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8 Essential Types Of Pranayama To Calm Your Mind

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Living in uncertainty in the midst of the worldwide pandemic, most of us experience stress and an increase in anxiety. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. We all are trying to find our ways to cope with this global uncertainty and calm our minds. Yoga and meditation have become more popular than ever. And pranayama, as a mind-calming tool, is increasing its popularity among conscious people. Many people who ever tried pranayama would agree that there’s nothing like indulging in a breathing break to calm the mind and relax the body. In this article, I will share with you 8 essential types of pranayama to calm your mind and decrease your stress level so that you can get back to your daily routine happy and energized and live your life to the fullest despite any challenges you might face!

What Is Pranayama?

Prana‘ is the Sanskrit word for breath, “life force”, or “vital principle”. ‘Ayāma‘ can be translated as “the suspension of breath” or “control”. Thus, “pranayama” can be translated as “control over vital energy”.

Usually, pranayama is associated with breathing exercises that have a beneficial effect on the body, saturating it with oxygen. However, yogis use this technique not only for the purpose of improving their physical bodies but also as a way of controlling the flow of prana (vital energy).

According to Patanjali, pranayama is the length of time between inhalation and exhalation. During this period, the time of assimilation of prana increases, the fluctuations of the mind decrease and the perception expands.

You may ask: “how is it possible to reduce the excitation of the brain by holding the breath?” Well, this is due to the fact that nerve impulses in some parts of the body are suspended, and the structure of brain waves is harmonized. Therefore, pranayama is one of the most important elements of Hatha yoga.

How Does It Work?

Pranayama allows you to lengthen the breath, which increases longevity. Thanks to pranayama, we learn how to properly use our lungs.

The fact is that in everyday life, most often only the top of the lungs is involved, which leads to oxygen starvation and accumulation of stagnant air in the lower part of the lungs. The ability to use the entire volume of the lungs allows us to become less exposed to respiratory diseases, increases the level of vital energy, and makes it easier to cope with stress and anxiety.

Pranayama practice affects our Central nervous system. Breathing affects the hypothalamus, which is responsible for emotional responses and the transformation of perceived reality into the experience. It helps us to reach emotional balance, calm our minds, relax the body, and let go of negative emotions. Pranayama practice allows our bodies to release stress and tensions which helps in bringing down hypertension and achieve a balanced state of mind.

8 Types Of Pranayama For Calming Your Mind

Now let me introduce you to different types of pranayama that you can use for calming your mind and getting rid of stress and anxiety.

#1: Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

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The regular practice of Nadi Shodhana offers an energy boost in the body and releases stress and anxiety. It should be practiced in the morning in the fresh air with an empty stomach.

Instructions:

  1. Sit comfortably on flat ground.
  2. Now close the right nostril with your right thumb and breathe from the left nostril. Then close your left nostril with middle and ring finger and breathe out from the right nostril.
  3. Now closing in the left nostril breathe in deeply with the right nostril and then close the right nostril and breathe out deeply with the left nostril. Do the repetition.

#2: Sheetali Pranayama

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‘Sheeta’ means ‘cooling’, which is exactly the effect of this pranayama. This is one of the most effective types of pranayama for stress, anxiety, and tension relief.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with the back and head erect, hands on the knees in Jnana mudra, and eyes closed.
  2. Make a puckered circle with your mouth then stick out your tongue and curl the edges inwards to form a tube.
  3. Inhale slowly and deeply through the tube as if sucking air through a straw to the count of 4.
  4. Fill up your abdomen and chest to full capacity.
  5. Retain the breath.
  6. Straighten your head and exhale through the nostrils until all air is expelled.
  7. Repeat.

#3: Sheetkari Pranayama

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This pranayama is also known as the hissing breath. Similar to Sheetali pranayama, this pranayama is a cooling breath that does wonders for anxiety and depression. This is one of the most effective types of pranayama for mental tranquility, calming yourself before sleep, and relaxation.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, lengthen your spine.
  2. Rest palms on your knees.
  3. Close your eyes, turning awareness inward.
  4. Gently hold teeth together and allow teeth to be exposed.
  5. The tongue may remain flat, or folded against the palate.
  6. Inhale slowly through your teeth, allowing the breath to cool.
  7. At the end of the inhalation draw your tongue inside your mouth.
  8. Exhale through your nose.

Repeat the cycle (steps 6-8) for 9 to 15 rounds.

#4: Anuloma Viloma

Anuloma Viloma Pranayama Image

Anuloma Viloma pranayama is one of the most simple types of pranayama for everyday use. This breathing practice increases the resistance to stress, stabilizes the nervous system, improves mood, profoundly calms the mind, increases the clarity of thought, improves the immune system, lowers stress, and anxiety.

Note that Anuloma Viloma should be practiced on an empty stomach!

Instructions:

  1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine.
  2. Rest the left palm on the knee in Jnana Mudra (thumb and index fingers touching) to create a pranic circuit that drives energy toward the brain.
  3. Place the right hand in Vishnu Mudra (by tucking the index and middle fingers into the palm). The thumb, ring, and pinky fingers will be more or less extended.
  4. Close your eyes. Inhale comfortably. Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Exhale slowly and completely through the left nostril.
  5. Now for the first round, inhale slowly and comfortably through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the ring or pinky finger – and then release the thumb from the right nostril.
  6. Exhale slowly and completely through the right nostril. Now breathe in through the right nostril. Close the right with the thumb, release the ring or pinky finger from the left, and exhale through the left.

This completes one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

#5: Ujjayi Pranayama

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Ujjayi breathing is a breathing technique employed in a variety of Taoist and Yoga practices. It is sometimes called “the ocean breath”. It is due to the fact that the ujjayi breath is meant to mimic the sound of ocean waves. This rhythmic sound can help you focus your mind and link your movements to the sound of your breath.

This pranayama helps to balance and calm your mind and reach the inner peace similar to a day by the ocean brings.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. Relax your body and close your eyes. Let your mouth drop open slightly. Relax your jaw and your tongue.
  2. Inhale and exhale deeply through your mouth. Feel the air of your inhalations passing through your windpipe.
  3. On your exhalations, slightly contract the back of your throat, as you do when you whisper. Softly whisper the sound, “ahhh,” as you exhale. Imagine your breath fogging up a window.
  4. As you become comfortable with your exhalations, maintain the slight constriction of the throat on your inhalations, as well. You will notice your breath making an “ocean” sound, softly moving in and out, like ocean waves.
  5. When you can comfortably control your throat during the inhalations and exhalations, gently close your mouth and begin breathing only through your nose. Keep the same constriction in your throat as you did when your mouth was open. You will continue to hear the “ocean” sound as you breathe through your nose. Direct the breath to travel over your vocal cords, across the back of your throat. Keep your mouth closed, but your lips soft.
  6. Concentrate on the sound of your breath. Allow it to soothe your mind. It should be audible to you, but not so loud that someone standing several feet away can hear it.
  7. Let your inhalations fill your lungs to their fullest expansion. Completely release the air during your exhalations.

Start by practicing Ujjayi pranayama for 5 minutes while you are seated. For deeper meditation, increase your time to 15 minutes.

#6: Sahita Kumbhaka Breath

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We’re often so concerned with our inhales and exhales that we completely forget about the space found between. Kumbhaka is the state of pause, or suspension, between the breaths, and helps us find stillness through focused mindfulness. 

Instructions:

  1. Inhale slowly.
  2. Pause and hold for a few moments at the top of the breath.
  3. Exhale slowly.
  4. Hold for a few moments at the bottom of the breath.
  5. Repeat for five minutes, then return to a normal breath.

This pattern of breathing may feel a bit unnatural at first – after all, we’re typically rushed in our busy lives – but in time you will become more mindful of your breathing patterns (and the stillness found within) and will find that your breath naturally becomes more steady, deep, and intentional with practice.

#7: Samavritti Pranayama

Murcha Pranayama Benefits Image

This pranayama is also known as Balancing Breath or Counting Breath.

When the mind is spinning, counting the breath is one of the most effective ways to slow down. The steady rhythm of the count helps to settle the mind’s fluctuations and reestablish balance. This makes Samavritti Pranayama one of the most powerful types of pranayama for calming your mind.

The most common practice is maintaining a one-to-one ratio. For example, inhaling and exhaling to the count of three. It’s natural to begin at a faster pace and gradually slow down as the mind begins to quiet.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Rest your palms on your lap.
  2. Inhale smoothly as you count to three.
  3. Exhale smoothly as you count to three.  
  4. Continue for three to five minutes, or until you feel mentally and physically settled.

You can practice this type of pranayama any time of day or night, whenever you feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. It will help you to enhance calmness, steadiness, and serenity in body and mind.

Variation:

To enhance the relaxation response, lengthen the exhalations. For example, inhale to the count of four, then exhale to the count of six or eight. 

#8: Humming Bee Breath

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This is one of the best types of pranayama for anxiety relief.

This pranayama is named so because of the humming sound produced at the back of the throat during the practice – like the gentle humming of a bee.

The technique of performing Bhramari Pranayama is quite simple and does not require special training. It can be performed at any time of the day and even after having a meal. Also, it has no age restrictions.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in any position that is comfortable for you with a straight back and relaxed shoulders.
  2. Close the lips, keeping the teeth slightly apart.
  3. Bring the tip of your tongue to the space behind the upper front teeth. Maintain this position throughout the practice, frequently checking to ensure that the jaw remains relaxed.
  4. Close each ears with the thumbs, place the index fingers at the midpoint of the forehead – just above the eyebrows – and reach the middle, ring, and pinky fingers across the eyes so that the tips of these fingers press very gently against the bridge of the nose.  
  5. Take a long, deep breath in through the nostrils, bringing the breath all the way into the belly.
  6. Drop the chin to the chest and begin to exhale slowly, making a steady, low-pitched ‘hmmm’ sound at the back of the throat – like the humming of a bee. Focus on making the sound soft, smooth, and steady.
  7. Keep the body completely still and bring your awareness to the center of the head – to your Third eye chakra – letting the sound fill the head and spread to the body.
  8. At the end of the exhalation, slowly straighten your neck as you inhale again through the nostrils to repeat the process.

This is one breathing cycle. Start mastering this pranayama with 7 breathing cycles and gradually increase to 20-30.

The Bottom Line

Uncertainty can be stressful. Therefore, make sure that you doing everything to help yourself to manage stress and anxiety. Even 10 minutes a day spent on pranayama practice can do miracles for your mental health. Use the above types of pranayama to calm your mind and stay balanced. Remember that only a balanced mind can solve any problem and make the right choices!

Stay safe, stay calm!

Katya Ki is the Founder of SOLANCHA Magazine, a Metaphysical Expert, a Reiki Master, and Human Rights Attorney. She has been studying Eastern metaphysics, cosmology, and esotericism for almost 20 years now. And she's still discovering new knowledge, which is hidden in ancient teachings. During her pilgrimage to the monastery of Saint Catherine in Egypt, she discovered the SOLANCHA System. This is how the SOLANCHA journey started!

Awareness

Kundalini Awakening Symptoms Everyone Should Know

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From Sanskrit, the word “Kundalini” can be translated as “twisted” (like a snake or a steel spring), and traditionally the snake is its symbol. In ancient Indian manuscripts, Kundalini is described as a form of biological energy dormant in the human body. It is regarded as the basis of life, as the main form of energy that can be concentrated in the brain, and without which neither genius nor inspiration can exist. If you are engaged in any spiritual practices, then you need to understand clearly what Kundalini is and what Kundalini awakening symptoms you may experience.

What is Kundalini?

According to the ancient texts, the Kundalini energy is present in the whole body but is concentrated mainly in the lower part of the spine, that is, in the genital area, transmitting vital energy to the offspring. This “snake energy” can be woken up, and through the spine and chakras transferred to the brain.

kundalini spine image

Kundalini is extraordinarily powerful. A key to eternal youth and flourishing mental abilities is hidden in it. Indian Kundalini specialist Gopi Krishna said that Kundalini, being awakened, can be a source of mental strength, genius, artistic talent, and scientific achievements. That is, all that is characteristic of a high level of consciousness. According to Gopi Krishna, the process of awakening and ascent of Kundalini expands the range of hidden human abilities.

In ancient manuscripts of Tibet, Egypt, and Greece, as well as in other cultures, there is evidence of the Kundalini Energy existence. Even the first Christians knew about its existence. The headdress of the Pharaoh, and feathered snakes from Mexico and South America – all indicate the acquaintance of the ancient initiates with the energy of the Kundalini snake.

No one can predict who, when, and how this energy will awaken. However, one should know that only people with a pure mind, heart, and body can experience the awakening. For the Kundalini awakening, you should have as few psychological and emotional conflicts as possible. Moreover, your body should be as free as possible from the blocks and tensions. It is also good to have fewer attachments and idealizations defined by everyday concerns.

Kundalini’s awakening can occur in the form of an unexpected surge, like a dam break, sharp and, above all, uncontrollable and therefore – dangerous. For the time being, this energy is in a kind of preserved, dormant state. However, under certain conditions, it begins a spontaneous awakening and rises from the spine to the head. During this process, the energy transforms the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual systems of the person experiencing its rising.

What Is Kundalini Rising?

The process of Kundalini rising is an evolutionary process of transformation of the human personality. Your physical body, consciousness, and subconsciousness go through a big transformation. You’re changing your view and attitude toward life. Moreover, you’re developing unusual abilities.

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Kundalini is vital energy. Its thin stream always flows through us, through our bodies as long as we are alive. Some people have more of it, and they are successful in their life. And others have less of it, and they are less successful.

Kundalini needs to circulate freely in our bodies. But most people clog their path with various mental blocks, attachments, and conflict events that burden them. By eliminating these blocks, we free the path for the free flow of energy transformation. And when Kundalini flow can overcome these mental blocks it starts a rapid process of rising. And only then, when it clears us in its movement from the bottom up – it’s hot energy begins a cold downward flow from the top down, the flow of divine cosmic energy. That’s when the extraordinary miracles begin.

Kundalini awakening can be considered the most important and greatest event in the life of every person. Only from this moment does your true rebirth, awakening, and spiritualization begin. Only from this moment, a person starts the real path of improvement. And the beginning of the Kundalini rising is the first real step into a completely different, fabulous world of high energies, unusual phenomena, and new opportunities.

How Does Kundalini Awakening Happen?

Many spiritual practitioners have come up with different stages, or other indicators to specify their apparent progress in the process of evolution. However, it must be admitted that until you have experienced the transformation of personality in the fire of Kundalini, all other manifestations of enlightenment are only temporary success and lie only in the plane of the mind.

Some people can awaken the Kundalini energy consciously, following the methods developed by various spiritual schools. Others unconsciously, intuitively build their lives and change their views and beliefs by the Universal laws. Commonly, people experience spontaneous Kundalini awakening, even if they’ve never heard anything about it.

From Vedic texts, it is known that the flow of Kundalini energy rises through the energy channel located along the spine vertically. Until the awakening, this channel is usually closed. The fire of Kundalini gradually clears and opens this energy channel. As the Central channel is opened (cleaned), the Kundalini energy activates the chakras located along the spine, which, in turn, also begin to produce energy intensively. So it gradually opens up the entire Central channel and chakras.

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When the Kundalini reaches the last and highest 7th chakra in the crown, you become ready to perceive the subtle and higher energies from the Cosmos. Each chakra can receive cosmic energy and send its own to Cosmos. You become able to assimilate cosmic energies, which immediately turn on the process of transformation. In the course of it, you acquire that great power for which anything is possible. By using this power you can do amazing things, which, from the point of view of the laws of the physical world, are considered miracles.

As your Kundalini awakens, you begin to experience a number of strange phenomena. That’s why you need to know what Kundalini awakening symptoms are.

Kundalini Awakening Symptoms

Body Symptoms

  • Involuntary twitching, trembling, vibration, spasms.
  • Muscle contractions, especially in the anus, abdomen, and throat.
  • Sudden movements of hands, feet, or head.
  • Twitching of the whole body when a strong flow of energy rises inside, starting from the toe, foot, or base of the spine.

Physical Symptoms

Physical Kundalini awakening symptoms are:

  • Feelings of ecstasy and bliss, average in intensity or strong, lasting several minutes or several months.
  • A feeling of intoxication, detachment, a slight feeling of being outside the body. Falling into a trance, a fixed gaze directed into space.
  • Heart rate increase.
  • The feeling like you’re touching the electrical outlet, tingling, itching.
  • Unbalance, tension, and pulsation, sometimes replaced by lethargy.
  • Nausea, abdominal pain.
  • Chest pain, like a heart attack.
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  • Persistent or temporary pain throughout the body that cannot be diagnosed.
  • Aching back pain and sharp pain along the spine.
  • Headaches, a feeling of buzz in the head, tingling, itching, or goosebumps on the scalp.
  • Electrical sensations in the head, feeling like the skull is opening.
  • Numbness of the arms and legs in General, or the hands or feet.
  • Pain or a feeling of electrical tingling in the big toes, darkening or falling off the toenail.
  • Intense sexual arousal, spontaneous orgasms experienced in the genital area or described as “covering the whole body” or “brain orgasms”.
  • Vibration and energy coming out of your ears.
  • The increased activity followed by exhaustion.
  • Hair stands on end.
  • Protruding the abdomen, as if during pregnancy.
  • Spontaneous filling of the lungs with air.
  • The taste of sweet nectar flowing from head to throat.

Diseases Or Pseudo Diseases

  • Imaginary heart attacks are usually a false alarm; complaints that the heart is not beating.
  • A person’s sincere belief that he or she is dying, accompanied by vague pains and complaints.
  • The manifestation of other hidden diseases: wandering pain, hyperemia, digestive problems, and other complaints about the various organs of the body, disappearing without any treatment.

Visual Symptoms

The variety of visual Kundalini awakening symptoms is striking: it’s like lightning rays of light in your head, visions, or hallucinations (by the way, they can be quite frightening!). There were cases when there was a small sparkling point in the Third eye area. Tibetan monks call it ”the seed of light”, but it is not necessary that it arises in the area of the forehead. The sparkling point can arise between you and the object, or arise during meditation, and even when you are in a normal state, and it does not matter — your eyes are open or closed at this moment.

kundalini awakening symptoms light image

You may also become extremely sensitive to light or experience sudden vision – all colors seem very bright. Some people even start being able to see the aura.

Other visual Kundalini awakening symptoms are burning eyes and twitching in the area between the eyebrows.

Temperature Change

One of the most common Kundalini awakening symptoms is a temperature change. The sensation of it occurs in the following ways:

  • Waves of heat, sometimes with sweating.
  • The heat may flow from the body or feel like intense burning.
  • Night sweating.
  • Waves of icy cold, sometimes followed by waves of heat.
  • Feelings of heat or cold in different parts of the body, especially in the hands or at the base of the spine.

Emotional Symptoms

Emotional Kundalini awakening symptoms are:

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Anger.
  • Guilt.
  • Temporary confusion of thoughts and difficulties with the performance of work tasks.
  • Insomnia.
  • Uncharacteristic of the person’s strong sexual desire.
  • Temporary problems with sexual identity.
  • Visions or hearing sounds.
  • Disorderly thoughts, indecision,
  • Bombast and arrogance.
  • Easy entry into a trance or semi-conscious state.

Increased Psychic Or Empathic Abilities

  • A vision or a sense of aura.
  • Seeing and understanding the signs from the Universe.
  • The ability to heal certain diseases with the energy of hands.
  • Involuntary recollection of past life experiences.
  • A better understanding of spiritual Scriptures.
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  • Feeling the ability to influence another person’s thoughts.
  • Instinctive-intuitive knowing what needs to be done.
  • A sense of the presence of a luminous being or teacher from another dimension.
  • Psychokinetic phenomena (interference in electrical devices, moving objects, destruction of objects, etc.).
  • Out-of-body experiences.
  • Extended panoramic perception of everything.

Detachment

Another Kundalini awakening common symptom is a feeling like you’re outside of your own body. Sometimes this is manifested as a detachment from the daily routine or even detachment from everything material.

Food

We all know that the food we eat affects not just our physical bodies and health but also our energy. That is why when we’re experiencing Kundalini awakening symptoms we also notice that our eating habits change dramatically. The most interesting thing is that the changes in our eating habits are effortless. They happen naturally. It feels like your body itself tells you what you need to eat.

Conclusion

It is the Kundalini that opens the gates of further human evolution and gives us the power to understand and fulfill our life’s mission. And if you are in the process of reading this article felt unusual or similar phenomena – do not be afraid of what is happening! Take everything as it is, do not resist what is happening. Now you know and understand what is happening or what may happen to you in the future. I hope that the knowledge contained in this article will give you confidence, protect you from possible troubles and open the door to a great future!

Namaste!

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Raja Yoga: The 8 Steps to Self-realization and Liberation

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There are two types of spiritual teachers. Those that tell you, “I have experienced God and for you to tap into this experience you must follow me.” And those that say, “I have experienced God and you can have this experience too.” The latter is where you need to belong. And Raja Yoga aims at facilitating you to experience this higher realm. 

Naturally, human beings are meant to be in a state of higher consciousness to function optimally. See, the human brain is rather restless and therefore we do not see the truth. To experience the higher realm, we need to be focused and concentrate. And we cannot argue with personal experience, can we? So let us share with you how to tap into this path. 

But first;

What is Raja Yoga?

Raja Yoga is one of the oldest yoga systems practiced in India for centuries and now in other parts of the world. It’s simply the path of experience. 

Raja Yoga proposes growing your spirituality without prior faith or belief. This means you can experience God at any time and place without mantras or rituals irrespective of your age or ethnicity. However, this is a branch of yoga that requires a really strong personality as we will discuss below. 

The Eight Stagesto Self-realization and Liberation  

When you practice Raja Yoga, you free the soul (atma), from the bondage of illusions (maya) and unite with your prime soul (paramatma). Below is a step by step experience:

Stage 1: Yama

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Yama is a set of ethical norms that teach us to communicate with others in the right way. To be brief, it means one thing: treat people the way you want them to treat you.

There are five Yamas:

  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity, or sexual restraint.
  5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness.

Stage 2: Niyama

This step of forming the self-discipline and uplifting spirituality. Niyama involves regular visits to temples, meditative practices, a study of nature, thinking, and walks.

Five Niyamas are:

  1. Śaucha (शौच): purity, clearness of mind, speech, and body.
  2. Santosha (सन्तोष): contentment, acceptance of others, and of one’s circumstances as they are, optimism for self.
  3. Tapas (तपस): austerity, self-discipline, persistent meditation, perseverance.
  4. Svādhyāya (स्वाध्याय): a study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speeches, and actions.
  5. Īśvarapraṇidhāna (ईश्वरप्रणिधान): contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality), attunement to the supreme consciousness.

Stage 3: Asana

Asana means ‘posture’ or ‘pose’. So by saying ‘asanas’ we mean body poses. In any Yoga, we need to maintain a steady pose to be able to concentrate and control external and internal energies. By performing certain asanas, a person learns concentration and self-discipline.

Stage 4: Pranayama

Next we engage breathing exercises that directly affect the mind or what we call control of prana (vital energy). See, in today’s hustle and bustle, most people have forgotten how to breathe properly. We simply breathe because our body demands of the oxygen to function. It’s important to always remember that life is breath. And when we exercise control over breath, we can control the subtle Prana inside us. That means having control over all the forces in our universe, both physical and mental. 

Pranayama practice allows you to rejuvenate the entire body and prolong your lifespan. We can practice pranayama as a separate type of yoga technique, or use it as a component of the complex of yoga practice.

Stage 5: Pratyahara

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Pratyahara means ‘gaining mastery over external influences’.

At this stage, we have to withdraw our senses from objects consciously.

If you have ever engaged in the Savasana (Corpse pose) you must have unearthed your five levels of mental sheaths. These are: 

  • The physical body (food sheath)
  • Prana sheath (subtle energy channels) 
  • The emotional reactions level (mental sheath)
  • Consciousness sheath (the ego)
  • And the causal sheath (the karmic record of your soul’s experiences). 

These mental levels are in order of increasing layers of consciousness. The second stage represents pratyahara. You’re basically leaving the external world but still maintaining contact with it. At this stage, describing from personal experience, you feel trapped in the bottom of a well. You can identify with the surrounding sounds, yet these noises don’t bother you (mentally or physically). You’re in a state of non-reaction. Some Yogi teachers will explain this stage as being in the world yet not of it.

The purpose of this stage is to achieve a state of the distraction of the senses from the surrounding reality and the circulation of the gaze and consciousness inside of you. In other words, pratyahara is the ability to concentrate and not be distracted by various external stimuli. This step gives you the vision of the internal systems, understanding what can stop your personal and inner growth.

Stage 6: Dharana

Dharana means ‘concentration’ or ‘single focus’. Once we eliminate object attachment, we progress in concentration. This is at the mental sheath stage. You can practice this stage in your daily tasks by choosing to perform just one task at a time or achieve the same during meditation by focusing your thoughts at one particular object, idea or place.

By concentrating, we get distracted from external ‘noise’.  This is how we can calm down our minds, which distracts us from knowing more than we are able to understand. It helps us to see the limitless of our possibilities. At this stage, we gain a skill to slow down the thought process by focusing on sound, image, energy, or body.

Stage 7: Dhyana

Dhyana means ‘contemplation, reflection’ and ‘profound, abstract meditation’. 

It’s the meditation practice where you come face to face with your ego. You tap into your self-awareness or soul. This stage is similar to Dharana, however, here you go in deeper. You choose to concentrate on your point of reference until this thought becomes a part of your consciousness.

Conscious inhibition of thought processes allows to calm the mind, to feel serenity, not to give rise to new thoughts. To reach this stage, you need endurance and strength. For achieving this, you have to put in a lot of effort and time.

Stage 8: Samadhi

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Finally, at this stage we achieve a super conscious state. See, once you go past your ego, past your senses and past the wandering mind, you can transcend to any levels you imagine of, with complete control over your mind. In other words, you, your mind, and your chosen object of meditation merge together into one. However, most people experience this level based on their soul’s past.

The Benefits of Raja Yoga

Medical benefits

Recent research has seen Raja Yoga as an important therapeutic and prophylactic modality in several health conditions.

Happiness

Raja Yoga enhances positive thinking which increases self-satisfaction and consequently happiness in life. This applies irrespective of your age or the period of time you have been practicing this yoga.

Positive inner transformation

Well, this is obvious since Raja Yoga works on the principle of meditation with an aim to free the soul.

Physical and mental relaxation

With continued practice, Raja Yoga will change your attitude and transform your lifestyle. Eventually, you experience great transformation in your overall wellbeing.

Better control over addictions

Remember we mentioned before that this yoga aims at freeing the soul from the bondage of illusions. Addiction is simply an illusion that clouds your judgment and takes control of your mind. Once you free the soul and experience a higher realm, you will be the only one making your life decisions. 

Conclusion

In Sanskrit texts, Raja yoga was both the goal of yoga and a method to attain it. Nowadays, many people on spiritual path choose to integrate this practice into their lives. By doing so they are able to silence their minds, deepen the meditation practice, take control over their thoughts, and achieve the higher level of consciousness.

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Yoga

Kriya Yoga: The Benefits and Principles of Practice

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Are you on a spiritual path to self-realization? If so, what meditation techniques do you practice? In this guide, we will introduce you to Kriya Yoga, a sacred technique that requires both leading an ethical life and practicing yoga and meditation. That way, you can improve your focus and concentration and live a calm and joyous life. So, what does Kriya Yoga entail? Let’s start with the definition.

What is Kriya Yoga?

Kriya Yoga is a yogic practice that focuses on the spiritual benefits rather than the physical benefits of yoga. Hence, it is a spiritual practice that aims at developing your spirit into leading a more conscious and fulfilling life. That is, you aim at enhancing your current life in such a way that your physical, emotional, and psychological survival is no more a concern to you. 

Moreover, unlike hatha yoga that requires hard work and physical exercise, Kriya Yoga relies on growth and expression. 

The Origin and History of Kriya Yoga

“Kri refers to action, and “ya” means indwelling soul. Hence, the term Kriya stands for becoming aware of the power of the inhaled soul. It is about gaining self-realization while also appreciating the mechanics of human life.

The practice of Kriya Yoga dates back to ancient times when advanced Himalayan yogis practiced it in meditation caves. Still, its first mention in modern times is in 1861 when Mahavatar Babaji, the yoga master, passed the practice to Lahiri Mahasaya. More so, it is the spiritual master Paramahansa Yogananda who later brings Kriya Yoga practice to the west, sparking a spiritual revolution. Kriya Yoga continues to impact the lives of millions of people seeking spiritual enlightenment

The Philosophy and Principles of Kriya Yoga

Gyan Mudra For Deep Meditation Image

The practice of Kriya Yoga is split into three key components as follows: –

#1: Meditation

Kriya Yoga advocates for a life of discipline. It requires setting sometime every day to allow your consciousness to clear. Indeed, society bombards our minds with lots of distractive thoughts. It could be from social media, local politics, or family demands. Whatever the source of the cloudiness, Kriya yoga requires us to practice breathing awareness meditation every day to refine our nervous system. 

It also requires that we change the functioning and structure of our brains for clarity of thought. In turn, meditation gradually changes the energy system within our body (Kundalini) and makes us attune to higher consciousness and vibrations. Only then can we become aware of our true selves.

#2: Self-Inquiry/Self-Study

The second stage in Kriya Yoga is Vichara or self-inquiry. Here, we examine our current lifestyles against the true self that we strive to become. It is a journey of introspection and discernment, letting go of false perceptions of self and people’s biased opinions. In turn, we ask ourselves questions such as: –

  • Who am I?
  • What is my true purpose in life?
  • What are my values?
  • How do I define my energy level? What affects it?
  • Can I express the boundary between self and the world?
  • What comes to mind when I inhale and exhale during meditation?
  • Which yoga pause feels most expansive?
  • What inspires me, brings me joy, or matters to me the most right now?
  • How do I feel when I nourish my body with healthy food?
  • What grounds me?
  • What is my definition of success beyond money?
  • From what do I want to detach?
  • How do I express my creativity?
  • Where is my favorite spot for practicing yoga? Why is this spot special to me?
  • What does surrender mean to me?
  • How do I feel when I clean out or de-clutter my workspace?

Self-study makes us contemplate on ourselves. We inquire about our perception of reality versus the true reality. That way, we seek to understand our sole purpose in the world. 

#3: Surrendered Devotion, Isvarapranidhana

Finally, Kriya Yoga is about ethical living, a life of devotion to seeking spiritual enlightenment. The practice helps us make sense of that unease we have when things don’t turn out the way we want. You know that feeling of groundlessness that goes against our societal norms. 

Our communities require us to hold on to a career, family, or leadership to feel in control. Yet, in Kriya Yoga, we let go of our desire for dominion and surrender all effort.

Benefits of Practicing Kriya Yoga as Part of Your Spiritual Journey

Meditation Quotes 5 yamas Image

#1: Attaining a Spiritual Awakening

The ultimate goal of Kriya Yoga is experiencing a spiritual awakening. This awakening takes place by doing four fundamental actions: –

  • Daily Spiritual Meditation – Kriya Yoga relies on the techniques in Raja Yoga to activate higher consciousness. It is a highly individual experience where the participant can hear voices, see visions, lose or absorb a sense of separateness and have a sense of awe or transcendence.
  • Spiritual Contemplation – Here, we observe our thoughts without being judgmental. The practice helps us discover that our feelings reflect how our minds interpret those beliefs. Likewise, we notice that negative emotions arise from our interpretation or judging of thoughts with negativity. 
  • Spiritual Reflection  Spiritual reflection refers to studying and reflecting on the Vedic scriptures. Here, we aim to unlock the secrets of leading a peaceful and prosperous lifestyle. Hence, we want to live our lives with sincerity, knowledge, and compassion.
  • Spiritual Exploration – Finally, Kriya Yoga allows us to explore different spiritual practices to discover what works for each one of us. 

#2: Physical Benefits

Apart from a spiritual awakening, anyone practicing Kriya Yoga shall experience the following benefits: –

  • Improves our moods and overall well being
  • Assists in dealing with depression 
  • Improves our tolerance to pain
  • Helps in managing stress and anxiety
  • Lowers high blood pressure and hypertension levels
  • Soothes, stimulates, and clarifies the mind and soul
  • It helps us regain our self-confidence
  • Improves our concentration and memory power

Conclusion

Kriya Yoga believes that when we enhance our roots, we will see the fruits in the form of a spiritual awakening. In turn, this spiritual practice emphasizes coming to an ideal state that determines the quality of our lives. It is about growing beyond our needs and concerns and becoming a karma yogi.

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