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23 February, 2008



Hand Position: Nasagra Mudra (nose tip position)

Hold the fingers of the right hand in front of the face.

Rest the index and middle fingers gently on the eyebrow center. Both fingers should be relaxed.

The thumb is above the right nostril and the ring finger above the left. These two digits control the flow of breath in the nostrils by alternately pressing on one nostril, blocking the flow of breath, and then the other.

The little finger is comfortably folded. When practicing for longer periods, the elbow may be supported by the left hand although care is needed to prevent chest restriction.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (psyhic network purification)

Technique-1: Preparatory Practice

Sit in any comfortable meditation posture, preferably siddha / siddha yoni asana or padmasana. (Those who cannot sit in a meditation posture may sit against a wall with the legs outstretched or in a chair which has a straight back).

Keep the head and spine upright.

Relax the whole body and close the eyes.

Practise yogic breathing for some time.

Adopt nasagra mudra with the right hand and place the left hand on the knee in chin or jnana mudra*.

Close the right nostril with the thumb.

Inhale and exhale through the left nostril 5 times.

The rate of inhalation/exhalation should be normal.

Be aware of each breath.

After 5 breaths release the pressure of the thumb on the right nostril and press the left nostril with the ring finger, blocking the flow of air.

Inhale and exhale through the right nostril 5 times, keeping the respiration rate normal.

Lower the hand and breathe 5 times through both nostrils together.

This is one round.

Practice 5 rounds or for 3 to 5 minutes, making sure that there is no sound as the air passes through the nostril.

After practicing for 15 days go on to technique 2.

Technique 2: Alternative nostril breathing

In this technique the duration of inhalation/exhalation is controlled.

Close the right nostril with the thumb and breathe in through the left nostril.

At the same time count mentally, “1. Om; 2. Om; 3. Om”, until the inhalation ends comfortably. This is the basic count.

Breathe deeply with yogic breathing. Do not strain.

Close the left nostril with the ring finger, release the pressure of the thumb on the right nostril and while breathing out through he right nostril, simultaneously count, “1.Om; 2. Om; 3. Om”. The time for inhalation and exhalation should be equal.

Next, inhale through the right nostril, keeping the same count in the same manner.

At the end of inhalation close the right nostril, open the left nostril and exhale through the nostril, coming as before.

This is one round.

Practice 10 rounds.


Ratio and Timing:

After a few days, if there is no difficulty, increase the length of inhalation / exhalation by one count. Continue in this way, increasing the inahaltion / exhalation by one count as sit becomes easy, until the count of 12:12 is reached.

Do not force the breath in any way and be careful not to speed up the counting during the exhalation to compensate for shortage of breath. At the slightest sign of discomfort reduce the count.

After perfecting the above ratio, it may be changed to 1:2. For example, breathe in for a count of 5 and breathe out for a count of 10. Continue extending the breath by adding one count to the inhalation and two to the exhalation, up to the count of 12:24. This ratio establishes a calming rhythm for the brain and heart, assisting the treatment of cardiovascular and nervous system disorders specifically, and stress related conditions generally.

     When this technique can be performed with complete ease move on to technique. 3

Technique 3: with Antar Kumbhaka (inner retention)

       In this technique antar kumbhaka or internal breath retention is introduced.

       Inhale through the left nostril for a count of 5, close both nostrils and retain the air in the lungs for a count of 5.

       The glottis may be slightly contracted to hold the air in the lungs.

       Open the right nostril, inhale slightly and then exhale for a count of 5.

       Inhale through the right nostril for a count of 5 and retain the breath for a count of 5 with both nostrils closed.

       Open the left nostril, inhale slightly and then exhale for a count of 5.

       This is one round.

       Practise 10 rounds.

Ratio and Timing:

       The maintenance of a strict ratio during inhalation, kumbhaka and exhalation is of the utmost importance.  The ratio will change as the ability to hold the breath for longer periods of time develops.  After mastering the ratio of 1:1:1, increase the ratio to 1:1:2.

         For example, inhale for a count of 5, perform internal kumbhaka for a count of 5 and exhale for a count of 10.  After some weeks of practice, when this ratio has been mastered, increase the ratio to 1:2:2.  Inhale for a count of 5, do internal kumbhaka for a count of 10 and exhale for a count of 10.

       After mastering this ratio, gradually increase the count by adding one unit to the inhalation, 2 units to the retention and 2 units to the exhalation.  The count of one round will be 6:12:12.  When this has been perfected and there is no discomfort, increase the count to 7:14:14.  Gradually increase the count over a period of one or two years to 24:48:48.  Therefore, gradually increase the ratio to 1:3:2, and then 1:4:2.

*Explanatory Notes on
Jnana Mudra (psychic gesture of knowledge)

Assume a comfortable meditation posture.
Fold the index fingers so that they touch the inside root of the thumbs. Straighten the other three fingers of each hand so that they are relaxed and slightly apart. Place the hands on the knees with the palms facing down.
Relax the hands and arms.

Chin Mudra (Psyhic gesture of consciousness)

Chin mudra is performed in the same way as jnana mudra except that the palms of both hands face upwards, with the backs of the hands resting on the knees. Relax, the hands and arms.


One of these two mudras should be adopted whenever practicing meditation / pranayama techniques.


Janana mudra and chin mudra are simple but important psycho-neural finger locks which make meditation asanas more powerful. The palms and fingers of the hands have any nerve root endings which constantly emit energy. When the finger touches the thumb, a circuit is produced which allows the energy that would normally dissipate into the environment to travel back into the body and up to the brain.

When the fingers and hands are placed on the knees, the knees are sensitized, creating another pranic circuit that maintains and redirects prana within the body. In addition, placing the hands on the knees stimulates a nadi which runs from the knees, up the inside of the thighs and into the perineum. This nadi is known as gupta or the hidden nadi. Sensitising this channel helps stimulate the energies at mooladhara chakra.

When the palms face upward in chin mudra, the chest area is opened up. The practitioner may experience this as a sense of lightness and receptivity which is absent in the practice of jana mudra.


Jana and Chin mudras are often performed with the tip of the thumb and index fingers touching and forming a circle. Beginners may find this variation less secure for prolonged periods of meditation as the thumb and index finger tend to separate more easily when body awareness is lost. Otherwise, this variation is as effective as the basic position.

Practice note: 

The effect of chin or jana mudra is very subtle and it requires sensitivity on the part of the practitioner to perceive the change in consciousness established. With practice, however, the mind becomes conditioned to the mudra and when it is adopted the signal to enter a meditative state is transmitted.


The word jana means “wisdom” or “knowledge”, thus jana mudra is the gesture of intuitive knowledge. Chin on the other hand, is derived from the word chit or chitta which means “consciousness”. Chin mudra, therefore, is the psychic gesture of consciousness.

Symbolically, the small, ring and middle fingers represents the three gunas or qualities of nature; tamas - inertia; rajas – activity and creativity and sattwa , luminosity. In order for consciousness to pass from ignorance to knowledge these three states must be transcended. The index finger represents individual consciousness, the jivatma, while the thumb symbolizes supreme consciousness. In jana and chin mudras the individual (index finger) is bowing down to the supreme consciousness (the thumb), acknowledging its unsurpassed power. The index finger, however, is touching the thumb, symbolizing the ultimate unity of the two experiences and the culmination of yoga.
Source: Asana Panayama Mudra Bandha
By Swami Satyananda Saraswati of Bihar School of Yoga.


09 February, 2008


John GAY 1685 - 1732

A Turkey, tired of common food,
Forsook the barn, and sought the wood,
Behind her ran an infant train
Collecting here and there a grain.

'Draw near, my birds', the mother cries,
'This hill delicious fare supplies.
Behold the busy negro race--
See. millions blacken all the place!

Fear not; like me with freedom eat;
An eat is most delightful meat,
How blest, how envied, were our life
Could we but 'scape the poulter's knife!

But man, cursed man, on turkey preys
And Christmas shortens all our days.
Sometimes with oysters we combine,
Sometimes assist the savoury chine,
From the low peasant to the Lord,
The turkey smokes on every board.

Some men for gluttony are curst,
Of the seven deadly sins the worst.
An ant, who climbed beyond her reach,
Thus answer'd from a neighbouring beech;
'Ere you remark another's sin,
Bid they own conscience look within;
Control thy more voracious bill,
Nor, for a breakfast nations kill.'

-- John Gay


In a simple poem, Gay has well brought out the difficulty of analysing oneself. In his poem there was a turkey living in a barn. The turkey was tired of eating grains. One day is left the barn in search of different food. The young ones followed the mother bird. Soon they reached a hill. the hill was full of black ants. The turkey started devouring them. It persuaded its little ones to eat freely. For a breakfast they consumed millions of ants. The turkey was quite unaware of it. But at the same time, it criticised the gluttony of men. It cursed man for consuming turkey for christmas. Herein lies the paradox. The turkey accused man for destroying a bird once a year, whereas it was killing a nation of ants for a breakfast. The turkey was committing the same fault, a million times graver, yet was ignorant of it. The poet tries to drive home this problem of recognising one's own iniquity.

Here is a practical suggestion. The moment you find a defect in another remember to look within yourself. Understand, behind every flaw that you recognise in another you have the same perhaps far more pronounced in your own personality. Do not consume all your life merely criticising the flaws and failings of others.

"Judge not others" cautioned Christ. The energy you waste in judging others is just what you need to make you live up to your own ideals. Observing a small blemish in a person what a strong tendency people have to overlook all his good traits! In the present society each member concentrates his attention on the faults of another. What defiles a person is not what goes into him but what comes out of him.


04 February, 2008


Once in Persia reigned a king,
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance.
Solemn words, and these are they;
“Even this shall pass away.”

Trains of camels through the sand
Brought him gems from Samarcand;
Fleets of galleys through the seas
Brought him pearls to match with these;
But he counted not his gain
Treasures of the mine or main;
“What is wealth?” the king would say;
“Even this shall pass away.”

‘Mid the revels of his court,
At the zenith of his sport,
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests,
He, amid his figs and wine,
Cried, “O loving friends of mine;
Pleasures come, but not to stay;‘Even this shall pass away.’

Lady, fairest ever seen,
Was the bride he crowned his queen.
Pillowed on his marriage bed,
Softly to his soul he said:
“Though no bridegroom ever pressed
Fairer bosom to his breast,
Mortal flesh must come to clay –
Even this shall pass away.”

Fighting on a furious field,
Once a javelin pierced his shield;
Soldiers, with a loud lament,
Bore him bleeding to his tent.
Groaning from his tortured side,
Pain is hard to bear,” he cried;
“But with patience, day by day,Even this shall pass away.”

Towering in the public square,
Twenty cubits in the air,
Rose his statue, carved in stone.
Then the king, disguised, unknown,
Stood before his sculptured name,
Musing meekly: “What is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay;Even this shall pass away.”

Struck with palsy, sore and old,
Waiting at the Gates of Gold,
Said he with his dying breath,
“Life is done, but what is Death?”
Then, in answer to the king,
Fell a sunbeam on his ring,
Showing by a heavenly ray,
“Even this shall pass away.”

By Theodore Tilton

Commentary by Swami A Parthasarathy

Theodore Tilton presents the king of Persia as a picture of detachment.  The king carved a great maxim on his ring:  EVEN THIS SHALL PASS AWAY.  Rooted in the highest values of life, he lived a life of true renunciation.  He would not identify with the best or the worst of things that this world offered him.  The king was bountifully blessed with wealth and woman, name and fame.  He faced also the pangs of disease, decay and approaching death.  But all along he maintained his serenity and objectivity in life.

       The world is an admixture of fortune and misfortune, pleasure and pain, virtue and vice.  The inevitable pairs of opposites in life are inexhaustible.  Your mental equilibrium and intellectual equipoise should remain unaffected by these fluctuations.  You become established in that state by your attunement to higher values.

       The great king of Persia achieved that exalted state.

       Lessons we learn from this poem:

1]  Experience every aspects of your life fully.

2]  When you go on experiencing your life fully, thee is no lingering of past experiences.  This is called as sanyas or true meaning of detachment and this is ephemeral and goes away.  .