Breathing & Nervous System
   Date :12-May-2024

Nervous System 
Human anatomy mainly consists of nine systems, muscular, skeletal, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, reproductive, excretory, glandular and nervous. Amongst all the anatomical systems, the nervous system is called the master system as it controls all the other systems. The nervous system has two parts, central and autonomous. The central nervous system consists of the brain, spine and nerve cells. The autonomous nervous system controls the involuntary functions of the body like, breathing, heartbeat, blood circulation, digestion, etc. The autonomous nervous system is divided into two parts sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system activates our body and is called the fight and flight system. On the contrary, the parasympathetic nervous system calms down our physiology and is associated with the rest and digest phenomenon. Research has found that the sympathetic nervous system gets mobilised with the inhalation and the exhalation stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Thus breathing is directly associated with the nervous system. Study has also found that breathing centres are located in both cerebral cortex and medulla oblongata. Cerebral cortex is the part of the thinking brain so it can be manipulated voluntarily. On the other hand the breathing centre which is placed in the medulla oblongata is involuntary and cannot be manoeuvred as it is the part of our reptilian brain responsible for our survival.
Thus breathing exercises are the best suited to either trigger or calm down our nervous system. Strong inhalation and holding the breath inside the lungs are found to stimulate our sympathetic nervous system and are very useful in the case of depressive moods. On the contrary long exhalation and holding the breath outside trigger our parasympathetic nervous system and help in calming down the body in case of stress and restlessness. TheYogic system of the Pranayamas has got the great potential to balance our autonomous nervous system. Health is dependent upon the harmonious play of our both sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Any imbalance in their functioning causes physical and mental illness. It is a very important point that all types of the Pranayamas are not recommended for everyone. Before doing any type of the Pranayamas, one is needed to consult a Yoga expert to assess the probable impact of the Pranayamas. Some Pranayamas generate heat in the body, while others lower it down. So Pranayamas must be practised with caution and care.
However, the simple Anuloma Viloma Pranayama may be practised by anyone. It will not be out of context to mention that all types of meditational methods are primarily based upon some breathing techniques. The prime objective of the meditation is to calm down the mind and it can not be achieved without slow, rhythmic and balanced breathing. In all the ancient Yogic and Tantric texts the seers have suggested numerous methods of breathing to calm down the mind and realise the spiritual tranquillity and bliss.The famous quote of the Hatha-Yoga- Pradipika composed by Swatma Rama way back in the sixteenth century summarises the breathmind connect in a very apt manner—- Chale Wate Chalam Chittam Nishchale Nishchalam Bhavet (If the breath is fast, the mind is fast. In the case of the breath calmed down, the mind calms down) (The writer is Former DG Police & CG, Homeguards, Maharashtra)