Yoga means the joining of two or more things. In the loftiest of ideals, it means the joining of Atma (Self) with Parmatama (the Supreme). Our ancient seers and rishis wrote inexhaustible material on the subject. But in the modern world yoga has become synonymous with asanas only. As no sound in the universe is beyond the seven suras Sa,Re,Ga,Ma,Pa,Dha,Ni (as per western system, Do,Re,Mi,Fa,So,La, Ti) similarly, no form in the creation is beyond yoga. It is said Lord Shiva created 8,400,000 representing as many forms of life in cosmos. Later on, they were reduced to 84 for practical ease of the yogi. Further, still fewer asanas were referred to in yogic text like Gherand Samhita etc. Here, we are just trying to understand the above mentioned subject from a practical point of view for a modern person to implement in his life and reap some benefits by it. Hence we will not be going into the yogic sutras but into general discussions and point of views only.
There are many forms which come under the heading of yoga, namely, Hatha Yog, Raj yog, Laya yog, Kundlini yog, Karam yog, Gyan yog etc. Hatha yog comprises of six steps; 1.Asan, 2.Mudra, 3.Pranayam, 4.Neti, 5.Dhauti, 6.Basti. Asanas are defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, “Sthiram sukham aasanam” that position which is comfortable and steady. Asanas open the energy channels and psychic centers. The gross form of the mind is the body and the subtle form of the body is the mind. The practice of asana integrates and harmonies the two. Every mental knot has a corresponding physical, muscular knot and vice versa. Thus the body is kept disease free and the nervous system gets balanced. It keeps our spine straight, flexible, and youthful. Mudras are gestures of psychic, emotional, devotional, and aesthetic attitudes. They are gestures compelling energy flow that link the individual pranic force with the universal cosmic force or we can say that it is a method by which gross is connected to subtle. Mudras are also defined as a ‘seal’, ‘short-cut’ or ‘circuit by-pass’. They are a combination of subtle movements which alter mood, attitude and perception and which increase awareness and concentration. By postures adopted during Mudras specific glands in the body are affected. Their secretions help us digest our food, which in turn helps in the formation of blood. Blood is the life force of the gross body. Malfunction of any gland affects the working of body and generates in us lower tendencies. In the case of a brute person if his glandular secretions are controlled, he can be converted into a divine personality. Mudras which are most practiced are Vipareeta karini mudra, Sarvangsadhana mudra, Moolbandh mudra, Udiyan bandh mudra, Mahamudra etc. Further, there are lot of hand mudras which are used in tantra also discussion of which is beyond the purpose of introduction here. Pranayam is literally the way of extension and expansion of the dimension of prana, which is our vital energy or life force. Pranayama utilizes breathing practices to influence the flow of prana in the nadis, the energy channels of the Pranamaya kosha or energy body. They are the different methods by which breath is taken to elongate our life force. Two most important organs in this process are heart and lungs. Their healthy state is essential for robust health. Further, different pranayama help us alleviate different problems of our body like cold, cough, typhoid, TB, pneumonia, fever etc. Further, it develops concentration gives peace of mind and inner joy. Neti is a process of cleaning our nasal cavity. Regular practice of it cures headaches and other ailments of head, also improves eye sight. Dhoti is a process through which our digestive tract is cleansed while Basti is the process through which our excretory track is cleansed. According to Hatha yog, ‘Shareeram Adyam Khalu Dharma Sadhanam’ i.e. if a body is kept perfectly hale and hearty, mind would be, as a natural consequence, sound-concentrated & elevated. A Hatha yogin knows the body thoroughly and fully controls it. According to it no human is good or bad, it is only due to defective functioning of various glands human nature gets distorted. Glands are nourished by blood and blood is formed from our food. Pure Satvic food will generate Satvic qualities while Rajsic and Tamsic will generate respective qualities in us. Hence balanced diet is a must for such practitioner. That is why it is said ‘Jaisa ann vaise mann’ i.e. As the food similar will be the mind.
Raj yog, also called Ashtang yog, was devised by great rishi Patanjali. There are many view points as to the period when he devised this system but all do agree that a sage by the name of Patanjali existed. According to his system mind is more subtle than our body and vital energy, Pran. If it comes under control that body as well as the vital energy can be controlled. Hence, this system stresses to control our mind unlike earlier system which propagated controlling of our body. This system has been devised in to eight steps namely, 1 Yam, 2Niyam, 3Asan, 4Pranayam, 5Pratyahaar, 6Dharana, 7dhyan,8 Samadhi. Yam are rules of social conduct, Niyam are the rules of personal conduct, Asan are physical poses, Pranayam is control of pranic or life force, Pratyhaar is sense with drawl, Dharana is concentration, Dhyan is meditation while Samadhi is super consciousness state. The whole system has been explained in four steps by the sage in the form of small sutras, namely Samadhi paad 51 sutras, Sadhana paad 55 sutras, Vibhuti paad 56 sutras and Kaivalya paad 34 sutras. Discussion of these sutras is not the purpose of present article. We get many excellent details on it already provided by our great rishis.While going through various upnishads, one finds very interesting reference provided to the system of yoga from practical point of view which one is sharing here for interest of the readers.
One should keep on doing asan till both sides become equal.
One should do 80 matra of pranayama four times a day i.e morning, noon, evening and midnight. One should progressively reach 80 matra. In three years one would get yog siddhi and one day all the karmas will be severed. Sleep and food intake will reduce, strength will increase and body will start shining.
Whichever part of the body is diseased, hold pran there and it will get cured.
With the help of Shanmukhi Mudra the mind comes under control.
Punitive regimen for speech is silence, punitive regimen for body is fasting or abstaining from food, punitive regimen for the mind is pranayama. One who carries these three dandas, punitive regimens is truly called a Dandi Swami.
Where the nose touches the space between the two eyebrows, is the realm of the meeting of This and That world. One who prays from it during both sandhyas, sunrise and sunset, gets knowledge which is of the Atma. He alone is fit to give sermons.
Concentrating the pran on…
Nose, one gets control of pran,
Navel, diseases are removed,
Ears, ear problems are removed,
Forehead, all problems of the head are removed.
If one drinks air through kaki mudra (with puckered lips) for three months, one gets Saraswati and for six months his body is freed from all kinds of ailments.
Five Akaash: Antah karan, mind, intellect, Chit and ego.
Five Air: Pran, Apan, Saman, Vyan and Udan.
Five Fire: Hearing, Skin, Tongue, Pran
Five Water: Sound, touch, form secretion and smell.
Five Earth: Speech, Hands, Feet, Procreative organ, and Anus.
To always follow the scriptures in ones actions, is called Karma yog.
To keep ones Chit always busy in Atma is called Gyan yog.
To follows both one gets Moksha immediately.
To be completely detached from the body and its senses is called Yam.
To always dwell and be attached to Param Tattva is called Niyam.
To be detached from all things is called Asan.
To understand the world as illusion is called Pranayam.
To interiorize Chit is called Pratyahaar.
To still the chit is called Dharana.
To Continually feel that, ‘I alone am everywhere’ is called Dhyan.
To forget even Dhyan is called Samadhi.
Yog without knowledge and knowledge without yog is of no use. One who desires moksha should practise both. Slowly one should raise the pranayama to 80 matras, then signs of yogi start appearing in him/her.
By continuously doing nadi shodhan for two months, digestive power will increase, the body becomes disease free and one will hear Naad.
12 Pranyam=1 Pratyahaar, 12 Pratyahaar=1 Dharana, 12 Dharana=1 Dhyan, 12 Dhyan = 1 Samadhi.
From severe penance one gets knowledge and from such knowledge mind comes under control. The moment mind comes under control, one gets Atma darshan and once that happens one is freed from this world.
Chit is the cause of this world. Hence one should put all efforts in cleansing our chit.
When five sense of perception, together with mind are at rest, when even intellect has ceased to function, that, says the sages, is supreme state of Samadhi.
At a distance of 4 fingers from our nose Blue light is seen,
,, ,, 6 ,, ,, ,, Darker hues are seen,
,, ,, 8 ,, ,, ,, Yellow light is seen,
,, ,, 10,, ,, ,, White light is seen,
such a sadhak is called yogi.
If a jyoti is seen at a distance of 12 fingers from forehead, one gets amritattva.
Chit is agitated due to two things, 1.Desire and 2.Air. Desires are controlled through knowledge and air or pran is controlled through yog.
Surya Bhedi pranayama cure diseases of wind and worms.
Sheetali pranayama: fever and thirst.
Bhastrika: digestive fire increased, burns all sins.
Ujjai: fire increased, forehead cooled, dhatu rog removed, control on sexual urges.
16 matra for poorak, 64 matra for kumbhak and 32 matra for rechak and hence the total matras become 112.
When a practitioner associates himself with
Pran, he sees realms of rivers and cities,
Apan, ,, ,, Gandharwas and Rakshashas,
Saman, ,, ,, divinities and Luxmi,
Vyan, ,, ,, divines and Rishis,
Udan, ,, ,, realms of Kartikeya and Jayantdev etc.
To listen to Brahm vakyas like Tat Twam Asi etc. and try to realise them is called Shravan.
To seriously dwell on whatever is heard, is called Manan.
Doing the above two, understanding the meaning without any doubt and establishing it in ones chit this is called Niddhaysan.
When the chit becomes completely still, focused only on one thing, dhyan etc. are also left behind. This state is called Samadhi.
The above are a few explanations on yog given in various upnishads.
It is a method by which ten nadas are heard inside our body. Flashes of lights are seen between the brows by which one gets joy and ecstasy in ones heart. At the start, one hears nothing, which specifies the ignorant state of the sadhak. As he progresses, he starts hearing various nadas. After experiencing the ten nadas, once again nada disappears. But this non-hearing is no longer of the first ignorant kind. It is the state of Laya.
It is a process by which a yogi perfects his breath. It comes under his complete control. With its help he can achieve anything in the world. Irregular breathing forewarns him of the misfortunes about to come. He even hears the approach of death and prepares himself in advance for the final encounter. Astrology can be wrong but swar yoga can never be wrong. Thus an adept in this field is a Siddha.
This yoga deals with chakras which are located inside ones sushmana nadi located in the middle of ones spine. It involves application of various yogic kriyas and requires great visualization capacity. It is said first comes Hatha yoga then comes Raj yoga and then comes Kundlini yoga. For this, one has to understand the anatomy of body, movement of pranas and hence the concept of the subtle body, its experience, various psychic path ways, Sakti chalan etc. Thus one can say it is an advanced form of yogic practise.
This concept stresses on complete surrender. One has to become a perfect medium for the nature to carry out its work through.
This is a method by which one arrives at realization by enquiry into the Self or Atma.
Now , we will come back to the real subject of discussion here, Meditation. For meditation, a beginner has to sit. To sit one has to choose a comfortable asan. Generally six dhyan asanas are prescribed in various texts, though one can have any other also. This is depicted in the slide below, hence one may choose one from here.
Most of the people are shallow breathers. One must follow a method by which lung capacity may be increased. There can be many methods to do so but an easier one is being explained here. This can be done by ramping, first on inhale, then on exhale and later on both. We may start with inhaling a breath in five steps first, then increase to 6, then to 7 and thus go up to 16. Same should be applied on exhale also. This can be done sitting or while walking also. Inhale in 16 steps and exhale in 16 steps. This will help us increase out intake capacity as well as help increase retention power. Thereby we get good control over our breath.
RAMPING OF BREATH
In addition to the above we can breath in various forms while sitting. This will help us experience lung capacity and help increase it. Further, we must be subtle enough to experience the flow of the five pranans in our body. They have also been shown clearly. It is easiest to experience in a lying position but can also be experienced in a sitting position also. Since all the sadhanas are to be done in the subtle body, hence we must experience the five pranas, which run in the subtle body, while breath flows in the gross body. Pran runs always in the direction opposite to the breath. The day starts moving in the same direction, it will indicate approach death. Though there are five minor prana also which should be experienced. After this, we should locate and experience Sushmana nadi in our body along with Ida and Pingla. Once these are experienced, it will be easier for us to dive deep into higher meditative moods.
THE FIVE PRANAS IN THE BODY
In the figure below, one tried to show the places where different elements flow inside the nasal passages. 1 is for Air, 2 is for Fire, 3 is for Earth, 4 is for Water and 5 s for Ether element. Left nasal flow cools our body while right nasal flow warms our body. In a healthy person , flow of breath takes place for one hour. In those sixty minutes various elements flow as per the table shown above. After that flow stops and it passes over to other nasal passage. Both time wise and breath wise break up is given for general reference. Every Shukla paksh ( nights increasing moon), first three days Ida starts in the morning from sunrise. Next three days pingla starts in the morning. Like this they keep alternating every three days. While in case of Krishna paksh (nights of waning moon), Pingla operates first three days followed by Ida and then they alternate. Thus nasal passage flow changes 12 times during day ad 12 times during night. These change over periods are also known as samkranti. This flow can be changed by holding certain postures, so that desired passage and required element could be made to flow to achieve desired results in any particular endeavour.
After understanding the various aspects of breath and pran, gross and subtle body, information of various yogic nadis is being shared. Whole thing is quite self explanatory and hence easy to understand.
THE BRAIN AND YOGIC NADIS
Now coming to the practical part of this whole thing. Sit comfortably in any position, keeping the spine straight but not tight or stiff. With thumbs close both ears, with forefingers press both eyes with slight pressure, with middle fingers press closed both nostrils and with force inhale deeply and completely through mouth with kaki mudra (puckered lips like beak of crow). Then with the ring fingers and baby fingers press your lips together so that the mouth is also closed. Hold this position as long as comfortable fixing ones gaze, watching the inner area between the eyebrows, the Chitakash. Observe, watch and listen! When difficult to hold slowly release the breath through the mouth without moving the fingers. Again take another deep breath through the mouth with kaki mudra and close mouth hold breath as long as possible, observe and then again release the breath through mouth as earlier. Repeat for a third time also. Throughout, keep your gaze fixed at the Chitakash. Many practitioners do it a number of times but one prefers to go for quality than quantity. Hence one recommends it for three times alone but with full concentration, observation and maximum timing.
After the third cycle, remove all the fingers quickly bringing them into your lap, one on another and keep your body as still as possible and keep watching the space between eye brows. The lower figure shows the various stages of patterns shown there inside us. In the second and third sketch, a central point is marked. This is called bindu, as is located just above the third eye. This is the point from where a yogi enters in to his internal journey. Below this point is the outer world while above this point is the inner world. So this bindu is the division between Vyashti and Smashti. The Sadhana of a yogi starts after this point as it is his first step. It is said Ashtang yog sadhana leads one to this bindu only. Real sadhana starts here onward. Below this bindu, matra of mind is one, while after passing through it mind is reduced to half which is one of the greatest steps towards liberation. From here on as the practitioner scales various levels at each point mind is reduced to half of the previous amount. This way one leads to Unmani where mind is represented by 1/512 th one matra. This state is written to be almost a negligible state of mind, though mind can never be zero. These details are explained in the last two sketches.
This is has already been explained in the blog earlier, hence dear readers should refer to earlier post for details. The whole thing has to be started with general relaxation of the body, neutralisation of various sense organs and their experiencing power. Thus leading through Nadi-shodhan, Bhootshudhi and Chit-shudhi to arrive in the joyous tranquil state of the Self.
MEDITATION CHART – I
Hope all of you will like this post and benefit from it. Look forward to your comments on the same……..Om!.Shaktanand.