We have spent a lot of time describing the prime organs and functions of the brain. There is much more that could be said, but this would require hundreds more pages. What we have tried to do is to show and emphasize that everything we do in life is totally dependent on perfect functional efficiency of all parts of the brain.
There are various factors that can interfere with healthy operation of the brain. The three main factors are:
- chronic mental stress and conflict
- insufficient respiration
- bad blood supply
Let us discuss these points in turn
Excessive mental and emotional stress sustained for long periods of time tend to disrupt the whole brain and nervous system. The nervous system and brain is flooded with disharmonious nerve impulses placing the brain and nervous system under heavy pressure. In fact, we often say that a person who is tense has frayed nerves. This prolonged stress can eventually cause one or more of the bodily organs to break down under the strain. For example, excessive mental tension and frustration can make the heart beat too fast and raise the blood pressure; or the stomach secrete too much acid, resulting in ulcers; or put the endocrinal system under so much strain that one of its organs fails to perform its duties correctly as in the case of diabetes. The root cause of these illnesses is the mind, which in turn adversely influences the brain and the body.
Most people know that mental and emotional stress can lead to illness; but merely knowing this fact will not prevent the occurrence. There has to be positive steps. One of the best steps is to start practising yoga. This will help to calm the mind and bring about a state of mental harmony, which in turn will allow the brain to perform its duties unimpeded resulting in overall good health. The yogic practices can be meditational techniques, pranayama, relaxation methods and asanas. Among the asanas, sirshasana is one of the most useful for inducing mental peace and equanimity, and thereby bringing balance into the brain and physical body.
Malfunctioning and inefficiency of the brain can also arise from two more obvious sources – inadequate blood supply and lack of oxygen. These two factors are directly related with each other. Bad breathing can actually starve the body, including the brain, of oxygen. The health of the brain and body must decline under this condition. Inadequate breathing is often done by people who do little exercise and who don’t breathe deeply. Methods of overcoming this problem include the practices of pranayama and asanas. Sirshasana, once again, is a useful asana because it automatically induces slow and deep breathing in the final pose. Also, in the final position of sirshasana, the brain receives an abundant supply of oxygen due to the direct and downward flow of blood from the heart.
An inverted asana, such as sirshasana, is the most direct method of rectifying inadequate blood flow to the brain.
If the brain is not receiving enough blood, then a simple solution is to turn the body upside down for a few minutes every day. During this period, the whole system of the body and the brain can be toned up for the day. In this way, impurities will be removed from the brain and purified blood circulated to all the neurons. The benefits will be retained even when you return to the standing position again. The many benefits of sirshasana make it worthwhile including it in your daily practice program.