In the CHAPTER TWENTY TWO Benefits: This practice brings about calmness and tranquillity in the mind. When perfected, it arrests the thought processes and induces higher states of consciousness.
Practice note: At first ujjayi pranayama may irritate the throat in this inclined position of the head, but with practice it will become more comfortable.
Note: Akashi mudra literally means ‘the attitude of inner space’. It is a very powerful practice, and must be learned slowly and carefully.
Vajroli/Sahajoli Mudra (thunderbolt/spontaneous psychic attitude)
Technique 1: Simple form
Sit in siddha/siddha yoni asana or any comfortable meditation posture with the head and spine straight.
Place the hands on the knees.
Close the eyes and relax.
Take the awareness to the urethra.
Inhale, hold the breath in and try to draw the urethra upward. This muscle action is similar to holding back an intense urge to urinate.
The testes in men and the labia in women should move slightly due to this contraction.
Hold for as long as comfortable.
Exhale while releasing the contraction and relax.
Technique 2: Advanced form
The advanced form should never be attempted without the guidance of a qualified guru, otherwise permanent injury may result.
A silver tube about 12 inches or 30 cms long is inserted into the urethra. Through this water is drawn upward. When this is perfected, milk is drawn through the tube. After this is developed, honey and then mercury are drawn up.
After prolonged practice these liquids can be drawn into the urethra without the tube. At first the tube or catheter should only be inserted for 1 inch or 2½ cms. The distance should be slowly increased to 12 inches or 30 cms.
Precautions: There are two forms of vajroli mudra. The advanced form is only for male aspirants and can be dangerous if practised incorrectly. For this reason, whenever vajroli mudra is referred to in this book, it is the simple form which is intended.
Benefits: Vajroli/sahajoli mudra regulates and tones the entire uro-genital system and helps overcome psychosexual conflicts and unwanted sexual thoughts.
Through the practice of vajroli mudra the sexual energy gate in the body is controlled, allowing the aspirant to control his prana and to utilize it for spiritual awakening.
Note: The word vajroli is derived from the Sanskrit root vajra which means ‘thunderbolt’, and sahajoli from the root sahaj, meaning ‘spontaneous’ and oli which means ‘to cast up’ or ‘to fly up’. Vajroli is therefore the force which moves upward with the power of lightning, and sahajoli is the psychic attitude of spontaneous arousing. Vajra is the name of the nadi which connects the reproductive organs with the brain.
Ashwini Mudra (horse gesture)
Technique 1: Rapid contraction
Sit in any comfortable meditation pose.
Relax the whole body and close the eyes.
Contract the sphincter muscles of the anus for a few seconds, then relax them for a few seconds.
Repeat the process as many times as possible.
Technique 2: Contraction with Antar Kumbhaka (inner retention)
Sit as for technique 1.
Inhale while simultaneously contracting the anus.
Practise antar kumbhaka (internal breath retention) while holding the contraction of the sphincter muscles.
Exhale while releasing the contraction of the anus.
Repeat for as long as you have time available.
Duration: Practise for as long as is comfortable. Do not strain.
Benefits: This practice strengthens the anal muscles and alleviates disorders of the rectum. By practising this mudra one is able to gain control of the sphincter muscles of the anus. Perfection of this mudra prevents the escape of pranic energy from the body. This energy can therefore be conserved and directed upwards for higher and more valuable purposes.
Practice note: Ashwini mudra is a preparatory practice for moola bandha.
Note: The name ashwini mudra means literally ‘the horse gesture’. It is so-called because the anal contraction resembles the movement a horse makes with its sphincter immediately after evacuation of the bowels.
Moola Bandha (perineum contraction)
Sit in siddha/siddha yoni asana so that pressure is applied to the perineal/vaginal region.
Place the hands on the knees in jnana or chin mudra.
Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
Concentrate on the trigger point of mooladhara chakra.
Try to touch this point with your awareness, and then contract it.
Hold this contraction for as long as is possible, then slowly release it.
Relax for a few seconds, and then practise it again.
Precautions: Moola bandha must be perfected gradually
and with great care. Do not strain while attempting it.
Benefits: In this bandha the region of mooladhara, located between the urinary and excretory organs, is contracted and pulled upwards. This forces the apana vayu (vital energy in the lower parts of the body below the navel) to flow upwards and thereby unite with the prana vayu (vital energy in the region between the larynx and the heart), thus generating vitality. The perfection of this practice leads to a spontaneous realignment of the physical, mental and psychic bodies.
Practice note: In the basic practice of moola bandha the aspirant is instructed to exert muscular contraction in the area associated with mooladhara chakra. Later, however, when the exact root point of mooladhara has become familiar to the practitioner, then the muscular contraction need not be employed and the aspirant can merely touch the correct point lightly with his awareness. If mastered completely, this subtle technique is far more powerful than the physical contraction, however all aspirants should utilize the muscular contraction in the initial stages of practice.
Note: The word moola means ‘root’, and bandha means ‘to lock’. This technique locks the psychic energy in the upper part of the psychic body and does not allow it to descend into the lower limbs. It also stimulates mooladhara chakra through mental compression, which helps in the awakening of kundalini.
Stage 1: Sit in a meditation pose, preferably siddhasana
or siddha yoni asana. Practise jnana or chin mudra.
Perform the simple form of vajroli/sahajoli mudra.
Hold for a slow count of ten.
Then perform moola bandha, hold for a count of ten.
Release moola bandha.
Continue in this way for as long as possible.
On subsequent days increase the count from ten to fifteen or more.
Stage 2: Practise vajroli/sahajoli mudra.
Add moola bandha to vajroli.
Now practise ashwini as well.
Hold all three for a few seconds, then release ashwini, moola and vajroli/sahajoli, respectively.
Practice note: This practice is very important in assisting the aspirant to distinguish between ashwini mudra, vajroli/sahajoli mudra and moola bandha. It should be attempted only when one has learned the three basic techniques separately. Often aspirants do not learn to sense the subtle difference between these three kriyas in the early stages of practice, and they simply tense all of the muscles in the region no matter which technique they are attempting. This can destroy the efficacy of the three techniques when used as part of the advanced kriyas of kundalini yoga. The concentration should be on distinguishing the three separate areas of contraction. Practise daily until the three can be distinguished clearly from each other.
Jalandhara Bandha (throat lock)
Technique 1: Raja yoga form
Sit in a meditation pose which allows the knees to firmly touch the floor. Sukhasana is not suitable. Persons who cannot sit in padmasana, siddhasana, etc., can do jalandhara bandha while standing.
Place the palms on the top of the knees.
Relax the whole body and close the eyes.
Inhale deeply, retain the breath inside, bend the head forward and press the chin tightly against the chest at the sternum.
Straighten the arms and lock them in a fixed position. Simultaneously hunch the shoulders upwards and forwards; this will ensure the arms remain locked.
The palms should remain on the knees.
This is the final pose.
Stay in the final pose for as long as the breath can be held comfortably.
Then relax the shoulders, bend the arms, slowly release the lock and raise the head.
Repeat when the respiration returns to normal.
Technique 2: Kundalini yoga form
This is the same as the raja yoga form, except it is practised very subtly and without any tensing of the shoulders or arms.
The head is simply dropped forward till the chin touches the sternum.
In this form, however, the aspirant must be mentally aware of the compression of prana taking place in the trunk region.
Breathing: The practice may also be performed with the breath retained outside. This bandha closes the windpipe and compresses various organs in the throat by imposing a chin lock.
Contra-indications: Persons with high blood or intracranial pressure or heart ailments should not practice without expert advice.
Benefits: Jalandhara bandha brings about relaxation of the whole body and mind. It relaxes the heart by slowing down the heartbeat. On a physical level this is achieved by the compression of the sinus receptors which are located in
the throat region. These receptors are sensitive to the blood pressure in the jugular vein which supplies blood in the brain. If the pressure is high the receptors send messages to the brain and heart, which are slowed down. If the pressure is low then the heart is speeded up in the same way. The receptors are pressure sensitive and so the compression they receive during jalandhara bandha slows down the heart and brings tranquillity to the mind.
The thyroid and parathyroid glands are massaged and their functioning improved. These glands, especially the thyroid, have wide influences on the human organism, growth, sexual functions and so on. The whole body consequently benefits from their enhanced efficiency.
This is a good practice for reducing and removing stress, anxiety and anger.
Practice note: Do not inhale or exhale until the chin lock and arm lock have been released and the head is upright.
Note: The name jalandhara bandha means ‘throat lock’. It is an important technique which compresses the pranic force in the trunk region of the body, which is useful in stimulating the kundalini energy.