Human beings are not only creatures of habit; they are also creatures of peace. People gravitate towards situations that make them feel calm, content and secure. When we hold our hands up together, we are stimulating pressure receptors, and with this touch the heart rate and blood pressure goes down, the body is put in a relaxed state, making us feel good. Neuroscientists reveal that the effect of bringing the two hands together enhances energy levels; it releases stressful conditions of the psychic system. It creates positivity to cope with pain and discomfort; the immune system strengthens, paving way to overall well-being of a person.
Pranama is one such activity that brings calmness, peace and overall physical and mental development. It is an activity of obeisance, or reverential salutation before something or another person, usually elders or before a deity. Pra as prefix is forward, in front, before, while anama means bending or stretching, therefore, ‘bending, bowing before elders, teachers or a deity.’
The types of pranama are
Ashtanga, Shashtanga, Panchanga, Dandavata, Abhinandana and Namaskara. In Ashtanga, asht means eight and anga is parts, which is touching the ground with knees ,belly, chest, hands, elbows, chin, nose and temple. Shastanga is bowing by six body parts, which is touching the ground with toes, knees, hands, chin, nose and temple. Panchanga means touching the ground with five body parts, that is, knees, chest, chin, temple and forehead. Dandavata is stick, bowing the forehead down and touching the ground. Abhinandana is bending forward with folded hands touching the chest. Namaskara is bowing with folded hands and touching forehead. This spiritual import and export of energy reflects the belief that Atman, the divine and Self is just the same in you and me and connotes,”I bow to the divine in you.”
The exchange generates love, friendship, compassion and charity. It makes the joyful sharing of life energy. The greeter thinks the other person is superior to me and I am the subordinate one. The moment this thinking crosses the mind, it immensely helps in reducing ego and increases modesty. This acknowledgement of presence of the Divine, the soul, during the act of greeting, develops the attitude of samarpan, that of surrender and gratitude. When the recipient also
complements, it develops spiritual connection between two souls.
During prayers we not only do namaste, we bow and close eyes in effect to look into the much deeper reflection for entirety “Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramayaah, sarve bhadraani pashyantu, maa kashchid dhukha bhag bhavet” which means every individual be blessed with happiness, perfect health, noble vision and be free from all worries and sufferings.
Another form is the Surya Namaskar, that is not only a prayer for good physical health but also helps to
activate vital chakras and thereby the spirit of the body.
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