Feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, low, lethargic, demotivated. We’ve all been there, and some of us suffer more than others.
In the UK it feels natural for us to turn to our doctors, who are likely to prescribe medication to chemically alter our moods. We might also turn to friends, family, loved ones, who want to fix it as best they can. Often both of these solutions aren’t the cure all. Somehow or another we might find ourselves still feeling this way, or perhaps worse than before.
So what other options are there?
Studies from the past have indicated that a yoga practice, or Pranayama (breathing exercises) can have a positive effect on our moods and stress levels. And we might know someone who has shown anecdotal evidence of trying yoga, hot yoga or a meditation class and they begin to change.
We have discovered another study that was released at the end of 2017. This study has found that Shambhavi Mudra (eyebrow gazing) “may represent a natural treatment for stress reduction”.
There are 8 forms of yoga practice, as defined in the traditional system of yoga, and one of those is Pranayama (controlled yogic breathing). It is put forward by this study that “while relatively few studies have been conducted on Pranayama, such breathing techniques have been shown to elicit significant changes in both human physiology and psychology. Studies using Pranayama interventions have reported changes that include reduction in hypertension, breathing frequency, and stress as well as increased heart rate variability, sympathovagal balance, cognitive performance, central neural processing, dexterity, and motor coordination”.
…which is to say that a Pranayama practice can have beautifully beneficial effects on more than simply our moods! We can change our psychology, we can alter our felt sense of stress, we can cause physiological changes in our bodies, and so much more!
So, what is this about Shambhavi Mudra? Well Shambhavi Mudra, very simply put, can be a type of meditation practice (Kriya) involving gazing at ones own eyebrows. This can include Pranayama practices or simply sitting, holding your gaze at the eyebrow centre and focussing on the effects you feel. You can find many tutorials how to practice this online. Yogafurie offers this practice more formally as part of the Yogafurie Academy Teacher Training courses, and also we may touch upon in our classes also.
In this study, participants were required to practice Shambhavi Mudra for 21 minutes each day for 6 weeks. The results found that “after 6 weeks of daily practice, participants reported subjectively lower levels of perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale) and higher levels of general well-being (General Well-Being Scale) compared to baseline”.
“Shambhavi Mahamudra kriya and other breath-based practices may represent potentially efficacious natural treatments for stress reduction and the promotion of general well-being.”
There is a general consensus that yoga research is still underrepresented and we would benefit from more research and studies. The positive is that the work that is already being completed is greatly underpinning the theories put forward by these ancient practices. And even though we don’t have reams of science based evidence just yet (even though it is still growing), there are so many yoga, hot yoga, meditation and pranayama practices on offer that all we need to do is try one and see the effects for ourselves!
Yogafurie Hot Yoga offers 7 different class styles. 4 of these 7 offer meditation, pranayama, relaxation as part of their styles – so come along and see the benefits you can bring to your felt sense of wellness!