Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Yoga?
Meaning of the Sanskrit word Yoga is to unite or to join.
From spiritual point of view Yoga means union of individual soul
and cosmic soul or Jiva and Shiva. Patanjali Yoga Sutras define
Yoga as restraint of mental fluctuations. When mental
fluctuations cease Self shines on its own and the practitioner
experience that Jiva and Shiva are one and the same.
Ancient Yogic texts classify Yoga in four types viz. Mantra, Hatha, Laya and Raja. Irrespective of the type all of them aim
at manolaya or dissolution of mind. Though Ajapa is a
meditation technique it actually integrates all the four forms
All the above mentioned types of Yoga consists of eight
steps. They are - Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara,
Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Truthfulness, Non-violence,
Non-stealing, Non-possessiveness and celibacy are Yamas.
Cleanliness, Contentment, Austerities, Self-study and
Surrendering everything to God are Niyamas. Steady and
comfortable posture is Asana. Drawing sense organs inwards is
Pratyahara. Concentrating on an object is Dharana. When Dharana
matures it evolves into Dhyana. When Dhyana matures it evolves
2. What is the difference or similarity between Yoga, Samkhya
Samkhya is a dualistic system. Kapila Muni
is considered as the originator and chief expounder of this
system. Samkhya philosophy consists of 25 elements. They are -
Purusha, Prakruti, Ego, Intellect, Mind, Five Tanmatras (smell,
touch, form, taste, sound), Five sense organs (nose, ears, eyes,
skin, tongue), Five organs of action (hand, legs, anus,
genitals, mouth), Five great elements (earth, water, fire, air,
space). Knowledge of these 25 elements is the aim of a Samkhya
practitioner. As per Samkhya liberation is making Purusha free
from Prakruti. Samkhya does not believe in God.
Vedanta is primarily based on Upanishads.
Adi Shankaracharya is the chief expounder of Vedanta
philosophy and his explanation is widely accepted. Vedanta is
non-dualistic and believes in Advaita. As per Vedanta,
Brahma alone has filled the entire universe. It does
not consider deities or god-heads as Supreme reality as
everything is but manifestation of Brahma. As per Vedanta
liberation is the direct experience of 'Everything is
Brahman'. Individual self falsely identifies itself with
body and world around just like a rope mistaken as a snake in
darkness. When this ignorance or veil of Maya is removed it
identifies itself with Brahman. Vedanta is also known as path of
Dnyana or Knowledge.
Yoga nicely combines the principles of
Samkhya and Vedanta. Maharshi Patanjali is considered as the
chief expounder of this system as he for the first time codified
the principles of this system in a systematic way. Yoga believes
in all the 25 elements of Samkhya but also believes in Ishwara
or God who is beyond these 25 elements. A Yogi aims at uniting
Purusha (individual self) with Ishwara (cosmic Self). Thus Yoga
attains non-dual experience of Vedanta through dualistic
practice. In Kaliyuga path of Dnyana alone is extremely
difficult. Only through the practice of Yoga true Knowledge
dawns. It should be noted that Vedanta has acknowledged the
principles of Samkhya and Yoga wherever they do not contradict
In short we can say that Vedanta explains the ultimate aim of
a spiritual seeker where as Yoga provides means to reach
3. What is the eligibility required to walk the path of Yoga?
Three qualities are necessary to walk the path of Yoga viz.
Shraddha (faith), Saburi (patience) and Shista (Discipline). One
must have complete faith on God and the path of Yoga. Doubt
hinders your progress. Patience is also necessary. Not everybody
can progress with the same pace. Depending on individual's
karmic balance and efforts the time required varies. One must be
patient enough to undertake the practice for years together.
Discipline is absolutely necessary in daily life and sadhana.
Yoga is not something to be practiced once in a while. It should
become an integral part of your life.
4. What is Ajapa meditation?
Ajapa meditation is an ancient powerful combination of
breathing patterns, visualizations and meditation that calms and
relaxes the mind quickly inducing deep meditative state. Keeping
awareness on natural breathing is the central theme of Ajapa.
Ajapa is also called as SoHam meditation.
5. Who can practice Ajapa meditation?
Anyone irrespective of age, gender, religion and geographic
location can practice Ajapa meditation. Being a human being is
all that is required!
6. What are the benefits of Ajapa meditation?
A regular practice of Ajapa meditation gives the following
- Mind becomes calm quickly
- Body and mind gets deep rest
- Mental fatigue arising from stress, worries, strain is
- Both the nostrils start flowing equally thus inducing a
balance in both hemispheres of brain
- One gets extra energy and enthusiasm to perform daily
- Mental problems such as anger, laziness, weakness are
- Energy layer is strengthened thus helping to remove
- Spiritual energy (called Kundalini in Yoga) lying
dormant becomes active in safe and blissful fashion
- Various chakras or lotuses are opened
- By regular practice deep meditative states can be
7. What is the origin of Ajapa meditation?
Ajapa meditation is an ancient technique with its roots in India. Ajapa
is mentioned in Upanishads, Puranasa, Tantras as well as
numerous Yogic texts. Some of them are - Yoga Chudamani
Upanishad, Yoga Shikha Upanishad, Vijana Bhairava Tantra,
Kularnava Tantra, Yoga Bija, Gheranda Samhita, Shiva Purana and
It is believed that Lord Shiva first gave this
technique to his consort Parvati.
Dattatreya, a great Avadhoota and son of Atri
muni, initiated his mother into Ajapa meditation and recommended
it in his teachings. Even Gorakshanath, chief
expounder of Natha sect and a great Yogi, lauds the practice of
Ajapa in his works. It is an important practice of Natha sect as
such. Swami Samartha Ramadasa also talks about
Ajapa meditation in his famous work Dasbodha.
Paramahamsa Yogananda also taught Ajapa (he called it
Hong Sau technique) in addition to other kriyas as a means to
spiritual development. Swami Satyananda Saraswati
used Ajapa as the basis for many of his kriyas. This clearly
underlines the importance of Ajapa as a meditation technique.
8. What is the specialty of Ajapa meditation as compared to
Ajapa is a complete practice in itself. A
practitioner of Ajapa doesn't need any other practice for the
purpose of Self-realization. It is that powerful. Thought Ajapa
is a meditation technique it actually combines the
effect of Mantra, Hatha, Laya and Raja yogas in
comfortable way. Ajapa is a meditation technique as well
as a Pranayama. You rarely find a practice like Ajapa
that is natural and without any adverse side effects. Forceful
breath retention, Mudras and Bandhas can prove harmful to the
practitioner. This won't happen with Ajapa because it is
completely natural. A practitioner can experience the
benefits of Ajapa sooner than other techniques.
Kundalini awakening through Ajapa happens in
comfortable and blissful fashion. Hatha Yoga
expects you to follow a very strict rules and regulation which
an average practitioner finds difficult to follow. In contrast
Ajapa doesn't need such strict rules and even
an average practitioner can easily fulfill the
expectations of Ajapa. Many practitioners find it extremely
difficult to control their mind. Ajapa tames the mind
using Prana and even a practitioner with
wavering mind can succeed. Ajapa can be practiced by
anyone irrespective of age, gender, religion and cast.
9. What is Prana?
Our body consists of the five great elements viz. earth,
water, fire, air and space. However, it is just a gross lump of
blood, flesh and bones unless it has the vital life force.
The energy that makes this lump live is Prana.
All the bodily actions such as heart beats, digestion, breathing
and excretion are but manifestations of Prana. Prana cannot be
seen with naked eyes. Therefore to control Prana one must
control some of its subtle manifestation. Some manifestations
such as heart beats cannot be controlled but breathing can
certainly be controlled. That is why Yoga uses breathing
exercises to gain control on Prana. Such exercises are
commonly referred as Pranayama.
10. What is Kundalini and Chakras?
Earlier we talked about the 25 elements of Samkhya and Yoga.
The evolution from God to Earth element is termed as
Prasava in Yoga. Once this transformation is complete
there is no further work for the energy. But that does not mean
that energy has vanished. It is stored in the body
itself in latent form. This latent energy is Kundalini.
The Sanskrit work Kundalini means the one who is coiled. Suppose
you have a mat but is currently unused. What will you do with
it? You will possibly fold (or wind) it and keep in a cupboard.
Exactly same thing happens with the unused energy.
A careful observation of human body reveals that this
evolution has happened from head to feet. During this evolution
the God's divine energy flows through the spinal cord in the
form of Prana. This channel is the Sushumna Nadi as per Yoga.
During the process of evolution small networks of sub-channels
are formed across the length of Sushumna. It is as if a pipeline
supplying drinking water to a city is getting branched at
several intervals. The places where Sushumna forms such
sub-networks are called Chakras. There are such six major
Chakras on Sushumna spanning the bottom of the spine to the base
of the brain (or eye brow center in terms of outer body). They
have been named as Muladhara, Swadhishthana, Manipura, Anahata,
Vishuddhi and Ajna respectively. The seventh Chakra called
Sahasrara is in brain. It would be interesting to note that
these Chakras correspond to the plexuses discovered by modern
Kundalini is not a tangible object that be switched on and
off as per desire. It is energy. What is meant by awakening the
Kundalini then? Suppose you have a wooden log. There is energy
in it but in latent form. How would you tap that energy? You
will possibly ignite the log through some external means. The
same holds true even for Kundalini. To tap the Kundalini energy
you need ignition in the form of Yoga. In simple terms awakening
Kundalini refers to converting Potential Energy of the mind-body
equipment into Kinetic Energy. Once awakened the activated
energy then starts working on mind and body.
11. What is the significance of Kundalini awakening in spiritual
We stated earlier that evolution of the universe happens from
God to Earth element. If you wish to unite with God this
sequence must be reversed. That means we must dissolve step by
step from Earth to God. This is called Pratiprasava
in Yoga. When Kundalini is awakened She is made to
ascend from the Sushumna channel causing its journey to be
reversed. As this journey begins Laya or
dissolution starts. More the Laya lesser the distance
from God and more will be the spiritual progress.
Concrete symptoms of this spiritual progress are deep meditative
states and detachment. As you progress your mental
fluctuations will keep reducing and one day they will stop
altogether. This is Samadhi.
12. What are the ways of awakening Kundalini?
Kundalini can be awakened through several ways other than
Ajapa. They include - Mantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Laya
Yoga, Raja Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Shaktipata, Bhakti Yoga and
Naamasmarana (chanting some holy name). Ajapa,
however, is the easiest, most natural and safe way of awakening
the sleeping Kundalini.
13. How should be the place and seat of
Ajapa meditation should be
performed in a place having pleasant atmosphere. As far as
possible select a place that is isolated.
The place must be free from dust and insects (mosquitoes
etc.), free from noise.
It is recommended to have a
pleasant and comfortable asana or seat. No need of any fancy
Yoga mat. A simple way to prepare your
seat is to have a thick four fold blanket covered by a soft four
fold cotton cloth. Do not use the blanket or the soft cloth for
any other purpose. Do not share it with others.
14. What is the recommended timing and
duration for meditation?
If possible Ajapa meditation should
be performed twice a day - once in the morning and once in the
evening. If for some reason it is not possible for you to
prefer the morning slot.
Practice at the same fixed time every day. During weekly
holidays and public holidays meditate
for extended duration. There is no fixed duration for practicing
meditation. It all depends on
individuals. Just for the sake of guideline beginners can start
with 20 minutes at a time,
intermediate level students can extend
it to 1 to 1 1/2
hr at a time. An advanced level
practitioner is mature enough to decide the duration for
15. What other guidelines should a
It is recommended that a practitioner
should follow these guidelines :
- Moderate diet is a very important point for making any
progress. Avoid spicy and oily
food altogether. Fill two quarters
of stomach with food and one quarter with
water. One quarter should be kept free for gases.
Include fresh fruits, vegetables and cow milk in your
diet whenever possible.
- Do not expect effects of your practice to come in a very
short time. Your sincerity and past karmas govern your
- Do not compare your practice with others. Everybody in
this world is unique.
- Do not practice when you are seriously ill or disturbed.
- Always listen to your body. Do not
stress or strain yourself.
- Do not share your own practice and experiences with
others except your Guru.
- During the practice do not allow your mind to wander
away. Practice done with awareness gives more benefits.
- Avoid being in bad company. Try to be in the company of