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Swallowing Air (Audio)
January 27, 2010
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: As you have indicated in previous lessons, part of advanced yoga practice
consists of a natural circulating air through the digestive system. I have
been growing comfortable with pranayama and nauli, and now find I am
starting to swallow air without really intending to, which then circulates
in the digestive system with little of it coming back out. Are you familiar
with this? What has been your experience with it? Can you help me understand
what is happening?
A: The presence of more air in the GI tract
is a normal part of the neurobiology of the rise of ecstatic conductivity
(kundalini). It has been described in Lesson 304 on
the "nectar cycle," and elsewhere in the lessons. Air plays a vital role in
the nectar cycle, mixing with food and sexual essences in the GI tract,
where a higher form of digestion occurs, producing refined substances that
advance the neurobiology of ecstatic awakening. It is a natural process that
arises in us as we advance with inner purification and opening cultivated by
our daily yoga practices.
Air enters our GI tract through an
increasing porousness in all the tissues of our body, brought about through
spiritual practice, particularly pranayama. If we find that we are
swallowing some air, this can be natural too. It means that the demand in
the GI tract is there and air coming
the tissues is not quite enough, so we are compelled swallow some.
Taking in air before the awakening of ecstatic conductivity can be
counter-productive. It is not necessary to create a "Buddha belly" filling
ourselves with air to become enlightened. This is true for many of the
energy-stimulating yogic and tantric practices. They are only effective when
there is sufficient abiding inner silence in the nervous system and ecstatic
conductivity is ready to awaken. The cultivation
of abiding inner silence via deep meditation (and later with samyama and
relational self-inquiry) is the primary prerequisite for ecstatic awakening.
If the lessons are taken in order, we will find the suggested sequence by
which many practices can be brought into the daily routine to accomplish
this in a systematic way.
asanas, mudras, bandhas and tantric methods have to do largely with the
aforementioned process of ecstatic awakening, which is a key component of
the enlightenment process. Pranayama methods are particularly important in
this, including moderate utilization of kumbhaka, for systematic
purification and opening of the neurobiology. This stimulates the rise
ecstatic conductivity, and infuses the
increasingly porous body and GI tract with air. This will happen naturally
as overall progress in practices advances. For example, automatic breath
suspension is common during deep meditation, and this is related to this
natural overall process of awakening.
As ecstatic conductivity
advances, occasional automatic swallowing of air may occur. This is not to
be confused with intentional ingestion of air, which may not produce an
ideal outcome. The role of air in the GI tract is in the higher
biochemistry, involving the mixing air, food and sexual essences, leading to
the production of a refined product of digestion we call "soma," which rises
up to the brain, where it is further processed to become "amrita" (nectar)
to come back down through the sinuses
and nasal passages
into the GI tract, to be recycled again, and so on. This is the
"nectar cycle," which leads to the radiation of ecstatic bliss from within
the body. The agent of this radiation is called "ojas,"
which can sometimes be detected on the skin as an oily substance, sweet
scent or shining radiance.
Along with that comes a natural
flowering in conduct. The result in daily living is abiding inner silence,
ecstatic bliss and outpouring divine love in all that we do. We also call
this "stillness in action." It has far-reaching implications for all of
humanity. This is why we do yoga, for the evolutionary result it brings in
daily living, which can uplift everyone.
It should be mentioned that
deliberate swallowing air is not instructed or encouraged in the AYP system,
though its automatic occurrence is recognized. Such a deliberate procedure
is not regarded to be in the best interest of many practitioners. We have
plentiful results occurring with the practices that have been employed, and
it is not necessary to embark on a deliberate practice of swallowing air,
which could be unhealthful if taken to the extreme.
In my case, air
ingestion was an automatic yoga. It happened over a several year period
about 25 years ago, along with many other things associated with the rise of
ecstatic conductivity. At certain times, I could not help swallowing air,
and the effect was much ecstasy and radiance emanating outward from the GI
tract, as well as quite a lot of overdoing which required prudent
self-pacing. So, for anyone who finds themselves swallowing air, self-pacing
will be the first order of business. Prudently limiting the ingestion of air
will not delay us on our path. Less is more.
also play a role in the
development of the higher neurobiology in the GI tract.
See Lesson 312.
Keep in mind that with
the refinement of ecstatic conductivity, air comes into the GI tract
through the surrounding tissues, so the need for
swallowing air becomes less. Refinements like that are what happens with all
advanced yoga practices over time. They tend to become resident and refined
to the point of near invisibility in us as purification and opening
occur in the nervous system. At the same time, it becomes
obvious to us, and those around us, that something profound has been
This is what is referred to as
the rise of "whole body mudra," a refinement of many elements of our
yoga practice occurring quietly underneath in everyday living, making for a
life lived in constant ecstatic bliss. There is still structured daily
practice occurring, but it is not necessary to be as intense as when
pathways were initially being opened. It becomes much easier and automatic
as the neurobiology goes to higher functioning. Less becomes more. Then we
find ourselves to be more inclined toward self-inquiry and service (karma
yoga) leading to a greatly increased flow of love and the rise of the
non-duality/unity experience in daily living, which we also call "stillness
in action." All of the refined neurobiological activities continue to go on
automatically in the background.
The suggestion is to focus on
cultivating inner silence, and bring on the energy cultivation elements more
or less in the sequence in the AYP lessons, according to
your inclination. Ingesting air may or may not happen, depending on
how much is being absorbed through our increasingly porous body tissues.
Not to worry about it.
There are no hard and fast
rules. Asanas, mudras, bandhas, kumbhaka, and
sexual methods are more than enough to get the job done, swallowing
air or not. Do what comes naturally.
Remember, there is no one thing
in yoga that will do everything. It takes an effective integration of
methods that will stimulate all aspects of our inherent capability for human
The guru is in you.
Lessons Topic Path
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Note: For detailed instructions on spinal breathing,
see the Spinal Breathing Pranayama book. For
detailed discussion on
the neurobiology of the "nectar cycle,"
and the relationship to diet and shatkarmas,
Diet, Shatkarmas and Amaroli
book. Also see