Yoga traces its roots to the ancient India. But with time, yoga too diverged and took on various forms. Today, the various schools of yoga take their own unique approach and have fanned out all over the world.
Isha Yoga, the brain child of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, is the name given to the holistic yoga programs offered by the Isha Institute of Inner Sciences. It includes programs like Inner Engineering, Hatha Yoga, Shoonya Meditation, Bhava Spandana, Guru Puja, and Samyama. It is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization, which describes itself as a ‘human service organization’. The foundation’s basic purpose is ‘to inspire, to stoke, and to nurture the innate search in every being, helping them realize the ultimate potential within’. Isha Yoga aims to bring global harmony through individual transformation. Through Isha Yoga, the practitioner experiences yoga in its full depth and dimension.
The word ‘Isha’ means ‘formless primordial source of creation’ and ‘Yoga’ means ‘union’. Isha Yoga is the path to unite the being with the formless divine for holistic well-being, peace, and harmony. It shows the practitioner the path to self-discovery by taking tangible steps towards the inner growth.
Sadhguru describes yoga as a path to being boundless. He says that the most sacred duty of a human being in this world is to strive towards self transformation and Isha Yoga shows the path to do that.
Isha yoga offers two levels of courses and programs – Introductory and Advanced. The introductory programs include initiation to meditation and pranayama in the form of Shambhavi Mahamudra. This is often done while imparting ‘diksha’ by the Sadhguru. Advanced programs include Shoonya meditation, Shakti Chalana Kriya and Bhava Spandana to affect the pranic flow in the body.
1. Inner Engineering:
Inner Engineering is a synthesis of holistic sciences, which helps in discovering the inner self. Sadhguru says that inner engineering is as important for inner wellbeing as physical sciences is for the physical health. Inner engineering is a process of transformation. Sadhguru states that transformation means nothing of the old should remain and something absolutely new should take its place. This transformation takes place through Shambhavi Mahamudra, Isha Kriya, and pranayama.
2. Hatha Yoga:
Isha yoga involves the practice of Hatha Yoga to prepare the body for the transcendence to the higher possibility. Isha yoga claims to follow the practice of the Adiyogi Shiva himself. Sun Salutations are considered the most important part of Hatha Yogasanas. Isha foundation offers many forms of Hatha Yoga like Upayoga, Angamardana, Suryakriya, Yogasanas, BhutaShuddhi. It also involves a 21 week Hatha Yoga Teacher’s Training Course.
3. Shoonya Meditation:
Shoonya means void, nothingness. Shoonya Meditation is the effortless process of non-doing. It is an advanced form of intensive meditation, which allows the person to meditate to turn his consciousness inwards until he becomes one with the void, the shoonya that is this universe.
4. Shakti Chalana Kriya:
Shakti Chalana Kriya is a powerful practice, which purifies the being of all the external and internal impurities. This kriya helps in removing blockages and enhancing the flow of Pranic energy, one’s vital energy through the nadis. When combined with Shoonya Meditation, this dynamic kriya results in pranic healing and ultimate bliss.
5. Bhava Spandana:
Bhava means sensations and Spandana means resonance. Bhava Spandana is the practice through which one can control and ultimately rise above one’s senses, the Indriyas. Samyama practice aids in achieving Bhava Spandana. Samyama is a 7-day residential program during which the Yogis maintain mauna (complete silence).
How To Do Isha Kriya:
Isha Kriya is a meditation technique, which is simple yet pretty effective. One can do Isha kriya any number of times at any time of the day. Isha Kriya involves 3 stages.
- Sit in the Sukhasana, your hands in jnana mudra and your head turned slightly upwards. Inhale and say, ‘I am not the body’. Exhale and say, ‘I am not even the mind’. Take your consciousness away from your body and mind and turn it inwards. Do this for 7-11 minutes.
- Inhale deeply and exhale in ‘aaa’ with mouth open. The ‘aaa’ sound should come from the pit of your navel. Feel the vibrations, let them engulf you and surround you. Do this 7 times.
- In stage 3, just sit there by maintaining silence with your head turned upwards for 5-6 minutes. Embrace the silence, lose yourself in the accompanying peace, you are nothing, not the body not the mind, just the void, the shoonya.
The kriya takes total 12-18 minutes. While it depends on you, how long you want to do it, but it should be done for minimum 12 minutes.
How To Do Shambhavi Mahamudra?
Shambhavi Mahamudra is considered to be the meditation of ‘Shambhu’ or Shiva. It is done to bring the body, mind, emotions, spirit, and energy in harmony with each other. The main purpose of this mudra is to balance the Ida and the Pingalanadi, and awaken the dormant Sushamananadi. Three preparatory poses are done before doing the kriya itself. After the first 3 preparatory poses, 3 rounds of Surya Namaskar are done. Then the actual kriya is done. The whole process takes 21 minutes. Here’s a step by step guide to Shambhavi Mahamudra:
1. Patangasana (Butterfly Pose):
To do Patangasana, follow these steps:
- Sit with your legs in your front.
- Now bend your knees and press your feet together and bring them as close to your body as you can.
- Flutter your legs up and down like a butterfly’s wings.
- Do this for 2 minutes.
- You’ll feel amazing stretch in your thighs.
2. Shishupalasana (Rocking Child Pose):
To do Shishupalasana, follow these steps:
- Sit in Sukhasana.
- Lift your right foot and set it on your left arm.
- Now take you right arm from below the right leg and twine the fingers through the fingers of the left arm.
- Now move from side to side, rocking your foot as if it’s a baby.
- Bring it back down and sit in Sukhasana.
- Do the same for the other side.
3. Nadi Vibhajana:
Nadi Vibhajana is a 10 step asana, which is done to align the spine. It should be done 3 times.
- Get down on your hands and knees.
- First, arch your spine up into the cow stretch.
- Your spine becomes concave and head comes down.
- Now arch your spine in into the cat stretch.
- Spine comes down and head goes up.
- Come to the neutral position.
- Now arch into the cow stretch again and bring your right knee in and touch it to your forehead.
- Next, kick that leg back and align your back and leg in a straight line.
- Move that straight leg up and down without lowering it to the ground.
- Lower it to the starting position and do the other side.
4. Surya Namaskar:
Three rounds of Surya Namaskar are done next.
- Start in the Mountain Pose and bring your hands to heart in Anjali mudra.
- Raise your hands overhead and do a back extension.
- Then bend forward and touch your feet.
- Take the right leg back and lower into Anjaneyasana.
- Take the left leg back and push yourself into a Downward Dog.
- Move into a plank and then lower yourself into a Chaturanga.
- Push up into the upward dog.
- Again push your hip up into a Down Dog.
- Bring the right feet forward between your hands.
- Bring the leg foot forward and do the forward bend.
- Straighten up and do the back extension.
- Bring hand to heart in Anjali mudra and end the Mountain Pose.
Lie down in the corpse pose and loosen all your limbs. Relax your body.
Now is the time to do the actual kriya. Sit in the Ardh-Sidhasana with your hands set in Brahma Mudra with one hand on the other, palms upwards. Set them near your navel. The kriya involves Anulom-Vilom Pranayama, Chanting AUM, Kapaalbhati Pranayama and Bandhas.
Close your left nostril with your left hand thumb and inhale through your right nostril deeply. Now close the right nostril with the fingers and exhale through the left nostril. Keep alternating for 2 minutes.
- AUM Mantra:
Next step is to chant the Pranav Mantra, AUM for 2 minutes. Inhale deeply and exhale while chanting AUM. The ‘A’ should rise deep from the navel, ‘U’ from the lungs and ‘M’ from the throught with mouth closed.
Inhale as deeply as you can and exhale short breaths at a fast pace. Do this for 2 minutes.
Bandha means lock. There are 3 bandhas – UddhyanaBandha, MuladharaBandha and JaladharaBandha, i.e. neck lock, stomach lock and anal lock. Inhale deeply and suck all your stomach and anal muscles in. let your head fall back, then bring it down locking your neck such that the air can’t pass out. Hold this for as long you are comfortable holding. Slowly loosen your hold. First raise your head up and inhale. Exhale and loosen the stomach muscles. Inhale again and loosen the anal muscles with an exhale. Repeat the whole process with exhalation in the first step instead of inhalation.Sit back in Ardh-siddhasana with your hands in Brahma Mudra and turn your head slightly upwards. Look in the middle of your eyebrows where your third eye should be. Sit like this for 2-3 minutes.
Benefits Of Isha Yoga:
Isha Yoga has tons of health and lifestyle benefits, many of which have been proven scientifically.
Isha yoga effectively improves many cardiac problems. It improves short-term heart rate variability. It also postulates the premature cardiac events like ischemia and infraction.It heals and calms menstrual disorders like PMS, dysmenorrhea, irregularity of menstrual flow and cycle.It improves the sleeping patterns of its practitioners and helps in treating sleeping disorders like REM sleep and insomnia.Regular practice of Isha yoga enhances memory, concentration and attention span.It energizes the body and boosts metabolism.It improves the immune system.It provides mental calmness and helps to relief from stress.
Isha Yoga Centre In India:
Isha Yoga Centre in India is situated in Tamil Nadu at the foothills of Velliangiri Mountains. This centre offers all four major paths of yoga. They are Jnana (knowledge), Karma (action), Kriya (energy) and Bhakti (devotion). The centre consists of Dhyanlinga temple, Isha Rejuvenation Centre and Isha Home School. Dhyanlinga is the most unique and powerful feature of the yoga centre. Sadhguru says, “Just sitting silently for a few minutes within the sphere of Dhyanlinga is enough to make even those unaware of meditation, experience a state of deep meditation”.
Everyone, irrespective of their religious beliefs, are welcome to the Isha Yoga Centre. You should give it a try too!
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