Dharana is the sixth limb of yoga sutras as defined by Patanjali. Dharana means “holding,” “concentration,” or “steady focus.” By practicing several techniques, “binding” the mind to one place, idea, or object is done.
There are a few practices which induce dharana. These practices are discussed hereunder:
Naumukhi mudra (closing the nine gates) –
In human body, there are nine gates through which one perceives all the sense and experience of the outside world. The tenth gate is ‘Brahma Dwara’ which leads to transcendental experience and realization. The tenth gate is closed. In Naumukhi mudra, these nine gates are closed temporarily which prevents external perception and helps to open tenth gate.
Process – Sit in siddhasana, keep the back straight but relaxed, close the eyes, do khechari mudra, place hands on the knees, exhale deeply & bend the head forwards slightly, fix the attention on the mooladhara chakra, repeat mooladhara mentally 3 times while holding the breath, inhale with ujjayi pranayama & simultaneously move awareness up the arohan, while moving up be aware of the various chakras, raise the head as awareness passes from vishuddhi to bindu, inhalation should be completed when awareness reaches the bindu, practice shanmukhi mudra by gently closing the ears with the thumbs, the eyes with both forefingers, the nostrils with the two middle fingers and lips with the fourth & fifth fingers, practice moolabandha without jalandhara bandha, practise vajroli mudra, at this stage all gates are closed, be aware of awarohan, try to visualise a shining copper trishul (trident) in the spine with the root in mooladhara chakra and three prongs extending upwards from vishuddhi chakra, continue to retain breath, central prong pierces bindu, as it pierces bindu mentally pronounce the mantra ‘bindu bhedan’ once, feel the explosion is in all directions from bindu, then the trident will drop downwards again to the starting position, feel rising & falling of trident, then release vajroli mudra, release moolabandha, release the pressure of the fingers & thumbs and lower the hands to the knees, exhale with ujjayi pranayama and khechari mudra while simultaneously moving the attention through the centres of awarohan, be aware of each centre, exhalation to end at mooladhara, hold the breath, bend head slightly forward, one round complete, practice five rounds.
Shakti chalini (conduction of prana) -
In Sanskrit the word ‘shakti’ means energy or kundalini and chalini means ‘to move’ or ‘to conduct’. The kriya is related to awakening of kundalini.
Process – Sit in comfortable asana, hold the back straight, close the eyes, keep the eyes closed throughout the entire practice, do khechari mudra, exhale deeply, bend heas forward, fix awareness on at mooladhara chakra, mentally pronounce the name mooladhara 3 times, inhale with ujjayi pranayama & ascend the awareness through arohan, be aware of each chakra, raise the head as the awareness moves from vishuddhi to bindu, inhalation to cease on reaching bindu, hold the breath, practice shanmukhi mudra, closing the eyes, ears, nose, lips with fingers & thumbs, allow the awareness to rotate in the continuous circle through awaroham and arohan, simultaneously try to visualize a thin green snake moving in the same closed loop (Moola to bindu & bindu to moola), continue to hold the breath, visualize the snake as bitting its own tail, be aware snake spin off the circuit, continue this visualization till comfortable, then release shanmukhi mudra and place hands on the knees, fix awareness on bindu, exhale with ujjayi pranayama while being aware of each centre, exhalation should terminate at mooladhara, lower the head forward, end first round, do 5 rounds.
Amrit Pan (Drinking the nectar) -
Amrit is the divine fluid which brings immortality. The amrit flows down from the bindu to the vishuddhi chakra. It is stored in a small chakra called lalana chakra located at the soft part of palate and back of the mouth. It is the area which is pressed by the tongue during khechari mudra. Lalana chakra is connected with vishuddhi chakra. Normally, amrit flows downward and consumed by the fire of sun at manipura chakra. It leads to aging of the body. The process is reversed by Vipreeta Kranti mudra and amrit pan kriya.
Process – sit in meditative asana, keep eyes closed, hold the back & head upright, do khechari, fix awareness at manipura chakra in the spine, exhale deeply, inhale with ujjayi and imagine amrit is drawn up from manipura chakra through anahata to vishuddhi, inhalation to end at vishuddhi, feel the fluid become ice cold, then exhale with ujjayi and feel the cool nectar being injected from vishuddhi to lalana chakra, when awareness reaches the lalana, feel the breath & nectar disperse & evaporate, return the awareness to manipura, end of first round, do 9 rounds.
Chakra Bhedan (Piercing the chakras or psychic centre) –
After the completing amrit pan, chakra dharna bhedan should be done.
Process – remain in sitting position, head upright facing forwards, keep eyes closed, continue khechari mudra, ujjayi pranayama throughout, exhale, fix the awareness on swadhisthana chakra in the spinal awarohan passage, then while inhaling move the awareness downwards from the swadhisthana chakra to the mooladhara chakra, then move upwards from swadhisthana to vishuddhi, be aware of each centre & feel them being pierced by the breath, inhalation ends at vishuddhi, start immediately exhalation with awareness moving upwards to bindu & descending through ajna to swadhisthana, exhalation ends at swadhisthana, one round complete, repeat, do 59 rounds.
Sushumna darshana (Inner visualization of the chakras) –
Sushumna indicates balance between heat & cool, sympathetic & parasympathetic and introversion & extroversion. It is only route to self-realization. It is the practice of inner visualization of symbolic pictures of the chakras. All the diagrams are only symbolic in nature. It is perfectly all right to use one’s own pictures. Process – sit in comfortable sitting pose, keep eyes closed, breathe normally, try to visualize mooladhara chakra diagram, then successively move to others chakras & reach to sahasrara, finally visualize all the chakras together or at least 2-3 chakras together, practice regularly.
Prana Ahuti (Infusing the divine prana) –
Prana is shakti. The food is split into smaller particles (molecules then atoms) at the level of annamaya kosha in the body. The process produces bioplasmic or physical energy. This type of prana is vital energy forming a sheath called collectively as pranamaya kosha. This energy exists in all living and non-living beings including physical universe. It links mind and matter and coordinates physical energy and matter. There is more subtle form of energy called as mental energy. It controls both physical and bioplasmic energies in the universe and its sheath is called as manomaya kosha. In human beings, it is in the form of thoughts. Prana exists at more subtle levels also. The prana is represented by multitude of deities such as durga, kali, etc. These deities are worshipped because of prana symbolized by these deities which bring either auspicious or inauspicious changes into one’s life.
Process – Remain sitting comfortably, keep eyes closed, breath normally, imagine that there is divine hand on the head, feel the soft touch, feel that the hand is infusing subtle prana into the body and mind, prana flowing through the spine, initially it will be imagination, later actual flow will be felt with tickling sensation, body may shake, eventually the prana will penetrate mooladhara, end of practice, continue the Uthan kriya.
Uthan (Raising the kundalini) –
The prana ahuti kriya is continued as Uthan kriya in the same sitting system. Fix the awareness on mooladhara chakra, try to clearly visualize a shivalingam in the area, the shivalingam is encircled by a red baby snake, the snake trying to uncoil and eventually it begins to ascend through spinal passage, tail of the snake remains at lingam, snake move up and down, continue the practice, one may feel the bliss, end of practice, continue next kriya Swaroopa darshana.
Swaroopa Darshana (Vision of ourself):
In yoga, one’s real nature or form is called the atma. It is the discovery and direct perception of the self that is the whole purpose of yoga.
Process – Sit comfortably, keep eyes closed, body should be motionless, become aware of the physical body, let there be total, uninterrupted perception of the whole body, feel the steadiness of the body and stillness, become aware of the natural breath, gradually the body will become rigid as all the muscles are frozen, every part of the body will become stiff, feel stiffer and stiffer, psychic stiffness also, no efforts are required for the stiffness which is done automatically. Now move to next kriya – Linga Sanchalana.
Linga Sanchalana (Astral conduction):
Continue Swaroopa darshana kriya, keep awareness of kriya, one should find that he is doing spontaneous, effortless ujjayi pranayama and khechari mudra, feel whole body & in turn every part, every cell is inhaling and exhaling; continue to imagine the process, notice that the body seems to expand with every inhalation and contract on every exhalation, at the same time, the physical body remain stiff & immovable as a stone statue, actually the astral body is expanding & contracting, be aware of this process, synchronized with breathing, expansion takes place to a constant limit, but contraction is becoming more and more, until eventually the astral body reduces to a single point of light, the whole being seems to contract to one tiny, concentrated point, when one have this experience, discontinue this kriya. Now move to next kriya – Dhyana (Meditation).
The purpose of this article is just to highlight importance of kriya yoga and to guide “how to do Kriya”. Kriya yoga is a system that has always been taught directly by guru to disciple.
Chidakasha Dharana -
Chidakasha means in Sanskrit is inner cosmos; Chit means consciousness; Akasha means space; Dharna means to concentrate or to be aware. It is powerful tool for helping to remove mental blocks, fear etc. The practice should be regularly done for at least about half an hour.