TheLoneRider
a seeker in search of Easter Eggs

COUNTRY > Thailand > Chiang Mai
DATE > 2022 > Sep
SECTION > Yoga

yoga in Chiang Mai, Thailand Book Review

Hatha Yoga Pradipika Sep 8 - ?, 2022

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Author: Svatmarama Yogendra
Commentary: Swami Muktibodhananda
Guidance: Swami Satyananda Saraswati
ISBN-10: 81-85787-38-7
ISBN-13: 9788185787381
Genre: Yoga
Pages: 645
Country: Munger, Bihar, India
Publisher: Bihar School of Yoga / Yoga Publications Trust
Publication date: First edition 1985, Second edition 1993 Third edition 1998
MY Rating: star star star star star (5 out of 5 stars)

Raja Yoga vs Hatha Yoga
RAJA HATHA
Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi Asana, Pranayama, Shat Kriya
moral code is foremost no Yama/Niyama, no moral code
goal: activate Sahasrara Chakra goal: activate Ajna Chakra


Foreword

Extended Book Summary
To ensure I understand what I'm reading, I summrized this book, chapter by chapter, in my own words PLUS my own insight, perspective and comment. Not surprisingly, this summary is about half the size of the book. It usually takes me months to finish a book, especially if I have to codify the information into a 'Call to Action' (sequences) that I can integrate into my practice.

Introduction
Hatha Yoga Pradipika was written by Svatmarama Yogendra. It is one of the widely referenced classical texts for hatha yoga even though it was written in the 15th century (1500 years after Patanjali's Yoga Sutras).

While nearly every yogi I meet talks about Patanjali's Yoga Sutras as his/her basis for their practice (which is mostly asana), Patanjali's Sutras actually only mentions one asana - a seated pose that can be held long and comfortably. Taking a back seat from the modern dissertation of yoga is the one book that actually focuses more about the asanas - Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Hatha Yoga Pradipika is often cited together with other yoga texts, Gheranda Samhita and Yoga Upanushads.

Caveat
Because this book is essentially a commentary/translation/interpretation of Swami Muktibodhananda under the guidance of Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga, it comes with their bias (against Buddhism mostly).

Buddha's teachings are described as, "...merely psychological experiences... (thus) it became necessary to reintroduce a proper system of meditation" that prepared the body and its elements for the more challenging task of taming the mind (meditation). I agree that having prepared the body, breath and spirit are all essential for a deeper meditation practice, but I will not say Buddha's teachings were 'merely psychological experiences'.

In fairness though, these commentaries also provide background context on the genesis of hatha yoga...which puts yoga in its historical perspective.



Swamiji on Hatha Yoga

The Rise of Hatha Yoga

There are many sources and references to yoga as practiced today. It's not a monopoly of Hatha Yoga Pradipika alone. These text were written between 600 to 1500, as follows:

  1. Goraksha Samhita - by Yogi Gorakhnath
  2. Gheranda Samhita - by the great sage Gherand
  3. Hatha Ratnavali - by Srinivasabhatta Mahayogindra

Note: Other noteworthy sources of yoga are Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Yoga Yajnavalkya, Yoga Korunta, Yoga Upanushads, Yoga Taravali, and Siva Samhita.

The Rise of Hatha Yoga
It is in the backdrop of establishing the mind, body and spirit first before the practice of meditation that hatha yoga came into being. The hatha yogis believed that it takes mental discipline in the first place to successfully exercise self-control - and not the other way around. This period gave rise to 2 prominent figures of hatha yoga - Matsyendranath and his devoted disciple, Gorakhnath. Svatmarama Yogendra, a student adept of Gorakhnath, wrote a comprehensive hatha yoga book expounding on asana, mudra, pranayama and shat kriya - Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Emphasis on Shatkarma
Hatha Yoga completely eliminated the first 2 limbs of Patanjali's Sutras - yama and niyama. Hatha strongly states that the purification of the body must be done first - the 5 elements within the body (fire, air, ether, earth, water), prana, nadi, the nervous system, etc. Only then should purifying the mind or imposing self-controls take place. The body is purified through the six shat karmas:

  1. Nauli - stomach churning
  2. Dhauti - intestinal cleansing
  3. Trataka - eye-gazing without blinking
  4. Neti - using a neti pot, to draw water from one opening of the nostril and out the other opening
  5. Basti - colonic enema
  6. Kapalbhati - repetitive, fast, and forceful exhalation through abdominal contraction

Note: it is interesting to note that Krishnamacharya in his book Yoga Makaranda, (who has his own yoga lineage separate from the Sivananda Bihar School of Yoga) mentioned that if the practice of asana and pranayama are done right, there is no more need to perform the shat karmas.

Chronology of the Practice
When the body is already purified through the shatkarmas, asana and pranayama can begin. With that, yama and niyama (self-control and discipline) are integrated through the practice. Mudras can follow - sambhavi, khecari, nabho, etc. These are the prerequisites in order to achieve balance between body, mind and energy.

Only then should meditation commence! When this chronology is observed, meditation gives rise to the last 4 limbs - pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

Ha-Tha
Ha means energy and Tha means mind. Thus, Hatha means the union of energy (prana, shakti, etc.) and mind (consciousness, Shiva, etc.). When they are united, creation begins. When there is creation, 2 things are a given. The creation is alive and the creation is conscious. Therefore, anything and everything around us are both alive and conscious.

Harmony between Prana and Manas Shakti
Hatha aspires to balance the 2 energies in man - prana shakti (physical) and manas shakti (mental). Too much prana shakti and one becomes violent, angry and volatile. Too much manas shakti and you become crazy.

Note: the author is suggesting that these 2 enegies are the Ida and Pingala. I find this confusing. Ida is better known as the female power and the Pingala as the male power. It's not about physical and mental but simply gender. But again, in yoga, depending on who is talking, there will be many inconsistencies.

In Hatha, body, mind and spirit are one - not 3 disparate entities. However, they still need to be balanced with one another.

Note: Personally, I find it easier to use a metaphor - tripod. All three need to be present and balanced. When one is weak, the tripod tips over. This is the reason I push body, mind and spirit simultaneously. The system is only as strong as its weakest link. Not to judge, but I see Buddhists who simply pursue spirituality as a mental/spiritual undertaking. As they get older, sure, they become spiritual adepts, but the body is so weak they are often left bent and twisted. Some of them have to be carried over. That's why I agree in the philosophy of Hatha that the body must be made strong as well. My 2 cents.

Transcendence through Training
The body is simply a gross/physical manifestation of energy, spirit and divinity. The very nature of the body is divine. The body can transmute from solid physical solidity to energy of light - as some enlightened yogis have manifested. Message: the body is sacred. Treat it the way you treat divinity.

Thus, in Hatha, the body is purified by way of the shat karmas, particularly, the cleansing of the nadis and elimination of waste, and balancing the doshas (mucus, gas and acidity).

If meditation is practiced without purification first, the experience can be frightening, annoying or disturbing - not at all the blissful state it is touted to be.

Concentration depends on Purification
Prana/energy and the mind are constantly in motion. They need to be brought into a steady state for unbroken and steady meditation - as the mind is still and the energies are put in 'quiet' mode.

Metamorphosis from Gross to Subtle
Evolution is a universal process. Even rocks go through it, and the human form, spirit and mind are not an exception. We keep evolving whether we like it or not, in however way our actions and thinking cause it.

For proper evolution of the human form, yoga is the answer. Yoga transforms the body in such a subtle and pure form that it can transcend the aging process and be untouched by disease. The 6 shat karmas provide this purification. This purification harmonize energy and mind.

Union of mind and body is Yoga
Hatha Yoga is the convergence of energy on the ida, pingala and sushumna on the Ajna Chakra.

When consciousness expands, the kunkalini shakti (which resides dormant in the Muladhara Chakra) awakens from its slumber and begins its ascencion through the sushumna nadi (along the spine) until it reaches the Ajna Chakra where it converges with the negative/female energy in the Ida nadi and the male/positive energy in the Pingala nadi. The convergence of these energies at the Ajna is the culmination of Hatha Yoga. At this point, Hatha Yoga has been perfected already.

From the Ajna, kundalini continues its ascension until it reaches the top of the head where the sahasrara chakra resides. Here, kundalini shakti unites with Shiva, the supreme consciousness. The unification of kundalini (Shakti, energy, power) with consciousness (Shiva) at the sahasrara is YOGA, no longer Hatha Yoga - Hatha Yoga stopped at the convergence on the Ajna.

Arousing potential Energy
Before kundalini awakens, the chakras must be awakened first. Chakras are the enegy hubs to 72,000 nadis in the system. If the chakras are blocked, energy cannot flow. To unblock the chakras, pranayama is required.

When the nadis are already cleared (unblocked) and the chakras are activated through the practice of asana and pranayama, then sushumna must be cleared as well before kundalini is awakened. If sushumna is blocked, an awakened kundalini cannot go through.

Controlling the mind by controlling the Prana
Fluctuations of the mind is very difficult to control - the mind is somehow autonomous. But a technique in hatha yoga to control the mind is to control prana. The mind and prana are deeply connected and affect each other. By controlling prana through the practice of pranayama, one gets to control the mind. This is especially useful if the mind is agitated and restless and cannot be controlled.

Note: This is why in Vipassana Meditation, when the mind is all over the place, the initiate is encouraged to revert back to anapana or conscious breathing, or even regulate the breath until the mind is at ease - and then resume meditation.

But resorting to pranayama opens up new challenges - it generates heat, it opens up dormant centers in the brain, it alters sperm/testosterone production, etc. Thus it is imperative to practice the 6 shat karmas first. The shat karmas cleanse the nadis, both Ida and Pingala, enabling full unobstructed breathing for balanced nadi shodan pranayama.

If Ida alone is flowing, you will be sleepy and the brainwave is in Delta wave (deep dreamless sleep). If Pingala alone is flowing, the mind will be very busy as it stays on Beta wave (normal waking state). To create balance, do nadi shodan or anuloma viloma pranayama. When there is balance, Sushumna is flowing. That is why cleansing sushumna is required before kundalini awakening.

Note: And here's a tip - if you have trouble sleeping, before going to sleep, meditate while doing chandra bhedan (left nostril breathing only) for about 30 minutes.

Dimensions of prana
While pranayama is widely defined as 'regulation of the breath', it's true meaning actually says, 'expanding the dimension of energy' within you. When prana is activated through pranayama, we gain access to hidden dimensions of consciousness within us. These are planes of existence unbeknownst to our conscious perception and areas of consciousness wrapped in complete darkness. These are more understood as altered states of consciousness.

The practical Aspect
To achieve this altered state of consciousness, we have to do the hard work and abide by the rules. One rule is to abandon intellectualizing. Through pranayama, we can achieve these states without abstract philosophy or thinking. Just do the task and feel and focus. There are established Hatha Yoga asana and pranayama techniques for this.

The therapeutic Aspect
Hatha Yoga was developed for spiritual awakening, but it cannot be denied that by practicing Hatha Yoga, one also gains strength and resilience from disease. True, as a means to therapy, Hatha yoga takes more time and requires work (so it's not a quick fix). But in terms of long term solutions and effective cure, it is certainly worthwhile. For physical and mental therapeutic benefits, three principles apply:

  1. providing perfect health to a system of the body influences the other systems
  2. energies have to be balanced - negative and positive, ida and pingala
  3. purifying the body of its 3 types of wastes (doshas).

In nature, there exists a system of coordination where things seem to move towards being in sync - pendulums of granfather clocks, series of metronomes. when one part of the body is out of sync (sick), the entire system is put out of its synchronicity. Solution is to bring one system in perfect health and the rest of the body follows in sync (just like the metronomes). So, it is not necessary to have one type of yoga cure for every disease. Just putting one system in perfect health pulls all the system to function optimally.

One way to provide a 'cure-all' is to balance the negative and positive energies through asana and pranayama - nadi shodan!. Any disease is simply a symptom of energetic disharmony. Thus balancing the enegies is a cure-all for any disease.

The Real purpose of Hatha yoga
When someone is sick, teach him yoga. Even though it is not for the intended goal, it still works. And why deny someone help if they need it? Yoga has been proven to be an effective cure against a myriad of illnesses and disease. Let the yoga-cure be the stepping stone to enter a spiritual life.



Chapter One: Asana
Salutations to Shiva

(Verse 1) To the Nath sect of yogis, to which the author, Svatmarama belongs to, Shiva is the supreme consciousness. He is called Adinath by the Nath yogis.

Hatha yoga is a preparation for raja yoga, the supreme state of yoga. Hatha yoga balances and harmonized the fluctuating and opposing energies within the body (mind/energy, male/female, yin/yang, etc.) and unifies them into one. When these energies unite, kundalini awakens and ascends through the central nadi, the Sushuman nadi. These energies flow through specific pathways called nadis. Mental energy (female, moon, chitta, para-symphatetic nervous system) travels through the Ida nadi on the left and pranic energy (male, sun, symphatetic nervous system) takes on the Pingala nadi on the right. Hatha yoga primes and prepares the system (body, mind, emotions) to transmit and receive higher, subtle and more powerful energies. Through Hatha, the body is able to regulate its brainwaves, hormones, prana, and secretions. When Ida and Pingala unite at the Ajna Chakra, Hatha yoga has done its job. When kundalini reaches the Sahasrara chakra, then Raja yoga is achieved.



Purpose of Hatha yoga

(Verse 2) The yogi is not the source of knowledge but an instrument of it - this is humility. He prostrates himself to the Adinath. Hatha yoga must only be done with the purpose of achieving samadhi (not siddhis, not therapy, not to beautify) - although Hatha yoga meets these needs. It is said that man uses only 10% of his brain capacity. But through Hatha yoga, the dormant part of the brain is activated and siddhis are manifested. while powerful, siddhis take away the motivation to reach Raja yoga, and thus best to be left ignored. Siddhis, although inevitable in the practice of Hatha yoga, they are not the objective.



Misconception About Raja yoga

(Verse 3) There are as many ways to achieve Raja yoga as there are individuals, but not every method applies to everyone. One must try many systems (karma yoga, bhakti yoga, kriya yoga, jnana yoga, Zen Buddhism) but ulimately follow just one, "it's better to dig one deep hole than many shallow holes". Hatha yoga is but one system offered by Svatrama in the attainment of Raja yoga (samadhi, sahasrara activation).



Matsyendranath and Gorakhnath

(Verse 4) Hatha yoga was taught by Matsyendranath to his disciple, Gorakhnath. Hatha was passed on along this lineage until it was learned by Svatmarama who codified the practice into this book, Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

They all belong to the Nath sect of yogis commonly known as kanphata or split-eared. The Naths began in the 7th century when yoga was associated with dark energy and black magic. Members of the Nath yogis were held in high regard for their extreme penitence, extreme abstinence and extreme austerities. They are adepts in siddhis. Nath yogis were reknowned in the old world for they traveled far and wide leaving stories about miracles in their wake.

Legend has it that the gods incarnated themselves into Matsyendranath and Gorakhnath to save society from its decline - heinous activities were being done in the name of spirituality.

It is claimed by the Naths that their lineage goes as far back as Lord Shiva himself. Shiva was said to be teaching his consort Parvati, the secrets of yoga as a big fish was eavesdropping and heard all the teachings. Matsyendranath was living inside the fish so everything was transmitted to him as well.

Gorakhnath was said to emerge as a 12-year old, from a pile of cow dung. He became a devotee of Matsyendranath and founded the Nath sect and propagated Hatha yoga.



Lineage of mahasiddhas

(Verses 5-9) Mahasiddhas are great yogis who have attained superhuman powers through the perfection of their practice. They become a jivanmukta (liberated soul). There are 8 major siddhis that need to be mastered before one can be called a siddha:

  1. Anima - the ability to become as small as an atom
  2. Laghima - the ability to become weightless
  3. Mahima - the ability to become as large as the universe
  4. Garima - the ability to become heavy
  5. Prapti - the ability to reach any place
  6. Prakamya - the ability to stay under water and to maintain the body and youth
  7. Vashitva - control over all objects, organic and inorganic
  8. Ishatva -the capacity to create and destroy at will

When these siddhis are perfected, the mind and body are no longer confined to human perception. All of time and space are transcended.



Three types of pain or tapa

(Verse 10) Hatha yoga makes the system strong to withstand the pains of life. There are 3 types of pain:

  1. spiritual - for as long as we live in duality, we experience spiritual pain
  2. environmental - environmental pain is unavoidable and outside our control. What happens externally affect us - market meltdowns, war, typhoons, loss of a loved one, etc.
  3. physical - physical pain is part of life - sickness, trauma, sadness, etc.

Hatha yoga primes the body, mind and emotions to weather these types of pain. When they are fortified, they serve as anchors to reality as conciousness expands. In short, be functional in the real world even as you deepen your spirituality - come on time for appointments, pay your debts and meet deadlines. Don't use spirituality to be negligent on your earthly responsibilities. Consciousness can expand and contract. If it contracts and the body/mind are weak, then conciousness has nothing to fall back into. Grounding to reality must always be strong.



Sadhana should be kept secret for success

(Verse 11) Siddhis should be kept to oneself. Hatha Yoga Prakipika is not a comprehensibe encyclopedia for the practice of Hatha yoga. It only covers the essentials. The real practice, the one that goes deep, is one that is practiced with the guru. This is where siddhis are developed (and must be kept a private personal matter and not for public consumption). When siddhi is showcased, it eventually loses its power - that's right, siddhis are only temporary. This explains why healers who overcharge eventually lose their powers. When you display your siddhis, you become 'better' than your friends - friends only wish for your empowerment if it does not exceed theirs. This is a warning that your friends will turn against you in your moment of need.



Place of practice

(Verse 12) Ideally, back in the days of Svatmarama, a yogi should practice alone as a hermit and be isolated. But in this present day, that is no longer possible. The best compromise is to dwell in a place removed from the hustle and noise of the city, but not too far away. The place must be calm, peaceful and conducive to spiritual practice. It is important to choose a positive place (good view, along a river, back to nature, etc.) - it takes a lot of energy to dispel negativity if one is in a negatively charged space (city, noise, scams and scammers, etc.).

(Verse 13) Ideally, again, Svatmarama suggests that a place of practice should be a small place with a low door with no windows. This is again no longer practical. But the essence is to have a practice space (or dwelling place) that is simple, clean, natural and free from insects coming in. The dwelling place should reflect the austerity of the yogi. It should be able to be made dark for an introspective atmosphere. No pets since they will be a distraction and require attention and care. The yogi must only be preoccupied with his practice - nothing else.



Practice of sadhana devoid of mental tension

(Verse 14 p. 64) In the meditation place, make effort to free the mind of any distraction. Close the door to the outside world and focus within. Stay present in the here-and-now...the past already happened and cannot be undone. The future hasn't happened and will remain in the future. So just stay present. The mind will drift. When you catch it drifting, gently bring it back to the present. Don't be too hard on the mind. Deal with it like a child...teach, discipline but don't be cruel. A guru is highly essential in deepening the practice. Devotion to guru is required.

But in today's world, where do you find that guru? Personally, I read books written by established masters and integrate the teachings into my practice. That's the closest thing I can come to a guru.



Causes of failure in sadhana

(Verse 15, p. 69) There are 6 major causes for a yoga practice to fail:

  1. Over Eating - with too much food, too much energy is spent on digestion. The body becomes sluggish and the mind becomes dull. Eat less often, eat only enough to drive away the feeling of hunger. Food should fill half the stomach - nothing more. A quarter of the stomach is for water and another 4th for air.

    The book did not mention fasting, but I would add it. I fast 1 day/week according to the Wim Hof protocol. I feel light and lively after the fast. No sluggishness.
  2. Over exertion - when there is too much physical workout, too much thinking, the energies are depleted leaving nothing for spiritual undertaking. When the mind is tired, stop thinking and let it rest. Let the body rest too before the next workout. Moderation is the Middle Way.
  3. Talkativeness - too much idle chat and gossiping rob you of time and energy. You can ask yourself, "Is this conversation productive? Or is this as useless as getting sucked into Facebook?"
  4. Adhering to rules - rules should be seen with a critical mind. Are they meant to control and stifle liberties? Or are they designed to promote streamlining and efficiency? Rules are not necessarily bad, so best to be vigilant about rules. Increasingly, governments are tightening controls by making rules that choke expression of freedom. Spiritual practice does not rely on legalities or religious doctrines.

    A yogi must have full liberties to explore his mind and expand his consciousness.
  5. Being in the company of common people - talking to low-evolution people (or hanging out with them), pulls you to their level. These are people who see complacency as normal, they blame others for the choices they themselves made, they procrastinate, lie, cheat, etc. Best to avoid them. If you love them, love them from a distance.
  6. Wavering mind - sure, a mind has a mind of its own, and by nature, they behave like monkeys. But when you learn to quiet the mind, it's easier to go deep into the practice. Develop a steady routine (don't sleep at 9pm one night and then sleep at 5am the following day).

With the foregoing 6 blockages to yoga, spiritual energies are spent on eliminating the toxins instead of deepening the practice. Spiritual evolution does not take place in a dirty environment.

Yoga balances the pranic energy (ida, female, right hemisphere, left body, artistic, creative, spacey, subconcious activities) and mental energy (pingala, male, left hemisphere, right body, logical, regimented, organized, concious activities). Ida and Pingala alternate in the nostril in 90-min intervals (left nostril is blocked then after 90 mins, the right nostril is blocked - same thing with the left and right hemipheres of the brain). When these 2 are balanced, the nostril is completely cleared, the body and the mind are harmonized. Usually, Ida or Pingala dominates the other. Too much pranic energy and

In my Neti Pot practice, my nostrils are completely free of blockage and I feel the clear passages of the nostrils - this means my Ida and Pingal are balanced, the body and mind are harmonized. Now, I begin to understand why the shat kriyas are essential.



Causes of success in sadhana

(Verse 16i, p. 71) For success to happen, the following virtues are to be followed:

  1. Enthusiasm - easier said than done, but practice and the practitioner should always be in a honeymoon state - where excitement to deepen the practice abounds
  2. Perseverance - regardless of external factors, or rate of (or lack of) progress, the practice must always go on regularly. Feeling lazy is unacceptable
  3. Discernment - be selective about the energies you allow in your circle. Ensure they compliment the practice. No alcohol, drugs, negative thinking, negative people, etc.
  4. Unshakeable faith - this talks about devotion and faith to the guru. But not everyone has a guru. In my case, I will simply hold an unwavering faith that the mind is everything and that everything is perception created by the mind to give us a human experience to learn what we need to learn. If we pass the test, another test is presented. Failing the test means rebirth and have the whole thing happen all over again. When all the tests are passed, then one can be a non-returner or arahant.
  5. Courage - as you deepen your practice, there will be transformation and new realizations. It takes courage to leave your comfort zone and embrace this new change. You may have to leave your friends, leave your place of dwelling, leave your job and shift your paradigm. Changes will take place across the board
  6. Avoiding the company of common people - not to be condescending, but people of lower aspirations essentially hinder your spiritual growth. It is best to avoid them, or love them from a distance. Be with people you aspire to. Read their books, watch their podcasts, listen to their interviews. Emulate their qualities.


Yama and niyama

(Verse 16 ii/iii, p. 73) Yama (moral conduct to society) and Niyama (right conduct to self), although part of Raja Yoga, is given little emphasis in Hatha Yoga. Raja Yoga suggests that the mind has to be disciplined first (through yama and niyama) before the practice of yoga begins. Hatha Yoga is saying on the contrary that it's more confusing to an ordinary person to start with his mind - the body needs to be purified first through shatkarmas, before asana and pranayama, and then focus on the mind. When the mind becomes strong, that it the time yama and niyama should be practiced. This approach is in compliance to kali yuga (a time frame characterized by strife and discord, lasting 432,000 years. Kali Yuga began 5,123 years ago, when Krshna died, marking the end of Dvapara Yuga. So yes, we are in Kali Yuga and will remain so in the next 423,000 years). Yama and Niyama are simply guidelines. Success in the practice can be attained without them.

(note: In certain circles, it is deemed that acquiring powers without yama and niyama as a moral foundation is nothing more than the occult - it's not necessarily spiritual. But yes, it can be done).

YAMA

  1. Ahimsa - non-violence to anyone, to anything either by thought, deed or desire. This applies to the planet - are we harming the planet by not reducing our plastic use, knowing that these plastics invariably end up in the ocean and kill fishlife? Are we harming someone because we gossip about them? Harm is manifested in many subtle ways we are not even aware of. Be vigilant.

    (note: In the paradigm of everything and everyone being you, any harm to done outside is harm done to yourself. Anyone you want to harm is a lesson for you to learn from. Why do you want to harm this person or thing? Contemplate and learn the lesson. I believe that when the lesson is learned, the challenge will no longer present itself, because the purpose has been met. In this human existence, once all lessons are learned, then no more defilements arise and the individual can be a non-returner...someone who doesn't need to be reborn because there is no more need.)
  2. Honesty - we know if we are being dishonest to others if we speak of outright lies. But there are subtle forms of dishonesty we are not aware of - exaggeration? half-truths? biased truth? Moreover, we are also dishonest to ourselves by rationalizing wrong action with clever logic. Worse, we begin to believe our own lies. It may be difficult to be honest because it might put you in bad light, but after the honesty, you have nothing more to hide...no more baggage to carry, no more fear of being found out. You begin to live life freely.
  3. Non-stealing - sounds straightforward enough. Don't take what is not yours. That's easy. But let's consider the subtle forms of stealing we are not aware of. Are we grabbing credit from someone else's work? Are we using clever language to take what is not ours? Business people are good in being cleverly dishonest. They think they're just smart. But the reality is, they're just being dishonest.

    (note: a good example of stealth stealing using clever arguments happened to me recently. I conducted an event to which I was supposed to be paid for. The payment was delayed - this is dishonest. The payment wasn't in full because the owner said he wasn't making money with the event and that he extened discounts to his preferred clients. Again, by passing on the burden of profitability and discounts to me, instead of him shouldering it, I consider his actions dishonest - it's stealing. I refused to do business with him again.)
  4. Continence or Brahmacharya - this is not really about sexual abstinence as is popularly known. It means pure consciousness and complete awareness to God - at least according to the commentary. Once this state is achieved, sex can even be used for spiritual awakening. Abstinence alone is not necessarily being a brahmacharya especially if there are repressed sexual thoughts or ejaculation involved. Semen or bindu should be preserved.

    (note: Sexual abstinence has no place in modern society and thus must be modified to be relevant and doable. To put it simply, don't abuse your sexual liberties. Conserve your sperm...bindu, because it is such a powerful thing to be wasted if not used for reproduction. Bindu has enough power in it to create life.)
  5. Forgiveness or Kshama - forgiveness in practical terms means letting go of the wrongs done upon you, letting go of the pain, and letting go of the desire for revenge. This is not easy especially if the wrong-doer shows no remorse or even gloats. Forgiveness means being able to stay present, moving on and not carrying the burden of pain. This is not for the benefit of the wrong-doer but for your benefit.
  6. Endurance or Perseverance - life is full of suffering. Friends betray you, girlfriends cheat on you, and your toast falls down butter-side down. That's life. It's easy to give up and lose faith and hope. But enduring the trauma, keeping awarness that it happens for a purpose, helps in remaining calm, committed and mentally steadfast. The point is that bad things happen because you need to learn something from it - that is the reason for being of anything and everything bad.
  7. Compassion and Kindness - to everyone, especially to those we often ignore...the small guy, the weak, the not-so important ones, etc. There is no justification for cruelty...even to ants who scatter on our kitchen table.
  8. Humility and Modesty - there is humility when the ego is surrendered to divinity. Without ego, there is oneness - when consciousness, divinity and universe converge into one. In more pragmatic terms, humility is living a simple life where you only take what is needed.

    (note: while ego is universally villified, I maintain that ego is a tool - neither good nor bad. It's how it's used that define its virtue. Ego allows you to be the catalyst for all the positive changes you want to see on the planet, but from a position of strength. Ego enhances our survival and gives us an added push to get things done. But ego is wrong when used to establish rank - that you are better than others. I believe that there comes a point in the spiritual journey when ego needs to be abandoned for a deeper practice. I'm not there yet.)
  9. Moderaton in Diet, p. 77 - eat just enough to sustain the body...not too much. Too much food means the mind is weak. A sound body means a sound mind. A strong mind must be supported by a strong body - mind and body are synced that way.
  10. Cleanliness - inside the body, cleanliness is achieved by doing the 6 shat kriyas. These unblock the nadis allowing energy to flow, keeping the body's functionality optimum.

NIYAMA

  1. Tapas - doing things that take you out of your comfort zone is tapas. Back in the day, this meant standing on Tree Pose on a very cold running river. In more pragmatic lines in modern times, it could mean waking up at 4am to do your practice. Or taking cold showers.

    (note: even though such acts of austerity are considered passé, I still practise tapas. It fortifies the mind and help sustain the body's strength and resilience...like using the stairs instead of elevator)
  2. Contentment or Santosha - desires are never satisfied so it's best to simply fill contented with what you have, contented with any situation, and feel grateful for what you have instead of feeling short-changed. If you have no craving, you are free and liberated.
  3. Belief in the Supreme - it doesn't have to be God as long as you acknowledge a power higher than you. To be humble and grateful to that higher power. Trust the process (pleasant or unpleasant) even with no comprehension. Maybe you find out later why things needed to happen...maybe not.
  4. Charity or Daanam - it doesn't only mean money/food to the poor, but being there for someone in need. Give with no strings and no expectations. When something is already given, the story ends there. Period. Experience the joy in giving.
  5. Worship of the Supreme - this is not religion or performing rituals - which could be pitfalls. This is about emulating the qualities of the Supreme - not a mindless rite.
  6. Defaulting to Spiritual Scriptures or Siddhanta - why wing it blind when the wisdom of the scriptures and experience of the wise sages are already available? There are many books written by established yogis, mahasiddhas, rishis and sages. Avail of them.

    (note: when I couldn't find the teacher I was looking for, one who could help me level-up my practice, I had to default into sacred yoga books to deepen my practice - Yoga Makaranda by T. Krishnamacharya, Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Svatmarama, etc. By doing this, I realized I found my teachers. By following their practice, I eventually became the teacher I was looking for.)
  7. Modesty or Hree - already discussed above.
  8. Discerning Intellect - things that happen at the superficial level can be confusing and misleading. Having the intelligence to discern cause and effect, root causes instead of symptoms, help in going deeper into the many layers of reality - not just on the surface.
  9. Japa - Japa means chanting the mantras. Mantras are not just sounds. They are powerful vibrational frequencies that penetrate into the mind and consciousness. There are mantras for the subtle body, mantras for transcendence and mantras for pranic vibrations. With regular practice, the mantra can carry on within oneself without any conscious effort.

    The greatest mantra of them all is OM, pronounced A-U-M. A resonates with the conscious world, U resonates with the intermediate realms, and M activates the unconscious and the unmanifest. Together, they span a broad spectrum from the gross to the divine.
  10. Sacrifice or hutam - this is not just the ritualistic puja, but sacrifice of the mundane pleasures and comfort to deepen a spiritual practice.

All the branches of Yama and Niyama are designed to discipline the mind and restrain the senses for develop pranic and psychic energies. It is best to keep awareness what they are and develop them naturally. If force is used, the benefit is not gained. The practice has to make sense to the initiate. Again, in Hatha Yoga, they don't adhere too much to these. To them, the purification of the body through shat kriyas is more important.



Asana: Hatha Yoga

(Verse 17, p. 84) In Raja Yoga, asana is simply a seated position (as described by Patanjali's sutras). But in Hatha Yoga, asana is the beginning of yoga where exercises are done to develop steadfastness of the mind and firmness of the body. By developing the body through asana, the mind is also controlled. Asana moves prana. When prana is moving, there is no disease - sickness cannot happen. Likewise, when prana is moving, the body becomes supple and asana feel more natural. Body and mind, mind and body = they both influence each other.



Asana: Vashishtha / Matsyendranath

(Verse 18, p. 85) Although widely debated, yogic texts talk about 33 asanas. Svatmarama talks about the essentials as practiced in the hatha tradition. It should be noted that asanas are not just practiced by hatha yogis but also by practitioners of other types of yoga. Vashishtha, a renowned saint in the Jnana Yoga tradition, practices asanas together with meditation.



Asana (19): Swastikasana (Auspicious Pose)

(Verse 19, p. 86)
Position: seated, back straight, feet placed on the opposite inner thigh of the other leg, hands on Gyana Mudra.

Benefits: while seen as a steady seated pose, prana is activated and primes the body for meditation. When the back is straight, nerve impulses are passed freely to the brain and pranic impulses freely pass through the sushumna.

Asana: Swastikasana (Auspicious Pose)

Asana (20): Gomukhasana (Cow’s Face)

(Verse 20, p. 88)
Position: seated, right heel to the left buttock and left leg above the right leg with heel on to the right buttock. Make the legs symmetrical.

Bring the left arm up and bend from the elbow to bring the left hand behind the back. Bring the right arm down and bend from the elbow to bring the right hand up to clasp the left hand. Find a comfortable pulling balance between the 2 arms. The back is forced to straighten up.

Breath to sink into the pose. Do the other side.

Benefits: because the hands are connected, energy loops and is not leeched. With the leg position, prana is pooled into the Muladhara Chakra.

Asana: Gomukhasana (Cow’s Face)

Asana: Gomukhasana (Cow’s Face)

Asana (21): Veerasana (Hero's Pose)

(Verse 21, p. 91)
Position: seated, right leg bent with foot beside the left knee. Right elbow resting on the knee and right hand on the right cheek, head slight tilted to the right, supported by the hand. Left leg bent with left heel slightly tucked under the buttocks. Left hand on the left knee. Observe the breath for 2 minutes. Do the other side.

Asana: Veerasana (Hero's Pose)

Variation: Left leg stays the same, right leg is bent with top of right foot resting on the left thigh, knees apart from each other. Hands on Gyana Mudra.

Asana: Veerasana (Hero's Pose)

Benefits: the nadis in the legs are activated and stimulates the sexual organs and brain centers



Asana (30 & 31): Mayurasana (Peacock's Pose)

(Verse 30-31, p. 93)
Position: facing down, elbows together by the navel, hands lightly pressing each other facing the feet, body straight as a stick, begin to lift the body up, getting the legs as high as they will go. Continue breathing while holding this pose. You need strong wrists and forearms. This should be done when the body is fully warmed up, so towards the peak of the session.

Asana: Mayurasana (Peacock's Pose)

Variation: sit on Padmasana first and do the Mayurasana

Asana: Mayurasana (Peacock's Pose)

Benefits: Mayurasana resembles the peacock, but also increases the digestive strength like the peacock. The peacock can eat poisonous animals - snakes, scorpions, reptiles, etc. This pose can neutralize poisons within the system, cleanse the digestive tract and enhance its metabolic function.

Mayurasana helps in blood purification, flatulence, indigestion, constipation, gastritis, diabetis. It stimulates the kidney, liver and gall bladder.

Contra Indication: hernia, high blood pressure, ulcers, heart disease, brain tumors, EENT issues.



Asana (33-43): Siddhasana (Adept's Pose)

(Verse 33-43, p. 117)
According to tradition, 8,400,000 asanas were created by Almighty Shambhu, which were all taught by Shiva. Distilling all of that came down to 84 essential asanas. Distilling the 84, Svatmarama explains the 4 most important - siddhasana (for men only, women do siddha yoni asana), padmasana (lotus pose), simhasana (lion pose) and bhadrasana (gracious pose).

Position: seated, left heel below the perinium (stabilizes Muladhara chakra), the right heel on the genitals (stabilizes Swadithana chakra), back straight (easier prana passage on Sushumna nadi), chin lowered (jalandara bandha), gaze on 3rd eye (Sambhavi mudra). Hold the pose steady.

Asana: Siddhasana (Adept's Pose)

Benefits: Although Padmasana is considered the ultimate seated pose, Siddhasana is easier to do and easier to hold for a longer time - the legs don't sleep. But it's no less powerful.

As a purely meditative posture, Siddhasana looks benign, but from the foregoing, it activates the Muladhara chakra which gives awakens a vast source of dormant prana, activates the Svadisthana chakra, which unblocks stuck energy, allowing energy to flow again. The Sushumna is straight which facilitates pranic passage. Ujjayi pranayama results from Jalandara bandha which activates Vishuddhi chakra. Lastly, Sambhavi mudra activates psychic abilities when the 3rd eye opens up. Thus, Siddhasana is the most powerful of all asanas - according to Hatha Yoga Pradipika, according to Patanjali. There are other variations to Siddhasana, as follows:

Muktasana: (liberation pose) left heel is under the anus and right foot is above the left

Asana: Muktasana

Vajrasana: (thunderbolt pose) kneeling, right toe over left, buttocks rest between the heels

Asana: Vajrasana

Guptasana: (secret pose) toes are squeezed between calves and thighs, left heel under the anus

Asana: Guptasana

Of all the 84 asanas, Siddhasana opens up all 72,000 nadis - thus it must always be practiced. It balances nervous and pranic impulses as they course to the brain. It unblocks the nadis (caused by toxins, unhealthy lifestyle and negative thinking) to pave a smooth flow of prana for spiritual awakening.

Through devoted practice of 12 years on Siddhasana with a guru, siddhis can be achieved. Without a guru, it is not certain that even with 1000 years of practice, perfection can be achieved. A guru is essential...unless the initiate is already close to enlightenment.

A moderate diet is essential in deepening the practice. It creates conditions conducive to higher evolution. You are what you eat. Faulty diets cause sickness.

When the mind is already quiet (sattvic and no longer tamasic or rajasic) and the body is already fit for prolonged meditation (through asana), Siddhasana is already enough - there is no more need to practice other postures. With Siddhasana + pranayama, Kevala kumbhaka (spontaneous cessation of the breath) is achieved - apana + prana vayu meet in Muladhara chakra, Ida and Pingala merge at Ajna chakra. When Kevala kumbhaka is achieved, the mind must have a proper focus (mantra, guru, etc) otherwise the void results.

In Siddhasana, the 3 major bandhas (Moola, Uddhiyana, Jalandhara) spontaneously occur accumulating increased pranic energy. Other facets of yoga, mudra/pranayama, also spontaneously happen as if defaulting to its natural state.

In ranking, there is no better asana than Siddhasana, no better mudra than Khecari mudra, no better kumbhaka than Kevala and no better dissolution of the mind than Nada sound.



Asana (44 - 49): Padmasana (Lotus's Pose)

(Verse 44-49, p. 134)
Position: (Baddha Padmasana, aka Kamalasana) right foot on the left thigh, left foot on the right thigh, arms are crossed behind holding the big toe, back straight, chin to the chest, drishti on the nose (why not on Ajna?). Bend forward with forehead on the floor. This pose is the 'destroyer of all disease'. Because this is an advanced pose, proper warm-up (knee rotation, cross walk, butterfly, etc.) is needed or permanent injury can result especially on the knees.

The body is locked up with minimal movement, the back is held straight and one can feel the centering of the body.

On Padmasana, do Maha bandha mudra on Bahya kumbhaka. This prevents the downward flow of Apana prana and prevents the upward flow of Prana. They meet at the navel area, generate heat, activate Samana Vayu and awaken the Kundalini shakti. Padmasana is ideal to incorporate bandha, mudra and kumbhaka (Padmasana alone is not enough to awaken Kundalini). By engaging the Mula and Uddhiyana bandhas, the downward flow of Apana vayu and the upward flow of Prana vayu are reversed, allowing both to meet and join at the Muladhara chakra. When they fuse, dormant centers in the brain are activated and prana turns kinetic.

Asana: Padmasana (Lotus's Pose)

Variations: chin can reach down to chest (Jalandara bandha) or head can be upright. Drishti can be on Ajna or nose. Nabho or Khechari mudra can be done, or tongue can be pressed on the roof of the upper teeth. Hands can be in Gyana mudra, Yoni mudra or palms on the groin facing up.

Prana and Citta: Ideally in Padmasana (other seated postures can be used, or even while doing asana), when prana unites with citta (energy/mind, time/space, Shakti/Shiva, positive/negative, Ida/Pingala, left-right brain hemipheres), through the practice of Pranayama, Kumbhaka and Maha bandha mudra liberation happens. Liberation is not just a spiritual process. It is a process governed by the law of nature. When it is properly done, the outcome cannot be any other way. While Raja yogis reach self-realization through the mind (Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi), the Hatha yogis reach realization by uniting prana (apana/prana vayu) with consciousness. they can only meet at the Mulahara (according to the Hindu yogis) or Manipuraka (according to the Tibetan Buddhists) chakras. When this is achieved, the mind is awakened into higher levels of consciousness. The left and right hemispheres of the brain become fully active. Duality merges into oneness. Consciousness, God and the universe become one.

Benefits: Padmasana is the destroyer of all diseases. When done with Maha bandha mudra, energy and consciousness are balanced. The brain's dormant areas are activated. Heat is produced at Muladhara chakra and Kundalini shakti is awakened. Mastering Padmasana opens up other kriya practices.

Contra Indication: just do proper warm-up of legs and knees before Padmasana.



Asana (50-52): Simhasana (Lion's Pose)

(Verse 50-52, p. 144)

Swatmarama considers this one of the top 4 asanas.

Position: Legs are crossed like Siddhasana but heals are more to the sides of the perinium. Palms are placed on the knees, mouth open, tongue sticking out, head tilted slightly down (semi Jalandhara Bandha).

Asana: Simhasana (Lion's Pose)

Variation: legs on wide Vajrasana, head is slightly tilted back (mild Sambhavi Mudra), palms on the floor with fingers facing self.

Asana: Simhasana (Lion's Pose)

Movement: Inhale through the nose and exhale on the mouth with an audible lion's roar, "aaahhhhhh". Engage the bandhas when appropriate.

Benefits: enhances throat functionality, cures stammering, cures EENT problems (eyes, ears, nose, throat), shifts from introvert to extrovert

Contra Indication: none stated



(55-56): Hatha Yoga Sequence

(Verse 55-56, p. 149)

The Proper Sequence of a Yoga Practice (on the mat) is as follows:

  1. Asana - this primes the body and activates prana. While holding a pose, any of Mula, Uddiyhana or Jalandara bandha can be engaged. Energy boost should be felt after - if you are not energized, then there is something wrong with the practice. E.g. - Warrior II, you can engage Mula and Uddiyhana.
  2. Pranayama - Nadi Shodan is best to unblock the nadis
  3. Mudra - e.g. Gyana mudra, to channel energy and reboot the mind
  4. Bandha - to push prana up. Thus this must mean engaging Mula and Uddiyhana bandha on a breath-hold
  5. Meditation - still the mind and focus on Nada sound if it presents itself. Close the ears (with fingers or earmuff) and hum the bee sound. This gives rise to Nada. Nada is a clear indication that Kundalini is being awakened

The way I practice yoga on the mat, it's warm-up stretching, then Asana, then Pranayama with Kumbhaka and Bandha already. In closing, I do my Meditation while being on a Mudra. I find this to be a smoother progression. All the elements of Hatha Yoga are also here.



(57): Becoming Siddha (in 1 year)

(Verse 57, p. 151)

A yogi becomes perfected (a Siddha) after only one year if the practice consists of moderate/good food (Mitahara), sexual abstinence or moderation, removal from mundane life (gossip, mindless Youtube video, wrong crowd), and regular practice.



(58-60): Mitahara (moderate diet)

(Verse 58-60, p. 152)

Mitahara is mindful eating, and not for sense gratification. Most illnesses come from bad food (processed food, junk, etc.) and bad food habits (overeating, unmindful eating, etc.). Food should be viewed as nourishment of the body in preparation for higher consciousness - so the intent has to be present in the meal. Make it a habit to affirm an intention before a meal. Convey gratitude to the plants and animals that nourish you, gratitude to the land, air and water that nourished these plants and animals, gratitude to the human hands that brought the food to your table from the source.

Food that should be avoided:

  1. too salty or acidic
  2. reheated food that has since become cold
  3. stale food
  4. dried with no natural oil left
  5. too many mixed dishes that create a chemical reaction. Best to simplify a meal...a one dish meal is ideal because it digests fast and not too much prana is expended on digestion
  6. alcohol, not for being drunk, but because it damages the body


(61): Discouraged and Best Avoided

(Verse 61, p. 156)
A yogi should avoid the following:

  1. avoid people who have no awareness of their spiritual evolution, avoid those who think negatively, avoid those who gossip, avoid those who have no purpose in life
  2. avoid standing or working near a fire because it exhausts prana unnecessarily
  3. avoid sex if only for pleasure, not because of the effects on the body but because of its distraction on the mind
  4. avoid bathing early in the morning with cold water when the weather is already cold because it strains the nervous system (I take exception since a cold bath increases the immune system and cleanses the aura, provided it is done mindfully and with deliberation)
  5. avoid frequent and prolonged fasting because it weakens the body. Fasting helps in stimulating the digestive system, eliminating digestive toxins, cleansing the body/mind, and enhancing anti-bodies during illness. Fasting is a long-held tradition in many cultures but it should not be overdone. (Personally, I fast for 24 hours/week according to the Wim Hof protocol. I feel my lightness of being after and I generally feel good about it. Also, digestion uses up too much energy, so regular but moderate fasting should be beneficial).


(64-66): Practise and More Practise

(Verse 64_66, p. 160)
All the knowledge in yoga and looking 'the part' are meaningless if there is no practice. Knowledge alone is just intellectual adventurism and will not reach Samadhi. Practice builds muscle memory which adds incremental proficiency. Practise and all is coming.





Chapter Two: Shatkarma and Pranayama

Proper Pranayama Sequence

  1. Asana
  2. Nadi Shodana - fyi, with other books, they say Bhastrika should come first before Nadi Shodaha.
  3. Bhastrika
  4. Sheetali / Seetkari
  5. Ujjayi
(01-02): Pranayama (Breath Regulation)

(Verse 01-02, p. 164)
When Asana is mastered, Pranayama follows, but learn from a guru. Pranayama is breath control to activate and control prana to a higher frequency. Proper diet and pranayama go hand in hand.

When prana moves, citta (mind) moves. Thus we can control our mind by controlling the breath (according to Hatha Yoga) and vice-versa (according to Raja Yoga). Hatha: the mind is inherently volatile, so it is hard to control, so let it just be. By controlling prana through breathing, the mind and nervous system are consequently controlled - this is a much easier process that generates the same result.

In pranayama, it is the breath retention that is important - technically, breath-retention is the whole purpose and point of pranayama. Even Patanjali defined pranayama as that moment between the inhalation and the exhalation - in short, the breath-hold (kumbhaka). While the breath is held, nervous impulses are also suspended creating equanimity in the brain functions.



(03): Prana Vayu (Air + Prana)

(Verse 03, p. 168)
There is life because there is prana. Prana vayu moves throughout the body like waves of energy in constant motion. Without prana, life ceases, and the 5 components of the body (tattva) - fire (agni), air (vayu), ether (akasha), earth (prithvi) and water (apas) are fragmented and go revert to source...water goes back to water, air goes back to air, etc. Prana and consciousness do not die (Personal: my understanding is that prana is used up during our lifetime. How then can it not die when it gets used up?)...they also go back to source. Consciousness gives rise to prana. When prana leaves the person and the person dies, consciousness leaves as well. (Personal: my understanding now is that nothing is lost. All the individual components of the being - body, mind and consciousness go back to their sources. Death is only a state of being where these components revert back to their sources, and life is only a state of being where these components are put back together again...but a different looking body with no memory of its past existence. Therefore, death is nothing more than a transition from the previous body to the next - thus, there is no reason to fear dying.)

There are 5 types of prana (or 5 expressions of one prana, according to function):

  1. prana vayu - inward movement or absorbsion of prana at the thorasic area, related to Ida nadi (female energy chanel beginning on the left nostril)
  2. apana vayu - outgoing movement of prana through anus, sex organ for elimination, related to Pingala nadi (male energy chanel beginning on the right nostril)
  3. samana vayu - stomach area for assimilation, related to sushumna nadi, thus the most important vayu in yoga
  4. udana vayu - ascension of kundalini, related to throat, face, limbs
  5. vyana vayu - all over the body for circulation

When Prana vayu and Apana vayu meet at the stomach (some books say they meet at Muladhara chakra), Samana vayu is developed. Heat is generated and the heat awakens the Kundalini shakti.

5 Minor Prana Vayus

  1. Koorma - stimulates blinking
  2. Krikara - generates hunger, thirst, sneezing and coughing
  3. Devadatta - stimulates yawning and sleeping
  4. Naga - stimulates belching and hiccups
  5. Dhananjaya - gets triggered immediately after death
Asana: Prana Vayu (Air + Prana)

When the breath is held, prana neither moves in or out...it becomes stabilized. Breathing controls prana. By regulating the breath through pranayama, we control prana.

Yogis who concentrate on prana as a point of light on the Ajna chakra, get their consciousness absorbed within that point of light. When this happens, breathing stops spontaneously (Kevala kumbhaka) and prana becomes still, neither moving in nor out. Body functions stop and body goes into a state of suspended animation. All the vayus stop except Vyana vayu. This is how controlling the breath ultimately controls prana and the mind.

Other schools of yoga attains self-realization through mastery of the mind (Pantanjali's sutras), self-realization through devotion to God (Bhakti yoga), through mastery and rechanneling of emotions, or mastery of the intellect (). Hatha Yoga realizes its goal by the most accessible means - the human body, through breath and control of prana.



(04): Nadi Cleansing

(Verse 04, p. 173)
Prana vayu cannot pass through the Sushumna nadi because the nadis are blocked. There are ways to cleanse the nadis and bring about self-realization. Depending on who's talking, there can be between 72,000 - 350,000 nadis in the body. Nadis are energy passageways. When they are blocked, prana cannot pass through, or are restricted in their passage. If we are to see the nadis in our bodies, they would look more like the nerves in our nervous system or trunk-branches-twigs on a massive tree.

Like impurities clogging blood vessels and restricting the flow of blood, the same is true with nadis. But for nadis, impurities are xxxxx. When Kundalini shakti is awakened but the nadis are still impure and clogged, then the result can be catastrophic (so, it is possible to awaken Kundalini even when the nadis are blocked? I thought Kundalini awakening is a result when all the nadis are cleansed).

In Hatha yoga, the way to cleanse the nadis is done physically. By strengthening the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems, and by fortifying the central nervous system, then the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna nadis are cleansed and likewise strengthened.



(05): Purifying the Nadis

(Verse 05, p. 175)
When the nadis and chakras, which are full of impurities are cleansed, then the yogi retains prana. Prana must also be strengthened and 'added' (perhaps they meant activated? Because my understanding is that we are born with a set quantity of prana - we cannot add more prana, but we can strengthen prana). Prana converges on the chakras (energetic hubs resembling wheels). There are many chakras in the body but the 7 major chakras along the sushumna are the most important because they give rise to human evolution.

The Seven Major Chakras:

  1. Muladhara - located at the perineal floor, shaped like a 4-petaled lotus flower, responsible for excretion, sense of smell, animal instinct. Kundalini shakti remains dormant here
  2. Swadhisthana - located 2 finger widths above the Muladhara, 6-petaled vermilion colored lotus petals, responsible for sacral plexus, reproductive system, sense of taste, tongue and ego personality
  3. Manipuraka - behind the navel, 10-petaled yellow lotus, responsible for solar plexus, digestion, assimilation of food and prana, and eyesight. Characterized by sensualities, ambition and greed
  4. Anahata - at the heart area, it has 12 blue petals, responsible for heart, respiration, touch, strong emotions like hate, love, anger, and envy
  5. Vishuddhi - on the throat area, 16 purple petals, responsible for speech and hearing. Enhances balance of mind, acceptance of things as they are, and compassion. He is intellectually and physically realized
  6. Ajna - at the pineal gland with 2 clear petals, this is the 3rd eye, the gateway to all psychic abilities and liberation. Prana (energy) decreases here as manas (intelligence) increases.
  7. Sahasraras - the highest level of human evolution, thousand lotus petals at the pituitary gland, on top of the head. Here, duality converges into oneness.

The 3 Bindu Chakras
The Tantras mention 3 chakras between the Ajna and the Sahasrara. These 3 are related to the release of the Nectar of Immortality, or the Bindu and related to higher states of intelligence (any chakra above the Ajna relates to higher consciousness and intelligence...not so much of prana anymore).

  1. Lalana - (although according to T. Krishnamacharya, the Lalana chakra resides just above the soft palate)
  2. Manas - slightly above the Ajna
  3. Soma - above Manas

Blocked nadis results in disease to the corresponding body part. Hatha Yoga clears all the blockages of these nadis and chakras, resulting in restoration of physical health. Purification of the nadis is the first step towards awakening of the Kundalini shakti.



Asana (06): Sattvic Pranayama

(Verse 06, p. 179)
Pranayama must be done daily with a sattvic state of mind for purification to happen. There are 3 modes of nature and of mind.

Gunas

  1. Tamasic - inert, no evolution, like a nail (that needs to be hammered), like a dull mind
  2. Rajastic - dynamic, evolving, like man, like a mind traversing awareness and non-awareness,
  3. Sattvic - steady, evolved, like divinity, like a mind that has one-pointed focus. Ideally, when doing pranayama, the mind must be this steady. In sattvic pranayama, both nostrils are fully open for breathing.
Breathing on the left nostril (when the right is blocked), is Ida and right brain hemisphere is active (spacey, fluid, artsy, feelings). When breathing on the right, it's Pingala and left hemiphere (structured, regimented, math, logic) is active. In yoga, it is said that the alternate breating pattern shifts every hour. But when both nostrils are open, the mode is sattvic, and it's best to do Pranayama at this moment. The brain functions in 2 hemispheres - logical but intuitive, structured but fluid, etc. On 2 hemispheres, sushumna is cleansed.

Hatha yoga directly influences the purification of the nadis, but attention must also be given to thoughts, emotions, lifestyle, diet and desires. (I would also add choice of company, choice of study materials, etc.)



Nadi shodhana (07-09): Alternate Nostril Breathing

(Verse 07-09, p. 181)
Nadi shodhana is alternate nostril breathing that balances the Ida and the Pingala and cleans the nadis.

Procedure: close the right nostril and breathe fully on the left nostril - and hold as long as possible without straining. Gradually and gently exhale on the right nostril. Pause. Now, inhale fully on the right, hold the breath, then exhale gently on the left. If you are rushed on the inhale, then you held the breath too long.

Nadi shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

Breathing Primer:
Lie down in Savasana and let the body relax. Breath normally, do not regulate the breath. As you breath in, put your awareness on the air passing through your nostrils, along your wind pipe, and down to your lungs. Feel your chest expanding, as your stomach is pushed out. As you exhale, feel the stomach contracting, the chest emptying and your lungs are back to neutral. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes.

Technique / Hack:
When you gain proficiency, do this seated, preferably in Siddhasana (or, if you can do Padmasana comfortably in 15 mins). Always use right hand even if you are left-handed. When closing the nostrils, use thumb for right nostril and little/ring fingers to close the left nostril - Mrigi mudra. Do not use the index/middle finger to close any nostril. You can however, you can do Nasagra mudra by putting the index/middle finger on the 3rd Eye (Ajna chakra). Always maintain equal time between inbreath & outbreath. Instead of counting silently, download a Metronome app and it do the counting for you. Best if you set 1 beat (1 beat can be 5 secs, 10 secs...up to you) to one inhalation time. You can then use this beat for the ratios. If you are straining, lessen the time/beat.

Level 1: Mastering Equal Time
In Siddhasana, do left nostril breathing only (Chandra Bhedan Pranayama) without any breath-hold, repeat 10x. Do the right side (Surya Bhedan Pranayama). Master equal time between inbreath and outbreath - count if you must. This is a 1:1 ratio. Do 10 rounds with both.

When you have mastered equal-time breathing, level-up on the ratio - 1:2, 1:2:2, 1:4:2, 1:4:2:3.

Level 2: Introduction to Alternate Breathing
Close the right nostril, inhale through the left, exhale through the right. Repeat 10X. Do the other nostril as well.

Level 3: Full Expression Nadi Shodhana
Inhale left, exhale right, inhale right, exhale left....10 mins. Develop proficiency and comfort before adding Kumbhaka (4th technique).

Level 4: Introduction of Kumbhaka (breath hold)
Kumbhaka must be done gradually and progressively - do not strain. If you strain on the breath-hold or strain on the breathing after a breath-hold, then you held the Kumbhaka too long. Be patient in developing a prolonged breath-hold.

Begin with a ratio of 1:2:2. After a month or so begin 1:4:2. Finally, do 1:4:2:3.

(Jan 26, 2023) Because I've already been practising Pranayama for years, I tried doing the exercises here at the 1:4:2:3 ratio with 5 secs. as one count. Thus it's 5 secs inbreath, 20 secs hold, 10 secs outbreath and 15 secs hold. Without warming up, I strain after 4 rounds. It's best to do Wim Hof first before commencing Nadi Shodhan. I will do a 10-minute set but do it several times/day. I do this with a metronome, otherwise, it's too much on the mind to count while doing the holds.



Nadi Shodhana (10): Purification in 3 Months

(Verse 10, p. 185)
It is not enough to breathe in and out. Timed breath retention must be there so ratios must be part of the practice. Start with a 1:1:1 ratio and increase to 1:2:2 and increase again until capacity is reached. Pranayama has to be developed slowly, gently and systematically, otherwise it can be harmful. It is best to study with a guru since Pranayama deals with energy and things can be volatile.

Traditionally, chanting a seed mantra (YAM for Heart chakra) and focusing awareness on the appropriate chakra during the breathing/holding process is done to 'count'. But with a metronome, you can still chant for the benefit of chanting and not the count (since the metronome does the counting). But chanting while breathing and holding the breath adds another layer of complexity - best to do it during the advanced stages.

Visualization can also be added while doing the breathing/retention. The Tibetan yogis visualize fire at the Manipura chakra while holding the air in while silently chanting RAM - as though the chanting fuels the fire. This is at the heart of the Inner Fire meditation in Tantra.

Boils, pimples, diarrhea, constipation or fever may occur. It's a sign that the purification process is happening - so it's a good thing. Don't be alarmed.

Nadi Shodhana purifies the nadis within 3 months if regularly practiced at the advanced stages - 1:4:2:3 ratio. But proper lifestyle and diet have to be adhered to.



Pranayama (11): Times and Duration of Practice

(Verse 11, p. 188)
Breath retention must be done regularly 4x/day - early morning (4:00-4:30am), noon, sunset and midnight. These moments are when sushumana is susceptible to awakening. However, in these modern times, it is enough to shower when you wake up, do neti, asana and then pranayama.

Don't be too over enthusiastic with your practice, because you will lose steam in mid stream. Keep a steady progressive pace that fits nicely with your householder life and career.

Ideally, yoga should be practiced in the spring and autumn. (Then what's the point of saying it should be a daily practice?)



Pranayama (12): Signs of Perfection

(Verse 12, p. 190)
In the initial phase of Pranayama, heat will be felt. This is a sign of prana awakening. The second stage is when physical sensations are felt - trembling, tingling, pulsing, vibration, etc. At some point, the body, mind and spirit become steady. Finally, the breath will even spontaneously stop - Kevala kumbhaka. Siddhis inevitably develop.

Gherand Samhita states that when steadiness happens in pranayama, levitation happens. This is when Muladhara chakra is activated. You unshackle yourself to the grounding on earth and feel your lightness of being.

When kundalini is awakened due to pranayama, and it reaches up the sahasrara chakra, the breath stops, and everything becomes still. Prana unites with consciousness.

When I first started breath-hold with bandhas on pranayama, I started perspiring even on cold mornings. When I advanced my practice to include dynamic tension on a breath-hold, that's when I started feeling an unsettling trembling on the left part of my torso. I didn't know then it was part of the process. It felt disturbing. Cautious, I stopped the dynamic tension, but kept engaging the bandhas. This was when I was very intense in my practice, waking up at 4 am to do the Wim Hof breathing + long breath-holds + multiple bandhas + mudras. With my readings on Hatha Yoga Pradipika, I begin to get back to that level of intensity - but this time, I have this book as a blueprint.


Pranayama (13): Rubbing the body with Perspiration

(Verse 13, p. 192)
When perspiration generated from pranayama is rubbed on the body, firmness and steadiness of body results.When the body is unclean, perspiration carries toxins with it. However, when perspiration results from pranayama, only water, salt and hormones are excreted. To conserve these hormones, the perspiration has to be rubbed back to the body. This practice conserves the yogi's dhatu (flesh, bones, marrow, blood, semen/ova, skin, fat) - according to Shiva Samhita.



Pranayama (14): Milk and Ghee

(Verse 14, p. 193)
In the beginning stages of pranayama practice, milk and ghee are essential diet. When proficiency is attained, this diet is no longer a must. When practicing pranayama, the heart and blood circulation are enhanced and the entire body goes into a transformation. Milk/ghee are needed to lubricate the system as it undergoes this transformation.

Additionally, when too much energy is activated and the body struggles to cope, milk, being an animal derivative, helps the body get more grounded.

The stomach must be completely empty during pranayama. Food can be taken 1/2 hour after pranayama. Food should be light and fast to digest (veggies) to enhance the practice.



Prana (15): Controlling Prana

(Verse 15, p. 194)
Prana can be controlled through practice, just like wild animals are controlled through training. Uncontrolled prana is like a wild animal - it goes about its own business unmindful of what you want. You might like to go to sleep, but if prana is running wild, you cannot. Or you might need energy but prana is lethargic. Prana must be controlled to comply with your intentions. If left uncontrolled, it wastes itself away - sickness or death can occur.



Pranayama (16-17): Being Disease-Free

(Verse 16-17, p. 195)
With proper pranayama practice, no disease can happen. When done wrong, disease will arise - thus, a teacher is essential. Be mindful of the do's and dont's (don't practice when the stomach has food, don't do headstand after a meal, do the proper sequence, etc.). It is not enough to practice from a book.

When pranavayu is 'disturbed', diseases occur. This 'disturbance' needs to be corrected. How? This chapter didn't say how. When Apana and Prana vayu are in arrears, then there is indigestion and respiratory problems. When the Udana and Samana vayu are disturbed, then there is hiccups, migraine, asthma, EENT problems (By 'disturbed', my guess is, the book means vayu went to a different location. e.g. Udana vayu is on the throat and Samana vayu is in the stomach area. If Udana vayu goes to the stomach area, then disease happens. That's how I can understand the book passage.).

Since I can't find a pranayama teacher, I had to be my own teacher, but using sound approaches. I had been regularly practicing pranayama, often hacking my methods. But I haven't been sick in decades. This validates my practice as sound, even though it's not in the books. How different? I could do Kapalabhati while on Lolasana. I can fuse Ujjayi breathing with OM mantra while on Gyana mudra. I may employ Maha bandha mudra while doing Shitale pranayama. I have no boundaries as long as it still makes sense to me.


Pranayama (18): Precision and Skill

(Verse 18, p. 197)
The vayu should skillfully be inhaled, exhaled and retained so that perfection or siddhi is attained. Pranayama must be done precisely and skillfully to produce siddhi. When done right, Pranavayu activates the pineal gland, resulting in psychic abilities. When Pranayama is done wrong, there is no benefit...you're just breathing.

So, how do we know we're doing the right Pranayama? If you are experiencing textbook benefits - generating heat in the early stages of practice, generating trembling in the intermediate practice, and going steady with the mind, emotions and spirit in the advance practice. Also, if you are no longer getting sick, then that's a validation. If you remain strong, sometimes insanely strong, that's also a validation. I had all these back in Feb 2021 when I was doing 5-minute breath-holds. But I don't go that intense anymore.

(Jan 28, 2023) As for my practice now, going back into deep pranayama with my reading of this book, I can say I'm not experiencing heat or trembling. I can't even say I'm on a steady single-focused state. I don't feel particularly strong, but I'm still 'disease-free'. Perhaps I'm starting from scratch again?


Nadi Purification (19-20): Signs

(Verse 19-20, p. 198)
When the Nadis are purified, Pranavayu flows and there are external symptoms - the body becomes lean w/o excess fat, body becomes radiant, nada sounds are heard, body is free from disease, digestion is enhanced (food is digested optimally, nutrition is absorbed, excretion is timely). The stronger the flow of Pranavayu, the more radiance in the yogi's glow. More Prana awakening and the need to eat is less because energy is absorbed from the cosmos. When Prana penetrates the Chakras, the mind replaces the sensory organs - you can see, smell, taste, feel and hear without eyes, nose, ears, skin and tongue. The mind alone will do all of that.

5 Indicators of Prana awakening:

  1. hearing Nada sounds
  2. blissful feeling
  3. levitation
  4. feeling tremors
  5. sleep with awareness (Yoga nidra)
Hmmm...with Siddhis activated, a blind man can see! A deaf man can hear. A mute man can communicate telepathically (like Ramana Maharshi)


Dosha (21): Balancing Kapha, Pitta and Vata

(Verse 21, p. 200)
When fat, mucus or body air is excessive, Shatkarma: the six cleansing techniques, should be practiced before Pranayama. Practice the Shatkarmas only as needed, just like medicine...you only take them when needed.

There are 3 Doshas in the body - Pitta (bile), Kapha (phelgm) and Vata (gas). They regulate the functioning of the body. An imbalance within the 3 (too much of one over the others), results in being fat or having too much mucus or having too much gas in your stomach/intestines. For any imbalance, Shatkarma must be done...and must be done before Pranayama.



6 Shatkarma (22): Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Trataka, Nauli, Kapalabhati

(Verse 22, p. 201)
The Nath yogis are very particular about purification of the system to enhance a yoga practice. They even put more importance on this than Patanjali's Yama and Niyama.

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6 Shatkarma

  1. Dhauti - cleaning of the digestive system, from the mouth to the anus. (In the morning upon waking up, I perform Jihva danta dhauti (tongue scrapping) and I do Moola shodhana (rectal cleaning) after every elimination to massage my anal muscles).
  2. Basti - sucking water or air through the anus, to the large intestine and expeling it back. (This is the only kriya I don't do because it's the most difficult. In its absence, I would like to do a hydro-colon therapy once a year...but even that doesn't happen as often as I would like it to be.)
  3. Neti - passing water, ghee or milk or a thread from one nostril and out the other nostril. (I use a cheap catsup dispenser as my neti pot. This is part of my morning ritual. It's amazing how much phlegm/mucus is expeled when I didn't even know I had something in there.)
  4. Trataka - fixed gazing on an object without blinking until tears flow. (I do this almost daily but sometimes I give up if I cannot generate tears after 30 minutes. I go to the jetty and look at far away ships. At night, I gaze at low-lying stars)
  5. Nauli - stomach churning. (I do this every time I am eliminating in the toilet. Since I shit everyday, it means I do this everyday)
  6. Kapalabhati - a type of Pranayama where air is forcefully expelled from the tummy. (I do this everyday as part of my Pranayama practice)
Since I'm doing 5 out of 6 Shatkarma daily, I really feel that my body's functionality is optimized - I'm strong, I don't get sick and I feel young.


Shatkarma (23): Secrets and Results

(Verse 23, p. 203)
Shatkarma is secret, bringing amazing results. But it needs to be taught by a guru or someone instructed by a guru to teach. It is not enough to learn from a book or to teach from self-practice. This practice is held in high esteem by realized masters. Shatkarma purifies all systems in the body bringing smooth and optimal functioning, clarity of thinking, and having energy flow freely throughout the body. You perform at a higher level of competence. With just shatkarma, you begin to feel the 'superman' effect.

(I understand all that about a guru-teacher, but where do you go to find this guru? Even in the world of Hatha Yoga gurus, a shatkarma guru is RARE. That was my dilemma. I had no choice but to self-practice from a book until I became the teacher I wanted to find. How do I know my system is sound? I experience all the signs of prana activation [not siddhi] - heat, tremors, resilience from disease, feeling forever young, insanely strong, high metabolic digestion, clarity of thinking, gift of articulation, awareness, etc.).



Dhauti (24): Internal Cleansing

Added Reading: Dhauti

(Verse 224, p. 205)
A wet cloth (nothing synthetic, ideally cotton) as wide as your tongue and about a meter long is swallowed flat (not folded) inch by inch as you squat. If it gets stuck somewhere, sip a little water (as little as needed since the cloth has to fill the stomach, not the water) or keep swallowing without vomiting. When 2/3 is in, stand up and do Nauli. The cloth can stay for 5 mins, but no more than 20 mins. Squat again and slowly take the cloth out. This is Vastra dhauti (cloth cleansing). There are many permutations of Dhauti.

On a daily basis, I do the rectal cleansing (with a lot of soap) and tongue scrapping (using a tongue scrapper and not my fingers). After eating and I feel that I ate something bad, I drink more water, bloat my tummy and do Kunjal kriya (induced vomitting) several times until nothing comes out. Kunjal is very effective and immediate. No more discomfort after this and I don't even experience the runs. In short, the crisis is averted through Kunjal kriya.


Dhauti (25): Curing Diseases

(Verse 25, p. 211)
The combination of all Dhauti kriya cures and prevents digestive and respiratory diseases. The body's chemical composition is balanced and all diseases caused by this imbalance is cured. Toxins and bacteria residing in the EENT are flushed out. Constipation and digestive issues are relieved. Even leprosy is cured by Dhauti.

Contra-indication: stomach/intestinal ulcers, hernia, heart disease and high blood pressure



Neti (29-30): Nasal Cleansing

(Verse 29-30, p. 217)
There are 2 types of Neti - Sutra neti using a thread and Jala neti, using water. I only do Jala neti so that's what I'll discuss. The water should be warm with salt...just enough salt to taste salty. Unless therapeutically required, it is best to practice this once weekly. It's interesting to note that the most powerful kind of Jala neti is one that uses urine - I find this a little too extreme. The water neti already produces good results.

Neti destroys all diseases above the throat (EENT) and develops clairvoyance (by activating the Ajna chakra). Neti irrigates the nasal passages allowing for fluid breathing. It activates the functioning of the cranial nerves which send nose input to the brain. Mouth-breathers usually suffer from poor memory and low concentration. They usually have nasal blockage - thus mouth breathing. Neti unblocks the passages and restores nose breathing. Neti also balances the right and left hemipheres of the brain creating balance in the central nervous system and other systems - respiratory, circulatory, digestive, etc.

In my daily Jala neti, I put a lot of salt because the burning sensation causes my eyes to tear up - it's not exactly Trataka mudra, but it get my eyes cleansed just the same. Normally, I don't have any phlegm or excess mucous problem. However, within 30 minutes from doing Jala neti, I expectorate a good amount of phlegm. Makes me wonder, "Where did all of that come from?". My nostril cavities are cleared and my breathing is smooth and free flowing throughout the day.


Trataka (31-32): Concentrated Gazing

(Verse 31-32, p. 223)
Trataka is fixing your gaze on one spot (external or internal) without blinking until the eyes tear up. A popular object is a flaming candle until the imagery can remain in the mind's eye even when you close your eyes (and continue Trataka but internally this time). While doing internal Trataka, you may at some point see a point of light between your eyebrows. Hold that vision steady and nurture it as it may fade away.

Trataka eradicates all eye diseases and prevents them from happening. But apart from eye benefits, Trataka also aids in developing Ajna chakra (clairvoyance, psychic abilities), cures depression, and insomnia.

The point of Trataka is to develop Ekagrata citta (single-minded focus of the mind). (Granted, but I can do other types of meditation for this purpose. I'll devote Trataka to simply generate tears to cleanse the eyes - Trataka is unique in this pursuit, so I'll have that as my only intention.)

My biggest conundrum here is that if you practice internal Trataka, even if you have a single-pointed focus in your mind's eye, how can you cause your eyes to tear up? I thought it was the 'tearing up' that makes Trataka an eye cleansing purification? At any rate, in my practice, since I now do it on the Boulevard of Lazi, I can simply gaze on the points of light on the horizon (fishing boats) or low-lying stars (that don't move, unlike the fishing boats). To the extent I do an internal Trataka, it will have to be AFTER my eyes tear up, and essentially, I would now be doing Sambhavi mudra...which is something I regularly do anyway. But honestly, I'm not sold on internal Trataka.

Given my extensive laptop use where I now have to use my reading glass (where I strain my eyes) and my daily Trataka practice (to keep my eyes healthy), it's a tug-of-war struggle.


Nauli (33-34): Abdominal Massaging

(Verse 33-34, p. 230)
Position: lean forward, hands on the knees, suck the belly in, protrude the Rectus abdomini muscle forward (Madhyama nauli) and create a wavelike movement of the belly - left to the right first (Dakshina nauli), then to the left (Vama nauli).

Asana: Nauli (Abdominal Massaging)

Benefits: Nauli ignites the digestive fire and optimizes digestion. Nauli also puts balance back in the Doshas, restoring the body back to homeostasis. Nauli massages all internal organs in the belly, tones the abdominal muscles and facilitates elimination. Not cited in the books, but Nauli is also very effective in curing inguinal hernia.

Contra Indication: hernia, heart disease, hypertension, those with internal injury or recovering from abdominal surgery



Pranayama (35): Kapalbhati

(Verse 35, p. 235)
Description: Frontal brain cleansing. Kapalbhati is powerful enough to be one of the 6 purification processes (Shatkarma). It's a type of pranayama that activates the faculties of the brain through fast and forceful exhalation using abdominal contractions (not lungs) like the pumping of air in a bellows. Inhalation is passive (spontaneous and not controlled or done forcefully), unlike normal breathing where inhalation is induced while exhalation is passive.

Hyper ventilation does not occur in Kapalbhati, thus even going at 100 breaths/round is possible. If dizzyness occurs, it means you are breathing too forcefully. Stop immediately and rest until the feeling normalizes.

Kapalbhati vs Bhastrika: both utilize forceful breathing. Kapalbhati forces exhalation only through abdominal contraction. Bhastrika forces air on both inhalation and exhalation. Both have different effects on the brain. Kapalbhati's short pulsing breathing massages the brain (by way of subtle expansion with every exhalation). Normal breathing entails around 15 exhalations, thus 15 contractions of the brain. If you do 100 Kapalbhati breaths/minute, you are exponentially increasing the brain contractions, which gives a massaging effect, and expels out more carbon dioxide than normal breathing.

Benefits: Kapalbhati cures all mucous disorders. It revitalizes the entire brain and awakens dormant centers responsible for subtle perceptions. According to Gherand Samhita, Kapalbhati also smoothens facial wrinkles and keeps the face and complexion young. Vyutkrama and Sheetkrama help in activating the Ajna chakra, just like Neti pot.

3 types of Kapalbhati:

  1. Vatakrama (sinus cleansing with air) - only vatakrama (air or wind) is described in Hatha Yoga Pradipika. This is the widely used method in yoga classes - air is forcefully pumped out through both nostrils.
  2. Vyutkrama (sinus cleansing with water) - this uses warm saline water in a bowl, similar to Neti pot. Standing up, 'inhale' water through one nostril and let it come out the mouth and rinse out. Do the other side.

    (I didn't realize until after reading this, that I'm actually doing Vyutkrama already. When I do Neti pot, I allow some water to come out into my mouth. I gargle the water making sure my throat gets irrigated too before spitting the water out. Additionally, instead of just letting water flow from one nostril to the next, I accumulate water inside both my nostrils and while doing a forward bend, I inhale air slowly through my nose, so water is 'gargled' inside my nose. I do this several times before flushing the water out. Result? A lot of mucous gets flushed out and my nostrils are cleared, allowing me to breath so much better.)
  3. Sheetkrama (mucous cleansing with water) - this is the reverse of Vyutkrama - saline water is taken by mouth from a bowl and expeled through the nose
Practice: Kapalbhati should be done after asana and neti, but before meditation.

In Siddhasana, on Chin or Jnana mudra, inhale deeply and do 50 fast Kapalbhati. After the last exhale, empty the lungs. Hold and perform Jalandhara bandha, Mula bandha and Uddiyana bandha in this order. Hold as long as possible. Before inhaling, release Mula, Uddiyana and Jalandhara first (in this order). Raise the head and inhale fully. Exhale through the mouth with pursed lips. This is one round. Do 3 rounds. After 3 rounds, close the eyes and do Sambhavi mudra.

To level up, increase to 5 rounds. You can also increase the number of breaths/round by 10 every week.

Variation: in Gherand Samhita, Kapalbhati is done with alternating nostrils like Nadi Shodhana (but faster). (Again, I thought I was just hacking my pranayama by creating a fusion between Nadi shodhana and Kapalabhati, but it turns out, my 'hack' is already an established variation of Kapalbhati)

My practice is timed - 1 minute of Kapalbhati which comes to 100 breaths. Instead of sitting in Siddhasana, I sit in Vajrasana and after the last exhale, I do a Mandukasana (on fist mudra, I hollow my tummy to accomodate my fists, bend down on my stomach and release the tummy, hold the breath as long as I can). Before straining, I slowly come up as I inhale fully, then hold my breath again, this time with Maha bandha mudra (engaging Mula bandha, Uddiyama bandha and Jalandhara bandha). During this hold, I visualize fire intensifying in my Manipuraka chakra (Tummo style). On the forceful but slow exhale, I visualize fire inside to shoot up through my Sushumna and explode inside my head as a burst of white light. I hold my breath again for only 2 seconds, trying to hear Nada sounds, then resume normal breathing for one minute. This is one round. I usually do 5 rounds.


Shatkrama (36-37): Balancing the Doshas

(Verse 36-37, p. 239)
Through the purification of the 6 Shatkrama, excesses in the doshas are removed and the 3 dosha are kept balanced - declogging of old bile, mucous and wind. The 6 shatkrama also declogs clutter in the brain making meditation smoother and more fluid. Then this happens, Pranayama becomes very efficient because the energy activated is no longer wasted to 'clean the gunk'. Pranayama is more effective in a healthy body. Success is met in a short time. The purification activities are like cleansing and lubrication on a bicycle chain. If the body is already clean, then Pranayama alone can continue purifying the nadis without the need for Shatkarma.



Pranayama (39): Brahma and the Gods

(Verse 39, p. 243)
Through Pranayama, fear of death is overcomed because Pranayama stimulates brain centers that control emotions and fear. Even the Gods practice Pranayama.

Fear of death happens only if you see separation and not oneness. If you see yourself as an individual, then you fear the loss of life, possession and 'you'.



Kumbhaka (40-41): Prana and Mind

(Verse 40-41, p. 243)
On a Kumbhaka (breath-hold) with awareness on the 3rd eye (Sambhavi mudra), the mind and prana are both suspended in animation - time and space stand still, blood pressure, heart rate, metabolism are all altered. This altered state reduces the fear of death.

Prana fluctuates between Ida (in-breath) and Pingala (out-breath). However, on a Kumbhaka, prana is restrained and balanced equally. This causes prana to flow on the Sushumna. It takes practice to control prana through perfected Pranayama/Kumbhaka.

To perfect Pranayama

  1. Do asana first to prime the body
  2. sit in Siddhasana or Padmasana
  3. Hold the breath as long as possible without straining
  4. Adhere to the breath-control ratios (1:4:2:3)
  5. Engage Bandhas while doing a breath-hold on the in-breath and visualize fire on the Manipuraka chakra
  6. Awareness on the Ajna chakra while doing a breath-hold on the out-breath
  7. practice 4x/day (4 am, 12 noon, sunset, midnight)


Kumbhaka (42): Emptiness

(Verse 42, p. 246)
When breath is held, prana moves along the Sushumna (instead of Ida and Pingala) and the mind is stilled. When the mind is held still for a period of time, it becomes Manonmani (devoid of thought) - emptiness is achieved, which is the fundamental nature of reality.



Pranayama (43-44): 8 Types of Kumbhaka

(Verse 43-44, p. 247)

8 Kumbhaka of Hatha Yoga
Kumbhaka is the most important aspect of pranayama. In pranayama it is actually the 'gap' between the breathing that counts the most - which is the kumbhaka. Kumbhaka affects the entire brain.

  1. Suryabheda - inhale right, exhale left (a 'counter pose' to that is Chandra Bhedan, inhale left and exhale right. Why is it not part of the Big 8?)
  2. Ujjayi - slow deep breathing with contraction on the throat area (in Ashtanga yoga, this is the default breathing while doing asanas)
  3. Seetkari - slow breathing through the mouth and teeth (this produces a cooling effect on the body)
  4. Sheetali - breathing in through a rolleld tongue (this also produces a cooling effect on the body. Not sure how they differ in benefits)
  5. Bhastrika - rapid breathing both on inhale and exhale, like a bellows (I find this to be hardest)
  6. Bhramari - exhaling with a bee sound on closed mouth (it is said that this pranayama is the best in combating Covid 19)
  7. Moorchha - retains breath until you feel a fainting feeling (no instruction...not sure how this is done)
  8. Plavini - swallowing air into the stomach (like 'packing' when you go freediving?)

There are other types of pranayama that are not part of the Pranayama tradition - nadi shodhana, viloma, anuloma viloma and pratiloma. Even though kapalbhati is a pranayama, it is more regarded as a shatkarma.

Pranayama can balance the system (nadi shodhana for beginners), invigorate, generate heat (for advanced yogis), or calm down. It depends on the type of pranayama.



Bandha (45-46): Jalandhara, Uddiyana and Mula

(Verse 45-46, p. 249)
Bandha is done in this sequence:

  1. INhale
  2. Jalandhara bandha + Mula bandha (arms straight, hands on lap, shoulders shrugged)
  3. Hold (Antara kumbhaka)
  4. Exhale
  5. Maha bandha (Jalandhara + Uddiyana + Mula)
  6. Hold (Bahya kumbhaka)
  7. (my practice from other text is to incorporate Uddiyana and Mula bandha with Jalandhara bandha AFTER the inhale and hold it there)


Without bandha, pranayama is NOT complete. The 3 bandhas can be done together or in different combinations. Uddiyana bandha must only be done on a breath-hold when the stomach is empty (in the Tibetan Yantra tradition, Uddiyana is done when the stomach is full. T. Krishnamacharya however states that Uddiyana is done on empty stomach if you are lean, and done on full stomach if you are fat) Mula bandha can be done on either - no restriction.

Even within the Sushumna nadi, there is a layering of nadis. Inside the Sushuman nadi is the Vajra nadi, then the Chitrini nadi, and the inner most nadi is the Brahma nadi (highly instrumental in the Kundalini awakening. The awakening results in Siddhis, one of which is being forever young).



Apana + Prana (47): Fountain of Youth

(Verse 47, p. 251)
When Apana vayu moves up (instead of down) and Prana vayu moves down (instead of up), then energy is retained instead of lost. This is done through bandhas. The whole body is revitalized and aging stops. The yogi becomes free from old age and regains youth at 16 years of age! (supplementing this, when Prana and Apana meet at Muladhara chakra, heat is generated that awakens the Kundalini shakti).



Pranayama (48-50): Surya Bheda

(Verse 48-50, p. 252)
Surya refers to sun, Pingala, male, strength, vitality, left brain hemisphere, extroversion, and activation of sympathetic nervous system. Unlike Nadi Shodhana which balances the brain, Surya premoninantly activates the left hemisphere. It is safer to do Surya than the opposite, Chandra bhedan, since the mind can introvert completely and the body can easily slide off into lethargy. This is why Chandra bhedan is not part of the Big 8.

Position: on a comfortable seated pose, inhale to the right nostril (drawing prana into the Pingala) and hold in Jalandhara + Mula bandha (retaining prana in Pingala). Feel the energy diffuse all throughout until it reaches the roots of the hair and tips of the fingernails. Keep holding while visualizing. Release the bandhas and slowly exhale to the left nostril (purifying the Ida as well). 10 rounds. This must be done regularly.

Benefits: Surya Bheda activates the dull body and mind, infusing them with vitality and energy. Depressed? Feeling down? Feeling sluggish? Do Surya Bhedan. It balances the 3 doshas. The heat generated burns off the impurities.

Contra Indication: If you are already in Surya (too much energy, hyper, etc.), don't do this pranayama. Instead, do Chandra bhedan.



Pranayama (51-53): Ujjayi (psychic breath)

(Verse 51-53, p. 255)

In Ujjayi breathing, slow inhalation and slow exhalation are done with both nostrils, restricting the air as it passes through the throat, creating a slightly audible hiss. Breathing is slow, deep and steady. Keep awareness of the flow of the breath, knowing it's not the air but prana we are observing.

Ujjayi is a blender's base. It can be used with mantra, asana, and meditation. Ujjayi can be done with the mental So-Ham mantra - SO while inhaling and HAM while exhaling. You can default to Uyyayi breathing while doing the asanas of Ashtanga yoga.

In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Ujjayi breathing is considered psychic breathing as it fosters awareness of the subtle body and affects the mind.

Ujjayi can be done lying down, seated, standing or moving. It can be incorporated into your daily life - breathing Ujjayi instead of regular breathing. You can employ Ujjayi breathing while waiting for a bus, or while in transit where thinking is not needed.

Benefits: good for insomniacs and those with mental tension as it calms the mind down and brings it into stillness. Also enhances the psychic centers of the mind

Contra Indication: not good if you have low blood pressure

ASANA

Surya Namaskar A&B: 3 rounds each, just to prime the body

PRANAYAMA

Observing Regular Breath:
3 mins, take a seated position and just observe regular breathing - no pranayama yet, just regular breathing. Keep awareness of the breath.

Ujjayi + Gyana mudra:
10 mins, gently touch the tip of the index finger with the tip of the thumb on both hands (Gyana mudra). This mudra combines the elements of fire and air, bringing combustion or increased metabolism in the body. Gradually make the breathing slower, steady and deep. Breathe long and thin. Begin to restrict the back of the throat like when you swallow. This should create a slightly audible hissing sound. Concentrate on the sound as well as you steady the breathing.

Ujjayi + Nabho mudra:
5 mins, do the above but roll back the tongue so the tip presses on the upper soft palate. This is Nabho mudra (this wasn't explained in the book, but Nabho regulates the flow of Amrita on the Lalana chakra. Amrita, or the Nectar of Immortality flows from the Bindu chakra, deposited on the Lalana chakra and flows down to the Visuddhi chakra).

Ujjayi + Antara Kumbhaka + Jalandhara bandha:
5 mins, in a meditative manner, do Ujjayi breathing but hold the inhale and do Jalandhara bandha (chin to the chest). On the exhale, breathe out to the left nostril only (why? it wasn't explained. But I could imagine it's to slide the nervous system down to a deeper para-sympathetic mode).



Pranayama (54-56): Seetkari (Cooling Breath)

(Verse 54-56, p. 258)

Verse 54
Seetkari breathing produces a cooling effect and best done after Bhastrika.

Pranayama: Seetkari (Cooling Breath)

Basic
Take a seated pose (Padmasana or Siddhasana), steady the body for a minute or so (Kaya sthairyam), hands in Gyana mudra, the teeth are touching each other but the lips are parted, inhale through the mouth, through the gaps in the teeth, with a 'hissing' sound. Close the mouth after inhalation. Exhale through the nose. Repeat 20X.

Advanced
Seetkari + Antara kumbhaka + Jalandhara bandha + Mula bandha:
Inhale, hold the breath (Antara kumbhaka), engage the throat lock (Jalandhara bandha), then the root lock (Mula bandha). Hold as long as possible without straining, then exhale through the nose

I'm not sure why this variation uses breath-hold and bandha, because employing these features generate heat. But you want to provide a cooling effect by doing Seetkari.

Nonetheless, I went about my practice by employing 1:4:2:3 ratio using the pertinent bandhas for 15 minutes, using a timer and metronome.

Verse 55

Pranayama: Seetkari 2 (Cooling Breath)
Verse 55: "The aspects and evolution of cosmic Shakti from its source are represented by the formula of creation, manifestation and dissolution of the macro and micro cosmos."

Honestly, I don't understand what Verse 55 is talking about, so I won't write about it. But in all its summary, it simply stated that, "the whole body comes under the control of the practitioner", but perfection of any pranayama brings about that benefit...so it's not unique. Moving on....

Verse 56
Nature has 3 qualities (gunas) that are also present in our body and minds - Tamas (dull and lethargic), Rajas (dynamic and ambitious) and Sattwa (balanced, harmonious and focused). They exist in the body in different proportions, but ultimately, it should be Sattwa that prevails. Sattwa represents the highest point in evolution of the human mind. Seetkari gives rise to the domination of the Sattwa over Tamas and Rajas.

Benefits

  1. Cooling effect - produces a cooling effect on the body (good on a hot day)
  2. Sensual desire - one becomes an attractive person - a personification of sensual desire and affection, while maintaining the vital energy
  3. Less of Sleep, Food and Water - the yogi finds less need for sleep, food and water
  4. Active - indolence and laziness are removed

Contra Indication: people who suffer chronic constipation should not do this because the cooling effect also cools the elimination organs



Pranayama (57-58): Shitali (Cooling breath)

(Verse 57-58, p. 264)
Basic:
Seated, stick your tongue out as far as it will go, then roll up the sides, forming the tongue into a tube. Inhale slowly through this 'tube' while focusing on the cooling sensation of the breath (vs Seetkari where you focus on the 'hissing' sound). Close the mouth when the lungs are full. Exhale through the nose. Initially, do 10 rounds

Advanced w/ Kumbhaka + Bandha:
Same as Basic, but hold the breath on the inhale, Jalandhara bandha, then Mula bandha, hold as long as possible without straining. Release the bandhas then exhale through the nose

Pranayama: Shitali (Cooling breath)

Advanced w/ Ratio:
Same as the advanced but incorporate a breathing ratio - 1:1:1, then increase the ratio to 1:2:2, and later 1:4:2

In my practice, all breath-holds are on a 1:4:2:3 ratio - one breath is extended to 1 minute. This is my limit. I don't know if this ratio only applies to specific Pranayamas (like Nadi Shodhana), but I don't feel any drawback


Benefits: like Seetkari, Shitali also cools down the body. Additionally, it cures problems relating to enlarged stomach, spleen, fever, excess bile and poison. It removes the feeling of thirst or hunger. Relives high blood pressure

Contra Indication: since you are breathing in through the mouth (thus no nasal filtration), ensure that you are in a clean environment (no-no if in a polluted city)



Pranayama (59-67): Bhastrika (Bellows Breath)

(Verse 59-67, p. 267)
Bhastrika is breathing like the bellows - forceful and equal inhalation / exhalation while the body remains in place. This generates heat on the physical and subtle bodies. Unlike Siddhasana which exhales through abdominal contraction, Bhastrika is lung contraction.

Position: on a seated pose (Siddhasana or Padmasana), breathe in and out, forcefully but equally (if the exhalation is longer, hyper-ventilation can happen), with a hissing sound coming out from the nose (not the throat). The seated body does not move...only the abdominal expansion. Do 10 breaths, 1 round. Do 3 rounds and increase to 5 rounds and increase the speed of breathing as well.

Technique 1

  1. Stage 1 - seated, inhale slowly through the left nostril and commence 20 breaths of Bhastrika. After the last exhale, inhale slowly until full and hold the breath (antara kumbhaka), then Jalandhara bandha (but don't raise the shoulders, no Mula bandha). Release the bandha and exhale through the right nostril (so it looks like a Nadi shodhana). Inhale right, do 20 breaths, hold and exhale left. This is one round. Do a few and increase over time
  2. Stage 2 - do one round of Stage 1, then do 40 breaths with both nostrils open. Do 3 rounds of this
  3. Stage 3 - do Stage 2 but add Mula bandha on the Antara kumbhaka. 3 to 5 rounds
  4. Stage 4 - five rounds of Stage 3 then increase by 10 so the ratio is 50:50:100 (I don't really understand this part)

Technique 2

Breathe on both nostrils and instead of Antara kumbhaka, do Bahya kumbhaka (retention on the exhale) - after the last exhale, don't hold yet. Do one last slow and deep inhale and then a fast exhale through the mouth and then hold. Apply Jalandhara bandha + Mula bandha. Slow release.

With proficiency, add Uddiyana bandha so you now perform Maha bandha (Mula + Jalandhara + Uddiyana). Between rounds, concentrate on the natural recovery breath or do Sambhavi mudra. You can practice up to 5 rounds of 100 breaths/round.

Granthis / Psychic knots
3 blockages along the Sushumna, called Granthis, prevent the ascension of Kundalini shakti. These granthis represent physical, emotional and mental barriers.

  1. Brahma granthi - resides in the Muladhara. This blockage happens when you are attached to the external world, "this is mine, I pleasure myself, the world is my oyster".
  2. Vishnu granthi - resides in the Anahata and caused by attachment to emotional security, "I'm afraid of...., I fear that...I cannot live without you".
  3. Rudra granthi - resides in the Ajna chakra and caused by obsession with siddhi and psychic abilities, "I want to walk on water". Developing psychic abilities when you don't have spiritual grounding or if you don't have a guru is dangerous - some end up in mental institutions. As this granthi dissolves, you become more of a witness

Bhastrika helps in removing these granthis/blockages. One becomes content with no craving for external or sensual pleasures. You're just happy and grateful with what you have.

Benefits

Brain - circulates the cerebral fluid and massages the brain with fast contraction/expansion just like Kapalbhati.

Heart - activates the circulatory system due to the rhythmic pumping of air. Generates heat which cleanses the detoxifies the body and gives a revitalizing effect on the whole body (like Kapalbhati)

Contra Indication:
People with high blood pressure, heart disease, vertigo (hmmm!!!), brain tumor, stomach disorders, glaucoma, diarrhea should not practice Bhastrika. Dizzyness means it's not being done right. It's easy to tense up but Bhastrika must be relaxed with mental focus on breathing.

Interestingly, the book states that Bhastrika breathing is done through the abdomen - and not the chest. The popular practice (and mine) is to expand and contract the chest - not including the diaphragm or belly.

I practiced according to the instruction in the book and I found it difficult. And then it clicked on me. I should imagine doing Kapalbhati but doing forceful inhalation / exhalation on the belly...and only the belly. It took a while but I got it. This allows for faster but shallow breathing.

In contrast to the Wim Hof breathing protocol, the WH is also fast breathing, but FULL breathing...full chest, full side ribcage, full belly and full upper back. Because it's full inflation, it cannot be done as fast as Bhastrika. The air intake in WH is way much more, to a point of hyper-ventilation when overdone. Energetically, I find WH to be more powerful - but that's just my bias. It's also interesting to note that all of yoga's Pranayama does not include full inflation like the WH (I haven't heard or read any).


Pranayama (68): Bhramari (Humming Bee)

(Verse 68, p. 275)
Bhramari is a slow exhalation with a low humming bee sound while the ears are plugged. Best if practiced early in the morning or before going to sleep. Best if practiced after asana, after nadi shodhana, but before meditation.

Benefits
Bhramari increases sensitivity on the psychic centers and increases awareness on sublte perceptions. It has a soothing quality that relieves mental anxieties and tensions.

Bhramari Basic
Sit in a comfortable position, allow the body to become at ease. Close your eyes. Insert your index fingers into the ear hole and make a snug fit. Inhale slowly, but do a slow humming exhale with a low pitch. Focus your attention on the bee sound and the reverberation. Exhale as slow as possible so that your lungs are empty and need to make an inhale by the time you finish the exhale. When the lungs are empty, release your fingers, make another slow inhale and repeat the process for 5 minutes (about 10 reps/breaths). On the last exhale, do regular breathing but keep awareness on subtle sounds you might hear - nada sounds. This is one round. Do a few rounds.

Pranayama: Bhramari (Humming Bee)

Bhramari + Bhaya kumbhaka + Jalandhara bandha
Do the Basic, but after the last exhale on the round (after 5 minutes), do a full inhale, hold for 2 seconds and do a regular exhale and empty the lungs. This should give you more time. Hold the breath (Bhaya kumbhaka), and tuck the chin to the chest (Jalandhara bandha). Take a few normal breaths as necessary between rounds.

Bhramari + Bhaya kumbhaka + Jalandhara bandha + Mula bandha
Add Mula bandha after doing Jalandhara bandha

Bhramari with Shanmukhi mudra + Antara kumbhaka
This is Basic Bhramari with different finger placing - thumbs inside the ears, index fingers gently over the eyes, middle fingers on the nose, last 2 fingers on the mouth. These finger placements are symbolic to represent Pratyahara (closing down of sensory perception to the outside world). Fully inflate the lungs on the inhale with the fingers in their places and hold as long as possible while having enough air to make a slow exhale with a humming sound.

Bhramari with Shanmukhi mudra + Bhaya kumbhaka + Jalandhara bandha
Fully inflate the lungs on the inhale with the fingers in their places (don't hold the inhale) and slow exhale with a low humming sound. Empty the lungs, hold the breath, straight back, chin to the chest and hold as long as possible without straining. Repeat several times.

Bhramari with Shanmukhi mudra + Bhaya kumbhaka + Jalandhara bandha + Mula bandha
Fully inflate the lungs on the inhale with the fingers in their places (don't hold the inhale) and slow exhale with a low humming sound. Empty the lungs, hold the breath, straight back, chin to the chest, squeeze the butt cheeks / contract the anal muscles, and hold as long as possible without straining. Repeat several times.

Hatha Yoga PradipikaBecause prolonged Bhramari can produce arm-fatigue, I simply wear a construction ear muff and do Gyana mudra with my fingers. This generates the same amount of reverberation as plugging your ear with your index finger.

Additionally, I read that during the Covid 19 lockdown, doing the Bhramari was effective in keeping away Covid (if it does exist)




Below is the latest update

Pranayama (69): Moorchha (Fainting Breath)

(Verse 69, p. 278)
Moorchha is not for beginners. This simulates fainting or being under conscious unconsciousness and gives a feeling of pleasure. This renders the mind inactive, thus suppressing all external thoughts (Pratyahara). This paves the mind for Dharana. This expands consciousness and stores prana.

Benefits: relieves mental tension and anxiety

Position:
On Siddhasana or Padmasana, close eyes, place palms on knees, inhale slowly and deeply, do Jalandhara bandha (chin to chest) and Sambhavi mudra (concentration on 3rd Eye). Keep holding until it's uncomfortable. Release Jalandhara bandha with head slightly tilted, and exhale as slow as possible. Concentrate on the ensuing 'void sensation' while resuming normal breath. Repeat.

Pranayama: Moorchha (Fainting Breath)

Variation: As you inhale, tilt the head back and hold the breath + Sambhavi mudra, while keeping the arms straight and shoulders shrugged. Hold until uncomfortable, then normalize the head position was you exhale very slowly. Resume normal breathing as you concentrate on the sensation of void.

Pranayama: Moorchha 2 (Fainting Breath)

Contra Indication: not for people with high blood pressure, heart disease and vertigo. Stop once you feel light headed.



stopped at p. 278

Ending Thoughts

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
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Other Books on Hatha Yoga Pradipika

  1. Hatha Yoga Pradipika : Light on Hatha Yoga - commentaries by Yogi Hari
  2. Hatha Yoga Pradipika - translated by Pancham Sinh
  3. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika - the Original Sanskrit with English translation by Brian Dana Akers
  4. Hatha Yoga Pradipika - translation with notes from Krishnamacharya by A. Ganesh Mohan

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Chiang Mai INFORMATION

Chiang Mai Map
Google Map

Chiang Mai, Thailand

important places in Chiang Mai IMPORTANT PLACES
Chiang Mai Bus Station Bus Station
Chiang Mai Train Station Train Station
Chiang Mai airport Chiang Mai International Airport
Nong Buak Hard Park Nong Buak Hard Park - free yoga classes daily

hotels in Chiang Mai HOTEL
Chiang Mai Arun Dara Villa Arun Dara Villa - 7 exclusive rooms, 1 swimming pool for every room, grand opening
Chiang Mai Nawa Sheeva Hotel Nawa Sheeva Hotel - big rooms, high ceiling, salt-water pool, restaurant, cafe
Chiang Mai Nawa Saraan Hotel Nawa Saraan Hotel - low density (4 spacious rooms), stone garden setting, Koi fish pond, Old City location
Arun Suite, Chiang Mai Arun Suite - 3 bedrooms in a 3-storie guesthouse within Old City, ideal for families

birds nest restaurants in Chiang Mai RESTAURANT
La Pizza Chiang Mai La Pizza Chiang Mai - Italian pizza, pasta, wine, dessert, coffee
Chiang Mai birds nest restaurant Natural Bird Nest by Burapa - authentic bird's nest soup

Thai massage in Chiang Mai WELLNESS
ITM  International Training Massage School ITM - International Training Massage School - Chiang Mai's most prestigious massage school
Float Chiang Mai Float Chiang Mai - sensory deprivation float pod
Chiang Mai, Royal Thai Lanna Massage Zira Spa - upscale authentic Thai massage and spa treatment

motorcycle rental in Chiang Mai MOTORBIKE RENTAL
Chiang Mai birds nest motorcycle Tawan Bike - motorcycle rental | +66 91 635 2863 | Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200



Chiang Mai FYI / Tips
  • crop-burning season in Chiang Mai is between late Feb to early April. But laws change everytime. This year, 2019, there is a 61-day ban on burning so the farmers started burning early. When my plane was approaching Chiang Mai on Jan 24, 2019, there was already a thick blanket of smog covering the entire city (and beyond). But within the city itself, you won't feel it (but that doesn't mean the air is healthy). To monitor air conditions in real time, refer to site: Chiang Mai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)
  • hot season begins March and lasts until June
  • wet season begins July and lasts until September
  • best time to visit Chiang Mai is mid-September to mid-February - after the monsoon and before the burning
  • you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
  • the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located in the Old City
  • to exchange your dollars to Thai Baht, the Super Rich Money Exchange give the best rates. There are many branches scattered around Chiang Mai
  • get a red cab (songthao) outside the train station for Baht 50 (instead of paying B100 if inside the train station) to Old City - if you haggle nicely enough...I did!
  • shared red taxi (songthao) - B30 standard fare plying all over Old City
  • for only B50/day, best to rent a bike to go around the Old City - it's a 2.5km2 with lots to discover
  • FREE daily yoga classes from 9:00am to 10:15am at Nong Buak Hard Park (southwest corner of Old City). Resident and passing-through teachers take turns conducting yoga classes.
Blues/Jazz Bars in Chiang Mai
  1. North Gate Jazz Coop - at Chang Phueg Gate, great Tuesday jam session, Blues on Sundays at 11pm by the Chiang Mai Blues band
  2. Boy Blues Bar - at the Night Bazaar. Mondays at 9:30pm is open mic
  3. My Secret Cafe - near Wat Phra Singh. Tuesdays at 7:30pm for the changing front-act and 9:00pm for the Panic Band
  4. Taphae East - 88 Thapae Rd. (just north of Night Bazaar). Fridays at 9:30pm by Chiang Mai Blues Band
Chiang Mai Cost Index
  • B60 Chiang beer
  • B250 1 hour drop-in yoga session
  • B200 one hour Thai body massage at WAYA Massage (highly recommended)
  • B50 noodle soup with meat
  • B50 coffee
  • B40 pad thai
  • B30/kilo wash-only laundry
  • B50/kilo wash+iron laundry
  • B100-150 dorm bed/night
  • B250 fan room/night
  • B30 internet cafe/hour
  • B170-190 Movies Sat-Sun and public holidays
  • B130-150 Movies weekdays
  • B100 Movies Wednesdays (movie discount day)
  • B750 1/2 day Thai cooking lessons
  • B900-1000 1 full day Thai cooking lessons
  • B400 Muay Thai boxing ticket
  • B2500 starting room rate at the luxury hotel, Nawa Sheeva (highly recommended)

  • Transportation
  • B450 bus, Chiang Mai to Bangkok
  • B160-180 bus, Chiang Mai to Pai
  • B1250 bus, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
  • B1650 slow boat, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
  • B210 bus, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, 3-4 hours
  • B360 Green VIP bus, Chiang Mai to Mae Sai (Thai border town for visa run to Tachileik, Myanmar)
  • B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
  • B200 motorbike rental, 24 hours
  • B273 #51 sleeping train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • B638 #7 a/c train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • B50 red taxi fare from point to point
  • B100 red taxi fare from train terminal to city

  • Tours
  • B2000 full day elephant sanctuary
  • B750 Chiang Rai one-day tour
  • B1500 mountain biking scenic ride
Chiang Mai Trains by Train36.com
  1. Chiang Mai trains for Bangkok - 2 day trains, 3 night trains, daily schedule
  2. Train 14 to Bangkok - departs 5pm daily, arrives BKK 6:15am, 1st class and 2nd class sleeping accomodation, Special Express
  3. Chiang Mai trains to other destinations -
Chiang Mai to Bangkok Trains source: railway.co.th
  1. Check Train Schedule & Fares
  2. Book Online - direct booking with State Railway of Thailand. Best to register first. If going to BKK from CNX, click "Northern Line".

    note -- big difference between booking direct with the State Railway and booking with an online 3rd party agent. 12GO was charging B1330 for the same trip that only cost me B941 with the State Railway.

    note -- Oct 2022, I took the #10 Train from CNX to BKK, upper berth, 2nd class, a/c, sleeper, B941. The train was clean, fast, comfortable and modern. If you have heavy luggage that will cost more money in flight checkin, I would suggest this train. Otherwise, the flight now is so much cheaper it doesn't even make sense to take the bus or train.
Bangkok to Chiang Mai by Train from Bang Sue Train Station

For more train info: Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains - departing from Hua Lamphong - MRT (Bangkok)

(I'm using Bang Sue as a starting point because I was closer to it, but you may be closer to the Hua Lamphong station)

  1. take the MRT train to Bang Sue Station. Take the #1 Exit to the north provincial trains
  2. Proceed to Counter 2. You will see an information booth, a train schedule chart and the ticket counter. Choose the train and pay at the ticket counter.
  3. daily train schedule:
    • 8:48am - #7 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:30pm, not sleeper, B638
    • 2:06pm - #109 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 4:05am, sleeper
    • 6:31pm - #9 Premium Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:15am, sleeper, B938 upper deck, B1038 lower deck
    • 7:56pm - #13 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 8:40am, sleeper, B768 upper deck, B838 lower deck
    • 10:22pm - #51 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 12:10pm, sleeper, 3rd class B270 (non sleeper), 2nd class B438, B728 upper deck, B798 lower deck
Loei to Chiang Mai by Bus
  1. From Loei town center, take a tuk-tuk ride to the bus station, B30. There is only one bus station.
  2. As of June 28, 2020 (still on Covid schedule), there are only 3 night trips: 8:30pm, 9:30pm and 12 midnight. 9 hours, B470.
  3. The bus makes the following stops at the following times from a 9pm Loei departure: Phu Ruea (9:50pm), Phitsanulok (12:40am), Uttradit (2:20am), Lampang (4:35am)
  4. Final bus stop is at the Red Bus Arcade, Chiang Mai, 9 hour-trip, arriving 6am (from 9pm Loei departure).
  5. Take a red songthaew to Old City, B50. They'll try to charge you B100, but they'll take B50 (just assure the driver you won't tell the other passengers).
Chiangmai Blogs by TheLoneRider
  1. Goodbye Chiang Mai Jan 24, 2019 - Oct 10, 2022
  2. Chiang Mai Peoplescape Oct 10, 2022
  3. Siamaya Chocolates Oct 2, 2022
  4. [an error occurred while processing this directive]
  5. September Snapshots Sep 30, 2022
  6. Carrot Cake Sep 12, 2022
  7. Making Coconut Bread Sep 3, 2022
  8. August Snapshots Aug 31, 2022
  9. Yoga Nidra with Chunyah and Tom Aug 18, 2022
  10. Coconut Pancake Aug 11, 2022
  11. July Snapshots Jul 31, 2022
  12. Chiang Mai Peoplescape Jul 31, 2022
  13. Jason, Max and Elizabeth Pizza Nite Jul 28, 2022
  14. Yakiniku Dinner with Max and Jason Jul 25, 2022
  15. Icebath at Nawa Saraan Jul 6 - Oct 5, 2022
  16. June Snapshots Jun 30, 2022
  17. Tom, Chunyah and Simona Pizza Nite Jun 23, 2022
  18. Yoga Class Pizza Nite Jun 15, 2022
  19. Pranayama with Nicha Jun 14, 2022
  20. May Snapshots May 31, 2022
  21. Lover's Quarrel May 26, 2022
  22. Getting Lost on a Hike May 25, 2022
  23. Biohacker Meetup at 'Living with The Spirit' May 22, 2022
  24. Music and Magic at Paapu House May 5, 2022
  25. Breathwork + Icebath @ Alt_Chiangmai II Apr 20, 2022
  26. April 2022 in a Nugget Apr 30, 2022
  27. Tombstone Epitaph Apr 29, 2022
  28. Kayaking along the Ping River with the BioHackers Apr 24, 2022
  29. [an error occurred while processing this directive]
  30. Pizza Nite with Jerry, Paolo and Abby Apr 9, 2022
  31. Tom Maher's Muay Thai Fight Apr 8, 2022
  32. Breathwork + Icebath @ Alt_Chiangmai Apr 6, 2022
  33. Yoga with Leo Apr 5, 2022
  34. Mar 2022 in a Nugget Mar 31, 2022
  35. Street Photo Mar 31, 2022
  36. Peoplescape Mar 31, 2022
  37. Chiang Mai's Recovering Music Scene Mar 31, 2022
  38. Street Photo Mar 31, 2022
  39. Yoga and Fitness Mar 26, 2022
  40. Friday Bitcoin Meetups Mar 18, 2022
  41. Pizza Nite with Aida and Sophie Mar 14, 2022
  42. Pizza Nite with Kevin, Jamie and Kris Mar 10, 2022
  43. In Search of Genetic Immortality Mar 5, 2022
  44. Feb 2022 in a Nugget Feb 28, 2022
  45. Palm-Feeding Wild Birds Feb 26, 2022
  46. Cuckoo Feb 16, 2022
  47. Tell John Feb 16, 2022
  48. Pizza Nite with Kris, Simona and Mary Feb 15, 2022
  49. Pizza Nite with the Chiang Mai Boyz Feb 6, 2022
  50. Welcoming the New Year Jan 31, 2022
  51. January Snapshots Jan 31, 2022
  52. ABS Fitness Challenge Jan 16 - Apr 16, 2022
  53. Pumpkin Tahini Recipe Jan 3, 2022
  54. 2021: A Year in Review Dec 31, 2021
  55. Pizza Nite with Simona and Lisa Dec 28, 2021
  56. Tahini Salad Dressing Dec 27, 2021
  57. Baba Ganoush Recipe Dec 23, 2021
  58. 7 Universal Laws Dec 20, 2021
  59. Sacred Circuitry Dec 18, 2021
  60. Cave-Living in a Boutique Hotel in Chiang Mai Dec 14, 2021
  61. Tummo Yoga + Wim Hof Breathing + Full-Body Muscle Contraction Dec 13, 2021
  62. Monk Chat Dec 10, 2021
  63. Making Tahini and Hummus Dec 8, 2021
  64. Watering the Plants Hands-Free Dec 2, 2021
  65. Vietnamese Phin Coffee Filter Dec 2, 2021
  66. Tummo Yoga Dec 1, 2021
  67. The Bliss of Inner Fire: Book Summary/Review Dec 1, 2021
  68. The Bliss of Inner Fire: Heart Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa Dec 1, 2021
  69. 'Must Experience' Cafés of Chiang Mai Nov 30, 2021
  70. British Hobnob Cookies Nov 22, 2021
  71. New York Cheese Cake Nov 22, 2021
  72. Dham's Poetry Nov 14, 2021
  73. Pizza Nite with Simona and Nat Nov 11, 2021
  74. Stepping Forward / Reaching Out Oct 31, 2021
  75. Cancel Culture Attack Oct 31, 2021
  76. Mantra Primer Oct 29, 2021
  77. Spinal Mobility Oct 7, 2021
  78. Swedish Cinnamon Rolls [Kanelbullar] Oct 4, 2021
  79. Just Bring 2 Chinese Oct 3, 2021
  80. Sep Snapshots Sep 31, 2021
  81. One-Leg Yoga Asana Sequences Sep 30, 2021
  82. Pizza Nite with Nut, Monika and Yuki Sep 27, 2021
  83. 23-Minute Ice Bath Sep 27, 2021
  84. Pizza Nite with Nut, Simona and Malee Sep 23, 2021
  85. Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) Sep 23, 2021
  86. Making Cornbread Sep 15, 2021
  87. Kombucha: 2nd Batch Sep 11, 2021
  88. Making German Stollen Bread Sep 9, 2021
  89. Pizza Nite with Jackson, Goi and Paapu Sep 6, 2021
  90. Chiang Mai Peoplescape Aug 31, 2021
  91. Making Homemade Kombucha Aug 30, 2021
  92. Wrong Question to Ask This Crowd Aug 29, 2021
  93. Pizza Nite with Tom, Chunyah and Goi Aug 20, 2021
  94. Pizza Nite with Moms and Kids Aug 15, 2021
  95. Bahya Kumbhaka (breath-hold on the exhale) Aug 14, 2021
  96. Everybody's Only Friend Aug 13, 2021
  97. Vanillekipferl (German Vanilla Crescent Cookies) Aug 11, 2021
  98. Fighting Infection through Yoga Aug 3, 2021
  99. Too Close for Friendship Aug 2, 2021
  100. Manifesting: Epicurus' Pursuit Jul 31, 2021
  101. Homemade Rum Raisin Ice Cream Jul 30, 2021
  102. Ice Bath at Nawa Saraan Healing Space Jul 25, 2021
  103. Pizza Nite + Slack Line + Hammock Jul 23, 2021
  104. Yin-Yoga & Hypnosis with Christine Thiel Jul 20, 2021
  105. Pizza Nite with James and Nat Jul 19, 2021
  106. Antara Kumbhaka on Nadi Shodan Pranayama: Yogic Breath-Hold on the Inhale Jul 17, 2021
  107. Moving and Cashing-Out Bitcoin Jun 2 - Jul 11, 2021
  108. 'The Bow' Yoga Jul 7, 2021
  109. Yoga Classes with Calum Mar 27 - Jul 4, 2021
  110. Hike to Wat Pa Thammachat Waterfall Jul 2, 2021
  111. Pizza Brunch with the Yogis July 1, 2021
  112. Continuing Friendships in Chiang Mai Jun 30, 2021
  113. On the Brink of Hunger, the ENABLERS Come to Light Jun 21, 2021
  114. Hatha Vinyasa Yoga with Katharine Day Jun 17, 2021
  115. Pranayama Basics II Jun 16, 2021
  116. 36-Hour Love Life Jun 11, 2021
  117. Pranayama Basics I Jun 9, 2021
  118. Biohackers Meetup in Chiang Mai Jun 6, 2021
  119. Learning How to Breathe Jun 2, 2021
  120. Not the Usual Day-to-Day Life May 31, 2021
  121. Morphing Peoplescape of Chiang Mai May 31, 2021
  122. Breathwork & Ice Bath with Jason Ryer of Zen Strength May 23, 2021
  123. It's Raining Bell Peppers May 7, 2021
  124. Yoga Classes with Nana Apr 20, 2021
  125. You Want to be Wonder Woman? Apr 8, 2021
  126. Kunjal Kriya / Vamana Dhauti (induced vomiting) Apr 1, 2021
  127. Coffeemates, Breadmates and Yogamates in Chiang Mai Jan-Mar 2021
  128. Varisara Dhauti (cleansing of the entire digestive tract) Mar 26, 2021
  129. Spiritual Backpacker Interview by Napasorn 'Cherry' Suvarnapradip Mar 23, 2021
  130. Private One-on-One Yoga Classes with Doriana Feb 17 - Mar 14, 2021
  131. Transformational Life Events Mar 13, 2021
  132. Guess Who's Coming to Bread Day? Mar 1, 2021
  133. Mula Shodhana (anal cleansing) Feb 27, 2021
  134. Are You My Queen? Feb 25, 2021
  135. Breaking the 5-Minute Breath-hold Barrier Feb 25, 2021
  136. Kirtan with Chiang Mai's Khun Thai Seekers Feb 7, 2021
  137. Breaking the 4-minute Breath-hold Feb 7, 2021
  138. Pranayama Primer Feb 2, 2021
  139. Heartbreak in every Song Jan 24, 2021
  140. The Silent Killer is Baaack! Jan 12, 2021
  141. Learning the Thai Language Jan 9, 2021
  142. 2020: A Year in Review Dec 31, 2020
  143. Reversing/Slowing Down the Aging Process Dec 30, 2020
  144. Hike to Huay Keaw Waterfall Dec 20, 2020
  145. Yoga Mat Dec 19, 2020
  146. Hiking to Wat Pha Lat along the Monk's Trail Dec 19, 2020
  147. Am I Psycho? Dec 9, 2020
  148. Muffin Man Dec 8, 2020
  149. Polyamory Dec 4, 2020
  150. The Wim Hof Ice Bath Dec 3, 2020
  151. RSVP Nov 25, 2020
  152. High Intensity Interval Yoga (Yoga + HIIT) Nov 14, 2020
  153. Cleansing the Nadis (Energy Pathway) Nov 13, 2020
  154. Yoga for a 360-degree Core Nov 6, 2020
  155. Edward Witten: 'the smartest living physicist' Nov 4, 2020
  156. Srinivasa Ramanujan: Mathematician of the Divine Oct 27, 2020
  157. Bashar as Channeled by Darryl Anka Oct 26, 2020
  158. Vinyasa Krama and Ashtanga Yoga with Aida Yoga Oct 18, 2020
  159. Deepak Chopra: author, lecturer, healer Oct 12, 2020
  160. Facebook Friends Oct 1, 2020
  161. Chiang Mai Peoplescape Aug-Sep 2020 Sep 30, 2020
  162. Siddhis (yogic super powers) Sep 30, 2020
  163. Learning the Import/Export Trade Sep 4, 2020
  164. Music and Magic at Justin's Birthday Bash Sep 3, 2020
  165. Biggest Stone in his Shoe Sep 1, 2020
  166. Abandoned Aug 25, 2020
  167. Intelligent Romantic Break-up Aug 25, 2020
  168. Dad-Zoned Aug 18, 2020
  169. Public Display of Affection Aug 9, 2020
  170. Gabriella's Birthday Bash at Mothership Resort Aug 8-9, 2020
  171. Shifting Peoplescape of Chiang Mai July 31, 2020
  172. Yoga Class for Strength and Muscle Jul 30, 2020
  173. Yoga Class for Optimum Digestion July 29, 2020
  174. Yoga Class for Healthy Eyes Jul 27, 2020
  175. Hippie Night at Nawa Saraan Healing Space July 24, 2020
  176. The Podcast Series: Alan "Heart Math" Strydom Jul 17, 2020
  177. Prana Vayu Adhitthana Yoga Class July 11-12, 2020
  178. Coming Back to Chiang Mai Jun 29, 2020
  179. Goodbye Chiang Mai Jan 23, 2020
  180. Prasnopanishad: Understanding Prana Jan 17, 2020
  181. Hiking the Monk's Trail Jan 15, 2020
  182. Chaturanga Jan 10, 2020
  183. You Spooned Me Jan 3, 2020
  184. 2019: A Year in Review Dec 31, 2019
  185. Friends, Coffeemates and Breadmates (Dec 2019) Dec 31, 2019
  186. Visiting Mae Sot Dec 27-30, 2019
  187. Let's Make it About You - an Epiphany Dec 17, 2019
  188. Shut-Up! Dec 7, 2019
  189. Roasted Red Bell Pepper Puree Dec 3, 2019
  190. Coffeemates and Breadmates (Nov 2019) Nov 30, 2019
  191. Bhujangini Mudra Nov 25, 2019
  192. Mathangini Mudra Nov 24, 2019
  193. Kaka Mudra Nov 23, 2019
  194. Pasini Mudra Nov 20, 2019
  195. Aswini Mudra Nov 18, 2019
  196. Sambhavi Mudra Nov 16, 2019
  197. Manduka Mudra Nov 15, 2019
  198. Tataka Mudra Nov 14, 2019
  199. Sakti Calana Mudra Nov 10, 2019
  200. Vajroli Mudra Nov 9, 2019
  201. Coffeemates and Breadmates (Oct 2019) Oct to Nov 5, 2019
  202. Yoni Mudra Nov 1, 2019
  203. Viparita Karani Mudra Oct 31, 2019
  204. Khecari Mudra Oct 30, 2019
  205. Mahadeva Mudra Oct 28, 2019
  206. Sacred Cacao - Chakra Dance Journey Oct 26, 2019
  207. Partner Healing with Natascha Oct 24, 2019
  208. Maha Bandha Mudra Oct 24, 2019
  209. Point-Of-Failure Birthday Workout Oct 22, 2019
  210. Mula Bandha Mudra Oct 21, 2019
  211. Hugfest at Thapae Gate, Chiang Mai Oct 19, 2019
  212. Anushasan Mudra Oct 18, 2019
  213. Ling Mudra Oct 17, 2019
  214. Jalandhara Bandha Mudra Oct 15, 2019
  215. Learning Thai with Cee Oct 13, 2019
  216. Uddiyana Bandha Mudra Oct 10, 2019
  217. Nabho Mudra Oct 9, 2019
  218. Maha Mudra Oct 7, 2019
  219. 20 Essential Mudras by T. Krishnamacharya Oct. 6, 2019
  220. Mindfulness Gong Bath by Vee (Veerayuth Pongsiri) Oct 3, 2019
  221. Cuddle Party by Abundant Love CM Oct 1, 2019
  222. Vayu Mudra Oct 1, 2019
  223. Visa-Run to Tachileik, Myanmar Sep 28, 2019
  224. Sankalpa Mudra Sep 27, 2019
  225. Surya Pradarshini Mudra Sep 26, 2019
  226. Eye-Gazing at Heart Space Sep 20, 2019
  227. Prana Vayu (Pranic Wind) Sep 20, 2019
  228. 2-Week Yoga Challenge by Agnese Erba Sep 17, 2019
  229. The Mudra Project Sep 13, 2019
  230. Sunday Vinyasa Flow with Marina Forster Sep 8, 2019
  231. Shamanic Breathwork by Rachel Constantino Sep 4, 2019
  232. The Conscious Peoplescape of Chiang Mai Aug 31, 2019
  233. Of Winos and Yogis Aug 26, 2019
  234. The 9 Jhanas of Buddha Aug 22, 2019
  235. Full Moon Ceremony at Heart Space Aug 15, 2019
  236. Yin Yoga - Water Element by Martina Barabas Aug 15, 2019
  237. Hatha Mix Yoga with Christin Aug 13, 2019
  238. Boy Blues Bar Rocks Chiang Mai Aug 5, 2019
  239. Back to my Beloved Chiang Mai Aug 1, 2019
  240. Kaleidoscope of Chiang Mai's Peoplescape July 27, 2019
  241. Secret Sunrise: Nelson Mandela International Day July 17, 2019
  242. Farewell Picnic with Alan and Nicola July 15, 2019
  243. Secret Sunrise: Water July 3, 2019
  244. Hotel Review: Arun Suite June 27, 2019
  245. Bruce Lipton: Epigentics to Transcend Genes June 24, 2019
  246. Optimizing Life thru Heart Math May 8, 15 and 22, 2019
  247. Connective Cacao and Sound Journey June 12, 2019
  248. Chiangmai BLUES June 6, 2019
  249. Hatha Slow Flow with Neil Jefferson June 3, 2019
  250. Meditating with One Million Meditators Movement June 1, 2019
  251. Vinyasa Happy Flow Series by Vaida May 31, 2019
  252. Muay Thai at the Chiang Mai Boxing Stadium May 30, 2019
  253. Yoga Flow Through the 7 Chakras by Sabrina Pilz May 30, 2019
  254. The Outsiders (people you need to push out of your sacred circle) May 31, 2019
  255. Fascinating Peoplescape of Chiang Mai May 22, 2019
  256. World Meditation Day at Heart Space May 21, 2019
  257. Abs Yoga by Gigit May 12, 2019
  258. Kundalini and Vinyasa Yoga with Nicola Symons May 10, 2019
  259. Secret Sunrise Interactive Dance May 9, 2019
  260. Tok Sen Massage from Ying May 8, 2019
  261. Bruschetta: Nawa Saraan Style Apr 22, 2019
  262. Thai Cooking at Pra Nang Thai Cookery School Apr 20, 2019
  263. Bonding with the Elephants in Chiang Mai Apr 11, 2019
  264. Ziplining in Chiang Mai with Eagle Track Zipline Apr 10, 2019
  265. Getting Thai Massage from Chiang Mai's Best (Lar Thanakrit Khamtanong) Mar 21, 2019
  266. Being the Soul of Nawa Saraan Hotel Mar 18, 2019
  267. Peoplescape of Chiang Mai Jan 24 - Mar 13, 2019
  268. Curing Cancer with Yoga? Feb 21, 2019
  269. International Training Massage School (ITM): Level 1 Feb 11-15, 2019
  270. Sandesch Album Launch by Christoph Joerg Feb 13, 2019
  271. Meditation in a Sensory Deprivation Tank at Float Chiang Mai Jan 29, 2019
  272. Reiki Share at the Mastermind Brain Spa Jan 26, 2019
  273. Resuming Life in Chiang Mai Jan 24, 2019
  274. 4 Days in Chiang Mai at Nawa Saraan Hotel Jan 2-6, 2019
  275. Mike Chong Aug 8, 2018
  276. An Intimate Conversation with my Universe in Chiang Mai Aug 8, 2018
  277. Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa Aug 4, 2018
  278. Savoring a Baht 3,500 Birds Nest Soup at Natural Bird Nest by Burapa Aug 3, 2018
  279. Yoga Exploration at The Yoga Tree with Gernot Aug 1, 2018
  280. Laughter Yoga with Saffiya Arnous July 31, 2018
  281. Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai July 29, 2018
  282. 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
  283. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  284. Chiang Mai's Amazing Peoplescape Apr 9-23, 2016
  285. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  286. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  287. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Bangkok (Thailand) to Chiang Mai April 9-10, 2016

Travel Tips for Thailand

How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days

This process is BEFORE Covid 19. Not sure what it is now.

    60-Day Thai Tourist Visa

    NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.

  1. Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
    a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
    b) flight booking to Thailand
    c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
    d) filled-in tourist visa form
    e) 2 passport pictures
    f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
    g) passport with at least 6 months validity
  2. After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
  3. NOTE: after 2 successful attempts, I was already questioned the 3rd time.

    30-Day Extension

    NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.

  1. bring the following to the Immigration Office:
    a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
    b) Baht 1900
    c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
    d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
    e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
  2. submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
  3. when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
  4. when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
  5. when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
Book Train Tickets in Thailand

Book Train Tickets in Thailand Online by Train36.com

General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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