Tantric Kriya Yoga by Alan Verdegraal
There is a breathing technique that is very essential to doing the Tantric Kriya practices.
In yoga, it is called ujjayi breath. As you breath in, slightly contract the glottis. You will know you are doing this correctly when you feel a gentle constriction that will cause a slightly audible rasping sound, almost like a quiet snore.
Tongue lock. With the mouth closed, roll the tongue backward so that the normally lower surface touches the upper palate. Try to bring the tongue tip as far back as possible without strain.
Some of you may be familiar with the Taoist Kriya practice called the Microcosmic Orbit. This is similar to the Kriya Chakra Circuit but major differences exist. In the Microcosmic Orbit, the breath moves first up the spine to the top of the head rather than upward in front of the body. The Microcosmic Orbit is an advanced practice that greatly accelerates the flow of energy up the spine.
Sounding the Spinal Channel utilizes actual sound vibration and awareness to energize this channel. We use the vibration of the cosmic mantram OM. Sit in a comfortable position with the back straight. In this Kriya the eyes are open at the start. Gently lower the chin to the chest in a relaxed manner. Exhale completely and bring your awareness to muladhara chakra. With the inhalation (utilizing ujjayi breath & kechari mudra), let your awareness arise through the frontal channel. Notice the kshetrams as they each pass by. When your awareness reaches vishuddhi kshetram, slowly raise your head and eyes. Your inhalation should complete at the bindu point. Vocally begin the chant "Om". With the exhalation of the chant, the awareness descends the spinal channel back to the root chakra. Maintain the "O" through ajna to vishuddhi chakra, then close the lips and let the "m" resonate as your awareness descends through anahata, manipura, swadhisthana, to mooladhara chakra. As your awareness descends, slowly lower your head and eyes. By the time you reach mooladhara, your eyes will be closed. It is almost like being drowsy.
Open your eyes, and begin another circuit. Repeat this Kriya thirteen times, then close your eyes, release all the techniques.
When you achieve success with ujjayi, you will hear a constant rasping sound as the air passes through the glottis. This sound is the key to the So Ham Kriya. Listen to the sound. As you inhale, hear the sound So. As you exhale, hear the sound Ham.
So Ham belongs to the realm of the Goddess. What does So Ham mean? I am She.
What does Hong Sau mean? I am He. Hong Sau keeps the vibration just in the head chakra.
Sounding the Spinal Channel incorporates a gentle head and neck movement. This movement alternately lengthens and compresses the spine creating a pumping motion that adds to the effect of the practice. Continuous rocking of the neck in this manner can cause some muscular and vertebral stress. If you feel weakness, minimize the neck movement.
The first gate is above the second chakra, just above the sacrum.
"Falling in love" is an emotionally imbalanced state that occurs when sexual energy hits the locked second gate and backs-up into the heart center."
The second gate. This gate is located above the heart chakra.
The third gate is above the throat chakra.
Psychic Gesture of Knowledge. The index fingers of both hands are curled so that each touches the inside base of the thumb. The other fingers are spread outward and the hands are placed upon the knees or thighs with palms down while sitting in meditation postures.
"Gazing at the eyebrow center" is a mudra. To understand how to perform this mudra, hold the index finger of one hand upright in front of your face. Focus on the tip of the finger. Now move the entire hand straight upward while maintaining your focus on the finger tip yet keeping the head still. Continue raising it until it vanishes above the eyebrows. At the point it disappears, you will be looking into the center of the dark band of your eyebrows. Keep your eyes fixed here. This is Shambhavi Mudra.
A very subtle part of moola bandha is the set of muscles called the pubo-cocygeal muscles, or PC muscles for short. These muscles control the flow of urine. Both male and female aspirants can practice isolating the PC muscles by stopping and starting the flow of urine during urination. Beginners will probably just tighten everything at once including the anus. Eventually, one seeks to distinguish between the different sets of muscles. There is actually a specific sequence that best locks in the energy.
Men: First, tighten the PC muscle in the Lingam, raise the testicles, tighten the perineum, and finally the anus, drawing everything in and up. It is like a swooping motion that starts with the penis and arcs backward to the anus.
Women: Tighten the clitoris, then the clitoral shaft, the PC muscle, the perineum in front of the vaginal entrance, the entrance itself drawing in the petals of the flower, the back of the perineum, and finally the anus.
There are several ways to practice moola bandha. The first method is through strong quick repetitive "pulses" - squeeze and release, squeeze and release -- holding about one or two seconds each. Do three or four sets of twenty or thirty pulses. Then relax and observe your sensations and state. You will feel warmth in your pelvic bowl and may feel a tingling up your spine. The second way is to hold the tension as long as possible, such as during a slow inhalation, then relax completely with the exhalation.
Stretching to Foot Pose. The Kriya of the Great Attitude utilizes a different yoga posture than the previous Kriyas. This posture is called the Stretching to Foot Pose. One leg is stretched out. The other leg is bent at the knee with the foot brought inward to the genital region. For men, the heel is brought under the scrotum to press against the perineum. For women, the heel is brought to press against the vaginal entrance and clitoral shaft. This position will intensify the pressure when moola bandha is applied. The back is straight and the hands are resting on the upper thigh of the extended leg. This is the starting position. At a precise point during the Kriya, the hands will slide down the leg to grab the big toe with both index fingers. The body will bend forward as far as possible while keeping the back arched. The secret is to not bend forward at the upper spine, but focus on bringing the belly down to the leg as much as possible. Instead of bringing the head to the knee, the head is raised upward as if looking at the ceiling. After holding for a couple moments, slowly return to the starting position by drawing the hands back up the leg to the thigh and sitting upright.. This is a very powerful yogic posture for it works directly on all three locks.
Kriya of the Great Attitude. First complete the four previous Kriya practices (Chakra Breathing, Kriya Chakra Circuit, Sounding the Spinal Channel, So Ham Kriya - see Parts 1-5. Adopt the starting position of the Stretching to Foot Pose described above with the hands on the thigh in the Psychic Gesture of Knowledge. Apply the tongue lock.
Bring your attention to Mooladhara Chakra, do moola bandha pulsing your genital and anal region tightly. With the last sqeeze, hold it tightly and begin your inhalation using ujjayi breath up the frontal channel, moving your awareness along the Kriya Chakra Circuit with your breath. Cross over at the neck to the bindu point at the back of the head. Still retaining the breath, stretch out into the forward position grabbing the big toe with the index fingers. As you reach for the foot, raise the eyes to gaze at the eyebrow center doing Shambhavi Mudra. As you say each, quickly move your attention to each point, that is, move your attention to the eyebrow center, then jump to where the tongue touches the palate, and finally bring your attention to the root chakra. This is like dialing a combination on a lock. Release shambhavi mudra, then moola bandha.
Return to the upright position with the hands on the thighs in the Psychic Gesture of Knowledge. Bring your attention back to bindu and, with ujjayi breath, slowly exhale down the spinal channel by first going to ajna chakra, then crossing to the back of the neck, and moving down the spine to mooladhara chakra. This is one round.
Repeat "mool" again and begin your next inhalation up the frontal channel. Perform four rounds with one leg extended. Switch legs and do four more rounds. Then extend both legs out together and perform four more rounds for a total of twelve Kriya circuits.
Chin Lock. Known as Jalandhara Bandha in sanskrit, the chin lock can be practiced from a cross-legged position or even a standing postion. In the following Kriya, we use the "Stretching to Foot Pose" introduced in the last part. The chin lock is performed by first exhaling all of the breath. The breath is held out through the entire practice until the chin lock is released. The secret trick to perfecting the chin lock is to first raise the head by the ears, thus lengthening the vertebrae of the neck. You will notice that as ears are raised a bit, the chin naturally moves downward. Next pull the chin back toward your neck a little further until it rests on the throat. Only then, bend forward at the neck, pressing the chin to the collar bone. You should feel the soft padding of the throat as the chin presses down. Finally, raise the shoulders slightly to the ears and straighten the arms. Hold the breath out during the internal practice.
Abdominal Lock. In yoga, this is known as the "stomach lift" or in sanskrit, Uddhiyana Bandha. After exhaling the breath and applying the chin lock, one sucks the abdomin inward and upward. This is accomplished by raising the diaphragm and expanding the chest slightly without inhaling. The belly is sucked inward up into the rib cage cavity. The entire abdomin becomes "caved in." A proper chin lock is very important since the abdominal lock causes a vacuum in the lungs. The top opening of the bronchial tubes are closed by completely contracting the glottis to not allow any air to enter. If the chin lock is not applied, the vacuum can cause a slight irritation of the glottis that leads to a tickling sensation and coughing. Properly applied, the chin lock supports the glottis with the soft tissue of the throat eliminating possible irritation. Hold the breath out as long as possible.
First release the abdominal lock, then release the chin lock. Finally, begin a slow inhalation. To repeat, it is important to release the abdominal lock first, then the chin lock, otherwise, the vacuum will irritate the glottis as mentioned above.
Triple Lock. Maha Bandha or the Great Lock is practiced when the chin lock, stomach lift and root lock are all employed in the same practice. The specific instructions of the root lock for both men and women were introduced in the last part. Once again, simply put, the root lock consists of the tightening of the muscles of the genital and anal regions. This locks the energy in at the base. The root lock is applied after the chin lock and stomach lift have been applied, to be released simultaneously with the stomach lift.
Nosetip Gazing. Known as Nasikagra Drishti in Sanskrit, nosetip gazing is simply crossing the eyes to look at the tip of the nose. At first, the eye muscles will continue to be active as they attempt to move the focal direction around. Some minor muscular strain may be felt as one tries to still the eyes. None of this is harmful. On the contrary, it is very beneficial to the eyes. (Chinese eye exercises include looking as far left, right, up, down and to the diagonals to maintain the muscular tone around the eyes. Also, one can focus on a point very near, then quickly looking at something far away, to return quickly to something near, and so forth. These exercises will maintain the vitality in the eyes as one grows older.)
Adopt the starting position of the Stretching to Foot Pose with the hands on the thigh. Apply tongue lock.
Without applying the root lock, begin your inhalation using ujjayi breath (glottis contraction) up the frontal channel.
begin your exhalation moving your awareness to your third eye, back of the neck, then down the spine. Apply the chin lock, apply the abdominal lock, apply the root lock. Gaze at the tip of your nose. As you do these, slide your hands down your leg and grab your toes. Holding the breath out, bring your awareness to the tip of the nose.
Next, move your awareness to your solar plexus. Finally, move your attention to the root point and say "Mool." Repeat this three times. Eventually work up to as many times as possible (fifteen times) with the breath out. Now, release both the root lock and abdominal lock as you begin to come upward. Then the chin lock. Finally you can bring your attention to the root chakra and inhale moving your awareness up the frontal channel again to repeat the Kriya. The eyes can remain focused on the tip of the nose.
Waterfall from Heaven Kriya
Sit comfortably. Place your attention at the root chakra. Place the tongue in khechari mudra (tongue curled up so that its underside touches the surface of the upper palate).
Close your eyes in a relaxed manner. Exhale fully and apply moola bandha (the root lock). Using ujjayi breath (contraction of the glottis), begin your inhalation up the spinal column going from chakra to chakra. Draw the energy with a slow single breath from the root chakra up the back to the bindu point and over the top of the head to the third eye.
As the energy passes vishuddhi chakra (throat center) at the back of the neck, begin to turn your eyes upward using shambhavi mudra (see Part Six) in order to be looking up at the third eye by the time your breath reaches ajna chakra (third eye center). Hold the breath as long as you can keeping your focus on the third eye point. It is very important to keep the tongue in khechari mudra touching the upper palate. Your head may also drift backward with your forehead rising upward. Try to keep your head erect; don't let it flop back on your neck. Conscious lengthening of your neck will keep it erect.
When you cannot hold the breath any longer, take a short sniff of air to relax the throat, release moola bandha, then slowly release the breath moving your attention down the frontal channel. Feel the energy wash down your front to the root chakra. It is like a waterfall coming off your forehead. As you exhale, relax the eyes and let them drift downward from the third eye point. Pause, keeping the air out, noticing any sensations. Then when you naturally feel like inhaling, apply moola bandha and begin this kriya again. Do this thirteen times.
The guide leads the participant through a short relaxation. This can include such statements as "Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and let it out with an audible sigh. Again, inhale and sigh. Inhale and sigh." Pause for a short time to let the participant settle into the act of observing. About every fifteen seconds, the guide will repeat one of the following situations.
You are in a room of monkeys.
You are in a room full of crying babies.
You are in a room of children.
You are in a room with your mother.
You are in a room with your father.
You are in a room with your lover.
You are in a room of naked men.
You are in a room of naked women.
You are in a room of Black men.
You are in a room of Orientals.
You are in a room with very old women.
You are in a room with people dying.
You are in a room full of corpses.
You are in a very dark room.
You are in a room lit by thousands of candles.
Fifteen seconds is about enough time for you to notice what is occuring before you get involved with the drama or create a "story." Notice what the pre-verbal reaction is. Notice any physical sensations in the body. Are you tightening up somewhere in the body? Do you feel hollow somewhere? Do you feel heated? With some of these you will have a neutral reaction. Others you may have profound reactions. You may observe both blatant and subtle prejudices arising. The quick changing format will also allow you to notice how quickly you can change states between something pleasant and something uncomfortable.
This is called complete breathing because when done correctly the breathing cycle fills the entire system. At first, practice it lying down. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor; place your hands-fingertips barely touching-on the belly below your navel. On the inhalation, separate your fingers slightly. When you gain some skill, try this breathing sitting up, then in a standing position. It should eventually become the normal way to breathe.
There are six steps:
- Fill the lower part of your lungs, allowing your diaphragm to extend and the abdominal wall to expand.
- Fill the middle of the lung area, allowing your rib cage to extend.
- Fill the top of the lungs, allowing your upper chest to extend and the abdominal wall to recede. Pulling the abdominal wall back in allows the top of the lungs to fill more completely. (Note: perform the above three steps in one continuous movement using six pulse beats.)
- Hold your breath for a few seconds, allowing your chest and belly to relax more fully.
- Exhale slowly and evenly, pulling and lifting your abdomen, allowing your chest to contract; do this using six pulse beats.
- Allow your chest and abdominal areas to relax and be still for a few seconds before beginning the process over again. Be sure your back is also relaxed.
First, do three complete breaths (see above exercise), holding the breath for several seconds on the third complete breath. Second, holding your cheeks firmly, pucker your lips and force breath out in short blasts, holding briefly in between each blast. Continue until all air is expelled. The force of each "blast" helps cleanse the system and revitalize it. Repeat, taking only one complete breath for each exhalation.
Do the above exercise but on the exhalation hold your Lips as if playing a flute or blowing over a bottle top. Keep the exhalation in one continuous stream until all air is expelled.
Jack Lee Rosenberg
Exhalation with every forward swing of the pelvis.
First of all, while you are lying on the floor or on a bed, feel the floor (or bed) push up against you , and the weigh: of your body pushing against the floor. Your knees should be up; feet flat on the floor. Notice what parts of your body touch the floor. Pay attention to any area that seems to be tense in your body. Tighten that area as mu c h as you can and exaggerate the tension. Now let it go completely. As you do that, exhale. Tense as you inhale, relax as you exhale.
Now bring your attention to your face. Try to feel your facial expression. Pay attention to the tension in the minute musculature of your face. What is the feeling you are expressing with your face? Exaggerate that expression . . . tense it to its utmost. See what it is that your face is expressing.
Place one hand on your chest an d one hand on your abdomen as you breathe. There should be a rise in the chest and the abdomen, then a collapse, a letting go, of the chest and the abdomen down again.
Now take a deep breathe and, without expelling the air, hold your breath and make the movements of breathing. Repeat this exercise four or five times.
Begin to add some sound to your breathing.
Freeing the neck and chest. This exercise is used to free the upper part of the body, the chest and the neck. It is most easily understood if you study the hand positions, for they indicate the motion of the shoulders. To begin, lie on the floor with your knees up; place your arms out to your sides, your hands palm down. Now take a breath in and roll your hands and arms up in the direction of your head . . . notice your chest will come up, your back will arch and your head will roll back.
Now roll your hands in the opposite direction and let your breath out again. Your whole arm and shoulder, neck and head will follow. Repeat this five times, taking a breath each time your chest rises and letting it out each time your chest is contracted on the forward movement.
Next, do the same rotation of the hands, arms and shoulders, but this time change the motions of your head and neck. In other words, where your head was rolling back now it, should come forward as you inhale, adding pressure to your chest... and where your head was forward, it should now be back as you exhale. Change only the head and neck motion. Do this five times. Now, return to the original exercise; as you do it note how much more free your movements are.
Take a breath and raise your arms up and over your head in a high arch, enlarging your chest cavity (breath in as much as possible).
As you let your breath go, put your arms back down. Do this sequence of raising your arms over your head as you breath in and lowering them as you breath out five times. Now reverse the process. As you take a breath in, put your arms down; as you let your breath out, raise your arms in an arch over your head. Put your arms down again, take a breath in. Do this 5 times. Now go back to the original way, this time letting your arms fall (5 times). These exercises are all designed to loosen the chest, and to get you to begin to breath a little more deeply.
Put your hands behind your head and feel your neck. Feel the tension in the muscles along the ridge at the base of your skull (the occipital ridge - the ridge where your scalp attaches, almost directly in line with the ears). One of the things you can do to relieve this tension is to take a small firm ball (a Coke bottle will do, or a milk bottle, but a ball is more comfortable) and place it at the back of your neck. Now let your head relax onto the ball; begin to roll your head, feeling for tense areas.
The Pelvic Bounce. As you're lying on the floor with your knees up, raise your hips off the ground and bounce your pelvis. Then turn over and bounce it the other way. It is helpful to put your feet against the wall as you bounce. Bounce your pelvis vigorously at least 25 times on each side.
Pelvic rocking. Lying on your back again, place your hands on your pelvis and, as you take a breath in, let your pelvis rotate back, arching your back very slightly. Your first motion is to slightly cock your pelvis back as you take a breath in, and then as you let it out, let your pelvis rotate forward. Hold the pelvis there until you're ready to inhale again. Your pelvis may want to bounce. Allow that to happen any time it feels comfortable. So it's breathe in - pelvis back, and breath out — pelvis forward. Once you're sure of your pelvic movement, drop your arms to your side and continue the movement in a relaxed manner fifteen times. Your exhalation should be a letting-go. Your stomach shouldn't be tight. Do not force the movement.
Panting. One way of rapidly starting the breathing pattern and increasing your tingling is to pant with the chest only. The sequence is: draw air into your chest and pant 6 times, then do one long exhalation. Repeat this sequence about 10 times and your breathing and tingling will be started.
Pelvic Lift. (snake-like lift of pelvis) The pelvic lift is similar to the way a snake lifts off the ground, one vertebrae at a time. Start by taking a breath in and cocking your pelvis back then as you expel your air out raise your pelvis off the ground, one vertebrae at a time until you are resting on your shoulders and feet. Now come back down reversing the process, letting your pelvis stay cocked forward or up until the last moment. Be sure to come back down one vertebrae at a time. Your stomach is not tight at this point: it should be relaxed with the pelvis up and forward.
Grounding against a wall.
On all fours. This exercise is similar to the last exercise, but turned over. Your feet are against the wall; rock your pelvis back (inhaling) and then come forward with your pelvis (exhaling), pushing with your hands on the floor and pushing against the wall with your heels. Then come back slowly to your starting position.
Knee Circles. Here is an exercise that is useful to help you in letting go of your legs and stomach muscles. Put your hands on your belly to make sure that you're not using the stomach muscles to draw your legs up. Now, draw your legs up very slowly, drag your heels, so that your legs come up over your body. Allow your legs to fall apart and open, and then back down on the ground. Do this six or seven times. Pay attention to your breathing.
Bioenergetic Bends. Here is a basic bioenergetic exercise which helps get energy streaming throughout the body. Stand and turn your toes slightly inward, put your fists on the small of your back, and lean back as far as you can; you'll find that your legs begin to vibrate and shake in a very short time. Feel the ground under your feet. As the energy gets going, put your head backward, which will help to pull your chest back. Continue breathing deeply. Now lean over with your arms dangling to the ground.