Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend a residential program called “Happiness Program” at the art of living center, Bengaluru. As simple as the name sounds, one main reason I attended this program was to learn Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful practice involving the breath. The story goes that, his divine grace Sri Sri Ravishankar received this powerful kriya as a result of cosmic revelation around 40 years ago. Sri Sri could have stayed with this bliss, but out of compassion he decided to stay with this physical world to transmit this divine process to the humanity. Since then, millions have been benefitted through the regular practice of this kriya.
Su-means Auspicious, Darshan – means Vision, and Kriya – means Action. So, Sudarshan Kriya means action that results in divine vision. It’s a way of aligning our mind and body rhythm with that of the universe. It’s a way to harness the free life energy or prana available all around us to bring our body and mind in rhythm with that of the universe. The kriya brings about a different level of resonance within us.
After the practice, I could feel an immense energy within me because the kriya seemed to have activated all five pranas in my body. For the first time in my life, I felt what awareness is, but that would last only for few moments. In that state of mind, I was able to clearly see the workings of my ego, intellect, memory and the mind. I was a pure observer!
Seven Levels of Existence
|Level 6||Ego (Ahamkara)|
|Level 5||Memory (Chitta)|
|Level 4||Intellect (Buddhi)|
|Level 3||Mind (Manas)|
Swamiji who guided us through the process of Sudarshan Kriya explained that there are seven levels of existence for an individual, and at any moment in time we exist in any of these levels. For example, if there is any pain in the body, we exist at level 1, similarly if I am determining and deciding, we at the intellect level 5. Existing at any of the levels from 1 to 6 is bondage that prevents us from true liberation. If one has to experience the state of “I” (level 7), it is a difficult task, Sudarshana Kriya helps one to get to that state by clearing out all the levels below. You exist as pure consciousness. Sudarshan Kriya also creates a rhythm that harmonize all the seven levels.
Experiencing the blissful “I” state of being is easier said than done. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Our individual life circumstances, stressful situations, physical and mental health, family responsibilities, karmic effects, etc., all come in the way to achieve this state of being. But with a regular practice of Sudarshana Kriya along with asanas and dhyana, it is definitely a possibility.
Practice of the Kriya
Sudarshan Kriya has to be learnt only by certified teachers, there is no audio available for the beginners except for the certified teachers. The Kriya is also called SKY (Sudarshna Kriya Yoga) breathing, that is popular in the west.
The Kriya cannot be performed as a standalone but should be a part of the sequence as there is a preparatory work necessary. As you will see from the below sequence, the Kriya is almost at the tail end just before the dhyana (meditation)
Note: The following sub-sections contains instructions for practicing Sudarshan Kriya at home. This is strictly for the people who have gone through the Kriya training from a certified teacher. Do not attempt to try these instructions without formal training.
Ujjayi Pranayama (Victorious Breath)
Sitting pose – Vajrasana
Counting : (4-4-6-2)
- Breath in – 2-3-4 (4 Count)
- Hold – 2-3-4 (4 Count)
- Breathe out – 2-3-4-5-6 (6 Count)
- Hold – 2 (2 Count)
|Hands position||Number of rounds|
|Stage 1||Hips||8 times|
|Stage 2||Above chest. Thumbs tucked under the armpit||8 times|
|Stage 3||Back of the head. Hands resting on shoulder blades||6 times|
Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellows Breath)
Sitting pose – Vajrasana
3 rounds – 20 times
Do AUM chanting 3 times
Sitting pose – Sukhasana or Padmasana
Inhale – Soooo, Exhale – Hum
Youtube – Yoganidra guided meditation