It is important that you don’t proceed to stage 3 until you have mastered the two previous stages, spending at least two weeks to one month on each stage1. This is important, for one stage automatically leads to the next.
In stage 1 the mantra Soham was synchronized with breathing. In stage 2, the mantra Hamso was merged with breathing. In stage 3 Ham and So will be regarded as totally separate entities, Ham being synchronized with exhalation and So with inhalation. The method is as follows:
Take a comfortable sitting position.
Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
Hold the back straight, but relaxed.
Become aware of the breathing process, making it slower and deeper.
Do ujjayi pranayama and khechari mudra.
Be totally attentive to the breathing.
Do this for a few minutes.
Then imagine that the breath is moving upwards and downwards between the navel and the throat.
Imagine that you are pulling, sucking the air upwards from the navel to the throat as you inhale.
Imagine that you are pushing the air downwards from the throat to the navel as you exhale.
Continue in this manner for a few minutes.
Then merge the mantra So with inhalation.
And Ham with exhalation.
Don’t be aware of either Soham or Hamso . . . only be aware of the mantra So with the incoming breath and Ham with the outgoing breath; So and Ham should not be continuous or joined with each other; they should be completely separate entities.
At the end of inhalation So stops.
Ham starts at the beginning of exhalation.
Ham stops at the end of exhalation.
So starts at the beginning of inhalation.
With the upward moving breath – inhalation hear the sound So.
With the downward breath – exhalation – hear the sound Ham.
Maintain this awareness of the individual mantras and the up and down breathing process for about 5 minutes, then stop the practice and become aware only of the chidakasha (the space in front of the closed eyes).
Only be a witness to whatever happens in front of the closed eyes.
If you see images or you don’t, it does not matter; only watch as a spectator.
This is the way to confront the contents of the subconscious mind. After a few minutes, recontinue the awareness of the two individual mantras and the upward and downward movement of the breath.
After 5 minutes or so, again become aware of the chidakasha.
After a minute or so return to the practice of ajapa: mantra and breath awareness.
Continue in this manner for as long as you have time available.
Khechari Mudra and Ujjayi Pranayama
You will probably find that you forget to do these two practices during ajapa. Try to maintain them throughout the practice. If you become tired, especially with khechari mudra, then release the tongue lock for a short time, but it should be recommenced. These two practices are very important.
Ajapa and kriya yoga
This is a reminder that ajapa is an essential preliminary practice for kriya yoga. If you have not started doing ajapa yet and you want to practise kriya yoga in the near future, then we urge you to begin practising ajapa on a regular basis. If you don’t you will find kriya yoga very difficult. . . you will fail to reap the benefits. It is important if you are serious about practising kriya yoga to find the time to practise ajapa every day.