Connect with us

Yoga

Bikram Yoga: Benefits And Harm Of Hot Yoga Classes

Published

on

Bikram Yoga Vs Hot Yoga Image

Have you heard about Bikram yoga? This yoga style is becoming more and more popular. Many practitioners find it very effective for creating a balance between the body and mind. In this article, we will share with you what Bikram yoga is, and what its advantages and disadvantages are. We hope that after reading this article, you’ll be able to personally determine for yourself whether hot yoga classes suit you or not.

What Is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram yoga is a complex of certain asanas that are performed in a hot room. This type of yoga got its name from its founder Bikram Choudhury.

Initially, this kind of yoga was used by Bikram as a recovery after an injury. He was performing yoga asanas in a heated room. After a full recovery, he has perfected asanas and suggested practicing them in the room with a hot temperature.

The initial class of Bikram yoga includes:

  • 2 breathing exercises;
  • 26 consecutive Hatha yoga asanas.

Bikram yoga classes are practiced in a room heated to 105 °F with a humidity of 40%. The duration of the lesson is 1.5 hours.

Due to the complexity of such “hot” exercises the whole body strengthens. Each posture of the asana flows smoothly into the next asana, thus increasing the flow of oxygen, through which toxins are removed from the body.

Bikram yoga is known for its martial style of teaching, the concentration of energy and impeccable posture. It is one of the most popular styles of hot yoga that is practiced all over the world. It should draw the attention of those people who prefer strict, disciplined practice, which controls everything – starting with breathing and ending with the opportunity to drink water.

History

Bikram Choudhury image

Bikram Choudhury was born in Calcutta in 1944. At age four he already began practicing yoga.  When he was 13 years old, Bikram received the title of national champion of India in yoga. At the age of 17, Bikram Choudhury severely injured his knee. Doctors said that he will never be able to walk independently.

But the young champion did not despair and under the guidance of his mentor, he began to perform asanas in a certain sequence, aimed at full recovery of the injured part of his body. A distinctive feature of this complex of asanas was that the room (where yoga was practiced) was very hot. This was essential in order to effectively work on the injured knee, and in order not to further damage. The result of hard training was a fully restored knee.

Bikram Choudhury reasonably believes that Hatha yoga brings the most positive results in conjunction with the hot climate of India. Naturally, not everyone has the opportunity to practice Bikram yoga in a hot climate. Therefore he suggested creating appropriate temperature regime artificially. In this case, we can practice hot yoga in any country, even in the North.

As a result of refinement and improvement of the sequence of asanas, Bikram Choudhury created his own unique style of Hatha yoga, which is now known as Bikram yoga.

Bikram Yoga Vs. Hot Yoga: What’s The Difference?

yoga class image

Many people think that Bikram and hot yoga are the same thing but these two styles still have differences.

So what’s the difference between Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga?

1. Temperature

Bikram yoga studios must be heated to 105°F with 40% humidity.

Hot yoga rooms can vary in humidity and are generally heated to anywhere from 80 to 100°F.

2. Duration of the Class

The duration of the Bikram yoga class is always 90 mins.

Hot yoga classes can last anywhere from 60 to 90 mins.

3. Music

Music or clapping are not allowed during Bikram yoga classes.

Hot yoga classes often have music playing during the class and even can be followed by a round of applause.

4. Asanas Variations

Camel pose image

Bikram yoga includes the same 26 asanas and two breathing exercises. All the asanas and breathing exercises are performed in the same order every class.

Hot yoga can include many different asanas that may vary by class or/and studio.

5. Floors

The floors of Bikram yoga studios must be carpeted.

In Hot yoga studios, the floors are usually made of any type of artificial wood or any other material.

6. Lighting

There must be bright lighting in the Bikram yoga studios.

Hot yoga classes are often performed with dim lights or even by candlelight.

7. Talking During the Class

yoga studio image

It is not allowed to talk during a Bikram yoga class.

During a Hot yoga class, the students can interact with each other and with the yoga instructor.

It is difficult to say which one of these two styles is better. Everything is absolutely individual. Someone may be uncomfortable to practice yoga in a room heated to 105°F, and someone, on the contrary, will appreciate this temperature and find it easier to relax. There are such studios that conduct Bikram yoga classes in a very warm room, but only 60 minutes instead of 90 minutes and in a more relaxed mode.

Or, for example, you may not like to practice yoga on a carpeted floor and will appreciate the wooden floors more that regular hot yoga studios hold classes on.

So it’s completely up to you! Ask yourself which type of yoga will suit you better!

Bikram Yoga Postures And Their Benefits

During Bikram yoga class, a complex of 26 postures is performed in a strictly defined sequence. It is very important to perform these postures to the end and repeat each of them twice. As a result of each such practice, the vital energy (prana) circulates in your body harmoniously, and the organs are exposed to beneficial effects.

Bikram Yoga complex includes the following postures:

1. Pranayama (breathing practice)

This posture is aimed at relieving fatigue, relaxation and at the same time concentration on the upcoming yoga practice.

2. Half Moon Pose (ARDHA-CHANDRASANA)

This asana relaxes and gradually stretches the muscles of the whole body, preparing you to perform basic postures.

3. Awkward Pose (UTKATASANA)

This pose helps to tone and shape your legs, heals chronically cold feet, helps relieve rheumatism and arthritis in the legs, helps to cure slipped discs and other lower spine problems.

4. Eagle Pose (GARURASANA)

This pose is aimed at the development of coordination. This is due to the fact that some muscles of the body tense up, while others relax. As a result of performing this asana, pain in the back and joints goes away, the muscles of the legs come to tone, the blood flow improves.

5. Standing Head To Knee (DANDAYAMANA-JANUSHIRASANA)

Stretches the leg muscles and gluteal muscles, blood circulation in the brain becomes noticeably better, and the blood pressure returns to normal.

6. Standing Bow (DANDAYAMANA-DHANURASANA)

This asana is aimed at developing a sense of stability, discipline and emotional inner harmony and balance. In physical terms, there is a relaxation of the back and strengthening the muscles of the legs.

7. Balancing Stick (TULADANDASANA)

This asana has a moderate load on the heart, stimulates its intensive work and the release of blood. Thereby this posture helps clear the vessels and increases the activity of the brain. This asana is an excellent prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

This asana is aimed at stretching the muscles of the back and strengthening the blood flow to the joints. It also massages the internal abdominal organs, the small and large intestines.

9. Triangle Pose (TRIKANASANA)

This asana is aimed at the simultaneous study of all the muscles of the body and enhances metabolism. This pose is extremely beneficial for women with a broken menstrual cycle. It also benefits the heart and lungs.

10. Standing Separate Head to Knee Pose (DANDAYAMANA-BIBHAKTAPADA-JANUSHIRASANA)

This pose stimulates the work of all the glands of our body, especially the thyroid gland. It also helps to heal reproductive system disorders and frequent chronic migraines.

11. Tree Pose (TADASANA)

This asana aimed at stretching the spine and strengthening the muscles of the back. It improves your posture and reduces tension in the abdomen.

12. Toe Stand (PADANGUSTASANA)

This pose aimed at developing balance and strengthening willpower, as well as stretching the muscles of the legs.

13. Dead Body (SAVASANA)

This asana relaxes every single muscle of your body. As a result, the movement of blood and lymph comes back to normal. Moreover, the internal cleansing happens and we learn to relax.

14. Wind-Removing Pose (PAVANAMUKTASANA)

This pose massages the organs inside the body in a natural way which is especially beneficial for the digestive system.

15. Sit Up (PADA-HASTHASANA)

This asana clears the lungs of the air that has stagnated there. Also, it stretches the spine and increases flexibility.

16. Cobra (BHUJANGASANA)

During the performing of this asana, your arms are strengthened and your back muscles become more flexible. Thus there is a prevention of diseases in the lumbar region, such as, for example, arthritis. This asana increases the performance of the liver and spleen, and blood pressure returns to normal.

17. Locust Pose (SALABHASANA)

Great pose for those who have a pinched sciatic nerve or displaced vertebrae. Practicing Locust Pose is an excellent prevention of varicose veins.

18. Full Locust Pose (POORNA-SALABHASANA)

This pose increases strength in the middle spine and the rib cage elasticity. Also, it firms the abdominal muscles, upper arms, and hips.

19. Bow Pose (DHANURASANA)

This asana increases spine flexibility. It aids digestion, fights constipation, combats bronchitis and diabetes. This pose improves the functioning of the large and small intestines, the liver, kidneys, and spleen.

20. Fixed Firm Pose (SUPTA-VAJRASANA)

While performing this asana you are stretching your spinal muscles and the muscles of your ankles, resulting in visibly tightened thighs and belly. In addition, this asana is the prevention of diseases such as gout and varicose veins.

21. Half Tortoise (ARDHA-KURMASANA)

This asana improves sleep, helps to get rid of frequent migraines, improve memory and normalize blood circulation of the brain, as well as prolong your life.

22. Camel Pose (USTRASANA)

This pose helps to stretch the back muscles. It also improves the flexibility of your neck and spine and helps degenerative spinal problems. This asana helps constipation, stretches the throat, thyroid and parathyroid glands.

23. Rabbit Pose (USTRASANA)

This pose helps to reduce tension in the shoulders and neck. Is also helps alleviate colds, sinus problems, and chronic tonsillitis.

24. Head to Knee Pose and Stretching Pose (JANUSHIRASANA AND PASCHIMOTTHANASANA)

This asana is very beneficial for immune and lymphatic systems, allergies and arthritis. It increases circulation to the liver, pancreas, thyroid, thymus, and intestines. Also, performing this pose improves digestion.

25. Spine-Twisting Pose (ARDHA-MATSYENDRASANA)

Performing this twisting asana increases circulation to all the spinal nerves, veins, and tissues, and improves the elasticity of the spine. It relieves lower back pain and helps prevent slipped discs, kyphosis, scoliosis, cervical spondylosis, and arthritis.

26. Blowing In Firm Pose (KAPALBHATI IN VAJRASANA)

This pose improves digestion and circulation and increases the elasticity of the lungs.

Bikram Yoga Benefits

The successful outcome of Bikram yoga practice entirely depends on you. Regular classes and your devotion to the practice will soon bring positive effects.

Bikram yoga benefits image

The benefits of Bikram yoga are:

  • provokes active burning of calories;
  • helps to lose weight quickly, get rid of cellulite and bring your body into good shape;
  • cleanses your body of toxins;
  • your body gains great flexibility;
  • strengthens the cardiovascular and respiratory system;
  • helps to quickly recover from injuries of varying severity;
  • improves metabolism;
  • helps to relax after a hard day and put in order your nervous system;
  • improves sleep quality;
  • helps relieve stress (regular practice helps reduce cortisol levels);
  • improves skin quality (helps get rid of acne and enlarged pores);
  • all muscles come in tone;
  • reduces depression;
  • makes you more disciplined;
  • helps to find inner balance and harmony with the outside world;
  • increases immunity and it becomes easier for your body to fight infections and viruses;
  • relieves mental stress and relaxes you.

Can Bikram Yoga Harm You?

Before choosing to attend Bikram or Hot yoga class you should be aware of the harm that this kind of yoga can cause.

There is a number of disadvantages that you may face during your hot yoga class.

1. A danger of excessive stretching

It may be hard to believe but if you have already good flexibility, then Bikram yoga can provoke muscle tension. The thing is the heat weakens the muscles and you may be in danger of excessive stretching.

2. A danger of dehydration

Practicing yoga in a hot room can naturally lower internal body temperature and provoke dehydration. Moreover, there is a significantly increased risk of heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Symptoms of exhaustion include weakness, dizziness, and quite severe nausea, so if you encounter them, it is important to stop your yoga practice immediately and leave the class.

man drinking water during yoga class image

3. A danger of the kidney load increase

When we’re hot and stuffy, we’re thirsty. It’s a natural process. In the conditions of Bikram yoga, there is heavy sweating and, of course, we want to drink twice as much. This means that the load on the kidneys increases.

Сontraindications of Bikram Yoga Practice

Since Bikram yoga is being practiced in a hot room there are some contraindications that can be temporary and permanent.

Permanent contraindications include:

  • vascular problems;
  • varicose veins;
  • heart disease;
  • hypertension;
  • tachycardia;
  • weak mitral and aortic valve function;
  • lung diseases;
  • kidneys diseases;
  • prostatitis;
  • arthrosis;
  • gallstone disease;
  • gynecological diseases;
  • diabetes;
  • asthma;
  • brain diseases.

Temporary contraindications include:

  • pregnancy;
  • period of gynecological inflammation and menstruation;
  • catarrhal diseases;
  • fever;
  • sinusitis.

What to Expect from Bikram Yoga Class?

Yoga Classes Image

If you decided to attend Bikram yoga class then you may have a reasonable question – what to expect? It is natural to feel nervous if you come to Bikram yoga studio for the first time. It’s okay if you are not as successful in your yoga practice as others during the first few classes. Everyone’s been through this.

Let us share with you some tips for those of you who are going to attend your first Bikram yoga class:

  • Come to the studio 15 minutes before your class starts.
  • Be sure to warn the instructor about the presence of any chronic diseases and medical restrictions.
  • Be sure to have an empty stomach. Start training about 2 hours after you have eaten.
  • Do not drink too much water before and during yoga class. It is allowed to moisten the throat and take a few sips. A full stomach is contraindicated when performing asanas!
  • Visit the restroom before the class, as it is not recommended to interrupt the practice.
  • Most studios categorically prohibit the use of a cell phone, so we advise you to completely turn it off and take the time to enjoy yoga.
  • Try to breathe slowly and deeply, it will help to relax all the muscles and get used to the room temperature.
  • Breathe only through the nose, because breathing through the mouth dries the mucosa and excites the nervous system.
  • Be prepared for the fact that during classes you will sweat a lot. Most hot yoga studios artificially increase humidity, so you’ll sweat even in places where you had no idea you had sweat glands (hello, a sweaty inner side of the elbow).
  • Try not to wipe the sweat flowing from you in streams, so you give the body a signal to release even more liquid to cool the hot body.
  • Your heart may start to beat faster, but if you don’t have a problem with that, that’s fine. You need to stay calm and focus on your reflection in the mirror. If, however, you are alerted, and you start to panic, lie down on the mat and take a short break.
  • If you have any unpleasant feelings during your yoga practice, focus on your reflection in the mirror, it will return you to the comfort zone.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel bad (dizzy, nauseous, etc.) during yoga class, the only right decision is to get up and leave. Do not try to break through the weakness, so as not to harm yourself.
  • Improve the result gradually. If you have just started practicing hot yoga, it is not necessary to do the exercises in full force. As in the case of any other workout, your body should get used to the peculiarities of the load. Therefore, start small and boldly move forward.
  • After yoga class, you will have a feeling that you are ready to conquer the whole world (of course, after a long shower). This is the pleasant aftertaste of yoga.

Conclusion

We want to note once again that not everyone can practice this kind of yoga. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you consult with your doctor for contraindications. In addition, it must be remembered that the hot conditions of the hot yoga classes may initially seem unbearably difficult to handle. Therefore, you should determine your level of endurance, so not to pass out during the practice.

Summing up, once again we note that Bikram yoga, despite its ambiguity, is an effective tool that allows you to cleanse your body, tighten sagging skin, develop flexibility, form a posture, delve into your feelings and fully master the management of your body.

We hope that after reading this article, you are now able to decide whether this type of yoga is suitable for you or not. Remember that yoga is not a competition, and the approach to choosing a yoga style for practice should be based on individual feelings, needs, and indications.

Yoga

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

Published

on

Raja yoga Image

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

Meditation in Solitude Image

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

Deep Meditation Benefits Image

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

Japa meditation image

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.

Continue Reading

Yoga

Kriya Yoga: The Benefits and Principles of Practice

Published

on

Kriya Yoga image

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.

Continue Reading

Yoga

Khechari Mudra: Yogic Secret Tool for Immortality

Published

on

Khechari Mudra Image

Khechari mudra is one of the mana mudras (head mudras). This powerful mudra is designed to awaken spiritual energies in the body and activate the kundalini. In this article, we will share with you what Khechari mudra is, what its benefits are, and how to properly perform it.

What Is Mudra?

Mudra‘ can be translated as ‘seal’ or ‘gesture’. When we do a mudra, it acts as a seal or bond which brings our whole body in alignment with the energy associated with the mudra.

Mudras help us correct the direction of energy in the body, control prana, and improve the psycho-emotional state. Also, with their help, we can eliminate problems in the body and the mind by pressing on particular acupuncture points.

What Is Khechari Mudra?

Kechari mudra is considered preeminent among the mudras, particularly because it is an advanced technique meant to assist the practitioner in reaching a higher state of consciousness.

The name for this mudra comes from Sanskrit. Kha means ‘Brahman‘ or ‘Space’ which is infinite. Chara means ‘Obstacle free moving’ or ‘flying’.

Khechari mudra is mentioned in the fundamental treatises on yoga, for example, in Swami Sivananda mentioned in his works that Khechari mudra is the best of all mudras. Kashmiri philosopher Abhinavagupta, in his works on Kashmiri Shaivism, said that all mudras originated from Khechari.

To put it simply, Khechari mudra is a tongue lock. It is not difficult to make it: you just need to bend the tongue so that the tip rests against the upper palate. And keep your mouth closed while practicing it.

The described technique is suitable for beginners. Those who have mastered the described technique and can hold the tongue in this position for a long time can slowly move the tongue deeper into the larynx as if trying to swallow. According to the treatises, the yogis of the past were able to penetrate their throat with their tongue.

According to the yogins, there is a source in the throat that grants immortality. In addition, the yogis of the past, having “swallowed” the tongue, were able to block their right and left nostrils to perform alternate breathing. However, do not try to do it, especially at the initial stage of the practice.

Khechari Mudra Benefits

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is one of the most authoritative sources on yoga, in the 40th sloka says:

“He who knows the Kechari Mudra, is not troubled by diseases, is not stained with karmas, and is not snared by time”.

Indeed, there are certain points on the back of the palate that are responsible for our health. When we’re pressing on these points with a tongue, the release of secretions occurs, which leads to general health improvement.

Yogis of the past believed that those who master this mudra perfectly will “accelerate the onset of deep states.” We are talking here about the possibility of changing consciousness with the help of practice and directing energy to the upper chakras. Also, Khechari Mudra balances the mind and helps to achieve a state of calm.

The regular practice of Khechari Mudra provides the following benefits:

  • opens up blocked salivary glands and prevents painful symptoms of salivary gland disorders;
  • activates the parasympathetic nervous system;
  • relaxes the body;
  • reduces the thoughts;
  • draws the mind inwards;
  • removes symptoms of aging;
  • balances the secretion of the thyroid gland;
  • improves metabolism;
  • contributes the third eye chakra awakening;
  • activates/increases psychic abilites;
  • clears the tongue gag and prevents bad breath;
  • helps to activate kundalini;
  • improves the tone of the voice;
  • reduces abdominal fat;
  • clears the mind of anger, attachment, and ego;
  • increases vitality and energy.

How to Perform?

The instructions listed below have a purely informative purpose. We DO NOT recommend you to practice this mudra without any guidance from an expert teacher.

Instructions:

  1. Extend your tongue up and then roll it back to reach as far as you can. Initially, the tongue may barely reach to the hard palate. Do fake swallowing to slide tongue up to the soft palate. Do it 3-4 times until your tongue rests comfortably at the soft palate.
  2. Now try to slide your tongue further into the mouth.
  3. Reach with your tongue at the bottom of your mouth where it touches the uvula.
  4. Once you reach this far, do it 3-4 times to get your tongue comfortable up to this point.
  5. Now as your tongue touching the uvula, open your glottis and mouth quickly to blow a bit of air inside the throat.
  6. This strong bust of air will push rolled tongue behind the uvula and your tongue will be ready to enter into the nasopharynx.
  7. Once tongue makes its way behind the uvula, now its turn to find a place behind uvula from where the tongue doesn’t come to its previous position. This part will come naturally, the tongue will begin slipping but at this moment there would be a strong urge of throwing out tongue.
  8. Keep breathing slowly, observe what’s happening inside your mouth.
  9. Eventually, your tongue will start slipping into nasopharynx behind the soft palate. This will take tongue to the upmost where it touches a bony structure called the pituitary gland.
  10. Up to this point, the tongue has reached beyond the top of the pharynx.
  11. When the tongue pressed against this, it gets stimulated. Some fluid will start accumulating in your mouth but saliva wouldn’t be swallowed as long as your tongue remains up.
  12. Slowly, bring your tongue down to natural position and you will find the taste of saliva accumulated inside your mouth. In the beginning, the taste of it will be bitter. This is a sign of detoxification of your bodily system. But with practice, you will notice that the bitter taste becomes sweet like honey. It’s called ‘Amrita‘ – the nectar of immortality in Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Duration of the Practice

Start with performing the mudra for 3-5 minutes. Gradually increase the time, bringing it to 1-1.5 hours.

The Bottom Line

Khechari mudra is a powerful mudra that helps us to reach a higher state of consciousness and leads us to immortality. However, if you are a beginner and are not able to do full khechari mudra, a small khechari mudra (nabho mudra) brings many benefits at the physical level. For doing this, simply put your tongue to the soft palate. Give yourself a few months to prepare your tongue for the full mudra practice. Keep in mind that your tongue can be stretched like any other muscle. All you need to do is to be disciplined enough to practice nabho mudra regularly.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Health

Transgenerational Trauma Image Transgenerational Trauma Image
Healing2 weeks ago

What Is Transgenerational Trauma? The Signs & Solutions

What is that one thing you can think of passed down to you or your parents from your ancestors? It...

unblocking chakras for beginners cheat sheets image unblocking chakras for beginners cheat sheets image
Healing3 weeks ago

Unblocking Chakras for Beginners: a Detailed Guide

Different cultures identify seven energy centers of the body, often referred to as chakras. They pinpoint ways to balance or...

shadow archetype image shadow archetype image
Healing4 weeks ago

Meet Your Shadow Archetype: The Dark Side of Your Personality

Let’s face it. In every story, there is a hero and a villain. In your narration, you are both; the...

mother wound healing image mother wound healing image
Healing2 months ago

Mother Wound Healing: Breaking The Chains of Generational Trauma 

We all need mother wound healing. See, the mother-daughter bond is one of the most powerful ever. It may be...

What is Kayakalpa Image What is Kayakalpa Image
Health2 months ago

Kayakalpa: Investigating the Science of Longevity & Immortality

Kayakalpa is coined from two Sanskrit words, ‘kaya’ and ‘Kalpa.’ ‘Kaya’ means bodies, and ‘Kalpa’ means transformation or transmutation. Therefore,...

Reiki healing for dogs image Reiki healing for dogs image
Healing2 months ago

Reiki for Dogs: Energy Healing for Our Furry Friends

Is your furry friend behaving unusually lately? Have they been on meds for any illness or injury? Well, it’s time...

Inner child healing journey image Inner child healing journey image
Healing3 months ago

Inner Child Healing: 4 Surprisingly Effective Practices

The inner child is our original deep essence and the basis of our self-expression, creativity, and spontaneity. Our connection with...

Raja yoga Image Raja yoga Image
Yoga6 months ago

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

There are two types of spiritual teachers. Those that tell you, “I have experienced God and for you to tap...

Psychoacoustics Image Psychoacoustics Image
Healing6 months ago

Psychoacoustics: A Modern Approach to Ancient Sound Healing

Have you ever sung a song so deeply until you started crying for reasons you couldn’t explain? We also know...

Kriya Yoga image Kriya Yoga image
Yoga6 months ago

Kriya Yoga: The Benefits and Principles of Practice

Are you on a spiritual path to self-realization? If so, what meditation techniques do you practice? In this guide, we...

Advertisement

Awareness

Horoscope for June 2022 Image Horoscope for June 2022 Image
Astrology5 days ago

The Most Accurate Horoscope for July 2022

This article will share the most accurate horoscope for July 2022 based on the Feng Shui flying stars chart. The horoscope includes predictions for different spheres of life...

Feng Shui Astrology For September 2021 Image Feng Shui Astrology For September 2021 Image
Astrology6 days ago

Feng Shui Astrology For July 2022: What to Expect This Month?

Feng Shui astrology is based on the Chinese calendar. The dates of the beginning and the end of the months are...

Abundance Haircuts In September 2021 Image Abundance Haircuts In September 2021 Image
Abundant Living1 week ago

Abundance Haircuts In July 2022: Good And Bad Days To Cut Your Hair

Abundance Haircuts is a sutra based on the Tibetan calendar. It reveals the negative consequences of cutting your hair on the bad days and the incredible...

spiritual alchemy image spiritual alchemy image
Spirituality2 weeks ago

Spiritual Alchemy: Transmuting Into a Higher Version of Yourself

Spiritual Alchemy is a mystical practice that seeks to free the soul from its attachment to matter. It is an...

Pratyahara Practice Image Pratyahara Practice Image
Meditation2 weeks ago

Pratyahara Practice In The Modern World

Sometimes, when you try to focus or meditate, there are external influences that won’t let you. Modern life has become...

the law of mentalism explained image the law of mentalism explained image
Personal Development3 weeks ago

Understanding The Law of Mentalism & How It Can Improve Your Life

The law of mentalism implies that everything is mental in nature. And that we are connected to the same consciousness...

Summer Solstice 2021 Image Summer Solstice 2021 Image
Astrology3 weeks ago

Summer Solstice 2022: Powerful Rituals, Practices & Mantras To Honor Surya

Every year between June 20 and June 21, the Earth tilts its closest to the Sun, marking the first day...

the full moon in Scorpio image the full moon in Scorpio image
Astrology4 weeks ago

The Full Moon In Scorpio Occurs On June 14th: Here’s How It Will Affect You

The Full Moon rises on Tuesday, June 14th, 2022. According to Jyotish (Vedic astrology), it occurs in the sign of...

Saturn retrograde 2021 Image Saturn retrograde 2021 Image
Astrology4 weeks ago

Saturn Retrograde 2022 Is Here: This Is What The ‘Lord of Karma’ Is Going To Teach Us

On June 4th, Saturn entered its retrograde phase, which will last until October 23rd, 2022. Saturn’s retrograde motion will encourage...

what is the law of vibration image what is the law of vibration image
Personal Development1 month ago

The Law Of Vibration Explained: How To Manifest The Life You Want

Ask anyone to mention the 12 Universal laws, and they will most likely mention the law of attraction. However, not...

Advertisement

Daily Inspiration