In continuation of my earlier post as a result of Burhani Medical Idara Webinar, I was interested to understand the health benefits resulting from performance of daily obligatory namaz. So I am sharing what little knowledge I gathered from the Internet medically based articles.
Namaz is an external and an internal practice: a set of physical exercises with reading various Qur’anic verses. The prayer is done by assuming each separate positions of the body and reciting various Qur’anic verses with each posture. Namaz consists of rakaats, each rakaat being a series of 7 postures.
Seven postures of namaz and their impact on the nervous system. Namaz can be regarded as a type of stretching exercise; the physical acts performed during Namaz are gentle, simple exercises suitable for all ages and conditions. During Namaz, we perform continuous gentle muscle contraction and relaxation with perfect harmony and balance, inducing flexibility without over-exhaustion. The various postures of Namaz were studied and a range of joint motions were measured by goniometer, an instrument for measuring angles. Brain blood pressure was calculated from the effect of gravity on blood pressure at different positions. The physical activities involved in the performance of Namaz helps in the rehabilitation process in disabled geriatric patients by improving blood flow and increasing musculoskeletal fitness. The Namaz prayer involves little effort (standing, bowing, prostration and sitting), has a short duration and is beneficial for mental and physical health (Reza et al, 2002).
NAMAZ, exercises the major joints (especially the spinal column), massages the intestinal tract, transmits a reflex to the liver, regulates the breath, and stimulates the frontal cortex of the brain as it is brought to the ground, while momentarily leaving the heart in a higher position than the brain. After Namaz I was instructed by my physio to go in sujood, and stretch both hands palm downward outward touching the ground once, and hold it for a few seconds. Namaz is a form that integrates mindfulness, mental precision, affirmation, devotion, and stretching.
Prostration is the only position in which the head is in a position lower than the heart and therefore, receives increased blood supply. This surge in blood supply has a positive effect on memory, concentration, psyche and other cognitive abilities (Al- Gazal,2006;Ayad ,2008) ). During Prostration dissipation of the electromagnetic energy accumulated from the atmosphere takes place by the grounding effect at regular intervals resulting in a calming feeling. A recent study investigating the alpha brain activity during Muslim prayers has reported increased amplitude in the parietal and occipital regions suggestive of parasympathetic elevation, thus indicating a state of relaxation (Doufesh,2012). As mentioned earlier, Islam is a prescription for a complete and balanced way of life, hence, Namaz besides being an act of worship doubles as a holistic health tonic (Sayeed,2013).
Preliminary findings of a research project carried out by University Malaya’s biomedical engineering department shows that the positions Muslims take during their prayers benefit the heart and spine. The study also showed that the postures boost the capacity for memory and increase attention.
The postures of the prayers stretch various muscles and nerves, giving a constant physical therapy to all the joints of our bodies. This protects arthritis, and reduces back pains and disc problems.
For an 80 kg person, energy cost of daily prayers was about 80 calories a day, and could be considered a form of physical activity that enhances fitness.
Namaz is a short-duration, mild to moderate psychological, physical and brain activity. Such an activity, when performed daily, can have long-term health benefits, according to the American Heart Association.
Effect on neck muscles: In the unique position of Prostration the neck muscles get the best exercise. They have to bear the load when the forehead touches the ground; hence, the neck muscles become stronger. ( concluded)