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The Five Koshas Explained: How They Impact Your Yoga Practice & Life

This article is an edited extract from Kara-Leah’s second book, The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. Find out more here.

by Kara-Leah Grant, author of The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga

Do enough research, and it seems we can find evidence that regular practice of yoga can positively impact everything from anxiety, depression, and panic attacks to thyroid conditions, sciatica and asthma. In fact, it could be said that yoga can positively impact anything that has to do with the functioning of our physical bodies, minds or emotions.

How can this be possible? Surely yoga’s not a silver bullet?

Well no, it’s not. However, yoga works to harmonise the body, mind and emotions by removing blockages on all levels of our system. The removal of these blockages allow our bodies, minds and emotions to function at their optimum level.

Remember, yoga is often referred to as the Science of Life – and with good reason.

Over the centuries, yogis have used practice of yoga (in it’s broadest dimensions) to experientially collect information about the way the we function. This information has been codified for easily explanation, and now the work of Western scientists is corroborating more and more of what the yogis learned experientially.

The yogis define our body as having five layers or sheaths, each one contained within the other, like Russian Dolls.

Called Koshas, these sheaths cover every aspect of our being, from the most gross to the most subtle. When we practice yoga – whether it’s asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, or even karma yoga – we are having an impact on one or more of these layers of the body. For example, asana will primarily affect the grossest layer of Kosha, Annamaya. Of course, anything that affects one kosha will also affect the other koshas because there is no real separation between the layers. They are a conceptual method of understanding that allows us to make sense of our experience.

When you understand that the practice of yoga works to release blockages in the many layers of the body it helps you understand why sometimes we resist – strongly resist – our practice.

Those blockages in our body often hide fears and unexpressed emotions. Sure, yoga will make you feel great, but it will also make you FEEL. Sometimes what we feel during or after yoga isn’t wonderful, and it helps to have a conceptual model to understand why this can be. Back to the Koshas. And I’ll keep it short.

Kosha #1 is Annamaya kosha – the outside layer of the body, and roughly translates at the food body.

This is our physical body – our muscles and our bones, our ligaments and our tendons. This is the kosha most people are concerned about when they begin a yoga practice. They want increased flexibility, they want to tone up their muscles, they want to learn to relax their bodies, they’re looking to gain strength, improve their balance and find stress relief. The primary way to impact this kosha is through asana.

The practice of asana will also impact Kosha #2, Pranamaya kosha – the energy body.

Like the Chinese have chi, the yogis have Prana – or life force. Prana moves around the body via channels, or nadis. Some 72,000 apparently, although who counted them, nobody knows. When we practice asana and pranayama, we are impacting Pranamaya kosha. Any blockages in those nadis (and believe me, you’ll have blockages) are worked through, bit by bit. And your improved flow of energy in the body can then affect the Annamaya kosha and also impact any health issues you may be having.

Prana comes into the body via food and water, but it also comes into the body via breath. One of the major benefits of yoga is that we become conscious of our breathing, and – sometimes for the first time as adults – we learn to take proper deep breaths. This increase of prana into our system literally makes us feel more alive and it invigorates and powers Pranamaya kosha.

#3 on our tour of the Koshas is Manomaya kosha, the mental body.

People usually come to yoga for the physical benefits and stay because of how yoga impacts Manomaya kosha. Put bluntly, you feel bloody great after class – mentally clear and emotionally up-beat. That’s what keeps you coming back, time after time. Manomaya kosha is that aspect of Self which takes care of our instinctual needs, plus it also helps us obtain our individual desires.

On a practical level that means it’s about safety, security, obtaining love and taking care of loved ones. If you’re experienced underlying anxiety because you’ve lost your job and you don’t know how you’re going to pay rent, you’re experiencing that in Manomaya kosha.

A calming yoga practice like Alternate Nostril Breathing can alleviate those feelings and thoughts. Most of us have a tendency to ‘live’ in one kosha more than the others. Some people are body-orientated, Westerners tend to be mind-orientated. However, the practice of yoga helps us to balance out our awareness of all the layers of Self and shift us out of being primarily just in Manomayakosha.

This can mean that our anxiety fades somewhat. It will still be there, but we may be more grounded in Annamayakosha or kosha #4 – Vijnanamaya kosha, the wisdom body. That grounding in the Wisdom body gives us a broader perspective on our life experience, and we’re able to see that we’ll get another job, or that we have plenty of resources to call on. The anxiety fades.

Cultivating Kosha # 4 – Vijnanamaya kosha is an unexpected benefit of yoga for most people.

You turn up expecting an exercise class and wanting to touch your toes. But you find yourself connecting to a deeper level of intuition, greater internal wisdom and a sense of higher knowledge. Granted, deepening into an awareness of Vijnanamaya kosha may take more a class once a week, but if you continue to practice, it will come.

It’s at this more subtle level of our Self that we begin to shift from a primary I-ness orientation – I am a separate being – to a primary One-ness orientation. We feel, and understand, on a deep level that there is no real difference or separation from Me and You. We move beyond feelings and concern based on survival and security, and into feelings that encompass and include all – like compassion, love, and joy.

Our relationships change, and become more fulfilling, and more joyous. Life simply becomes good. We’re well along the path of yoga and that journey from ego/mind or small self to Atman or Big Self. Shifting into Vijnanamaya kosha is mostly about doing the work that removes the blockages in the three lower koshas.

We find comfort and harmony in our physical body, we release blockages in our energy body, and we heal and release fears from our mental body. Shifting more and more into Vijnanamaya kosha is like watching life upon up before you, into an expansive landscape where you love everyone. Truly love everyone. Now that’s a pretty cool benefit of doing a few sun salutations every day huh?

Finally, there’s Kosha #5. Anandamaya kosha, or the Bliss Body.

Exactly as it sounds, it’s all about the Bliss Baby. No longer separate, you’re bathing in One-ness with All that Is. You and God, you’re One and the Same. And that’s about all I’m going to say about kosha #5, because if you’re getting there, you don’t need me to tell you about it. And if you’re not there, I can’t tell you about it, because I’m not there either. Yet.

As you practice, no matter what style or kind of yoga you’re practicing, you’re releasing blockages in one or more of these layers of the body.

That can mean old memories – both good and bad – floating to the surface of your consciousness. It can mean the spontaneous release of emotion like tears or laughter. It can mean jerking of the body as energy releases in strange ways. All of this is normal. All of this can be part of your yoga experience. So bear this in mind next time you practice – sense your way into your physical body, your energetic body, your mental body, your intuitive body… and maybe even your bliss body.

This is an edited extract from The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. You can pre-order your copy here

About Kara-Leah

Kara-Leah is a writer and yoga teacher who has always been infinitely curious about the make-up of the human psyche and body. Regular yoga helped her heal and recover from chronic back issues, including a spinal fusion at age 16, and two episodes of psychosis at age 29. 

Her daily home yoga practice began in earnest when people kept asking her to teach them yoga.  She’s since trained as a teacher with Shiva Rea, and immersed herself in practicing, teaching yoga and writing about yoga. Kara-Leah lives just outside of Queenstown, New Zealand with her son Samuel. 

She’s the publisher of The Yoga Lunchbox and published her first book, Forty Days of Yoga – Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice in 2013. Her second book, The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yogahas just been releasedShe’s also a regular contributor to the Elephant Journal 


November’s Yoga Pose – Aura Magnification with Eagle Pose

Aura Power

How to Work on Your Aura

So far our monthly yoga poses have focused on building physical strength and flexibility, and for the November pose, we are going to continue our strength building work, but in a more subtle way.  This month we are going to practice a pose to help strengthen an energetic aspect of our being, our Aura.  The pose to help us accomplish this important task is going to be the famous Kundalini Yoga Eagle Pose. 

Aura Power and Energy

The aura is a very important aspect of your totality.  According to Kundalini Yoga the aura is the power of your magnetic field, and it protects you from seen and unseen forces.  In addition, more powerful the aura, more is your ability to influence and heal people.  In other words, a clean shinning aura makes you magnetic and charming.  If that was not enough, the aura is also responsible for attracting positive energy towards you and having this aspect in optimum condition, helps put you in the right place at the right time.

From a numerological perspective the aura is the Seventh body of light, of the Ten Bodies of Light Yoga Numerology model, and it’s strength is determined by the prana (life-force) flowing through your nadis (meridians/energy pathways) and your total nerve energy.  So the greater the flow of your prana, the brighter you will shine, and more charisma, magnetism and opportunities you will have.  One of the best poses for building your aura is Eagle Pose, so let us practice that pose for this month, and reap the many benefits yoga for aura illustration.

If you are interested in more information on 10 Bodies of Light Yoga Numerology or the service that is offered, you can check the following page: 10 Bodies of Light Yoga Numerology.  The previous yoga poses for the month were the following three:

August:        Learn Yoga | Nauk Asana for the Month (Abs)

September:  Yoga Pose for Thighs – Frog Pose (Thighs/Butt)

October:      Important Hatha Yoga Posture for Healing – Forward Bend (Thighs/Buttocks)

Before jumping ahead to Eagle Pose, let me give you a quick summary of what the yoga challenge of the month is and how it works.  Essentially, the idea is for us all to include a particular exercise into our yoga practice and then to report back our thoughts and progress with that pose throughout the month.  The goal is to learn a great pose together, and experience and enjoy the benefits of that pose.

The article with all the detail on Eagle Pose is Eagle Pose for Powerful Aura, so please read that first.  Here though are some key points and basic guidelines.

Eagle Pose Practice Tips:

  • Beginner’s start with 15-30 seconds and build up from there.
  • Use the Breath of Fire to power your way through this exercise.
  • Don’t give up on the first sign of discomfort.  If you can see it through, it will get easier as your energy pathways open up.

Eagle Pose for Powerful Aura Illustration 



Advanced Kundalini Yoga Technique to Awaken Kundalini

Advanced Kundalini Yoga Technique

Kundalini Awakening Technique

An important aspect of dealing with Kundalini Shakti (energy) is to concentrate your efforts on the purification and strengthening of your systems and nadis (energy channels), and not prematurely use direct methods to awaken Kundalini.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kundalini Shakti and Kundalini Yoga, you may want to first read the following 2 articles: Introduction to the Science of Kundalini Yoga & Kundalini Yoga’s Seven Chakra System Overview.

Having said the above, there are techniques, of course, that allow you to stir and awaken Kundalini directly, and rise up from the state of pure potentiality in which she resides at the base of the spine.  In this article I will present such a technique, but it should not be used in isolation.  It is though a valuable technique to learn and employ as part of a complete Kundalini Yoga practice.  Especially if your practice has matured to a certain degree, and you have developed a strong body and nervous system as a result of it.

Advanced Kundalini Yoga

It has been some time since I acknowledged on the website the sources of my Kundalini Yoga knowledge, so before I proceed I would like to mention that these techniques were taught to me by Ravi Singh, who was a student of Yogi Bhajan.  My deepest gratitude to both of them for sharing this priceless wisdom with all of us.

This particular exercise will be part of the following 3 free e-books here on Mastery of Meditation, as it is a Kundalini Yoga exercise, a type of meditation, as well as a yoga breathing technique: Online Kundalini Yoga Exercises, Free Yoga Breathing Exercises E-book & Free Online Guided Meditation Techniques E-book.

This kundalini yoga technique is actually a form of advanced pranayama (yogic science of breath control), and to perform it successfully, requires an understanding of prana (life-force) and how it functions within your body.

Within the energetic body (aka: psychic body/astral body/pranamaya kosha), 5 distinct types of prana are at work; prana, apana, samana, udana and vyana.  Of these 5 types, the 2 most important are prana and apana.  Please note that by prana here (and going forward) I am referring to the subtype and not the overall life force, which is also called prana.

Prana works in the region from the neck down to the diaphragm and is an upward moving force, while apana works form the navel down and is a downward moving force.  This pranayama is designed to reverse the direction of apana and move it upwards to the level of the solar plexus, while at the same time move prana down, such that they both mix in the stomach region.  This mixing then creates the spark which ignites kundalini and causes her to awaken and rise up the shushumna (central psychic channel).

More specifically, those familiar with the chakra system, will note that we are moving apana into the region of the manipura chakra, which is governed by fire.  This elongates the flame, so to speak, which is then stoked by the now downward moving prana.  Creating the necessary heat to awaken kundalini.

Advanced Yoga Technique to Awaken Kundalini

Illustration #1 Advanced Kundalini Awakening Technique

Illustration #2 Advanced Kundalini Awakening Technique


Advanced Yoga Technique to Awaken Kundalini:

a. Instructions for practicing Yoga Technique to Awaken Kundalini:

  • Sit in any comfortable cross legged posture.  You can sit on a chair if necessary.  Keep your back and spine straight, and chin pulled back and tucked in slightly like a soldier at attention (variation of Jalandhara Bandha or neck lock)
  • As illustrated above, raise your arms up to shoulder level.  Bend the elbows up at 90 degrees and then have the palms facing backwards, again making a ninety degree angle with your wrists.  The fingers are all extended.
  • Inhale deeply and hold your breath in (Antar Kumbhaka).  Keep the breath held in and relax your stomach.  Now visualize prana vayu (wind) moving downward towards the solar plexus, while apana vayu moving up towards the solar plexus.  Visualize them mixing in that region, while keeping your breath held in during this time.  Do not over strain, and release your breath when required.
  • After exhaling, inhale again and repeat the visualization.  Continue this process for 3 rounds.  Each round being one breath cycle (inhale – hold – visualize – exhale).
  • After you complete your last cycle.  Inhale, then exhale completely and with your breath held out apply root lock (mulabandha) for as long as you can.  Root lock is the pulling up and in of the rectum, sex organ and lower abdominal muscles all at the same time.

b. Duration for Yoga Technique to Awaken Kundalini:

  • Start with 3 rounds and build up from there.  You can build upto 11 rounds or more.

c. Benefits of Yoga Technique to Awaken Kundalini:

  • Creates the energy necessary to stimulate and awaken Kundalini Shakti.  Leading her to rise up the shushumna.
  • Develops your lung capacity and respiratory systems.
  • Strengthens and opens up your shoulders and arms.
  • Builds willpower and concentration.


d. Practice Tips for Yoga Technique to Awaken Kundalini:

  • This meditation technique requires you to be familiar with the prana and apana vayus.  Attending to your inhalation can help you understand prana vayu and attending to the bodily forces that push downwards (excretion, etc) can help familiarize you with apana vayu.
  • You can also adopt the practice of the following variation of Mula Bandha, where you only contact and release the rectum muscle.  In this case you are learning to turn apana vayu upwards and gain familiarity with it.  You can practice applying and releasing mula bandha at any time during your sadhana or otherwise.
  • You can practice with your hands down as well initially to develop other aspects of this meditative technique.

Online Kundalini Yoga Kriyas Using Kundaini Awakening Technique:

  1. This powerful kundalini yoga pranayama can be added to the beginning of any Kundalini Yoga Kriya.  It is a good way to get your sadhana (spiritual practice) started.

Potent Yoga Breathing Exercise to Increase Energy & Treat Depression

Yoga Breathing Exercise #7: Surya Bedhi Pranayama

Right Nostril Breathing

Background of Surya Bedhi Yoga Pranayama (Right Nostril Breathing):

“Simple Yet Powerful”, that is the apt description for Surya Bedhi Yoga Pranayama, also called Right Nostril Breathing.  This breathing exercise simply requires one to isolate and breathe exclusively through the right nostril, the result of which is to ignite and activate the Sun channel (Pingala Nadi).  Here is a brief overview of the Kundalini Yoga channel system to help understand better how this breathing exercise works and delivers it’s many excellent benefits.

In Kundalini Yoga there are 3 primary channels (nadis) for the flow of energy through the Chakras: Ida, Pingala and Shusumna (Read Introduction to Kundalini Yoga and Kundalini Yoga Seven Chakra System for more info on Chakras or Energy Centers).  The Ida and Pingala can be considered the lunar and solar channels respectively and run alongside the Shusumna, which is the central channel running through the center of the spine.  The Ida Nadi is responsible for cooling, feminine, passive, mental energy and the Pingala Nadi responsible for hot, male, active, physical energy.  Breathing through the Right Nostril activates Pingala Nadi, thus increasing energy and heat in the system.

Yoga Breathing Exercise

This is the ninth chapter of our Free Online Yoga Breathing Exercises E-Book.

Benefits of Surya Bedhi Yoga Pranayama (Right Nostril Breathing):

  • Increases energy in the body.
  • Creates vitality and gives strength for physical work.
  • Fights malaise and lethargy.
  • Alleviates depression and other aliments related to low energy and down emotions.
  • Excellent to combat timidness and shyness.

Cautions for Practicing Surya Bedhi Yoga Pranayama (Right Nostril Breathing):

  • If you have heat related issues you should not practice Surya Bedhi Pranayama.
  • Very similar cautions as Bhastrika Yoga Pranayama (Bellows Breath), where you should be careful if you have high blood pressure, heart disease or suffer from stroke or epilepsy.  Also, if you have acid or heat related gastric issues such as ulcers you should use caution.

How to Do Surya Bedhi Yoga Pranayama (Right Nostril Breathing)::

  • To practice this yoga breathing exercise, sit up in a comfortable position.  Preferably in a variation of sukh asana (cross legged).  You may also sit on a chair if you like, with your back straight.
  • Elongate your spine upwards, lengthen your neck and subtly bring your chin back and in like a soldier at attention.  This will align the spine with the back of your head.
  • Fold your index finger and middle finger into the palm of your right hand so just the thumb, ring finger and pinkie are extended.  Hold your knee with your left hand.
  • Close your eyes if you like.
  • Bring your attention to your breathing and take 5 deep, slow breaths though the nose.  This will oxygenate your blood and relax you.  For the rest of the exercise the attention should remain on your breath.
  • Now gently close the left nostril with your right ring finger and pinkie and breathe long, slow and deep through the RIGHT nostril only.
  • You should inhale as well as exhale through the right nostril only, keeping the left nostril closed with your ring finger and pinkie.
  • Do a round of 10 repetitions and then inhale completely, hold your breath in for 1-5 seconds and then exhale completely.  Over time you can build up to 5-15 minutes of this pranayama.  Be sure though to start slowly and work your way up.

Dangers of Kundalini Yoga

Is Kundalini Yoga Dangerous?

Dangers of Kundalini Awakening

Is Kundalini Yoga dangerous?  Ah yes, the question I get asked more and more as people learn about Kundalini Yoga is general or discover this website.  Kundalini Yoga is certainly a powerful science and if not approached with intelligence and respect it can produce some challenges and difficulties for the practitioners.  That is not meant to discourage you from taking up it’s practice, it is meant to help guide you so that you undertake Kundalini Yoga practice safely and thus, enjoy the enormous benefits that this form of yoga bestows (See Rapid Benefits of Kundalini Yoga Practice & Top 10 Health Benefits of Yoga Practice for more details on the benefits of yoga).

Kundalini Yoga is favored over other forms of yoga, because of the rapid gains that can be made by those who practice it sincerely.  What this means in practical terms, is that Kundalini Yoga can more quickly purify your energetic channels, charge and balance your chakras (energy centers) and awaken in you greater and greater flow on kundalini shakti (energy), than other forms of yoga.  Thus, it is the fast track to spiritual growth and enlightenment.  This is great, but herein also lies the danger.  Improper Kundalini Yoga, coupled with incorrect lifestyle and preparation, can unleash more energy in you than you are ready for.

Dangers of Kundalini Yoga

This premature awakening of kundalini or excessive flow of shakti (energy), before the body is ready to handle it, is the danger with improper Kundalini Yoga practice, or with kundalini shakti in general.  The reasons for kundalini awakening are vast and varied, and sometimes have nothing to do with yoga practice at all.  You can read about the difficulties that sometimes arise with such kundalini awakening in the popular article Symptoms of Kundalini Awakening

Ideally, you want kundalini to awaken as per your body’s capacity to handle her and to that end, there is no better approach to preparing the body than intelligent yoga practice, and specifically intelligent Kundalini Yoga practice.

So what is intelligent Kundalini Yoga practice and how do we go about awakening kundalini safely and wisely?  In many articles on this blog I have provided such important safety guidelines and in this article I would like to put all that wisdom together so that it’s easily accessible for all who are interested. 

Below are these important guidelines to help you minimize the danger of premature kundalini awakening and thus, avoid the problems that this condition can sometimes cause.

Guidelines for Safe Kundalini Yoga Practice:

1. Don’t Over Strain:

This is rule number one for minimizing the danger of premature kundalini awakening by ensuring you are not going further than what your body is ready for.  This applies to the practice of all forms of yoga.  Weather you are doing yoga breathing exercises (pranayama), yoga poses (asans) or kundalini yoga sets (kriyas), you should not push excessively.  Of course some challenge is good, but you are looking to develop your capacity systematically, so keep that in mind and aim for steady progress.  Remember, the turtle beat the hare.

Two more important safety notes when it comes to doing your Kundalini Yoga practice.  First, be sure to warm up before doing any difficult kriyas (sets) or asanas (postures).  Second, be sure to work around injuries and use modifications for advanced poses whenever necessary. 

2. Don’t Do Excessive Chakra Meditations:

I constantly have yogis reaching out to me, both online and at my studio, who have focused exclusively on Chakra Meditations and thus, created imbalances for themselves.  I have given some powerful Chakra Meditation techniques in the following 2 articles, The Top 3 Chakra Meditation Techniques and the very popular AUM Mantra Meditation for Opening the Third Eye Chakra, and although, I expect you to learn and use these techniques, I have advised that they should not be the only focus of your Kundalini Yoga practice.

Chakra Meditation techniques, directly stimulate and open the chakra points, which then creates the greater flow of kundalini to take place in the respective regions.  The danger of course, is if the nerves, glands, organs, psychic pathways (nadis), etc, are not strong enough to handle this flow. As thhen it can create imbalances and issues for you.  So the advice is to practice such direct techniques only after you have sufficiently developed your level of fitness, health and strength of internal systems.  This of course you can accomplish by practicing Kundalini Yoga Kriyas Sets, Hatha Yoga Asanas and/or Yoga Breathing Exercises (Pranayamas), regularly and sincerely.

3. Danger of Using Drugs:

Unless you are a wandering naked sadhu (Naga Yogi) or a developed Aghori (see article Nude Yoga Exposed), it is very unlikely you are a master of how to use narcotics.  The techniques of how to prepare, mix and use narcotics (and certain rare herbs) for awakening kundalini, is still held in great secrecy and if you want to learn this alchemy, you are going to have to take a trip to India and get initiated.  There are other ancient religions that also know some of these secrets (like the varied use of tobacco by the American Indians, etc.), but most of that knowledge is also not easily available.  So, I suggest you just stay away from drugs all-together.

Besides recreational drugs and tobacco, even alcohol, which has a strong affect on kundalini can be dangerous to a practicing yogi and therefore, should be approached with care.  Overall, I am not an advocate of the use of chemicals to facilitate kundalini awakening as more often than not, the end result of such attempts is bad.

4. Get Healthy First:

Before jumping into any advanced Kundalini Yoga practice, you should first try to heal yourself from any serious diseases or illnesses.  Of course, yoga itself is very helpful in this matter, but what I am saying here is that you should not jump ahead to doing advanced yoga if you are suffering from serious health issues.  Resolving the health issues should be a priority and during this healing phase, only use gentle yoga techniques instead.  This will minimize the danger of complicating your health issues with kundalini imbalances.

In addition to practicing gentle yoga to help heal yourself, you should employ Ayurvedic treatments as well.  Ayurveda is the ancient science of health and healing, and goes hand in hand with Kundalini Yoga practice.  You can get more information on Ayurveda via the following links: Introduction to Ayurveda – The Science of Self-Healing and Ayurveda Category Articles

You will find Ayurveda to be an invaluable resource on the path to enlightenment and healthy living.  It will not only help you achieve optimum physical health, but will also help you find emotional and mental balance, both of which are also prerequisites to advanced Kundalini Yoga practice.

5. Make Time & Space:

Kundalini awakening is not a predicable process.  It affects each of us differently and it is advisable to give yourself time and space to allow this process to run it’s course when required.  I am not suggesting here that you need to join an ashram, but I am saying that if you have awakened kundalini, then there will be times you need to just rest, relax and be alone.  By not providing such down times, you increase the danger of imbalances as kundalini is not able to complete the work she is doing within you.

6. Attitude of Gratitude & Prayer:

Don’t underestimate the value of right attitude when it comes to eliminating the danger that kundalini shakti can pose as she awakens.  It is perhaps the best tool at your disposal, to help you make safe and graceful progress on the path of full kundalini awakening.  Be respectful, appreciative, devoted and humble and the great Shakti, as well as the Universe, will cooperate with you.  Here is a nice vedic mantra to express your love and devotion, but feel free to use your own methods as well:  Greatest Vedic Mantra to Express Gratitude.

In addition, before doing your Kundalini Yoga practice always start by asking for protection, guidance and inspiration.  This ensures you are approaching these cosmic forces with the correct state of mind and heart.  Here are 2 articles detailing how to do this: AUM Mantra Video for Starting Kundalini Yoga Class & Can a Guru Help with Enlightenment.

Summary of Danger of Kundalini Yoga Practice:


Life is dangerous.  There is no getting around it.  You can, if you wish, hide in a cave and play it safe until Yama Raj (Lord of Death) comes knocking, or you can choose to embrace the adventure.  Kundalini Yoga & Meditation practice are doors to infinity and they are an exploration of the unknown.  In fact, they finally take you to the doorway to the Great Void, at which point knowledge and mind end, and to enter requires the faith and courage to just let go. 

Kundalini Shakti is the wave you ride on this journey to the beyond.  There are certainly dangers on the way, but if you follow the guidelines above it will go along way in making your journey safer and smoother.  My best wishes are always with you.

More Helpful Articles on Kundalini Yoga Safety:

10 Important Guidelines for Kundalini Yoga Practice 

Essential Beginners Guide to Yoga Practice

Beginners Guide to Yoga Breathing Exercises 

Osho Quote on How to Live Courageously


Free Online Yoga Video – Chakra Balancing Yoga Breathing Exercise

Summary: Continuing with the popular online yoga video series, this video is that of the wonderful Chakra Balancing Yoga Pranayama.  It is also called Anuloma Viloma Yoga Breathing Exercise and is presented in this video is considerable detail.

Free Online Charka Balancing Yoga Pranayama Video

 Chakra Balancing

The article Chakra Balancing Yoga Breathing Exercise is the second pranayama in the Free Online Breathing Exercises (Yoga Pranayama) E-Book.  That article gives a great deal of detail on this pranayama, so here I will just give a high level overview of it to introduce this video.

Chakra Balancing Yoga Pranayama is more commonly known as Anuloma Viloma Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing.  This is a fundamental yoga breathing technique, which is an important aspect of all the various schools of yoga.  It’s origins are in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and it is a key part of Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga practice.

The yoga instruction video below is quite detailed, but please also check the article referenced above for more information.  Here are some quick highlights of what the video covers:

  • Detailed instructions of the beginner, intermediate and advanced versions of Anuloma Viloma Pranayama.
  • Discusses the general rules for doing yoga breathing exercises and gives guidelines for the practice of this pranayama.
  • Gives an overview of the Kundalini Yoga Chakra system, the Nadis and how this particular pranayama helps to purify and balance this system.

I have decided to upload a Short Version of the pranayama video as well, as the full version is pretty long.  The short version video is about 4 minutes, while the full version video is about 15 minutes.  So if you want just a quick demonstration of Anuloma Viloma pranayama, watch the abridged video, if you want to hear all the goodies go for the big one.

Free Online Yoga Breathing Exercise Video #2

Chakra Balancing Yoga Pranayama Video (Anuloma Viloma)


SHORT VIDEO (4 mins)


HD Intermediate Anuloma Viloma to Awaken Kundalini Safely

Direct YouTube Link –>

Free Online Yoga Breathing Exercise Video #2

Chakra Balancing Yoga Pranayama Video (Anuloma Viloma)

FULL VIDEO (15 mins)



Chakra Meditation Techniques – The Top 3

Summary:  There are many different types of meditation practices to open, heal and balance the chakras, but of these, the three most practiced chakra meditation techniques are discussed in this article.  While all three are effective, one stands out, as it is the safest approach to use.

The seven chakra model of Kundalini Yoga is a very complete model to represent a human being in all their dimensions and complexities.  In the article Kundalini Yoga Seven Chakra System Overview, I have given an introduction to this system, with some useful details for understanding the chakras and their functioning.  In this article I will explore the top 3 Chakra Meditation techniques for optimizing this system.

Essentially, charkas can be thought of as multi-dimensional energy vortexes that reign over various regions of the body and brain.  Each chakra, thus being responsible for the health of the organs, glands and systems of the particular region where it is located, and also responsible for certain emotional states and mental characteristics.  The way therefore of healing and rejuvenation the body and also, of optimizing oneself psychologically and mentally, is by opening, healing and balancing the chakras.

The opening, healing and balancing of chakras is called chakra meditation.  There are many different techniques with which to perform chakra meditation and I would like to present the best of these to you below.

Chakra Meditation

Chakra Meditation Technique #1:   

Chakra Meditation via Mantras:  More specifically, chakra meditation via the use of Bij Mantras.  With each chakra is associated a Bij Mantra or seed sound, and by chanting this sound the particular chakra can be opened and balanced.  The seed sounds for each chakra are as follows.

Mooladhara: Root chakra meditation sound:  LANG (LAM)

Swadhistana: Sex chakra meditation sound:  VANG (VAM)

Manipura: Navel chakra meditaiton sound:  RANG (RAM)

Anahata: Heart chakra meditation sound:  YANG (YAM)

Vishuddhi: Throat chakra meditation sound:  HANG (HAM)

Ajna: Third Eye chakra meditation sound:  ONG (OM)

Sahasrara: Crown chakra meditation sound:  Silence

In this chakra meditation technique the bij mantra above is chanted either out loud or mentally, while awareness is brought to the region of the chakra one is attempting to open.  This technique should be used with caution as it is a very direct approach and can lead to imbalances if chakras are prematurely opened, before the body is ready to handle the influx of energy in that region.

An example of this chakra meditation technique is the Ajna Chakra Opening, Balancing and Healing Technique.

Chakra Meditation Technique #2:

Chakra Meditation via Visualization: With each chakra is also associated a particular Deity, animal, shape and color.  There are also more detailed associations but, for our purpose here these will suffice.  Chakra meditation via visualization is again the act of bringing awareness to the location of a particular chakra and then visualizing the associated item for that chakra.

I will provide here the colors associated with each chakra and for this meditation you can visualize a ball of light of that particular color emanating or spinning at the appropriate location.

Root chakra meditation color:  Red

Sex chakra meditation color:  Orange

Navel chakra meditation color:  Yellow

Heart chakra meditation color:  Green

Throat chakra meditation color:  Blue

Third eye chakra meditation color:  Indigo

Crown chakra meditation color:  Violet

Again, as with the bij mantra chakra meditation technique, this is also a direct method of opening a chakra and should be used cautiously for the same reason.

Chakra Meditation Technique #3:

Chakra Meditation via Kundalini Yoga Kriyas (Sets):  This is the use of Kundalini Yoga Kriyas  and Chakra Yoga Breathing Exercises (pranayama) to open, heal and balance various chakras.  I have gone into considerable detail of this technique in Kundalini Yoga – Yoga of Energy & Awareness and of the 3 techniques detailed here, this one is the safest. 

The reason for this being the safest chakra meditation technique is because this technique does not directly look to open a chakra, instead it looks to prepare the body, at all levels, to handle greater flow of energy.  This technique is focused on clearing away blockages in the energy pathways (nadis), thus allowing for the increased flow of energy to the various regions of the body.  This greater flow of energy not only helps heal, rejuvenate and strength the glands, organs and systems of that particular region, but it also helps to activate and balance the chakra governing that area.

An example of this chakra meditation technique is the Heart Chakra Opening, Balancing and Healing Kundalini Yoga Kriya.  You can also find many more Kundalini Yoga Kriyas in the Free Online Kundalini Yoga Kriyas E-Book and you can find more Chakra Yoga Breathing Exercises in the Free Online Yoga Breathing Exercises (Pranayama) E-Book.  Dive in, explore these profound techniques and achieve your highest potential!

Internet Resources for Chakra Meditation Techniques:

Wikipedia Definition of Chakra


Explosive Kundalini Rising In Yoga Class Today

As I looked around in class today I noticed the students were all experienced with Kundalini Yoga.  Although from a Yogic perspective the few months they have been learning and practicing Kundalini Yoga is not much, given the power of this system, I know it is not insignificant either.  What this allowed, of course, was for me to take the class up a notch in terms of level and difficulty.  I also know that many of these now experienced students actually relish the challenge of more advanced Kundalini Yoga Kriyas, so this was the perfect chance to teach them that.

Explosive Kundalini Rising

I started class with a new pranayama breathing exercise and also decided to vary the traditional Spinal warm-ups that we do.  In general, a Kundalini Yoga teacher practices all the exercises with the class.  This of course serves to demonstrate the exercise, but it also lets an adept teacher raise his level of energy, thus serving to uplift the overall energy of the entire class and participants.  Usually I can only participate in a limited capacity because my primary responsibility is to ensure the students are doing everything correctly and safely.  Today though was a lucky day for me, since the students were sufficiently advanced, I too was able to give myself more to the yoga and pranayama practice.

In the varied spinal warm-up, I was demonstrating a different way to do Yoga Camel Ride (Spine Flex Yoga Exercise) when the exercise began to take over.  Once I brought it to a particular pace and rhythm it triggered the energy pathways (nadis) to open and then Kundalini Shakti began rising in waves up my back and flooding my brain.  Once this began, the exercise propelled itself and more and more Kundalini streamed into my higher centers (chakras).  Instantly, drastic changes began taking place in consciousness as I felt the enormity and power of unadulterated infinite mind.  My entire system was flushed with energy and I would have gone further, but, I had a class to teach :-).  So I gladly returned to the company of my beloved students and we went on from there.

The important point I want to make here is that you must work to authenticate spiritual teachings for yourself so that you can make them your very own.  To just run around and quote other Yoga Masters and parrot various claims is immature and your teachings will lack conviction.  Your goal has to be to stand on your own and be authentic.  When the teachings become authentic, you will also be able to contribute to them and then you be original.  Of course study the teachings and learn from others, but, endeavor always to make the knowledge first hand by direct experience so that you become a true source of light and inspiration.

Sat Nam


Kapalbhati Yoga Breathing Exercise for Optimum Health & Healing- Free Online Pranayama Book- Ch 5

Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama for Health & Healing

Yoga Breathing Exercise #5: Kapalbhati Pranayama (Kapal Bhati)


Free Online Video of Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama


What Is Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama (Kapal Bhati Breathing Exercise):

Of the many wonderful pranayamas that Yoga gives us, Kapalbhati (aka Kapal Bhati) is one of my favorite breathing exercises.  It is not at all complicated to do and yet, when done even for a short time consistently, it’s benefits are undeniable.  If there was only one pranayama that you elected to do, Kapalbhati might well be the one to pick – it’s that good!


Kapalbhati of course dates back to the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali, but recently its popularity has been revived by the work of Ramdev Swamiji.  Kapalbhati is part of Ramdev Swamiji’s set of 6 pranayamas and the practice of this set has spread like wildfire across India as well as the rest of the world.  Kapalbhati, in my view, is like the corner stone of this set and many of the absolutely unbelievable benefits that practitioners have been getting from practicing Ramdev Swamiji’s set, I am sure, can be attributed to this powerful breathing exercise.

Below are the details of Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama.

Benefits of Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama (Kapal Bhati Breathing Exercise):


  • Works on the Heart Center (Anahat Chakra) and associated organs and systems of that region.  Thus improving respiration, lung capacity and blood circulation.  Kapalbhati helps cure associated diseases of this region (asthma, bronchitis etc).
  • Works on the Naval Center (Manipura Chakra) and associated organs and systems of that regions.  Thus improving digestion and elimination.  Cures diseases and imbalances associated with this region such as indigestion, gas, diabetes, etc.
  • Practiced over time, Kapalbhati Pranayama also helps reduce abdominal fat, fight obesity, tone abdominal muscles and bestow core abdominal strength and power.
  • From an emotional stand point Kapalbhati Pranayama puges the system of accumulated emotional debris such as anger, hurt, jealousy, hatred etc., thus dissolving the blockages and removing the imbalances such emotional history causes in the energetic pathways.  The cleansing of the energetic pathways (nadis) increases the magnitude and flow of prana (life-force) and Kundalini Shakti (energy) throughout all regions of the body.
  • From a mental stand point Kapalbhati Pranayama assists in throwing out all negative thoughts from the psyche. thus, helping to cleanse and illuminate the mind.
  • From a body stand point Kapalbhati Pranayama should be used to eject any illnesses, diseases, weaknesses from the body thus allowing it grow in health, vitality and vigor.


  • Generates heat in the system to help dissolve toxins and waste matter.
  • Adds luster and beauty to your face.

Cautions for Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama (Kapal Bhati Breathing Exercise):

If you feel dizzy or nauseous you should slow down the force and pace of Kapalbhati pranayama or stop entirely and return to normal breathing. 

  • If you have acid or heat related gastric issues such as ulcers you should use caution with Kapalbhati Pranayama.
  • Kapalbhati is not to be practiced by those suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke or epilepsy.

How To Do Beginner’s Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama (Kapal Bhati Breathing Exercise):

To practice this breathing exercise sit up in a comfortable position, cross legged is best.

  • Elongate your spine upwards, lengthen your neck and subtly bring your chin back and in like a soldier at attention.  This will align the spine with the back of your head.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Have your hands in Gyan Mudra.  In Gyan Mudra have your thumb tips and index finger meeting, with the wrists resting gently on the knees and the palms turned slightly upwards.
  • Relax your stomach muscles.
  • Now expel the air as forcefully as you are comfortable with through the nose.  This should cause the abdominal muscles to contract sharply and should draw the abdomen inwards towards the spine (like when you suck in your stomach).  Then allow the inhalation to occur completely passively without any additional effort.  To repeat, the exhalation is done using conscious sharp force, while the inhalation is just a recoil action bringing the air back into the lungs.  All the breathing takes place through the nose.  Right after the passive inhalation, exhale again forcefully and continue at a steady rhythm.
  • Do a round of 10 repetitions.
  • Work your way up to doing 5 rounds, while taking a break between each round.
  • Practice Note: Unlike doing Bhastrika Yoga Pranayama you use force during both the inhalation and the exhalation, in Kapalbhati force is only to be used during the exhalation.

How To Do Intermediate Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama (Kapal Bhati Breathing Exercise):

Once you feel comfortable with the Beginner’s version of Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama, perform the breathing exercise with more force if possible and also increase the number of repetition per round to 50.  You may also prefer to do a single round, but, with many more repetitions instead (up to 5 minutes worth) 

How To Do Advanced Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama (Kapal Bhati Breathing Exercise): 

Build up to doing this pranayama for 15 minutes straight or equivalent number of rounds with more repetitions per rounds. 

Secret of Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama (Kapal Bhati Breathing Exercise):

The secret of the success of Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama lies in where your mind is when doing this terrific breathing exercise.  If you need to cure your body, then with every exhalation imagine that disease is being purged from your system.  If you need to regain emotional balance, then again, with every exhalation visualize the negative emotions or weaknesses being thrown out of your system.  If negative thoughts are the issue, let every exhalation expel them from your heart and mind. 

The power of the mind has been well documented, you are read about some of  it’s incredible capability in this article Mind Power to Manifest Intentions & Desires Instantly, so use your mind to help you accomplish that which you have intended and unleash the full potential of Kapalbhati Yoga Pranayama.


3rd Eye (Ajna Chakra) Opening & Balancing Free Online Class Syllabus: Course #103

Ajna Chakra Opening & Balancing Online Class – Course #103 

Welcome to the Free Online Guided Meditation and Kundalini Yoga classes.  All the material needed for this class is available via the links on this post and you can start anytime you wish.  For more information on the free online classes offered at Mastery of Meditation, please read the Expanded Free Online Guided Meditation and Kundalini Yoga Classes post.  This course focuses on Opening, Balancing and Healing the Ajna Chakra (Third Eye or Divine Eye).  The course is designed for 1 week, but you are welcome to continue for a longer time if you wish.  In this post I will provide the class objectives, class details, course syllabus and participation guidelines.  Please read through everything carefully so you will be able to get maximum benefit from the class.   I encourage you to take advantage of the classes offered here to help deepen your spiritual practice.  There is, without a doubt, no material equivalent to the rewards that this path bestows.

3rd Eye

To register please just leave a comment on this post that you are going to start The Ajna Chakra Opening and Balancing Class, or just send me an email at  This way I know what kind of participation there is.  This course contains some very important and profound yoga and meditation components, use them wisely and reap the enormous benefits they bestow.

PLEASE ALSO READ THE FAQ below.  It addresses many of the common questions about the online classes:

FAQ For Free Online Guided Meditation & Kundalini Yoga Classes

Third Eye – Ajna Chakra Opening & Balancing Class Objectives:

  1. Awakens Kundalini Shakti (Energy) and moves it up to the higher centers.
  2. Promote Intuition, Insight and Creativity.
  3. Clears the psychic channels (nadis) of blockages to increase the flow of prana (life-force) in the energetic body.
  4. Improves Brain function by increasing both awareness and intelligence.
  5. Allows you to connect to your Divine Nature or Inner Guru.
  6. Enhances powers of non-verbal communication and seeing beyond the ordinary mind.
  7. Balances all the Chakras and brings harmony and peace to the entire system.
  8. Develops the Nervous System, Respiratory System and Digestive System.
  9. Helps build the power of concentration.
  10. Enhances ability to have Lucid Dreams.

Third Eye – Ajna Chakra Opening & Balancing Class Details:

Class Structure: 

Each class session consists of 3 sections: Breathing exercises (pranayama), Kundalini Yoga Kriyas (sets) and Guided Meditation Practice.  The exercises are designed to allow you to pace yourself, so whether you are a beginner or experienced yogi you will find the class useful.  The total time for this class is approximately 30 minutes / day.  Do the best you can and most importantly, walk the middle path with regard to each session.  DO NOT OVERDO OR OVER STRAIN and at the same time don’t have it be too easy either.

Required Reading:

10 Important Guidelines to Kundalini Yoga Practice
Legal Disclaimer

Suggested Reading:

Introduction to Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga Seven Chakra System Overview

Third Eye – Ajna Chakra Opening & Balancing Course Syllabus:

The following describes the 3 sections comprising the 30 minute daily yoga and meditation session for this class.  The approximate total times for each section and set are also given.  Take more rest if you need to, or if you feel comfortable do the poses and exercises a little longer.  Each breathing exercise, Kundalini Yoga Kriya and Guided Meditation technique below is a link to the article with all the details you need.

Third Eye (Ajna Chakra) Opening & Balancing Class: Each day for 1 week do the following…

Breathing Exercises Section (Pranayama):  Total time 5-10 Minutes

Kundalini Yoga Section:  Total time 5-10 minutes

  • Kundalini Awakening Raja Yoga Kriya: 5-10 minutes – Do the Beginners version and only if comfortable with that move onto the Intermediate or Advanced versions.  This set will channel Kundalini Energy up towards the higher regions.

Guided Meditation Section:  Total time 5-10 minutes

  • Ajna Chakra Meditation Technique: 5-10 minutes – This meditation technique uses the power of the Seed Mantra (OM) for the Third Eye Chakra to open and balance the Chakra.

Third Eye – Ajna Chakra Opening & Balancing Participation Guidelines

Following are the guidelines which I suggest we follow…

  • Please post all comments, questions and feedback in the comments section of this post.  This way all will benefit from the discussion.  Feel free to ask questions or discuss issues, as that is one of the main reasons for this particular class format.  Of course, you are free to email me as well if you would like the discussion to not be public.
  • If you like, you can indicate with a comment that you have completed your daily session.  Could be as short as “did it”, or of course could be questions, issues or more detailed feedback.  The hardest part with a daily yoga and meditation practice is establishing consistency and regularity and I think having to acknowledge that you completed your daily sadhana (spiritual work) will help in facilitating that.  In addition, your comments would inspire others as well. 
  • I will post all information regarding the class in the comments section below as well, so please check periodically for updates.
  • Before starting your daily yoga and meditation session, take a moment and tune in to your higher self for guidance and protection.  At the end of every session, visualize yourself and the world as you would like it to be.
  • Do the best you can and modify the class as you require.  It is more important to do something, than be overwhelmed and not do anything at all.
  • I wish you all a wonderful learning and transforming experience.