Kriya Yoga Pranayama

Simple Kriya Pranayama:

Breath is the life force that sustains our life. Human body is physical manifestation of one’s consciousness and in that, primarily, Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord) is densely concentrated with abundant consciousness. So, all the yoga practices always revolve around CNS with an intention being to grow ones awareness towards consciousness. Kriya Pranayama practices focus on getting the glowing awareness of main three Nadis (Ida, Pingala & Sushumna) and seven Chakras (Mooladhara, Swadhistana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishudhi, Ajna & Sahasrara) and opening them for the free flow of Prana. There are variations in the techniques. But, all have the same goal “to get the realization of the self”. Kriya pranayama is the most important technique of Kriya Yoga.
You must practice few techniques at a time for sometime and get mastery in it before moving onto next techniques. Do not attempt to master everything in one day. It should be mastered only gradually.

Benefits of Kriya  Pranayama

  • Pranayama teaches the “proper” way to breathe. Instead of breathing from our chest and under-using our lungs, you can increase the capacity of your lungs by breathing slowly and deeply.
  • Pranayama helps reduce the toxins and wastes that accumulate within your body, and may act as a preventative for illness.
  • Pranayama is helpful for digestion; learning to breathe properly helps improve metabolism.
  • The concentration and focus required to effectively practice yoga breathing exercise methods helps improve self-control and willpower.
  • Pranayama repels stress and allows the body to relax.
  • When the body is relaxed and the mind is focused, yoga breathing exercise methods allow for a more fulfilling spiritual journey.

Groundwork for Kriya Pranayama

  • Sit in a comfortable position, without having external support for back. Let the spine stay in natural S curve. Take a few slow and deep breaths and relax.
  • During the entire course of Pranayama, let your breath follow natural rhythm. Do not force to hold the breath or struggle to keep the breath slow.
  • During the entire course of Pranayama, if for any reason you lost control of your awareness then do not worry or struggle to forcibly bring the awareness back to from where it left from the practice. Instead, let go of the situation, and easily start all over again without worrying that something happened.
  • Always do normal abdominal breathing (breath using diaphragm). Abdominal breathing relaxes and calms the mind. This is the natural way of breathing. Observe how baby breaths! Contrary to that, breathing using upper chest will create anxiety and high blood pressure.
  • Curl up your tongue to form Kechari Mudra (Khechari Mudra). After few thousand hours of practice, tongue will naturally enter the nasal pharynx and into the nasal septum. This is king of mudras. Kechari Mudra will bring mental stillness, mind will naturally calm down. One should be in Kechari Mudra throughout the practice.

Mental Kriya Pranayama
Mentally move your awareness from Mooladhara Chakra to Sahasrara slowly, mentally touchingeach chakra in the upward path. Stay a while for a comfortable duration at Sahasrara and then slowly move your awareness from Sahasrara to Mooladhara Chakra while mentally touching each chakra in the downward path. This completes one mental Pranayama.

Repeat this Pranayama few times daily for some days till you are comfortable in tracing and visualizing the paths up and down. After getting complete mastery over this, move onto the Kriya Pranayama.

Variations of Mental Pranayama

  1. Visualize a narrow hollow white tube running from Mooladhara to Sahasrara. Visualize all the seven Chakras on it (Mooladhara – Red four petal lotus, Swadhistana – Orange six petal lotus, Manipura – Yellow ten petal lotus, Anahata – Green twelve petal lotus, Vishudhi – Blue sixteen petal lotus, Ajna – Indigo two petal lotus and Sahasrara – Violet & White thousand petal lotus). Do the mental Pranayama along with these visualizations tracing the path up and down the white tube while mentally touching all the Chakras in the path.
  2. While doing Pranayama, mentally chant OoooUuuuuMmm at each Chakra in the path. You can use hum-So mantra.
  3. Visualize the smooth candle flame (about two inches in length) going up and down the white tube while mentally tracing the path.
  4. Visualize the smooth & bright Sun (soothing white Sun) going up and down the white tube while mentally tracing the path.

Kriya Pranayama Cycle

Inhale, and while inhaling move your awareness from Mooladhara Chakra to Sahasrara, mentally touching each chakra with mantra in the upward path. Stay a while for a comfortable duration at Sahasrara while chanting the mantra and then exhale slowly. While exhaling, move your awareness from Sahasrara to Mooladhara Chakra mentally touching each chakra with mantra in the downward path.

While exhaling, contract the lower throat/glottis so as to create the resistance to the outgoing breath. This will make the duration of exhale lengthier compared to inhale and help in opening the spiritual (third) eye.
This completes one Cycle of Kriya Pranayama.

Variations  in Visual Kriya Pranayama

  1. Visualize Sushumna nadi as narrow hollow white tube running from Mooladhara to Sahasrara. Visualize all the seven Chakras in Sushumna nadi (Mooladhara – Red four petal lotus, Swadhistana – Orange six petal lotus, Manipura – Yellow ten petal lotus, Anahata – Green twelve petal lotus, Vishudhi – Blue sixteen petal lotus, Ajna – Indigo two petal lotus and Sahasrara – Violet & White thousand petal lotus). Do the Kriya Pranayama along with these visualizations.
  2. Visualize the smooth candle flame (about an inch in length) going up and down the Sushumna nadi while doing Kriya Pranayama.
  3. Visualize the smooth white ball (about an inch in diameter). While inhaling and going up the Sushumna, white ball increases its size gradually. While exhaling and coming down the Sushumna, white ball decreases its size gradually.
  4. While inhaling and going up, trace the dorsal side of the Sushumna nadi. While exhaling and coming down, trace the ventral side of the Sushumna nadi. (Dorsal side is towards the back side of the body and ventral side is towards front).
  5. Visualize two narrow hollow white tubes running on left and right of the Sushumna nadi. One on the left is Ida nadi and the one on the right is Pingala nadi. Inhale and move awareness from Mooladhara to Sahasrara thru Ida nadi. After reaching Sahasrara, keep awareness there as long as possible to keep comfortably. Exhale and move awareness from Sahasrara to Mooladhara thru Pingala nadi.
  6. While inhaling, imagine cool air is entering your body, gradually filling your body from Mooladhara to Sahasrara. While exhaling, imagine hot air is going out gradually from Sahasrara to Mooladhara.
  7. With repeated practice, one will gain mastery over breath and mind. Exhale will take more time than inhale and, each breath will span over a minute. Mind will rest in peace. This is the time to move on to next step.


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Pranayama Breathing

Pranayama in Daily Life

Breath of Fire: Kapalabhati Pranayama

Kapalabhati is a very active, forced exhalation with a passive inhalation. To exhale, the belly quickly pumps into the spine forcing the air out of the nose (like trying to blow out a candle through you nose). Place a hand on your belly to feel the belly actively pumping. Play with the tempo (30-40 exhalations/60 seconds), but keep a steady rhythm. Try starting with 2-3 rounds of 15 exhalations. Then, gradually increase the exhalations, as you feel comfortable.

Nostril Alternating Breath: Nadi Sodhana Pranayama

Close off your right nostril with the thumb and inhale into the left nostril. Next, close off your left nostril with your forefinger (or another finger), open the right nostril by removing your thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Keep your fingers where they are and inhale into the right nostril. Close the right nostril with your thumb, open the left, and exhale through the left nostril. Repeat. This is one “round”. Try doing 4 “rounds” when you begin. As you feel more comfortable, try 10 or 15 rounds.

Pranayama Breathing
Pranayama Breathing

Three Part Breath: Dirga Pranayama

Dirga Pranayama is called the three part breath because you are actively breathing into three parts of your abdomen. The first position is the low belly (just below the belly button), the second position is the low chest (belly and lower half of the rib cage), and the third position is the upper chest and low throat (just above the top of the sternum). The breath is continuous, inhaled and exhaled through the nose. The inhalation starts in the first position, the low belly; then moves to the second position, the low chest; then to the third position, the upper chest and low throat. The exhalation starts in the low throat and upper chest, moves to the low chest, and finishes in the low belly. Rest your hands on the individual positions to feel the breath rising and falling through each position. When you start practicing, you may want to individually isolate the movement in each position, using the hands. When you have a good feel for the breath moving in and out of each position, begin to practice without your hands.

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