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Kriya Yoga

inShare2 India is a nation where you will find deep rooted spirituality. In ancient India, there were many methods by which a person can elevate his soul and meet the supreme. One of them is Kriya Yoga, which got lost in modern era. Kriya yoga got the worldwide reorganization after the coming of book Autobiography of a yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda. According to the book and the legend Kriya yoga was reintroduced by baba ji (immortal saint) to Lahiri Mahasaya in 1861. The science of Kriya yoga spread through various disciples by Lahiri Mahasaya all over the world. Shri Madabusi subramaniam (reiki Grand master) gave Initiations on the path of Kriya Yoga, shaktipat and Reiki to Tarun Chopra (February 2000). The Tradition represented by Madabusi Subramaniam follows the family link of Yogi Raj Raj Shyama Charan Lahiri, his son Teenkori Lahiri and the grandson Satya Charan Lahiri. The four progressive initiation of Kriya yoga was received by Madabusi Subramaniam from Satya Charan Lahiri (1973) As Kriya Yoga is a Meditation Technique which has to be done while sitting, we also need Physical Exercise to keep our selfs healthy for this, we need Physical Exercise, Tarun Chopra has been practicing Tai Chi Chuan an ancient Chinese Technique for self Defense, Health, and Spiritual Growth. Kriya Yoga Technique Kriya Yoga has many ramifications; the technique is broadly divided into 4 progressive steps.

Kriya yoga Omkar Kriya

Omkar tokkar kriya Prathichakra Omkar Kriya smadhi by kriya yoga

Kriya : The actual practice of first stage of Kriya has the following parts:

Talabya Kriya. Nabhi Kriya Manishik Pranayam Pranayam (Kriya) Yoni Mudra Mahamudra Talabya Kriya

The practice said above are to be done in this sequence without omitting anyone, two times daily, morning and night. Besides the above Kriya practice there are some auxiliary Kriyas given as under.

Hong-saw technique Manashik Pranayam Attention at the point between the eyebrows.

HONG-SAW TECHNIQUE: This is simple a technique of observing the breath. The incoming and outgoing breath is closely observed throughout the period of inhalation and exhalation. No attempt is made to alter the rate of breathing. The natural rhythm is kept and the breath is seemed to slow by itself. The word Hong is synchronized with incoming breath and word Saw is synchronized with outgoing breath. One should not miss a single breath and synchronizing should be uniformed thought the length of the breath with the corresponding sounds of Hong and saw. You should do this any amount of time. This Hong Saw Technique should be Practiced regularly, try to get one separate place and try to practice there only this will help to focus more and results would be fast. MANASHIK PRANAYAM This is a technique of visualization. One should visualize the ascending and descending Breath, through the spinal cord from the point of coccyx bone to the medulla point. The medulla point is located at the back of the head exactly opposite to the mid point of the eyebrows while the coccyx point is located where the spinal cord ends. The whole attention is kept on this back point. The mind is directed to ascend upward slowly and to descend downward slowly. There are six spinal centers (Chakras) known as:

Muladhar corresponding to coccyx (First Chakra)

Swadhisthan corresponding to the sacral (Second Chakra) Manipura corresponding to the point on the spinal cord opposite to the naval (Third Chakra) Anhata: this corresponds to the point of the spinal cord just behind the heart or in between the shoulder blades. (Fourth Chakra) Visudha: This corresponds to C-7 of the vertebrate. (Fifth Chakra)

Medulla point: This corresponds to the occipital lobe just behind the point corresponding to the point between the eyebrows, which is called Agana Chakra. (Sixth Chakra) These are the six points which vortex of energy where mind is guided to travel up and down the spine. As the mind crosses one of the centers OM is mentally chanted. Thus while ascending the spine OM is chanted mentally six times once at each chakra or center and similarly on the downward movement of the mind. This is called mentally Pranayam. The ascent and descent can be as slow as 5 to 10 seconds can or slower sill up to 22 seconds for ascent and another 22 second for the descent. This practice can be done in number of times. Keeping The Point In Between Eyebrows Without focusing, the eyes anywhere gently place the attention at the mid-point of the eyebrows in the forehead. This is not a concentration but mind is given a seat and one should be aware whether the mind anchored there or not without drying to force. If it waves gently, bring it back to the point. This practice can also be done in any number of times. The above through practices are called auxiliary kriya. They are done to enable the devote to practice the actual Kriya Yoga, which follows in a better way. The devotee equips himself by the above practice so as too proficient in Kriya practice, which are to be described now. The following is the different segments of the first level of Kriya Yoga Practice. TALABHYA KRIYA The tongue is pressed against the roof of the mouth to stretch the ferarum and released. A sound like a frog jumping into water will be made in this process. Stretching of ferarum, this way is done 50 times with the accompanying sound. The tongue is the tip of the nose is touched by the tip of stretched out of the mouth to rub the ferarum over the lower front teeth. This stretching out is done 10 times. The tongue to give pliability to the tongue, this is done 10 times. The above 3 exercises are termed as Talabhya Kriya. Thereafter for all the following prac tices, the tongue is kept in roll back position in the mouth. NABHI KRIYA with the tongue rolled back, mouth closed, press the chin against the chest keeping the attention on the naval and mentally chanting and counting OM is this fashion. OM 1, OM2, OM3, OM75 described above.

Nabhi Kriya is done 4 times. MANASIC PRANAYAM This has been described already in auxiliary Kriyas. PRANYAM (Kriya) In this practice the emphasis is on slowing down the rate of breath and keeping the attention on the spinal cord and chanting OM at the spinal centers. There is an integration of mind, Mantra and Prana in this practice. This is of vital importance. The Kriya breathing is described as below. 1. Roll back the tongue. 2. Close the mouth. Breath in and breath out will be for equal duration smooth and steady without any stop. There is no forcible retention of breath either at the beginning or at the end of inhalation or exhalation, breathing is continuous. Mind is synchronized ascending the spine from beginning to end of inhalation. Mind descending spine from beginning and up to the end of exhalation. During the up and down visualization in the spine mentally chant OM as in Mansic Pranayam. The slowing the rate of breathing should be over a period. One can start with six seconds per breath. In addition, gradually slow it down ultimately to an extent of inhaling for duration of 22 seconds and exhaling for some duration resulting in breath rate of 80 per hour. Once breathing in and breathing out is called one Kriya. One can begin with 12 Kriyas and go up to 144 over a period say one year and achieve 80 breath an hour (or 80 Kryas per hour) over a period of one year of daily practice. This practice de-carbonates the cells and charges them with extra Oxygen to enable a non-breath state, dawn natuarally, as breathing becomes unnecessary through this mystic process. Natural cessation breath is called kewala Kumbha. The duration of Kewlala Kumbha will be prolonged when a devotee practices Kriya regularly and over a period of time he gets, mastery over the breath. This is a technique of realising the soul from the bodily prision. MAHAMUDRA This is a combination of performance of Kriya breathing synchronized with specific bodily posture as described below: Sit with spine erect, cross-legged, breathing as exactly in Kirya Pracitice. At the end of inhalation, let the mind travel from medulla through the crown to the point behind the eye-brows, simultaneously cathing the toes with the finger tips of the both hands the outstretched leg bending the spine and touching the forehead on the knee of the outstretched leg. Return to the spine erect postion immediately. Simultaneously, bringing the mind from the forehead point back through the crown to the medulla. Now, exhale as in Kriya. At the end of exhalation before inhaling again fold out

stretched-leg and stretch the other leg out. Repeat the same process for this leg. During the third breathing repeat, the same processes with both legs out stretched. This practice is known as Mahamudra. Four Mahamudras are done. YONI MUDRA Yoni mudra to be done once daily at night time before performing Mahamudra. Do regular Kriya breathing. At the end of inhilation held in the breath, bring the attention from medulla through the crown to the point between eye-brows and close the following 9 doors of the body in this fashion. Ear openings are plugged with the thumbs; index finger gently preasures eyeballs permitting them to be still(motionless). Middle fingers block nostrils. Little and ring fingers close the upper and lower lips. Mentally chant at third eye..OM1,OM2,OM100 In addition, you can hold the breath for long time simply release the other fingers. Eyelids can be pressed for a duration equivalent to 21 kriyas. Thereafter release the eyeball preasure. After 15 minutes release the thumb from the blocking of ear opening and remove the hand from the face. You will hear the internal sound (creative sound) and see light(Atma Jyoti) this practice cuts down the veils of ignorance and releases the soul from Karmic compulsions. TALABHYA KRIYA Talabhya Kriya is done after Mahamudra as it was done in the beginning of Kriya practice. The whole set of first level of Kriya described above should be done morning and night with one exemption, namely, Yoni Mudra is done only in night times and only once. Kriya practice should be constantly monitored by the Master in order to enable the disciple to receive advanced initiations. Perfection in Kechari Mudra ( the tounge raising above the Uvula and entering the nasal cavity and blocking the inner nostrils from within) is achieved through practice of Talabhya Kriya. Once Kechari Mudra is achieved all Kriya Yoga practice is done in Kechari Mudra. The eyeballs involuntary gaze at the point between the eyebrows and gets achored there. The mind is deeply withdrawn and ecstasy follows. This is a stage when second level of Kriya initation is offered.

EXPERIENCES IN PRACTISING KRIYA YOGA

Dr. M. Janardhan Reddy


(Some aspirants ask about the details of Other Systems of Yoga. Dr. M. Janardhan Reddy, who practised Kriya Yoga for 13 years and later practising Sri Ramchandra's Raja Yoga system and making steady progress, has presented this article giving the details of it and the aspirants are requested to note the efficacy of simple system of Sri Ramchandra's Raja Yoga for Realisation of the Ultimate in contrast to Kriya Yoga. -- Editor.)

I have practised Kriya Yoga as the Yogada Satsangha Society from 1975 to 1988. It gave me lot of stamina and physical well being. I was able to work continuously for 12-14 hours a day with small lunch break. Probably it helped me to maintain my health that was quite good from childhood. By birth I was a hardworking, duty conscious, quiet, not easily getting angry and not over indulging in basic urges. I did not find any perceptible changes in them. I had a feeling that I am not progressing spiritually as desired by me. Regarding spiritual experiences in this system, by practicing `Hong Sau', I used to feel relaxed. While practising 'OM' technique, I used to hear sound of roar of Ocean. After practicing Kriya proper, I used to feel calmness. I was practising only (14) Kriyas a day. I did not get permission to do more from Sanyasis who visit Hyderabad once a year from Ranchi. The method of practice in this system of Kriya Yoga is as follows: Basic techniques of Kriya Yoga as per the Yogada Satsangha Society of India, Ranchi, Bihar. I. Physical exercises of 60 muscular contraction and retraction of various body parts which are called energisation exercises for about 1/2 hour morning and evening. II. Hong Sau Technique (hum-So): The literal meaning of Hong Sau is "I am He". It is practised for about 1/2 hour morning and evening. A) Sit erect with spine straight and the body relaxed, close the eyes and focus their gaze upon the point between eyebrows. Then with greatest calmness watch the breath coming in and going out naturally. As the breath comes in chant 'Hong' mentally and wait for the breath to go out naturally and chant 'Sau' mentally. This technique enables the body cells to brim over with life force, stops decay in organs, slows heart rate, calms the heart and help in switching off the energy from five sense organs, reduces breath rate. III. Om Technique: This is done with the help of a 'T' board or stick. Sit with hands (elbows) resting on the horizontal pad of 'T' board and with little fingers close the eyes both sides and fixing the gaze at the point between the eyebrows, chant mentally 'OM' and try to hear the sounds in right ear and any light in the point between eyebrows. This is to be done for a period of 10-15 minutes in the morning and for a longer time in the night. IV. Kriya: Kriya Yoga is a method of Pranayama or life force control, that energise the sensitive Spiritual centres and renders them receptive to Spiritual currents. It is a technique of revolving the life force in an elliptical path upwards and downwards around six spinal centres thus directly quickening the evolution of the spine and brain centres. By revolving the life force once around the spine, man can effect a change in the brain and body that is ordinarily possible only by one year of diseaseless existence. So any time the life current revolves around the spine, human evolution is advanced by one Solar year.

Sit erect, close eyes and visualise the spinal column as a hollow tube extending upward from Coccyx to medulla oblongata to Cerebrum to the point between eyebrows. Inhale slowly (to a count of 10 to 15) making the sound "AW" deep in the expanded throat from Coccyx to the point between the eyebrows. Pause for a count of three then exhale slowly (to a count of 10 to 15) making the barely audible continuous sound of "EEEE". This is one Kriya. It is equal to one year of natural spiritual progress. Daily 14 Kriyas has to be practiced and increase should be 14*1, 14*2, 14*3 .... with permission. V. Maha Mudra: This is performed three times in the morning and three times in the evening before the practice of regular Kriya. It consists of practice Kriya with body movements. Maha Mudra Part-I: Sit erect. Bend the left leg back under the body so that the sole of the left foot supports the left hip. Draw the right leg up against the body, so that the upper part of the leg is as close to the body as possible, and sole of the foot is flat on the floor. Place hands with fingers interlocked around the right knee. Inhale making-the sound 'AAWW' as in Kriya proper bringing current from coccyx to point between the eyebrows. Hold up the breath, bend until the chin touches the chest; at the same time unclasp the hands and stretch the right leg forward until it lies straight on the floor. Continuing to hold the breath, grasp with both hands the toes of the right foot and pull them gently towards you mentally chanting one to six, then sit up straightening the spine and lifting the right knee upward until the leg is again in the first position. Exhale making the sound EEE and send the current down to the coccyx. Part II: Repeat the foregoing, with leg position reversed. Part III: Sit with both legs drawn up against the body and clasp the hands around the knees. Inhale making the sound 'AAWW' as in Kriya proper bringing the current upto point between the eye brows. Holding the breath bend the head until the chin touches the chest; at the same time unclasp the hands and stretch both legs forward until they are straight out in front of you. Still holding the breath, grasp the toes of the left foot with the left hand, and the toes of the right foot with the right hand and pull them gently towards you counting one to six as you do so. Resume upright position, with spine straight both legs drawn up close to the body and hands clasped around the knees - exhale making the sound 'EEE'. This completes one Mahamudra. Repeat three times morning and evening before

doing kriya proper. The purpose of Mahamudra is straightening of spine and for encouraging the right distribution of prana along the spine. The purpose of Yoti Mudra is to visualise the spiritual eye. VI. Yoti Mudra: Kriya is done in sitting posture with closing the eyes, ears, nose, mouth with fingers of both hands. It shall be practiced three times in the morning and evening after practising the Kriya proper. At the end of inspiration hold the breath for a count of 12 visualising the spiritual eye at the point between eyebrows. In 1989 I visited Varanasi to see the place where Sri Lahari Mahasay lived and practised Kriya Yoga. I met the great grandson of Sri Lahari Mahasay. He taught me the original Kriya Yoga as practiced by Sri Lahari Mahasay. It does not contain the Physical exercises and Hong Sau and Om techniques. I was practising it till 1993. Though it does not contain any physical exercises, I was perfectly maintaining my health. There was permission to do more pranayams. We have to increase more to be eligible for introduction to the second stage. I found this to be better than the method of YSS. It consumed lot of my time, so I reduced my working hours. I used to feel lot of calmness. I was feeling very light. I was introduced to II, III and the IV stages of Kriya on 5-5-91 when i was able to do continuous pranayam for 10 hours and 144 Navi Kriyas at a time and able to touch the tip of the Uvula with the top of the tip of the tongue by practicing Talabya Kriya. But after some time there was tremendous increase in sensuality. Every night I used to get sensuous dreams and two or three wet dreams every night. I was greatly disturbed and I approached my guide and told him about the problem. He could not give any reason for it and nothing was done to get relief from them. He told me that when great men like Sri Lahari Mahasay has written in his diary that he suffered from it, there is nothing wrong in it. In spite of my difficulty I was continuing my practice for sometime. I left it off in 1993 when I joined the Sri Ramchandra's Raja Yoga system, where my son was already introduced, and making steady progress. Kriya Yoga as taught by the great grand son of Sri Lahari Mahasay at Varanasi. I. Talabya Kriya: (50 times morning and evening). It is the practice to enable the tip of the tongue to touch the Uvula. II. Pranayam: Pranayam is inspiration and expiration for 22 seconds each with mentally chanting 'OM' at six spiritual centres from Muladhara to Ajna. It is to be done 12 times morning and evening. It should be increased by 12*1, 12*2, 12*3 ... 12*12. At 12*12 it is called Dharana. At 12*12*12 it is called Samadhi. When one is able to touch the Uvula with the tip of the tongue by practicing the

Talabya Kriya and one is able to perform Pranayam continuously for 10 hours, one is eligible for initiation into 2"d step. III. Navi Kriya (14 to 18 times each for 3 1/2 minutes) mental Pranayama inspiration upto Kutasthya chanting 'OM' at Navi for 100 times and then to Muladhara with expiration and count 'OM' at Manipura 25 times. IV. Yoni Mudra: Once in the night. V. Maha Mudra: Once morning and evening. Second Stage of Initiation: II. Kriya When one is able to touch Uvula with tip of tongue and able to do Pranayama continuously for 10 hours and 144 Navi Kriyas at a time one is eligible for II stage of Kriya. a) Amantrak (Without Mantra). It is Pranayama with visualisation of 12 Chakras mentally.

III. Kriya b) Samantrak: It is Pranayama with mentally chanting 'om na mo bha ga va te vaa su de vaa ya' 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 at each chakra. The should be practised as:

1-10 Days 11-20 Days -191 - 200 Days

10 Movements 20 Movements -200 Movements

IV. Thokar Kriya

It is a Pranayam visualising seven chakras along the spine and 5 chakras over the chest. Pranayam is done by chanting om na mo bha ga va te vaa su de vaa ya 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 at each chakra along the spine and over the chest. The head has to strike the chest at five places starting from right shoulder then to the left shoulder and then to middle of chest. It has to be practised as follows:

1-10 Days 11-20 Days 21-30 Days 31-40 Days --*---*---

36 times 36 * 2 times 36 * 3 times 36 * 4 times --*-36 * 36 times

HONG-SAU KRIYA

[Please contact me if you would like personalized advice or clarification of the Hong-Sau technique.]

THE ESSENCE OF HONG-SAU KRIYA


The Hong-Sau (aka Ham-Sa, SoHum, etc.) Kriya (activity with

awareness) is more than a mere Mantra (liberation through sacred vibrations) and more than a merePranayama (liberation through control of the flow of Cosmic Energy). It is a very powerful combined technique which focuses the mind and develops profoundly deep concentration. The Hong-Sau Kriya utilizes the Universal Mantra - the sacred vibration associated with the incoming and outgoing breath. This Universal Mantra is available to all humankind without the need for "initiation" by a special teacher to bestow itsAdhikara (the spiritual gift of the giver which traditionally empowers a Mantra). It is a common experience that the mind is mostly preoccupied with reliving memories of the past, contemplating events of the future, acting out imaginary conversations and situations, etc. These inner distractions create a filter which warps ones

perceptions of life and reality. We have all observed this in people, but often fail to observe it in ourselves. This filter is more recognizable when given its common name - the Ego. If one desires to undergo profound change, then one must learn to glimpse reality without the tainted filters of the Ego, and to free oneself from creating a self-fulfilling, negative future. When one focuses on the breath in Hong-Sau Kriya, one's mind is fully focused only on the present moment. The filters are dropped. With continued practice, one develops the profound ability to focus intently on a philosophical concept or a life issue, and see the solutions clearly, in a wonderful "the answer was right here all of the time" experience. Like many aspects of Kriya Yoga, the Hong Sau Kriya seems to be absurdly simple. And so it is. When you reach the end results,

you will find yourself recalling what you really knew all along, but had simply forgotten for what now seems just a moment. Even if that "moment" was half a lifetime, it makes no difference, as, seeing everything, you realize that you had always seen everything, but just had chosen to ignore it for a while - your relationship with the Infinite is ever so and was ever so. One can, through Hong-Sau Kriya, reach illumination within this very life- time! It may take some practice before the Kriya will be free of mental distractions, and without trying to control the breath as opposed to merely observing it.

THE PRACTICE OF HONG-SAU KRIYA


At any time of the night or day, if you find yourself standing in line, waiting on the phone, lying awake in bed or otherwise in a situation

where the body is relatively motionless and the mind is not preoccupied, you can practice Hong-Sau Kriya. It can also be practiced, of course, as part of a formal meditation session. In time, you will be able to perform this technique even while engaged in daily activities (more on that later). Cleansing Breath (Optional): Hong-Sau Kriya can begin with a Cleansing Breath. Facing forward, Inhale slowly, deeply, through the nose. At the end of the inhalation, turn your head to the left, exhale quickly twice through the open mouth with explosive breaths, one short and one long - "Huh huuuh". When the breath is fully exhaled, close the mouth. Immediately turn your head forward and relax. By expelling the air in this direction, you are casting off the Ego Self. (In Samadhi, you may actually see the dark cloud of your Ego

float off to the left of you as you directly access the True Nature of Reality without the Ego filter). Repeat 3 times. Hong-Sau Kriya: For the rest of the practice, you are breathing normally, naturally, through the nose. You are not counting the number of breaths, or focusing on anything except the natural inhalation/exhalation cycle of your breathing. As the breath flows in of its own nature (through the nose), mentally chant Hong. (It's Hong as in Long). When the breath flows out of by its own nature (through the nose), mentally chant Sau. (It's "Saw" as in Seesaw). There is no mental sound at the pause between inhalation-exhalation and between exhalation-inhalation. In breathing Hong-Sau, there is no forceful or wilfully guided

inhalation or exhalation, no straining of the breath, no holding the breath, and no breathing to a rhythmic chant. You just observe the breath as it takes care of itself. When the breath is at the point between exhalation and inhalation, you simply remain in silence and enjoy the meditative bliss of that breathless state. The result of Hong-Sau Kriya is an increase in the interval of breath suspension between exhalation and inhalation. This naturally increased interval of breathlessness is what it is about. It is this moment of silence which gives one a glimpse of Samadhi (the breathless state). You may find at times that you have become so deeply focused during the interval of breath suspension, that you have lost awareness of your breath. You are not mentally distracted - you

are focused - and have not been breathing at all for an indeterminate length of time. This is the beginning stage of Samadhi. (Note again that never at any point in time does one willfully hold their breath during the practice of this technique.) By observing this breathless state, you mystically loosen identification with your body. You come to realize you are something other than the body. You come to know that your body is sustained by a life energy other than something which comes with physical breathing.

COMBINING HONGSAU KRIYA WITH OTHER PRACTICES


Many practitioners combine Hong-Sau Kriya with other techniques. Others make theHong-Sau Kriya their exclusive practice. There is no one answer

or set of techniques which fits the needs of all practitioners. Develop a deep trust in your intuition to help determine which practices are best for you. Some teachers advocate strict, unwavering adherence to a given set of practices, in a "One Size Fits All" philosophy which can be inefficient as well as ineffective. It is most important that you make it your primary goal to face and overcome any weaknesses that are barriers to your progress of spiritual development, using the best tools available to do so. "Trust no one, not even me, unless it agrees with your own conception of logic and common sense."

HONG-SAU KRIYA QUESTIONS & ANSWERS


Q: I find myself controlling my breathing - I can't help it. A: Repeat the Cleansing Breath from 3-15 times. This will help

you to breath more naturally during the Hong-Sau Kriya. Q: I am very relaxed, and then realize I am not breathing, and my mind panics. After that, I am too wound up to practice the Kriya any further. A: In time, this response diminishes. It important to stress again that at no time during the practice of this technique is the breath ever willfully held. Q: I have received the Mantra Hong Sau. However, I feel much more natural when using the mantra So Hum. Could you tell me what the difference between them is, and if they will have different impacts on me, or my spiritual evolution? A: Some practitioners are worried about the exact pronunciation of the Mantra, or even worried that doing it wrong might have a reverse, negative effect. But that is not true for this particular mediation. So Hum Sa, Hong Sau, Ham Sa, and similar

Mantras all produce the same result. Q: Rather than use the Mantra Hong Sau, I would like to do this exercise while mentally chanting "Divine Love". Can I do that? A: You can embrace a personal technique as described above, but it is an entirely different technique, not the same as practicing the Hong Sau technique. The goal of Hong Sau meditation technique is to reach a profound state of mental concentration, one that is WITHOUT WORDS. So, meditating on actual words or an actual concept makes it very difficult to overcome the chains of thought triggered by words.

CONCLUSION
This discussion of Hong-Sau Kriya is concluded with the poem "Love", by John Lennon.
LOVE Love is real,

real is love Love is feeling, feeling love Love is wanting to be loved Love is touch, touch is love Love is reaching, reaching love Love is asking to be loved Love is you You and me Love is knowing we can be Love is free, free is love Love is living, living love Love is needing to be loved ...

A Short History of Hong-Sau, the Energization Exercises, and the Aum-Technique


Paramhansa Yogananda: History, Life, Mission

Hong Sau
The Hong Sau technique, as most devotees know, isnt a technique which Yogananda created some decades ago. It is ancient, and has been practiced by countless yogis for eons, just like Kriya Yoga and the Aum-technique. Hong Sau, also, wasnt something Yogananda learned from Sri Yukteswar. He learned it from some other yogi, and then included it in his Kriya-teachings. That is why other Kriya lines dont practice Hong-Sau. What did Sri Yukteswar think about this new addition? In a letter to Yogananda, quoted in theAutobiography of a Yogi, he said: Beholding your methods in chant affirmations, healing vibrations, and divine healing prayers, I cannot refrain from thanking you from my heart. Sri Yukteswar certainly expressed the same appreciation for the Hong-Sau technique, otherwise Yogananda would never have taught it. Hong-Sau is the Bengali pronunciation of the Sanskrit mantra, Hamsa, or Hansa. At least that is how it is usually explained. Or is Hong Sau maybe not only Bengali? Who knows how Hamsa was pronounced in ancient times! Swami Vivekananda once had a vision of ancient rishis reciting Sanskrit mantras, and said they sounded very different from the way they are chanted today. Yogananda writes in his Autobiography: Ham-sa (pronounced hong-sau) In other words, he simply states that Ham-sa is really pronounced Hong-Sau. Was he a Bengali fanatic, or was there some deeper knowledge in him? Hong Sau, we said, comes to us from a very distant past. Hamsa (Hong-Sau) is already to be found in the oldest of the Vedas, the Rig Veda (1550 BC, and earlier it was transmitted orally). It refers to the supreme Lord. It also stands in yoga scriptures for the Self (atman). Hamsa stems from the Sanskrit words Aham-Sa, which literally mean I am He.

Hamsa (Hong-Sau) is explained in ancient yoga scriptures to be the sound of the subtle breath itself: the entry of prana into the body causes the sound ham, the ejection of prana out of the body the sound sa. Therefore the body itself is thought to automatically recite this mantric sound 21.600 times a day. This spontaneous sound is widely known as Ajapa Mantra (unpronounced mantra), or Ajapa-Gayatri, (unpronounced Gayatri Mantra), or simply Hamsa-Mantra. In his Autobiography Yogananda similarly states: Ham-sa (pronounced hong-sau) are two sacred Sanskrit chant words possessing a vibratory connection with the incoming and outgoing breath. Aham-Sa is literally I am He. Yogananda described these mantric sounds as sacred. The ancient texts agree. The GherandaSamhita instructs to recite this potent sound constantly, to arrive at a state of exaltation. Aham, when pronounced in mantric form as Hong, becomes a bija (seed) mantra, vibrating with the inhalation. Its vibration corresponds, as yoga treatises teach, to the ascending current in the ida nadi. Sa becomes Sau in mantric form, and vibrates with the exhalation, and with the descending current through the pingala nadi. The ancient technique of Hong-Sau is meant to bring the yogi towards mental calmness, helps him to withdraw his energy inward, and to lead him naturally toward breathlessness. In breathlessness the twofold vibration of Hong and Sau combines into the single omnipresent vibration, Aum. Several Masters and scriptures dont teach Hong-Sau, but So-Ham. Again, in India some yogis teach the Sanskrit version Hamsa. All traditions need to be respected, but disciples of Yogananda should practice what their Guru taught. If his devotee thinks, Maybe the official Sanskrit version, or the inverted version, would be the better way to practice, well, he might simply lack a basic understanding of discipleship. And if, on the other side, he thinks, I must convert others to my Gurus better Mantra, again some understanding seems missing. About the ancient symbolism of Hamsa/Hong-Sau: Hamsa is traditionally translated as swan, (even though literally it means goose), which in ancient Indian scriptures is the vehicle of Brahma, the Supreme Spirit. The swan is also said to possess the sacred knowledge of Brahma. The flight of the Hamsa thus symbolizes the escape from the cycle of samsara (reincarnation). The swan also lives on water but its feathers are not wetted by it, so similarly a Hong-Sau-Yogi learns to live in this material world (maya), while being untouched by all its illusions, temptations, and traps. With Hong-Sau we strengthen the untouched observer inside. (The soul is the observer, Yogananda wrote.)

As the symbol of discrimination, the white Hansa swan is credited with the ability to separate the true soma nectar from a mixture of milk and water. A Parama-hamsa symbolizes the supreme swan, the highest of yogis, a liberated being. Yes, Yogananda wrote his title Paramhansa, and it seems we should honor his choice. Parama-hamsa could, for fun, also be translated as the supreme Hong-So, meaning the supreme I-am-He. ~~~

The Energization Exercises


In contrast to the anciently-existing Hong-Sau-technique, the energization exercises were Yoganandas personal creation. He started (or discovered) them in 1916, as he writes in his Autobiography. In time he expanded them into a set of 49 exercises. The energization exercises are his precious contribution to the world of yoga. But of course the principles of energization too are ancient (as are all true principles), and have been used by countless yogis in the past. In classic yogic terminology this method is called prana-dharana (concentration of prana), signifying the technique of projecting life-force (prana) into specific parts of the body, in order to restore specific organs, limbs etc. to health. Yogananda, then, with the energization exercises, taught ancient principles in a new form, one might say. People do not know what they have in these exercises, Yogananda wrote. Done well (pulling prana into the body through the medulla oblongata through will power, and directing it to the body parts), they can perform miracles of healing, physically and psychologically. ~~~

The Aum Technique


The Aum-technique which Yogananda taught is equally ancient. Sound is one of the principal and oldest means by which yogis have thought to focus their attention. It is a practice of Nada-Yoga, which is a prominent teaching in the Yoga-Upanishads. The practice of listening to the inner sounds is called Nada-Anusandhana in yoga treatises. In those ancient texts the subtle sound one listens for is often called Shabda. The ultimate sound to be heard is called Shabda-Brahman, the sound of Brahman: AUM. The inner sound is said to bring bliss and knowledge, and is described as a boat which takes the yogi across the ocean of delusion, to the Absolute. In several yoga scriptures, interestingly, different inner sounds were associated with the different chakras. As we see again, Yogananda taught ancient and ever-new wisdom. Indeed, could inner facts ever change?

The Aum-board, incidentally, which Yogananda recommended for the Aum-technique, can be admired on old Indian drawings. ~~~

Jyoti Mudra
Jyoti-Mudra (Light-Mudra), the technique Yogananda taught for seeing the inner light (Bhagavan Jyoti), is called in Yoga treatises Shan-Mukhi-Mudra, the six-openings-seal. It is referred to, for example, in the ancient Goraksha Paddhati, which explains it as the blocking of the ears, eyes, and nostrils with ones fingers: one covers the ears with the thumbs, the eyes with ones index fingers, and the nostrils with the remaining fingers. This Mudra, one reads there, is recommended for the manifestation of the inner sound. Yogananda taught it for seeing the inner light. Interesting! Well, if one thinks about it, he also taught that the Aum-vibration is experienced as both sound and light. ~~~

Maha Mudra
Maha Mudra (Great Mudra) too is a very classical yoga practice. It is said in the Goraksha Paddhati (see above) that it purifies the entire network of the nadis. And the most central Hatha Yoga scripture, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, says that Maha Mudra awakens Kundalini-Shakti, the serpent power. ~~~

The Point Between the Eyebrows


Lahiri Mahasaya wrote in a letter, quoted in the Autobiography of a Yogi: He who has attained a state of calmness wherein his eyelids do not blink, has achieved Sambhabi Mudra. This particular Mudra (also written Shambhavi Mudra, meaning Shiva-Mudra) is one of the most important (and often kept secret) Mudras of Yoga. It involves steady gazing at the point between the eyebrows, trying to become completely absorbed in the inner sign. Mudra means seal, and Sambhabi Mudra is perhaps the most esoteric seal of all, known to saints of all religions (who are always depicted looking upward). It is a closure (seal) to the outward world, to become absorbed within. And Yogananda clearly described that secret sign which one sees in Sambhabi Mudra. Interestingly, as one understands from Lahiri Mahasayas letter (printed in his handwriting), he taught this divine practice to be done with open eyes. Yogananda taught that half-open eyes or closed eyes are both good. The painting of Babaji is a perfect Sambhabi Mudra image, with open eyes.

Yogananda taught the ancient Sambhabi Mudra to be practiced at the end of Kriya or Hong-Sau, with deepest soul-devotion. Never end your meditation with techniques. Sit for a long time: I will leave my finite mansion for my Infinite Mansion through the tunnel of the Spiritual Eye and breathlessness. Yogananda, one might conclude, is much more of a traditional yogi than is generally known, continuing a long yogic tradition. He taught central and sacred yoga techniques of ancient lore for modern men and women, for you and me. Well, the important thing is to practice: banat, banat, ban jai (doing, doing, one day done)!