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Country > Philippines > Siquijor Island > Lazi
Date > 2023 > December
Activity > Yoga

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

Trataka Sungazing December 11, 2023

Trataka Sungazing

Location Google Map: Lazi, Siquijor Island, Philippines


While I have completed my 200 hours of teacher-training and had been practicing yoga for over 2 decades, I am not a guru and I don't package myself as one. I'm just a dedicated practitioner sharing my knowledge, skill, and insight.

This sequence is an advanced hack on yoga - some are not in the books and it's risky especially if your practice is not strong. Ideally, you should be under the guidance of a guru or be initiated into the practice. I'm doing this on my own because I cannot find a suitable guru and I am comfortable studying established yoga books and weaving different practices into a seamless singularity (like a chef who creates an intuitive fusion-recipe with everything he knows about cooking). The fact that I'm posting this means I have already done it many times with only positive results. My unique practice has made me strong, vibrant and resilient from disease. Be advised that if you do this sequence, you are doing it at your own risk.

  1. Trataka - one of the 6 purification processes in yoga where you fix your gaze on a spot or object without blinking until tears run. Regular practice of Trataka claims that no eye sickness can befall the practioner
  2. Sungazing - meditative practice of gazing at the rising sun with or without blinking. This balances the circadian rhythm (physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle), suppresses the need for food and boosts energy. Caution: science argues that sun gazing is an unsafe practice and can lead to solar retinopathy, pterygium, cataracts, and blindness.
  3. Surya Pradarshini Mudra - interlaced finger position that enhances vision
  4. Padmasana - full lotus seated pose, arguably the most powerful seated pose in yoga
  5. Nabho Mudra - pressing the tongue against the soft palate near the nostril cavity. This enhances the flow of Amrita, the nectar of immortality
  6. Mula Bandha - pulling up the perinium muscle (or squeezing the butt cheeks or contracting the anal muscles, or all of them at the same time) while envisioning that the Kundalini shakti (a dormant but very powerful energy when awakened) is being squeezed up along the spinal energy pathway (Sushumna) all the way to the top of the head (Sahasrara chakra)
  7. Maha Bandha Mudra - on an exhale hold, the perinium muscles are engaged, the tummy is sucked-in and chin reaches down to the chest. This is a very powerful combination of mudras and breath-hold to awaken kundalini, activate the chakras and trigger siddhis
  8. OM Mantra - on the exhale, I chant OM. OM is a sound that is uttered to still the mind, relax the body, soothe the emotionss to achieve a higher level of consciousness

Trataka + Sun Gazing
Trataka is a powerful purification kriya in yoga to improve eyesight. Sungazing is also helpful in restoring vision functionality. What happens when you combine both to enhance vision? Fixed gaze on the sun without blinking until tears flow!

Sunrise on the Horizon
I went to the seawall for my usual morning yoga practice. When the sun starting peeking on the sea horizon at 5:51 am, an Aha Moment came upon me. I've always wanted to do sun-gazing, but usually, when the sun comes out from the mountain horizon in Chiang Mai (Thailand), the sun is already too high, too bright and the temperature, too hot. Catching the sun by the sea is as mild as it gets on the eyes. This prompted me to do my vision therapy, Trataka, but instead of fixing my gaze on a far away object, I'd gaze on the sun instead. On a beautiful day, it's a clear blue sky and the sun rises in its full radiance. On a bad day, it could be raining or too cloudy, you can't see the sun.

No Need for Food?
Even though sun-gazing's main draw is to not feel hungry (and thus do away with eating), this is not my goal. I love food. Even if I never feel hungry, I'll resort to recreational eating. I'm in this for the vision enhancement. I'm at that age when I need longer arms to read the fine print.

Having said that, I do not discount that there are certain techniques to do away with food. While reading Autobiography of a Yogi, a chapter talked about "Giri Bala: The Woman Yogi Who Never Eats". She was taught a specific pranayama so that she won't have need for food ever. This technique was not discussed though and her teacher gave specific instruction not to teach this technique to anyone as this can potentially wreak havoc on society and the economy.

Trataka Sungazing
Sunrise was 5:51 am

Sun Gazing Protocol:

  1. Time - sunrise and sunset only. Midday gazing is suicidal. Please note that by 'sunrise', it's when the sun peeks from the horizon of the ocean, not when it peeks from the summit of a tall mountain. By that time, the sun is already too high and too hot
  2. Duration - start short, maybe a few seconds and increase by 5 seconds each day. Cap it when you reach 44 minutes
  3. Position - best to be standing up barefeet on the soil. This gives grounding or earthing as well
  4. Eye movement - 2 ways. Fix your gaze on the sun, Trataka-style, to optimize vision. Another way is to roll your eyes to stimulate brain activity

Sun Gazing Benefits:

  1. Increased Energy Levels - sun-gazing can enhance overall energy levels, leading to increased vitality and a sense of well-being.
  2. Emotional and Mental Well-being - Sun-gazing positively impacts emotional and mental health, potentially alleviating conditions such as depression and stress.
  3. Balanced Appetite - sun-gazing can help suppress appetite, leading to healthier and more balanced eating habits.
  4. Spiritual Benefits - sun-gazing may have spiritual benefits, including heightened intuition, improved concentration, and a sense of inner peace.
  5. Enhanced Sleep Quality - sun-gazing can contribute to better sleep quality and reduced sleep requirements.
  6. Increased Production of Melatonin and Serotonin - sun exposure is known to influence the production and optimal functioning of melatonin (which regulates sleep) and serotonin (which influences mood).
  7. Detoxification - sun-gazing can help in detoxifying the body by promoting the elimination of impurities.
  8. Improved Eyesight - the practice can contribute to better eyesight and may help in reducing the need for prescription eyeglasses.

Sun Gazing Sequence
In my practice, many things are going on at the same time since I combine several features of yoga during a sequence - mudra, bandha, pranayama, kumbhaka, asana and mantra. Doing them all sequentially/simultaneously gets easier with practice. Refer to the Glossary above for description of the technical words.

  1. Sitting down - sit on Padmasana facing the sun. Hands are in Surya Pradarshini Mudra. Be in this position before the sun shows up
  2. Sunrise - fix your gaze on the sun as it peeks on the horizon and don't blink until tears run down your cheeks or if you cannot bear the light anymore - whichever comes first. The first few times will be short, but it's easy to build resistance.
  3. Inhalation - full inhale and pause briefly. Be aware of that pause - it's important. The pause is called a Kumbhaka. It plays a powerful role in Kundalini awakening at the advanced level
  4. Exhalation - chant OM on the exhalation. Empty the lungs and hold. Engage Mula Bandha and Nabho Mudra until point of failure. Release slowly and loop back into the inhale.

I started 5:51 and ended at 6:01 - a total of 10 mins gazing directly at the sun without blinking. From 6:01 to 6:25 am, I just gazed at the more forgiving reflection of the sun on the ocean. There were still no tears although my eyes were already moist. But the sun was already unbearable. I'm actually surprised to last 10 minutes without blinking. But I guess it's because I'd been doing Trataka for years now. This routine demanded a high concentration. If I lose my focus, the coordination of breathing, bandha, mudra and chanting gets out of whack.

Ending Thoughts
I only began this practice yesterday (briefly), so today is my 2nd full-on day. I should be able to know in a month if there are benefits to this practice. I'm already sure about Trataka as I had been doing this for years. But Trakata on the rising sun? This is different, but I've seen videos of yogis doing this with favorable results. We'll see.

(Dec 31, 2023) It's been a month now of daily sun-gazing. Some days were too cloudy and on one day, it rained. Altogether, I've benefitted immensely from waking up at 4 am to be on the seawall by 5 am. This gives me a full hour of doing my asana, pranayama, bandha, mudra and kumbhaka. By the time the sun peeks, I'm already satiated with the workout and ready to be on a more meditative sun-gazing. I do this in lotus seating (Padmasana). After sun-gazing, I continue with more meditation. On the way back, I sometimes walk barefeet on the ground (for earthing) or take a dip on the beach. So these are all the benefits I already get even without sun-gazing - just by waking up early to be by the seawall at 5 am.

But what benefits did I really get after a month? Honestly, I can't say. Was my sleeping any better? I can't say because it's too noisy where I live. I never get a full night's sleep. Towards the end of December, I tried shutting down my laptop before I head out for my evening yoga. I go to sleep when I come back (even if it's as early as 9 pm). I don't open the laptop anymore. This way, I get more sleep and my eyes are not extensively taxed. Do I feel any healthier? I can't say because I'm continuously modifying my workout so it's hard to discern if the benefit came from eye-gazing or diet or the workout. But at the end of the day, I can affirm that I remain strong, free from disease and more contemplative on the present moment (probably largely due to my reading of the Yoga Sutras). Has my vision improved? I can't say - probably not since the use of my eyes is almost exclusive on my laptop which badly strains it at the end of the day.

Since there is no downside to my sun-gazing, I'll keep the routine as part of my yoga practice. All good at the end of the day.

--- 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

Watch the FREE Movie: Eat the Sun by Mason Dwinell (1:22:08)

Benefits of Sun Gazing by Hira Ratan Manek

Hira Ratan Manek is a sun-gazing practitioner and claims to not have taken food for decades. But he was photographed eating food in a restaurant. Is he a fraud? In my opinion, yes because he misrepresented himself. However, I believe he can survive long periods without food given the many episodes he was confined without food. Maybe he had a craving that one moment. If he packaged himself as one who can survive without food but submits to his craving once in a blue moon, he would still have kept his reputation intact. It is still worthwhile to listen to his discourses as follows:

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