Sudarshan Kriya : Breathing Technique

Kriya is a sanskrit word that implies action or effort. It is a technique or discipline in the practice of Yoga meant to spiritually awaken the latent energy called the Kundalini Shakti. Sudarshana Kriya is a specific Kriya that is meant to awaken the Kundalini Shakthi to achieve salvation, a path commonly pursued by the yogis.
Understanding Sudarshana Kriya
Sri Sri Sudarshana Kriya is a ancient yogic breathing technique that is very specific, combined with a specific yogic posture. The breathing technique is called Ujjayi type of Pranayama (or breath control) and the specific yogic posture is called the Vajrasana (Thunderbold posture). The specific breath control combined with the specific yogic posture rejuvenates the body and mind through 'cleansing' or 'oxygenation', ultimately leading to the awakening of the Kundalini. As you master the Sudarshana Kriya, normalization of breathing and concentration systematically results in the balance of mind and thought resulting in peace and harmony. Even if you are not spiritually inclined, practicing this technique has mind-body benefits.
Posture in Sudarshan Kriya
  • Posture is important in all Kriyas of yoga and Sudarshana Kriya is no exception. The Thunderbolt posture creates the necessary channels for the breath to oxygenate certain elements of the body.
  • Take your time in mastering the posture as illustrated. Slowly kneel onto a mat or blanket with the knees, ankles and toes touching the ground. Rest buttocks onto the soles of the feet. Allow the heels to separate until they touch the sides of the hips. Place palms down by draping them onto the knees.
  • Sit erect with stillness and relax your eyes and mind. As long as the knees and ankles feel comfortable, stay in the posture and breathe slowly and normally. It takes some effort and may be difficult initially, but do not be discouraged. It is best to close your eyes to cut off external stimuli and turn the attention inward. This posture makes the movement of attention between the brain and spinal cord hindrance free. It engages the muscles in the neck and the shoulders naturally, relieving stress related pressure and helps in breathing freely.
Breathing / Pranayama
Breath control or Pranayama is paramount for a successful Sudarshana Kriya practice. This technique is cleansing and is called the 'Ujjayi'.
  • The First Stage:  IFirst stage begins with the relaxation of the throat and sternum. Try to concentrate on the inhalation and exhalation of breath, through rhythmic slow breathing. Ensure that the time for inhalation and exhalation is about the same. A cycle is one inhalation, followed by one exhalation. After 20 cycles of stage one, you are ready for the next stage of the Kriya.
  • The Second Stage:  This stage begins with normal inhalation followed by deep exhalation. Here, exhalation lasts for a longer time than inhalation. Be aware that the sternum and the rest of the body including the back have to remain as relaxed as possible. Complete 20 cycles of stage two, slowly and rhythmically.
  • The Third Stage: As you move into the third stage, deep inhalation is followed by normal exhalation. Inhalation takes a longer time than exhalation, within a cycle. The same cautions as second stage apply. Complete 20 cycles of stage three, slowly and rhythmically.
  • The Fourth Stage: Go into the last stage with deep inhalation followed by deep exhalation. The time for inhalation and exhalation is about the same. This is done for 20 cycles also
  • The Kriya can be completed by slowly restoring normal and rhythmic inhalation and exhalation. Particular notice should be given to the parts of the body ensuring that there is no stress on any limb or portion of the body. Complete this stage for 20 cycles or more, if desired.
  • If there is shortness of breath or discomfort, please abandon the technique and go back to comfortable breathing. If you suffer from hypertension or other chronic illnesses, it is very important to consult your physician before attempting this Kriya.
Tips for Mastery
  • Benefits cannot be realized without sufficient proficiency gained through constant practice. Sudarshana Kriya provides great benefits, including stress relief at the very minimum, but it is vital that you practice regularly by setting aside time from your busy schedule.
  • Do not be discouraged if you find it daunting initially. Very commonly, you will find it difficult to keep pace with the length of time or the rhythmic breathing. In such cases, you may choose to master one stage over a few months before moving to the next. This Kriya takes time and patience to master. At each stage, you may choose to use a mental count of inhalation and exhalation, and adjust the number of counts for comfort. This helps you to progress without breathing discomfort.
  • Set aside a quiet, calm and softly lit area in your home. Couple the Kriya with light physical exercises, and notice the benefits multiply. It maybe worthwhile to practice rhythmic breathing consciously at all times of the day during your daily activities. This effort will payoff in increased concentration during the Kriya technique and allows your breathing to adapt to the intense stages.

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