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DATE > Oct 2022 - ? 2023
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yoga in Chiang Mai, Thailand Book Review

Yoga Book Reviews



Hatha Yoga Pradipika Oct 1, 2022 - Jul 5, 2023

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. perfecting health to a system of the body to influence the other systems - 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.
  2. energies have to be balanced - negative and positive, ida and pingala. 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.
  3. dosha purification - purifying and balancing excesses of the 3 types of wastes: bile, mucuous and wind

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 1: Asana
Shiva (01): Supreme Consciousness

(Verse 1, p. 40)
Salutations to Shiva

"Salutations to the glorious primal (original) guru, Sri Adinath, who instructed the knowledge of hatha yoga which shines forth as a stairway for those who wish to ascend to the highest stage of yoga, raja yoga."

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.



Hatha yoga (02): Purpose

(Verse 2, p. 44)
Purpose of Hatha yoga

"Prostrating first to the guru, Yogi Swatmarama instructs the knowledge of hatha yoga only for (raja yoga) the highest state of yoga."

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.



Raja yoga (03): Misconception

(Verse 3, p. 46)
State of raja yoga is unknown because of misconception

"The highest state of raja yoga is unknown due to misconceptions (darkness) created by varying ideas and concepts. In good will and as a blessing, Swatmarama offers light on hatha yoga."

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).



Nath Yogis (04): Matsyendranath | Gorakhnath

(Verse 4, p. 47)
First of the hatha yogis; Matsyendranath and Gorakhnath

"Yogi Matsyendranath knew the knowledge of hatha yoga. He gave it to Gorakhnath and others, and by their grace the author (Swatmarama) learned it."

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 renowned 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.



Mahasiddhas (05-09): Lineage

(Verse 5-9, p. 49)
Lineage of mahasiddhas

"Sri Adinath (Shiva), Matsyendra, Shahara, Anandabhairava, Chaurangi, Mina, Goraksha, Virupaksha, Bileshaya, Manthana, Bhairava, Siddhi, Buddha, Ranthadi, Korantaka, Surananda, Siddhipada, Charapati, Kaneri, Pujyapada, Nityanath, Niranjan, Kapali, Bindunath, Kakachandishwara, Allama, Prabhudeva, Ghodacholi, Tintini, Bhanuki, Naradeva, Khanda, Kapalika. Mahasiddhas (great masters), having conquered time (death) by the practice of hatha yoga, roam about the universe."

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. Mahima - the ability to become as large as the universe
  3. Laghima - the ability to become weightless
  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.



Tapas (10): Functionality in the Real World

(Verse 10, p. 51)
Three types of pain or tapa

"For those continually tempered by the heat of tapa (the three types of pain - spiritual, environmental and physical) hatha is like the hermitage giving protection from the heat. For those always united in yoga, hatha is the basis acting like a tortoise."

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 (11): Keep Secret

(Verse 11, p. 54)
Sadhana should be kept secret for success

"Hatha yoga is the greatest secret of the yogis who wish to attain perfection (siddhi). Indeed, to be fruitful, it must be kept secret; revealed it becomes powerless."

Siddhis should be kept to oneself. Hatha Yoga Pradipika 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 (12-13): Hermitage

(Verse 12 p. 57)
Place of practice

"The hatha yogi should live alone in a hermitage and practice in a place the length of a bow (one and a half meters), where there is no hazard from rocks, fire or water, and which is in a well-administered and virtuous kingdom (nation or town) where good alms can be easily attained."

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, p. 60)
Yoga Hermitage

"This is the description of the yoga hermitage as prescribed by the siddhas for the hatha yoga practitioners. The room of sadhana should have a small door, without aperture (window), holes or cracks, being neither too highnor too low. It should be spotlessly clean, wiped with cow manure and free from animals or insects. Outside, there should be an open platform with a thatched roof, a well and a surrounding wall (fence). The appearance of the hermitage should be pleasant."

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.



Sadhana (14): Guru's Instruction

(Verse 14, p. 64)
Practice of sadhana devoid of mental tension, according to guru's instruction

"In this manner, dwelling in the hermitage, being devoid of all thought (excess mentation); yoga should be practiced in the way instructed by the guru."

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.



Sadhana (15): Failure

(Verse 15, p. 67)
Causes of failure in sadhana

"Overeating, exertion, talkativeness, adhering to rules, being in the company of common people and unsteadiness (wavering mind) are the six (causes) which destroy yoga."

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). Usually, Ida or Pingala dominates the other. 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) - before the transition, there is a 4-min window when the 2 nostrils/hemipheres are in sync. The goal of yoga is to prolong the transition time so that the left/right remain balanced longer. When these 2 are balanced, the nostril is completely cleared, the body and the mind are harmonized and prana flows along Sushumna.

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.



Sadhana (16i): Success

(Verse 16i, p. 71)
Causes of success in sadhana

"Enthusiasm, perseverance, discrimination, unshakeable faith, courage, avoiding the company of common people, are the (six causes) which bring success in yoga."

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 (if I feel really lazy to do the asana, I would read yoga text, view a yoga video, etc, as long as it is related to yoga).
  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 | Niyama (16 ii/iii): Moral Foundation

(Verse 16 ii/iii, p. 73)
Yama and niyama

"Non-violence, truth, non-stealing, continence (being absorbed in a pure state of consciousness), forgiveness, endurance, compassion, humility, moderate diet and cleanliness are the ten rules of conduct (yama).

Penance (austerity), contentment, belief (faith) in the Supreme (God), charity, worship of God, listening to the recitations of sacred scriptures, modesty, a discerning intellect, japa (mantra repetition) and sacrifice are the ten observances (niyama)."

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. Yama and Niyama are simply guidelines. Success in the practice can be attained without them. 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).

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. (note: In the paradigm of everything and everyone being you, any harm 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.)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.)
  10. 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.
  11. 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 helps 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 feel contented with what you have, contented with any situation, and feel grateful for what you have instead of feeling short-changed. Instead of complaining that you don't have a Lamborghini, just be thankful that you have a bicycle. 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 to 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 (17): Hatha Yoga

(Verse 17, p. 84)
Asana as the first stage of hatha yoga

"Prior to everything, asana is spoken of as the first part of hatha yoga. Having done asana one gets steadiness (firmness) of body and mind; diseaselessness and lightness (flexibility) of the limbs."

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 feels more natural. Body and mind, mind and body = they both influence each other.



Yogis (18): Vashishtha / Matsyendranath

(Verse 18, p. 85)
Asana as described by Vashishtha and Matsyendranath

"I will proceed to describe some of the asana accepted by munis such as Vashishtha and yogis such as Matsyendranath."

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.



Swastikasana (19): Auspicious Pose

(Verse 19, p. 86)
Swastikasana (auspicious pose)

"Placing both soles (of the feet) on the inner side of the thighs, sitting equipoised with a straight body. This is called swastika (asana)."

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)
This sit is a good reprieve when the perineum hurts already from Siddhasana. I would chant a mantra while on this pose.


Gomukhasana (20): Cow's Face

(Verse 20, p. 88)
Gomukhasana (cow's face pose)

"Place the right ankle next to the left buttock and the left (ankle) next to the right (buttock). This is gomukhasana and it resembles the face of the cow."

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)
It's a balls issue for me. You have to place your balls where it doesn't get squished.


Veerasana (21): Hero's Pose

(Verse 21, p. 91)
Veerasana (hero's pose)

"Placing one foot by the (opposite) thigh and the other (foot) under the (same) thigh is known as veerasana."

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 mi91nutes. 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

My preference is the "W" and reclining for greater challenge. Below pic.

Asana: Veerasana (Hero's Pose)



Koormasana (22): Tortoise Pose

(Verse 22, p. 93) July 3, 2023
Koormasana (tortoise pose)

"Press the anus firmly with the ankles in the opposite direction and sit well-poised. According to the yogis this is Koormasana."

Position 1: In Vajrasana, point the toes to the sides and heels back-to-back of each other. Body weight is on the heels and sides of feet (this is impossible for me. The whole body weight crushes on ankle vs ankle. I find this even injurious.).

Koormasana (Tortoise Pose)

With the heels pressing against the anus, sexual energy is prevented from being drained and rechannels the energy to the higher centers in the body.

Position 2: Seated, straighten legs and spread as far as possible to the sides. On the exhale, bend forward and slide the arms under the knees. Get the hands behind the butt cheeks with forehead on the ground.

Koormasana (Tortoise Pose)

Blood flow is redirected to the spine, back, neck and head - good for those suffering from slipped disk too.

I like Position 2 much better, with legs far apart, but I can't get my arms under the legs so I just do a reverse Namaste (3 mins).


Kukkutasana (23): Cockerel Pose

(Verse 23, p. 95) July 3, 2023
Kukkutasana (cockerel pose)

"Assuming padmasana, insert the hands between the thighs and calves, planting them (the hands) firmly on the ground, raise the body in the air. This is kukkutasana."

Position: In Padmasana, insert the right arm between the right calf and thigh muscles. Do the same on the other side. Press palms against the mat with fingers pointed forward, Inhale as you lift the entire body. Stay lifted for a long as possbile either breathing or doing the Antara Kumbhaka. Exhale as you lower.

Asana: Kukkutasana (Cockerel's Pose)

Because the body weight is in the arms and not the legs, energy flow is redirected.

This pose is nearly impossible to me. I'm lean, but despite that, there is no space for my arms to go inside my legs. Instead, I sit in Padmasana and press my palms against the floor to lift my body. I would inhale, engage the locks, and lift and hold it until I have to exhale (3 rounds, ~2 mins).


Uttan Koormasana (24): Stretching Tortoise Pose

(Verse 24, p. 97) July 3, 2023
Uttankoormasana (stretching tortoise pose)

"Sitting in kukkutasana, join both the hands at the shoulders and lie flat on the back like a tortoise. This is uttankoormasana."

This is also known as Garbhasana or the Embryo Pose. This is ideal for people who have a short fuse as it balances the adrenal gland.

Position 1: In Kukkutasana, lie down on the back and reach the hands to the shoulders or clasp them behind the neck.

Asana: Uttan Koormasana 2 (Stretching Tortoise Pose)

Position 2: In Savasana, do Padmasana and insert the arms like Kukkutasana but past the elbow. Get the hands to clasp the back of the neck. Then try to sit down on just your gluts - challenging balance.

Asana: Uttan Koormasana 2 (Stretching Tortoise Pose)

Since I can't even do Kukkutasana, I do Pindasana instead, with my back on the mat. After an exhale with empty lungs, I would hold the breath (Bahya kumbhaka) and engage all 3 bandhas (Maha bandha mudra) with tip of tongue pressed against the solt palate (Nabho mudra). 3 rounds, about 3 mins,

Pindasana
Pindasana


Dhanurasana (25): Bow's Pose

(Verse 25, p. 99) July 3, 2023
Dhanurasana (Bow's Pose)

"Holding the toes with the hands, pull them up to the ears as if drawing a bow. This is called dhanurasana."

These poses stimulate the solar plexus and good for those suffering from diabetes, hunchback and drooping shoulders.

Position 1: Lie flat on your stomach, bend knees and grab the ankles. On the inhale, stretch the legs (but it won't) and it will pull the shoulders back. Lift the chest, rib cage, thighs as high as it will go. Do a few slow breaths while on this peek pose.

Asana: Dhanurasana (Bow's Pose)

Position 2: Same as Position 1, but instead of grabbing the ankles underhand, try to hold on to the toes overhand - the body shape should be round. You can concentrate on Vishuddhi or Manipuraka chakra.

Asana: Dhanurasana 2 (Bow's Pose)

I can't do Position 2 - maybe if someone will assist me. In Position 1, I go into Table Top to inhale fully, holding the inhale, then do Dhanurasana 1 while engaging the 3 bandhas with Nablo mudra. I hold it as long as I can and do 3 rounds.


Matsyendrasana (26-27): Spinal Twist's Pose

(Verse 26, p. 102) July 3, 2023
Matsyendrasana (spinal twist pose)

"Place the right foot at the base of the left thigh, the left foot at the side of the right knee. Take hold of the left foot with the right hand, pass the left arm behind the waist and remain with the body turned. This asana is described by Sri Matsyendranath."

The yogi, Matsyendranath, practiced this pose.

Position 1: Ardha Matsyendrasana (half spinal twist)

Asana: Matsyendrasana (Spinal Twist's Pose)

Asana: Matsyendrasana (Spinal Twist's Pose)

Position 2: Poorna Matsyendrasana (full spinal twist pose)

Asana: Matsyendrasana 2 (Spinal Twist's Pose)

(Verse 27, p. 105) July 3, 2023
Benefits of matsyendrasana

"Practice of this asana (matsyendrasana) increases the digestive fire to such an incredible capacity that it is the means of removing diseases and thus awakening the serpent power and bringing equilibrium in the bindu"

With Matsyendrasana, prana is redirected so awakening happens in the dormant energy centers - Manipuraka chakra (seriously? Manipuraka is the fire chakra...and it's dormant?). This pose optimizes the digestive system and promotes assimilation. Because digestive fire resides in Manipuraka, this is where Amrita from the Bindu chakra is burned - this results in old age, and disease (this negative effect can be neutralized through inversion, Maha bandha).

Digestion takes place at Samana vayu. Above that is the Prana vayu. Below Samana is the Apana vayu. Prana and Apana move in opposite directions but through Mula and Uddiyana bandhas, they move towards each other and meet at Manipuraka chakra (In other schools, they say that the meeting happens in Muladhara chakra where heat is generated that wakes up Kundalini shakti - after all, Kundalini resides in Muladhara and not in Manipuraka).

Benefits: Because Matsyendrasana creates a great pressure in the abdominal area, all organs in this area are cleansed and revived to optimum functionality - pancreas, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach.

Poorna Matsyendrasana is impossible for me...not sure if it's a flexibility thing or an anatomy. But with Ardha Matsyendrasana, I transition to this pose from a series of spinal twisting pose because this is already advanced and the body need to be primed already for this pose.


Paschimottanasana (28-29): Back Stretching Pose

(Verse 28, p. 107) July 3, 2023
Paschimottanasana (back stretching pose)

"Stretching the legs (in front) on the ground, like a stick; bending forward, holding the toes with both hands and placing the forehead on the knees, is called paschimottanasana."

Be gentle and make sure you warm up when doing this in the morning since the lower back is not yet supple. Always keep the back and the knees straight.

Position: Seated with legs straight and together, hands on the knees. Inhale, raise the arms up, exhale, forward bend, hands grasping the feet and forehead to the knees. Bahya kumbhaka or regular breathing on this peak.

Other versions would be to do a 'lying down, then sit up then forward bend', spread legs and forward bend on right and left, spread legs with hands clasped behind and forward bend.

Asana: Paschimottanasana (Back Stretching's Pose)

(Verse 29) July 3, 2023
Benefits of paschimottanasana

"Paschimottanasana is the best among asanas. By this asana the pranic currents rise through sushumna, the digestive fire increases, the abdomen becomes flat, and the practitioner becomes free from diseases."

Paschimottanasana fully stretches the back and spine, thus nervous and pranic energies readily pass through Sushumna into the subtle centers.

On the exhale, I empty my lungs, hold, forward bend, do Maha bandha mudra until I have to inhale. 3 rounds.


Mayurasana (30-31): Peacock's Pose

(Verse 30, p. 111) July 3, 2023
Mayurasana (peacock pose)

"Lie on the stomach, placing both hands on the ground (under the body) and the elbows at the sides of the navel. Raise the body high, keeping it like a stick. This is called the peacock pose by the exponents of yoga."

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)

(Verse 31, p. 113) July 3, 2023
Curative effects of mayurasana

"Mayurasana quickly alleviates all diseases like enlargement of the glands, dropsy and other stomach disorders. It rectifies imbalance of the humors (vata, pitta, kapha). It reduces to ashes all food taken indiscriminately, kindles the gastric fire and enables destruction of kalakuta (a deadly poison)."

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.

My teacher once claimed that Mayurasana is the most detoxifying asana in yoga because it can even neutralize a snake bite. The book says continue breathing...I don't know how you can do this with all your body weight pressed against your tummy. I tried holding the breath with full bandhas - Antara kumbhaka made me nauseated with too much pressure on the head and Bahya kumbhaka felt a little unstable. The most viable is to have the lungs on neutral when doing Mayurasana. I used to do this with ease, but now (July 5, 2023), it's very challenging.


Shavasana (32): Corpse's Pose

(Verse 32, p. 115) July 3, 2023
Shavasana (corpse pose) and its benefits

"Lying flat on the ground with the face upwards, in the manner of a dead body, is shavasana. It removes tiredness and enables the mind (and whole body) to relax."

It is essential to practice this between Asanas when tired, or after a hectic day.

Position: lie flat and limp on the mat facing up, body aligned and not crooked. Hands on the sides facing up. Feet falling to the sides. Feel the body loosening and lightening while exhaling. Keep awareness on the breath or body sensation to ensure there is no part that retains the stress or tension.

Asana: Shavasana (Corpse's Pose)

Benefits: While this may sound too easy, it develops awareness on body sensation and induces Pratyahara. When the body is relaxed, then the awareness shifts to the mind. Since the whole body is relaxed, healing and recovery takes over. This paves way for Dharana.



Siddhasana (33-43): Adept's Pose

(Verse 33, p. 117)
Four major asanas of the eighty four taught by Shiva; the excellence of siddhasana

"(In all) eighty-four asanas were taught by Shiva. Out of those I shall now describe the four important ones."

(Verse 34)

"Siddhasana, padmasana, simhasana and bhadrasana, these are the four main asanas. Always sit comfortably in siddhasana because it is the best."

(Verse 35, p. 119)
Siddhasana (adept's pose)

(Verse 36, p. 123)
Variation of siddhasana

"According to others, placing the heel above the penis and the other (heel) on top of that is siddhasana."

(Verse 37, p. 124)
Difference between siddhasana, vajrasana, muktasana and guptasana

"This is called siddhasana, others know it, as vajrasana, some call it muktasana and lastly it is called guptasana"

(Verse 38, p. 126)
Siddhasana is the most important asana

"Just as moderate diet is the most important of the yamas, and nonviolence, of the niyamas, so the siddhas know that siddhasana is the most important of the asanas."

(Verse 39, p. 127)
Siddhasana purifies the nadis

"Of all the eighty four asanas, siddhasana should always be practiced. It purifies the 72,000 nadis."

(Verse 40, p. 128)
Perfection of sadhana takes twelve years

"The yogi who meditates on the self or atma, takes moderate and pure food and practices siddhasana for twelve years, attains perfection or siddhi."

(Verse 41, p. 130)
Perfection is attainable by siddhasana alone

"When perfection is attainable through siddhasana, what is the use of practicing many other asanas? When the flow of prana is stabilized, the breath stops spontaneously (kevala kumbhaka) and a mindless state (unmani) arises by itself"

(Verse 42, p. 132)
Through siddhasana the bandhas occur spontaneously

"Thus, through securing siddhasana, the three bandhas occur by themselves."

(Verse 43, p. 133)
No asana can rival siddhasana

"There is no asana like siddhasana, no kumbhaka like kevala, no mudra like khechari and no laya or dissolution of mind like nada, the inner sound."

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.



Padmasana (44-49): Lotus Pose

(Verse 44, p. 134)
Padmasana Lotus Pose

"Place the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh, cross the hands behind the back and firmly hold the toes. Press the chin against the chest and look at the tip of the nose. This is called padmasana, the destroyer of a yogi's diseases."

(Verse 45)
Padmasana Lotus Pose

"Place the feet on the thighs, soles upward, palms in the middle of the groin, facing upward."

(Verse 46)
Drishti, Khechari, Jalandhara

"Gaze at the nose tip, keeping the tongue pressed against the root of the upper teeth and the chin against the chest, and slowly raise the prana upward."

(Verse 47)
Only for the Wise

"This is called padmasana, destroyer of all diseases. Ordinary people cannot achieve this posture, only the few wise ones on this earth can."

(Verse 48, p. 140)
Uniting Apana and Prana Vayu

"(Sitting in padmasana) keeping the palms one above the other, chin on the chest and concentrate the mind (chitta) on Him (the Self). Repeatedly draw the vital air up from the anal region and bring the inhaled prana downwards. (Thus joining the two) one gets the highest knowledge by awakening the Shakti."

(Verse 49, p. 141)
Inhaling Vital Air

"The yogi who, seated in padmasana, inhales through the entrances of the nadis and fills them with maruta or vital air gains liberation; there is no doubt about it."

Position: (Baddha Padmasana, aka Kamalasana) right foot on the left thigh, left foot on the right thigh (the book never mentioned that the reverse should be done - left foot first 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.



Simhasana (50-52): Lion's Pose

(Verse 50, p. 144)
Simhasana (lion's pose)

"Place the ankles below the scrotum, right ankle on the left side, left ankle on the right side of the perineum."

(Verse 51)
Simhasana (lion's pose)

"Place the palms on the knees, fingers spread apart, keep the mouth open and gaze at the nose tip with a concentrated mind."

(Verse 52)
Facilitating the 3 bandhas

"This is simhasana, held in great esteem by the highest yogis. This most excellent asana facilitates the three bandhas."

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



Bhadrasana (53-54): Gracious Pose

(Verse 53, p. 147)
Bhadrasana: Gracious Pose

"Place the ankles below the genitals on the sides by the perineum, left ankle on the left (side) right ankle on the right (side)."

Bhadrasana is an advanced pose required supple ankles. This seated pose is just as beneficial as Padmasana, Siddhasana, Vajrasana.

Bhadrasana: Sit in Vajrasana and widen the knees as far as possible, toes lightly touching each other, feet under the buttocks.

Asana: Bhadrasana
Bhadrasana


Moola bandha asana: Moola bandha asana is a variation of Bhadrasana. Knees spread out as far as possible, the soles of the feet together, heels as close to the groin as possible and toes pointing out in front.

Asana: Bhadrasana)
Moola bandha asana

(Verse 54) July 3, 2023
Gorakshasana

"Then hold the feet, which are on their sides, firmly with the hands and remain motionless. This is bhadrasana which destroys all diseases. The yogis who are perfected (siddhas) call it gorakshasana."

Gorakshasana, is a more difficult version of Moola bandha asana. Do Moola bandha asana and with feet together, point the heels to the ceiling while you push the balls of the feel towards the groin. The right hand is placed on the left heel and the left hand on the right heel.


Gorakshasana
Gorakshasana




Hatha Yoga (55-56): Sequence

(Verse 55, p. 149)
Sequence of hatha yoga practice

"Thus the best of yogis, being free from fatigue in practicing asana and bandhas, should practice purification of the nadis, mudras and pranayama."

(Verse 56)
Components of hatha yoga practice

"Asana, the varieties of kumbhaka, practices called mudras and concentration on the inner sound (nada) comprise the sequence of hatha yoga."

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. Khechari, Vajroli, Maha mudra, Sambhavi. It is interesting to note that HYP does not mention any of the hand mudras, even the Gyana mudra which is a popular and powerful one.
  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 as a primer. This gives rise to Nada. Nada is a clear indication that Kundalini is being awakened. As of July 7, I noticed that the sound I had been hearing in the background must be Nada. I thought it was a floor-level noise from the noisy street, but when I put my ear muff on, the sound was just as loud...it wasn't dampened...thus the sound must be coming from me and not outside. And lately, that sound seems to be getting louder, if I concentrate on it.

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.



Becoming Siddha (57): In 1 Year

(Verse 57, p. 151) July 3, 2023
Perfection after one year

"One who is brahmachari, takes moderate and pure food, is regular and intent on yoga and renounces (attachment to sensual experience) becomes perfected (siddha) after a year"

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.



Mitahara (58-60): Moderate Diet

(Verse 58, p. 152)
Mitahara - moderate diet

"Mitahara is defined as agreeable and sweet food, leaving one fourth of the stomach free, and eaten (as an offering to please Shiva)."

(Verse 59, p. 154)
Mitahara - moderate diet

"The foods which are prohibited (for the yogi) are: those which are bitter, sour, pungent, salty, heating, green vegetables (other than those ordained), sour gruel, oil, sesame and mustard, alcohol, fish, flesh foods, curds, buttermilk, horse gram, fruit of jujube, oil cakes, asafetida and garlic."

(Verse 60, p. 155)
Food which is prohibited to the hatha sadhaka

"Unhealthy diet should not be taken, that which is reheated after becoming cold, which is dry (devoid of natural oil), which is excessively salty or acidic, stale or has too many (mixed) vegetables."

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


Hatha Practice (61): Discouraged and Best Avoided

(Verse 61, p. 156)
Interactions to be avoided by the hatha yogi

"Fire, women and long pilgrimages should be avoided. Therefore Gorakhnath said: Bad company, mixing with women, bathing in the early morning, fasting and tasks which produce pain in the body should be avoided."

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).


Practice (64-66): All is Coming

(Verse 64, p. 160)
Those who can practice hatha yoga

"Whether young or old, very old, sick or feeble, one can attain perfection in all the yogas by practicing."

(Verse 65)
Perfection results from practice

"Perfection results from practical application. Without practicing how can it happen? Just by reading the shastras perfection in yoga will never be attained."

(Verse 66)
Neither the garb nor mere talk gives siddhi but only practical application

"Neither by wearing the garb of a siddha, nor by talking about it (is perfection attained). Only through practical application does one become a siddha. This is the truth without a doubt."

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.

There are only 2 kinds of people who cannot do yoga - those who are lazy and those who don't want to change.


Raja Yoga (67): Attainment

(Verse 67, p. 162) July 3, 2023
Asana, Pranayama, Bandha, Mudra...are to be practiced until Raja Yoga is attained.

"Asanas, various types of kumbhaka, and the other various means of illumination should all be practiced in the hatha yoga system until success in raja yoga is attained."

This chapter on Asana is to underscore the need for Hatha Yoga to attain Raja Yoga - Hatha Yoga is one of the means. But while Raja is about the 8 limbs, Hatha is only concerned about Asana, Pranayama and Shat Kriya - there are no moral precepts or anything that disciplines the mind.





Chapter 2: 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

In pranayama, it is the breath retention that is important - technically, breath-retention is the whole purpose and point of pranayama - so the actual breathing in and out are secondary.

Pranayama (01-02): Breath Regulation

(Verse 01, p. 164)
Being established in asana, pranayama should be practiced

"Thus being established in asana and having control (of the body), taking a balanced diet; pranayama should be practiced according to the instructions of the guru."

(Verse 02, p. 165)
Interconnection of mind and prana and their steadying through pranayama

"When prana moves, chitta (the mental force) moves. When prana is without movement, chitta is without movement. By this (steadiness of prana) the yogi attains steadiness and should thus restrain the vayu (air)."

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.



Prana Vayu (03): Air + Prana

(Verse 03, p. 168)
What is life and death; the five functions of vayu

"As long as the vayu (air and prana) remains in the body, that is called life. Death is when it leaves the body. Therefore, retain vayu."

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



Nadis (04): Cleansing

(Verse 04, p. 173)
Impurities of the nadis, cleaning the middle channel

"The vital air does not pass in the middle channel because the nadis are full of impurities, So how can the state of unmani arise and how can perfection or siddhi come about?"

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.



Nadis (05): Purification

(Verse 05, p. 175)
Purification of the nadis and chakras for retention of prana

"When all the nadis and chakras which are full of impurities are purified, then the yogi is able to retain prana."

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.



Pranayama (06): Sattvic Guna

(Verse 06, p. 179)
Sattwic state of mind for pranayama; the three gunas

"Therefore pranayama should, be done daily with a sattwic state of mind so that the impurities are driven out of sushumna nadi and purification occurs."

Pranayama must be done daily with a sattvic state of mind for purification to happen (maybe it's best to do OM chanting first to put the mind in a Sattvic mode). 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. When doing Pranayama when both nostrils are clear (Sattvic state), the 2 brain hemispheres are synced and sushumna is cleansed (so, maybe it's a good idea to perform Neti pot before any Pranayama).

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, p. 181)
Nadi shodhana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing)

"Sitting in baddha padmasana, the yogi should inhale through the left nostril and hold the breath to capacity, and then exhale through the right nostril"

(Verse 08)
Nadi shodhana pranayama

"Then inhaling through the right nostril, gradually fill the abdomen, perform kumbhaka as before, then exhale completely through the left nostril."

(Verse 09)
Nadi shodhana pranayama

"Inhale with the same nostril through which exhalation was done, hold the breath to utmost capacity and exhale through the other nostril slowly and not forcibly"

Nadi shodhana is alternate nostril breathing that balances the Ida and the Pingala, syncs the 2 brain hemispheres 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 will 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 (with 1:1 ratio, I would do Nadi shodhana with "2" on the metronome, 1 beat including the brathing and the retention + all Bandhas).

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)
Alternate nostril breathing purifies the nadis within three months

"When the prana is inhaled through the left nostril, then it must be exhaled through the other. When it is inhaled through the right, hold it inside and then exhale through the other nostril. The yamini who practices in this way, through the right and left nostrils, alternately purifies all his nadis within three months."

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)
Times and duration of practice

"Retention should be practiced perfectly four times a day: early morning, midday, evening and midnight, so that retention is gradually held up to eighty (counts in one sitting)"

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)
Signs of perfected pranayama practice

"At first there is perspiration, in the middle stage trembling, in the highest stage complete steadiness, and therefore the breath should be withheld."

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)
Rubbing the body with perspiration

"Rub the body with the perspiration from the labor (of pranayama). The body derives firmness and steadiness from this."

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)
Diet and pranayama

"In the beginning stages of practice, food, consisting of milk and ghee is recommended. Upon being established in the practice such restrictions are not necessary"

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)
Control of prana to prevent destruction of the force

"Just as lions, elephants and tigers are gradually controlled, so the prana is controlled through practice. Otherwise the practitioner is destroyed."

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, p. 195)
Eradication of diseases by proper practice

"By proper practice of pranayama etc., all diseases are eradicated. Through improper practice all diseases can arise."

(Verse 17, p. 196)
Eradication of diseases by proper practice

"Hiccups, asthma, coughs, headache, ear and eye pain, and various other diseases are due to disturbances of the vital air"

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)
Skilful control of breath leads to siddhi

"The vayu should skillfully be inhaled, exhaled and retained so that perfectionor siddhi is attained."

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, p. 198)
20 Signs and results of purifying the nadis

"When the nadis are purified there are external symptoms. Success is definite when the body becomes thin and glows."

(Verse 20)
20 Signs

"When one is able to hold the vayu according to one's will, the digestive power increases. With the nadis purified, thus the inner sound or nada awakens and one is free from disease."

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)
Shatkarma should precede pranayama if fat and mucus are excessive

"When fat or mucus is excessive, shatkarma: the six cleansing techniques, should be practiced before (pranayama). Others, in whom the doshas, i.e. phlegm, wind and bile, are balanced should not do them."

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)
Shatkarma - six purificatory techniques

"Dhauti, basti, neti, trataka, nauli and kapalbhati; these are known as shatkarma or the six cleansing processes."

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.

Yoga for Cleansing (Shatkriya Purification)

Shatkriya Series

What are Shat Kriyas?

Shat Kriyas are yogic purification practices for cleansing the system. In Hatha Yoga, this is given paramount importance, more importance than Yama and Niyama. They argue that before the body should even begin to practice yoga, the body should be cleansed and purified first. e.g. - before your race your car on a track, you have to ensure the track is clean, obstructed and can take the rigors of a race car. More info here: 6 Shat Kriya


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 wondrous results

"These shatkarma which effect purification of the body are secret. They have manifold, wondrous results and are held in high esteem by eminent yogis. "

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)
Dhauti (internal cleansing)

"A strip of wet cloth, four angulas wide (i.e. seven to eight centimeters) and fifteen hand spans (i.e. one and a half meters) in length is slowly swallowed and then taken out, as instructed by the guru. This is known as dhauti."

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)
Dhauti cures many diseases

"There is no doubt that coughs, asthma, diseases of the spleen, leprosy and twenty kinds of diseases caused by excess mucus are destroyed through theeffects of dhauti karma."

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, p. 217)
Neti (nasal cleansing)

"Insert a soft thread through the nose to the length of one hand span so that it comes out of the mouth. This is called neti by the siddhas."

(Verse 30, p. 221)
Benefits of neti

"Neti cleanses the cranium and bestows clairvoyance. It also destroys all diseases which manifest above the throat."

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, p. 223)
Trataka (concentrated gazing)

"Looking intently with an unwavering gaze at a small point until tears are shed is known as trataka by the acharyas (teachers)."

(Verse 32, p. 227)
Curative effects of trataka

"Trataka eradicates all eye diseases, fatigue and sloth and closes the doorway creating these problems. It should be carefully kept secret like a golden casket"

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.

(July 1, 2023) As an update for eye cleansing, my new discovery is going to Bolo Bolo Spring, take my head under water but facing the gushing water, and open my eyes...blink, roll, side-to-side movement, etc. At some point, it's no longer burns when I leave my eyes open. I notice that the effect is immediate and pronounced. I can see clearer and my eyes don't strain as bad as it used to. I would even say this is better and way faster than Trataka. I call this method BBC - Bolo Bolo Cleansing.


Nauli (33-34): Abdominal Massaging

(Verse 33, p. 230)
Nauli (abdominal massaging)

"Lean forward, protrude the abdomen and rotate (the muscles) from right toleft with speed. This is called nauli by the siddhas."

(Verse 34, p. 234)
Benefits of nauli

"Nauli is foremost of the hatha yoga practices. It kindles the digestive fire, removing indigestion, sluggish, digestion, and all disorders of the doshas, and brings about happiness"

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)
Kapalbhati (frontal brain cleansing)

"Perform exhalation and inhalation rapidly like the bellows (of ablacksmith). This is called kapalbhati and it destroys all mucousdisorders."

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, p. 239)
Freedom from the excesses of doshas through shatkarma

"By the six karmas (shatkarma) one is freed from excesses of the doshas. Then pranayama is practiced and success is achieved without strain."

(Verse 37, p. 240)
Some say pranayama alone removes impurities

"According to some teachers, pranayama alone removes impurities andtherefore they hold pranayama in esteem and not the other techniques."

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)
Even Brahma and the gods practice pranayama

"Even Brahma and other gods in heaven devote themselves to practicing pranayama because it ends the fear of death. Thus it (pranayama) must bepracticed."

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, p. 243)
When kumbhaka and shambhavi are maintained, fear of death diminishes

"As long as the breath is restrained in the body, the mind is devoid of thought and the gaze is centered between the eyebrows, why should there be fear ofdeath?"

(Verse 41, p. 245) July 3, 2023
Restraining the breath purifies the nadis and chakras and awakens sushumna

"By systematically restraining the prana (breath) the nadis and chakras arepurified. Thus the prana bursts open the doorway to sushumna and easilyenters it."

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)
Manonmani (mind devoid of thought)

"The breath (prana) moving in the middle passage makes the mind still. Thissteadiness of mind is itself called the state of manonmani – devoid of thought."

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, p. 247)
Practice of kumbhaka brings perfection

"By practicing the various kumbhakas wondrous perfections are obtained. Those who are the knowers practice the various kumbhakas to accomplishthem."

(Verse 44)
Names of the eight kumbhaka practices

"The eight kumbhakas are suryabheda, ujjayi, seetkari, sheetali, bhastrika, bhramari, moorchha and plavini."

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, p. 249)
Practice of bandha with pranayama

"At the end of inhalation, jalandhara bandha is done. At the end of kumbhakaand beginning of exhalation, uddiyana bandha is done."

(Verse 46)
Maha bandha directs prana into brahma nadi

"By contracting the perineum, contracting the throat and drawing theabdomen up, the prana flows into the brahma nadi."

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 lungs are empty (in the Tibetan Yantra tradition, Uddiyana is done when the lungs ares full. T. Krishnamacharya however states that Uddiyana is done on empty lungs if you are lean, and done on full in-breath 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)
Uniting of prana and apana banishes old age

"Raising the apana upward and bringing the prana down from the throat, the yogi becomes free from old age and appears as if sixteen years of age."

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, p. 252)
Suryabheda pranayama (vitality stimulating breath)

"Sitting comfortably, the yogi should become fixed in his posture and slowlybreathe the air in through the right nostril."

(Verse 49)
Suryabheda pranayama (vitality stimulating breath)

"Retention should then be held until the breath diffuses to the roots of the hairand tips of the nails. Then slowly exhale through the left nostril."

(Verse 50)
Curative effects of suryabheda pranayama

"Suryabheda is excellent for purifying the cranium, destroying imbalances of the wind dosha and eliminating worms. It should be done again and again."

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)

(Verse 51, p. 255)
Ujjayi pranayama (psychic breath)

"Closing the mouth, inhale with control and concentration through ida and pingala, so that the breath is felt from the throat to the heart and produces as onorous sound."

(Verse 52)
Ujjayi pranayama (psychic breath)

"Do kumbhaka as before and exhale through ida. This removes phlegm fromthe throat and stimulates the (digestive) fire."

(Verse 53)
Curative effect of ujjayi pranayama

"This pranayama, called ujjayi, can be done while moving, standing, sittingor walking. It removes dropsy and disorders of the nadis and dhatu."

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, p. 258)
Seetkari pranayama (hissing breath)

"By drawing the breath in through the mouth, make a hissing sound, without gaping the mouth, and exhale through the nose. By practicing this, onebecomes a second Kaamadeva (god of love)."

(Verse 55, p. 261)
Benefits of seetkari pranayama

"He is adored by the circle of yoginis and becomes the controller of creationarid dissolution, being without hunger, thirst, sleep and laziness."

(Verse 56, p. 263)
Benefits of seetkari pranayama

"And the sattwa in the body becomes free from all disturbances. Truly, by thefore mentioned method one becomes lord of yogis on this earth."

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, p. 264)
Sheetali pranayama (cooling breath)

"The wise inhale air through the tongue and practice kumbhaka as (described)before, then exhale the air through the nostrils."

(Verse 58)
Sheetali pranayama (cooling breath)

"This kumbhaka called sheetali cures an enlarged stomach or spleen andother related diseases, fever, excess bile, hunger and thirst, and counteractspoisons."

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, p. 267)
Bhastrika pranayama (bellows breath)

"Placing both soles of the feet on top of the thighs is padmasana which destroysall sins (bad karma)."

(Verse 60)
Bhastrika pranayama (bellows breath)

"Sitting properly in padmasana, keeping neck and abdomen in alignment, exhale prana through the nose."

(Verse 61)
Bhastrika pranayama (bellows breath)

"And again the air should be quickly inhaled up to the heart lotus. Accordingly, the resounding is felt from the heart and throat up to the cranium."

(Verse 62)
Bhastrika pranayama (bellows breath)

"In that way it (the breath) is inhaled and exhaled repeatedly, with the samemotion as a pair of bellows being pumped."

(Verse 63)
Bhastrika pranayama (bellows breath)

"Thus, in this way, one keeps the breath moving with mindfulness (awareness)and body steadiness. When the body is tired then inhale through the rightnostril."

(Verse 64)
Bhastrika pranayama (bellows breath)

"Accordingly, when the abdomen becomes full of air, then quickly hold thenostrils (and breath) firmly, without using the index and middle fingers (i.e. using the thumb and ring finger as in nasikagra mudra)."

(Verse 65)
Bhastrika pranayama (bellows breath)

"Having performed (pranayama and) retention systematically, exhalethrough the left nostril. Thereby imbalances of wind, bile and mucus areannihilated and the digestive fire increased."

(Verse 66, p. 272)
Benefits of bhastrika pranayama; piercing of the three granthis

"This (bhastrika) quickly arouses kundalini. It is pleasant and beneficial, andremoves obstruction due to excess mucus accumulated at the entrance tobrahma nadi."

(Verse 67)
Benefits of bhastrika pranayama; piercing of the three granthis

"This kumbhaka called bhastrika enables the three granthis (psychic/ pranic knots) to be broken. Thus it is the duty of the yogi to practicebhastrika."

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 pranayama (humming bee breath)

"Breathe in quickly, making a reverberating sound like the male black bee, and exhale slowly while softly making the sound of the female black bee. Bythis yogic practice one becomes lord of the yogis and the mind is absorbed inbliss"

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)


Pranayama (69): Moorchha (Fainting Breath)

(Verse 69, p. 278)
Moorchha pranayama (swooning breath)

"At the end of inhalation gradually become fixed on jalandhara bandha, thenexhale slowly. This is called the fainting or swooning pranayama as it makes the mind inactive and (thus) confers pleasure"

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.



Pranayama (70): Plavini (Gulping Breath)

(Verse 70, p. 281)
Plavini pranayama (gulping breath)

"The inner part of the abdomen being completely fitted with air, one canfloat like a lotus leaf on water."

Plavini stores air in the stomach from 30 to 90 minutes (not in the lungs). It allows the initiate to float on water. This gives a 'full' feeling in the stomach which is good when fasting to ward off the feeling of hunger.

Plavini must be practiced after all pranayama. This gives rise to Svadithana chakra (water element) awakening since it involves abilities with water.

Position: Sit in preparation for Pranayama. Inhale until the lungs are full. Then gulp air through the mouth and ingest it into the stomach - not through the lungs (as though it's food). But how do you know the air you're gulping is not going to your lungs? Breathe but leave the air in the stomach from 30 to 90 mins.

Benefits: float on water, gives a feeling of being 'full'

Float on water? Hmmm. You don't have to practice Plavini to float on water. All I do is fully inhale and hold the air inside. This makes me a human lifesaver. I would be bouyant. Perhaps it meant, "walk on water?" - but perhaps being subtle? Otherwise why even list 'float on water' as though it's a siddhi?

In the freediving world (I am a beginner certified to 20m), gulping air when the lungs are full is called packing - and it's controversial. They don't gulp it down to their stomachs but to the lungs. This can cause microscopic tears.


Kumbhaka (71-77): Kevala (Cessation of Breath)

(Verse 71, p. 289)
Pranayama is of three types; kevala kumbhaka

"Pranayama is said to be of three types: exhalation (rechaka), inhalation(pooraka), and retention (kumbhaka). Kumbhaka is again of two types:connected (sahita) and unconnected (kevala)."

(Verse 72)
Pranayama is of three types; kevala kumbhaka

"Until kevala kumbhaka is perfected, sahita kumbhaka has to be practiced. When (you are) freed of inhalation/exhalation then the breath/prana isretained easily."

(Verse 73)
Pranayama is of three types; kevala kumbhaka

"Perfection of isolated retention is freedom from inhalation and exhalation. This pranayama spoken of is verily kevala kumbhaka."

(Verse 74)
Pranayama is of three types; kevala kumbhaka

"Nothing in the three planes of existence in unobtainable by him who hasmastery of kevala kumbhaka and can retain the breath as desired."

(Verse 75, p. 285)
Perfection of hatha yoga and raja yoga, through kevala kumbhaka

"There is no doubt, the state of raja yoga is also attained (through kevalakumbhaka). By retention kundalini is aroused, sushumna becomesunobstructed and perfection of hatha yoga takes "

(Verse 76)
Perfection of hatha yoga and raja yoga, through kevala kumbhaka

"There can be no perfection if hatha yoga is without raja yoga or raja yoga without hatha yoga. Therefore, through practice of both, perfection is attained."

(Verse 77, p. 287)
Perfection of hatha yoga and raja yoga, through kevala kumbhaka

"By stopping the prana through retention, the mind becomes free from all modifications. By thus practicing (this yoga), one achieves the stage of rajayoga (supreme union)."

"There is no kumbhaka like Kevala"

In Pranayama, Kumbhaka is the most important. In Kumbhaka, Kevala kumbhaka is the most important. Thus in Pranayama, Kevala kumbhaka is the goal - when the breath stops spontaneously on its own. When this happens, prana and the mind stop moving, Kundalini is awakened and Sushumna nadi is purified. In Kevala kumbhaka, the goal of Hatha Yoga is achieved.

Kevala kumbhaka happens after mastery of Antara and Bahya kumbhaka (connected breathing, or Sahita) is achieved. Sahita reaches the 2 planes of existence - conscious and subconscious (body, prana, mind, psyche) but only Kevala reaches all 3 planes, including the unconscious.

Cessation of the breath and mind only happens at the time of death. But through Hatha and Raja yoga, the body can be prepared for this experience while remaining alive.

  1. Raja yoga - Kevala kumbhaka is achieved through the mind by meditation - the mind can just stop thinking, then the breath stops. When this happens, a light is illunimated in the Ajna chakra. But reaching this through the mind (meditation) is very difficult, thus Hatha yoga approaches Kevala kumbhaka another way
  2. Hatha Yoga - their approach is by controlling the breath through Pranayama. By controlling the breath, prana is controlled. When prana is controlled to the point of remaining steady, the mind also becomes steady - this is the way of Hatha Yoga


Kundalini (78): Chakra Awakening

(Verse 78, p. 289)
Signs of perfection in hatha yoga

"Perfection of hatha yoga is achieved when there is leanness of the body, tranquil countenance, manifestation of the inner sound, clear eyes, diseaselessness, control of bindu (semen/ova), active digestive fire and purification of nadis."

When Kundalini shakti awakens and passes along the Sushumna nadi, the chakras and nadis are activated. The whole body is illuminated. It is not only consciousness that is affected.

Kundalini awakening and the Chakras

Muladhara chakra

  1. sense of smell is heightened
  2. levitation is achieved (earth element)
  3. knowledge of past, present and future is revealed
  4. writing ability is developed
  5. states of natural ecstacy happens spontaneously

Swadhisthana chakra

  1. sense of taste is greatly enhanced
  2. walking on water (water element)
  3. psychic abilities and control of the sensory perceptions including intuition are developed
  4. connecion with astral realm

Manipura chakra

  1. impervious to fire (fire element)
  2. freedom from disease and illness
  3. no food, no water, body subsists on prana alone
  4. body becomes lean
  5. skin becomes radiant

Anahata chakra

  1. arouses Nada (inner sound)
  2. pranic healing is developed
  3. sensitivity to all, compassion for all and love for all
  4. can enter into another person's body

Vishuddhi chakra

  1. voice becomes melodious (good for singers)
  2. speech is greatly articulated (gift of gab)
  3. body becomes impervious to suffering

Ajna chakra

  1. knowledge and wisdom are attained
  2. past karma is forgiven (really? I thought karma must be paid)
  3. siddhis are developed

Sahasrara chakra

  1. perfection is attained




Chapter 3: Mudra and Bandha
Kundalini (01-02): Awakening

(Verse 01, p. 292)
Kundalini is the support of yoga practices

"As the serpent (Sheshnaga) upholds the earth and its mountains and woods, so kundalini is the support of all the yoga practices."

Kundalini is the basis for Tantra and Yoga
Tantra is the process of expanding consciousness (Shiva at Sahasrara chakra) and releasing energy (kundalini awakening at the Muladhara chakra). Without Kundalini, without Prana, there can be no basis to life.

(Verse 02, p. 293)
Guru’s grace and opening of the chakras 2803 Sushumna becomes the path of prana and deceives death

"Indeed, by guru's grace this sleeping kundalini is awakened, then all the lotuses (chakras) and knots (granthis) are opened."

Kundalini awakening needs the guidance of a guru
Guru-guidance is mandatory in awakening the Kundalini. Often, without a guru, kundalini awakening is not achieved - not just having a teacher (which is a dime a dozen), but a real guru who has the knowledge and the experience to guide the initiate. If there is a guru, he can ensure that the initiate is fully prepared for a Kundalini awakening before its activation - purifying the body and nadis (through Shatkriya), strengthening the nervous system (Asana), harmonize mind/body and emotions, etc. The guru's instructions are to be followed 'blindly'.

When people awaken Kundalini on their own efforts without a guru, the result could be disturbing. All chakras should be open and Sushumna nadi must be purified already before awakening happens otherwise, it can hazardous and/or Kundalini doesn't reach the Sahasrara chakra. Without a guru, the initiate will be inundated by powerful experiences he may not know what to do with. He'll be lost in a maze of powerful forces he doesn't know how to control. He can end up in a mental institution.

When Kundalini enters the Ida nadi (instead of Sushumna), the initiate could experience intense psychedelic bouts and become very introverted and unable to function normally in society.

When Kundalini enters Pingala nadi, he may experience prank phenomena (?) in the external world.

The 2 opposite poles that need to unite are the Muladhara chakra (negative) and the Ajna chakra (positive). Both poles need to be open to attract each other. It is the negative (from Muladhara) that is drawn to the positive (Ajna).

I understand the need for a guru, but in this day and age, where do you go in search of that guru? I'd been to Rishikesh and the gurus I've heard about were after money, control or "banging white babes". Even the Hindu yogis I've met don't even know where to find this guru. In frustration, I defaulted to standard yogic books with established credentials - like Hatha Yoga Pradipika. This way, I feel that my guru is no less than Svatmara himself. Of course, if shit hits the fan along the way and the troubleshooting wasn't discussed in the book, then I'm on my own, guided only by my intuition, experience and current knowledge base. Still, it's good enough given the scarcity of a competent guru.


Consciousness (03): Transcending death

(Verse 03, p. 296)
Sushumna becomes the path of prana and deceives death. Consciousness transcends death

"Then indeed, sushumna becomes the pathway of prana, mind is free of all connections and death is averted."

When the chakras are activated, when Sushumna is purified, when Kundalini is awakened, Kundalini has no other way to go but up along the Sushumna. The mind is free from its 24 composite elements and shifts into higher consciousness and perception is altered. The 2 brain hemispheres are united, the dormant centers are activated, perception goes beyond the 5 senses and the concept of separation disappears. A universal harmony takes place where one is united with the cosmic universe - you are no longer limited to your body or your human sensory perception. Consciousness transcends death. You no longer fear death because you realize that consciousness is immortal - you are therefore immortal. Only the body dies but consciousness lives on.



Sushumna (04): Transition point

(Verse 04, p. 297)
Sushumna exists at the moment of transition

"Sushumna, shoonya padavi, brahmarandhra, maha patha, shmashan, shambhavi, madhya marga, are all said to be one and the same."

Sushumna can be described as the transition point between 2 worlds - from left and right brain hemispheres, the gap from inhalation to exhalation (Kumbhaka), when Apana and Prana converge, between dreaming and the waking state (Alpha brainwave), when you are neither here nor there but somewhere in between. If Ida is feminine and Pingala is masculine, then Sushumna is androgenous. If the breath is held, prana flows along the Sushumna - neither through Ida nor Pingala This part is very powerful to me. Everytime I'm in Kumbhaka, I visualize prana along the Sushumna.



Mudra (05): Channeling energy

(Verse 05, p. 299)
What is a Mudra?

"Therefore, the goddess sleeping at the entrance of Brahma’s door should be constantly aroused with all effort by performing mudra thoroughly."

Mudra is a specific hand gesture or body position that channelizes energy through various centers in the body. Mudra can be done with Asana and Pranayama. When the mind becomes still and pranic levels are increased, the body somehow spontaneously default into a mudra, evoking the fine qualities of the deities.

Benefits:

  1. channels energy to specific areas
  2. changes current emotions
  3. activates the chakras
  4. gives rise to Kundalini shakti
  5. arouses specific states of mind


Mudra (06-07): 10 Major Mudras

(Verse 06, p. 300)
Confusion with the 3 Major Mudras

"Maha mudra, maha bandha,, maha vedha, khechari, uddiyana, moola bandha and jalandhara bandha"

(Verse 07)
Ten mudras destroy old age

"Vipareeta karani mudra, vajroli and shakti chalana, verily, these are the ten mudras which destroy old age and death."

There is confusion about mudras and bandhas particularly the three most common and powerful bandhas - Mula bandha, Uddiyana bandha and Jalandhara bandha. This book treats them individually as bandhas. But collectively, when done altogether, they are a mudra - Maha mudra

10 Major Mudras

  1. Maha mudra - this is like a Janu sirsasana with the heel on the perineum - Antara kumbhaka, Sambhavi mudra, Mula bandha
  2. Maha bandha - the great lock. In Bahya Kumbhaka, do all 3 bandhas - Mula, Uddiyana and Jalandhara bandha
  3. Mahavedha mudra - the great piercing attitude. On Padmasana, Antara bandha and lift the body by pressing the arms against the floor and come down with a mild 'impact'. This activates the Muladhara chakra. Keep going up and down while engaging the bandhas before releasing and exhaling.
  4. Khechari / Nabho mudra - the attitude of dwelling in supreme consciousness. For Nabho, press the tongue tip against the soft palate. This activates the Lalana chakra and modulates the flow of Amrita to Vishuddhi chakra.
  5. Uddiyana bandha - the abdominal retraction lock. On exhale, hold and tuck the tummy all the way in
  6. Mula bandha - perineum/cervix retraction lock. Squeeze the perineum while on a bandha
  7. Jalandhara bandha - throat lock while on a bandha
  8. Vipareeta Karani mudra - the attitude of reversing. Any inversion is essentially a Vipareeta karani - shoulder stand, headstand
  9. Shakti chalana mudra - the attitude of moving or circulating the energy
  10. Shambhavi mudra - eyebrow center gazing, in connection with samadhi
It is interesting that HY does not even consider the more popular Hand mudras (Gyana, Surya, etc.). Instead, it is focused on Manas mudra (Head mudra - Sambhavi, Khechari), Bandha mudra (Jalandhara, Uddiyana and Mula), inversions (Vipareeta Karani - headstand, shoulder stand, any form of inversion).

It confuses me that they are calling a mudra, an attitude, when it is a physical gesture and not a demeanor.


Siddhi (08-09): 8 Major Siddhis

(Verse 08, p. 302)
Eight major siddhis obtained by mudra

"Adinath said they are the bestowers of the eight divine powers. They are held in high esteem by all the siddhas and are difficult for even the gods to attain."

(Verse 09)
Mudras must be kept secret

"These must remain secret just like precious stones, and not be talked about to anyone, just as one does not tell others about his intimate relations with his wife."

Perfection in Asana and Pranayama results in Minor Siddhis - vitality, good health, mental and emotional steadiness.

These are qualities that have already developed in me as I continue to deepen my yoga practice. I will even add speech and writing articulation, clarity of thinking, seeing reality in clear black and white perspective (right from wrong, dos and donts, etc.), emancipation from disease (I haven't been sick in decades), strength, etc.

Major Siddhis
However, perfection in Mudra and Bandha results in the 8 Major Siddhis (Ashta siddhis) - anima, mahima, garima, prapti, prakamya, vasitva, ishatva, etc.

Nope, I'm not there yet.

Siddhis should be ignored and kept secret
Patanjali is clear that through mudra and bandha, siddhis will inevitably develop. BUT, they should be ignored and not exhibited. It can only detract the initiate from his real objective - self-realization.

I get this part. Sure. This is universal and drapes across the social fabric. e.g. when my rock-climber friends achieved a level of proficiency where they started hearing applause, they were intoxicated and lost their motivation to level-up. What for when they already have the adulation of many! Gurus who exhibit their siddhis invariably develop a following who give them God-like reverence - women sleep with them and the guys worship them. Why meditate for years in isolation in a cave when they are already experiencing the intoxicating fix of sex, drugs and rock and roll?

Having qualified that, I have to confess that I will explore siddhis when I develop them. Why?

  1. Extended human perception - with siddhis, I can look at the heavenly constellations and explore them...finding out if life there exists. I can go into the deepest part of the Marianas Trench and find out what lives at that immense pressure. I can go back in time and find out if Christ existed. Or be a follower of Buddha. I can travel at the speed of light and experience time as a singularity (not linear).

Would I exhibit them? Part of me says NO because that will inadvertently alter my practice and my life irreversibly. Part of me says YES. Why?

  1. People empowerment - I want to empower people by enabling them to activate these superhuman qualities. To the extent I can, it's not because I'm special or gifted, but because I follow a set of established rules that will invariably produce such effect! This is similar to what Wim Hof did when he showed his ability to control his nervous system, endocrine system and immune system. It motivated a whole new generation of seekers who wanted to push the limits of their human capabilities

Even if exploring these siddhis prevents my enlightenment, I don't care. Enlightenment was never my goal to begin with. However, I see enlightenment as a 'nice thing to experience'. What's my goal? Perfect my game.



Mudra (10-18): Maha Mudra (The Great Attitude)

(Verse 10, p. 304)
Maha mudra (the great attitude)

"Press the left heel into the perineum (or vagina), straighten the right leg, and with the hands, firmly take hold of the outstretched foot."

(Verse 11)
Maha mudra (the great attitude)

"By locking the throat and retaining the breath, the prana rises straight, just like a snake beaten with a stick becomes straight."

(Verse 12)
Maha mudra (the great attitude)

"So the kundalini shakti becomes straight at once. Then the two (ida and pingala) become lifeless as the shakti enters sushumna."

(Verse 13)
Maha mudra (the great attitude)

"Then exhale slowly and gradually, not quickly. Indeed this is described as maha mudra by the great siddhas."

Combining Asana, Kumbhaka and Bandha for Maha Mudra is a powerful mudra. A pranic lock is engaged that spontaneously triggers a meditative state. Kundalini shakti is triggered and the pranic nadi from Muladhara to Ajna is purified.

Technique 1
Antara kumbhaka + Sambhavi mudra + Mula bandha
Seated, left heel on the perinium while right leg is stretched forward. Inhale, and on the exhale, chest reaches down to the right knee with straight back, head erect, while hands grab something (big toe, foot edge, ankles, etc) on the right leg. Momentarily hold the exhale as you tilt the head slightly back, gaze on Ajna, and inhale, then hold (not doing halfway up? just remaining on forward bend? The book only mentions a forward bend. However, it seems bio-mechanically wrong. Besides, in all of yoga that I know of, the inhale invokes a half-way up. I'll continue doing a half-way up on the inhale. I follow my intuition on this one). Do Nabho mudra and Mula bandha, and hold the inhale as long as possible. Scan Ajna, Visuddhi and Muladhara as you hold the breath. Release the bandha/mudra before exhaling. Do the other side. This is one round. Do not exceed 3 rounds until you are supremely confident of your proficiency.

Technique 2
Do as in Technique 1 but in Siddhasana while hands in Gyana mudra. Ujjayi breathing without bending forward. Scan accordingly. Do 5 to 10x.

(Verse 14, p. 307)
Power of maha mudra

"Then exhale slowly and gradually, not quickly. Indeed this is described as maha mudra by the great siddhas."

(Verse 15, p. 308)
Maha mudra done an equal number of times on alternate sides

"After practicing on the left side, practice on the right side. When the numberof rounds is even, discontinue and release the mudra."

(Verse 16, p. 309)
Nothing is toxic for the practitioner of maha mudra

"For one who practices maha mudra, there is nothing wholesome or unwholesome. Anything can he consumed, even the deadliest of poisons is digested like nectar."

(Verse 17, p. 310)
Curative effects of maha mudra

"Abdominal disorders, constipation, indigestion and leprosy, are alleviatedby the practice of maha mudra."

(Verse 18)
Maha mudra must be kept secret

"Thus maha mudra has been described as the giver of great siddhis. It must be kept secret and not disclosed to anyone."

Maha Mudra combines the benefits of Mula bandha, Sambhavi mudra, Nabho mudra, Gyana mudra, Antara kumbhaka, Pashimotanasana and Siddhasana to purify the nadies, harmonize Ida and Pingala, and steady prana on Sushumna. It stimulates energetic circulation in the chakras.

In the body, Maha Mudra cures all kinds of digestive disorder. It assimilates food. One is said to even survive the bite of a poisonous snake.

In the mind, awareness and stillness are developed. It removes blockages in the mind - depression will go away.

Receptivity in the psychic realm is activated. Sensitivity is developed to enhance subtle experiences.

It is important to do the left leg first but ensure both legs get the same number of repetitions.

There are many versions of Maha Mudra. This is the version that makes most sense to me and this is how my practice goes:
  1. Seated, left heel on the perineum, right leg straight
  2. Inhale and forward bend on the right leg as you exhale, emptying the lungs. Hold the breath
  3. With empty lungs, do the 3 bandhas, engage Nabho mudra and Sambhavi mudra, and stay as long as possible
  4. Before inhaling, release all the bandhas and mudras, and inhale as you slowly come up.
  5. Repeat on the other side

Maha Mudra blogs:

  1. Maha Mudra on 20 Essential Mudras of Krishnamacharya
  2. Maha Mudra on Hatha Yoga Pradipika
  3. Maha Mudra on Yoga Makaranda


Bandha (19-24): Maha Bandha (Great Lock)

(Verse 19, p. 311)
Maha bandha (great lock)

"Press the heel of the left foot in the perineum/vagina and place the right foot on the left thigh."

(Verse 20)
Maha bandha (great lock)

"Thus breathing in, bring the chin to the chest (jalandhara bandha), contract the perineal/cervical region (moola bandha) and concentrate on the eyebrow center (shambhavi mudra)."

(Verse 21)
Maha bandha (great lock)

"Having retained the breath as long as comfortable, exhale slowly. Once completing the practice on the left side, practice again on the right side."

(Verse 22)
Maha bandha (great lock)

"Some are of the opinion that the throat lock (jalandhara bandha) is unnecessary and it is sufficient to keep the tongue against the front teeth. "

Kumbhaka with all the Bandhas is Maha Bandha. Seated in half Siddhasana and half Padmasana (left heel on the perineum and right foot on top of the left thigh), inhalation is held (Antara kumbhaka), Jalandhara-Mula bandha and Sambhavi mudra are engaged. It is advantageous to intersperse Bhastrika with Maha Bandha since the breath can be held longer.

The exhalation is also held (Bahya kumbhaka), all 3 bandhas are engaged (Jalandhara, Mula and Uddiyana) and Sambhavi. The book inferred that both should not be done on one breath.

Technique 1: (Nadi shodhana on Antara kumbhaka)
Do Nadi Shodhana on the breathing

Technique 2: (Ujjayi on Bahya kumbhaka)
Full inhale, and force the exhalation with pursed lips and hold on empty lungs. Engage all 3 bandhas in the following order: Jalandhara, Mula and Uddiyana. No Shambhavi mudra. While on hold, invoke the names of the chakras as you concentrate on each of them, one after another. Before the inhale, release the bandhas in this order: Mula, Uddiyana and Jalandhara. (in Tibetan Yantra, the concentration is purely on Manipuraka, visualizing that you are generating increasing heat)

Bandha: Maha Bandha (Great Lock)

Contra Indication: only people with good health should practice this. People with intestinal disorder, hernia, low/high blood pressure should not perform this.

(Verse 23, p. 315)
Maha bandha stops leakage from nadis

"This stops the upward movement of energy in the nadis. Verily this mahabandha is the bestower of great siddhis."

(Verse 24)
Maha bandha destroys time; unites three nadis in bhrumadhya

"Maha bandha frees one from the bonds of death, makes the three nadis unite in ajna chakra and enables the mind to reach the sacred seat of Shiva, Kedara."

Locking in the Shakti. In Maha Bandha, the energies are locked and do not leach out of the body. Mula bandha pushes the energies up and not lost in the lower elimination organs. Jalandhara keeps the energy from being lost above the head. Shakti is locked in the torso and spiraled up the throat. In Gyana mudra, the energy doesn't leak through the hands - it is recirculated back to the arms and into the heart. In Uddiyana bandha, Apana and Prana shakti are united in Manipuraka to generate heat, waking up the Kundalini shakti. All these energy locks rejuvenates every cell and stops the decay that causes aging. When prana unites Ida, Pingala and Sushumna at the Ajna chakra, a higher level of consciousness is attained.

It is interesting to note that in Antara kumbhaka, HY only engages Jalandhara and Mula bandha...not Uddiyana bandha. However, in Bahya kumbhaka, all 3 are employed. In contrast, in Tibetan Yantra Yoga, all 3 are employed even in Antara kumbhaka.


Maha Vedha Mudra (25-31): The Great Piercer

(Verse 25, p. 316)
Necessity of maha vedha mudra for maha mudra and maha bandha

"Just as an extremely beautiful woman is nothing without a husband, maha mudra and maha bandha are unfruitful without maha vedha mudra."

(Verse 26, p. 317)
Maha vedha mudra (great piercing attitude)

"The yogi, in the position of maha bandha, should inhale, make the mind steady and stop the movement of prana by performing the throat lock."

Maha mudra and Maha bandha find full expression in Maha vedha
Maha mudra and Maha bandha can awaken the Kundalini shakti but without Maha vedha, the awakened Kundalini remains where it is, not going anywhere. The pranic thrust, direction and sequence is done through Maha vedha. You must be able to do Padmasana for this practice.

(Verse 27)
Maha vedha mudra (great piercing attitude)

"Placing the palms of the hands on the ground, he should slowly beat the buttocks gently on the ground. The prana (then) leaves the two nadis (ida and pingala) and enters into the middle channel (sushumna)."

(Verse 28)
Maha vedha mudra (great piercing attitude)

"Ida, pingala and sushumna become united and verily, immortality is attained. A death-like state occurs; then the breath should be exhaled."

Position:
In Padmasana, hands by the side, pressed on the mat. Inhale slowly (Ujjayi breathing) and hold (Antara kumbhaka), engage throat lock (Jalandhara bandha). Lift the buttocks off the pelvic floor by straightening the arms, and 'bounce' the butt a few times (until threshold for me) on the floor while keeping awareness on the base of the spine (Muladhara chakra). The buttocks and the hamstring must touch the mat simultaneously. Release. Repeat for 5 rounds.

The 'bouncing' (Tadan kriya) lets the prana leave the Ida and Pingala to flow through Sushumna nadi.

Maha Vedha Mudra

(Verse 29, p. 320)
30 Benefits of maha vedha mudra

"This is maha vedha, and its practice bestows great perfections. Wrinkles, grey hair and the trembling of old age are evaded, thus the best of practitioners devote themselves to it"

Forever Young
While all of Hatha Yoga practices that relax the body, still the mind and activate pranic activities delay the aging process, Maha mudra and Maha vedha primarily do so - wrinkles, grey hair and old age are thwarted. The pineal gland and the pituitary gland are activated, hormones are regulated and the aging process is stopped or delayed.

(Verse 30, p. 321)
Benefits of maha vedha mudra

"These are the three great secrets which destroy old age and death, increase the digestive fire and bestow the siddhis of anima, etc."

(Verse 31)
Regulations for maha vedha mudra

"They should be done daily at every yama (three hour period). They bring out the virtues and destroy vices. Those who have perfect instructions should practice them gradually."

Maha Vedha every 3 Hours
To the ascetic saddhu, practicing Maha vedha every 3 hours affects the brain along all its stages, thus intensifying the effect of Maha vedha on the system. But to the householder, a daily practice should be enough.

So far, everything I've been reading in this book is already familiar...except the Tadan kriya - the butt bouncing. This is new to me. Since I also spend too much time sitting down in front of my laptop, this is an excellent and productive break. I alarm my laptop to remind me to blink and stand up every 10 minutes. I'll try to do Maha vedha instead...1 min. I'm curious if I notice anything new after.

Maha Vedha Mudra blogs:

  1. My August Yoga Practice: A Journal
  2. Kriya: Wim Hof-Maha Vedha
  3. Hatha Yoga Pradipika
  4. Asana (3): Eight Limbs Of Yoga


Khechari Mudra (32-54): Milking the Amrita

(Verse 32, p. 323)
Tongue through the Cranial Cavity
aka - Nabho mudra, Lambhika yoga

"Khechari mudra is turning the tongue backwards into the cavity of the cranium and turning the eyes inwards towards the eyebrow center."

(Verse 33)
Cutting and Milking the Tongue
"The tongue should be exercised and milked and the underneath part cut away in small degrees. Indeed khechari is perfected when the tongue touches the eyebrow center."

(Verse 34)
Cutting the Frenulum
"With a clean thin blade, gently cut away the membrane under the tongue. Cut it by a fine hair's breadth each time."

(Verse 35)
Balm
"Then rub in a mixture of powdered rock salt and turmeric. After seven days, again cut a hair's breadth."

(Verse 36)
6 Months to Freedom
"One should continue doing this regularly for six months, then the membrane at the root of the tongue will be completely severed."

There are 2 kinds of Khechari mudra:

  1. Hatha Yoga - this is the more extreme form and not for everyone. The frenulum of the tongue is gradually cut over the years until the tongue can slide itself into the nasal cavity until it reaches the Ajna chakra. As a supplement, the tongue is regularly stretched to elongate it. This practice is begun by the initiate at an early age - 12 to 16 years old.
  2. Raja Yoga - this is more benign, aka Nabho mudra. The tip of the tongue is rolled back to press against the soft palate closest to the nasal cavity.

(Verse 37, p. 325)
Controlling Ida, Pingala and Sushumna

"Having turned the tongue back, the three channels of Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are controlled. This is Khechari mudra and it is called the Center of Ether."
When the tongue is long enough, it has to be helped by the fingers to push it into the nasal cavity. As the tongue strengthens, it gets easier. This happens spontaneously when prana is activated.

Once inside the nasal cavity, the tongue can block Ida or Pingala passages. But it takes much longer for the tongue to reach the 3rd Eye.

(Verse 38, p. 326)
Freedom from Disease

"The yogi who remains with the tongue going upwards for even half a second is freed from toxins, disease, death, old age, etc."

(Verse 39, p. 326)
khechari mudra on Ajna chakra, Lalana chakra, Vishuddi chakra and Pineal gland
"One who accomplishes this khechari mudra is neither troubled by diseases, nor death, lassitude, sleep, hunger, thirst or unconsciousness."

There is a close relationship between the Ajna chakra, the Lalana chakra, the Vishuddi chakra and the pineal gland. Khechari mudra activates all of these. Khechari also controls the secretions of the brain which affects the whole body.

(Verse 40, p. 328)
Imperviousness

"One who knows khechari mudra is unafflicted by disease, unaffected by the laws of cause and effect (karma) and free from the bands of time (death)."

(Verse 41, p. 328)
Mind moving in space
"Mind moves in Brahman because the tongue moves in space . Therefore, the perfected ones have named this mudra Khechari, moving in space or Brahman."

Khechari mudra is extolled in its benefits. It is said that perfecting it means bypassing karmic laws, death, disease and time. One easily reaches the state of samadhi.

(Verse 42, p. 330)
Khechari mudra controlling the Reproductive System

"When the upper cavity of the palate is sealed by khechari mudra, the bindu or semen cannot be lost even if one embraces a beautiful woman."

(Verse 43, p. 330)
Vajroli mudra controls semen
"Even when there is movement of the bindu and it enters the genitals, it is seized by closing the perineum and is taken upward."
Khechari mudra controls the reproductive fluid and thus exercise control on instinct, body and mind.

(Verse 44, p. 331)
Immortality in 15 Days
"With the tongue directed upwards, the knower of yoga drinks the fluid of the moon. Within 15 days physical death is conquered."

(Verse 45, p. 331)
Poison does not affect one who practices khechari
"The yogi's body is forever full of the moon's nectar. Even if he is bitten by the king of snakes (Takshaka), he is not poisoned."

With Khechari mudra, you ingest Amrita (aka Bindu, Ambrosia, Nectar of Immortality, Nectar of the Moon, Amara varuni, Wine of Immortality, Nectar of Pure Consciousness) from the Bindu chakra (where the hair swirls) and the body in intoxicated (the only comparable account of this intoxication is described by people who have ingested adrenochrome through a sadistic ritual of child sacrifice. As Mark Zuccherberg said in a video, "no drug I've ever ingested can come close to adrenochrome.").

Khechari once perfected, and it takes years of devoted practice to perfect it, allows ingestion of Bindu. The body's degenerative process is reversed or stopped altogether in just 2 weeks. But during the perfecting process, the body already makes marginal adjustments, so that when perfection is finally achieved, the Amrita fluid is released soon thereafter.

(Verse 46, p. 332)
Khechari maintains prana in the body
"Just as fuel kindles fire and oil a lamp, so the indweller of the body does not vacate while the body is full of the moon's nectar."


(Verse 47, p. 332)
Drinking the amaravaruni through khechari
"By constant swallowing of the tongue he can drink amaravaruni. I consider him of high lineage (heritage). Others destroy the heritage."

Just as reproductive fluid is released through the union of man and woman, the Amrita fluid is released through the union of Ida, Pingala and Sushumna on the Ajna chakra. At this point, one experiences the climax of spiritual ecstacy (again, think Adrenochrome).

The person who perfects Khechari evolves even his DNA. He is able to pass this on to his offsprings - he establishes a new lineage.

(Verse 48, p. 334)
Meaning of eating 'cow meat' in hatha yoga
"The word 'go' means tongue (and also means cow). When it enters into the upper palate, it is 'eating the flesh of the cow.' Khechari destroys the great sins."

It's not about actually eating cow meat - which is sacriligious in Hindu tradition. With the practice of Khechari, one learns how to manage instinctive behavior triggering the great sins (lust, greed, jealousy, anger, fear, ignorance). You learn from mistakes and don't do it again. You can overhaul the patterns of your thoughts and desires. These sins are not to be suppressed but to be observed, understood and managed. By knowing the underlying principle of these sins, you develop awareness of their looming presence and they lose their allure.

(Verse 49, p. 336)
Khechari produces heat, allowing nectar to flow
"When the tongue enters the cavity, indeed heat is produced and nectar flows."

With Khechari, heat is generated. This is the same heat generated by Pranayama. This heat is extremely important. In the same way heat melts metal, this heat melts the solidified Amrita into a fluid that flows for ingestion and arousing a higher state of consciousness (this perspiration from pranayama/khechari must be rubbed all over the body...don't wipe it with a towel. It's precious!).

(Verse 50, p. 337)
Nectar wards off old age and manifests siddhis
"When the tongue constantly presses the cavity, the nectar flows and has a saline, pungent and acidic flavor. It has the consistency of milk, ghee, honey. Fatal diseases, old age and weapons (directed against you) are warded off. From that, immortality and the eight siddhis or perfections manifest."

Nectar is released with its own distinctive flavor, depending on which element (Tattwa) it is released from: fire (thumb) is bitter, air (index finger) is acidic, ether (middle finger) is pungent / hot, earth (ring finger) is sweet and water (little finger) is astringent.

Khechari also makes mucous more refined. Initially, it is thick, but soon flows fluidly.

(Verse 51, p. 338)
Kundalini releases Amrita. This nectar gives longevity, makes body as soft as a lotus and has effect on Vishuddhi
"Fluid drips into the 16-petalled lotus (Vishuddhi chakra) when the tongue is inserted into the upper throat cavity; the Kundalini is released and one becomes concentrated in that experience. The yogi who drinks the pure stream of nectar is freed from disease, has longevity, and has a body as soft and as beautiful as a lotus stem."

Khechari is the technique of preservation and rejuvenation applied by the high yogis to have a physical radiance, health, vitality and longevity.

When the tongue is inserted into the nasal cavity, Amrita drips from Bindu chakra to Lalana chakra to Vishuddhi chakra. Man's divinity is not just through spiritual evolution but through physiological means.

Khechari also regulates the health and balance of the thyroid.

(Verse 52, p. 341)
Khechari mudra preserves nectar for perfection of body
"The nectar is secreted from the topmost part of the Meru (Sushumna), the fountainhead of the nadis. He who has pure intellect can know the Trutht herein. The nectar, which is the essence of the body, flows out from the moon and hence death ensues. Therefore khechari mudra should be practiced, otherwise perfection of the body cannot be attained."

The mythological Mount Meru is used as an analogy to Khechari. The peak is Sahasrara chakra, the fountain head of all the nadis. Ganga River flows from heaven to the peak of Mt. Meru, in the same way Amrit flows from Bindu to Lalana to Vishuddhi. Mt. Meru is Sushumna.


(Verse 53, p. 342)
Five nadis convene at Mt. Meru
"Five nadis convene in this cavity and it is the source of knowledge. Khechari should be established in that void, untainted (by ignorance)."

When the tongue reaches the nasal cavity, 4 chakras are affected - Ajna, Manas, Soma and Lalana. In this cavity, 5 nadis also converge - Ida, Pingala, Sushumna, Gandhari and Hastijihva.

(Verse 54, p. 343)
Experience of oneness
"There is only one seed of creation and one mudra - khechari; one deva independent of everything and one state - Manonmani. "

When Khechari is perfected, there is an experience of oneness...of unity...duality is destroyed...the many fragments of reality converge. When Bindu flows, the yogi reaches this realization. He sees the world in a very different way. He sees the convergence of everything despite its separation and diversity. This collective thinking is also known as Manonmani. The yogi realizes that he is the collective of all forms, all times, all disciplines, all people, all languages, all of reality.

Yoga often cites one of the benefits as freedom from death. I've always felt ambivalent about that. Another yogic embellishment? If not, then why are all the great yogis dead? Knowing what I know now, I have come to understand this as simply realizing that you are consciousness that neither dies nor gets reborn - thus being free from death. You don't become immortal, you just realize that you have always been.


Bandha (55-60): Uddiyana Bandha

(Verse 55, p. 345)
Abdominal Retraction Lock

"Uddiyana bandha is so-called by the yogis because through its practice the prana (is concentrated at one point and) rises through sushumna. "

(Verse 56, p. 345)
Concentrating prana on a specific point
"The bandha described is called the rising or flying bandha, because through its practice, the great bird (shakti) flies upward with ease."

Bandha is a contraction of muscles or organs to bind opposing poles of energy and accumulate them in one point. The energy is thus 'bound' or 'locked'. In Uddiyana bandha, the organs in the tummy are sucked in and pulled up, creating an upward flow of the kundalini shakti.

Uddiyana bandha changes the flow of prana. Prana vayu and Apana vayu are united at the navel. When they meet, an explosive energy shoots up through Sushumna and into Sahasrara.

(Verse 57, p. 347)
Uddiyana bandha with Asana and Pranayama
"Pulling the abdomen back in and making the navel rise is Uddiyana Bandha. It is the lion which conquers the elephant, death."

Uddiyana bandha must be done on an empty stomach with bowels evacuated first. Uddiyana is an advanced practice.

Standing Up
Standing up with feet about half a meter apart, slightly bend knees and place hands on knees, straight back, head slightly up. Inhale fully and exhale with pursed lips until the lungs are empty. Chin to the chest (Jalandhara bandha), lift shoulders up, suck the belly in and pull up the organs. Hold as long as you can. Before inhaling, release the belly and throat lock first. Make a few recovery breaths before the next round.

Seated
Sit in Padmasana or Siddhasana with a cushion to lift the pelvis up. Perform Uddiyana bandha as the above.

Uddiyana bandha (abdominal retraction lock)

Bandhas should be performed after Asana and Pranayama. Bandhas should be perfected first on its own before combined with Asana or Pranayama. Uddiyana bandha should have already been perfected before doing Nauli. Uddiyana bandha is perfected if the breath can be withheld in 4 minutes. Jalandhara bandha must always be done with Uddiyana bandha. When combining, chant RAM, the seed mantra of the navel (Manikpuraka bandha) while concentrating on the navel.

(Verse 58, p. 350)
Benefits of Uddiyana bandha
"Uddiyana is easy when practiced as told by the guru. Even an old person can become young when it is done regularly"

(Verse 59, p. 350)
Perfecting Uddiyana in 6 Months
"The region above and below the navel should be drawn backward with effort. There is no doubt that after six months of practice, death is conquered."

Books are never comprehensive. Not all the details are written down. So it is essential to study with a guru since a book cannot teach the entire thing.

Uddiyana increases vitality. It enhances digestion, assimilation and elimination. It slows down degeneration and aging.

(Verse 60, p. 352)
Uddiyana bandha leads to Liberation
"Of all the bandhas, Uddiyana is the best. Once it is mastered, mukti or liberation occurs spontaneously."

Uddiyana is best done in combination - with Jalandhara, Mula, etc. With its push up of prana, shakti is expedited into Sahasrara. Uddiyana is the best of all bandhas.



Bandha (61-69): Mula Bandha

(Verse 61, p. 353)
Perineum / Cervix retraction lock

"Pressing the perineum/vagina with the heel and contracting the rectum so that the Apana vayu moves upward is Mula bandha."
While I've always understood Mula bandha as a stand-alone bandha, the book almost always mentions Siddhasana as the seated pose of choice. This makes a lot of sense since both activate the Muladhara chakra. In fact, why not add the LAM seed mantra on the exhale?

(Verse 62, p. 353)
Apana vayu goes upward
"By contracting the perineum, the downward moving Apana vayu is forced to go upward. Yogis call this Mula bandha."

(Verse 63, p. 353)
Heel on the Perineum
"Press the heel firmly against the rectum and contract forcefully and repeatedly, so that the vital energy rises."

When the perineal muscle and the rectum are contracted, the downward moving Apana vayu is pushed up - this is Mula bandha (the book is clear in stating that Mula bandha is not about contracting the anal muscles because that would be Ashwini mudra. But, how can you contract the rectum without contracting the anal muscles?). But Mula bandha is a contraction at the center of the body, neither front nor back. The contraction generates heat that wakes up Kundalini.

Technique 1: Contraction while breathing

Stage 1
Sit in Siddhasana, on Gyana mudra. Concentrate on the perineum muscle for a few minutes and get acquainted with it. Then gradually contract and release. Repeat many times. But keep breathing.

Mula bandha

Stage 2:
Do Stage 1 but this time, hold the contraction as long as you can (try 1 min and increase from there?), but keep breathing.

Stage 3:
Partially contract and hold the perineum. Then contract a little more and hold again. Keep doing this until fully contracted. Keep breathing.

Technique 2: Contraction with Jalandhara bandha

Stage 1
Inhale fully and hold, then engage Jalandhara bandha, then Stage 3 above of Mula bandha. Before exhaling, release Jalandhara, Mula and straighten the head. This can be done on the Bahya kumbhaka as well.

Technique 3: Contraction with Jalandhara and Uddiyana bandha

Stage 1
Do all the above but do breath retention on the outbreath - then you can add Uddiyana bandha.

The biggest challenge is to isolate only the muscles involved in Mula bandha (when you don't have to do a buttock-squeeze, anal contraction, etc.) Mula is designed to be practiced with the other bandhas. The book is clear in stating that Uddiyana bandha should only be practiced on Bahya kumbhaka...not on Antara kumbhaka.

(Verse 64, p. 357)
Union of prana and apana, nada and bindu through moola bandha
"There is no doubt that by practicing moola bandha, prana/apana and nada/bindu are united, and total perfection attained."

Bindu is the energy responsible for reproduction. In Hatha Yoga, its grossest manifestation is the sperm. It drips from the Bindu chakra down to Lalana, then Vishuddhi chakras until ultimately, it goes down to the reproductive system. HYP says bindu can be conserved and redirected either from the Bindu chakra or the sex organs.

Nada (sacred sound) is produced with the union of the red female bindu and the white male bindu (I guess this means the Nada sound is heard spontaneously...but white/red bindu union is essentially Shakti reaching Shiva or Kundalini reaching Sahasrara or enlightenment, so all Siddhis including Nada is now fair game).

Mula bandha pushes up Apana vayu while Jalandhara (others say it's Uddiyana) pushes down Prana vayu. They meet at Manipuraka (others say it's at Muladhara). When this happens, Bindu starts dripping down continuously and uninterrupted from Bindu chakra. Bindu is no longer used for reproduction but instead, transmuted into Nada sound within the brain (this is the essence of Tantric sex).

(Verse 65, p. 347)
Physical effects of moola bandha
"With constant practice of moola bandha, prana and apana unite, urine and stool are decreased and even an old person becomes young."

When Apana vayu (thru Mula bandha) unite with Prana vayu (thru Jalandhara bandha) (This info seems wrong. If Jalandhara is pushing down energy, it's not Prana vayu but Udana vayu in the throat center. So, if Prana vayu is the one being pushed down, then it must be Uddiyana bandha doing it and not Jalandhara. I feel uneasy citing Jalandhara since in all my practice, I've always read that it's Uddiyana bandha that pushes down Prana vayu. But in this book, it cites Uddiyana bandha pushing up Prana vayu into Sahasrara instead of pushing down Prana vayu into Manipuraka or Mula bandha), heat is generated, metabolism increases, digestion + assimilation + elimination are enhanced, degeneration + aging is slowed or stopped, brain functions are stimulated, mind becomes alert, and nervous system and circulatory system are optimized.

(Verse 66, p. 362)
Apana vayu moves to Manipuraka
"Apana moves up into the region of fire (manipura chakra, the navel center), then the flames of the fire grow, being fanned by apana vayu."

(Verse 67, p. 362)
Prana vayu together with Apana intensify heat in the body
"Then, when apana meets with prana, which is itself hot, the heat in the body is intensified."

The 3 bandhas are best practiced together in Maha bandha mudra. But perfection in each is required before combining it with anything else.

When the perineum is regularly 'squeezed' (ideally thru Mula bandha + Siddhasana), Apana vayu rises up (instead of just leaching down) from Muladhara to Manipuraka where heat is generated. Manipuraka is the seat of Agni tattwa (fire element). It is responsible for maintaining body temperature and the digestive process. Mula bandha and Uddiyana bandha are responsible for distributing pranic heat and nervous impulses from gross to subtle areas in the system.

(Verse 68, p. 364)
Kundalini is aroused
"Through this, the sleeping kundalini is aroused by the extreme heat and it straightens itself just as a serpent beaten with a stick straightens and hisses."

(Verse 69, p. 364)
Kundalini is aroused
"Just as a snake enters its hole, so kundalini goes into brahma nadi. Therefore the yogi must always perform moola bandha."

Thru Mula bandha, prana is redirected to the higher centers of the brain which usually don't get enough. Without Mula bandha, prana leaches thru the sense organs.

Thru Mula bandha (+ Siddhasana), Kundalini shakti is aroused like a beaten snake that straightens up from its slumber. An awakened Kundalini passes through Brahma nadi (the innermost layer of the Sushumna nadi) and intensifies the central nervous system. Normally, there is only enough low energy to sustain bodily function but with the high voltage charge of Kundalini shakti, the brain centers receive a massive doze of pranic energy that generates the 'super human'.



Jalandhara Bandha (70-73): Throat Lock

(Verse 70, p. 365)
Jalandhara bandha (throat lock)

"Contracting the throat by bringing the chin to the chest is the bandha called Jalandhara. It destroys old age and death."

(Verse 71, p. 365)
Destroys all throat ailments
"That is Jalandhara bandha which catches the flow of nectar in the throat. It destroys all throat ailments."

In a throat lock, nerve impluses to the brain are arrested. When the lock is released, there is a 'rush' or increased pressure of nerve impulses to the brain which activates subtle brain centers.

Position: in Padmasana or Siddhasana with hands on the knees, inhale fully and retain (Antara kumbhaka). Straighten the arms, lift the shoulders and chin to the chest. Hold until cannot. Exhale slowly with control (if you gasp, then you held it too long...don't). Do a few more times until satiated. Repeat but on the exhalation (Bahya kumbhaka)

Mudra: Jalandhara Bandha (Adept's Pose)

(Verse 72, p. 367)
Nectar does not fall into the fire

"Having done jalandhara bandha by contracting the throat, the nectar does not fall into the gastric fire and the prana is not agitated."

Life wears out the human body in the same way mileage wears out a car. Bodily functions generate heat that causes this human deterioration. Since Jalandhara lies between the brain and the digestive system, it can create a measured flow. It squeezes the glands located in the throat to modify the release of hormones. Disease especially during old age is brought about by imbalance of production and consumption of hormones. Jalandhara brings balance to delay the aging (body deterioration) process.

(Verse 73, p. 369)
16 petals of Vishuddhi are locked

"By firmly contracting the throat, the two nadis, ida and pingala are paralyzed and the sixteen adharas of the middle chakra are locked."

During Jalandhara, the prana vayu in Ida and Pingala are restricted and collected at the Vishuddhi chakra. It is then redirected to the Sushumna nadi.

Vishuddhi chakra has 16 petals, each of which has its own properties and seed mantra. 8th is poison (which Shiva drank), 16th is Amrita (Bindu). Vishuddhi represents the ether element, the most sublte of them all.


Mudra: Jalandhara Bandha 2 (Adept's Pose)

Benefits: Jalandhara prevents the Bindu from flowing down below the Vishuddi chakra - so instead of being burned in the digestive process, Bindu (another type of energy as powerful as prana) is redistributed to the body for better use. It also cures all throat ailments, renders a good voice (great for singers) and delays the aging process.

Contra Indication: don't if you have heart disease or high blood pressure



Maha Bandha (74-76): Mula, Uddiyana and Jalandhara bandha

(Verse 74, p. 372)
Moola, jalandhara, uddiyana bandhas

"By contracting the perineum, performing uddiyana and locking ida and pingala with jalandhara, sushumna becomes active."

(Verse 75, p. 372)
Benefits of the three bandhas

"By this means the prana and breath become still. Thus death, old age and sickness are conquered."

Prana is in a constant state of flux within the system, especially between Ida and Pingala - sometimes Ida dominates, other times, Pingala. Yoga tries to keep a balance, minimize the fluctuatations and create equilibrium. Awareness to keep these imbalances in check, is important.

(Verse 76, p. 373)
The great siddhas practice these bandhas

"The great siddhas practice these three best bandhas. Of all the sadhanas in hatha yoga and tantra, the yogis know this practice (maha bandha)."

Of all the techniques in yoga to unite mind and body and create equilibrium, one highly regarded is the Maha Bandha - a combination of 3 bandhas (Mula bandha, Uddiyana bandha and Jalandhara bandha), employing asana, pranayama, kumbhaka, bandha and mudra. Perfection in Maha bandha may even result in spontaneous Dhyana (single-pointed focus of the mind).



Bindu (77): Nectar of Immortality

(Verse 77, p. 374)
The ambrosia or nectar is consumed

"That nectar which flows from the moon has the quality of endowing enlightenment, but it is completely consumed by the sun, incurring old age."

In yogic texts, there is much mention of 'nectar' or 'ambrosia'. This is Bindu (powerful energy like prana) in fluid form coming from the Bindu chakra at the top of the head where the hair swirls. It's a small amount that is formed and likened to just a drop. It flows down to the lower centers and as its amount diminishes, old age happens. It doesn't have to be that way. When its flow is diverted or redirected and assimilated by the body, it can usher enlightenment, rejuvenate the cells and reverse the aging process.

In Tantric yoga, 'enlightenment' is not a religious process but more physiological - that is why purifying the body through shat kriyas is mandatory for enlightenment.


Bindu

Mudra (78-82): Vipareeta Karani (Inversion Pose)

(Verse 78, p. 376)
The guru can help avert the burning of the nectar

"There is a wonderful means by which the nectar is averted from falling into the opening of the sun. This is obtained by the guru's instructions and not from the hundreds of shastras (treatises)."

(Verse 79, p. 376)
The sun is above while the moon is below

"With the navel region above and the palate below, the sun is above and the moon below. It is called vipareeta karani, the reversing process. When given by the guru's instructions it is fruitful."

As the nectar is consumed by the digestive fire, consciousness is also wasted by the sense organs. With Vipareeta karani mudra, the effect of gravity is reversed without pressure or force. Nectar no longer flows down.

The 2 best inversion poses are the Shoulder stand (Vipareeta and Sarvangasana) and Headstand (Sirshasana). Vipareeta activates the Vishuddhi chakra and stimulates the thyroid. Sirshasana activates the Sahasrara chakra.

Vipareeta vs Sarvangasana. In Sarvangasana, the body and legs are perpendicular to the floor. In Vipareeta, the body has a 450 angle from the floor, which means the throat is not locked and blood can flow to the brain.

Position: lying down, lift the legs straight up towards the ceiling, feet not pointed. Lift the hips up so that the body is 450 from the floor. Place your hands on the lower back or buttocks for support. Concentrate on the throat while breathing Ujjayi and tongue into Nabho mudra. Hold the pose as long as possible. To release, lower the hips first, then the legs, keeping them straight.

In Kriya yoga (but not in Hatha yoga), visualize on the inhale that a hot fluid is running down from navel to throat. It stays in the throat until it cools down. When cold, exhale to the Bindu and all the way to Sahasrara.

Mudra: Vipareeta Karani (Inversion Pose)

(Verse 80, p. 380)
Vipareeta increases body heat

"Digestion is strengthened by continual, regular practice and therefore, the practitioner should always have sufficient food."

(Verse 81, p. 380)
The inversion corrects many processes and restores normal functionality

"If one takes only a little food, the heat produced by the digestion will destroy the system. Therefore, on the first day, one should only stay a moment with the feet up and head down."

Pooled blood and cellular fluids often accumulate in the lower centers because of gravity. Because of the inversion of vipareeta, circulation redistributes these fluids back in the system.

Extreme bodily protrusions like hemorrhoids, hernia and varicose veins are also reversed and put back into normal functionality.

Blood flow to the brain is increased. Cerebral insufficiency and senile dementia are reversed for old people. However, old people may no longer be in a position to do an inverted pose for risk of a stroke. The circulatory system is rebooted.

The brain and planet's electromagnetic fields are re-aligned because the body ''reverses its magnetic field when inverted'.

(Verse 82, p. 382)
Daily practice blackens white hair and smoothens wrinkles

"The practice should be done daily, gradually increasing the duration. After six months of practice, grey hairs and wrinkles become inconspicuous. One who practices it for yama (3 hours) conquers death."

Tips: better to unload your shit first and do this on an empty stomach in the morning. If done during the busy day, many hormones find themselves redirected to the brain and that may not be a good idea. Add 1 more respiration with every practice to develop resistance. Vipareeta can be held long, so hold until uncomfortable.

Contra Indication: people with high blood pressure, heart disease, enlarged thyroid and excess toxins (being a drunk, smoking excessively). Hatha Yoga generates a lot of heat. It is possible that you generate too much heat you cannot cool down. Your metabolism is such that food is digested and assimilated very fast. Therefore, one should be mindful about food intake.



Vajroli Mudra (83-86)

(Verse 83, p. 383)
Anyone who practices vajroli mudra becomes a recipient of siddhis

"Even anyone living a free lifestyle without the formal rules of yoga, if he practices vajroli well, that yogi becomes a recipient of siddhis (perfections)."

Vajra nadi is the 2nd innermost nadi within Sushumna (Sushumna, then Vajra, then Bhrama nadi) that looks after sexual energy flow (and behavior). vajroli takes years to master. It consists of 7 stages from muscle contraction to sucking-back the liquid. vajroli is involved in the re-assimilation of sexual energy, hormones and secretions. In some yoga circles, Vajroli is relegated as practices of the lower caste trantics. Done the proper way, Vajroli elevates sexual to spiritual.

Sex is viewed separately by different people depending on lifestyle. For tamasic people, sex is for reproduction. For rajasic, sex is for pleasure. But for sattvic, sex is for enlightenment.

(Verse 84, p. 323)
Two requisites are difficult to obtain for vajroli mudra

"There are two things hard to obtain, one is milk and the second is a woman who can act according to your will."

(Verse 85, p. 388)
A man or woman can achieve perfection of vajroli mudra

"By practicing gradual upward contractions during the emission in intercourse, any man or woman achieves perfection of vajroli."

(Verse 86, p. 390)
Vajroli mudra with a catheter

"By slowly drawing in air through a prescribed tube inserted into the urethra of the penis, gradually air and prana traverse into the vajra kanda."

Vajroli is not the practice a guru would just teach his student. He has to feel how special this student is to warrant the knowledge of Vajroli. Therefore, it's not for experimenting for those who are simply curious.

Position: a hollow tube (sterile rubber urinary catheter is ideal) is inserted inside the urethra or the penis gradually but deeper with practice, up to 17 cm deep until it enters the bladder. The diameter of the tube should be increased over time to strengthen the practice. Uddiyana bandha and Nauli will suck air into the tube. Later, water should be sucked up, and for perfection, use liquid mercury (now that mercury is known to be poison, the author/commentator suggested that 'mercury' was just a metaphor)!
I've always felt ambivalent this mudra. I find it too invasive and too 'over the top'. There is a line in yoga I will not cross and this is one of them. To begin with, semen is not rare - we produce it constantly in our bodies. So why bother with this ritual? Even Tirumalai Krishnamacharya implied that this is not his practice. When the Raja of Mysore asked Krishnamacharya if the Raja should give audience to a yogi who claims to have perfected Vajroli, Krishnamacharya discouraged the Raja.


Bindu (87-91): Retaining the Seminal Fluid

(Verse 87, p. 394)
Bindu (semen) should not fall into the yoni

"The bindu (semen) that is about to fall into the woman's vagina should be made to move upwards with practice. And if it falls, the semen and the woman's fluid should be conserved by drawing it up."

Bindu must not be released (unless for procreation) and should be drawn in again if it should be discharged. Vipareeta Karani, Khechari mudra and Vajroli are the 3 ways. When Bindu falls into the Manipuraka, it's good because sattvic qualities are enhanced. However, if Bindu falls into the lower levels of human animalistic instinct (Svadisthana and Muladhara), then Bindu is wasted. In the Shiva Samhita, it is said that Vajroli must be done to absorb the vaginal fluid through the penis.

(Verse 88, p. 396)
Preservation of the bindu is life

"Therefore, the knower of yoga conquers death by preserving the bindu (semen). Release of the bindu means death; conservation of semen is life."

We are born with a quantified amount of Bindu (like breath). When we use it up, we die (again, like breath). So by preserving our Bindu (not ejaculating during pleasure sex), then we are extending our life. Bindu is packed with a tremendous amount of energy. If we choose not to come, then we use that energy for our own consumption instead of 'flushing it down the toilet'. There is more energy for cell repair, digestion, recovery, blood circulation, etc. Unlike prana that cannot be 'seen', we can quantify Bindu because it has a physical manifestation - the semen.

Hatha yoga is not saying don't have sex - it doesn't care. What it's saying is, 'retain your sperm' when you have sex.

My humble opinion and speculation is that sperm that resides in our body is inert - even though excess production is reabsorbed by the body. It only becomes alive and powerful when it is 'awakened sexually' to the point of near-ejaculation. It becomes even more powerful if the ejaculation has been pumped through several withdrawals - to a point where another withdrawal feels like you're going insane. Whoever receives this 'empowered' semen gets to use the power - it could be the sexual partner if it was ejaculated. Or, it could be you, if you manage to redirect it within you. On one occasion where I 'conserved' my Bindu after several pumping-withdrawal, I felt very strong the following day. Even Robert, a fellow yoga teacher remarked, "I know you are strong, but in your practice today, you were exceptionally strong."

(Verse 89, p. 399)
Body becomes fragrant through preservation of bindu

"As long as the bindu/semen is steady in the body, then where is the fear of death? The yogi's body smells pleasant by conserving the bindu/semen."

Keeping the bindu within ignites the pheremones in our body making us smell fragrant to women.

(Verse 90, p. 401)
Semen and mind must be controlled

"A man's semen can be controlled by the mind and control of semen is lifegiving. Therefore, his semen and mind should be controlled and conserved."

Autonomic systems in our body can be controlled consciously (like Wim Hof), but it takes dedicated practice and many years. One method is Pranayama - controlling the energy and mind through regulated breathing.

Through Asana and mind-control, the reproductive system can also be managed consciously. If the mind can stay aware about the processes taking place during sex, then control is present.

I have to caution against this 'aware' practice during sex, through my own life experience. Once, while being aware, the sexual compulsions were no longer there and I lost my erection. It was embarrassing and I panicked. The panic caused such deep disturbance in me that it took a long time to shrug it off. Every sexual episode (I was much younger then) became a game of Russian roulette - will the panic set in and won't be able to bring it up? I had many embarrassing moments.

(Verse 91, p. 402)
Conserving the bindu and rajas

"The knower of yoga, perfect in the practice, conserves his bindu."

When seminal fluid and vaginal fluid unite in the woman, pregnancy happens and a new life begins. However, when the yogi 'sucks' vaginal fluid from the woman and unite his seminal fluid and vaginal fluid inside him, of course, he doesn't get pregnant. Instead, his consciousness is leveled-up. But the sucking up of vaginal fluid is only done through Vajroli mudra.

Sometimes I would wake up with a hard on, still having a lingering dream of a woman - but no wet dream. I would continue with a whack-off but when the feeling reaches the 'gate', I perform a Mula bandha and Uddiyana bandha. This somehow stops the sexual urge and perhaps redraws the bindu into the upper levels. I've done this a few times with a girlfriend and I noticed that by not coming, I became stronger - in fact a yoga teacher whose class I was on, remarked, "Hey man, I know you're a strong yogi, but now, you're amazingly strong.". I have since equated 'sperm' as a source of power, especially one that has been pumped up (through several withdrawals). Once, when an ex-girlfriend got sick and became terribly weak through days of pain and discomfort, I offered to give her my Bindu - to pump me up through several withdrawals and then come inside her. So the strength that I should have garnered, was instead passed on to her. Since she was already an ex-girlfriend, offering her my Bindu through sex was no big deal.

It's interesting to note, as a segue into our own humanity, that after having sex for days without coming, my girlfriend (at that time) expressed that when I don't come, she doesn't feel attractive.


Sahajoli Mudra (92-95): (Smearing Cow Dung Ash after Sex)

(Verse 92, p. 403)
Combining yoga and bhoga (sex)

"Sahajoli and amaroli are separate techniques of vajroli. The ashes of burnt cow manure should be mixed with water"

(Verse 93, p. 403)

"After performing vajroli during intercourse, (being in a comfortable position), the man and woman should wipe the ashes on specific parts of their bodies during the leisure time."

(Verse 94, p. 403)

"It is called sahajoli and the yogis have complete faith in it. This is very beneficial and enables enlightenment through the combination of yoga and bhoga (sensual involvement)."

(Verse 95, p. 406)
The practice of yoga can reveal the truth even to the non-virtous.

"Verily this yoga is perfected by virtuous and well-conducted men who have seen the truth and not those who are selfish."
Sahajoli falls within Vajroli mudra. Sahajoli entails burning of cow manure and rubbing its ashes to essential sexual parts of the parnters after sex. While highly regarded as a practice within saddhu circles, this is a line in yoga I will not cross. Yoga can be very extreme, and this is one of them. With right practice of Asana, Pranayama and Meditation, I believe self-realization can be attained without rubbing cow shit on you and your sexual partner.


Mudra (96-97): Amaroli (Drinking Urine)

(Verse 96, p. 408)
Drinking mid-stream urine in the morning

"According to the Kapalika sect, amaroli is practiced by drinking the cool midstream of urine. The first part of the urine is left as it contains bile, and the last part is left as it does not contain goodness"

(Verse 97)

"One who drinks amari, takes it through the nose and practices vajroli, is said to be practicing amaroli."
Even though urine was described as surplus (not body waste) the body could no longer use, I still find it extreme to be drinking my urine. If I want to drink something nutritious, I will drink coconut juice, sugar cane juice or pure carrot juice - not urine. Again, there are less extreme ways to achieve spiritual evolution, and yoga can go over the top.


Mudra (98): Semen + cow manure ash

(Verse 98, p. 413)
Semen + cow manure ash

"The practitioner should mix the semen with the ashes of burnt cow manure and wipe it on the upper parts of the body, it bestows divya drishti (clairvoyance or divine sight)."

Semen mixed with ash of burnt cow manure should be liberally wiped and applied to the upper body for divine sight.

I can forget about divine sight if this is what it takes. It's not just any cow manure, but a specific type of cow and the manure has to be from an auspicious date. This is too much of a ritual for me. I am happy doing Asana, Pranayama and Meditation.

A redeeming factor in this verse is that it talked about Tantra philosophy of being yourself, no matter how bad you are. So, you don't have to hide anything from society. You don't have to be a hypocrite the way everyone is. If you are in constant fear of being found out, then you cannot awaken from your slumber - the internal energy remains blocked. Society is hypocritical and puritanical - it appreciates the lotus flower but disdains its mud-covered roots. All this sounds ideal, but can it survive the default world?



Rajas(99-103): Women and Vajroli

(Verse 99, p. 415)
Vaginal Cleansing

"If a woman practices vajroli and saves her rajas and the man's bindu by thorough contraction, she is a yogini."

As a man contracts his sexual muscles (to redirect bindu to the upper levels instead of 'coming'), so should a woman. She should place a tube inside her vagina with one end at a bucket of water. She should 'suck' the water through Uddiyana bandha, keep the water inside and perform Nauli. This cleanses old secretions from the vagina.

(Verse 100, p. 417)
Rajas - female bindu

"Without doubt, not even a little rajas is wasted through vajroli, the nada and bindu in the body become one."

Rajas is the female equivalent of male bindu. It is the rajas that women have to conserve and preserve. For procreation, it is ideal for the male to have a high sperm count and for the woman to be ovulating like a fountain. However, for 'spiritual sex', it is best to keep the sperm count low and ovulation to be suppressed. This way, energy loss is minimal. If there was ejaculation inside the vagina, then through vajroli, the mixed semen-ovum should be sucked-in by the penis.

(Verse 101, p. 420)
Vajroli and Siddhis

"The bindu and the rajas in one's own body unite through the union by practice of vajroli, thus bestowing all perfections or siddhis. "

When Vajroli is perfected, Shakti unites with Shiva, Kundalini awakens, in short enlightenment is achieved. Vajroli is achieved with a partner or just alone (bandha, pranayama, kumbhaka, mudra, etc.)

The text attributes to Vajroli what has already been discussed as 'ascencion' via asana, pranayama, kumbhaka, bandha, etc. Vajroli is not unique in offering what can be achieved by other means.

(Verse 102, p. 423)
A woman has a higher capacity for awakening than a man if she practices Vajroli

"She is verily a yogini who conserves her rajas by contracting and raising it. She knows past, present and future and becomes fixed in khechari (i.e. consciousness moves into the higher realm)."

The higher attainment of man through Vajroli is also available to women. Even though a woman normally loses energy through her menstrual cycle, if she practices withdrawal of her ovum through Vajroli, the loss is mitigated. She experiences higher energy and siddhi awakening, more easily than a man since I man is almost always obstracted by his ego. A woman has a greater capacity to suffer, sacrifice and endure, but due to an inability to withdraw her ovum (if she doesn't know Vajroli), the loss is experienced through the menstrual cycle.

(Verse 103, p. 425)
Sex can lead to Godhead

"By the yoga of vajroli practice, perfection of the body fructifies. This auspicious yoga even brings liberation alongside with sensual involvement (bhoga)."

Even in yoga, there are circles where sex as part of a yoga practice is looked down upon. They view such practitioners as lacking in will power or using enlightenment as pretext for sexual gratification. But, how can there be attainment when we even deny the very natural instincts that pervade us? In Tantra, the physical experience (sex) is used to sharpen the mind. e.g. in a dream, we use our mind in interpreting the physical experience.

When bindu/rajas are drawn up into the body through Vajroli, the sexual impulses travel through the central nervous system and reach the subtle brain centers (instead of being wasted through ejaculation). The explosive power of the bindu/rajas are diverted to activate an awakening.

During yogic sex (maithuna), the Muladhara chakra is triggered and the Kundalini is aroused. Even if Kundalini doesn't reach Sahasrara, if it passes through the higher chakras, subtle energies are still rekindled.

For an experience to happen, there must be consciousness and an object to have an experience with. Without an object, consciousness cannot experience anything (This ties up with our consciousness given a human form to have an experience. Without the object, how can consciousness know the taste of chocolate? Without a human form, how can consciousness learn the lessons to evolve itself?).



Kundalini Shakti (104-111)

(Verse 104, p. 430)
Many names of Kundalini

"Kutilangi, kundalini, bhujangi, shakti, ishwari, kundali, arundhati are all synonymous terms."

(Verse 105, p. 431) May 18, 2023
Kundalini is key to awakening

"Just as a door is opened with a key, similarly the yogi opens the door to liberation with kundalini."

Kundalini exists in many disciplines and called various different names. Kundalini is essential in amplifying the low voltage of the default reality we experience with our sense perception. Fluctuating energies from Ida (para-sympathetic nervous system) and Pingala (sympathetic nervous system) have to be absorbed in Sushumna (central nervous system) for an energy boost to activate the subtle brain centers. Kundalini is the potential force inherent in every human being. But before Kundalini is awakened, it is very important that the nadis are already purified - through the shatkriyas, and Hatha yoga practices.

This reminds me of my Superman-Effect when I spent half a day doing Pranayama. I experienced an insane kind of strength and stamina that was unreal. Perhaps it was a glimpse of Kundalini awakening - not in terms of developing psychic abilities, but unleasing an inherent force that lies dormant. Hmmm...so perhaps to accelerate Kundalini rising, I should overdoze on Pranayama? Maybe 3 hours per session?

(Verse 106, p. 432) May 22, 2023
Muladhara chakra must be activated to awaken Kundalini

"The sleeping Parameshwari rests with her mouth closing that door, through which is the path to the knot of brahmasthana, the place beyond suffering."

kundalini

(Verse 107)
You become your thoughts

"The kundalini shakti sleeps above the kanda. This shakti is the means of liberation to the yogi and bondage for the ignorant. One who knows this is the knower of yoga."

Since Kundalini awakening happens at the Muladhara chakra, it means Kundalini cannot awaken without activating the Muladhara first by unknotting the Brahma granthi (blockages to Kundalini awakening) This granthi is the attachment to the physical realities and to the sense perceptions.

You become your thoughts, so be selective about things you think about. If you are consumed by revenge, then you live in a dark world of anger. If you think and practice evolution, then everything conspires to achieve that.

(Verse 108, p. 435) May 25, 2023
Kundalini Awakening

"Kundalini is said to be coiled like a snake. Without a doubt, one who makes that shakti flow obtains liberation."

Kundalini resides sleeping in the Muladhara chakra. It is coiled like a serpent 3.5 times facing down. When it wakes up, its head goes up and the becomes straight, passing through Sushumna nadi until it reaches the top of the head. While Kundalini is sleeping, prana passes through Ida and Pingala nadi.

(Verse 109, p. 437) May 25, 2023
Kundalini is in the middle of ida and pingala

"Between Ganga and Yamuna is the young widowed, Balarandam practicing austerity. She should be seized forcibly, then one can reach the supreme state of Vishnu."

kundalini2

(Verse 110, p. 437) May 25, 2023

"Ida is the holy Ganga, pingala the river Yamuna. Between ida and pingala in the middle is this young widow, kundalini."

Ida nadi is female, right brain hemisphere and likened to the Ganga River. It has to be controlled in the person because its power is tremendous. Pingala nadi is male, left brain hemisphere, and likened to the sober Yamuna River. Sushumna nadi is the subterranean Saraswati river.

(Verse 111, p. 440) May 25, 2023
Kundalini when excited, rises up

"By seizing the tail of kundalini serpent, she becomes very excited. Abandoning sleep that shakti is released and rises up."

When you pick up a snake through its tail, it rises up. Same thing with Kundalini. When it's tail is agitated by an awakened Muladhara chakra, it awakens and rises up. At this point, both nostrils should be clear - so make sure both your nostrils are open before any meditation. Neti practice helps.



Shakti Chalana Mudra (112)

(Verse 112, p. 441) May 26, 2023
Moving the Energy

"Breathing in through the right nostril (pingala) the serpent (shakti) should be seized through kumbhaka and rotated constantly for an hour and a half, morning and evening."

Kriya Yoga and Hatha Yoga have different practices with Shakti Chalana. Kriya uses visualizations while Hatha does not.

Hatha Yoga Technique

  1. sit in Siddhasana
  2. Ujjayi inhale and hold (Nadi Shodhana is another alternative)
  3. engage Mula Bandha tightly
  4. Ujjayi exhale, empty and hold
  5. with Mula Bandha still engaged, also engage Jalandhara and Uddiyana bandha (because you held the inbreath already, you can't hold this too long)
  6. perform Nauli
  7. release the bandhas then inhale
  8. beginners, do 5 rounds and increase over time
Shakti Chalana is very similar to Maha Mudra but with the addition of Nauli. In my practice, I don't count the rounds. I time it, usually 10 minutes. This method relieves me of having to count - I can just focus on the sensation. Doing this exercise in Siddhasana is almost impossible for me. I would either do it in Malasana (squating) or using the traditional way of doing Nauli - standing, feet wide apart, knees slightly bent, hands on knees. Also I do away with the inhale-hold since it leaves little time to do Nauli. The object of this exercise is the Nauli part and not so much about inbreath-hold.

This is how I deviate from the book or tradition and follow what works for me. I find this a more meaningful yoga instead of you conforming to a pose or sequence that does not work for you (or worse, doesn't make sense to you).


Kanda (113-114)

(Verse 113, p. 443) May 26, 2023
Kanda (Kandasthana)

"The kanda, situated above the anus, one hand span high and four fingers breath wide, is soft and white as if enveloped in cloth."

Just above the perineum is the Kanda, fleshy, egg shaped and supposed to extend to the navel (there are many versions of its location). This is the base of all nadis.

(Verse 114, p. 444) May 26, 2023
Gripping the Kanda

"Firmly seated in vajrasana, holding the ankles, one should squeeze the kanda close to the anus."

In Vajrasana, do Mula Bandha or Ashwini Mudra or both. This tightens the muscles where the Kanda is seated. In effect, its grips the Kanda.

Mula Bandha and Ashwini Mudra are similar but not the same. Mula bandha squeezes the perineum while Ashwini contracts the anal muscles. In my practice, I take the broad brush stroke - I pull up the perineum muscle, contract the anal muscles and squeeze the butt cheeks. Although it sounds a lot, it's actual one move and a much simpler one. But my mental focus is the perineum.


Bhastrika (115)

(Verse 115, p. 445) May 26, 2023
Bhastrika to activate Kundalini

"In the position of vajrasana, the yogi should move the kundalini. Having done bhastrika pranayama the kundalini is soon aroused."

While being in Vajrasana and engaged in Mula bandha to grip the Kanda, the tail of the Kundalini serpent is also grabbed and this incites her to move. Next, perform Bhastrika. This now activates Kundalini.

Performing Bhastrika (bellows on the belly instead of chest) is quite challenging while in Mula bandha. I don't even find it effective. In my practice, I do Mula bandha + Kapalbhati. It's more instinctive and harmonious.

The best way to practice Bhastrika for me is when I skip rope. Initially, the breath is kapalbhati. When that proves insufficient, I resort to Bhastrika (and it's effortless). When that is not enough, I resort to a wim Hof with 2 inhales and 1 big exhale.


Kundalini Rising (116-119)

(Verse 116, p. 446) May 26, 2023
Moving Kundalini beyond Muladhara

"Contracting the sun in manipura, kundalini should be moved. Even if such a person should be on the verge of death, where is the need to fear death?"

After Bhastrika activates Kundalini, how do you make it move up? Hold the out-breath (Bahya kumbhaka) and perform Uddiyana bandha. This activates Manipuraka chakra and allows Kundalini to go past this point as she moves up. Of course, at this point, you should already be proficient with Uddiyana bandha and the nadis should already have been purified through Shatkriyas, Asana, and Pranayama. Once Kundalini goes beyond Manipuraka chakra, consciousness beyond the body is experienced - whereas before, it was just a conceptual appreciation (hmmm....so you don't need to reach Ajna if only to experience 'consciousness beyond the body'?).

Looking at the big picture here, I would simply do my Mandukasana Kriya version: Vajrasana + Kapalbhati + Mandukasana. This again is harmonious with all the breathing/holding/mudra elements and triggers the Manipuraka more directly. One full round takes me about 3 mins as follows (extended version): [an error occurred while processing this directive]

A yogi pursues consciousness beyond the body. He appreciates the body as a 'placeholder' during this lifetime. He realizes that his consciousness will continue to live on long after his body has gone. So, what transformation happens with this understanding? The yogi no longer fears death. He sees death only as a transition process for the next chapter.

This is also my realization and understanding. And this paradigm carries on, on how I consider other people. A loved one (let's not mention who), despite his abundance, is saturated with hate and misery. He starts and ends the day cursing people who have wronged him in the past. Because I care for him, I tried to let him see his situation in a positive light. He could not and it was beyond him. He doesn't have much time left. When he is gone, I will not be sad. I will not cry. I will feel relieved that his misery will temporarily stop until he gets reborn (yes, I believe in reincarnation). At least, in the next life, he might find novel ways to learn what he could not grasp in this lifetime. Perhaps in the next lifetime, he can free himself from his misery. This current life for him is a shit-hole.

(Verse 117, p. 448) May 26, 2023
Be Committed if it's Kundalini

"By moving the kundalini fearlessly for an hour and a half, it is drawn into sushumna and rises up a little."

It takes a specific practice of more than 20 kriyas at 90 minutes/day done daily to raise Kundalini. Before embarking on the Kundalini awakening, the yogi must commit himself to the process and have a guru - no wavering, no hesitation, no skipping the practice. If full commitment is not there, don't bother with Kundalini.

When doing it alone without a guru (yes, that's me), when Kundalini is awakened, it is very hard to sustain. Furthermore, not knowing what to do next, and there is no guru, the yogi could panic and fear going insane. So his resolve should be unshakable.

When I was doing an extreme Wim Hof breathing (breath-hold to 5 mins), I felt different sensations in my body that scared me. I was not as well-read yet I didn't know what was happening - I felt a trembling throughout the day, I had nightmares, etc. I stopped the practice out of fear. In hindsight, I guess I have come close to a Kundalini awakening. In hindsight, I'm glad it didn't awaken because even though my practice was already strong, I did not know how to navigate the realm beyond this world. This remains my fear too when I teach advanced Pranayama - what if a student's Kundalini awakens and he freaks out? What do I do? Hmmm...how about asking GPT4?

Ask GPT4

What should a yoga teacher do when the student suddenly awakens his Kundalini and freaks out?

GPT4 Answer:

If a student suddenly awakens their Kundalini energy during a yoga session and begins to experience distress or agitation, it's essential for the yoga teacher to respond calmly and attentively. Here are some steps a yoga teacher can take in such a situation:

  1. Stay calm and centered - It's crucial for the yoga teacher to remain composed and grounded during this situation. Your calm presence can help create a sense of safety for the student.
  2. Assess the situation - Observe the student's behavior and body language to determine the severity of their distress. Look for signs of discomfort, panic, or confusion.
  3. Offer reassurance - Speak in a soothing and comforting tone to reassure the student that they are safe and that what they are experiencing is a natural part of the Kundalini awakening process.
  4. Encourage slow, deep breathing - Guide the student to take slow, deep breaths, encouraging them to inhale deeply through the nose and exhale slowly through the mouth. This can help regulate their breath and induce a sense of relaxation.
  5. Grounding techniques - Assist the student in reconnecting with their physical body and the present moment. You can guide them to focus on sensations in their body, such as feeling the weight of their feet on the ground or the touch of their hands. Grounding exercises like gently tapping their limbs or rocking back and forth can also be helpful.
  6. Modify the practice - If the student is comfortable and open to continuing the practice, consider modifying the sequence to include more grounding and calming postures. Gentle forward bends, seated poses, and gentle twists can help provide stability and release excessive energy.
  7. Offer support and guidance - Let the student know that what they are experiencing is a profound and transformative process. Suggest that they seek further guidance from an experienced teacher or a professional who specializes in Kundalini awakening, such as a Kundalini yoga instructor, a spiritual counselor, or a holistic practitioner.
  8. Respect boundaries and autonomy - If the student expresses a desire to stop the practice or take a break, honor their decision. Encourage them to listen to their body and intuition, emphasizing the importance of self-care and self-awareness.

Remember, it is essential for yoga teachers to have a solid understanding of Kundalini awakening and its potential effects before guiding students through practices that can stimulate this energy. If you're not experienced or confident in handling Kundalini-related situations, consider referring the student to a specialist or seeking assistance from a more experienced teacher.


Another instance of near-Kundalini awakening happened when I over-dozed on Pranayama by doing it non-stop for half a day. I gained the "Superman-Effect". But it was such a frightening experience that I didn't do it again, despite the feeling of invincibility.

The obvious factor with the 2 foregoing in terms of near-Kundalini awakening is the extremeness of the practice - 5-min breath-holds? Half-day Pranayama? I could imagine that if I want a Kundalini awakening NOW, all I have to do is do another half day of Pranayama with Kumbhaka held long enough to induce body trembling. And when Kundalini awakens, the question is, NOW WHAT?

(Verse 118, p. 451) May 26, 2023
Yoga is the safest and proven way to awaken Kundalini

"In this way, it is easy for kundalini to issue from the opening of sushumna. Thus the prana proceeds through sushumna of its own accord."

Kundalini awakening through long and devoted yoga practice is the safe and proven way. But there are shortcuts too - drugs, ayahuaska, pain, sleep / food deprivation, etc. However, these come with undesirable or catatrosphic results. Kundalini awakening in this manner cannot be sustained nor controlled.

(Verse 119, p. 452) May 26, 2023
2-Fold Benefit when you Awaken Kundalini

"In that way the sleeping kundalini should be regularly moved. By her regular movement, the yogi is freed from disease"

Regular yoga practice at the right time brings benefits while irregular practice during inappropriate times bring imbalance. When done properly, Kundalini can awaken and bring universal consciousness into being. However, even if Kundalini does not fully awaken, tangible health benefits and nadi purification are evident. There is still so much gained.

Completely agree. Given my practice, my readings and what's happening to me, I can conclude that:

1) my Kundalini has had near-awakening but not fully activated

2) major Siddhi activation has NOT happened yet (abilities that defy classical physics like clairvoyance, bi-location, levitation, etc.)

3) minor Siddhis are already activated (enhanced human features that remain grounded to reality as we know it such as resilience from disease, remaining strong beyond your age, developing a deeper understanding of the underlying intelligence behind all events and actions, harmony with oneself and the world, etc.)


The Yogi (120-121)

(Verse 120, p. 454) May 28, 2023
A self-realized yogi experiences infinity

"The yogi who moves the shakti regularly, enjoys perfection or siddhi. He easily conquers time and death. What more is there to say?"

A yogi who is self-realized experiences infinity - he has no beginning and no end. Why? Because he realizes he is not the body. He is pure consciousness. And consciousness, the Bodhi Citta, is not born and does not die. There is no pleasure or pain. No sadness or happiness. There is only EMPTINESS.

(Verse 121, p. 456) May 28, 2023
Perfection in 40 days

"One who enjoys being brahmacharya and always takes moderate diet and practices arousal of kundalini, achieves perfection in forty days."

One who lives in continuous awareness awakens Kundalini in 40 days. Three things need to happen to realize this. 1st is Brahmacharya - not suppression of the sexual energy, but feeling self-bliss that sex doesn't feel needed or required. 2nd is always take a moderate diet. And 3rd is constant practice to awaken Kundalini.

However, to develop a yogic personality / demeanor takes years of practice.



Kundalini Awakening (122-123)

(Verse 122, p. 458) May 28, 2023
Bhastrika has to be perfected for Kundalini awakening

"Bhastrika pranayama with kumbhaka should specifically be practiced to activate kundalini. From where will the fear of death arise for a self-restrained practitioner who practices daily with regularity?"

The #1 practice to awaken Kundalini is Bhastrika. Nadi Shodhana is a good preparation. Bhastrika has a direct influence in the brain and the nervous system.

(Verse 123, p. 459) May 28, 2023
The pursuit of Kundalini awakening is paramount compared to diet, lifestyle or ethical religious belief.

"What other methods are there to cleanse the 72,000 nadis of dirt besides the practice of arousing kundalini?"

Most religions regard sex as tainted...that it has to be transcended for realization. Relegating sex to this low level breeds guilt, suppression, and mental sickness. It does not appreciate the role sex plays in transformation.

This is where Hatha and Tantra differ from these puritanical religions. There are 72,000 nadis in our bodies that need to be unblocked and purified. This allows the nervous system to handle the increased pranic voltage resulting from a Kundalini awakening.

It should be noted that when Hatha says we are not the body, it does not reject the body or the role the body plays in manifesting realization. In fact, it is through the body (asana, shatkriya, pranayama, mudra, etc.) that awakens Kundalini resulting in illunimation. Hatha starts with the body and works its way to the mind - it's an easier approach than dealing with the mind directly.



9 Limbs of Hatha Yoga (124)

(Verse 124, p. 461) May 28, 2023
9 Limbs of Hatha Yoga

"This middle nadi, sushumna, easily becomes established, (straight) by the yogi's persistent practice of asana, pranayama, mudra and concentration. "

When the Sushumna is straightened (purified, cleared of blockages, no more unhealthy habits), pranic energy flows faster like water flows faster when the hose is straight and not tangled.

The order of Sushumna purification is as follows:

  1. Shatkriya
  2. Asana
  3. Pranayama
  4. Mudra
  5. Bandha / Kumbhaka
  6. Pratyahara - withdrawing the mind from the external world. When the eyes see something, it sends electrical impulses to the brain and the brain processes the info into a form, shape, color, etc. The mind reacts to this form, making it agitated, happy, stressed, etc. The mind is reactive. This is how the sensory organs disrupt the tranquility of the mind. With Pratyahara, the link from these sense organs to the brain is severed. Thus the mind is left alone to examine itself. At this point, there is still mental distraction - but from the inside (fears, apprehension, trauma, worries, aspirations. etc.) The mind must remain vigilant and one-pointed in Sambhavi mudra.
  7. Dharana - the mind concentrates on one object and sustains that concentration for a period of time. After a while, the meaning behind that object diminishes and only the form stays (e.g. Lamborghini. The 'meaning' is having everyone look at you, deafening roar, wealth, etc. The 'form' is an object with color, shape, size and outline...tha's it). The ego soon goes away too. Dhyana follows
  8. Dyana - at this level, only 3 things exist: the meditator, the meditation and the object of meditation. Everything else ceases to exist
  9. Samadhi - when the 3 things become one. The meditator, meditation and the object of meditation fuse together as a singlularity. The mind goes into a single-focus. The eyeballs spontaneously roll up in Sambhavi mudra. The reverse is also true - if you practice Sambhavi, making the eyes steady and unflickering, the mind defaults into a meditative state. The single-pointed focus and awareness will always be assailed and challenged - by internal sensations, deities, psychic experiences, etc. One has to have an alert and vigilant mind. The final stage of Samadhi is Raja Yoga.


Sambhavi Mudra (125)

(Verse 125, p. 465) May 28, 2023
Concentration will always be assailed...stay the course with Sambhavi

"For those who are alert and the mind one-pointed (disciplined) in samadhi, rudrani or shambhavi mudra is the greatest mudra for bestowing perfection."

During Samadhi, Sambhavi is the greatest mudra - concentration of an Ishta Devata (a psychic symbol, eg. guru's face) on the 3rd Eye area, between the eyebrows, slightly above.



Samadhi (126)

(Verse 126, p. 468) May 28, 2023
Samadhi allows the initiate to experience everything beyond the default world

"The earth without raja yoga, night without raja yoga, even the various mudras without raja yoga are useless, i.e. not beautiful."

Without attaining Samadhi, the true nature of existence is not experienced. All forms of yoga ultimately lead to Samadhi. The default world is limited by the 5 sensory organs - you are not living the full spectrum of reality. But in Samadhi, you experience a limitless and infinite perception of everything beyond this default world.



Awareness (127)

(Verse 127, p. 469) May 28, 2023
Awareness must pervade all actions and thinking

"All the pranayama methods are to be done with a concentrated mind. The wise man should not let his mind be involved in the modifications (vrittis)."

Pranayama must not remain mechanical. The mind must be there at all times. To anchor the concentration, one can time OM chanting with the breath and ratio, or concentrate on a humming sound of Bhramari, or chant So-Ham, so slightly audible hissing sound of an Ujjayi breath. In Kumbhaka, one can hold concentration on each ascending chakra.

Focus is essential not just in Pranayama but also in Asana and Kumbhaka. In fact, focus and awareness is essential in life. If you live life with awareness, you are more mindful about your speech and actions.



Purification and Self-Restraint (128)

(Verse 128, p. 471) May 28, 2023
Purification and Self-restrain must be perfected before the Kundalini is awakened.

"Thus the ten mudras have been told by Adinath, Shambhu. Each one is the bestower of perfection to the self-restrained."

Mudras are essential to the awakening of Kundalini but not all mudras are necessary in one's practice - a guru can best decide that.

It has been repeatedly stated here that purification and self-restrain are important to perfect before Kundalini awakening is to happen. Otherwise, the results can be catastrophic - demonic manifestation, disease and insanity. Some of the most cruel figures in history had a premature awakening of Kundalini - the Kundalini gave them power, but they were unpure and weak to control it. The power controled them.

This is reminscent of Lord of the Rings - the ring is very powerful, but in the hands of someone 'green', the power ends up corrupting the person.


Guru and Inner Guru (129-130)

(Verse 129, p. 472) May 28, 2023
The guru and the Inner guru

"One who instructs mudra in the tradition of guru/disciple is the true guru and form of Ishwara."

A guru is essential in the student's progress. But the student also has an internal guru, personified by the external guru until the student is realized.

I don't have a guru, but my realization is that as I read this book, Svatmarama has become my guru and I perfect his teachings thru my inner guru, tweaking certain facets of the practice to suit my anatomy, demeanor, genetics, life experience, etc. In the process, I evolve my own yoga - one that is authentic to me.

(Verse 130, p. 473) May 28, 2023
Guru Trust

"By following explicitly his (guru's) words, and practicing mudra; one obtains the qualities of anima, etc., and overcomes death/time"

There has to be a trust and surrender in the relationship between guru and aspirant. The aspirant must be consumed by the guru's instruction and his own practice. Concealed ego from both must be exposed and dealt with.



Ending Thoughts

Guru
Time and time again, it was repeated that having a guru is essential and a must. But what do you do when you cannot find a guru? When I went to Rishikesh, India, I saw a swarm of 'gurus', awaiting for the next 'lost life' to ambush. How do you filter out the genuine from the fake? Frustrated, I realized I had to become the teacher I was looking for. How? By carefully selecting a book authored by a reputable master that would serve as my yoga bible. In the course of my self-study, the author essentially becomes my guru. As of this writing, I'm still reading Hatah Yoga Pradipika which provides a step-by-step instruction on the practice and also explains the underlying principles. I summarized every chapter in my own words, codified some lessons into a practice, and actually integrated it as part of my practice. So I can say that my yoga practice continues to evolve.

Maha Vedha kriya
What I found powerful was the combination of Maha mudra, Maha bandha and Maha vedha. I even consider thema a Kriya altogether and has become part of my practice. Combinations I find powerful, I develop into a Kriya with my own additions of Pranayama, Bandha and Kumbhaka.

Fountain of Youth Kriya
Since I have already come across many exercises that delay or stop the aging process, I am motivated to develop a kriya I will call this Fountain of Youth. It is composed of every Asana, Pranayama, Bandha and Mudra that stops the aging process. This will be my next project.

Bandha and Mudra
Another powerful concept introduced is that for minor siddhis, perfect Asana and Pranayama. But for the major siddhis, you have to perfect Bandha and Mudra. But the mudra the book talks about is not the typical hand gestures (Gyana, Surya, Akash mudra, etc.) but the lesser known and misunderstood Vajroli, Khechari and Inversions. I won't go as far as drawing my semen back or the vaginal fluid, but I can refrain from ejaculating and redirect the energy upwards by way of Mula bandha and Uddiyana bandha before I reach the point of no return. This shifted my practice from heavy 1-hour Asanas to more breath retention, bandhas and mudras.



Chapter 4: Samadhi
Shiva (01)

(Verse 1, p. 475) June 8, 2023
Shiva as nada, bindu and kalaa

"Salutations to the Guru Shiva, who is regarded as nada, bindu, kalaa(sound, nucleus and emanating ray). One wholly devoted to them, goes intothe eternally stainless state."

Shiva is God...the ultimate...and attainable only through yoga. He comes with many names from many persuasions - Shaivites praise Shiva; Vaishnavites, Vishnu; Vedantins, Brahman; Shaktas and tantrics, Shakti; followers of Samkhya philosophy, Purusha. They are the same. But the evolution of Shiva on man's consciousness morphs through the ages - from primal to God.

Shiva (consciousness) is inert. It needs the union of Shakti (energy). When they meet, Nada (unstruck sound) and kalaa (emanating ray) emerge.

The book uses the same word but in different context - it's very confusing. E.g. Bindu. Bindu is a chakra, it's also the drop of immortality (aka Amrita) which is stored in the Bindu chakra and it's also the semen of man. But the book suddenly mentions Bindu as "an emergence" and a "nucleus" where Shiva and Shakti meet. Now I'm lost!


Samadhi (02-07)

(Verse 2, p. 379) June 8, 2023
The process of samadhi

"Thus, I shall now expound the best process of samadhi which eliminates death and takes one to the greatest bliss of Brahma."

Samadhi is the culmination of Hatha and Raja yoga. Samadhi is described in Hatha Ratnavali as a state when the mind is motionless as a result of deep concentration. The mind has a single-focus and consciousness expands beyond the reality we know of. Samadhi is to experience infinity - no birth, no death, no beginning, no end, no past, no future. Accordingly Patanjali, there are 6 progressive and subtle stages of Samadhi before it reaches the ultimate state of Nirvikalpa.

(Verse 3, p. 484) June 8, 2023
Names of the highest state

"Raja yoga, samadhi, unmani, manonmani, amaratwa, laya, sahaja tattwa, shoonyashoonya, parampadam."

(Verse 4, p. 484) June 8, 2023

"Amanaskam, adwaitam, niralamba, niranjana, jivanmukti, sahaja and turiya are all synonymous terms."

There are many names representing Shiva (consciousness), Brahman, and Atma (true self).

(Verse 5, p. 485) June 8, 2023
Mind and atma unite like salt in the sea

"As salt merges in the sea, likewise the mind and atma are considered united in samadhi."

(Verse 6, p. 485) June 8, 2023
Cessation of prana and mind in samadhi

"When the movement of prana is completely annihilated, then mind is reabsorbed and then samadhi is considered attained."

(Verse 7, p. 485) June 8, 2023
When jivatma unites with paramatma, desires are destroyed

"When the twofold nature of the individual soul and cosmic soul becomes one, all desires/ideations are destroyed and that is considered samadhi."

The mind has 24 elements and they need to be treated separately in order to dissolve them. For Samadhi, it is important for asana to be steady and for kumbhaka to be long. The normal brain cannot process all stimuli extending outside the default world - it will be overwhelmed for good reason. However, in Kundalini awakening, the low-voltage of the body gets a high-voltage surge that allows perception beyond default reality. This expansion of consciousness should not be regarded as paranormal. it is scientific with predictable results.



Shaktipat (08-09): Level of Spiritual Grace

(Verse 8, p. 489) June 9, 2023
Jnana, mukti, sthiti and siddhi come from the guru

"Who really knows the magnitude of raja yoga? Through the guru's words, inner knowledge, liberation, perfection fructify."

(Verse 9) June 9, 2023
Guru's compassion bestows success

"Without the compassion of the true guru, renunciation is impossible, perception of the truth inaccessible and sahaja samadhi unobtainable."

You'll never know what Raja yoga is until you actually get there. Guru is essential as has been repeatedly said in the book. No matter how hard you try to study yoga, without a guru, self-realization is not possible.

This 'no guru - no enlightenment' is very discouraging. But those like me who cannot find a guru (try that when you're living in a small isolated island where conversation is a challenge) has no choice but to keep reading the sacred texts and being regular with their practice. As an encouragment, Buddha is a Samasam Buddha - meaning he achieved enlightenment through his own efforts and not through someone else.

Shaktipat (a spiritual level based on resolve and karmic balance sheet) are in 3 levels. Spiritually evolved souls can readily acheive enlightenment without much work. The less evolved need the help of a guru. The third, and at the lowest level, are those who are spiritually inclined who can still achieve realization through dedicated practice and hard work.

I used to think that I gained merits in a previous life that made the quest for spirituality a natural for me. When I first came upon yoga, I took off with it almost effortlessly...as though I'd been a yogi in a previous life. I am drawn to my evolution to the extent of being a nomadic renunciate. But this 'high brow paradigm' is shattered realizing that I'm actually at the lowest level of Shaktipat - someone who is spiritually inclined. This explains why despite devoted to my practice, there are still no Siddhis (yes, I use Siddhis as a benchmark for my journey and I use it for validation of my practice...it doesn't matter to me if yogis frown upon this). This is a necessary rude awakening for me.

There are 4 ways to earn Shaktipat. At the lowest level are those who need to do yoga (this is where I am). Next are those whose mind and body are already pure. They just need to focus concentration and chant to be realized. They also understand that they exist beyond the body. Those who are already highly evolved only need to concentrate or focus their mind. Lastly, there are those who are initiated by the guru and received instantaneous enlightenment - such was the case of Naropa when his guru, Tilopa, hit him with a scandal and Naropa fell into deep Samadhi for days.



Shoonya (10-12): Karma, Samskara, Vasana

(Verse 10, p. 492) June 9, 2023
After kundalini is aroused, prana rests in void (shoonya)

"When the maha shakti is aroused by the various asanas, pranayamas and mudras, the prana dissolves into shoonya."

Shoonya, or the void is a deep state of consciousness. It comes before reaching Samadhi. Many traditions have various categories and sub-categories of Shoonya.

(Verse 11, p. 494) June 9, 2023
Samadhi is natural when kundalini is awakened and karma freed

"The sahaja state is conquered on its own (occurs by itself) in him whose remaining karmas are abandoned and who experiences the rising of shakti."

(Verse 12) June 9, 2023
Destruction of karma, vasana and ego in shoonya

"When prana is flowing through sushumna, mind is in pure shoonya. Then all the karmas of the one knowing yoga are uprooted."

When Samadhi happens, the subsequent processes happen fast with immediacy. When Kundalini is in Sushumna, karma (balance sheet of good and bad deeds), vasana (clinging to life) and ego dissipate...it loses its sense of existence. As Kundalini moves up, Samskaras (thought forms created from knowledge, experience and feelings) are pulled out at the root level. Samskaras are controlled through meditation when it arises. In Vipassana, Samskaras are prevented from taking place by being vigilant with vedana - that fleeting moment between action and reaction.

Samadhi 'destroys all the karmas of his past life'.

I have difficulty with this. The one thing I like about karma is that it's a debt you cannot escape...not even death liberates you from karmic debts. And now, this book says your karmic sins are destroyed through Samadhi. This is just as bad as living a life of crime and then a priest absolves you of all sins - without paying for your crimes. This is where I draw the line. Karma is the great equalizer because it cannot be circumvented - not even by 'holy men' who can chant their way into Samadhi.

Now, I begin to reflect. I am a Vipassana meditator. Uprooting samskaras at the root level in deep meditation frees one from his karmic debts. This leaves me confounded and confused. What to do? Ask GPT4!

Question: If I killed a person, I will suffer karmically. I cannot escape my fate. That debt has to be paid. Hatha Yoga Pradipika is now saying if I attain Samadhi, that debt is forgiven? That I no longer have to pay for it? That is inconsistent with the nature of karma itself.

GPT4:

(condensed) I understand your concern and the potential inconsistency that may arise from interpreting karma in relation to attaining Samadhi. It's important to note that interpretations of karma and its relationship with spiritual practices can vary across different philosophical and spiritual traditions.

In some interpretations, the attainment of Samadhi or other states of deep meditative absorption is seen as a transformative experience that can lead to liberation from the cycle of karma and its consequences. This liberation is believed to transcend the individual's personal history, including past karmic debts. The idea is that through the direct realization of one's true nature or ultimate reality, the limitations and binding effects of karma can be transcended.

However, other interpretations and teachings emphasize that karma is a complex web of cause and effect, and that every action has consequences that must be experienced or resolved in some way. According to this perspective, the attainment of Samadhi or spiritual realization may not erase the consequences of past actions but rather provide the practitioner with a higher understanding and capacity to navigate and transcend their karmic effects with wisdom and compassion.



When not evolved, you cannot control your destiny - you just react, not knowing that you have free will. With spiritual evolution, the mind becomes strong and free of clutter. You can then exercise free will and alter your destiny. In short, it takes spiritual evolution to change your destiny (karmic trajectory).



Trancending Time (13): The 4 Yuga

(Verse 13, p. 497) June 10, 2023
Mastery over time

"O immortal one, salutations to you who have mastery over time, by whose jaws the animate and inanimate alike are devoured."

One who is self-realized is no longer confined by the body, memories, biases, etc. He is no longer confined by the 5 sensory perceptions. He is no longer bound by the linearity of time or the limits of space and dimension. He pervades the Absolute.

We understand time only in the context of our lifespan. But in scheme of bigger time scales (Yuga Cycles), our understanding of time is like that of the Mayfly whose lifespan is only 1 day (or 2) - but to the Mayfly, that is the end-all and be-all of the universe.

4 Maha Yuga Cycles (Ages in Hindu Cosmology)
These cycles describe the stages of decline in human morality and spiritual consciousness. These cycles repeat themselves endlessly.

    (from GPT4)
  1. Satya or Krita yuga - 1,728,000 earth years, Age of Truth. Golden Age. It is characterized by righteousness, virtue and spiritual enlightenment. It's an era where people live in harmony with nature, their fellow human beings and live in compliance to the universal laws. They have a deep understanding of their spiritual nature. There is no scarcity. People live in abundance. There is an absence of evil.
  2. Treta yuga - 1,296,000 years. This follows Satya yuga and begins the decline of moral and ethical values and virtue. Relative to the next 2 stages, this is still a virtuous stage. People live for a shorter time of 10,000 years. Society becomes structured with hierarchies of kings, rulers, soldiers, etc. There are wars and famines. Religious structures and rituals emerge with deities and Gods. Things continue to slide down as the era ends.
  3. Dwapara yuga - 864,000 years. It gets worse here from Treta yuga. Materialism increase, spirituality is on a continuous decline. Connection with the divine wanes. This becomes a balance between spirituality and materialism. People are consumed by desire, ambition and avarice. But there are technological and intellectual advancements too. Still, morality and spirituality continues to decline.
  4. Kali yuga - 432,000years, the age of darkness, degeneration, moral decay and spiritual ignorance. Disease, suffering, mental and emotional distress become common. Deception and violence mark this era. This is as bad as it gets. We are here, at the beginning, 5000 years and going. So if things are fucked up now, it'll get worse. But despite all the negativity, humans can still rise up through awareness and being devoted to their spiritual practice (yoga)


Sushumna, Manonmani, Kundalini (14-20)

(Verse 14, p. 498) June 10, 2023
Moving Apana vayu along the Sushumna

"When mind is in equanimity and (prana) vayu proceeds through sushumna, then amaroli, vajroli and sahajoli are attained."

Vajroli (withdrawing semen), Sahajoli (smearing burnt cow dung) and Amaroli (drinking one's own pee) reverse the flow of Apana vayu from going down to moving up along the Sushumna. The human mind is fallible - clinging to pleasure and aversion to pain. It takes many years to fortify the mind to be strong, flexible and steady (no fluctuation).

(Verse 15, p. 499) June 10, 2023
Quieting the Mind

"How can there be inner knowledge in the mind, as long as prana is alive and mind is not dead? As long as the twofold nature of mind and prana can be quiescent, liberation is attained. It is not possible for any other person."

When the mind becomes quiet, prana becomes steady, then inner knowledge is revealed. Inner knowledge is inherently within man but remains obscured until revealed. There is no need to struggle for illumination - just quiet the mind and prana becomes steady and illumination hapens.

There is always conflict that aggitates the mind. But conflict is part of life. The challenge is to rise above conflict through awareness and understanding of the underlying intelligence behind such conflict. The mind can thus be made steady despite conflict. When you realize that conflict is the yin and yang of the same thing, then you keep the balance of the mind, steady prana and allow illumination to take place.

(Verse 16, p. 501) June 10, 2023
Kundalini staying at Brahmarandhra...and returning to Muladhara

"Staying in the most suitable place, having found out how to penetrate sushumna and make the prana flow through the middle passage, it should be blocked in the brahmarandhra, the center of higher consciousness"

Kundalini and consciousness meet at the Sahasrara chakra (not in Ajna), on the topmost area of the head, called Brahmarandhra (in the newborn, this is the soft part). It should stay there and not go beyond. This is also called 'hole in the head'. At the time of death, Kundalini escapes by piercing through Brahmarandhra.

It is an interesting anecdote that Amma, the hugging saint, is said to have a literal hole in her head. When asked by her disciple what it's there for, she said that's how she leaves the body. In some circles in astral travel, they talk about exiting through the 'hole' in the head. Perhaps in my Hemi-Sync practice, I can visualize a hole in my Brahmarandhra where I could also exit.

Kundalini must return to Muladhara from Sahasrara. The yogi's external world will still look the same but there is already transformation within. The world will still look the same - you still have to cook your dinner and wash your dishes.

A renowned Tibetan yogi meditator once said that he still looks ordinary outside, but his perception of reality is very different, almost beyond comprehension to most.

(Verse 17, p. 503) June 10, 2023
Sushumna happens when Ida transitions into Pingala

"The sun and moon divide time into day and night. Sushumna is the consumer of time. This is the conveyed secret."

Night and day, sun and moon. Ida is moon and active at night where it takes care of cell repair and recovery. Pingala is the sun, active in the day and performs high energy demand tasks. Ida and Pingala pulls prana creating fluctuation. A yogi controls this and keeps prana steady in the Sushumna (when you hold your breath, prana flows in Sushumna, not in Ida or Pingala). When day transitions into night, when Ida meets Pingala, that moment is expanded by the yogi. This is when prana flows through Sushumna.

(Verse 18, p. 505) June 10, 2023
Sushumna

"Then are 72,000 nadis throughout the cage of this body. Sushumna is the Shambhavi, the remaining nadis are unimportant. "

Sushumna plays the most important role amongst all 72,000 nadis.

(Verse 19, p. 509) June 10, 2023
Kundalini is taken up by samana vayu

"When the vayu is increased then the gastric fire (samana) should be taken along with kundalini in the aroused sushumna and blocked"

(Verse 20) June 10, 2023
Manonmani is established when prana flows in sushumna

"When the prana flows in the sushumna this state of manonmani (consciousness devoid of mental fluctuation) is established. Therefore, other forced practices are just laborious to the yogi."

Yoga is conscious effort. Kumbhaka is conscious effort. However, when Kundalini is awakened, everything becomes spontaneous. Even kumbhaka becomes Kevala kumbhaka. Kundalini rising or merging of Ida, Pingala and Sushumna happens only when the time is ripe. It cannot be rushed. The yogi must simply do his practice regularly but remain ready when the time comes. The merging of the 3 nadis produce a state called Manonmani - a steady mind not clouded by thoughts.

This is where the book becomes confusing again - cause and effect. For most of what it's saying, controlling breath comes first (through Pranayama, Kumbhaka and Bandha), then the mind becomes steady, then the 3 nadis merge. But in this verse, it's saying the other way - when you merge the nadis, then you reach that steady mind (Manonmani). Is the book saying one can come after the other but the reverse is also true? I find this inconsistency quite a lot in this book. It also trys to be nebulous in its explanation like saying, "awareness devoid of the individual functioning of the mind." when what it's simply saying is, "steadiness of the mind without the distractiong thoughts" Even if it's an oversimplification (by GPT4), at least, it's understandable.


Prana and Mind (21-25)

(Verse 21, p. 511) June 11, 2023
Prana and mind are restrained through one another

"Through restraining the prana, thought/counterthought is restrained and through restraint of thought/counterthought, prana (air) is restrained."

(Verse 22) June 11, 2023
Chitta has two causes: vasana and prana

<>"Chitta has two causes, vasana and prana. When one of the two is destroyed or inactivated the other also will become immobile."

(Verse 23) June 11, 2023
Stillness and interdependence of mind and prana

"Where mind is stilled, then the prana is suspended there, and where prana is suspended, there the mind is still."

(Verse 24) June 11, 2023
Prana and mind are mixed like milk and water

"Mind and prana are mixed like milk and water. Both of them are equal in their activities. Where there is pranic movement or activity there is mind (consciousness). Where there is consciousness there is prana."

(Verse 25) June 11, 2023
When one is eradicated so is the other

"Therefore, if one is annihilated, the other is eradicated; if one is active, the other becomes active, and while they exist, all the senses are active. If they are controlled, the state of moksha or liberation is attained"

The finite mind has to be dissolved. The components of mind need to be separated. Same as water, when Hydrogen is separated from Oxygen, water simply diffuses into 2 gases - there is no more water. When the finite mind is fragmented, then the finite perception of the 5 senses ceases to exist.

The way this comes across to me is that these individual mind elements are inert by themselves. But when they cluster together, they breathe life and become animate as sensory perceptions - what we see, what we smell, what we feel. But these are all illusions.Crude analogy? Mentos and Coke. Individually, they are what they are. Combine them and you have an explosive cocktail.


Mercury (26-27)

(Verse 26, p. 514) June 11, 2023
Mercurial properties of mind

"Mercury and mind, are unstable by nature. By stabilizing (seizing or fixing) mercury and mind what cannot be perfected?"

(Verse 27) June 11, 2023
Mercurial properties of pran

"0 Parvati, when mercury and prana are made steady, disease is wiped out. When they are made torpid that is life-giving. When they are seized, one moves in space (Brahman)."

I'm not sure if the Commentator understood what the author meant. He (Commentator) just went on about the many references to Mercury - as an element, as the planet, as the god Mercury, as though finding a fit with yoga - which I found incoherent. Ultimately, it was all an analogy to yoga...which didn't make sense to me. I asked Bard and GPT4, but I think they invented an answer, "...when the breath reaches the navel, it ignites the gastric fire, which in turn leads to the purification and activation of Mercury." What? This is not the first time these language AIs gave me a fictitious answer.


Laya (28-34): Absorption

(Verse 28, p. 520) June 12, 2023
Sattwic state is created by stabilizing mind, prana and bindu

"When mind is still, prana is still, then bindu is still. By bindu being held still, there is always a sattwic state which produces steadiness in the body."

Bindu comes from Sahasrara chakra (Bindu visarga). When prana is in Sushumna (when the breath is held) and bindu is held in Sahasrara (inhalation is held), Kundalini is deprived of prana and bindu. It awakens to get its share of prana and bindu. Bindu is then released in the Bindu visarga and floods the Ajna chakra. This becomes a moment of bliss. The body and mind are made steady and transformation happens.

Hmmm...here is when I have a problem with inconsistent chronology. The book has been saying all along that: 1) you control the breath and you control prana 2) when you control prana, you control the mind. 3) When mind is control (making it steady), illunination happens, ecstasy happens, transformation happens. But this verse is reversing the chronology!

Additionally, the book says in so many confusing things what can be said in plain English. It said, "When prana is in Sushumna" when it could simply say, "when you hold the breath". Prana stops flowing through Ida and Pingala and flows through Sushumna when you hold the breath.

There was mention of Swami Dayananda Saraswati who preached that divinity can be experienced directly through chanting OM - no deity worship or temple ritual. He practiced Brahmacharya and was strong as a bull.

I like this guy and I agree with him. I like the concept of reaching out to the divine by chanting OM. Also, I have experienced becoming insanely strong by redirecting my Bindu through Vajroli mudra (sperm was not ejaculated). I think I'll read more about this guy.

(Verse 29, p. 522) June 12, 2023
Mind rules the senses, prana rules the mind, nada rules the prana

"Mind is the ruler of the senses, prana is the ruler of the mind. Dissolution is the lord of the prana and that dissolution (laya) is the basis of nada."

(Verse 30) June 12, 2023
Nada is liberation according to some authorities

"This is verily called liberation or moksha, but others might not call it so. Nevertheless, when prana and mind are in laya (absorption), indescribable ecstasy is created."

When the sensory perceptions are quieted down, Nada (unstruck sound) begins to be heard. Laya is a state of bliss when there is absorption/union between polarities - Shakti and Shiva. Swatmarama says it's realization, but others say, "not so fast!"

(Verse 31, p. 524) June 12, 2023
Kevala kumbhaka precedes absorption of mind

"When inhalation and exhalation are stopped (finished), enjoyment of the senses annihilated, when there is no effort, and a changeless state (of mind) occurs, the yogi attains laya or absorption."

Breathing controls prana. When breathing is stopped, mind and prana become steady and absorbed in Sahasrara (prana flows into Sushumna instead of Ida and Pingala, mind becomes 1-pointed).

(Verse 32, p. 526) June 12, 2023
Finishing off desires results in laya

"All the prominent desires being entirely finished, and the body motionless, results in the absorption or laya, which is only known by the Self, and beyond the scope of words."

(Verse 33) June 12, 2023
Where the vision is directed and concentrated, laya occurs

"Where the sight is directed, absorption occurs. That in which the elements, senses and shakti exist externally, which is in all living things, both ore dissolved in the characteristicless."

Where the mind goes, energy follows it (If you focus your thoughts on the rejuvenation of your eyes, then all energies are redirected to the eyes to manifest the rejuvenation. Thus, it's very important to include the mind-focus in every endeavor...don't make it just mechanical.). Desire will always be in the mind...they are tethered. There are 4 main desires: 1) material gain 2) propagation of species 3) companionship and 4) power.

(Verse 34, p. 531) June 21, 2023
Characteristics of laya

"Some say ‘laya, laya' but what is the characteristic of laya or absorption? Laya is the non-recollection of the objects of the senses when the previous deep-rooted desires (and impressions) are non-recurrent."

When the meditator, object of meditation and the process of meditation become one, then that absorption is Laya (sounds like Samadhi...what's the difference?). Laya is described in many ways by different traditions, but the common trait is that Laya is the absence of "I" or desires. The mind comes to a point when it realizes it is also the universe.



Sambhavi (35-40): Absorption

(Verse 35, p. 533) June 21, 2023
Shambhavi mudra is for the blessed ones and not everyone

"The Vedas, shastras and Puranas are like common women, but shambhavi is secret like a woman of good heritage."

Sambhavi is gazing at the eyebrow center or the 3rd Eye. It is synonymous to consciousness and awakens higher consciousness. Even though it's a mudra, it is placed in the realm of Samadhi for the crucial role it plays. In Sambhavi, Samadhi can take place. But the reverse is also true - in Samadhi, Sambhavi can spontaneously happen when the eyes roll back. The scriptures (eg Vedas) are for public consumption, but Sambhavi is for the initiated (by the guru).

(Verse 36, p. 534) June 21, 2023
Shambhavi mudra internalizes pranic flow and mind

"With internalized (one-pointed) awareness and external gaze unblinking, that verily is shambhavi mudra, preserved in the Vedas."

(Verse 37) June 21, 2023

"If the yogi remains with the chitta and prana absorbed in the internal object and gaze motionless, though looking, he is not seeing, it is indeed shambhavi mudra. When it is given by the guru's blessing, the state of shoonyashoonya arises. That is the real state of Shiva (consciousness)."

Mudra: Sambhavi (Adept's Pose)

Technique:
  1. sit in Padmasana / Siddhasana
  2. open eyes and gaze on the 3rd Eye...physically gaze there and not just your awareness. Keep gazing until the eyes get tired. Hold as long as possible
  3. gently close your eyes but keep the gaze there.
  4. light will appear when the eyes are finally opened - this happens after regular practice
  5. with even more practice, light appears when the eyes are closed
  6. stay concentrated on that point of light
  7. Sambhavi can be practiced in conjunction with mudra, pranayama, etc. (I often do Sambhavi when tears start flowing during Trataka. Or, I do Sambhavi when chanting OM. There is always a sensation on that part of the head...but nothing seems to happen after...just a sensation).

(Verse 38, p. 536) June 21, 2023
Shambhavi and khechari both create ecstasy

"Shambhavi and khechari states, though there is a difference in the place of concentration or influence, both bring about ecstasy, absorption in void, in the experience of chit sukha or the pleasure of consciousness."

Khechari triggers the flow of Amrita through its influence on the Lalana and Bindu chakras - when Amrita flows, ecstacy happens. Sambhavi influences the Ajna chakra. Ajna, Lalana and Bindu affect each other, thus, Sambhavi also generates ecstacy. In a state of Samadhi, Sambhavi spontaneously happes (eyes roll back involuntarily) and the Khecari spontaneously happens also (tongue rolls back to the nasal cavities to open up the passage to Sahasrara chakra). In conclusion, Khechari and Sambhabi both affect the Ajna, Bindu and Lalana chakras, both trigger a state of Samadhi - they are all somehow incestuously inter-related and influence each other.

Since Khechari is too extreme and invasive for me, I resort to Nabho mudra...and I do this almost always when I do bandhas, kumbhaka, and pranayama. But I haven't done Sambhavi with Nabho mudra. I'll give this a try.

(Verse 39, p. 537) June 21, 2023
Perfection of shambhavi leads to Unmani

"With perfect concentration, the pupils fixed on the light by raising the eyebrows up a little, as from the previously described (shambhavi), mind is joined and instantly unmani occurs."

In Sambhavi, with eyes closed, eventually a small light appears. Concentrate on this light until everything else disappears. When Samadhi ensues, this is called Unmani.

(Verse 40, p. 538) June 21, 2023
Confusion created by intellectual knowledge

"Some people are confused, by the agamas, some are confused by the nigamas and logic. They are bewildered, not knowing how to be liberated."

The methods to spirituality differ from age to age. We are in Kali yuga - the practices in other ages (Satya, Treta, Dvapara) will not bear fruit in this age.



Nasikagra drishti (41): Nose gaze

(Verse 41, p. 540) June 21, 2023
Nasikagra drishti and suspension of ida and pingala

"Mind steady, eyes semi-open, gaze fixed on the nose tip, the moon (ida) andsun (pingala) suspended, without any movement (physical or mental), that one attains the form of light (jyoti) which is endless and is complete, radiant, the Supreme. What more can be said?"

Dharana (concentration) can be practiced but Dyahana is a state of being when the mind has a single focus - when meditator, object of meditation and the meditation process become one.

Position: in Siddhasana / Padmasana, fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. It can be nauseating at the start but it gets easier. Concentrate on the breath and discern which nostril the breath is flowing. When breath is open on both, then prana flows along Sushumna. After 5/10 minutes, close the eyes but keep the gaze on the nose tip. A white light will appear. Concentrate on the white light...just like Sambhavi. This inner light happens when Kundalini awakens in Muladhara and reaches the Ajna (so, the white light happens when Kundlaini awakens, not just by fixing the gaze on the nose tip or 3rd Eye. This means it will take much much more for this to happen. This also means that it's best to engage Mula bandha while on Sambhavi).



Shiva Lingam (42): Consciousness

(Verse 42, p. 542) June 21, 2023
‘Worship' of the shiva lingam

"Worship the lingam neither by day nor by night. By blocking the day and night the lingam should always be worshipped."

shiva lingam

During transition periods, sunrise, sunset, midnight, midday, Ida or Pingala passes through Sushumna before flowing through the other nadi (Ida or Pingala). It is during this transition time when it's best to worship the shiva lingam. These are the times when the subtle bodies and subtle states of mind become accessible.

Shiva lingam has been misinterpreted by the scholars literally as "Shiva's Dick". What lingam means is "invisible but it exists" - consciousness. Cosmic consciousness (not your personal consciousness) is invisible, formless, abstract, infinite, synonymous to God and incomprehensible by the human mind...not even by yogis or sages. The only way it can be understood is to become it - during Samadhi when Consciousness, God and the Universe converge into one. This incomprehensible consciousness is symbolised by the lingam - so it's not Shiva's dick.

The oval shape of the stone shiva lingam is not carved. It has that natural shape with sizes from a few inches to about 15 feet. They are found in Narmada River in Central India. These shiva lingams are taken to various Shiva temples across the country. Usually, someone gets an epiphany on where to find the shivalingam and where to build the temple. So temples are not built simply because someone has money for it.

A shivalingam is not a God to be worshipped, but a symbol of an event when man became sentient.

Ideally, the shivalingam is made with crystal (sphatik lingam). Crystal catches vibrations (sound is a vibration). When you are exposed to crystal lingam, imprints from your internal shiva lingam are revealed - infinite knowledge, man's evolution, etc. We have 12 shiva lingams in our physical body that is awakened when we concentrate on an external shiva lingam. Shiva lingam refers to our causal/etheric body (not physical, not subtle/astral).



Khechari mudra (43-47)

(Verse 43, p. 547) June 26, 2023
Khechari mudra is perfected when sushumna flows

"When the prana which is in the right and left nadis moves in the middle nadi (sushumna) that is the condition for khechari mudra."

(Verse 44) June 26, 2023
Khechari is established when prana is in shoonya

"The fire (of shakti) being swallowed (suppressed) midway between, ida and pingala, in that shoonya (of sushumna), is in truth the condition for khechari mudra."

(Verse 45) June 26, 2023
Khechari stimulates vyoma chakra

"The middle of the sun (pingala) and moon (ida) is the ‘unsupported,' in which is situated vyoma chakra or center of ether (void). This mudra is called khechari."

(Verse 46) June 26, 2023
Sushumna's opening should be filled by the tongue; in the moon's flow is Shiva

"In the flow from the moon (bindu) is the beloved of Shiva (consciousness). The opening of the unequalled divine sushumna should be filled from behind(by the tongue)."

(Verse 47) June 26, 2023
Raja yoga form of khechari also results in unmani

"The sushumna being completely filled at the rear (upper palate) also is khechari. The practice of khechari mudra is followed by the state of unmani (consciousness devoid of mind)."

To unblock and and awaken Sushumna (even though Sushumna is not energy per se but an energy pathway, it also has its own intelligence, thus can be awakened), it will take the combined efforts of Shat kriya, Asana and Pranayama. But to awaken Kundalini shakti, it takes Bandha and Mudra.

But even if someone hasn't meditated, if Khechari mudra is done, Amrita begins to flow (aka Ambrosia, Bindu, Nectar) and when mixed with the blood, perception is heightened (you smell the flowers anytime, anywhere, you hear Nada, you see light, etc.). This showcases how powerful a Mudra is.

The book offers 2 kinds of Khechari - one that cuts the frenulum (which is too extreme to me) and the other one, pressing the tip of the tongue against the soft palate (this is what I do and I incorporate this into virtually anything where my tongue is free - Trataka, Maha mudra, Asana, Sambhavi, etc)

On a dark conspiracy-theory note, in secret rituals held by the very powerful and rich, they torture children and at the point of dying, the kids release 'adrenochrome' into the blood. The revelers drink this blood and they go into unbridled ecstacy - on video, I've seen Mark Zuckerberg describe the high to be higher than anything drug he has taken before. This 'potion' is sold in the open market at $2000/2.5 grams.

Meditation is a spiritual practice, but its effects on the body is profound - the body becomes relaxed, the mind is still, heart rate/blood pressure/respiration go down. When mudras (Khechari, Maha vedha?) are added to meditation, the effects are amplified.

When meditation goes deep and the mind goes into a single-focus, Unmani happens, and this is the start of Samadhi.



Ajna chakra (48):

(Verse 48, p. 550) June 26, 2023
Ajna chakra, activated

"In the middle of the Eyebrows is the place of Shiva, there the mind is quiescent. That state is known as turiya or the fourth dimension. There, time is unknown."

Turiya

The Ajna chakra is not just where the eyebrows meet. It's an area inside the brain covering the pineal gland and the medulla oblongata. This is where the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna converge. Its beeja mantra is OM. This is also the residence of the Kundalini shakti after reaching Sahasrara chakra (so, the Kundalini shakti reverts back and stays here...not in Sahasrara, and not back in Muladhara...unless this is another ambiguous inconsistency). The Ajna chakra becomes the command center for all bodily functions when activated.

When the mind is steady, when Kundalini reaches the Ajna chakra, the experience goes beyond the sensory perceptions. Past karmas are destroyed (so, karma can be forgiven without doing penance) and all Siddhis are activated.

Focus on Ajna chakra is Sambhavi mudra and this is developed by Trataka (fixed gaze until tears). Turiya, or the 4th dimension, is a state when the mind is quiet, when Shakti is united with Shiva (mind and energy)



Yoga Nidra (49)

(Verse 49, p. 554) June 26, 2023
Yoga nidra through khechari

"Khechari should be practiced until yogic sleep occurs. For one who hasattained yogic sleep, time becomes non-existent."

Yoga Nidra is when the body falls asleep but the mind is awake and aware - similar to Lucid Dreaming. But the sleep can go deeper and the mind remains awake and alert. Sleep is a biological process and can be circumvented. Sleep is spontaneous Pratyahara when the outside world no longer exists and the dream world within, takes over.

First, the body is relaxed, part by part, then focus is on the breath. Initially, the initiate falls asleep, but it gets better with practice.

Sleep Stages:

  1. alpha brain waves (7.5 - 12 c.p.s.) - an altered state of consciousness and relaxation in the body which can be produced by meditation
  2. theta waves (4.7 c.p.s.) - second stage when dreaming occurs. There is psychic activity and physical movement (REM?)
  3. delta waves (0 - 3.5 c.p.s.) - awareness moves into the unconscious mind which is characterized by deep sleep

A person can remain aware even at the very low Delta brain wave. Yoga nidra can be achieved through Khechari mudra + Ujjayi pranayama + focusing on a symbol (Ajna focus?)



Empty Mind (50)

(Verse 50, p. 556) June 26, 2023
An empty mind has room for cosmic vibrations

"Having made the mind, unsupported without even a thought, indeed, oneis like a pot filled inside and out with space."

The mind is best when it's empty - no thoughts, no intellectualizing, and no external worldly thoughts. When empty, there is more space for cosmic vibrations to fill it.



Kumbhaka (51-52)

(Verse 51, p. 557) June 26, 2023
Suspension of breath and stilling of mind

"When the external breath is suspended, likewise the middle one (i.e. shakti in sushumna is suspended). Without a doubt, prana and mind become still in their own place (i.e. Brahmarandhra)."

(Verse 52) June 26, 2023

"Verily, practicing with the breath (prana) day and night through the course of prana (sushumna), prana and mind become absorbed there."

When there is Kumbhaka, prana flows from Ida or Pingala, to Sushumna. The mind becomes empty when the breath is held.



Amrita (53): Nectar of Immortality

(Verse 53, p. 558) June 26, 2023
When the body is filled with nectar it becomes superior

"The whole body from the soles of the feet to the head should become filled with nectar. Thus, the one who perfects this has a superior body, superior strength and immense valor"

When the body is filled with Amrita, the mind experiences Godhead.

When Swami Muktananda tasted the drippings of Amrita from Lalana chakra, he saw light filling all 72,000 nadis. His body became lean, agile, strong and disease-free. People who have such experience, are able to become very strong beyond human comprehension.

I don't know if this was Amrita, but when I did Pranayama non-stop for half a day, I had a surge of strength, power and stamina that defied my human body. I have since called that phenomena, the Superman Effect.


Mind (54-63): Duality / Singularity

(Verse 54, p. 559) June 26, 2023
Centering the mind and shakti

"Having made shakti the center of mind and mind the center of shakti, observe the mind making the supreme state the object (of concentration)."

(Verse 55) June 26, 2023
Centering the atma in Brahma

"Making the atma the center of Brahma, and making Brahma the center of atma, and making everything Brahma; remain without even a single thought (in samadhi)."

There is no objective existence except consciousness. Everything else is a construct of the human mind - it's all perception.

(Verse 56, p. 561) June 26, 2023
Shoonya within and without

"Within is void, without is void; like an empty vessel in space, completely full internally, completely full externally, just like a pot in the ocean."

(Verse 57) June 26, 2023
Being devoid of thought

"Without thought of the external or even internal thought, all thoughts abandoned, without even a single thought."

(Verse 58) June 26, 2023
The world is the fabrication of thought

"The entire world is only the fabrication of thought. Play of mind is only created by thought. By transcending the mind which is composed of constructed thought, definitely peace will be attained, O Rama!"

Everything is part of the bigger whole. Everything is thus one. There is no separation, there is no duality.

(Verse 59, p. 564) June 26, 2023
Mind dissolves in samadhi

"As camphor (dissolves) in fire, and salt (dissolves) in the sea, in samadhi mind dissolves into ‘Thatness' (tattwa)."

Individual consciousness is separate from cosmic consciousness. However, when individual consciousness dissolves into the cosmic consciousness, the individual consciousness can no longer be differentiated from cosmic consciousness, although cosmic consciousness is infused the 'flavor' of the individual consciousness.

(Verse 60, p. 565) June 27, 2023
Knower, known and knowing merged

"All that can be known, all that is known and the knowledge, is called mind. When the knower and that which is known are lost together, there is no dual or second way."

(Verse 61) June 27, 2023
Duality dissolves with dissolution of mind

"All that is in this world, animate and inanimate, is the appearance of mind. When mind attains unmani, duality is lost."

(Verse 62) June 27, 2023
Dissolution of mind results in kaivalya

"All the known objects being abandoned, mind goes into absorption or is dissolved. When the mind is dissolved, then there will be kaivalya."

(Verse 63) June 27, 2023
There are various methods to attain samadhi

"Thus, there are many various methods, depending on individual experience, of the path to samadhi, told by the great ones (mahatmas)."

When knower, known and knowing (another euphemism for meditator, object and mediation) become one, then duality dissolves and the true nature of reality is revealed. Gross reality is just a human construct.



Nada (64-68)

(Verse 64, p. 568) June 28, 2023
Salutations to sushumna, kundalini, amrita, manonmani, shakti, atma

"Salutations to sushumna, kundalini, the nectar flouring from the moon, to the mindless state of mind (manonmani), to the great Shakti, to the atma."

(Verse 65) June 28, 2023
Concentration on nada as told by Gorakhnath

"I will describe the concentration on nada as told by Gorakhnath which is attainable by even the unlearned who are unable to comprehend Thatness (tattwas)."

(Verse 66) June 28, 2023
Nada anusandhana leads to laya

"There are one and a quarter crore ways told by Sri Adinath to attain laya, but we think the one and only thing is nada anusandhana or the explorationof nada."

There are many ways to achieve samadhi but according to Nath yogi and sage, Gorakhnath, the easiest way to Laya (absorption of mind) is absorption through Nada (unstruck sounds) - focus the mind on Nada sound. When Kundalini reaches Sahasrara and there is a union of energy and consciousness (Mahabindu), 3 things manifest from the Bindu chakra - Nada (sound), Bindu (amrita) and Kalaa (emanating light). Kalaa is produced when Nada and Bindu move together. In Nada anusandhana, the sound has to be explored in all its dimensions, following the most subtle sound that begins to be heard. Nada sound is unstruck and emanates from the mind - it can heard from the mind (so don't look for it anywhere else with your ears). These sounds are already there - you don't need to create them. You just have to quiet the mind enough to hear them. It helps if the ears are plugged (I use a construction ear muff since it blocks the outside noise and helps amplify the sound inside....like a hum).

Yogi Gorakhnath is revered and known for his Siddhis. He is said to have lived the 4 eras of yuga including the current Kali Yuga. In Northern India, places are named after him....like Gorakhpur. If he endorses Nada as a way towards Samadhi, then that is the way.

(Verse 67, p. 573) June 28, 2023
Nada anusandhana - exploration of sound

"The yogi, sitting in muktasana, concentrated in shambhavi, should listen closely to the nada heard within the right ear"

(Verse 68) June 28, 2023

"Closing the ears, nose and mouth, a clear, distinct sound is heard in the purified sushumna."
Position: To listen to Nada, sit in Siddhasa and plug your ears with your thumb (or a construction ear muff). Do an Antara kumbhaka (inbreath hold) with Mula bandha, and Nabho mudra, and listen. On the exhale, release the bandhas/mudras and do a Brahmari pranayama (humming bee sound). Hold the exhale and listen to the first sound you hear and follow that sound (the longer you hold the exhale, the more pronounced the sounds become). If you hear a more subtle sound, ignore the previous sound and follow the subtle sound. Stay vigilant on emergent subtle sounds and keep following the subtle sound. At some point, the subtle sound becomes clear and vivid. Concentrate on the sound.

A similar kriya is the Nada Sanchalana. On the inhale, visualize prana shooting up from Muladhara, Svadisthana, Manipuraka, Anahatha, Vishuddhi, Ajna to Sahasrara. Hold. On the exhale, focus on Sahasrara and chant OM, descending the focus of "U" back to Muladhara, and pronounce the "M".

Nada sound

When Kundalini awakens, sometimes very subtle 'inner voices' can be heard (not by the ear) coming from a deeper consciousness. No audible sound emanates but the communication is there...like trees talking to each other. This is how advanced yogis talk to each other - it's not even 'verbal' but vibrations or symbols that come into the mind. But the communication is established. This is how mantras emanate from the divine to the yogi (and taught/passed on to disciples). This is how the Vedas were transmitted to man. When you hear incoherent sound or broken communication, continue with the practice until these sounds become coherent and vivid.

There are 2 kinds of minds:

  1. empirical mind - this is our default individual mind that hears when it is spoken to verbally. This mind is limited by the 5 sensory organs
  2. cosmic mind - this is the universal and transcendent mind that hears nada, voice of God, divine transmissions, etc. If an uninitiated experiences 'voices' with no guidance, he may think he is going crazy. Western thinking would even label


Nada Yoga (69-76): 4 Stages

(Verse 69, p. 578) June 29, 2023
Four stages of Nada yoga

"In all the yogic practices there are four stages; arambha, beginning; ghata, vessel; parichaya, increase; nishpatti, consummation."

In Kundalini rising through Nada yoga, there are 4 stages before Samadhi is attained, each higher stage being more subtle and more refined than the previous. The stages are more pronounced with Pranayama practice.

(Verse 70, p. 579) June 29, 2023
ARAMBHA AVASTHA (beginning stage)

"The Brahma granthi being pierced, the feeling of bliss arises from the void; wondrous, tinkling sounds and the unstruck sound (anahata) are heard within the body."

(Verse 71) June 29, 2023

"When the yogi experiences arambha in the void of the heart, his body becomes lustrous and brilliant with a divine smell and diseaseless."

When Kundalini rises, Brahman granthi (knots preventing higher states of consciousness) is untied and Muladhara chakra (like a buzzing of bees around the coccyx) is activated. The barriers are breached and sound is heard (Nada sound) - not at the Anahata chakra (this comes later), but at the Muladhara chakra. From Muladhara, these sounds could manifest as letters. This is Arambha Avastha, the first stage towards Nada. When Kundalini rises at the Arambha, it sounds like a rocket or jet...loud.

(Verse 72, p. 581) June 29, 2023
GHATA AVASTHA (vessel stage)

"In the second stage, when ghata is achieved, the Shakti goes into the middlenadi. Being fixed in his asana the wise yogi is comparable to a divine being"

(Verse 73) June 29, 2023
GHATA AVASTHA (vessel stage)

"When the Vishnu granthi is pierced the greatest bliss is revealed. Then from the void the sound of the kettledrum manifests."

In the 2nd stage, Nada moves up from Muladhara to Anahatha chakra. when the Vishnu granthi is unraveled at the Anahata chakra, the subtler sound frequencies are attuned. Cosmic nada pervades the individual. When Kundalini rises at the Ghata, like Arambha, it sounds like a rocket or jet...loud.

(Verse 74, p. 583) June 29, 2023
PARICHAYA AVASTHA (stage of increase)

"In the third stage is the experience of the sound of the drum. Then there is the great void and one enters the place of total perfection or siddhi"

(Verse 75) June 29, 2023

"Then the bliss of chitta being attained, natural or spontaneous ecstasy arises. Imbalance of the three humours or doshas, pain, old age, disease, hunger, sleep are overcome"

When Nada reaches Vishuddhi chakra, nada takes the sound of the beating drums. The 3 doshas (vayu, pitta, kapha) are put in balance.

Pain, sleep, disease, old age are no longer as compelling - he overcomes them, or becomes unbothered by them. When ascendant yogis suffer from disease (or even die from them), it is because Samadhi was achieved by a trigger (like a realization from out of nowhere, eg Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Ramana Maharshi) and not through enhancing the entire system (long, deep and devoted yoga practice, purifying the body through Shat kriyas, etc.). Another reason is simply a karmic process (karmic debts of past lives need to be paid, no karmic lessons still need to be learned). Third, which I am conflicted with, is that these masters assumed the negative karma of some people. My contention here is that no one should be able to pay for someone else's karmic debts. When Kundalini rises at the PARICHAYA, it sounds like a horn or gong, not as loud and lower.

(Verse 76, p. 586) June 29, 2023
NISHPATTI AVASTHA (stage of consummation)

"If the Rudra granthi is pierced, the fire of prana moves to the place of Ishwara. Then in the stage of nishpatti or consummation is the tinkling sound of the flute resonating like a vina."

In this final stage, Nada reaches Ajna chakra and the Rudra granthi is pierced and Nada reaches Sahasrara chakra. The sound heard sounds like a flute or an echoing sound. Amrita begins to drip and karmic debts are canceled. When Kundalini rises at the NISHPATTI, it's a higher frequency thus the sound is lower in volume. it sounds like a piano or harp.



Raja Yoga (77-80)

(Verse 77, p. 587) July 19, 2023
Raja yoga is the state of Ishwara tattwa

"This is called raja yoga when there is one element in the mind or chitta. Theyogi becomes Ishwara, being the creator and destroyer."

(Verse 78) July 19, 2023
Through laya there is pleasure even if there is no liberation

"Whether there is liberation or not, nevertheless there is pleasure. Thepleasure arising from laya is derived from raja yoga."

When Raja yoga is achieved (when Shakti unites with Shiva, energy unites with consciousness), even when there is the highest bliss at this state, it is not yet liberation. When this stage is reached, even if there is no liberation yet, the pleasure experienced is ecstatic - not pleasure from the 5 senses but an inner divine pleasure.

(Verse 79, p. 588) July 19, 2023
Practice of hatha yoga without realization of raja yoga is unfruitful

"There are practitioners of hatha yoga who do not have the knowledge of raja yoga. I consider them as mere practitioners because they derive no fruits for their efforts."

When Hatha Yoga has been realized (Kundalini reaches the Ajna), the yogi must proceed to deepen his practice with Raja yoga. Without Raja yoga and it's deliverance, then Hatha Yoga was simply wasted to beautify the body.

(Verse 80, p. 589) July 19, 2023
Intellectual brilliance is unnecessary for practice of shambhavi mudra and nada yoga

"In my opinion, contemplation on the eyebrow center leads to a mindless state immediately. It is a suitable method even for those with less intellect to attain the state of raja yoga. The laya attained through nada gives immediate experience."

It does not take high intelligence to do Sambhavi mudra. Sambhavi activates Ajna chakra and facilitates Samadhi - the eyes roll back spontaneously and Nada is heard. Once experienced, Samadhi states can be commanded at will.



Nada Anusandhana (81-102)

(Verse 81, p. 590) July 19, 2023
Plenitude of ecstasy through samadhi attained by nada anusandhana

"There is plenitude of bliss in the hearts of the great yogis who remaininsamadhi through nada anusandhana or exploration of nada, which isunequalled and beyond any description, known by the one and only Gurunath."

(Verse 82) July 19, 2023
By practicing yoni mudra, nada is heard and stillness achieved

"Having closed the ears with the hands, the muni should listen to the innersound with the mind steady on that, then the state of stillnessis achieved."

(Verse 83) July 19, 2023
External awareness subsides when listening to nada, within fifteen days the pleasure is felt

"Through sustained listening to the nada, awareness of the external sounddiminishes. Thus, the yogi overcomes mental turbulence within fifteen daysand feels the pleasure."

(Verse 84) July 19, 2023
Prominent nadas heard

"When he first begins to hear sounds during practice, there are variousprominent nadas but with prolonged practice the subtlest of subtletiesbecomes audible."

When Nada is heard, one must keep focused for the more subtle sound. There will be layers of sound within sound, each one being more subtle on the inside. Just follow the subtle sound that becomes heard. when Nada intensifies, external noise is tuned out in the same way that in a dream, the external environment ceases to exist. Once Nada is heard, continue the practice daily and after 15 days, transformation happens.

The brain transmits sounds/vibrations too. The stronger the consciousness, the more amplified the sound gets. It is even said that the material universe takes shape and form from a matrix of sound and vibration.

Mantra is a manifestation of Nada. The great yogis hear this Nada in the form of Mantra. This is how Mantras come to being - it is a transmission fromt the cosmic expanse into the consciousness of the yogi. Thus, Mantra is very powerful - its vibrations can influence creation and destruction.

(Verse 85, p. 593) July 1, 2023
Types of nada perceived

"The first fruits are the sounds of the ocean, then clouds, the kettledrum and jharjhara drum. In the middle stage the shankha (conch), gong and horn."

(Verse 86) July 1, 2023

"Now, reaching the inner point of conclusion, are the tinkling of bells, flute, vina and humming of bees. Thus, the various nadas are produced and heard from the middle of the body."

(Verse 87) July 1, 2023

"Even when the sounds of clouds and the kettledrum are heard, attention should be kept on even subtler nada."

(Verse 88) July 1, 2023
Listen only to the deep and more subtle sounds

"Though the attention may go from the deep to the subtle or subtle to deep, the mind should not move to various things other than the sound."

(Verse 89) July 1, 2023
Mind adheres to nada and merges with it

"Whatever nada the mind initially adheres to, it becomes perfectly still in that and dissolves with it."

(Verse 90) July 1, 2023
Mind ceases to crave sensual experience when absorbed in nada

"Just as a bee drinking honey is unconcerned about the fragrance, so the mind engaged in nada is not craving for sensual objects."

Nada sound is heard in different frequencies and can be heard as different sounds - sea, kettle drum, conch, etc. The louder the volume, the lower the frequency is and the higher the frequency, the lower the volume. Nada is either higher or lower in human auditory perception - subsonic or hypersonic (Hmmm....so nada is a sound within the physical sound spectrum but beyond human perception? I thought it was 'unstruck sound' meaning it's etheric). Nada, being a higher frequency, travels at a greater distance.

Chakras are defined by sound (beeja mantra, eg LAM for Muladhara chakra), form and light. Being activated by sound, it means Nada can activate chakras and therefore can awaken Kundalini.

(Verse 91, p. 596) July 1, 2023
Nada subdues the roaming mind and controls the senses

"By the sharp goad of nada, the mind, which is like a furious elephant roaming in the garden of the senses, is controlled."

(Verse 92) July 1, 2023
Mind absorbed in nada becomes immobile

"When the mind ceases to be fickle and is united by fixing it in nada, it becomes immobile like a wingless bird."

(Verse 93) July 1, 2023
One who desires yoga should listen to nada

"One who desires complete dominion of yoga should thus explore the nadaith an attentive mind and abandon all thoughts."

Audible sound like music affects mood, thinking and body states - same thing with Nada sound. When absorbed in Nada, the mind forgets the external world, like when you are absorbed in Adele's music, other thoughts like deadlines, dinner and errands are forgotten at the moment.

(Verse 94, p. 597) July 2, 2023
Nada is like a net which snares and slays the mind

"Nada is like the net which snares the deer (mind) inside, it is also like the hunter who slays the deer (mind) inside."

(Verse 95) July 2, 2023
Nada is like a bolt which locks the mind

"It is like the bolt locking a horse inside, for one who is self-controlled. The yogi must therefore meditate regularly upon the nada"

(Verse 96) July 2, 2023
Nada is like sulphur which solidifies the mercurial mind

"Just as liquid mercury is solidified by sulphur, so mind is bound by nada and freed from restlessness. Then one moves unsupported in void"

(Verse 97) July 2, 2023
Mind becomes hypnotized like a captivated snake when it hears nada

"Hearing the nada, mind, which is like a serpent within, becomes captivated and oblivious to all else, not moving anywhere else."

(Verse 98) July 2, 2023
Mind is burnt by nada

"As fire burns wood and both subside together so the mind which moves with nada is absorbed in it."

(Verse 99) July 2, 2023
Mind is attracted to nada, like a deer to music

"Just as a deer attracted by the sound of bells is easily killed by an expert archer, so is the mind silenced by an adept in nada yoga."

(Verse 100) July 2, 2023
The essence of nada is consciousness

"One hears the sound of the unstruck resonance (anahata shabda); the quintessence of that sound is the (supreme) object (consciousness). The mind becomes one with that object of knowledge and it dissolves therein. That is the supreme state of Vishnu (sthiti)."

Any means of Samadhi must still the mind so that it's empty of everything from the outside world. The mind must jettison all its baggage. Once Nada is heard from meditation, the mind becomes a captive audience and Nada wraps itself around it. When Nada is heard, it is hard to get some sleep. If Nada continues for days, then you don't sleep for days. Nada pervades the day of the yogi...at work or at play.

(Verse 101, p. 600) July 2, 2023
Akasha tattwa exists as long as nada is heard

"The conception of akasha (the substratum of sound) exists as long as the sound is heard. The soundless, which is the supreme reality, is called the supreme atma. "

(Verse 102) July 2, 2023
Sound is shakti and dissolves in consciousness

"Whatever is heard of the nature of the mystical nada is indeed Shakti. That in which all the elements (panchatattwa) find dissolution, that is the formless being, the supreme lord (Parameshwara)."

The distinct quality of the Akash element (Tattwa) is sound. Our true nature is pure consciousness even though we have forgotten or unaware.



Nirvana (103-114)

(Verse 103, p. 602) July 2, 2023
Hatha yoga and laya yoga are the means to raja yoga

"All the processes of hatha and laya yoga are but the means to attain raja yoga (samadhi). One who attains raja yoga is victorious over time (death)."

(Verse 104) July 2, 2023
Tattwa is the seed, hatha yoga the soil, desirelessness the water, so unmani, the kalpa vriksha, sprouts forth

"Tattwa is the seed, hatha is the soil, total desirelessness (vairagya) is the water. By these three the kalpa vriksha (wish fulfilling tree) which is the unmani avastha (mindless state) immediately sprouts forth."

Ultimately, the goal of all yoga (Hatha yoga, Laya yoga) is Raja Yoga - union of energy and consciousness at the Sahasrara chakra. Hatha Yoga achieves its goal when Ida, Pingala and Sushumna merge at the Ajna chakra. From there to Sahasrara is the realm of Raja Yoga.

When Anahata chakra is awakened, your desires, small or big, are manifested. Some people can manifest at will. Careful how you think, negative worries can manifest as well. e.g. "What if a tiger shows up and eats me?" A tiger showed up and ate the yogi. Just think of the best possible thing to happen...always.

(Verse 105, p. 605) July 2, 2023
Concentration on nada burns ‘bad karma'

"‘Bad karma' (sin) is destroyed by constant concentration on nada. The finite mind and prana dissolve into the stainless (niranjana)."

(Verse 106) July 2, 2023
During unmani the body becomes immobile and not even the nada is heard

"The body becomes like a log of wood in the unmani avastha and not even the sound of the conch or dundhubhi (drum) is perceived by the yogi."

(Verse 107) July 2, 2023
One who is beyond the three states of mind, freed of thought and appears dead, is liberated

"The yogi who has gone beyond all the states (of consciousness), who is freed of thought, who appears dead (impervious to stimulus) is liberated without doubt."

(Verse 108) July 2, 2023
In samadhi a yogi is unaffected by time, karma, or any influence

"In samadhi a yogi is neither consumed by the processes of time (death) nor is he affected by action (karma) nor affected by any influence."

(Verse 109) July 2, 2023
In samadhi there is neither sense nor ego perception

"In samadhi a yogi knows neither smell, taste, form, touch or sound (tanmatras); he does not cognize his self (ego) nor that of others."

(Verse 110) July 2, 2023
The liberated one is neither asleep nor awake, neither conscious nor unconscious

"One whose mind is neither asleep nor awake, (whose mind) is devoid of memory and forgetfulness, neither oblivious nor active, is indeed liberated."

(Verse 111) July 2, 2023
In samadhi there is no dual experience

"In samadhi a yogi is unaware of (distinctions of) heat and cold, pain and pleasure, honor and dishonor"

(Verse 112) July 2, 2023
One who seems asleep but is awake, who is healthy but without breath, is liberated

"He who seems asleep in the waking state, who is without breathing yet is perfectly healthy, is verily liberated."

In Samadhi (when Shakti ascends up passing all chakras until it reaches Sahasrara), the mind stops thinking, sensory perception ceases, the outside world does not exist and only consciousness remains. At this point, individual consciousness merges with the universal cosmic consciousness. Everything stops existing - sleep, time, space, hunger, etc. It is everything and nothing at the same time.

We have 2 realities - space and time. Both reside in the mind. When they merge, duality ceases - one experiences divinity, truth, infinity, light, eternity, etc. There is no more the notion of, "I am experiencing..." In Tantra, they call this Darshan. In this state, your desire for anything else ceases for Darshan is the ultimate wealth.

Karma can be 2 things: cause and effect | action. Your karmic destiny will cause you to do things (action, be a soldier?). Your wrong doings will have to be paid back (cause and effect).

(Verse 113, p. 612) July 2, 2023
In samadhi a yogi is unaffected by weapons, people, mantra and yantra

"In samadhi, a yogi is invulnerable to any weapon, unassailable by any person, unsubjected to another's control by the use of mantras and yantras."

A yogi in Samadhi is impervious from weapons, harm, spells, disease. Before meditation, the mind must be purified too, otherwise, the benefit is not realized. To purify the mind, chanting a mantra must be done. A mantra is a sound but it's also an energy that influences the mind. Do not concentrate when chanting a mantra...the mind must remain light. Let the mind flow when chanting a mantra...let the mind unleash all its suppressions (from this life and previous lives). If the thoughts go dark, face it. Watch where the mind goes...like watching tv. OM is a unversal and powerful mantra. There are thousands of sacred sounds permeating our reality, but only the sages, seers and saints hear them. Mantras come in 3 categories - those with gross, subtle and spiritual effects. Mantra can be a 'beeja' or one word sound or a combination of sounds. Every sound is unique and has its own light and benefit - 'ah' is different from 'aaah'. Mantra is a powerful energy that can affect you and reality as it unfolds. Mantra is the sound and Yantra is the form of that mantra.

(Verse 114, p. 615) July 2, 2023
One who speaks about spiritual knowledge but has not activated sushumna, steadied his bindu or achieved spontaneous meditation, utters false words

"While the prana does not flow in the middle passage (of sushumna), while the bindu is not steadied by restraining the prana, while mind does not reflect spontaneous meditation, then those who speak of spiritual knowledge are only indulging in boastful and false tales"

Anyone who has not achieved Kundalini awakening should not talk about it. Practice and realize, not talk and philosophize. Yogis embody what they teach and live their lives accordingly. Preachers who have no realization yet, don't make credible teachers.




Blogs about Samadhi

  1. Autobiography of a Yogi July 12-29, 2023
  2. Hatha Yoga Pradipika Oct 1, 2022 - Jul 5, 2023
  3. Samadhi: 8th Limb of Yoga Aug 4, 2022




Ending Thoughts
9 months! 9 long months before I finished reading, summarizing, codifying and putting into practice what this yoga bible is all about. I would not have learned as much had I just read it. I've learned so much about yoga with this book. My practice has exponentially improved by knowing why I'm doing certain things. It connected all the little snippets of yoga (asana, mudra, shat kriya, pranayama, bandhas, mantra, meditation, etc.) into a big picture that now makes better sense to me.

This book is essentially a commentary on the cryptic writings of Svatmarama. But commentaries are supposed to be written down in a way common people will understand it. But Muktibohananda didn't go all the way in simplifying - some passages were written more like a word salad.

Also, there were many ambiguities and inconsistensies especially the cause-and-effect. In some parts the roles were reversed.

Still altogether, it's a book you can learn a lot from and I would recommend this book.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for 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 Chronicles 2022 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. March Chronicles 2022 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. February Chronicles 2022 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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