Advanced Yoga Practices
Note: For the Original
Internet Lessons with additions,
For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books,
Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.
Lesson 275 - Navi Kriya - The Middle Way (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
Role of the Navel Chakra in Yoga vs. Other Systems (Audio)
Videos: Navi Kriya (seated and standing) (Audio)
Videos: Navi Kriya (fish and camel)
Date: Mon Sep 19, 2005 5:28 pm
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
has been a while since we have looked at a new practice. Navi kriya isn't
exactly new, as it is really a dynamic expansion of several mudras and
bandhas we already know from previous lessons.
We have reached the
stage in AYP where we will be filling in methods, practices and points of
view on spiritual progress that we have said little about before now. These
aspects of yoga were passed over either because they were not considered to
be primary causes or data points in the overall process of human spiritual
transformation, or are such powerful stimulators that it was felt they would
best be presented later. Navi kriya is in the "powerful and best presented
later" category. And now it is later, so let's take a look at navi kriya.
Navi means "navel," as
in the belly button. Interestingly, it also means, "boat," which is where we
get the English word "navy." In yoga, both meanings are used: 1) A practice
involving the navel, and 2) A boat that carries us over the great sea of
ignorance to enlightenment.
Well, we'd all like to
be in that boat, and prudently applied yoga practices are the way to do it.
Navi kriya is commonly believed to be a mental exercise, and this is where
the funny phrase, "Contemplating your navel" comes from. Indeed, it can be
and is done, and with mantras too. But that is not what we will be
presenting here in AYP. We are already doing a first-rate mantra-based deep
meditation practice, and will not be complicating (or watering down) that
important aspect of our practice here.
The navi kriya practice
we will be discussing begins as mostly physical and gradually goes inward,
and is in the same realm as our current mudras and bandhas, taking them all
much higher -- literally. And this "taking higher" is where navi kriya
provides a lot of extra power, and some extra risk. Let's talk about the
practice first, and then look at the risk.
An easy way to think of
navi kriya is as a dynamic form of uddiyana, or the abdominal lift. You will
recall that uddiyana is a pulling in and up of the belly, using the
diaphragm to do it, usually when air is expelled from the lungs. It can also
be done with lungs full in yoni mudra kumbhaka and chin pump. See lessons
#91 and #129 for a review of
Navi kriya is the process of making the abdominal
lift dynamic between the navel and the area of the inner spine that is right
behind the solar plexus (all the way back behind the hollow at the
bottom/center of the ribs). The diaphragm is in this area too, so navi kriya
can also be viewed as pulling the navel repeatedly up toward the back of the
diaphragm in a gentle rhythmic cycle. Starting out, we can try this with
breath expelled, as in uddiyana during asanas. Later on we will find we can
do navi kriya either with air expelled, or when full with air in internal
kumbhaka, or even when we are breathing normally. Whenever we do it, it is a
gentle pulling in and up of the navel with the diaphragm, over and over.
Good navi kriya will feel like it is all going right up behind our heart,
How many times do we do navi kriya in a session?
Not many starting out. Navi kriya is a powerful kundalini stimulator,
especially with features about to be mentioned, so go very easy with it
starting out -- maybe 10-20 cycles, a second or two in duration each.
There is more.
With each inward lift of
the navel in navi kriya, we can perform a gentle flex and lift of the anal
sphincter -- this is mulabandha/asvini. With a little practice we will find
that the movements in the abdominal area and the pelvic area are both parts
of the same lifting process up through the middle.
At the same time, we can
add a gentle "flex" of sambhavi (with both the eyes and the center brow)
with each lift of navi kriya. Kechari can be incorporated as well at
whatever level we are doing. These also will be found to be neurologically
part of the same movement we are initiating with the navel. This is assuming
we have some ecstatic conductivity.
Finally, with our
attention, we can trace the energy up and down the spinal nerve between brow
and root with each lift and release, much the way we do in spinal breathing.
In fact, navi kriya can be done during spinal breathing in just this way,
very subtly, invisibly, with the slightest intention, with multiple tiny
lifts on the way up the spine and multiple tiny lifts on the way down the
spine. This subtle intention of navi kriya is actually the rise of the whole
body mudra we have discussed in previous lessons (#143
& #212). Navi kriya promotes the whole body mudra by
working from the center. That is why it is called "the middle way."
When is the best time to
do navi kriya? It is a good question. It can be incorporated in our uddiyana
practice during asanas. It can be built into our spinal breathing (much more
subtly). It can be part of yoni mudra. It can be part of chin pump. It can
be something we are doing at the end of our routine while we are lying down
resting. Navi kriya is a way to promote the whole body mudra -- beginning as
gross movement and later becoming an imperceptible body-wide micro-movement
in our nervous system -- barely an intention in its advanced stages, like
the neural energy flowing through us right now that we do not even notice.
Yet, the flow of neural energy (prana) defines the experience of our
existence, inner and outer. With the whole body mudra occurring
spontaneously, our daily experience spontaneously becomes one of ecstatic
radiance. This is the ecstatic component of the enlightenment profile
mentioned often in these lessons - unshakable inner silence, ecstatic bliss
and outpouring divine love.
Now let's talk about the
risks. The health risks in navi kriya are the same that we have reviewed in
the lessons on yoni mudra kumbhaka (#91) and other
practices involving breath retention and manipulating the internal organs.
If you have blood pressure, heart or abdominal health issues, or any other
doubts about your fitness for navi kriya, please consult a doctor.
On the internal energy
(kundalini) risk side -- If we jump in at the start doing navi kriya with
gusto during uddiyana in asanas, spinal breathing, yoni mudra, chin pump and
other parts of our practice, and if we have any ecstatic conductivity
occurring, it will likely lead to an internal energy excess. Someone in the
AYP forums recently used the phrase "getting a sunburn from the inside."
That is what navi kriya will do if taken to excess. It can also lead to some
emotional imbalance -- the whole kundalini excess thing, you know. So please
be very careful with navi kriya. If you have a tendency toward energy
imbalances, navi kriya will likely exaggerate it. On the other hand, those
who are looking to expand on stable ecstatic conductivity will find navi
kriya to be just the right thing. It is very important that you know where
you are in your energy unfoldment as you consider undertaking navi kriya. If
you are not sure, then please err on the side of less, not more. Maybe a
little in uddiyana during asanas. See how that goes before you consider
trying it in a longer practice like spinal breathing, or a more intense
practice like yoni mudra kumbhaka or chin pump.
There are also degrees
of intensity of navi kriya practice itself -- very slight physical movement
versus a lot of physical movement, with the latter being the greater
stimulator. And, of course, the number of cycles will have a big effect on
the outcome. Be measured in everything you do with navi kriya. That way you
can make adjustments in practice as necessary.
If you find yourself
going over the line into excessive inner energy flows, then just stop using
navi kriya completely for a few days at least. You may find you have to stop
some of your other practices for a while as well to find a stable level of
practice again. It is very important to understand the fine points of
self-pacing when considering navi kriya. It is certain you will need good
self-pacing, so be prepared. And it is also likely that you can greatly
accelerate the positive rise of ecstatic conductivity in your nervous system
with navi kriya as well, but only if you are ready and can handle it. It is
a razor's edge.
The stimulation of kundalini energy provided with
navi kriya is similar to the stimulation occurring in crown practices --
only with a much quicker recovery time if there is an excess due to navi
kriya. Recovery from a premature crown opening can take a lot longer --
years! You know how we have addressed crown practices in AYP -- avoid them
until very far down the road, and then test carefully (lesson
#199). It is similar with navi kriya, only with not
quite as much risk as when approaching the crown. Make sure you are
well-established with all the practices we have discussed thus far before
you consider navi kriya. Then test carefully to find out if this powerful
procedure can be gradually blended into your practice. If you are ready and
can do that, in time you will find the subtle whole body movement occurring
in daily activity as a natural ecstatic response, without any inner energy
imbalances -- just unending inner ecstasy. And if you are not ready yet, you
will find out soon enough. Then just leave it alone until later. It will be
here when you need it.
If one is a beginner in
yoga and tries navi kriya, not much may happen. Don't be fooled by this and
start going at it with reckless abandon. Using navi kriya to try and "break
through" energy blockages is a good way to get into trouble. As soon as
there is some ecstatic conductivity in the nervous system, navi kriya will
expand it with great power. Before ecstatic conductivity comes up, not much
may seem to happen with navi kriya. It will be like sitting in a fast racing
car with no fuel in it. As soon as there is some fuel (some ecstatic
conductivity rising in the nervous system) the car will be ready to blast
off. If we have our foot pressing the gas pedal to the floor when this
happens, a spatula will be needed to scrape us up off the pavement. Let's be
sure and know what we are doing when we undertake navi kriya. The best way
is to be established in deep meditation, spinal breathing, samyama, mudras
and bandhas, etc. Everything we have covered up until now. By the time we
build up with all that, we will have some good inner silence and, likely,
the beginnings of ecstatic conductivity -- very safe and very stable. Then
we can start off very slow with some navi kriya... like that. It is up to
the practitioner. Navi kriya requires much more skill to apply successfully
than most of the AYP practices. It does not lend itself easily to a
"cookbook" approach. That is one reason why it has been held off until now.
Yet, it can be very useful. So now you have it.
One might ask, "What is
the relationship between navi kriya and nauli?"
Nauli (which means "to
churn") is a close cousin of uddiyana and navi kriya. The difference is that
nauli is geared more toward purification and ecstatic activation of
processes in the GI tract, an important element in the overall rise of the
spiritual neuro-biology throughout the body. Nauli is part of the "shatkarmas,"
or cleansing techniques. We will be discussing those in a later lesson.
Uddiyana and navi kriya are more vertical in the body, affecting the spinal
nerve in particular, lifting from root to third eye. Uddiyana means, "to fly
up." Navi kriya is about flying up much more, and integrating upper and
lower body mudras and bandhas into a single whole body mudra. The results of
this upward flying inner energy will be felt in every aspect of our practice
and daily life.
Practice wisely, and enjoy!
The guru is in you.
See this complete
instructional lesson and all the expanded and interactive AYP Plus lessons
Related Lessons Topic Path
Discuss this Lesson in the AYP Plus Support Forum
For instructions on
mudras and bandhas, see the Asanas,
Mudras and Bandas book.
shatkarmas, see the
Diet, Shatkarmas and Amaroli
Also see AYP Plus.