The Science of Tantrik Pranayama Part I: Yogananda

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The Science of Tantrik Pranayama Part I: Yogananda

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The Science of Tantrik Prānāyāma Webinar Series: Part I

Click here for Part II of this series .

Part I:

We begin this series by  investigating the practice of Kriyā Yoga brought to the West in 1920 by Paramahamsa Yogānanda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi. Yogananda’s lineage claims ancient roots for this prānāyāṃa-based practice; Kriyā is presented as a scientific technique that leads to liberation, one which utilizes breath mastery and the vocalization of mono-syllabic tones to invigorate and heal the body while gradually awakening consciousness.  

 Topics Covered:

  • Invocation – The Ādhāraśakti Mantra.

  • Ādhāraśakti - in Search of our Root Power. 

  • Excerpts from Yogānanda and his teachers: Liberating Power of Prānāyāma

  • Yogananda on the ancient technique of Jyotirmudrā (‘Exalting in the Light’ of 3rd Eye)

“The Yogin bows to the creative force (kriyā), by reciting ‘OṂ, hrīṃ, I venerate the foundational power (of my being). Next the yogin performs prāṇāyāma, engaging with effort the three part sequence of in order to make contact with One's own source Śakti, hidden in a secret place above the crown of the head. invigorates one's life-force. Once drawn down the central channel, via the subtle in-breath, this power of pure resonance (nādaśakti) reverses aging, eradicates disease, and through this daily yoga practice, (eventually) eliminates death." - From the Kālottara Tantra, ca. 6th century A.D.

Series Description:

Christopher introduces students to the prānāyāma science innovated in the Tantras. According to the surviving testimonies of countless Tantrik masters, when engaged with the ‘vocalization’ (ucchāra) technique, this three-part breath practice systematically eliminates disease and gradually reverses aging and death. 

We begin with a question -  was this prānāyāma-based science, known as Kriyā- or Kuṇḍalinī- Yoga in the Tantras, the same ‘Kriya Yoga’ practice introduced to the West by Paramahamsa Yogānanda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi)?

Drawing from un-published Tantrik passages and visual testimony presented in seven Chakra scrolls, this series will focus on the evolution of the pan-Tantrik prānāyāma technique which purportedly granted Yogīs access to Rasa, a liberating current of sonic ‘nectar’ that is drawn down from the 1,000 petalled lotus above the crown of the head. 

What exactly is this ‘Rasa,’ and does it really invigorate one’s  prāna (life force) as claimed? How is ‘Rasa’ related to the ‘nutrient fluid’ that sustains life in the womb before we become dependent on the breath to live? 

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Excerpts from Autobiography of a Yogī, on the ‘Science of Kriyā Yoga’

“Kriya Yoga consists of a body discipline performed with mental focus while meditating on the primal syllable, AUṂ. Liberation can be accomplished by that pranayama which is attained by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration.”

"Kriya Yoga is an instrument through which human evolution can be quickened," Sri Yukteswar explained to his students. "The ancient yogis discovered that the secret of cosmic consciousness is intimately linked with breath mastery. This is India's unique and deathless contribution to the world's treasury of knowledge. The life force, which is ordinarily absorbed in maintaining the heart-pump, must be freed for higher activities by a method of calming and stilling the ceaseless demands of the breath."

“Kriya Yoga is a simple, psychophysiological method by which the human blood is decarbonized and recharged with oxygen. The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers. By stopping the accumulation of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues; the advanced yogi transmutes his cells into pure energy. …”

“The yogi arrests decay in the body by an addition of life force, and arrests the mutations of growth in the body by apāna (current of inbreath). Thus neutralizing decay and growth, by quieting the heart, the yogi learns life control."

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