Effect of Ajapa on Breathing, Heart Beats and Blood Pressure

(picture used for representation purpose only.)

Meditation is being used worldwide as an effective way to deal with stress. Although this benefit is bit gross as compared to spiritual benefits, it's still a very important benefit. A healthy mind is a prerequisite to attain deep meditative states. Modern science has done a lot of research on stress and bodily parameters under stressful conditions. I won't go into the minute details of the findings made by modern science here. However, it would be worthwhile to take a quick look at the effects of stress on human body. That way you can relate how Ajapa Meditation is better equipped to deal with stress than many other meditation techniques.

When we across some danger, a part of the brain called Amygdala is activated. Amygdala is responsible for the "combat mode" or "fight mode" response of the body. After sensing a danger Amygdala sends instructions that causes body to release certain hormones, specifically Adrenaline and Cortisol.  These hormones cause increase in three very important bodily parameters:

  • Breathing
  • Heart beats
  • Blood pressure

Take a common example. Let's say you are crossing a crowded road and suddenly sense that you are about to hit by a vehicle. At that instance - your respiration becomes heavy and rapid, your heart beats increase and your blood pressure too increases. Why does body raise these parameters? That's because your body wants to supply more energy to muscles so that you can move away quickly.

This all "combat mode" processing is important for your survival. In fact, proper response from the combat mode during any physical danger is necessary for the same reason. But the problem is this :

Combat mode as explained above works great for physical dangers but it's almost useless for mental dangers. What are mental dangers? You forgot to carry some important document to a board meeting, you had a heated argument with a colleague, you are stuck up in some financial crisis, you are worried about your job and such situations of life.

In such situations increasing these three bodily parameters is not going to solve the problem. Moreover, mental dangers posed by the modern lifestyle usually last longer. So, the combat mode process happens for days, weeks, months or even years.

Running this combat mode processing for such an extended period of time creates problems of its own. Growth stops, immune system suffers, sleep is adversely affected, digestion is adversely affected. So, to deal with stress effectively you need to carefully keep these three bodily parameters in check.

This is where meditation can be of great help. A regular practice of meditation helps you to manipulate and control these three bodily parameters. If so, any meditation technique or style should do the trick. Right? Yes. Any form of meditation eventually will result in normalizing breathing, heart beats and blood pressure. But who doesn't want to get quicker results ?!

This is where Ajapa Meditation shines over many other meditation techniques. Consider the following verse from Hathayoga Pradipika :

चले वातं चलं चित्तं निश्चले निश्चलं भवेत |
योगि स्थणुत्वमाप्नोति ततो वायुं निरोधये‌त्‌ ||

This simply means that - when prana is unsteady mind becomes unsteady. And when prana is steady, mind also becomes steady. When both the under control and steady yogi lives longer. Hence, a practitioner must control the prana.

Ancient Indian yogis have clearly identified that breathing and mental texture are related. There is a direct relation between prana and mind. Prana is the vital life force that keeps us alive and ticking. Prana has many manifestations, and one of them is breathing. Prana and mind are like two sides of the same coin. When you control one, the other comes under control too. Therefore controlling breathing also controls prana. Controlling prana in turn brings mind under control.

Meditation techniques that rely purely on mind to calm itself down are often difficult for a beginner. Techniques that involve some sort of manipulation of the breathing process are usually much better for beginners. That's why Ajapa meditation is known to do wonders to beginner to advanced level of practitioners.

Ajapa involves watching the natural breathing process in a specific way. You don't interfere in that natural rhythm but after a while the respiration rate automatically drops (during a meditation session). This is in contrast of many other Pranayamas where inhalation, exhalation and retention is a willful (and often forceful) act. Ajapa uses the natural rhythm of breathing to tame the mind. The three bodily parameters are quickly and effectively normalized promoting rejuvenation and healing.

I have always said (see my Marathi articles and books) that Ajapa is one such unique practices that combines all the four forms of Yoga - Mantra, Hatha, Laya and Raja. Essence of four types of yogas packed in one simple practice. It is a royal road to health, well-being and spiritual unfoldement.

Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant and trainer by profession specializing in Microsoft web development technologies. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he is also a yoga mentor, meditation teacher, and spiritual guide to his students. He is a prolific author and writes regularly about software development and yoga on his websites. He is programming, meditating, writing, and teaching for over 25 years. To read more about him go here.

Posted On : 28 November 2016

Tags : Ajapa Meditation Mindfulness Pranayama