Sivananda yoga is primarily aimed at increasing one’s health and helping one to avoid illnesses and diseases. Some of its features include the following: frequent meditation, positive thinking, relaxation, and full and proper breathing. Sivananda Yoga is characterized by mantras both at the start and end of each session; a great awareness of breathing; and a longer holding of yoga postures. There are many aspects to Sivananda Yoga, and one of these is a group of practices called kriyas. Kriyas are cleansing techniques meant to purify the mind and the body.
- Consult with a licensed yoga practitioner. Yoga has numerous health benefits, but remember that it could be potentially harmful if not done properly. That’s why it’s best that you learn more about Sivananda Yoga from a licensed practitioner. Once you get a hang of the basics, you could proceed to practicing it from your home.
- Know more about tratak kriya. This kriya is concerned with the eye region, and its objective is to cleanse the eyes. To do this, simply gaze at an object for a long period of time without blinking. The best method is to position a lighted candle three feet away from you, at eye level, and gaze at the flame. Once your eye starts to get uncomfortable, close them but continue to visualize the object in your “third eye,” or the region in between your eyebrows.
- Practice kapalabhati kriya. Literally, kapalabhati means “skull shining.” To practice kapalabhati kriya, you have to inhale deeply until your stomach is filled with air; then, exhale through your nose in short spurts. With every spurt, you should push your abdomen inwards towards your spine. Do this until your stomach is back to its original size. One of the benefits of practicing this kriya is that it helps cure migraines and sinus conditions. Avoid kapalabhati kriya, however, if you have high blood pressure, hernia, or heart disease. You should also never do this in the midst of an asthma attack.
- Do neti kriya. This kriya aims to purify the breathing path. There are actually two types of neti kriya: Jal neti, which uses water, and Sutra neti, which uses string.
To do Jal neti, you will need a type of neti pot, which looks like a watering pot with a long spout. Place ¼ teaspoon rock salt in a cup (8 oz) of warm water inside the neti pot. Have somebody hold the neti pot on top of your face. Hold your face at an angle so that one nostril is above the other. Let the water from the neti pot drip from its spout down to the upper nostril, and let the water trickle down to the lower nostril. Jal neti is used to heal allergies and sinus infections.
Sutra neti is very complicated, and you will need a professional in administering it to you. To do Sutra neti, you will need a piece of cotton thread about 12 inches long dipped in beeswax. Insert the thread through one nostril and then pull it out of the mouth. Sutra neti is used for removing phlegm and mucus, and is also believed to stimulate the nerves.
Practicing kriyas in Sivananda Yoga has numerous health benefits, but again always be on the safe side and make sure that you know how to do all of them properly before you practice them.