Managing Krodha with Pranayama

Swami Ratnashakti Saraswati

Prana entwines the mind like a creeper. Pranayama leads to the control of mind. Pranayama will put a break on the impulse of speech. It gives one an abundance of energy to check anger.

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Krodha is fuelled by prana. Anger is a hot and fiery reaction that is felt in both body and mind. The heat of krodha comes from prana. The more agitated and extreme the reaction, the more prana is directed into the vritti as fuel. Explosive outbursts deplete prana and have a detrimental effect upon the overall vitality of body and resilience of mind. If sustained this depletion of prana causes a fundamental imbalance in the pancha pranas and also impairs the ability of the mind to experience higher states of consciousness.

Pranayama techniques are used to cool the physical and mental systems, restrain the effects of krodha and divert awareness from stressors to relaxation. Cooling pranayamas like sheetali and sheetkari can be used, while heating pranayamas should be avoided. One simple method to restrain the instinctive physiological reaction of krodha and regain control of yourself is simple breath awareness. This can be practised anywhere at any time. Become aware of your breath. When you feel irritated, use abdominal breathing. Do not allow the breathing process to move upwards into the chest and thoracic regions, as this exacerbates the krodha response. If that does not help, focus on extending your exhalation. Exhale slowly for at least twice the duration of your inhalation. Before venting your frustration upon others, take ten long, slow, deep breaths and allow the physiological and pranic systems time to settle and realign. Then decide what is the appropriate course of action.

The sadhana to manage anger is pranayama. From the yogic perspective, anger is a nervous disorder and not a mental disorder. It is a disorder of the nerves, and nerves or nadis are the conductors and carriers of prana shakti. When you practise pranayama, especially nadi shodhana, the pranic flow is harmonized, and its effect impacts your mental behaviour. With the balancing of the nadis and the regulation of the prana flowing in them, the agitated mental behaviour can be brought under control. Those people who do get angry will notice a peculiar condition of breath in the moment of anger; the breath becomes shallow and fast. At that time, if you take deep breaths in and out and regulate your breathing pattern, you can manage your anger very efficiently and effectively.

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Bhramari pranayama (humming bee breath)

During the practice of bhramari pranayama a humming sound, like that of the bee, is produced with the exhaling breath. The whole pharynx, nasal cavities and sinuses become a resonating column. This sound produced in the vocal cords travels through the middle ear and into the internal ear. This humming sound causes the entire cerebral cortex to vibrate. The vibration has a soothing effect on the mind and nervous system. The environment of the whole body is controlled by the combined neuroendocrinal systems. When the cerebral cortex is vibrating the harmonizing impulses are sent to the hypothalamus which has the capacity to control the pituitary gland. In this way, the endocrinal system is controlled and regulated. These impulses from the hypothalamus also affect the sympathetic nervous system which in turn affects all the internal systems of the body. The pineal gland which produces the hormone melatonin is also activated. Bhramari activates the frontal cortex of the brain, and relieves stress and cerebral tension. In doing so it helps alleviate negative mental reactions, harmonize the mind and direct awareness inward.

Duration: Ten rounds or 2 to 5 minutes daily is sufficient.

Technique: Those who are comfortable with bhramari pranayama should practise with shanmukhi mudra.

Ujjayi (psychic breath)

Ujjayi is a tranquillizing pranayama which soothes the nervous system and calms the mind. It has a profoundly relaxing effect and induces a state of sensory withdrawal.

Duration: Begin with 20 breaths or one minute and slowly increase the practice up to 10 minutes.

If people observe the breath and develop sound awareness for five minutes that will reduce cerebral and nervous tension. If there is too much pressure from work, then bhramari pranayama will stimulate melatonin which will reduce tension. People will feel more relaxed and peaceful, thanks to the release of melatonin.

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing)

The practice of nadi shodhana balances the two flows of prana, ida and pingala, which simultaneously regulates and harmonizes the activity of the nervous system and the brain hemispheres. It has a profoundly calming effect and relieves anxiety, improves concentration and stimulates the pre-frontal cortex. This ratio establishes a calming rhythm for the brain and heart and is of maximum assistance in the management of krodha and other stress-related conditions.

Ratio: 1:2

Duration: 10 rounds or 10 to 15 minutes.

With the practice of pranayama, more oxygen may be inhaled but that is not the important point. If oxygen alone is the purpose, then deep breathing would be sufficient. In pranayama inhalation and exhalation must be practised in the ratio of 1:2, because this ratio is most beneficial for the heart. From the pulse you can observe that with inspiration the heart rate speeds up, whereas with expiration it slows down. Therefore, when the ratio of 1:2 is used, the overall effect is that of relaxation of the coronary muscles, but without a reduction of the supply of oxygen to the brain and body tissues.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Sheetali (cooling breath) and Sheetkari (hissing breath)

Aggression can be combated by the practice of sheetali and sheetkari pranayama, but I think you should firstly make a thorough study of your personality.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Sheetali pranayama uses a powerful evaporative cooling mechanism during inhalation, delivering a gently cooling effect from the tongue and roof of the mouth, to the internal organs and deep tissues of the body. Sheetali affects the brain centres associated with instinctive responses and temperature regulation. It cools and reduces the mental agitation and emotional excitement associated with krodha. Excess heat in the physiological system is reduced and the functioning of internal organs is improved. Additionally the practice aids in the regulation of hunger and thirst, both of which are contributing factors in the reaction of krodha.

Duration: Begin with 10 rounds and gradually increase up to 5 minutes of practice.

Technique: Experienced practitioners can include antar kumbhaka.

From Transforming Krodha