Sunteți pe pagina 1din 18

Lesson 32

He who is able to retain the climax becomes


master over death and the knower of yoga,
because the d i s c h a r g e of b i n d u brings
depression and its consequences, and retention
brings vitality, vigour, power, strength and
concentration.
T h e body of the practitioner of vajroli has a
nice odour. If the bindu is steady, then where
is the fear of death?
T h e bindu which is controlled by the power of
the mind bestows life, therefore, the bindu
should be carefully controlled.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika (3:88-91)


Topic 1

Kriya Yoga: Practice

KRIYA 10: NAUMUKHI MUDRA connects the sexual organs with the brain. It is
(CLOSING T H E NINE GATES) also a psychic pathway that is associated with
the s u s h u m n a pathway 5 . This pathway is
The Sanskrit word nau means 'nine' and mukhi directly connected with the unleashing of
means 'gates'. This kriya can be called 'the powerful psychic forces.
mudra of the nine gates'. A more widely used There are two types of vajroli mudra - one
name, however, is 'the closing of the nine gates'. is concerned with maithuna (sexual intercourse
T h e first nine kriyas can be classified as under prescribed conditions) and the other is
techniques of pratyahara (sense withdrawal). a simple raja yoga form. It is the latter that is
Naumukhi is tbe first in the group of dharana utilized in kriya yoga.
(concentration) techniques. From this stage The technique is as follows:
onwards the mind becomes more and more Sit in any comfortable position.
one-pointed. Place the hands on the knees and relax the
whole body.
Rationale Try to draw the sexual organs upwards by
In the human body there are nine openings or pulling and tensing the sexual organ and lower
gates through which one perceives all the sense abdomen.
experiences of the outside world. These are: This contraction is similar to that which is made
the two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, the mouth, when one has the urge to urinate, but has to
the anus and the sexual organ. retain the urine for some time.
There is also a tenth gate, called the Brahma T h e testes in men and the vagina in women,
Dwara (the Door of Brahma), which leads to should move slightly due to the contraction.
mystical or transcendental experience and This is the simple form of vajroli mudra.
realization. During mundane, everyday experi- Its purpose is to convert retas (sexual energy)
ence this gate is closed - all perception comes into ojas (highly refined pranic or psychic
through the other nine gates. In naumukhi energy). This process is called urdhva retas -
these nine gates are temporarily closed. This the sublimation of sexual energy. Prana is the
prevents external perception and helps to open essence of both ojas and retas; vajroli helps to
up the tenth door. bring about sublimation of the grosser retas
into the more refined ojas.
Subsidiary practices
N a u m u k h i is m a d e up of the following Shanmukhi Mudra
subsidiary techniques: Shanmukhi mudra 4 can be translated as 'the
1. Ujjayi pranayama 2 attitude of the seven gates'. Before attempting
2. Khechari mudra 2 n a u m u k h i we suggest that you practise
3. Moola bandha 3 shanmukhi mudra for a few days.
4. Vajroli mudra
5. Shanmukhi mudra 4 Sitting position
The sitting position for naumukhi mudra is
Vajroli Mudra siddhasana for men, and siddha yoni asana
The word vajroli is derived from the word for women 6 . T h e s e two asanas are most
vajra which has various meanings and implica- suitable since they apply a constant pressure
tions. In the context of vajroli mudra, vajra at the mooladhara chakra trigger point in the
can be regarded as the name of a nerve which area of the perineum.

855
If you cannot sit in one of the above asanas 3). Do not apply too much pressure with the
you can choose any other comfortable sitting fingers - just enough to firmly close each 'gate'.
pose as an alternative. If necessary you can Practise moola bandha, without jalandhara
use a cushion. bandha.
Practise vajroli mudra.
Technique At this stage all the gates are closed.
Sit in siddhasana or siddha yoni asana. Be aware of the awarohan (spinal passage).
Keep the back straight but relaxed. Try to visualize a shining c o p p e r trishul
Close the eyes and keep them closed through- (trident) in the spine with the root in mool-
out the practice. adhara chakra and the 3 prongs extending
Do khechari mudra. upwards from vishuddhi chakra (figure 4).
Place the hands on the knees and let the arms Continue to retain the breath.
relax. T h e trident will move upwards slightly of its
Exhale deeply and bend the head forwards own accord so that the central prong pierces
slightly as shown in the accompanying figure 1. bindu.
T h e first round starts here. As it pierces bindu, mentally pronounce the
Fix your attention on the mooladhara chakra. m a n t r a ' b i n d u b h e d a n ' (literally: ' b i n d u
Repeat 'mooladhara' mentally 3 times: 'mool- piercing') once.
adhara - mooladhara - mooladhara' while Feel that there is an explosion of the mantra in
holding the breath. all directions from bindu (figure 5).
Inhale with ujjayi p r a n a y a m a a n d simul- T h e n the trident will drop downwards again to
taneously move your awareness up the arohan the starting position shown in figure 4.
(frontal passage) as illustrated in figure 1. Again it will rise; once more pronounce the
Be aware of each kshetram as you raise your mantra 'bindu bhedan' as the bindu is pierced.
awareness: swadhisthana, manipura, anahata T h e n it will drop again.
vishuddhi. Feel this alternate rising and falling of the
Do not say the name mentally - only awareness trident for as long as you can comfortably
of each centre. hold your breath.
Raise your head as your awareness passes T h e n release vajroli mudra.
from vishuddhi to bindu (figure 2). Release moola bandha.
Inhalation should be completed when your Release the pressure of the fingers and thumbs
awareness reaches bindu. and lower the hands to the knees.
Hold the breath. Exhale with ujjayi pranayama and khechari
Raise your head as your awareness passes m u d r a while simultaneously moving your
from the face. attention through the centres in the awarohan
Practise shanmukhi mudra by closing the ears as follows: bindu, ajna, vishuddhi, anahata,
with the thumbs, the eyes with both forefingers, manipura, swadhisthana, mooladhara.
your nostrils with the two middle fingers and Be aware of each centre in turn (figure 6) - no
the lips with the fourth and fifth fingers (figure mental repetition.

856
Exhalation should end at mooladhara. circumstances, we suggest that you breathe
Hold the breath. in once at the end of each round when your
Bend the head slightly forwards. awareness reaches mooladhara. As you
This is the end of the first round. gain more control over the duration of
Start the second round immediately. inhalation, retention and exhalation, then
Inhale and let your awareness pass through this extra facility can be discarded.
the centres of the frontal passage and so on. After breath retention and visualization of
Practise 5 complete rounds. the trident you may feel a little discomfort
or difficulty in exhalation. The lungs seem
Breathing to 'lock'. We have found that this problem
Ujjayi breathing throughout the practice.isHold
overcome by inhaling slightly before
the breath while repeating the 'mooladhara' exhalation.
mantra. Inhale while ascending the frontal It is extremely important that the back be
passage. Hold the breath while visualizing the held perfectly straight all throughout this
trident and repeating the 'bindu bhedan' kriya. If the spine is not straight, the
rrantra. Exhale while descending the spinal sensation that follows the piercing of bindu
parage. will not be perceived.
It is also important that vajroli mudra be
Awareness correctly performed, for this too heightens
Fix awareness on breathing, chakras andthe sensations experienced during this
kshetrams. the closing of the nine gates, the practice. When vajroli mudra is perfected,
trident and the 'mooladhara' and 'binduthe contraction of vajra nadi can be
ohedan' mantras. achieved without contracting the anal
sphincter muscle. The sensation is like an
Number of rounds electric current running the full length of
Do 3 rounds. This should take about 5 minutes vajra nadi to the brain.
- a little more, a little less - depending on your Try to sensitize your awareness to the point
control of breath. where you actually feel the piercing of
bindu. The sensation is similar to an electric-
Hints shock.
Most people will find it difficult to complete
a round with one respiration. You may feel KRIYA 11: SHAKTI CHALINI
slight suffocation. In the beginning, it is (CONDUCTION OF PRANA)
best that you prematurely break the practice
in the middle of the round and breathe in The word shakti means 'energy', 'prana' or
and out. Do not strain. 'kundalini'; the word chalini means 'to move'
Perhaps you can do one complete round or 'to conduct'. This kriya can therefore be
called 'the conduction with one
ofinhalation and 'the
p r a n a ' or exhalation, but you
may still feel discomfort. Under these awakening of the kundalini'. It is the eleventh

857
kriya, the second of the dharana (concentration) Technique
group of practices and should be practised Sit in a comfortable pose.
immediately after naumukhi. Hold the back straight.
Close the eyes and keep them closed through-
Scriptural references out the entire practice.
Shakti chalini is widely mentioned in yogic Do khechari mudra.
scriptures. It is well described in the Yoga Exhale deeply.
Chudamani Upanishad (verses 107-108), Bend the head forwards.
Gherand Samhita (3:44-50) and the Hatha Yoga Fix the awareness at mooladhara chakra.
Pradipika (3:104-120). All the descriptions, T h e first round begins here.
however, are different; the same name, 'shakti Mentally pronounce the mantra
chalini', is used for different techniques. 'mooladhara - mooladhara - mooladhara'.
Furthermore, none of these techniques resem- Then inhale with ujjayi pranayama letting your
ble the practice of shakti chalini that is used in awareness ascend the frontal (arohan) passage.
kriya yoga. If you are interested, we suggest You should be aware of each centre in turn as
that you look up these references for yourself. follows: swadhisthana, manipura, anahata,
However, we will give a few quotations from vishuddhi.
the Hatha Yoga Pradipika: "The kundalini is There should be a smooth flow of awareness
coiled and shaped like a snake. When the shakti (figure 1) - no mental pronunciation.
moves then there is realization. Of this there is Raise your head as the awareness moves from
no doubt." (3:108) This verse indicates the vishuddhi to bindu (figure 2).
importance of awakening the kundalini (shakti) Inhalation should cease on reaching bindu.
using such methods as shakti chalini. However, Hold the breath.
there must be mental balance in one's being: Practise shanmukhi mudra, closing the eyes,
"The balaranda (kundalini) lies midway ears, nose and lips with the fingers and thumbs
between the G a n g e s (ida) a n d Y a m u n a (figure 3).
(pingala). When it moves one attains the abode Allow your awareness to rotate in a continuous
of Lord Vishnu (illumination)." (3:109) This circle through the awarohan (spinal passage)
verse emphasizes that the kundalini will not and the arohan (frontal passage).
awaken unless the ida and pingala are balanced. Simultaneously try to visualize a thin green
We suggest that you refer back to our previous snake moving in the same closed loop.
discussion 'The Balance of Life' 5 . Without this Continue to hold your breath.
balance the kundalini will never awaken even if T h e snake should move downwards from
you practise shakti chalini or any other yogic bindu to mooladhara in the spinal passage
technique for the next twenty years. and then upwards from mooladhara to bindu
in the frontal passage.
Subsidiary practices T h e movement of the snake should be inte-
To practise shakti chalini you should know the grated with the movement of your awareness.
following techniques: T h e snake should make a complete loop
1. Khechari mudra 2 (figure 3).
2. Ujjayi pranayama 2 Visualize the snake as biting its own tail.
3. Shanmukhi mudra4 Let the snake move in a continuous circle; if it
T h e position of the fingers and hands for starts to move on a different track, let it - only
shanmukhi mudra is illustrated in figure 3. watch.
It may a p p e a r to spin off away from the
Sitting position awarohan - arohan circuit, let it. Only remain
Sit in siddhasana or siddha yoni asana'1. If you aware.
cannot sit in one of these two asanas sit in any Continue this visualization for as long as you
other comfortable asana. can comfortably hold your breath, but don't
You should remain in the same sitting posi- strain.
tion that you utilized for naumukhi; there is T h e n release shanmukhi mudra and place the
no need to move one's physical position or to hands on the knees.
open the eyes. Fix your awareness on bindu.

858
Exhale with ujjayi while being aware of each the raising a n d lowering of the h a n d s a n d the
c e n t r e in t h e a w a r o h a n as follows: a j n a , visualization of the psychic snake.
vishuddhi, anahata, manipura, swadhisthana,
mooladhara. Visualization
Only be aware of each centre - no mental If you practise shakti chalini alone, then you
repetition (figure 4). Exhalation should be may find it difficult to visualize the snake. If,
t e r m i n a t e d w h e n y o u r awareness r e a c h e s however, you first of all practise the preceding
mooladhara. ten kriyas you will find that visualization is
Lower your head forwards. This is the e n d of m u c h easier. T h e snake seems t o a p p e a r
the first r o u n d . naturally. If you cannot visualize the snake,
Immediately start the second r o u n d . don't worry - with time a n d practice you will.
Mentally repeat the 'mooladhara' m a n t r a 3
times. Number of rounds
T h e n , with ujjayi inhalation, raise your aware- Do 5 r o u n d s . T h i s takes a p p r o x i m a t e l y 5
ness t h r o u g h t h e c e n t r e s o f t h e a r o h a n minutes according to your capacity to retain
passage. Do 5 complete rounds. the breath and control exhalation and
inhalation.
Breathing
Ujjayi breathing throughout the practice. Hold
the breath while repeating the 'mooladhara'
mantra. Inhale while ascending the arohan
passage. Hold the breath while visualizing the
movement of the internal snake. Exhale while
descending the awarohan passage.

Hints
When this kriya is mastered then 5 rounds
s h o u l d be t h e e q u i v a l e n t of 5 c o m p l e t e
respirations. In the beginning, however, this
is not easy. We suggest that you follow the Notes
instructions that we have listed u n d e r this 1
Book III, Lesson 31, Topic 3
h e a d i n g in the description of the previous 2
Book I, Lesson 6, Topic 5
kriya, n a u m u k h i m u d r a . 3
Book II, Lesson 19, Topic 4
4
Book II, Lesson 18, Topic 5
Awareness 5
For further details of the sushumna pathway
Be aware of the breathing, the centres in the refer to Balance of Life: Part 1 - Book II, Lesson
arohan and awarohan, the 'mooladhara' 22, Topic 1; Part 2 - Book II, Lesson 23, Topic 1
6
mantra, the physical movement of the head, Book I, Lesson 7, Topic 2

859
Topic 5

Hatha Yoga: Vastra Dhauti

Vastra dhauti is a method of cleaning the throat, Type of cloth


oesophagus and stomach with a length of cloth. T h e cloth should be soft, unstarched and
At first you may think that it is more like a perfectly clean. It should not be dyed. White
circus trick than a yogic technique as it seems muslin is ideal.
unnatural and unsightly. You may feel disin-
clined to practice it. But it gives many benefits. Length of cloth
For this reason we strongly suggest that you Beginners should cut a length of cloth that is
try to master it. We specifically recommend about 2 1/2 cms wide and 3 metres long. When
vastra dhauti for those who suffer from asthma. you can do the practise then the width and
length can be gradually increased. After a few
Definition months the width can be about 5 or 6 cms, and
The word vastra means 'cloth' and dhauti means the length about 6 1/2 metres. However, such a
'cleansing' or 'washing'. T h e r e f o r e , vastra long cloth should only be used under expert
dhauti is a technique for cleaning the digestive guidance, and after regular practice with a
system with cloth. shorter cloth.
It is also known by various other names. Make sure that all frayed edges and loose
These include: vas dhauti (washing with a cloth), thread are removed before starting.
dhauti kriya (cleansing technique) and dhauti
karma (cleaning technique). Preparation
T h e cloth should be placed in a mug or bowl of
Scriptual references lukewarm water. If you wish you can use salt
Most traditional texts on hatha yoga mention water, but it is not essential. This will keep the
vastra dhauti. T h e Gherand Samhita says: "Take cloth wet so that it slips smoothly down the
a long fine cloth which is two inches in length. oesophagus into the stomach.
Swallow it gradually and then take it out again. Some people soak the cloth in milk, or even
This is known as dhauti kriya." (1:41) "Vastra sweetened milk. If you find that this makes the
dhauti cures tumour, fever, kidney trouble, cloth more palatable, and the practice easier,
leprosy, cough, catarrh and bile trouble. It then try it.
keeps the body free of disease and strong. It
helps to develop the body." (1:42) Sitting pose
It seems that the great yogi Gherand had a If your legs are reasonably flexible, then sit in
veiy high regard for vastra dhauti. a squatting position. Otherwise sit on a low
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika says: "According stool or chair. T h e position is clearly illustrated
to the guru's instructions take a wet cloth four in the following figure.
fingers in width and fifteen feet in length.
Swallow it and then remove it again. This is VASTRA DHAUTI
known as dhauti karma." (2:24) T h e text con-
tinues: "The afflictions of twenty types of Sit in a comfortable position. Place the cup
diseases such as cough, asthma, leprosy, etc. containing the cloth and water on the floor
can be completely removed. Of this there is no between the two feet. T h e n start stage 1.
doubt." (2:25)
We don't know the specific names of all Stage 1: ingestion
twenty diseases, but we can vouch for its Take one end of the cloth, leaving the other
efficacy in treating asthma. end immersed in the water.

860
Eventually most of the cloth will accumulate in
the stomach. Do nor swallow the whole cloth;
allow at least 30 cms to protrude from the
mouth. When you have reached this point
proceed to stage 2.

Stage 2: churning
Now you must massage and churn the stomach
so that the cloth rubs, scrubs and cleans the
stomach walls.
Fold the 2 corners of the end of the cloth so Do nauli 1 .
that it is slightly pointed; this will allow it to Alternatively you can practise agnisar kriya 2 .
pass more easily down the throat. Beginners should agitate the stomach for no
Place the pointed end of the cloth in the mouth. more than 1 minute. Adepts can practise for
With one finger push it towards the back of up to 3 minutes. T h e n proceed to stage 3.
the tongue.
Hold the cloth with the index (second) finger Stage 3: withdrawal
and the thumb of each hand as shown below. Now the cloth must be removed from the
Imagine that the cloth is food, perhaps a long, stomach.
thick strand of spaghetti. Hold the free end of the cloth.
Chew the cloth thoroughly as though it is Pull the cloth, but do not pull too hard or you
food; this will induce copious secretions of may damage the delicate walls of the stomach
saliva so that the cloth can slide into the and the oesophagus.
stomach. You should pull gently but firmly.
But do not chew the cloth too roughly with the At first you may feel some resistance to the
teeth or it will shred and become frayed. withdrawal of the cloth; after a few seconds
Try to swallow the end of the cloth. this resistance will disappear and the cloth can
If necessary sip some water from the cup. be easily extracted.
Feed more of the cloth into the mouth as the Let the cloth fall into the cup.
end gradually goes down the oesophagus; Remove the whole cloth to complete the
but do not feed it too quickly or it will bunch practice.
up in the mouth and make the practice difficult
if not impossible. Advice for beginners
Gradually the cloth should slip down the You are not likely to master vastra dhauti on
throat. the first day. It may take a few days or even a
The first part of the practice is the most difficult; few weeks before you are able to swallow the
that is, swallowing the cloth from the mouth to cloth. It is strange but true that the less you try
the p o i n t w h e r e the w i n d p i p e joins the the easier it becomes; the more you relax the
oesophagus in the throat. more easily the cloth will go down the throat.
Vou may start to retch a little; if so, stop for a If you forget that the cloth is a piece of cloth
short period until the spasms cease and then a n d merely swallow, then the cloth will
continue to swallow the cloth again. automatically drop into the stomach. Do not
Remember: you must chew the cloth in order hurry, take your time.
to produce saliva to act as a lubricant; without Practise for about ten minutes whether you
chewing you will find the practice impossible. can swallow the cloth or not. Practise every
Simultaneously you must swallow the cloth. day. After a few days you will become accus-
Drink some more water from the cup if it is tomed to the cloth entering the throat. When
necessary. your mind accepts the idea then it is a short
You will find that the practice becomes easy step to mastering the technique.
when the end of the cloth has passed the
junction of the windpipe and oesophagus; it Warning
will slide smoothly into the stomach almost as Do not leave the cloth in the stomach for
fast as you can swallow. m o r e t h a n f i f t e e n to twenty minutes,

861
otherwise it may start to enter the intestinal digestive tract a n d brain. These in turn cause a
tract. chain reaction, which somehow brings about a
Do not swallow the entire cloth. Leave about relaxation of the congestion in the lungs. O n e
thirty centimetres hanging from the mouth. thing we are certain about is that it works

Reuse of cloth
T h e same cloth can be used again a n d again
After the practice, thoroughly wash the cloth,
dry it a n d then store it in a safe, clean place.

Time of practice
Practise when the stomach is empty. T h e best
time is before breakfast.
After completing the practice wait for at
least half an h o u r before eating breakfast.
This period will ensure that sufficient mucus
has been secreted to protect the linings of the
stomach a n d esophagus.

Regularity
Practise once a week for general health a n d
cleaning of the digestive tract. Practise every
day until you master the technique.

Supplementary practices
For the fullest benefits we suggest that you
also do kunjal kriya 3 andjala neti 4 . These should
be d o n e after completing vastra dhauti. Vastra
dhauti scrapes the impurities f r o m the walls,
while kunjal expels the impurities. Jala neti
tones up the nasal system.

Benefits
T h e cloth thoroughly scrubs the stomach walls
It stimulates t h e digestive juices a n d t h e
peristalsis It invigorates the entire body. If
you refer to quotations that we have given
u n d e r the h e a d i n g 'Scriptural References' you
will see that it is r e c o m m e n d e d for a wide
n u m b e r of ailments. From our experience we
have f o u n d the practice useful in treating
acidity, indigestion, bronchitis a n d asthma.

Alleviation of asthma
If you suffer f r o m asthma you should do vastra
dhauti every day as a preventive and curative
m e a s u r e . It is simple but effective. Many
sufferers of asthma have gained much relief
Notes
using this method. 1
Nauli: Part 1 - Book III, Lesson 28, Topic 3; Part
Asthma is an ailment of the respiratory 2 - Book III, Lesson 29, Topic 2
system - vastra dhauti acts directly on the 2
Book I, Lesson 6, Topic 2
digestive system. Possibly the swallowing of 3
Book I, Lesson 4, Topic 1
the cloth activates n e r v e r e f l e x e s in t h e 4
Book I, Lesson 1, Topic 2

862
Topic 3

Asanas: Practice

The following two forward bending asanas


are advanced asanas that require a reasonable
degree of flexibility in the legs and spine.
1. Koormasana
2. Eka pada sirasana
Before attempting them you should master the floor throughout the whole practice.
o t h e r forward b e n d i n g asanas such as Keep the eyes open.
paschimottanasana 1 , janu sirshasana 2 and
ardha padma paschimottanasana2. They Stage 2: leaning forwards
should not be attempted by beginners. Breathe out deeply.
Lean forward and place the hands u n d e r the
KOORMASANA (TORTOISE POSE) knees, palms facing either upwards or down-
wards.
The word koorma means 'tortoise'. Phis asana Lean further forwards and slowly slide the
can thus be translated as 'the tortoise pose'. It arms under the two legs.
is so called because it resembles a tortoise in You can bend the knees further upwards if
the final position; the back of the body necessary.
representing the shell, and the arms and legs The arms should slide sideways and backwards
the four limbs. If you look at the accompanying until the elbows lie near the back of the knees.
picture you will see that this is a fair description. Breathe normally for a short time allowing the
T h e tortoise symbolizes pratyahara (sense spine to relax.
withdrawal). T h e Bhagavad Gita states: "When Then proceed to stage 3.
he (the yogic aspirant) can withdraw his senses
from association with the other objects like a Stage 3: attaining the final pose
tortoise withdraws its limbs f r o m outside During this stage it is important that the spine
danger, then he is firmly fixed on the path r e m a i n s passive; do not tense the back
towards wisdom". (2:58) Koormasana sym- muscles.
bolizes this state of pratyahara; moreover, it Breathe out deeply.
can also help to induce this state. That is, the Slowly push the heels forward and straighten
asana can be practised to stabilize the mind the legs; simultaneously the body should bend
and direct awareness inwards away from the further forwards as you apply leverage on the
external world. arms with the legs. Do not strain.
This process should be progressive.
Technique After leaning forwards slightly, breathe in and
Proceed slowly through each stage, especially relax the body.
stage 3. T h e n breathe in again and bend a little further
forwards, hold your body position and then
Stage 1: starting position inhale and relax the whole body.
Sit on the ground with the two legs pointing Repeat this process until your forehead touches
forwards. or nearly touches the floor between the two
Separate the feet by about half a metre, more legs.
if possible. Only bend forward as far as you feel com-
Bend the legs upwards at the knees. fortable; don't force or you will injure the
T h e two heels should remain in contact with spine.

863
If you are able you can rest your chin on the pation and backache, and for inducing mental
floor. relaxation.
T h e n fold the arms around the back and
interlock the fingers of both hands under the ERA PADA SIRASANA
buttocks. (ONE F O O T TO HEAD POSE)
This is the final position.
Relax the whole body. In Sanskrit the word eka means 'one', 'single';
Breathe slowly and deeply. pada means 'foot' and sira means 'head'. T h e
Close the eyes. name of this asana can be translated as 'the
Be aware of breathing. single foot head pose'. It is so called because
Stay in the final pose for as l o n g as is one foot is placed behind the head in the final
comfortable. position.
Then slowly return to the starting position. This asana is also called eka pada sirshasana
where the word sirsha means the same as sira,
Breathing, awareness and duration that is head.
Breathe in as you lean forward. Breathe out as It may not seem like a forward bending
you relax the body. Breathe deeply and slowly asana from the point of view of the final body
in the final pose. position. However, instead of bending the
Be aware of relaxing the spine and syn- trunk forward onto one leg, the one leg is
chronizing the breath with the forward bend. pulled backwards behind the trunk; this reallv
In the final pose be aware of breathing. a m o u n t s to the same thing. Because the
You can practise koormasana for as long as benefits of this asana are essentially the same
you wish providing there is no strain. as many other forward bending asanas, we
have classified it accordingly.
Time of practice
Do not practise after taking food; wait for at Technique
least three hours. The best time is early in the Do not force any stage, particularly the last.
morning, before breakfast, and late in the
afternoon, before the evening meal.

Restrictions
People who suffer from the following ailments
should not attempt to do koormasana:
slipped disc
sciatica
hernia
You must use your discretion; only practise Stage 1: starting position
the asana if you are certain that your spine is Sit on the floor with the two legs straight in
sufficiently flexible. front of the body.
Bend the left leg slightly.
Counterpose Hold the left foot with the right hand, the
Any backward bending asana can be done fingers placed in the region of the ankle, the
immediately before or after koormasana. We palm in contact with the outside of the foot.
suggest bhujangasana 3 , matsyasana or supta Wrap the fingers of the left hand around the
vajrasana 4 . left leg slightly above the ankle; the left arm
should be positioned so that the elbow lies
Benefits between the thigh and the lower leg.
This asana gives the general benefits of other This is the starting position.
forward bending asanas. It loosens up the
vertebrae of the spine and tones the spinal Stage 2: raising the leg
nerves. It massages and improves the func- Raise the left leg using the two arms and hands.
tional efficiency of the abdominal organs. It is As you raise the leg bend the trunk forwards
specifically recommended for relieving consti- and twist slightly to the right.

864
Try to place the left leg on top of the left circulation in the legs a n d relieving varicose
shoulder. Do not strain. veins.
Proceed to stage 3 if you can place your leg on
your shoulder.

Stage 3: attaining the final pose


Release the grip of the left h a n d .
Place the left a r m u n d e r the left thigh so that
the h a n d points towards the buttocks.
Raise the left leg higher by using the right arm
and by pushing the left thigh to the back with
the left arm. Do not strain.
Try to place the left foot behind the h e a d at
the nape of the neck.
This should be achieved by b e n d i n g the h e a d
forwards u n d e r the calf muscle which then
rests on the shoulder.
If vou are feeling comfortable, place your hands
together in front of the chest.
TIT to straighten the spine and hold the head
upright.
This is the final pose.
Breathe slowly a n d deeply. Close the eyes.
Stav in t h e f i n a l p o s e f o r as l o n g as is
comfortable.
T h e n slowly release the left leg a n d return to
the starting position.
Repeat the same p r o c e d u r e with the right leg.

Breathing and awareness


Normal breathing while moving the body into
the final pose. Breathe deeply a n d slowly in
the final pose. Be aware of breathing in the
final pose.

Restrictions, duration, time of practice and


counterpose

These details are as for koormasana.

Benefits
Eka p a d a sirasana compresses each side of the
abdomen in turn. This gives the internal organs
a thorough massage and is very useful for
removing constipation a n d stimulating peris-
talsis. For fullest benefits you should raise the
right leg first so that the massage is applied in
the same order as the movement of faeces.
Practice of this asana applies a powerful
massage to the sexual organs, h e l p i n g to Notes
1
i m p r o v e t h e i r efficiency a n d r e m o v e Book II, Lesson 13, Topic 2
2
malfunctions. Book II, Lesson 19, Topic 3
3
When d o n e regularly, eka p a d a sirasana has Book I, Lesson 4, Topic 2
4
been f o u n d useful in improving the blood Book II, Lesson 20, Topic 4

865
Topic 5

Pranayama: Surya Bheda Pranayama

Surya bheda pranayama is c o n c e r n e d with Again we do not advise you to hold your
stimulating and awakening energy within the breath for prolonged periods of time without
physical and pranic bodies. T h e practice can the personal guidance of a teacher.
be described as a psychic supercharger. T h e T h e description continues in later verses:
word surya means 'sun' and bheda means 'to "During surya bheda you should feel as if the
pierce', 'to awaken'. The sun represents pingala inhaled breath is ascending from the navel
nadi (the pranic pathway associated with region. You should slowly breathe out through
energy in the human framework) and the flow the left nostril. Again inhale through the right
of the breath through the right nostril. nostril, hold the breath, then breathe out
There are various alternative methods; we through the left nostril. Repeat the process
will describe three. You can choose one of over and over again." (5:65, 66)
these practices according to your preference. This practice is slightly different to that given
in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in that it includes
Scriptural references j a l a n d h a r a b a n d h a a n d awareness of the
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika states: "The aspirant upward flow of breath from the navel. T h e
should sit in a comfortable pose and breathe practice that we generally teach in the ashram
in through the right nostril until he feels is also slightly different as you will see when we
pressure build up to the hairs and fingertips. describe the techniques. All these techniques,
T h e n he should exhale t h r o u g h the left however, bring about essentially the same
nostril." (2:48, 49) benefits.
This is one method. We do not suggest that
you hold your breath until you feel 'pressure Technique 1
build up to the hairs and fingertips'; hold it This is the method described in the Hatha Yoga
only for as long as you feel comfortable. Long Pradipika.
retentions should only be done under very Take a comfortable sitting position.
strict conditions of practice, perfect health and Hold the spine and head erect but without
cleanliness of the body-mind, and under the tension.
guidance of a teacher. The scripture gives clear Place the hands on the knees.
instructions about this in previous verses. T h e Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
text continues: "Surya b h e d a p r a n a y a m a Let the breathing become deeper.
should be practised again and again. It will Now start the practice of surya bheda.
purify the frontal part of the brain, remove all Raise your right hand in front of the face in
kinds of wind problems and eradicate bacteria nasagra mudra 1 .
within the body." (2:50) Place the index (second) and middle (third)
Surya bheda pranayama is also described in fingers on the forehead with the ring (fourth)
the Gherand Samhita, although the technique is finger and thumb on either side of the nose.
slightly different: "I am going to discuss surya Close the left nostril with the ring finger. Inhale
bheda pranayama with kumbhaka (breath slowly and deeply through the right nostril.
retention). Please listen carefully. Inhale air At the end of inhalation, close both nostrils
through the surya (right) nostril as deeply as with the ring finger and thumb.
possible. Retain the breath inside. Dojalandhara Hold your breath for a comfortable length of
bandha. Continue to do kumbhaka for as long time.
as you can until sweat starts to come from the Do not strain.
tips of the hair and fingers." (5:57, 58) T h e n release the pressure of the ring finger.

866
Breathe out slowly through the left nostril. suggest that you practise for no m o r e than
This is 1 r o u n d . twenty minutes at one stretch.
T h e best time to practise is early in the
Do as many rounds as available time permits. m o r n i n g before breakfast. Do not practise after
food because you will interfere with the natural
Technique 2
energy flow associated with digestion.
This is the m e t h o d described in the Gherand
Samhita. Benefits
Sit in a comfortable pose. T h e three variations seem to be quite different,
Make the preparations described in technique especially the third technique. But actually they
1. give very similar benefits. They awaken energy
T h e n inhale deeply t h r o u g h the right nostril, in the body a n d increase vitality; they are
trying to imagine that the breath is being especially r e c o m m e n d e d for those people who
drawn up f r o m the reservoir of energy in the are habitually lethargic. T h e practice should
navel region. not be done, however, if the lethargy is d u e to
You should feel the inhaled breath recharging illness. Surya b h e d a p r a n a y a m a will h e l p
the whole body. transform tamas (lethargy) into rajas
Feel that the whole body is e x p a n d i n g . (dynamism). This will help to make the mind
At the end of inhalation close both nostrils. m o r e alert a n d perceptive, a n d will be a great
Hold the breath a n d do j a l a n d h a r a bandha 2 . help in meditative practice.
After a comfortable period of retention, release
lalandhara b a n d h a a n d raise your head.
Release the pressure of the ring finger a n d
breathe out t h r o u g h the left nostril.
O n e r o u n d is completed at the e n d of exhala-
tion. Do m o r e rounds.
Technique 3
This is the method that we teach in the ashram.
Repeat technique 1 as far as retention of the
breath.
T h e n do both j a l a n d h a r a b a n d h a 2 a n d moola
bandha 3 .
Hold the breath while doing the two b a n d h a s
for as long as you feel comfortable.
T h e n release the two b a n d h a s and raise the
head. Breathe out slowly t h r o u g h the right
nostril (not the left as given in the previous
practices).
At the end of exhalation start the second round.
Breathe in t h r o u g h the right nostril, hold the
breath, do the b a n d h a s ; then release the
bandhas a n d breathe out through the right
nostril. Do m o r e rounds.

Awareness
Maintain awareness of breath and the mechan-
ics of the practice.

Duration and time of practice


S u n a b h e d a gives many benefits if d o n e for a Notes
prolonged period of time. However, it can 1
Book I Lesson 3, Topic 4
cause m o r e h a r m than good if your body- 2
Book II, Lesson 14, Topic 3
mind is not sufficiently purified. We therefore 3
Book II, Lesson 19, Topic 4

867
Daily Practice Program

We suggest four programs: two for kriya yoga respectively. They do not contain kriya yoga
practice and two for general yoga practice. practices and are for those people who honestly
Program 1 is for people who have sufficient feel that they are not ready for serious practise
time to practise all the kriyas every day; that is, of kriya yoga. If you are not sure of your
kriyas 1 to 11 that we have so far introduced. readiness then we advise you to read our two
Program 2 is for those who want to do kriya previous discussions on kriya yoga practice 1 .
yoga practice but who have limited time. This In this lesson we have described two new
group should practise as many kriyas as they kriyas: naumukhi and shakti chalini. Integrate
can, starting from vipareeta karani m u d r a them into your daily practice if you have time
(kriya 1) and proceeding through the other for program 1; otherwise omit them.
kriyas in turn. No kriyas should be cut, either Try vastra dhauti, especially if you suffer
partly or wholly. As many should be done as f r o m a s t h m a , surya b h e d a p r a n a y a m a
time allows. especially if you lack vitality, and koormasana
Programs 3 and 4 are general yoga practice and eka pada sirasana if you are sufficiently
programs for durations of 1 hour and 1/2 hour flexible in body.

Practice Minutes

Program 1: duration 1 hour 58 minutes -


extended kriya practice
Kriya Yoga:
Kriya 1: Vipareeta Karani Mudra 10
Kriya 2: Chakra Anusandhana 4
Kriya 3: Nada Sanchalana 7
Kriya 4: Pawan Sanchalana 25
Kriya 5: Shabda Sanchalana 30
Kriya 6: Maha Mudra 10
Kriya 7: Maha Bheda Mudra 10
Kriya 8: Manduki Mudra 5
Kriya 9: Tadan Kriya 7
Kriya 10: Naumukhi Mudra 5
Kriya 11: Shakti Chalini 5
118

Program 2: shortened kriya practice according to


available time. Do as many of the above kriyas given
in program 1 as you can starting from no. 1. Do not
omit any kriya wholly or partly.

868
Program 3: duration 1 hour for general health
Surva Namaskara 5
Shavasana 3
Bhujangasana 3
Ardha Padma Paschimottanasana 4
.Ardha Matsyendrasana 4
Sarvangasana 4
Halasana 4
Matsyasana 3
Surya Bheda Pranayama
(or any pranayama of your choice) 10
Antar Mouna (or any other meditative
practice) 20
60

Program 4: duration 1/2 hour for general health


Surya Namaskara 4
Shavasana 3
Bhujangasana 3
Ardha Padma Paschimottanasana 4
Ardha Matsyendrasana 4
Sarvangasana 3
Matsyasana 3
Surya Bheda Pranayama
(or any pranayama of your choice) 6

30

Notes
Book III, Lesson 25, Topic 2
and Book III, Lesson 26, Topic 2

869