Chaturtha pranayama is both a meditation practice and pranayama that helps to enter deep meditation and the transcendental state of being. This pranayama is also called a “pranayama of the fourth state” which means a transcendental state beyond words. Chaturtha pranayama practice leads to a deeper awareness and helps to prepare for more advanced meditation practices.
In this article, we will share with you what Chaturtha pranayama is and how to perform it correctly. Read on!
The Sanskrit word ‘chaturtha’ means ‘the fourth’. There are two reasons for this name:
The first three types of pranayama are widely regarded as pooraka (inhalation), rechaka (exhalation) and kumbhaka (retention). Chaturtha pranayama is the fourth type that follows them. In this case, the Sanskrit word ‘Chaturtha’ can be translated as ‘the fourth pranayama’.
According to the Mandukya Upanishad, there are four states of awareness:
1. Jagrat – is a waking state that people experience whenever they are not asleep. It corresponds to the externalized perception of the world;
2. Swapna – is the dream state, which corresponds to the perception of the subconscious mind;
3. Sushupti – is a dreamless state, which corresponds to an intuitive perception of the collective unconscious;
4. Turiya (Chaturtha) – is the transcendental state where words and definitions fail to reach.
Turiya is a state of deep meditation, a transcendental level of being. It is very different from the other three states of awareness. It is also called “spiritual awakening“.
There is nothing to say about this mysterious level of being since its understanding lays beyond words and can be understood only through experience. That is why it is called simply “the fourth (state)”. When the mind is deeply asleep and does not dream, but the consciousness is awake, this is Turiya.
Instead of trying to understand Turiya with our logical mind, we should try to experience it. Chaturtha pranayama is designed to help us with this!
How to Perform Chaturtha Pranayama?
This pranayama is, in fact, easy to do. It has five stages (five processes):
- Sitting straight and motionless, we observe our calm, deep breathing. (At least 20 breath cycles or 5-12 minutes).
- Continuing to breathe as well, mentally repeat the mantra “OM”: on the inhale say ‘O’, and on the exhale M-m-m (do it mentally, your mouth should be closed). Do it for 5-12 minutes.
- Keep doing steps 1 and 2 and start concentrating on the point between the eyebrows or on the tip of the nose. Do it for another 5-12 minutes.
- Keep breathing and repeating the mantra. And now concentrate on the Sahasrara chakra. With the inhale and awareness of the sound ‘O’, you’re focusing at the chakras along the spine in descending order: Sahasrara – Ajna – Vishuddha – Anahata – Manipura – Svadhisthana – Muladhara. With an exhale and the mental sound “M-m-m” you are going up the same line: Muladhara – Svadhistana – Manipura – Anahata – Vishuddha – Ajna – Sahasrara (you DO not need to say the name of the chakras to yourself). You do so a few “circles”. It should take about 5-12 minutes.
- Now concentrate on the point between your eyebrows or on the tip of your nose. Continue to mentally chant the mantra “OM ” except now do not observe the breath. Do it as long as possible (5-15 minutes). This leads to deep meditation. This is the main technique of Chaturtha pranayama practice. Do not rush to complete this stage, give yourself time to achieve success in it.
- For your convenience, you can set a quiet timer on your phone. If you do each stage for 12 minutes, the total practice (5 stages) will take 60 minutes. If you do each stage for 5 minutes, the total practice will take 25 minutes.
- Make sure in advance that no one and nothing will bother you during your practice. In this state, a person is very vulnerable and it is easy to get an extremely negative stressful experience if somebody will interrupt your practice.
- It is best to sit in the Lotus pose while performing this practice. If for any reason this pose isn’t comfortable for you then sit on a chair with your back being straight.