Updated: Oct 14, 2019
"This meditation cuts through all darkness. It will give you a new start...It cuts through all barriers of accumulated neuroses." Yogi Bhajan
A Multitude of Benefits!
Sodarshan Chakra Kriya is known as "The Diamond Gem of Yoga." Yogi Bhajan said,
“Of all the 20 types of yoga, including Kundalini Yoga, Sodarshan Chakra Kriya is the highest Kriya. This kriya invokes the kundalini to give you the necessary vitality and intuition to combat the negative pressure of the subconscious mind.”
According to 3HO, “Sodarshan Chakra Kriya is one of the greatest meditations you can practice. It:
Can purify your past karma and the subconscious impulses that may block you from fulfilling you. It
Balances all the 27 facets of life and mental projection, and gives you the pranic power of health and healing.
Has considerable transformational powers. The personal identity is rebuilt, giving the individual a new perspective on the Self.
Retrains the mind. This meditation balances the Teacher aspect of the mind.
Acts on all the other aspects like a mirror to reveal their true nature and adds corrections.”
The dristi (eye focus) of a 1/10th open downward gaze is also said to connect us to the root chakra and stimulate Kundalini.
It also stimulates the frontal lobe part of the brain. Focusing at the tip of your nose will help make your eyes stronger over time.
Using that eye focus while meditating was the first recorded instance, in history as we know it, of any yogic reference.
Finally this dristi connects us with our "feeling," aspect, which makes a particular technique more effective for emotional healing.
The pumping at the navel provides:
A gentle massage to the internal organs.
Stimulation of the digestive juices and proper elimination.
Mahabandah (the great lock) helps to:
Regulate all of the internal systems and optimizes glandular secretion; metabolic (thyroid/parathyroid), adrenal/thymus (immunity)
Serve as a tonic of sorts for the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems.
Strengthen the muscles of the diaphragm and entire abdomen (like stomach crunches from the inside).
Tighten (over time) of the muscles of the pelvic girdle and floor (by both the root lock and navel pumps) which will keep you out of diapers in old age and enhance your sex life in the meantime.
This photo is from my first (not so great) experience with Sodarshan Chakra Kriya as a 2 1/2 hour meditation during teacher training.
There was very little that I enjoyed about my first experience with Sodarshan Chakra Kriya. During the 2 1/2 hours I had a hard time pumping the navel 48 times on one breath. Pushing when my breath was short wore me out and fear of failing caused me to push harder. Pumping too hard caused my already severely compromised spine to become painful enough to force me to lie down a couple of times while I continued with the meditation. Needing to lie down resulted in relief for my back accompanied by feelings that I had failed at being able to ‘keep up.' What I learned is that I hadn’t truly understood what it meant to 'keep up' at the time. Keeping up is about finding and expanding our edge or window of tolerance by going in deeply and not reacting to the "emotions and commotions" as Yogi Bhajan called them. I was reacting to my story about my disability, my pain, feelings of defeat, failure and shame. There it was...ALL of it!
It's no wonder that as a cPTSD survivor that I'm drawn to this kriya. It stabilizes the mind, it corrects or deletes subconscious debris, traumas and patterns blocking true happiness and success. It polishes our gifts to help us to more easily access what we were born to express.
Keeping up is about finding and expanding our edge or window of tolerance by going in deeply and not reacting to the "emotions and commotions"
So a few years later I was ready to try again and enrolled in the 6 day, “21 Stages of Meditation" course in Chicago. The first 5 days leading up to the to the finale of 2 1/2 hrs of Sodarshan Chakra Kriya became a practice in seeing the thoughts and fears of my initial experience and letting them go. When it was time I was ready to just 'be with' whatever thoughts or feelings arose. And I absolutely loved everything about the experience! When Gurucharan Singh announced the last round I was stunned that 2 1/2 hours had gone so quickly!
After leaving Chicago I started practicing Sodarshan Chakra Kriya for 31 minutes (or 11 minutes on a few busy days) for nearly 120 days. It felt like the deepest psychic cleansing possible. The takeaway is that Sodarshan Chakra Kriya is not nearly as difficult as it is beneficial and you certainly don't need to start at 2 1/2 hours! Starting with 3-5 minutes is great. Starting wherever you are without the story and self-judgement is even better!
Sodarshan Chakra Kriya it’s not nearly as difficult as it is beneficial!
With great gratitude to Yogi Bhajan, to Mahan Rishi Singh Khalsa and to Gurucharan Singh for the practice, I humbly share the following encouragement and practice tips from my experience and research.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Check out the beginners, intermediate and advanced versions and timings. Don’t let yourself get psyched out of doing this pinnacle of practices.
Whenever possible, practice first thing in the morning. Ideally before or just at sunrise.
Avoid eating for 2 hours before and minimize water intake 30 minutes before.
Blow your nose, empty your bladder and have a tissue nearby.
Ensure that the spine is straight.
Align the crown of the head with the ceiling or sky.
Lift the chest, relax the shoulders down and back.
Create a light neck lock.
Keeping the spine straight is essential!
You're always inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling through the right
Eyes are 1/10th open...
Your gently gazing over the bridge of the nose, toward the tip...not cross-eyed. The eyes should NOT close.
Fill the lungs ONLY 8 or 9 10ths full. Keep the breath smooth and retain it breath gently - avoid filling the lungs so much (or little) that you find yourself grasping and gasping.
I find that pumping from just beneath the navel at about the 2nd chakra helps to hold a light root lock in place at the 1st chakra, pumps the 3rd chakra and builds the pressure of the diaphragm lock to pressurize the 4th chakra which creates an effortless neck lock at the 5th chakra.
Check in to Stay Present
After taking and retaining the first inhalation through the left nostril: check your posture and create a light neck lock. If using Gurucharan Singh’s music, do this on the last ting of the bell before beginning navel pumps at the first Wahe Guru.
If practicing for >11 minutes or less: as you inhale, check your posture, neck lock and eye focus (staying 1/10th open) with each round.
If practicing for 31 minutes: check your posture, neck lock and eye focus at least after every 11 minutes when the music provides a gentle cue.
Relax throughout and focus on the mantra and breath. Be IN your body. There is little trying…relax and allow the locks and breath to do all of the work!
Modifications for Beginners
If pumping the navel 3 times (1 – Wa 2 – hay – 3 Guru) is not sustainably accessible to you try:
Making the pumps lighter and/or fewer
1 pump per Wahe Guru or...
2 pumps per Wahe Guru (1- Wahe 2 – Guru)
Modifications for Medical Conditions
If you have high blood pressure be sure to check with your physician (this is CRITICAL if your BP is NOT under control), before beginning. Holding the breath in can elevate blood pressure so proceed with caution and definitely avoid strain when holding the breath.
If you have been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia or severe GERD, be sure to check with your physician. Be sure to practice with a completely empty stomach and make the stomach pumping lighter or use less pumps (see modification) to begin. It is plausible that regular practice can strengthen the diaphragm and hiatial sphincter.
If you have a weak pelvic floor or bladder control, check with your physician. Use a light root lock before beginning to pump the belly and use lighter pumps as needed. You may also choose to use the modification for less pumps in the beginning and gradually build as the muscles of your pelvic girdle strengthen over time with regular practice of Sodarshan Chakra Kriya.
Click here for a PDF of how to do Sodarshan Chakra Kriya.