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 Pranayama, Mudras and Bandhas
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Posted - Jul 10 2005 :  1:07:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit yogani's Homepage  Get a Link to this Message
There are two parts comprising the operative side of the enlightenment equation:

1. The cultivation of inner silence

2. The cultivation of neurological ecstatic conductivity

The first, we have been talking about in the "Deep Meditation and Samyama" forum.

The second is the province of this forum. The cultivation of ecstatic conductivity in the nervous system is accomplished primarily through breathing techniques, called "pranayama," in combination with certain bodily maneuvers, called "mudras and bandhas." Most of these practices have been shrouded in secrecy for centuries, and have been little understood. Furthermore, these practices work best if combined in a routine that also includes deep meditation.

In AYP, we start off with deep meditation. Next we add spinal breathing pranayama, which is the most important of all the breathing techniques covered in the lessons. It is first covered in Lessons #39-41, and developed further in many other lessons. See www.aypsite.org/41.html

Spinal breathing pranayama cultivates the entire nervous system so it becomes a much better medium for inner silence, which, in turn, makes samyama practice much more effective. Spinal breathing and meditation are done in separate sessions one after the other -- spinal breathing first and meditation second. In the lessons, you will find out about the timing of learning spinal breathing and adding it in front of your daily meditation session. The practices are learned step-by-step over time like that -- not all at once.

Once spinal breathing has been taken on and stabilized, a series of additional practices can be added over time, including:

Mulabandha (http://www.aypsite.org/55.html)
Sambhavi Mudra (http://www.aypsite.org/56.html)
Siddhasana (http://www.aypsite.org/75.html - technically an asana, but we can discuss it here also)
Yoni Mudra Kumbhaka (http://www.aypsite.org/91.html)
Uddiyana Bandha & Nauli (http://www.aypsite.org/129.html)
Kechari Mudra (multiple stages - http://www.aypsite.org/108.html)
Jalandhara Bandha (see yoni mudra kumbhaka)
Dynamic Jalandhara (Chin Pump - http://www.aypsite.org/139.html)
Spinal Bastrika Pranayama (http://www.aypsite.org/171.html)
Targeted Bastrika Pranayama (http://www.aypsite.org/198.html)

Spinal breathing itself contains a few nuances: 1) Ujjayi pranayama, and 2) Brahmari Pranayama (not in the online lessons - it's in the AYP book)

So there is quite a lot, and all of it is fair game for discussion here in this forum. The overall effect of these practices can be best described as the rise of "ecstatic conductivity" in the nervous system. This phenomenon will no doubt be discussed in many places in these forums, as will the importance of cultivating inner silence.

As mentioned before, the addition of practices comes logically in a certain order, as discussed in the lessons. We would never try to tackle all of this at once!

Once we have inner silence and ecstatic conductivity coming up together in our nervous system, we find ourselves in a natural joining of these two aspects (or poles) within us. This joining is what produces enlightenment in the human being. These two aspects joining (balancing) within have been called by many names: shakti & shiva, yin & yang, holy spirit & father god, euphoria & emptiness, and so on. Many names -- same inner dynamic in the human nervous system.

And how do we characterize the end result of all this, the enlightenment? It is simple, really. When it is coming to fruition we have unshakable inner silence, ecstatic bliss and outpouring divine love. Then, we do for others as we would do for ourselves, because others become as dear to us as our own self. At the same time, it is complete freedom from the ups and downs of life in this world. We have all known or heard about people with these qualities. We each have that within us, and the methods of yoga are for uncovering it.

The guru is in you.
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