Isha Kriya is a powerful and accessible meditation technique. Rooted in the ancient yogic traditions and popularized for the modern world by Sadhguru, founder of the Isha Foundation, this unique practice serves as a gateway to personal growth, wellbeing, and heightened consciousness.
At the heart of Isha Kriya lies a carefully curated blend of guided visualization, controlled breathing, and the resonant power of mantras. This holistic approach aims not only to purify the body and mind, but also to align one’s individual consciousness with the fundamental nature of existence. The practice harnesses the vitality of life energy, promoting physical health, mental clarity and emotional balance.
What is Isha Kriya meditation?
Isha Kriya is a form of meditation practice developed and propagated by the Isha Foundation, an organization founded by the spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. The term ‘kriya’ derives from the Sanskrit word ‘kri’, meaning ‘to do’, and ‘ya’, indicating the soul. Therefore, ‘kriya’ implies action or activity performed with full awareness and intention. In the context of Isha Kriya, this action is centered on a meditative practice designed to enable a profound sense of inner peace and self-realization.
The fundamental premise of Isha Kriya meditation is the cultivation of a deep and intimate connection with one’s inner self, providing an experiential understanding of the distinction between the physical body, the mind and the innermost self. The ultimate objective of this meditation is to facilitate self-transformation through the realization of one’s own spiritual nature.
This meditative practice is characterized by a sequence of physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), and mental visualization techniques. One of the most distinctive aspects of Isha Kriya is its simplicity and accessibility, as it does not require prior experience with meditation. It is also time-efficient, typically taking only 15-20 minutes per session.
There are three fundamental components of Isha Kriya practice:
- Internal action: This involves controlled, rhythmic breathing, and visualizations designed to enable the practitioner to focus inwardly, thereby enhancing self-awareness and facilitating a calm, tranquil state of mind.
- Chanting: This component involves the repetition of a specific mantra. This serves to create a vibrational energy that facilitates a deep state of meditation, reinforcing the practitioner’s connection with their inner self.
- External action: The practitioner performs simple physical movements in conjunction with the breath, helping to harmonize the physical and mental aspects of the practice.
Isha Kriya meditation is premised on the belief that by consciously creating a distance between one’s perceptions and the physical body and mind, the practitioner can attain a state of equanimity and tranquillity. This state of equanimity is posited as a means of fostering emotional balance and well-being, alleviating stress, and enhancing focus and productivity.
The philosophy behind Isha Kriya
At the core of Isha Kriya’s philosophy is the concept of self-realization or self-knowledge. This means gaining an experiential understanding of oneself as more than just a physical entity with psychological attributes. It implies recognizing and realizing one’s inherent spiritual nature, which according to Isha Kriya’s philosophy, is an essential aspect of one’s overall well-being.
The philosophy of Isha Kriya underscores the interplay between the individual (microcosm) and the universe (macrocosm). It suggests that by achieving a certain level of consciousness and understanding of the self, an individual can experience a state of union or oneness with the universe. This union is often described as a state of ‘mystical’ or ‘transcendental’ experience, which can lead to profound peace, joy and freedom.
Isha Kriya meditation is structured to systematically guide the practitioner toward this understanding and experience. The practice is premised on the belief that each individual possesses the innate potential to transcend the limitations of body and mind to experience their ultimate nature. It assumes that a certain level of self-transformation can be achieved through sustained meditative practices.
The philosophy also posits that the dichotomy between the inner and outer realities can be transcended. It suggests that by consciously creating a certain distance between oneself and the physical body and mind, one can experience a sense of detachment and equanimity. This sense of detachment is not about disengagement from the world, but rather about achieving a state of balance and peace, irrespective of the external circumstances.
However, you have to note that the philosophy of Isha Kriya, like all spiritual philosophies, is subjective and can vary widely in interpretation. Consequently, while many practitioners report positive experiences and transformations, these experiences are inherently subjective and should not be construed as universal or absolute truths. Scientific studies examining the psychological and physiological effects of Isha Kriya and similar meditative practices are ongoing, contributing to a growing body of evidence in the fields of mindfulness, consciousness studies and contemplative science.
Mantras are often used in Isha Kriya meditation
In the practice of Isha Kriya meditation, several mantras are incorporated to facilitate various aspects of the meditative experience. The primary mantras employed are:
- “Aum” or “Om”: This is arguably the most recognized mantra in yoga and meditation. In the context of Isha Kriya, “Aum” is used to settle the mind and connect the practitioner with a universal vibration.
- “Aum Namah Shivaya“: Often translated as “I bow to Shiva,” this mantra is used to invoke the energy of Shiva, considered the primal yogi in the yogic tradition. This mantra helps foster a deep sense of reverence and internal focus, acting as a tool for concentration.
- “Shambho” or “Shambho Mahadeva”: “Shambho” is a salutation to the formless divine, an acknowledgment of the mystical dimensions of existence. This mantra is often used towards the conclusion of Isha Kriya sessions to establish a deep connection with the higher realms of consciousness.
- Breath mantras: In Isha Kriya, practitioners also utilize specific patterns of breath as a form of mantra. This might include conscious patterns like “inhale-exhale-hold,” where each step is regarded as a mantra to guide and deepen the practice.
These mantras are not just arbitrary sounds but are considered potent tools for transformation in the yogic science. Each one carries a unique vibratory quality that assists in attuning the practitioner’s physical and mental energies to specific states of consciousness, thereby enhancing the overall effectiveness of the Isha Kriya meditation practice.
Benefits of Isha Kriya meditation
The practice of Isha Kriya meditation is posited to offer a variety of benefits according to both its proponents and a growing body of empirical research in the field of mindfulness and meditation. These benefits span various domains of human well-being, including physical health, mental clarity, emotional balance and spiritual growth.
- Enhanced mental clarity and focus: Regular practice of Isha Kriya meditation can potentially lead to increased mental clarity and focus. By calming the mind and reducing the constant chatter of thoughts, practitioners often report an improved ability to concentrate and make decisions. Some research has suggested that regular meditation can improve attention span and cognitive performance.
- Emotional balance and stress reduction: Isha Kriya meditation involves techniques designed to promote relaxation and tranquillity. This can help reduce stress levels and promote a sense of inner peace and emotional balance. Research has shown that regular meditation can be effective in managing stress and anxiety and improving overall mental health.
- Physical health: The practice of Isha Kriya includes physical postures and breathing exercises, which can contribute to overall physical health. Regular practice can improve posture, flexibility and respiratory health. Additionally, the stress-reducing effects of meditation can have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health and immune function.
- Spiritual growth and Self-realization: Central to the philosophy of Isha Kriya is the concept of self-realization. Regular practice is said to facilitate a deeper understanding of oneself and one’s place in the universe, leading to spiritual growth and a sense of connection with a larger existence.
- Improved sleep: By helping to calm the mind, meditation can often lead to improved sleep quality. Research has found a correlation between regular meditation and improved insomnia symptoms, better sleep quality and reduced fatigue.
- Increased resilience: By teaching techniques to maintain equanimity and balance in the face of external circumstances, Isha Kriya can potentially increase resilience to life’s stresses and challenges. Practitioners often report an improved ability to manage difficult situations and emotions.
The practice of Isha Kriya meditation offers potential benefits for holistic well-being, integrating physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. However, as with any self-improvement practice, individual experiences can vary greatly. Thus, you must to approach this practice with an open mind and realistic expectations, understanding that benefits may be more apparent over time and with consistent practice. Further research and individual exploration are necessary to substantiate and fully understand the scope of these benefits.
How to practice Isha Kriya meditation at home
Practicing Isha Kriya meditation at home can be an effective way to incorporate the benefits of this meditative practice into your daily routine. It is relatively simple and does not require any special equipment. However, it is recommended that you learn the technique under proper guidance before practicing it on your own. The Isha Foundation offers online resources and classes for this purpose.
- Setting an intention: Prior to beginning the meditation, practitioners are encouraged to set an intention or Sankalpa. This could be a personal goal or a broader wish for well-being.
- Set up your space: Choose a quiet, clean, and comfortable space where you will not be disturbed. You can sit on a chair or on the floor, but ensure that your spine is comfortably erect.
- Posture: Ensuring the correct posture is fundamental in Isha Kriya. Practitioners are advised to sit comfortably in a cross-legged position, keeping the spine comfortably erect. If sitting on the floor is not possible, one can sit on a chair with feet flat on the ground. Hands are placed in the lap, facing upward.
- Relaxation: Begin by closing your eyes and taking a few moments to relax your body and mind. You can do this by consciously releasing tension from different parts of your body and slowing down your breath.
- Hold and release technique: Following the inhalation-exhalation technique, practitioners hold the breath momentarily and then release. This technique, when coupled with the mental chant of a mantra like ‘Aum’, is believed to regulate the energies within the body.
- Breathing and Visualization: Inhale and exhale gently, slowly, and deeply. As you do this, visualize or feel that with each inhalation, you are drawing in energy and vitality into your system, and with each exhalation, you are expelling any negativity or stress.
- Chanting: The next phase involves chanting the sound “A-U-M,” mentally. As you chant the sound “A,” visualize or feel that the vibrations are originating from the base of your spine and moving upwards. As you chant “U,” let the vibrations spread across your torso. Finally, as you chant “M,” feel the vibrations in the upper part of your body, particularly around your head. Repeat this process for a certain period (usually 7-11 minutes).
- Breathing with awareness: After chanting, shift your focus to your breath. Inhale and exhale with awareness, without making any effort to control the breath. Let your breath flow naturally and simply observe it. This can be done for about 7-11 minutes.
- Sitting quietly: Finally, sit quietly with your eyes closed for a few minutes. During this time, try not to engage with your thoughts or sensory perceptions. Simply remain as a witness to everything that is happening within and around you.
The entire practice takes about 15-20 minutes and can be done twice a day. Regular practice of Isha Kriya meditation can lead to a profound sense of peace and wellbeing. However, LotusBuddhas please note that the above steps provide a general guideline for practicing Isha Kriya at home. Specific details and nuances related to the practice should be learned under proper guidance to ensure the practice is safe and effective. Moreover, as with any form of physical or mental exercise, if you have any health conditions, it’s recommended that you consult with a healthcare provider before starting the practice.
Is Isha Kriya suitable for beginners?
As LotusBuddhas shared at the beginning of the article, Isha Kriya is indeed suitable for beginners. The beauty of this meditative practice lies in its simplicity and accessibility. It has been designed by Sadhguru, founder of the Isha Foundation, to be easily incorporated into the daily routines of individuals, regardless of their previous experience with meditation or yoga.
One of the fundamental principles of Isha Kriya is that it is a ‘kriya’, meaning it is an action or practice designed to bring about an inner transformation. The techniques involved in Isha Kriya are simple yet powerful, allowing even beginners to experience the benefits of a structured meditation practice.
The practice entails a combination of controlled breathing, visualization, and mantras, all of which are easy to understand and implement for beginners. The guided meditation, provided through various mediums such as the Isha Foundation’s website, YouTube channel, and mobile applications, gives clear, step-by-step instructions, making it easy for novices to follow along.
Moreover, Isha Kriya does not require any particular physical fitness level or flexibility, unlike certain forms of yoga. It can be performed by individuals of all ages and physical conditions, provided they are comfortable sitting with their spine erect for the duration of the practice. This makes it an inclusive and accessible practice for beginners.
However, as with any new practice, beginners may initially encounter challenges such as restlessness or difficulty concentrating. It is important to approach the practice with patience and consistency, understanding that these challenges are a natural part of the learning process. Over time, as the practice becomes more familiar, these difficulties usually diminish.
In addition to being beginner-friendly, Isha Kriya is scalable. As practitioners become more comfortable with the basic techniques, they can deepen their practice by focusing more intently on the breath, visualization, and mantras, potentially deriving even greater benefits from the practice.
Where to find a guided Isha Kriya meditation video?
A guided Isha Kriya meditation video can be found on various online platforms. The most official and credible source would be the Isha Foundation’s own resources. Founded by Sadhguru, the Isha Foundation offers free Isha Kriya practices online, aiming to make this form of meditation accessible to everyone.
- Isha Foundation’s website: You can visit the Isha Foundation’s official website, where they have a dedicated section for Isha Kriya. This includes a detailed, step-by-step guide to the practice as well as a free online guided meditation video.
- YouTube: The Isha Foundation has an official YouTube channel, “Sadhguru,” which features a variety of content including discourses, interviews, and guided practices. You can search for “Isha Kriya guided meditation” in the channel to find the video.
- Mobile apps: The Isha Foundation also offers mobile applications such as “Sadhguru – Yoga & Meditation” where you can find guided Isha Kriya meditation. These apps are available for download on both Android and iOS platforms.
- Online learning platforms: Certain online learning platforms also offer courses on Isha Kriya, which may include guided video instructions.
- Social media: The Isha Foundation maintains a presence on various social media platforms where they periodically post content related to their practices, including Isha Kriya.
You have to ensure that the source of the guided Isha Kriya meditation video is credible and aligned with the teachings of the Isha Foundation. Unauthorized or inaccurate versions may not provide the intended benefits and could potentially lead to misconceptions or misuse of the practice.
Famous Isha Kriya meditation centers in the world
Isha Kriya is a global practice, facilitated through various centers affiliated with the Isha Foundation, as well as through online platforms. Below are some of the most renowned Isha Kriya Meditation Centers around the world:
- Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore, India: This is the international headquarters of the Isha Foundation. It hosts a variety of yoga and meditation programs, including Isha Kriya, and is home to the Dhyanalinga, a unique meditative space that attracts thousands of visitors from around the world.
- Isha Institute of Inner Sciences, McMinnville, Tennessee, USA: This is the primary hub of Isha Foundation activities in North America. The 1,400-acre campus provides an environment for individuals to learn and practice Isha Kriya and other forms of yoga and meditation under trained instructors.
- Isha Yoga Center, London, United Kingdom: Located in the heart of London, this center provides opportunities for individuals to learn Isha Kriya and participate in a variety of related programs.
- Isha Yoga Center, Singapore: As the main center in Southeast Asia, this location offers regular Isha Kriya classes along with various other yoga and meditation programs.
- Isha Yoga Center, Dubai, UAE: Serving the Middle East region, the Dubai Center offers regular classes on Isha Kriya as well as other programs offered by the Isha Foundation.
How wonderful! LotusBuddhas please note that Isha Kriya is a practice designed for broad accessibility, and Sadhguru has made the technique available for free online. This means that while these physical centers are significant locations for the Isha Foundation, individuals around the globe can learn and practice Isha Kriya wherever they are.