranayama is akin to a meditative question for a practicing person – it is unusual, unclear, it makes one to concentrate one’s attention upon his decision. And here the very technique of the pranayama itself contains the hint – the new stereotype that forms a more harmonious somatic arrangement and along with it the prerequisites for formation of the new behavioral forms.

Elena Akhramieieva

Yoga therapist
Yoga instructor



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