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Swara Yoga - Part 1: Essence Of The Breath

Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati

One branch of yoga about which little has been revealed today is swara yoga. The word
'swa' means one's own self, while 'swara' means the breath and pertains to the sound of the
breath. Therefore swara yoga is the science of one's own breath.

But why should the breath be so important that a science could have developed from it?
Many philosophers, and scientists agree that in the act of breathing, cosmic energies are
drawn into the body. Thus the breath becomes the intermediate link between man and the
universe, between the gross and subtle realms of existence. Tantra teaches us that
whatever exists in the macrocosm exists in the microcosm. So, the individual body is but a
replica of the cosmic body, the breath being the mediator of the two.

It is written in the Swara Shastras that analysis and manipulation of the breath brings the
consciousness into the transcendental realms and ultimately to enlightenment. However,
before this can take place, there is a particular sadhana which has to be perfected dealing
with the fundamental functions of the breath. The science of swara explains the significance
of the energy pulsing through the body and how to directly utilise, control and equalise the
force by the medium of the breath. When control is established and every aspect of man's
being works in perfect harmony, a greater power than mere physical energy can be
manifested.

Philosophical significance of the breath

The Tantra Shastras and Upanishads state that the subtle life giving energy called prana,
and the mental energy of consciousness which is chitta, are absorbed into the body by
means of inspiration. The breath is also referred to as the vehicle of the cosmic energy
known as Shiva or Brahman according to the Taittitya, Brahmana and Maitri Upanishads. In
the Prashnopanishad (Ch. 3) it says that: "Prana springs from the Atman and is as
inseparable from the self as a shadow from he who casts the shadow."

Even in the Bible (Gen. 2 :10) it is written : "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of
the ground and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, he became a living soul." This
implies that the physical body has been given consciousness and energy through the breath.
The breath itself, being imparted by the cosmic self, thus contains the cosmic force.

Taoism also expresses the same view that "by meditating on the breath, the cosmic deities
or forces can be seen manifested inside the body. By sustaining oneself on the breath rather
than on coarse food, one can be purified and strengthened. Thus the consciousness is able
to ascend to the heavens where eternal life is experienced by the body and the soul."

In the Swara Shastras it is written that if the breath can be analysed and its significance
understood, deeper knowledge of the cosmos will unfold and the knowledge of the Vedas
can be realised. These shastras declare that the science of swara was first imparted by Lord
Shiva to his disciple Parvati, saying that in all the seven lokas he knew 'no greater wisdom
or treasure than swara.' Shiva is the guru representing pure consciousness while Parvati
symbolises the individual consciousness, or jiva. This implies that the individual
consciousness can perceive cosmic consciousness by means of swara.

Accordingly, it is said that the breath, carrying both prana (vital energy) and chitta
(consciousness) vibrates from the force of these energies and sound is thereby produced.
The Yoga Chudamani Upanishad (V. 31-33) explains that: "The breath goes out making the
sound Ham and comes in producing the sound of So. The jiva is therefore repeating the
mantra Hamso continually 21,000 times, twenty four hours a day. This is called ajapa japa."
If one listens carefully to his breath he may hear the sound of Hamso or Soham. Further,
the Upanishads declare that constant awareness of this japa of the breath can free man
from all karmas. So this is the philosophical significance of the power of swara.

Prana - light of the ages

All the ancient texts refer to the subtle and vital life giving force called prana, which is
described as being similar in nature to lightning. Solely due to prana, the whole universe
exists and without its presence no creature can live. Although prana exists in the air and in
all forms of matter, it is neither of the two. Nor is prana the breath, but it is contained within
the breath, being a part of the swara.

Prana maintains all organic life. Just as a battery stores electrical energy, so it is essential
for every organism to store prana in order to enable activity and mobility. By practising
swara yoga, the store of prana can be increased, thereby activating the latent areas of the
brain. Swara yoga directly controls the input and output of prana, enabling us to regulate
our whole physiological system.

During the last half of this century, many renowned scientists have been delving into the
nature of this pranic phenomenon, and it seems that they have finally come up with a
feasible explanation. Recent studies have shown the atmosphere to be charged with
electromagnetic ions from which all organisms absorb vital energy essential for
preservation. The functioning of these ions has been observed to correlate with the ancient
yogic concept of prana. Therefore, in order to help us understand swara yoga, the study of
prana and its control, let us examine the theory of ions.

Electromagnetic fields and ions

It appears that the equivalent of pranic transmission can be found in the electromagnetic
fields emanating from throughout the body. These are referred to by scientists and doctors
as a type of bio-energy or bio-electricity. As early as the 18th century, Luigi Galvani
observed the existence of energy fields when he wired up a frog's leg to two conducting
rods, and witnessed the energy that pulsated between them. Discovery of Kirlian
photography has enabled scientists to actually see the corona of these fields.

Today we are all aware of electric currents flowing through wire cables, but this energy has
been artificially harnessed by man. Primarily, energy is inherent in the atmosphere, which
geophysicists have only recently begun to explore. Although the discovery of
electromagnetic ions has revived interest in the ancient science of swara yoga, the rishis
who first developed this science were well aware of the principles of energy fields without
requiring the aid of modern technology.
The advent of outer space exploration has brought science's attention to electromagnetic
fields in the atmosphere which are conducted by the earth. These fields consist of positively
and negatively charged fragments of molecules known as ions, upon which life is dependent
for producing energy. A negative ion has the charge of one electron, and a positive ion the
charge of one proton. Of the two, negative ions are the most active electrically.

Negative ions are produced by solar radiations in the upper layers of the atmosphere and
are attracted towards the earth by positive ions. During their descent they become trapped
by oxygen or nitrogen particles and thereby unite with them. As we breathe, our cells are
automatically energised by the electrical charges of these ions in the air.

In this way we can visualise the earth as an enormous magnet, generating electromagnetic
fields from its opposite poles. The northern and eastern hemispheres are positively charged
while the southern and western hemispheres are negatively charged. These fields both
attract and repulse ions, causing a current of movement around the terrestrial plane. Only
recently these fields were found to vibrate through the physical body also, creating a flow of
energy from one organ to the other.

Positive and negative poles

The body also assumes electromagnetic properties and can be divided into opposite poles.
According to yogic texts, the upper part of the body corresponds to the positive, northern
pole and the lower part to the negative, southern pole. The right side and back portions are
also positive poles and the left and frontal portions are negative poles.

This is well illustrated by a case reported in an American theosophical journal concerning a


ten year old boy from Minnesota whose body developed definite magnetic qualities. The
doctors were amazed to witness lightweight metallic objects attracted to his left side, and in
particular to his left hand, while the right side of his body remained unaffected. Of course,
to the yogi, this is not strange. He is aware of prana entering through the left side,
especially the left hand, drawing magnetic substances towards it, and the right side of the
body expelling and repelling. Ordinarily, however, the current is not so strong.

These positive and negative charges of energy are the basis of swara yoga. The ancient
rishis called the negative flow ida and the positive flow pingala. By controlling these
currents, modern technology has developed the means of generating enormous amounts of
electrical energy and even the ability to artificially ionise the air.

Similarly, the rishis of yore knew the techniques to channelize bio-energy or prana
throughout the body. Just as electrical power is at our disposal by connecting a switch to the
main power line, so the rishis knew how to connect the switches and circuits of energy in
the body. They understood that the flow of energy, whether internal or external, is
constantly being circulated from the more highly charged to the lesser charged centres in
order to create a balance between the positive and negative poles. Swara yoga teaches us
to manipulate the flow of breath through the nostrils, thereby controlling the energy
switches in our own body which regulate the flow of positive and negative currents. It is by
balancing these two poles of energy that the yogi brings about the awakening of kundalini,
the high powered generator which illumines the fabulous, hitherto unexplored areas of the
brain responsible for all of man's ingenuity, higher knowledge and self-realization.
Swara Yoga - Part 2: Transmuting cosmic energy

Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati

For millennia yogis have been telling us that man's being extends far beyond what the
naked eye can perceive. Of course we are aware of the empirical body and mind through
our capacity to think and cognize. But man is more than intellect; he is more than a mass of
matter. If we were able to experience the nature of the body through our subtle eyes, what
would we see? The swara yogis discovered that within man's physical structure is an
underlying network of positive/ negative energy currents which are responsible for all the
activities of the body and mind. Prana shakti is the positive energy which gives life and
motivates all the vital functions, and manas shakti gives rise to the conscious aspects and
stimulates the mental faculties. Though these twin energies have their own unique
properties, neither of them can operate independently. Wherever life or prana manifests
there is also consciousness or mind, and vice versa. Desires spring from the mind, and
inevitably lead to action. This constant interplay of forces animates the body and mind with
life.

Pranic air currents

According to swara yoga, the positive/negative energy structure motivates the various
physical functions of the body by means of pranic air currents, or prana vayus. The ten
vayus regulate the distribution of energy throughout the body. Of these, the five major
vayus, namely prana, apana, samana, udana and vyana, have the most influence.

Firstly, the prana vayu, situated in the thoracic region, absorbs incoming air elements and
creates upward oscillations of energy. The opposite action of apana causes energy to
oscillate downwards for the elimination of urine and faeces and the secretion of hormones in
the reproductive organs. Energy production begins with prana vayu and ends with apana. In
between are various intermediate stages which are determined by the primary action of
prana and apana.

The next vayu is samana, which stimulates assimilation of nutrients in the digestive tract.
Udana vayu manifests in the throat and face, allowing swallowing and facial expression. The
fifth major vayu, vyana, regulates all physical movement by controlling the circulation of
food and nutrients throughout the body.

Of all the vayus, prana and apana are exceedingly powerful, and their effects dominate over
all the other stages of energy production. In fact, in the Upanishads and other yogic texts it
is written that when the opposing actions of prana and apana are united, all the other vayus
are automatically harmonized.

Positive/negative ions affect all life

The rishis explained that the positive/negative energy charges in the atmosphere and body
invigorate the ten vayus and invoke particular physiological and psychological responses.
Recent scientific research has come to the same conclusion. Investigators exposed healthy,
dynamic people to an environment with a high positive ion content and found that this
caused lethargy and drowsiness. Some subjects even complained of severe headaches or
respiratory congestion. Prolonged exposure to positive ions produced euphoria and mental
agitation. On the other hand, after exposure to a high concentration of negative ions,
physical and mental capacities were revitalized and invigorated.

In other investigations, scientists kept plants and animals in an atmosphere of low ionization
which resulted in inhibition of their proper growth. When the ions were completely removed
from the air, the creatures died. This indicates that as well as stimulating particular body
functions, a certain degree of ionization is required just to uphold life.

The influence of positive/negative charges is clearly seen in the effects of our technological
civilization on human behaviour. Ecologists have pointed out that the pollution created by
modern technology is destroying essential negative ions, thus unnaturally overbalancing
positive ionization and causing an ever rising rate of physical and mental depression. This
has led scientists in Europe, America and the Soviet Union to devise ionizing machines for
rebalancing the ionic charges in the atmosphere. In fact, the use of ionizers has become so
widespread that they are starting to be considered essential for survival in the urban
environment.

The invention of such a machine has one very significant implication. Modern science has
been able to define the laws of energy in relation to the macro-cosmos very precisely.
However, rather than depending on machinery for survival, we can learn from swara yoga to
utilize the same energy principles in relation to our own inner environment. It is possible to
live in total harmony just by manipulating our own physical energy to coincide with the
rhythms of nature, thereby deepening our knowledge of ourselves and the whole cosmos.

The nose: a pranic bio-detector

We have established that biological sustenance is dependent upon breathing. Many yogic
texts support this conclusion. Perhaps the clearest reference is in the second chapter of the
Hatha Yoga Pradipika (v.3), which declares that: "As long as breathing continues, life exists;
when the breath departs, so too does life. Therefore regulate the breath." So where do we
begin regulating our breath? The nose is a good place to start, because it is relatively easy
to manipulate the flow of air through the nostrils. For this reason, swara yoga - begins with
the examination of air flow in the nose.

The nose is very significant, for at the root of the nasal cavity is a uniquely designed prana-
detecting device. This is a thin, perforated bone, known in medical terminology as the
cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone. Within these perforations the minute filaments of the
olfactory nerve reside. They relay information to the brain concerning the constituents of the
air. When electrically charged ions contact these filaments, the brain and main nervous
system automatically become energized. This charging travels to the limbic system of the
brain, in which perception is transformed into experience. So breathing directly affects our
emotional responses to life, and conversely the arousal of different emotions is reflected in
the breath. If one breathes through the mouth, the entire air mass and prana travel straight
down the trachea without stimulating the brain and nervous system. Therefore the
activation of the entire nervous system is dependent on nasal breathing.

Processing ions in the body


Once the air elements have been detected in the nasal cavity, they are then processed by
the lungs. In order to fully utilize the air elements in the body a certain chemical breakdown
has to take place, otherwise it is something like filling a sports car with unrefined diesel fuel
and expecting top running performance.

Negative ions are the body's energizers because they act as catalysts for the ionization and
oxygenation of the blood, and the release of carbon dioxide from the bloodstream They also
aid in the generation of heat for stabilizing body temperature. Then, after being assimilated
into the blood, they facilitate digestion through further chemical breakdown in the digestive
tract. Therefore, if there is a predominance of positive ions, the combustion process is
retarded. Thus the body thermostat lowers, oxygenation and ionization of the blood
decrease, and poor digestion results. Ultimately, proper functioning of the entire body is
inhibited. This pattern of energy distribution from organ to organ shows how the various
prana vayus are affected by the positive and negative energies in the body.

The cosmic code

During inhalation, the body registers and adapts itself to the conditions of the universe, and
during exhalation information is sent back into the cosmos describing the state of the
internal environment. But the messages transmitted between the two realms are in a code.
The swara yogi knows how to decipher this code by sharpening his awareness and gaining
control over the incoming cosmic force. When you realize the significance of breathing
through the right and left nostrils, you will experience the body and mind as mere
instruments of the cosmic energy. And when you breathe rhythmically to the syncopation of
nature's tune, it will not only lead to your own personal benefit, but also to the realization
that every speck of creation is a tiny fragment of one massive organism. Therefore each
individual's conscious effort can aid the healthy and harmonious evolution of the whole
organism.
Swara Yoga - Part 3: Triune Energy Principle

Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati

Philosophy and science have proven that nature's creation exists essentially due to the
transmutation and transmission of energy. This understanding has enabled twentieth
century technology to produce enormous quantities of energy to activate cities all around
the globe, which form the mainstay of our modern culture. Similarly, in ancient days, the
rishis knew how to manipulate their body's energy so that it could be boosted and utilised
for accelerating the evolution of their consciousness.

We can see this natural law of energy transmutation operating on a large scale in our
modern day power plants. Nuclear, hydraulic and thermal power stations all use the
pressure of rapidly flowing water or rising steam to rotate turbines encompassed in a
magnetic field. Thereby energy is released and collected in accumulators. Energy production
in the body is based on the same principle. The rishis described how the organs are
surrounded by a pranic field, and how respiration generates movement in them via pranic
air currents. The energy produced is stored in the main plexuses along the spinal column,
which are known as chakras.

Once electrical energy has been accumulated, it can only be released in specific voltages for
conduction along suitable wire cabling. In the case of the body, the channels into which
energy is released are called nadis. No matter whether the energy is passing along wires or
nadis, it has a threefold quality of being either positive, negative or neutral. The channels
themselves also take on the characteristics of the particular energy which is flowing through
them.

Nadis, the energy pathways

In the Varahopanishad (v.54-5) it is stated that: "Nadis penetrate the body from the soles of
the feet to the crown of the head, carrying prana, the breath of life, in which abides the
atman, and the source of shakti, the animator of all the worlds." This vast network contains
innumerable nadis; references in the Goraksha Satarka and Hatha Yoga Pradipika place their
number at 72,000 while the Shiva Samhita states that there are a total of 350,000 nadis
emerging from the navel. Regardless of the exact number, these pathways are always
depicted as thin threads like those in the lotus stem, hanging down off the supporting spinal
column. In fact, the anatomy of the nervous system as described by medical science shows
a definite correlation with the descriptions of the nadis as recorded by the ancient yogis.

Recently, the network of nadis has been literally interpreted as being identical with the
nervous system. But the Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads clearly explain that the
nadis are entirely subtle in nature. The word 'nadi' comes from the Sanskrit root 'nad',
which refers to the resonating vibrations in a hollow tube.

The existence of the pranic network of nadis is not only a yogic concept. Scientific
investigations have shown that stable voltages of electromagnetic currents are emitted from
all living creatures in almost exact alignment to the nervous chain. For example, Dr. R.
Becker of New York, in a 5 year study, measured and analysed the electrical emissions from
the cells lining the exterior walls of the peripheral nerves. He found that a constant current
is always being conducted, even though the nerves themselves only react when they are
stimulated.

This energy travelling within the nervous system is functionally equivalent to pranic
transmission; however, we cannot say that the nervous and pranic systems are in direct
correspondence. Science is limited in its scope to what can be measured or analyse on an
empirical basis. If we cut open the body, we can see the right and left sympathetic chain but
we won't see the subtle nadis conducting energy. Also, various scriptural references seem to
indicate that the nadis may have many other functions beyond those of the nervous system.

The Shiva Swarodaya says that out of the thousands of nadis, ten are most significant
because they are the connections to the 'doorways' leading in and out of the body. Seven of
these nadis have lesser influence. They are: gandhari, connecting to the left eye; hastijihva,
connecting to the right eye; pusha, connecting to the right ear; yashaswini, connecting to
the left ear; alambusha, connecting to the mouth; kuhu, connecting to the reproductive
organs; and shankhini, connecting to the rectum.

Paramount importance is given to the three main channels - ida, pingala and sushumna,
which correspond to the parasympathetic, sympathetic and cerebrospinal nervous systems
of medical science. These channels have great significance because they are the conductors
of the negative, positive and neutral energies.

The negative energy channel

The Swara Shastras describe the negative transmission through ida as the flow of chitta, the
mental energy of consciousness. Because the lunar force is said to pass along this channel,
it is also called chandra nadi. Ida acts to quieten and cool the body, and its functions
correspond to the parasympathetic nervous system.

Ida rules the left side of the body, as it emanates from the left side of the sacro-coccygeal
plexus and terminates at the root of the left nostril. From its starting point in the base of the
spine, ida spirals upwards, intersecting the vertebral column in the four main plexuses, or
chakras. Stimulation of ida nadi, therefore, injects all these centres with negative charges.

Both ida and the parasympathetic system have a pacifying influence on the body and the
mind. They introvert and conserve energy for the activation of the visceral organs,
promoting enzyme secretion in the digestive tract, increasing peristalsis and emptying the
bladder. Through these systems the mental awareness introverts and identification with the
ego lessens, enabling the arousal of mental creativity, psychic ability, submission, and other
such spiritual virtues. This introversion of the mind happens automatically as ida nadi
constricts the pupils and adjusts the lens to bring objects at close range into focus, thus
decreasing external input to the visual cortex of the brain. By controlling the flow of air in
the left nostril, one can excite or pacify ida, thus establishing conscious control over the
negative energy in the body.

The positive energy channel

The dualistic counterpart to ida is pingala. It is the transmitter of prana or positive energy
from the sun, and therefore is also known as surya (sun,) nadi. Pingala emerges exactly
opposite to ida on the right side of the sacro-coccygeal plexus and terminates at the root of
the right nostril. Thus it has dominion over the right side of the body. Pingala also spirals up
the vertebral column, intersecting ida at the four main plexuses, and positively energising
these centres.

The functions of pingala coincide with those of the sympathetic system by extroverting vital
energy and mental awareness, and encouraging the sense of ego. This coincides with the
release of adrenalin into the bloodstream, and the consequent acceleration of the heartbeat.
The blood vessels in the skin and digestive tract are constricted, causing the blood to be
diverted into superficial muscles and organs of action, and slowing peristaltic movement.
The pupils are also dilated, allowing a broader range of vision and an increase in the
quantity of impressions received by the brain. The awareness is spontaneously eternalised.
To consciously control all these functions one need only manipulate the flow of air through
the right nostril.

Convergence of ida and pingala

So far we have divided the body into two separate divisions, right and left, positive and
negative. In the middle where the adjoining sides meet is an energy field where the two
forces become neutralised. This is the domain of sushumna nadi. Sushumna runs straight
through the centre of the vertebral column, corresponding in position and function to the
cerebrospinal nervous system.

Sushumna also emanates from the sacro-coccygeal plexus along with ida and pingala, but
instead of spiralling upwards, it follows a straight course, piercing all the main plexuses. In
man's present state of evolution, sushumna is dormant in nearly everybody. Sometimes
there is a slight flow of energy, but the power is very weak. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (ch.2,
v.4) explains that this nadi remains dormant "owing to the impurities of the nadis". Once
sushumna is opened and the energies of ida and pingala are united through the middle
passage, then sushumna becomes the governing power. While sushumna is in a state of
inertia, all the other subordinate nadis fall under the positive/negative influence of ida and
pingala. While the breath is flowing through the left or the right nostril, either ida or pingala
is dominant. However, the balanced flow of breath through both nostrils establishes perfect
harmony between the energies, and indicates that sushumna is ready to accommodate the
great power of the kundalini shakti.

Symbolism of the triune energy

Quantum physics has shown the basis of matter to be energy. Energy can take many
different forms, and the three energies enable nature, or prakriti, to create diverse
manifestations. Within each manifestation one of the energies predominates, and
determines the particular characteristics of that manifestation. Therefore the positive,
negative and neutral aspects of the three nadis can be related to many other energy
manifestations in gross and subtle realms.

Ida Pingala Sushumna

negative positive neutral

feminine masculine neuter

yin yang tao


moon sun fire

night day -

cold hot temperate

nectar poison -

space time matter

mental vital supramental

chitta prana kundalini shakti

desire action knowledge

consiousness activity bliss

subconscious conscious unconscious

passive aggressive centred

parasympathetic sympathetic cerebrospinal

subjectivity objectivity -

Yamuna Ganga Saraswati


vishwa (universal creation) tejas (fire) pragya (intuition)

white red black

Brahma Vishnu Rudra

sattva rajas tamas

A U M

Sushumna is subtler than ida and pingala, but it also contains within it the three qualities of
tamas, rajas and sattva. The deeper you go into sushumna, the more refined it becomes,
until you reach the centre which is beyond all three gunas. The exterior superstructure of
sushumna is related to tamas, for it is inert. Within this lies vajra nadi, relating to rajas, and
within that again is chittra nadi, relating to sattva. Deeper still is the subtlest nadi, brahma
nadi, and that is the pathway through which the consciousness is led to Brahman. The aim
of swara yoga, and the other different yogas, is to activate all the layers of sushumna nadi
by uniting ida and pingala, the dualistic aspects of man's nature and energy, so that his
consciousness may be expanded from its present limited state.

Swara Yoga - Part 4: Rhythmic Flow of the Swara

Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati

The majority of people take breathing for granted without realising that it is the most
significant and systematic of biological functions. If these people were to read the swara
shastras they would be amazed to learn that the breath flows mainly through one nostril at
a time. In these texts it explains how each nostril stays open for a period of one ghatika, or
60 minutes, although other sources give the duration to be 90 minutes. The breath flowing
in the right nostril is known as the right swara and the flow in the left nostril is called the
left swara. The cycles alternate rhythmically throughout the day and night, representing the
domination of ida/pingala nadis or the negative/positive influxes of energy and attitude. At
the end of each cycle, the breath flows evenly for 1-3 minutes. This signals the period when
the energy is neither negative nor positive but neutral, and sushumna nadi is flowing.

These ancient teachings correspond remarkably well with the findings of modern
neurophysiologists and neuroanatomists. Investigations into the structure of the brain have
revealed that it does not function as a single unit, but as a combination of two bilateral
hemispheres. The hemispheres are linked by a thin membrane called the corpus callosum,
which conducts energy between them.

The right hemisphere has been found to govern the functioning of the left side of the body,
and operates in conjunction with ida nadi. Conversely, the left hemisphere connects to the
right side of the body and relates to pingala nadi. Researchers postulate that breathing
through the right nostril directly stimulates the left hemisphere and breathing through the
left nostril activates the right hemisphere.

Neurophysiologists have found that the brain hemispheres actually do alternate in activity
every 60-90 minutes just as stated in the shastras. Also, after each cycle is completed,
nerve impulses are discharged in the corpus callosum for approximately 4 minutes. This
corresponds to the period when the swara flows evenly through sushumna. Furthermore,
the active hemisphere stimulates the corresponding nostril into operation. Therefore, one
nostril remains open while the other is slightly blocked, and this is known in physiology as
'alternate rhinitis'. Thus, through the study of the brain hemispheres, scientists have
confirmed the descriptions of the alternating positive/negative cycles given in the swara
shastras.

These investigations have also shown that during the first half of the cycle, the energy
gradually builds up to a peak during which the body and mind become acutely alert and
sensitive. After this stage the energy declines for the remaining 30-45 minutes. People who
suffer from chronic illnesses may find that they undergo attacks of pain or disturbance
during this energy peak. For example, epileptics have been observed to convulse mainly at
this particular time.

Discovery of this important link between the brain mechanisms and the breath leads us to
wonder whether man is actually responsible for any of his actions, or is just reacting to pre-
programmed computer circuits installed in the brain. The answer to this question is given in
the Yoga Chudamani Upanishad, which describes how the individual consciousness (jiva) is
pulled by the action of the breath. It is also explained in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (4:21)
that: "He who has controlled his breath has also controlled the activities of the mind and
controlling the mental activities controls the breath."

Cycles of the sun, moon and breath


Modern researchers have investigated the science of the breath and its influence on the
mind, but they have not yet recognised that the nadis and the breath are linked to the
movements of the sun and moon, which was well known to the ancient seers. It has been
recorded in the Pawana Vijaya Swarodaya that during the dark fortnight of the lunar cycle,
when the moon is waning, surya nadi (pingala) becomes active at sunrise on days 1-3, 7-9
and 13-15. The nadis function alternately in 60-90 minute intervals throughout the day and
at sunset chandra nadi (ida) begins to function. Then, on days 4-6 and 10-12 chandra nadi
flows at sunrise, and surya nadi at sunset. During the bright fortnight, when the moon is
waxing, the reverse process takes effect; at sunrise on the first 3 days, chandra nadi opens,
and so on. The breath should be checked at these times to make sure that the appropriate
nadi is functioning.

Synchronising the swara

If the right or left swara happens to function out of rhythm with the solar/lunar cycles, then
any one of the following methods can be used to synchronise the breath:

1. Close the active nostril and breathe through the inactive nostril for a few minutes.

2. Inhale through the active nostril and exhale through the inactive nostril.

3. Apply pressure to the armpit on the same side as the active nostril. After some time the opposite
nostril will become activated. For this purpose, the yogis have a stick called the yoga danda which
they rest in the armpit.

4. Lie on the same side as the active nostril. In this position you can also use any of the first three
methods.

5. The external environment also influences nasal activity. Washing the body or just the face in
extremely hot or cold water automatically changes the breath flow.

6. The type of food consumed will affect the nadis. Foods which heat the body, such as cayenne
pepper, ginger and honey, directly stimulate surya nadi, while foods that cool the system, such as
ghee and bananas, activate chandra nadi.

Counterbalancing the overstressed nadi

The state of our body and mind is reflected in the alternation of the breath cycles. If either
nadi predominates for too long, this is a sign that one of the branches of the autonomic
nervous system is being over stressed, and only one of the brain hemispheres is being fully
utilised. The physical and mental energies are unbalanced, the personality is only half
developed, and sickness of some type is inevitable. In order to avoid this situation, there
must be regular alternation of nasal activities.

The type of sickness which occurs indicates which nadi and energy has been flowing
excessively. Many problems resulting from poor digestion, such as flatulence, indigestion,
diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera and dyspepsia, as well as respiratory disorders and male
impotence, are associated with excessive flow of ida.
On the other hand, such stress related problems as hypertension, acidity and ulcers arise
from the over-activation of pingala.

The Shiva Swarodaya states that for good health and long life the sadhaka or yoga aspirant
should maximise the flow of ida during the day and the flow of pingala at night. This
counterbalances the natural tendency of the body to become overheated during the day,
and overly cool at night, and can easily be accomplished at night by sleeping on the left
side. Now, research into this subject has revealed that incorrect sleeping position is an
important factor contributing to many physical disturbances.

An investigation carried out in India by doctors showed that out of 48 dyspeptic patients,
2/3 slept on their right side as opposed to their left. The control group consisted of 7
healthy people who normally slept on the left side. When they were made to sleep on the
right side, after one week they began to show signs of sluggish digestion. When they were
allowed to resume their left sided sleeping position, their stomach disorders were rectified.
Another survey of asthmatic patients showed that 7 out of 10 slept on their backs. Even if
we do not suffer from any chronic physical ailments, we can benefit most by sleeping on the
left side.

Once any disorder has set in, a change in the flow of the breath can bring some relief. If
there is too much heat in the body, lying on the right side can help cool it and conversely,
when the body is cold, lying on the left side can help warm it. During a fever, the active
nostril can be blocked to balance the temperature.

Before the onset of any disease, the flow of the swara becomes disturbed, and if this is
noted beforehand, the imbalance can be rectified and the sickness averted. Asthmatics
feeling an attack coming on, can block the active nostril to help prevent or lessen the
severity of the attack. Those who suffer from headaches should check their digestion, make
sure they sleep on the left side, and when the headache occurs, block the active nostril.

Swara yoga and pranayama

Yoga talks about merging and harmonising, because that is the very meaning of the word.
Swara yoga, therefore, brings about a state of total harmony through mediating the flow of
the breath. How exactly is this to be accomplished?

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2:10) suggests a particular method of breathing so that all
aspects of the body become balanced: "If the air is inhaled through the left nostril, it should
be retained and then expelled through the right, and again inhaled through the right nostril,
retained and exhaled through the left. Breathing through alternate nostrils rids the whole
nadi system of impurities" and directly stimulates the brain hemispheres. This practice is
called nadi shodhana pranayama. Thus, swara yoga also involves the practice of pranayama.

Swara is the breath, and prana is an essential factor of swara; therefore, the swara yogi will
need to utilise the practices of pranayama. But pranayama should not be confused with
swara yoga. Pranayama is primarily concerned with increasing prana through breath
retention, whereas swara yoga is concerned with the nature of inhalation and exhalation.
The practice of pranayama enables the swara yogi to directly influence and attune his
awareness to the nature of his swara.
Swara Yoga - Part 5: Reading the 'Daily Breath'

Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati


If people can spend so much time reading newspapers and magazines which contribute little
towards the evolution of their consciousness, then surely they can afford to spend a little
time reading their own breath. The information gained in this way will be even more useful
in the course of their daily affairs. According to the Shiva Swarodaya, within each breath
there are hidden signs which can guide us in our daily life, and even enable us to become
aware of the past and future.

Reading the breath first requires the ability to recognize the active nostril and nadi. In order
to do this, exhale into the palm of the hand, and you will feel a stronger air current from the
open nostril. Another way to identify the active side is to close one nostril and breathe out
through the other, listening to the difference in the pitch of the sounds. The deeper pitch
indicates the open nostril, and the higher pitch indicates the non-active, blocked side.

Secondly, one will have to keep in mind the specific times when ida/pingala are meant to be
active; thirdly, how to regulate the flow of the nostrils and the nadis if they happen to be
active at unspecified times; and fourthly, which particular types of work and swara yoga
practices are consonant with the activities of each nadi.

Working in harmony with the swara

We already know the specific times when the nadis should function, and how to adjust their
flow. Now we need to find out what work can best be done at these times. During the period
when a particular nadi and brain hemisphere are active, the body and mind automatically
fall under their influence, and are attracted to certain types of activities.

The right hemisphere, like ida, is sensitive to the vibrational realm of existence, which is not
tangible or perceptible to any of the external senses. Orientation in space takes place here,
and all information is processed in a diffuse manner. In the left hemisphere, which is
associated with pingala, information is processed sequentially, logically, analytically and
mathematically, enabling rational thought and speech. Here the awareness and body energy
are extroverted so that mechanical and physical tasks can be accomplished.

On the basis of this principle, the swara shastras advise one to first read his breath and then
act accordingly. The flow of ida indicates that the time is suitable for drinking water,
urinating, travelling, getting out of bed, doing work of a calm, silent and artistic nature.
Business can be negotiated successfully, and buildings inaugurated. Those in senior
positions can be approached; religious practices, mantra sadhana, consulting the guru,
marriages and all forms of initiation can be performed. One can settle disagreements, meet
or make friends, or give charity. This time is most fruitful for scientific research, preparing
or taking medicines, gardening, agriculture, and for women to conceive.

During the flow of pingala the body is heated and energetic, so it is an advantageous time
for physical activity, dynamic forms of sadhana, challenging ventures, risky and heroic feats,
warfare, intellectual study and work, eating and evacuating the bowels, and for men to
engage in sexual intercourse.

When the breath flows evenly through both nostrils, and sushumna is active, it is better to
do work which does not require maximum mental or physical effort. The flow of sushumna is
beneficial only for spiritual sadhana and not for material gain. Yogis try to prolong and
induce the flow of sushumna so that energy can travel up this nadi to invigorate the higher
centres of the brain. If sushumna flows for an excessively long period of time, one should be
ready to experience an altered state of consciousness. If sushumna should flow continuously
for days together without any external inducement, it is an indication that the consciousness
is about to depart from the physical body.

Putting the best foot forward

When one has understood and observed the flow of his swara, then he can apply further
practices so that each daily affair meets with the most success. Therefore, in the swara
shastras certain recommendations are given:

On waking from sleep, determine which nostril is open. Touch that nostril and side of the face with
the corresponding hand.

Step out of bed on the foot that corresponds to the active nostril; make sure to place that foot on
the ground first. If pingala is active, walk starting with the right foot towards the east or north. If
ida is active walk with the left foot first towards the west or south. (Perhaps this explains the
significance of 'getting out of bed on the wrong side'.)

When commencing a journey, before leaving the house or city, start with the foot that corresponds
to the active nostril.

If you wish to amiably approach a person, especially one with whom you tend to have some conflict,
start towards him with the same foot as the active nostril. Then, during your interactions with the
person, keep the inactive side towards him.

When giving orders, face the person from the active side.

When accepting or offering something, use the hand corresponding to the active nostril.

Decrease the breath, increase the life

The swara yogis not only analyzed the breath in relation to the flow of the three main nadis.
They also studied the nature of each and every breath. An average person breathes 15
times per minute, 900 times per hour or 21,600 times per day. Furthermore, according to
these yogis, the length of a person's lifespan is predetermined by a certain allocated
number of breaths, already recorded within the body. By knowing the number of breaths
allotted for one lifetime, the lifespan can be calculated and also regulated. Slowing down the
rate of breathing, for example, stretches out the lifespan, and vice versa.

This is not such an outrageous claim as it may appear to be. Recent neuro-physiological
investigations have shown that the unconscious breathing process is tallied by the
instinctive primitive area of the brain, situated in the lower cortex. Conscious breathing, on
the other hand, activates the higher brain in the region behind the forehead, also known as
the 'silent area' of the brain. Reports have shown that when the breathing ' process
becomes a function of the higher brain, no tally or accounting of the number of breaths is
kept in the lower brain.
This means that while breathing consciously one can take an infinite number of breaths
without reducing the lifespan. Breathing rapidly without any awareness, on the other hand,
quickly uses up the life quota and one dies much sooner. Therefore, in swara yoga we
analyze the nature of the breath and check the respiratory rate. Even though it is not
possible to maintain constant awareness of the breath, at least the natural process can be
slowed through pranayama.

While checking the breath, it can also be noticed that each expiration has a particular
length. The yogic texts state that the normal length of exhalation in a healthy person is 10
fingers or 7 inches. Examination of the length of air passed from the nose during exhalation
can reveal which physical or mental process is currently functioning.

During states of emotional excitation, the length of exhalation extends to 12 fingers; while
singing, 16 fingers; vomiting, 18 fingers; eating, 20 fingers; walking, 24 fingers; sleeping,
30 fingers; and copulating, 36 fingers. In the daytime, emphasis will naturally be on
inhalation and at night on exhalation.

In fact, the shastras declare that decreasing the length of exhalation prolongs life. Those
people who project the least amount of air during exhalation retain their vital energy and
prana. In this way, the prana builds up and awakens the latent areas of the brain, thus
manifesting what the yogic shastras term siddhis or super-mental powers.

Checking the length of the breath is also a means of determining whether excess energy
and prana is being lost. People with weak constitutions tend to project the expiration to a
greater distance. If the breath extends further than 8 inches when lying flat, this indicates
loss of energy. In this case, pranayama will help to regulate it.

Keeping on the track

Swara yoga can open a whole new vista of life to the practitioner, but it is essential to
remember that this science was not designed for curing or preventing disease, or for
bestowing siddhis. Such side effects can certainly manifest as the power of the mind and
prana is increased. Therefore, the sadhaka should keep the ultimate goal in mind, that is, to
heighten his consciousness. Otherwise, he may be captivated by the grandeur of the psychic
realm and lose sight of the real path.
Swara Yoga - Part 6: The Elements of Swara Yoga

Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati

There are two major practices particular to swara yoga which one only comes across when
delving into this science in depth. The first practice is called tattwa sadhana. Tattwa means
'element'; therefore, tattwa sadhana involves analyzing the breath in order to recognize the
different inherent elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether. For this purpose the shastras
recommend one to make yantras, or symbols, of the tattwas and perform trataka on them.

The second practice, known as chhayopasana, also entails the practice of trataka but in this
case you concentrate on your own shadow, or chhaya. Trataka literally means 'steady
gazing'. Through this practice you become acutely attuned to the nature of the object of
focus, and the effect of concentrated gazing increases your willpower. Essentially, however, a
set of coded instructions is being sent to the higher centres of the brain, awakening the
ultrasonic circuits concerned with the subtler and psychic realms. Therefore, the swara
shastras state that if all the conditions of these sadhanas are fulfilled, eventually the
knowledge of the Vedas reveals itself and you develop an encompassing insight into the
three kalas, or periods of time - past, present and future.

Elements of the macro and micro-cosmos

The philosophy of yoga explains how the whole universe is the composition of the five
elements, or tattwas of prithvi (earth), apas (water), agm (fire). vayu (air) and akasha
(ether). The human body, being composed of the same stuff as the universe, therefore
reflects the properties of these elements through every cell. In swara yoga a more detailed
explanation is given, for it says that these elements, which are 'hidden in a subtler level of
existence', can easily be recognized by the nature of the outgoing breath. Just as a
scientist, by looking through a microscope, sees the particles which comprise a substance,
so the Taittiriya Upanishad explains that by meditating upon the five tattwas, the various
elements which form an object can be perceived.

The Mandukyopanishad, Prashnopanishad and Shiva Swarodaya explain that the five tattwas
evolved from mind, mind from prana, and prana from supreme consciousness. The purpose
of knowing and recognizing the tattwas is to enable you to expand your awareness from its
present limited state and so experience the ultimate source.

How to recognize the tattwas

When a certain tattwa is active it has a specific effect upon the natural spontaneous breath.
Therefore, you can tell by the length and direction of exhalation which tattwa is prevalent.

Element Earth Water Fire Air Ether

Length in fingers 12 16 4 8 -

Length in inches 9 12 3 6 -
Direction centre downwards upwards slanting diffused

Duration
20 16 12 8 4
(minutes)

Sequence 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th

Manifestations of the elements

The basic nature of the tattwas manifests itself in five forms, which can be recognized in
either their gross or subtle, individual or universal manifestations. Because it is these
properties which form both the macro and micro-cosmos, the Shiva Swarodaya states that
'all changes take place due to them'. In the following chart the various characteristics of
each tattwa have been represented:

Element Earth Water Fire Air Ether

Nature heavy cold hot erratic mixed

Quality weight fluidity heat motion -

mixture
Color yellow white red grey or blue
(blackish)

Shape quadrangular half moon triangular pentagonal dot, bindu

Chakra mooladhara swadhisthana manipura anahata vishuddhi

Mantra Lam Vam Ram Yam Ham

Tanmatra smell taste sight touch sound

psychic cosmic
States of ego intellect mind
consciousness consciousness
mind (ahamkara) (buddhi) (manas)
(chitta) (mahat)

Kosha annamaya pranamaya manomaya vigyanamaya anandamaya

Place in heart to eyebrow eyebrow centre


toes to knees knees to anus anus to heart
body centre and above

skin, veins. expansion /


Function in all fluids of the appetite, emotions and
arteries, bone contraction of
body body thirst, sleep passions
construction muscles, movement

Planet Venus Mercury Mars Saturn Jupiter

Direction east west south north above

Each tattwa also influences the flavour of taste in the mouth. When you haven't eaten for
some time, you can taste the distinct flavour present. The earth element is characterized by
a sweetish flavour; water has a salty flavour; fire is hot or pungent; air is acidic or sour; and
ether is bitter.
If the active tattwa cannot be recognized by any of these simple tests, then it can be judged
by exhaling through the nose onto a mirror and studying the pattern formed by the vapour.
If the vapour covers the mirror it means the earth tattwa is active; a half moon shape
indicates water; a triangular shape, fire; an egg shape, air; and small dots, ether.

Finally, the Shiva Swarodaya recommends the practice of shanmukhi or yoni mudra.
Carefully close all the orifices on the face with the fingers, and maintain inner concentration
on the eyebrow centre or chidakasha. Afterwards, if you look at this dark space, you may
see a coloured circle; yellow indicates the earth tattwa; white, the water element; red, the
fire element; blue or grey, air; and a black or indistinct colour, ether.

Trataka on the tattwa yantras

After developing some proficiency in the art of defining the tattwas, then you can do trataka
on their symbolic form or yantra. Traditionally these yantras were made of specific metals
and were coloured and inscribed with the particular mantras. This aspect of the practice
requires an experienced teacher for proper guidance. Nevertheless, today we can make the
yantra by drawing its form, and colouring it with the appropriate colour, keeping the
background black. So that your attention is centralized and does not waver, a small dot can
be marked in the centre, though after some practice the dot may not be necessary.

Prepare yourself as you would for any meditation practice. Then begin gazing at each yantra
individually for five minutes or so. After gazing at one yantra, close the eyes and try to
visualize the symbol of the tattwa internally in chidakasha. Then continue with the next
yantra. After completing the whole practice sit quietly and analyze the breath. Try to detect
any specific characteristics pertaining to the breath's temperature, direction and general
nature.

Utilizing the knowledge of the tattwas

By learning to easily define the active tattwa, you can readily determine when and whether
a particular project can be undertaken. For example, the swara shastras advise that when
the earth tattwa functions, it is a suitable time for calm and stable work. However, any work
attempted at this time will prove fruitful. The presence of the water tattwa indicates
movement, and therefore one should do mental or physical work which requires
involvement and activity. But the water element brings less gain than anticipated, its
influence giving 'mediocre results. The effect of the fire tattwa tends to bring loss or
damage, and even the best laid plans can go wrong. However, fire does aid in performing
work which is difficult and of a dynamic nature. Similarly, when the air element is flowing,
you can expect more negative than positive results. Activity of the ether tattwa is said to be
only conducive for spiritual practices, and any other ventures attempted during its activity
may prove to be unsuccessful.

It is important to know that the time when the earth and water tattwas are active, during
the flow of either ida or pingala, is auspicious and favourable.

Similarly, when the fire or the air elements flow in ida, it is auspicious, otherwise it is not.
The ether tattwa cannot bring any material gain, and you can only make progress if you are
seeking transcendental experiences. When you have an intimate understanding of these
elements, then you can go ahead with any venture and know if the time is favourable or
not. However, this is not the ultimate purpose of tattwa sadhana. The shastras emphasize
that if anyone should try to develop this knowledge with selfish and harmful motives, he will
not be successful.

Chhayopasana, or shadow gazing

The most significant practice of swara yoga is the art of chhayopasana, or gazing steadily
upon one's shadow. The Shiva Swarodaya indicates that the best time for this is from 7-8
a.m. Stand with your back to the sun, and focus on the neck of the shadow. In addition,
repeat the mantra 'Hrim Parabrahmane Namah' 108 times. After this, look into the sky and
see an enlarged version of the shadow. From the colour and the shape of this shadow in the
sky, you can then tell the nature of future events in another person's life. In particular it will
indicate to you the time of death and the manner in which one will die.

Chhayopasana is a simple but intensive form of dharana or concentration which leads to


dhyana and eventually to samadhi. Through this practice one can have direct experience of
atmanubhuti, where the atman reveals itself. Therefore, chhayopasana has been a well
guarded secret throughout the ages, and its success depends purely upon the prerequisite
that it is practised strictly as a sadhana under the guidance of an experienced guru.
Swara Yoga - Part 7: The Guru Tattwa

Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati

Within the last few decades, as the Occident started turning towards the yogic science for
new inspiration in life, side by side the necessity to find a proper guru who could impart this
knowledge was being felt by more and more people. Of course it is very easy to purchase a
book on hatha yoga and follow the instructions but this is an impersonal method, and most
people find it unfulfilling. Therefore, even in the Occident, people are starting to become
aware of the guru tattwa.

In ancient days knowledge of every science, trade, etc. was only had by word of mouth from
guru to chela, or master to disciple. Though every aspect of life concerning the empirical
and spiritual worlds was recorded in the four Vedas, the tradition of oral tuition continued,
and is still very much alive even today in India. In early times before any written knowledge
had been collected, it was up to the disciples to memorise perfectly the teachings of their
gurus. As time went on, the disciples decided that it was necessary to write down the
precious knowledge they had imbibed.

The modern system of teacher and student cannot be compared to guru and disciple
because it lacks one vital element: the guru tattwa. In India the guru is considered as more
than a teacher. When the common layman comes in contact with any guru, he is full of inner
respect towards him, whether the guru's appearance and manners are cordial or not. He
accepts the guru in a physical form, because he understands that it is only the outer shell of
the inner enlightened soul and consciousness.

Swara yoga, a secret science

As people are delving deeper into the yogic science, the practices of hatha and raja yoga are
becoming well known. Many adherents have heard about swara yoga but when they search
for a book pertaining to this science they find nothing available. Even in India it is the same.
If you want to learn the science properly you have to find the swara guru.

In India many people still have knowledge of swara yoga. It is not difficult to acquire a
general understanding of the science, but those who practise it are not willing to disclose
their knowledge to just anyone. Even if you refer to the original texts, you will have
difficulty understanding the symbology and terminology used.

Due to this, the Sanskrit texts are sometimes misinterpreted. So it is not completely
effective to learn only from the scriptural references. If you are going to seriously delve into
swara yoga, it is safer and easier to try and find the guru who can initiate you into the
science. This is exactly what the Shiva Samhita (3:9) states: "Having received instructions
in yoga, and obtained a guru who knows yoga, let him practise with earnestness according
to the method taught by the teacher."

In this modern day, it is rare to find the swara guru, and initiation into the practices is kept
more secret than other tantric initiations. It is not just for the sake of being secretive, or to
keep some valuable treasure exclusive to India alone. The sages had a very logical reason
for withholding from the general public those sciences which rapidly expand the
consciousness by increasing the pranic and mental capacities.

In the past these specific branches of tantra were kept secret because people frequently
misused the techniques in order to gain greater power for selfish and destructive motives.
Many suffered on account of this. But worse than that, the reputable science of tantra and
yoga was defamed. Therefore, we should not consider any branch of the yogic science as
dangerous or corrupt, but the correct purpose for which it is meant to be used must be kept
in mind. For this reason, since ancient times, such techniques as swara yoga could only be
learned under the tutelage of the guru.

Inner guru

An important question arises from these considerations. What is meant by the 'spiritual'
intentions of swara yoga? The term 'spiritual' has nothing to do with religion or mysticism or
anything in the spirit world. If your concept of spirituality has any of these connotations,
then it needs some alteration. 'Spiritual' implies transformation of the lower mind so that it
becomes capable of perceiving subtler and higher realms. When the transformation occurs,
experience of another, all encompassing and all knowing mind existing in the substratum of
every living and non-living thing is perceived. It operates something like a main radio
station sending signals to smaller substations and radios. But it is only after the
consciousness has undergone a certain stage of evolution that the higher mind can be
realised. This is the experience of the 'inner guru'. So, if you desire to awaken the vast
dormant area of your brain through swara yoga and experience the higher consciousness,
then you will have to find an evolved and enlightened person, who has already undergone
such an experience.

In India the guru tattwa is the most relevant part of an individual's life and sadhana.
Whether your sadhana follows the lines of swara yoga or has no such formalities, the
fulfilment of serving the guru is most vital.

In the tantra and yoga shastras the opening sloka always starts with an invocation to the
primal and supreme guru. Of course the name of the guru may vary depending on which era
the text was written in. Some texts claim Shiva to be the param guru, others Brahma or
Vishnu. Nevertheless they are all referring to the one supreme consciousness which
pervades every aspect of creation.

The Shiva Swarodaya first salutes Maheshwara, the Maha-Ishwara or greatest master and
lord, also known as Shiva. This is intended to remind us of our ultimate existence, purpose
and destiny. The invocation does not even require faith. The mind is ever evolving; when
you consciously think of the highest, purest experience, eventually your own individual
consciousness will be taken into that realm where the sat guru or true guru exists.

For the people who do not have spiritual convictions and are striving consciously to find a
satisfying and permanent experience, the path of swara yoga is very effective. There are
also those who cannot accept anything other than the mundane existence. These people too
can practise swara yoga, because it consists of a scientific and practical system which
enables you to even enjoy worldly life more fully. The Shiva Swarodaya (v. 12) clearly sums
up the whole science, stating that: "It is helpful to those who are believers in a supreme
being, as well as for those who are non-believers. Even to non-believers, it will give many
surprises."

Manifestation of the guru tattwa

The greatest surprise occurs through the practice of swara yoga as the techniques start
having a noticeable effect upon your whole being and your concepts of life. Then the
purpose for which these practices are intended begins manifesting in tangible experience. As
swara yoga was designed to awaken the higher consciousness, then whosoever should
practise it is bound to have this experience eventually.

This system is based on scientific lines, whereby you start from a logical, comprehensive
point in your physical existence, and manipulate the mental and psychic forces. By
concentrating on the two dualistic energy forces, and eliminating all of the accumulated
impurities within the energy pathways of the physical, mental and psychic bodies, the third
most powerful force can be generated. That is the spiritual energy which awakens the
higher faculties in the brain and consciousness.

Through swara yoga the monitoring centre in the brain, known as ajna or guru chakra,
situated at the pineal gland, is directly activated. 'Ajna' means to command, therefore,
through ajna chakra instructions from our higher consciousness to the gross mind and body
are mediated. For the purpose of awakening ajna chakra, the swara shastras emphasise the
necessity of the external guru before the internal awakening process is begun.

Thus the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (3:12) declares that: "He who is devoted to any knowledge,
while pleasing the guru with utmost attention, readily obtains the fruit of that knowledge."
Another reason why the guru is necessary is that no one will know the science better than
he. The guru is fully experienced and shows you, according to your own personal
development, the systematic process by which you can progress.

Therefore, even if you do not want to practise swara yoga for the realisation of higher
consciousness, but prefer to use it for worldly fulfilment, still it is most necessary to have a
guru. He will know your inner desire and capacity, and will allow the expansion of your
consciousness to proceed at a rate which you are able to handle. He knows how and for
whom the practices will bring best results. Therefore, the Shiva Samhita (3:14) states that:
"Only by the guru's favour is everything good relating to oneself obtained. So the guru
ought to be served daily, else there can be nothing auspicious."