Yogic Flying is an advanced technique within the Transcendental Meditation movement, offers a unique blend of physical exertion and mental tranquility. This intriguing practice is more than meets the eye, promising both bodily engagement and profound meditative experiences.
If you go to the park and come across people sitting in the Lotus or Half-Lotus pose, tranquil, with closed eyes in a meditative state, and then suddenly they jump off the ground like frogs but still maintain the Lotus pose, and shortly after, their bodies touch the ground again, that mysterious practice is called Yogic Flying. It’s a complex practice, meticulously designed to fuse physical dynamics with meditative focus.
What is Yogic Flying?
Yogic Flying, sometimes known as the “levitation technique,” is a practice that originates from the Transcendental Meditation movement. This movement was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the mid-20th century, with yogic flying introduced as an advanced technique in the late 1970s. The technique is part of the Maharishi’s Yogic Flying program, which falls under the broader umbrella of the Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Sidhi Program.
The technique of Yogic Flying is considered a mental-physical exercise, purported to influence both the mind and body through specific postures and meditative techniques. The process is typically divided into three stages. The first stage involves the practitioner hopping while in a cross-legged position, the second stage claims to involve hovering in the air, and the third stage suggests sustained flight. However, there’s no empirical evidence supporting the ability to hover or fly, as claimed in the latter two stages.
From a theoretical perspective, practitioners believe that the practice harnesses the body’s latent spiritual energy or ‘prana’. The ultimate goal is not the physical action of levitation but rather the purported benefits, such as inner peace, enhanced creativity, increased brain function and reduced stress. The practice is said to integrate mind, body, and environment, which in turn promotes a state of enlightened consciousness or unity.
The technique has been the subject of some controversy, particularly due to its presentation in the media and the lack of scientific evidence to support its more ambitious claims. Critics argue that the purported benefits are overstated and can be misleading. Nonetheless, the practice has found a global following and is often showcased at events organized by the Transcendental Meditation movement.
How does Yogic Flying work?
The practice of Yogic Flying involves a series of physical and mental exercises, with its functionality derived from both meditative and physiological components.
On a physical level, the first stage of Yogic Flying involves the practitioner sitting cross-legged, typically in the Lotus or Half-Lotus position, and gently hopping forward. This is achieved through the contraction of the muscles, especially the lower body and abdominal muscles. The practitioner’s hands remain on the ground for balance and to assist with the hopping motion. In this regard, the technique may be viewed as a physical exercise.
However, the mental component is a crucial aspect of the Yogic Flying technique. It integrates a highly focused and relaxed state of mind akin to that reached in transcendental meditation. During the practice, the individual is expected to enter a state of consciousness known as the ‘Transcendental Consciousness’, the fourth state of consciousness according to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In this state, the practitioner experiences a state of restful alertness where the mind is said to be in its most creative and powerful state.
In the subsequent stages of Yogic Flying, which involve hovering and sustained flight, the practice moves beyond physical explanation and delves into the realm of the metaphysical. According to proponents, these stages are reached when the individual taps into a ‘unified field of all the laws of nature’, which is believed to allow the defiance of gravity. To date, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims, and they remain controversial.
The perceived effectiveness of Yogic Flying, beyond the initial physical stage, relies heavily on personal belief and subjective experience. The practice operates under the premise that the mind has the potential to influence physical reality, a concept that aligns with various spiritual and philosophical traditions.
How to practice Yogic Flying for beginners
The practice of Yogic Flying, particularly in its initial stage, combines physical exertion with deep mental focus. The following outlines a general approach to the technique for beginners, but LotusBuddhas advise against attempting to practice it at home without expert guidance.
- Select a suitable location: It’s recommended to practice in a spacious, quiet, and distraction-free environment. A soft mat or cushion can provide comfort and safety, given the hopping involved in the first stage.
- Assume the position: Sit cross-legged on the mat. The Lotus or Half-Lotus position, where one or both feet are placed on the opposing thigh, is commonly used. Place your hands on the mat, beside your hips, with the palms facing downward.
- Mental preparation: Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Prepare your mind for meditation by relaxing your thoughts and focusing inward. Some practitioners may choose to recite a mantra silently.
- The “Takeoff”: In the first stage of Yogic Flying, the body is said to “take off” from the ground. This is achieved by pressing your palms down onto the mat and contracting your abdominal and lower body muscles to create a forward hopping motion. The hands remain on the floor to maintain balance and assist with the hopping.
- Landing: Land softly and maintain the cross-legged position upon landing, ready for the next hop.
- Repetition: Repeat the hopping process while maintaining a deep meditative focus. The goal is not just the physical activity, but achieving a state of restful alertness and tranquility.
You must to remember that Yogic Flying is an advanced technique in the Transcendental Meditation program. Beginners are typically advised to first gain a firm foundation in Transcendental Meditation before attempting Yogic Flying.
As with any form of physical exercise or meditation, it is essential to listen to your body and respect your limitations. If any discomfort or strain is experienced, the practice should be modified or discontinued until professional advice is obtained.
Benefits of practicing Yogic Flying
The benefits attributed to the practice of Yogic Flying fall into two main categories: physiological and psychological. However, it’s crucial to note that empirical evidence to support these claims is sparse, and much of the reported benefits come from subjective accounts by practitioners and proponents of the technique.
- Enhanced physical fitness: The hopping motion in the first stage of Yogic Flying can provide a moderate form of physical exercise, potentially contributing to improved muscle tone and strength, particularly in the lower body and core. The physical exertion could also promote cardiovascular health to a certain degree.
- Increased flexibility: The cross-legged positions used in Yogic Flying are common in various yoga practices and can help increase flexibility over time, especially in the hips and lower body.
- Improved coordination and balance: The action of hopping and landing while maintaining a specific posture can aid in enhancing body coordination and balance.
- Reduced stress and anxiety: Like many meditation practices, Yogic Flying aims to induce a state of deep relaxation and mental clarity, which may help alleviate stress and anxiety.
- Enhanced cognitive functions: Some practitioners report improved focus, creativity, and cognitive capabilities following regular practice. However, rigorous scientific evidence to validate these claims is limited.
- Increased self-awareness: The meditative component of Yogic Flying can potentially cultivate greater self-awareness and mindfulness, qualities associated with improved mental health.
- Experiences of transcendence: Practitioners often report experiences of deep inner peace, joy, and even transcendence during their practice, contributing to a general sense of well-being.
From an academic perspective, we have to approach these claims critically. The physiological benefits related to the physical exertion in Yogic Flying’s first stage may be comparable to those gained from similar levels of exercise in other contexts. The psychological benefits, while similar to those reported by practitioners of various meditation techniques, require further scientific scrutiny specific to Yogic Flying.
Most significantly, claims relating to the latter stages of Yogic Flying—particularly those suggesting the ability to hover or achieve sustained flight, and any associated benefits—are not supported by current scientific understanding or empirical evidence. As such, they should be viewed with skepticism until further validated by robust, scientific research.
Misconceptions about Yogic Flying
Yogic Flying has been surrounded by several misconceptions, primarily due to its name, the portrayal of the practice in popular media, and the metaphysical claims associated with its advanced stages. Here are some of the major misconceptions:
- Literal flying: Given its name, one of the most common misconceptions is that Yogic Flying involves literal, sustained flight or levitation. In reality, the first stage, which is the most commonly practiced and publicly demonstrated, involves a hopping motion while sitting cross-legged. As for the claimed higher stages of hovering and sustained flight, there is no empirical evidence to support these assertions as of my knowledge cut-off in September 2021.
- Instantaneous results: Another misconception is that the benefits of Yogic Flying, such as stress reduction or enhanced cognitive function, can be achieved immediately. Like many physical and meditative practices, it typically requires regular practice and sustained commitment over time to notice any potential benefits.
- Exclusivity to Transcendental Meditation: Yogic Flying is often misconceived as being exclusively tied to Transcendental Meditation. While it’s an advanced technique within this movement, similar practices exist in various spiritual and yogic traditions. However, the specific methodology and underlying philosophy may differ significantly.
- Replacement for conventional treatment: There is a misconception that Yogic Flying or similar practices can replace conventional treatment for physical or mental health issues. While such practices may serve as complementary approaches, they should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
- Universality of experience: A misconception exists that everyone who practices Yogic Flying will have the same experience or gain the same benefits. However, as with any practice, experiences and benefits can vary widely based on individual factors such as physical condition, mental state, commitment to the practice and personal beliefs.
These misconceptions underscore the importance of understanding the practice of Yogic Flying in its correct context. Critical evaluation of available information, skepticism towards unverified claims, and a solid understanding of the actual practice are crucial to form an informed perspective on Yogic Flying. Furthermore, engaging with this practice should always be complemented by professional guidance, especially when considering its potential as a complementary approach to physical or mental health.