Acharya AD, Please advise me the negative effects of bhastrika pranayama especially on the emotional content of the person practising. How to get over these bad effects? – GK Nayar
Beloved GK Nayar,
The simple rule of science says if there is an action there would be effect and it would be unfair to presume that breathing like crazy wouldn’t do a thing to our body, emotional state and mind. You ask a valid question yet I have a feeling you are not guided properly and hardly under supervision of a Guru for if you had been you wouldn’t ask this question here. I get overwhelmed to see how people engage themselves in some ‘fashionable things’ (so what if that is chaotic breathing like bhastrika) just for fun or the sake of it only to realize it is doing much more on many levels that they expected it to do.
‘Breath’ is life, it is natural source of energy for our body, it is root cause of sustained organic activity; breath is handle for mind control, modulator of emotions, purging and catharsis mechanism, grounds on which one can work on raising one’s consciousness through the system of Yoga. How can this be an easy target of experimentation? I wonder how someone can become interested in fiddling with a live-wire between life and death without having a Master around to guide. But it happens and probably shall continue to happen if monetization of spirituality continues.
Yoga was for and shall continue to be for seekers. It will continue to harm people more than doing good if its handled casually by ‘Serious health-freaks’. Because these health-freaks are primarily concerned with body and emotions only.. spirit and consciousness doesn’t find mention in their wishlist. It is not a matter of debate but an established fact that Health is not the subject of only body alone – it is concerning with body, mind, energies, emotions, nature and spirit – all at once and narrow objectives can only cast holes in such a broad system of Yoga. Nevertheless you seem to be wise enough to understand it all and probably it was merely a repetition from my side of what you already know yet I sincerely advise you seek refuge in the lotus feet of an able Guru for learning and experimenting with ‘breathing’ because Guru shall focus on your spiritual growth and decide the path and practices for you.
Coming back to your question GKN… In fact your question needs two fold answer. Although you haven’t asked the first part but I am sure there might be some confusion on What are emotions? How emotions are produced? Are emotions just aftereffects of stored memories, samskaras in action or something else? And without having understood the biology and anatomy of emotions it wouldn’t be easy to perceive the second part of it – how breathing can affect these emotions. So lets take it up one by one.
Emotion is the overall perceived experience or feeling (this sensing or experiences is done through the senses of mind and body both) which is generated in your energy-body upon processing any (or many) stimulus. The means the intense and specific energy currents in your body correspond to emotions; different topology of the circuit through which the energy current passes would change the nature of emotion. It also means the more elaborate and extended your electrical (in physical sense) circuit is – more the varieties of emotions you can feel. So whenever there is spike in the energy within you – this energy shall be flowing through various parts of your nadi-system giving rise to an emotion. Upon further inquiry you would definitely question “If energy is high and there is only one circuit (Our Nadi System) how come different permutations and combinations of flow-pattern can it follow?” And the answer is “Which way the energy will flow depends upon the intelligence available within and the intent (choice) of the experiencer.” In normal human beings this intelligence is quite crude and only habitual.. mostly driven by instincts of survival and reproduction thus they have only two emotions – Sexuality and Aggression. Primitive men were ruled by only these two instincts but having passed through centuries of evolution man stands at a pedestal where he has developed many more choices (we may call it intelligence too). It is only through satsang, swadhyaya, sadhana and grace of Master/Guru you gain new-insights and access to Higher-Intelligence.
Also it is important to know that more often than not; of the two factors which guide the energy flow in human body, the later (intent of the experiencer) is almost never developed (or say underdeveloped) so we find a common man to be ‘the slave of his emotions’. One more thing which offers the energy could to disperse is the availability of active, cleansed, healthy nadis (channels) and activated energy centers (chakras) within the energy body. There are more than 700 chakras in your body which are lying in idle condition, incapable of providing shelter and passage to energies thus generated through external (some event or action of others) or internal (activation of inner dynamos by specific techniques like pranayama etc.) stimuli. So it becomes essential for us to learn about these centers and techniques through a Master so that our energy-currents (emotions) don’t turn out to be disastrous and self-consuming. This higher knowledge will be given only when you serve the lotus feet of your Master with reverence and dedicate your life for a goal – larger than life.. higher than self.
Coming back to your question (asked) – How Bhastrika pranayama affects emotions of the practitioner. Well, having told you briefly about how emotions are formed it would be clearer to you by now that emotions don’t take birth with a tag of name on it. These are just energy-bursts (flowing in upward or downward direction) which take a definite shape much before we realize it and then we have a name for these – lust, greed, anger, jealousy, pride, ego, grief, happiness, joy, depression, sinking, guilt and so on… All Bhastrika or any other high-rate breathing pranayama does is triggering the built-in dynamos and once they are put in energy-generation-mode you become edgy (loaded with energy.. almost ready to explode any moment) and prone to experience various emotions as they take shape for you haven’t mastered the art of controlling the flow of this energy in your pranamaya kosha. You become the victim of your energies (emotions) and suffer because you can only watch helplessly once the process has started. You can not control it at your will. And that is the reason the unguided sadhakas and yoga practitioners (especially those who are doing pranayama without preparations) almost become neurotic as they grow (so called) in their practices. They will become full of anger, revenge, tit-for-tat, impulsive and even full of sexual fantasies. At the end of it they either become depressed, are thrown out of relationships or worse commit some crime and land up in jail or a mental asylum. Bhastrika won’t help but only deteriorate the emotional balance if you are doing it all just for experimentation or else it will fuse all major chakras permanently closing all the doors for possible elevation of consciousness. It is dangerous!
Yoga is a sadhana (may be you still don’t take it as that). And any sadhana is not a cakewalk. Guru is supreme here and whether you like it or not he can not be replaced by scriptures, google, youtube, CDs and books. It is only through Master that you can learn the secrets of Sadhana. We have many workshops on Yoga, Tantra but never forget to follow up because disciples are supposed to do things wrong. And that is the reason we keep close watch and maintain regular interaction with all practitioners whether they be of Yoga or Tattva Shakti Vigyaan after induction and initiation. Sadhana requires hand holding, continuous guidance and support and its my personal experience that no one can become Eklavya in the field of spirituality. May be you would still like to prove it to me otherwise..
You bet! Ego is not an easy thing to win over… (laughs)
Blessings from Masters..
– Ach. Agyaatdarshan Anand Nath