Yoga means to yoke (to unite) with the source of our Being
(which is pure Awareness).
While most Hatha Yoga classes concentrate on the physical aspects
in order to increase flexibility, and improve one's health, Hatha Yoga
by itself can be the tool for Self-realization.
To reach this goal Hatha Yoga uses Pranayama and Mudras. Since
these exercises force the ascend of the dormant energy Kundalini,
Hatha Yoga is also called the "Yoga of Force".
Traditional Hatha Yoga consists of:
1. Asanas (postures), 2. Cleansing techniques, 3. Pranayama
(control of breathing with retention), 4. Bandhas (locks) and
Mudras (seals) for the regulation of Prana (life-force) and
Kundalini (dormant energy), and 5. Samadhi
(Holy Trance or ecstatic realization of the Self).
Agni Yoga is mainly practiced in India where it is based on Vedic
knowledge. In Sanskrit, Agni means "fire" and is the name of the Vedic
Agni is invoked by traditional Vedic ceremonies and fire rituals.
Agni Yoga also involves breath and mind control to raise Kundalini.
Ashtanga is also called the "Eightfold Yoga of Pantanjali".
It is another name for Radja Yoga.
The Yoga of Love and Devotion. A Bhakta (devotee) or Bhakti Yogi
transcends the ego with the all-consuming power of his/her devotion to
the omnipresent Being with or without any particular form.
Yoga of transcendental Knowledge
The Jnana Yogi searches the Self either by concentrating on the first
thought "I" until even that thought disappears or by investigating the
answer to the question "Who am I?".
The Self, when found, reveals It-Self always as pure Awareness.
The technique, as introduced by Paramahansa Yogananda and the
Kriya line of teachers, employs a mixture of Hatha, Bhakti, Karma,
Mantra, and Jnana Yoga. It is distinguished by a unique technique of
Kriya Pranayamas for the purpose of controlling the "Life-force" and
ultimately coaxing it to ascend.
Kundalini Yoga techniques are employed to directly force the dormant
power to ascend.
The Laya Yogi may use visualization and mantra to dissolve the mind
in transcendental Bliss, into the beingness of the Self.
Mantra Yoga binds the mind to one thought until the restless mind is
dissolved. As with any other Yoga technique pure Awareness is the
result. Mantra Yoga is a gift for all seekers of the Truth who find it
difficult or impossible because of age or affliction to study Hatha
Yoga or some of the other traditions which demand more time,
flexibility, devotion, and so on.
Nidra Yoga is often called the Yoga of "Sleep". Of course, Yoga
sleep is different from normal sleep. In Nidra Yoga, the Yogi may
lay down on his back and close the eyes but his empty mind tries to
enter what normally is experienced as deep sleep in full Awareness.
This state is also called the "Fourth State", in which one is fully aware
of one's own pure Awareness but nothing else. There are no thoughts
and no worldly impressions. The Yogi may return fully rested and
restored in many ways.
Radja Yoga is also called the "Eightfold Yoga", the "Royal Yoga",
and "Pantanjali's Yoga".
When the Hatha Yogi is properly prepared, Radja Yoga meditations
are added to complete the Union (Yoga) with the ultimate Reality.
Sapta Yoga is also called the "Sevenfold Yoga". Sapta Yoga consists of:
1. Shodhana (cleanliness), 2. Dridhata (firmness), 3. Sthairya (stability),
4. Dhairya (constancy), 5. Laghava (lightness), 6. Pratyaksha (perception),
7. Nirlipta (nondifilement)
Yoga exercises should only be undertaken by a physically
healthy and mentally stable person. When in doubt check
with your physician as we cannot assume any responsibility
for whatever harm a person may do to him/herself when
acting irresponsibly. Everything starts with small steps.
Who does Yoga?
Because of its wide range, Yoga is truly for everyone.
Whether you are seeking the ultimate answers to our most
troubling questions or just more control over your health,
Yoga has a lot to offer.
Of course, Hatha Yoga exercises are not always suitable.
A person might not be fit because of old age, disease, or
a number of other reasons. But Yoga is more versatile as
one might think especially since Yoga is usually associated
with body twisting asanas.
The truth is that perfection in Yoga can be achieved sitting
in a comfortable chair or even while laying in bed.
Nidra Yogis, for example, might prefer to do their exercises
while laying down in the Corpse pose (Savasana or
Mrtasana). For Jnana Yogis the best pose is to reside
"simply" in the Self.
The main benefits:
Believe it or not the instructions presented in this little outline
are sufficient to reach the condition of Bliss and Beingness
which comes in various degrees and is called Samadhi.
Other by-products that may be experienced as a result of
regular practice include:
Better health; improvement in one's ability to concentrate and
think; stronger self-confidence, intuition, insight, etc. However,
the very best we can obtain when interest is strong and
exercise is done with persistence is simply to recognize the
eternal Self (Self-realization).
Need for teacher remains:
However, depending on which path is right for you, the outline
cannot replace the need for a teacher or Guru for three reasons.
First, the instructions given here are incomplete, second the
instructions cannot point out mistakes that may be made, third
the instructions cannot replace the many benefits that may
come with a qualified Guru or teacher.
What was excluded:
Some of the pranayamas which may cause harm and should be
done under supervision of a qualified instructor have been left
out of this outline. For the same reason some mudras are not
explained. Neither the pranayamas nor the missing mudras are
essential in my opinion. However, anyone properly instructed in
these techniques is indeed blessed.
Two main Yoga types:
Yogis fall mainly into two categories: those who are able to
understand the Truth and be the Self (Jnana Yoga) and
those who are not able to understand the Truth directly.
The second group uses action to remove all mental
restrictions to be the Self (Karma Yoga).
Action may include: Hatha Yoga (with its asanas,
purification, pranayamas, mudras, etc.),
Bhakti Yoga and Religious exercise (which includes praying,
devotion, faith, trust, study, following right conduct and
Mantra Yoga (here the action consists of repeating a mantram),
Kriya Yoga (based on purifying action to clear the mind of
mental restrictions), and so on.
Bibliography and recommended reading:
The main sources for Yogic knowledge as presented here comes
from traditional Hindu knowledge and their scriptures including:
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika,
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,
Eight Steps in Hatha, Radja and Ashtanga Yoga
1. Moral Commandments (Yama)
Harmlessness (Ahimsa), Truthfulness (Satya),
Non-stealing (Asteya), Continence (Brahmacharya),
2. Rules for Purification (Niyama)
Purity (Saucha) of body and mind - which also means
the erradication of the six weaknesses:
1. Passion (Kama)
2. Anger (Krodha)
3. Greed (Lobha)
4. Infatuation (Moha)
5. Pride (Mada)
6. Envy (Matsarya)
Austerity (Tapas, Study of Scripture (Svadhyaya),
Surrender to the Self at all times (Isvara pranidhana).
3. Postures (Asana)
4. Breath Retention and Regulation (Pranayama)
5. Control of Mind and Senses (Pratyahara)
6. Concentration (Dharana)
7. Meditation (Dhyana = prolonged Concentration)
8. Holy Trance (Samadhi = condition of Blissful Beingness)
Vaman-Dhauti is one of the more important
It involves drinking several glasses of water and, by an act of
will, to expel the water. The more you drinkthe easier it is to
One can also induce vomiting by tickling the root of the tongue.
When done correctly, this exercise can be quite therapeutic and
correct diseases which are aggravated by excess mucous.
Jala-Basti is one of the more important Bastis
We call the exercise simply applying an enema.
For therapeutic reasons one may use a coffee retention enema
or some herbal substance. However, enemas are mostly made
with pure water. Such an enema may clean more than the
intestines because a feeling of a clear head after such an
enema is not uncommon.
Enemas are useful for any afflictions caused by access Vata,
Pitta, and Kapha. They strengthen and rejuvenate all organs
including the skin. I have heard people warning about regular
or frequent enemas as they could cause the intestines to become
lazy and dependent on such enemas. My own experience and
that of many other yogis with long-time experience tells me that
this warning is the result of an over-creative mind and not based
on any experience these people might have had.
Neti is a nasal wash.
Particularly helpful for this technique is a device called
the Neti pot. With this device it is easy to let the water
enter one side of the nose and have the water running
out the other side.
One would then change sides. In a variation one can
pull water up the nose and expel it through the mouth.
This can also be done the other way around. One can
fill the mouth with water and expel it through the nose.
Some yogis also pull a string through the nose for an
added cleansing effect.
This technique is very beneficial and may also be
helpful in the prevention of the common cold.
Uddiyana and Nauli:
Uddiyana may be the most important Bandha (lock) and
should be checked out further under Bandhas.
The exercise is done by standing, resting the hands on the
upper legs, exhaling, and pulling the belly muscles in and
upwards resulting in a cavity. The stomach is then relaxed
and the upward pulling is repeated ten times before one
inhales again. That would be one round. More advanced
Hatha Yogis may do up to 750 of these contractions.
This exercise increases the digestive "fire", fights old age
and diseases, and may trigger the dormant life-force
Kundalini up the spine.
Nauli is the isolation of the rectus muscles. Please, find a
teacher or look up the photo of the exercise since it is difficult
to explain. Nauli is used by some Yogis for the intestinal wash.
The exercise produces an internal vacuum and it is possible to
draw water from the ground through a hose and up into the
Bhastrika: Inhale slowly through the nose and expand the
belly. Immediately after blow out the air. It is done right when
you can actually hear the air rushing out.
Bhastrika can be used to counter tiredness before Meditation.
For this purpose close the left nostril with two fingers and inhale
only through the right nostril. Then, exhale through the left
nostril. This exercise increases the digestive "fire" and is useful
for all afflictions caused by excessive amounts of mucous.
It is said that Bhastrika may help dissolve the three knots
(Brahma-Granthi, Vishnu-Granthi and Rudra Granthi) that
prevent the free flow of Kundalini.
Nadi Sodhana Pranayama or
Alternate Nostril Breathing
A technique that helps to balance the Life-force (prana) and
assists in calming the mind is called Alternate Nostril Breathing.
Ancient Yoga text books state that this technique helps to get rid
of impurities in the finer nerve channels.
Close the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand and inhale
slowly through the left nostril. Then close the left nostril with the
little finger and the fourth finger. Exhale slowly through the right
nostril followed by a slow inhalation through the right nostril.
Close the right nostril and exhale slowly through the left. This
completes one round. Ten rounds will complete this exercise.
The exercise may be done three times a day for three months.
After three months doing the exercise once or twice daily will be
sufficient to maintain a certain level of purification.
For more information check your Hatha Yoga manual in the
All breathing exercises are only recommended to healthy
persons, who should not exceed their abilities. Since there
is no breath retention, this exercise should be safe.
Tratak is exercised by gazing at a point without blinking until
tears start to flow. Afterwards, resist any temptation to rub the
eyes in case there is any itching. This technique strengthens the
eyes, concentration and willpower.
For proper performance of the asanas see your Yoga teacher.
Siddhasana and Padmasana:
The most essential asanas for the performance of Meditation
are Siddhasana and Padmasana. Both sitting postures allow
a person to sit with a straight spine without straining. They
also have a tendency to calm and relax a person.
Sirsasana and Sarvangasana:
These asanas are most essential for rejuvenation and to
strengthen the brain, memory and concentration.
Asanas for various afflictions
Uttanasana, Paschimottasana, Sirsanana and Sarvangasana,
Maha-mudra, Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, Virasana,
Paschimottasana, Yoganidrasana, Salabhasana, Uttanasana.
Maha-mudra, Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, Paschimottasana,
Dhanurasana, Salabhasana, Parivartanasana, Marichyasana,
Malasana, Svanasana, Dandasana, Mandalasana.
High Blood Pressure:
Padmasana, Siddhasana, Halasana, Paschimottasana, Savasana
Stomach and Intestinal problems:
Uttanasana, Uddiyana, Paschimottasana, Utthita Trikonasana,
Paritvrtta Trikonasana, Parrsvakonasana, Marichyasana,
Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, Yoganidrasana, Salabhasana,
Dhanurasana, Bhujangasana, Mayurasana, Dhanurasana.
Star out with Sirsasana and Sarvangasana (combined with
fasting and mild enemas and Blackberry leave tea),
when pain is under control add Maha-mudra, Poorvottasana,
(Warning: acute cases may require immediate surgery -
see your doctor)
Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, Maha-mudra, Uttanasana,
Paschimottasana, Salabasana, Virasana, Paryankasana,
Bhujangasana, Mukha Svanasana, Uttanapadasana,
Poorvottasana, Pasasana, Dandasana, Dhanurasana,
Ardha Matsyendrasana, Ustrasana.
Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, Yoganidrasana,
Maha-mudra, Paschimottasana, Uttanasana,
Prana and Pranayama
Prana is the original energy out of which matter solidified.
As the stored energy potential in the human body Prana
is called Kundalini. Prana is also translated as "breath".
Ayama refers to the intended retention and restraint of
Therefore, the regulation of Prana is called "Breath-control"
An important first step in Pranayama is the purification of
the Nadis through the "Alternate Nostril Breathing" technique
called "Nadi Sodhana Pranayama". This technique is already
found in the section "Purification".
Further techniques should be taught by a qualified teacher
to avoid serious health problems which may arrise when
improperly exercised. However, some milder forms which do
not require any prolonged breath retention or Khecari mudra
may be added in future upgrades.
Mudras (Seals) and Bandhas (Locks)
List of Mudras and Bandhas:
The most important Mudras for Kriya Yogis are:
Maha-mudra and Yoni-mudra
The most important Mudras for Pranayama are:
Jalandhara-bandha or "Throat lock"
(performed by pressing the chin against the chest.)
Uddiyana-bandha or "Upward lock"
(pulling the belly muscles back and up see photos
in the Asana section)
For the ultimate mastery of Pranayama:
For the opening of the "Third Eye":
Yoni-mudra and Shambhavi-mudra
For general health benefits:
For the awakening of Kundalini:
Ashvini-mudra and Maha-mudra
Shambhavi-mudra (Shambhavi-mudra is the
concentration at the space between the eyes.)
Concentration is to fix the mind on one thought or one single
point of Concentration. When Concentration can be upheld
for a prolonged period we are talking about Meditation.
Samples in Scripture:
The Bible: "You shall love God with all your Heart, with all
your Soul, and with all your Mind."
This is a perfect example of concentration because that leaves
no room for any other thought.
Bhagavad Gita: "Regarding Me as the supreme goal, practice
steadiness of mind and fix your Heart constandly on Him."
Also: "I am easy of access to that ever steadfast seeker who
constantly meditates on Me and gives no thought to anything
Other objects of Concentration:
Yogis concentrate on the inner sound, the inner light,
the space between the eyes, the chakras, the "I",
a mantra or yantra, Pure Awareness, candle light,
any one of the five senses, etc.
Concentration on the space between the eyebrows may be
done with eyes open or closed. The Yoni-mudra is used to
induce the internal light upon which the Yogi concentrates.
As an alternative one may concentrate on the flame of a
candle. Observe the candle and try to see the candle with
the whole mind. When the mind starts to wander bring it
back to observe the flame. Try not to blink until the eyes
start to water. Then close the eyes and concentrate on the
inner after-image of the flame until it starts to fade. Try
to increase the time you can hold the after-image with
For more exercises go to the next chapter "Meditation"
which describes Mantra Yoga and Jnana Yoga
Also see the text file on Jnana Yoga.
Techniques and Explanation for
Spiritual Growth and Self-awareness
What is Meditation?
Meditation is continuous Concentration!
The three parts of Meditation are: Concentration, Meditation,
and Contemplation. Concentration is to devote one's
Attention towards a single point : the point of Concentration.
The uninterrupted flow of one's Attention, then, is Meditation.
Through continuous Meditation, one becomes One with the
object of one's Concentration. That is called Contemplation
and the resulting Trance is called Samdhi, Holy Trance,
Mystical Union, filled with the Holy Spirit, etc.
Meditation guidelines and instructions:
Pure Existence can only be experienced when the mind
becomes still. Our thoughts and speculations are like a
veil covering our true Nature. A most serious problem is
when we identify with a certain mind-structure, the
personality or ego, and the body.
Even so Meditation is used to unveil our true Nature,
during Meditation, we might still continue to cling to this
false personality and fear its dissolution, thus preventing
to discover the indestructible Self.
Since we cannot simply order the mind to be still, we give
it something to hang on. Words designed for that purpose
are called mantras. The application of mantras during
meditation is called Mantra Yoga, Mantra Meditation or,
since it leads beyond, Transcendental Meditation.
Effective mantras for Meditation may be AUM, OM,
So-Ham, Aham, etc.
Mantras are repeated mentally for the sole purpose to calm
the mind. Only when the mind comes to a complete standstill
are we enabled to identify with the silent observer. Then we
know that the Self is not body or mind but pure Awareness.
As a result we do not fear death anymore, since death only
concerns body and mind.
That which is born also dies but Awareness is not the product
of either body and mind; Awareness simply is. It compares to
waking up from a dream:
Everything seen and experienced during a dream has lost its
reality after waking up but the dreamer continues to exist
even after the world in his dream has come to an end.
A technique for Concentration and Meditation:
During Meditation, and possibly even after, Jnana Yogis
"simply" concentrate on the first thought that makes all
other thoughts possible which is 'I'. Without 'I' there is
no you or anything else.
For example, we say:
I see, I hear, etc. I is the first thought and if we hang onto
this thought, and that is all that I is, then no other thought
This gives us a shortcut to the Stillness of the mind where
the real I-am is experienced as something we feel rather
than think we are. It is the Knowledge and Bliss of
I-am-ness or Pure Beingness. Once Pure Beingness is
established, Meditation has done its job.
A second technique for Concentration
Awareness, the center of our Being, is the source for both
our breath and the first thought I. We can therefore reach
the center simply by observing the in and outgoing breath.
This technique may further be reinforced by mentally
repeating the mantram So-Ham (pronounced so-hum).
Inhaling we repeat So and exhaling we mentally repeat Ham.
In time this will calm the mind setting free Pure Awareness
as the observer and the real Self. This is who we are.
Any type of Meditaiton is used to establish who we are and
nothing else. During Meditation we are trying to realize that
we, ourselves, are the Silent Observer.
The state of being aware of one's Existence
Why do we do Yoga?
In the original sense of the word, we do Yoga only for one
reason and that is to unite with God, with pure Awareness,
with the Self, or whatever we choose to name it.
Some think that Yoga can be done for other reasons like
improving one's health or fitness. But doing Hatha exercises
for fitness alone is nothing but a fitness program and not Yoga
since the name Yoga always implies the union with our Source.
Yoga is always a striving for Union or Oneness. When we reach
this state, it is a state of blissful Beingness, a state of pure
Consciousness. Not much more can be said of this state,
which Yogis call Samadhi.
Depending on the intensity and the depth of Samadhi, we
differentiate between Savikalpa, Nirvikalpa**, and Sahaja
Since Samadhi means being in the state of undifferentiated
Beingness, there are not really different kinds of Samadhi.
The difference is only seen from our point of view.
Savikalpa Samadhi refers to the beginning state of Samadhi
while Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the end result.
During the beginning states, we might enter a form of Samadhi
where we get the taste of Bliss and Beingness but are still tight
to our erroneous identification with the body as well as to our
numerous worldly attractions.
Entering Samadhi in the beginning takes effort and holding on
to Samadhi takes even more effort. Beginning stages of
Samadhi are only temporary.
Upon entering Nirvikalpa Samadhi the differences we saw
before have faded and only one and the same Substance is
seen with which we then gladly identify. In this condition
nothing but pure Awareness remains and nothing is missing
to take away from Wholeness and Perfection.
Samadhi is the only stable Reality, everything else is changing
and does not bring everlasting peace or happiness.
Staying in Nirvikalpa Samadhi is effortless but even from this
condition one must eventually return to ego-consciousness.
However, it is entirely possible to stay in Nirvikalpa Samadhi
and still be fully functional in this world. This condition is known
as Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
Elsewhere Samadhi is called the "Holy Union", "Satori",
"Holy Communion", "Enlightenment", "Dhawq", "Tao",
"Mystical Union", "Gnosis", "Sat-Chit-Ananda",
"Beingness-Awareness, Bliss", etc.
Also spelled: Sabikalpa and Nirbikalpa Samadhi.