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Murcha Pranayama: Essence and Benefits of the Swooning Breath

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Murcha Pranayama is one of the eight types of pranayama. “Murcha” is commonly known as “fainting” in Sanskrit. It is believed that through this pranayama you experience “conscious unconsciousness”. The purpose of this pranayama is to expand consciousness and accumulate and preserve prana. People who are successful in completing this breathing exercise experience prolonged euphoria and semiconscious swoon. Therefore it is recommended to perform it only if you are well advanced in all other branches of pranayama.

In this article, I will share with you the benefits of the Murcha Pranayama and the techniques of its performance.

What Is Pranayama?

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Pranayama is a system of breathing exercises that can significantly increase your energy level.

Prana‘ is the Sanskrit word for breath, “life force”, or “vital principle”. ‘Ayāma‘ can be translated as “the suspension of breath” or “control”. Thus, “pranayama” can be translated as “control over vital energy”.

According to Patanjali, pranayama is the length of time between inhalation and exhalation. During this period, the time of assimilation of prana increases, the fluctuations of the mind decrease and the perception expands. But how is it possible to reduce the excitation of the brain by holding the breath? This is due to the fact that nerve impulses in some parts of the body are suspended, and the structure of brain waves is harmonized. Therefore, pranayama is one of the most important elements of Hatha yoga.

Murcha Pranayama

Murchha pranayama can only be performed by advanced practitioners who have already purified their bodies and who have good training in holding their breath. As you learn this breathing practice, the number of cycles may increase. The time to complete it may increase from five to ten minutes. However, if you feel that your head has become light, stop practicing.

The feeling of loss of consciousness during Murcha Pranayama occurs for two reasons. First, continued breath retention reduces the concentration of oxygen in the blood entering the brain, that is, causes hypoxia. Second, by squeezing large blood vessels in the neck, Jalandhara Bandha affects the pressure receptors on their walls, and in response to this, the pulse and blood pressure change.

Benefits of Murcha Pranayama

Murcha Pranayama is a very powerful breathing technique that has many benefits! Here are some of them:

  1. provides mental tranquillity and a sensation of euphoria;
  2. gives a blissful experience where the mind becomes free from negative emotions;
  3. increases mental efficiency by providing energy and removing distractions;
  4. effective in the cure of headache and muscle weakness;
  5. raises the level of prana by energizing ida, pingala, and Sushumna;
  6. helps to create a state of unconsciousness where your mind is calm, and the body is relaxed, yet you are alert (a state of ‘conscious unconsciousness’);
  7. brings steadiness and contentment by infusing joy and happiness;
  8. reduces body fats;
  9. helps to prepare the body for deep meditation.

Precautions

Murcha Pranayama is not meant to be practiced by everyone and it’s best to find a competent teacher for guidance. Murcha breathing practice requires a competent teacher’s help if you have:

  • mental disorder;
  • high blood pressure (hypertension) or low blood pressure (hypotension);
  • heart disease;
  • epilepsy;
  • brain disorders;
  • glaucoma.

If you get wholly fainted or unconscious during your practice, discontinue it immediately!

Murcha Pranayama should not be practiced after meals, and a minimum of 3-4 hours gap should be there.

How To Perform Murcha Pranayama?

Murcha Pranayama Benefits Image

There are two ways to perform Murcha Pranayama.

Technique 1

Sit in Padmasana or Siddhasana. Place your hands on your knees and close your eyes.

Count till 5 and at the count of 5, slowly and deeply inhale through your nose. Perform Kumbhaka with Jalandhara Bandha and Shambhavi mudra.

Hold your breath for 5 seconds or as you feel comfortable.

Keep your eyes closed. Relax the Jalandhara Bandha. Slightly lift your chin. Exhale while closely monitoring the exhalation.

Before starting the next cycle, breathe normally for a minute or two.

Concentrate on the feeling of emptiness.

Technique 2

Sit in Padmasana or Siddhasana. Place your hands on your knees and close your eyes. Make sure that the body is firmly fixed in its position.

Slowly inhale through both nostrils, raising your chin and tilting your head back, but not so far that it requires tension and effort.

Perform Kumbhaka with your arms straightened at the elbows, your shoulders raised, and your Shambhavi mudra fixed. Hold your breath a little longer than is comfortable for you.

Then close your eyes, slowly lower your head and shoulders, and exhale in a controlled manner.

Before starting the next cycle, breathe normally for a minute or two.

Concentrate on the feeling of emptiness.

Duration

Practice until you start experiencing a fainting sensation. Length of Kumbhaka (breath retention) is very important. The longer you can hold the breath, the better it is.

One inspiration and expiration makes one cycle. Repeat until you feel faint. It should be performed after asanas and before meditation.

It is very useful and provides additional benefits when practiced before going to sleep.

Concentration

It is very important to know what to concentrate on while performing Murcha pranayama. You should have a dual focus while performing this practice: physical and spiritual.

For achieving physical awareness, focus on your breath. Bring your attention to the head movement and also to the center of eyebrows.

For achieving spiritual awareness focus on the void behind the eyebrow center called ‘chidaksha‘. Direct your awareness to this void.

Conclusion

Pranayama is one of the most important yogic practices. It provides different responses in the cardiovascular and autonomic nervous system. Murcha pranayama acts as the bridge between the mind and the body. It brings balance to our breathing, calm down our mind and creates inner peace.

When the mind becomes thoughtless and still, we become more relaxed and calm. We feel the bliss that makes us feel like floating. We are floating away from the worldly affairs and start moving inside. By drawing our minds inward we achieve the ultimate pleasure.

Health

Dosha Quiz: What Is Your Ayurvedic Body Type?

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How would you describe your body type?

This includes your height, body build, muscle development, and size. Are you tall, short, thin, stout, or thick? How would you best describe your body frame?

What effect do your eating habits have on your body weight?

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Is it easy for you to gain or lose weight?

What is your skin complexion?

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What's your hair type?

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What is your sleep pattern?

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Some people are light sleepers while others are deep sleepers. Do you awaken easily in the morning? Or do you struggle to get out of bed?

How would you describe your dreams?

dreams ayurveda image

How do you react to stress?

stressful situations image

Stress is normal in our day-to-day lives. However, we each cope with stress differently.

How would you describe your temperament?

Are you easy-going and accepting or are you lively and enthusiastic by nature?

How would you describe your decision-making process?

Decision making process image

Your ease at decision-making will vary depending on your dosha type. This may also influence how well you handle stress. Are you usually calm and collected or are you tensed at the slightest provocation?

How would you describe your energy type?

energy type image

Different doshas exhibit different energies around them. You will observe that some people are more lively, talkative, or active than others.

How would you describe your sexuality?

passion and sexuality ayurveda image

What climate do you feel most comfortable in?

How would you describe your memory?

How would you describe your thought process?

thought process image

What do you consider to be your shortcomings?

shortcomings image

Dosha Quiz: What Is Your Ayurvedic Body Type?
Vata Dosha

Vata Dosha Image

Vata dosha consists mostly of two elements: air and ether. You are exceptionally creative, communicative, and brimming with ideas. Generally, Vata is very vibrant and energetic. You have a very inventive and creative mind. You think outside the box but can become easily distracted. What’s more, your mood is highly dependent on the weather, people around you, and the foods you eat. Your mood can actually be quite unpredictable at times. Although you are a quick learner, your long-term memory is not that good. You are easily enthused, but run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and getting distracted by something new after just a short time. You frequently suffer from cold hands and feet. You love the excitement and new experiences. You are quick to anger but also to forgive. You are prone to worry and anxiousness and may often suffer from insomnia. According to Ayurveda, for optimal health, a Vata-dominant person should follow a regular daily routine, manage stress through meditation and other calming practices, and maintain a warm body temperature by avoiding cold weather and consuming warm foods and drinks.
Pitta Dosha

Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha is based on fire and water elements. You have a powerful intellect, a strong ability to concentrate, and big ambitions. You have a passion for leadership and are not afraid to speak up and take charge. You tend to be quite protective when provoked and are fierce opponents. You can be quite determined and don’t give up easily. Your aim is to win. You have bursts of energy to take on challenges. And you actually love a challenge, whether that's professionally or in sport. You can be a good decision-maker, a teacher, a manager, and a speaker. You have a knack for building connections and make very good friends. You are often honest and straight to the point. Although, sometimes you can be short-tempered, easily irritated, and argumentative. Those with a pitta-dominant dosha should focus on work-life balance and avoid extreme heat (e.g., weather, spicy food).
Kapha Dosha

Kapha Dosha Image

Kapha dosha is based on earth and water elements. You are usually calm, collected, and slow to anger, and therefore, not easily provoked. You are strong, loyal, patient, steady, and supportive. You are loving and caring, and this makes you a good acquaintance. You have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with a routine. Private joy in a stable partnership, healthy kids, and loyal friendships are the things you prioritize and that give you inner satisfaction, security, and personal happiness. You learn slowly with a high level of retention. Although you move slowly, you are very purposeful and enterprising. Most of all, you value inner tranquillity, peace, and harmony. You may tend to hold on to things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer nourishing or necessary. You may also resist change and be stubborn sometimes. For good health, a Kapha-dominant person should focus on regular exercise, a healthy diet, maintain a warm body temperature (e.g., by eating warm food), and establish a regular sleep routine.

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Yoga

Jnana Mudra: a Powerful Technique For Activating Your Crown Chakra

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Jnana mudra is one of the most widely used mudras in meditation practices, in Buddhism, yoga, and even in the martial arts of the East. The Buddha’s hand performing the Jnana mudra at the heart level is a symbol of openness to the whole universe. Being a gesture of openness to new things, this mudra also symbolizes the true knowledge of existence.

In this article, we will share with you what Jnana mudra is, what its benefits are, and how to practice it.

What Is Mudra?

Mudra‘ can be translated as ‘gesture’. Hence mudras are symbolic gestures practiced with the hands and fingers.

Connecting the fingers in certain combinations, we can activate the meridians and direct energy throughout the body. Different positions of the fingers have the ability to close or clear the energy channels. In addition, performing this or that mudra, we affect the biologically active points of the palms and fingers.

Mudras help us to correct the direction of energy in the body, to control prana, and to improve the psycho-emotional state. Also, with their help, we can eliminate problems in the body and in the mind by pressing on particular acupuncture points.

What Is Jnana Mudra?

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Jnana mudra is a yogic hand gesture that represents wisdom and knowledge. In Sanskrit, jnana means “wisdom” or “knowledge” and mudra means “gesture.” It is a hasta mudra, which means it is performed using the hands.

Connecting the fingers in certain combinations, we can activate the energy meridians and direct energy throughout the body, restore the flow of energy and eliminate “breakdowns” in diseased organs thus improve our health.

Different positions of the fingers have the ability to close or clear the energy channels. In addition, performing mudras, we affect the biologically active points of the palms and fingers.

When practicing Jnana mudra, we connect the thumb and index finger. The thumb symbolizes Brahman, or universal consciousness, whereas the index finger symbolizes Jivatma or the individual self. Therefore, the connection of the thumb and index finger represents the union of the supreme and inner realities. And the three extended fingers represent the three gunas that must be overcome: sattva (middle finger), rajas (ring finger), and tamas (little finger).

Each of the fingers has symbolic significance:

The index finger is associated with knowledge, wisdom, and self-confidence. It is connected to our life force.

The thumb is responsible for our ego, will, and logic. Also, this finger is associated with wisdom, mind, and awareness.

Also, it is important to know that each finger is associated with one of the 5 elements. Thumb represents the Fire element (Agni). The index finger is associated with the energy of the Air element (Vayu). Thus, Jnana mudra can be used to balance the elements of Fire and Air within the body. When we reach the balance between the Fire and Air elements within our bodies, we are able to still our mind, concentrate, and practice deep meditation.

Fingers Corresponding to the 5 Elements image

Also, the connection of the index finger and thumb allows prana to circulate freely inward, rather than dissipating outwards. By directing prana inward, we can sit in meditation for longer periods of time.

Jnana Mudra Benefits

On the subtle plane, the practice of Jnana mudra activates the Crown chakra (Sahasrara), whereas on the physical plan it helps you to harmonize biological rhythm, normalize blood pressure; eliminates anxiety and anxiety. Moreover, the regular practice of this mudra provides the following benefits:

  • helps to cope with depression and fatigue;
  • improves memory;
  • stimulates mental function;
  • helps to relieve insomnia;
  • boosts creativity;
  • develops intuition;
  • restores peace of mind;
  • enhances the connection with the Higher self;
  • lifts dull energy;
  • brightens mood.

How to Perform?

Although this mudra can be practiced in any yoga asana, it is most commonly used in a stable seated position such as easy pose or lotus pose. In Kundalini Yoga, this mudra is usually practiced with the hands resting on the knees and the elbows straight.

what is jnana mudra image
To practice Jnana mudra, follow these simple steps:
  1. Tuck your index finger under the tip of the thumb to form a circle.
  2. Extend the remaining three fingers.
  3. Rest the back of the hands on the thighs or knees, with palms facing upward.

Another variation of this mudra is to touch the tip of the index finger and thumb together, thereby forming a full circle.

When practicing this mudra, make sure your body is alert but relaxed, with little to no strain in the arms or extended fingers.

For maximum benefits, practice this mudra during your meditations for at least 15 minutes, 2-3 times per day.

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Yoga

Shanmukhi Mudra: a Simple Stress Relief Technique

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Shanmukhi Mudra is a simple and effective way to calm your mind, relieve stress, and restore your nervous system.

With regular practice of this beautiful mudra, it is possible even to improve vision and hearing. It also promotes the development of internal concentration and the ability to detach from external stimuli and objects of the surrounding world.

In this article, we will share with you what Shanmukhi mudra is, what its benefits are, and how to properly practice it.

What Is Mudra?

Mudra‘ can be translated as ‘gesture’. Hence mudras are symbolic gestures practiced with the hands and fingers.

Connecting the fingers in certain combinations, we can activate the meridians and direct energy throughout the body. Different positions of the fingers have the ability to close or clear the energy channels. In addition, performing this or that mudra, we affect the biologically active points of the palms and fingers.

Mudras help us to correct the direction of energy in the body, to control prana, and to improve the psycho-emotional state. Also, with their help, we can eliminate problems in the body and in the mind by pressing on particular acupuncture points.

What Is Shanmukhi Mudra?

Shanmukhi mudra is a yogic hand gesture that represents closing the six gates of perception – the two eyes, two ears, nose, and mouth. In Sanskrit, Shan means “six”; Mukhi means “face” or “gate”; and mudra, means “gesture”. Thus, Shanmukhi mudra means the ‘six-gated mudra’.

The purpose of the Shanmukhi Mudra is to symbolically shut the mind from the five senses so the mind can maintain an inward focus and get ready for meditation.

The Shanmukhi mudra practice helps the practitioner look within himself to find the very source of his being.

When all the senses turn inward and the breathing becomes harmonious, the mind calms down. As a result, you feel inner peace and now you are able to hear the voice of the Divine Self within you.

The Shanmukhi mudra practice helps you to free yourself from the domination of the senses and find the strength to take your desires, instincts, and emotions under control.

Shanmukhi Mudra Benefits

There are lots of amazing benefits the practice of Shanmukhi mudra can provide. Here are some of them:

  • Balances internal and external awareness;
  • Enhances focus and introspection;
  • Calms the mind and nervous system;
  • Clears energy blocks, giving room for easy flow of prana;
  • Relaxes and rejuvenates the eyes and facial muscles;
  • Creates a state of pratyahara;
  • Ensures the smooth functioning of the facial nerves;
  • Reduces anxiety;
  • Helps to deepen the meditation practice;
  • Alleviates vertigo problems and brings a calming effect to the head;
  • Helps to remove negative thoughts and worries;
  • Promotes clear thinking;
  • Helps Kundalini awakening.

For maximum benefit, this mudra should be accompanied by pranayama or bandhas (energetic locks). Shanmukhi mudra is commonly practiced with brahmari pranayama, also known as Humming Bee Breath. In this pranayama, the mudra enables the practitioner to focus on the inner vibration created by the humming breath.

How to Perform?

Shanmukhi mudra is usually performed in a stable, seated meditation posture such as padmasana (Lotus Pose) or sukhasana (Easy Pose).

To practice Shanmukhi mudra, follow these simple steps:

  1. Sit in the Lotus Pose or Easy Pose. Straighten the spine and align the position of the head.
  2. Bring your palms up to your face. Raise your elbows to shoulder level and place your thumbs in the ear canal, muffling external sounds.
    If you feel pain, place your fingers on the tragus of the auricle (small protrusions at the base of the auricle) and press them against the ear canal.
  3. Close your eyelids and rise your eyeballs up. Place your index and middle fingers on your eyelids so that the first two phalanges completely cover the eyeball area. Do not press on the cornea. Use your middle fingers to point your eyelids down, and use your index fingers to lift the upper parts of your eyelids up. Gently press on the outer and inner corners of the eyes.
  4. The pressure on the ears and eyes should be equal.
  5. Use your ring fingers to apply pressure evenly to your right and left nostrils. This will narrow the nasal passages, which will promote slow, deep, even, rhythmic, subtle breathing.

Practice the mudra for five to ten minutes.

The Bottom Line

As a result of turning all the senses inwards and concentrating on deep and slow breathing, the mind becomes calm. When performing this mudra, it’s common to experience:

  • a distinct sound in the ears;
  • the appearance of flashes of light and various images on the internal “screen”;
  • vibrations, thrusts, tingling, heat, or other sensations inside the body.

All these feelings are quite normal.

 

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