Shiva Swarodaya is an ancient Sanskrit tantric text. A comment and translation termed Satyananda Saraswati made Swara yoga in 1983. It is also termed “Phonetical astrology”: the “sound of one’s own breath” and is written as a conversation between Shiva and Parvati. This ancient scripture has 395 sutras.
Swara yoga is an ancient science that correlates the breath with the sun, moon and the five elements, helping us to control moods, heal ailments and be attuned to the cosmic rhythm.- Breathontology or Pranaontology is the art and science of creating sequences and patterns of the Swara to re-program brain responses.
A holistic branch of knowledge found in Shaiva Tantra, Swara yoga is said to have originated as a result of a question Shakti asks on the nature of the governing forces of the universe. Lord Shiva gave her detailed and profound tuition on Swara yoga in response.
Activities associated with the dominance of each specific nostril
Left nostril dominance
(right brain activities)
Beginning of regular intellectual studies
Worshipping the guru
Playing instruments, singing, dancing
Giving charity, lending money
Opening bank account
Journey to far-off places
Right nostril dominance
(left brain activities)
Learning or teaching martial arts
Unstable business; needs action
Seeing the king addressing officials
Writing; the practice of tantra, mantra, yantra
Chopping wood, lighting fire
Accepting charity, borrowing
Journey to nearby places/return journey
Ordering or giving commands
What is swara?
The word ‘Swara’ in Sanskrit means sound or a musical note. It also means the continuous flow of air through one nostril. The word yoga means union. Thus Swara yoga is the science of breathing undertaken to realize cosmic consciousness. This knowledge was kept secret since the Vedic period and imparted only to a select few, primarily kings and dedicated spiritual seekers through the guru-shishya parampara.
A beginner may think of Swara yoga as ‘pranayam’ as it is associated with breath, but there is more to it. Swara yoga is a systematic practice of the observation of the breath flow through the nostrils concerning the time of day, the prevailing phases or the position of the moon, sun, planets, seasons, and the play of five basic elements (earth, water, fire, air and space) with the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the practicing individual.
Swara Yoga helps by guiding you to take appropriate action in accordance with these subtle relationships. For example, knowing the phase of the moon and checking the dominant nostril before getting out of bed in the morning and letting the corresponding foot be the first to touch the floor is a simple practice that helps you align the subtle flow of energy that ensures success in everything that happens for that day.
The original script of Shiva Swarodaya, the most popular scripture to study Swara yoga, consists of 395 sutras with amazingly detailed descriptions of various practical aspects that can be quickly learnt and practiced by a modern, scientific mind. The practice of Shiva Swarodaya allows us to synchronize our breath with the universal rhythm. This alignment removes stresses and strains from our daily activities.
Swara Yoga practice helps us to change unwanted physical, mental or emotional states at will, create favourable conditions for one’s life by changing the internal environment and improve one’s attitude towards life through increased awareness.
How Swara yoga proposes the management of the breath?
This is how it works. The right nostril dominance is associated with Pingala Nadi or Surya Nadi (Nadi is the channel through which pranic energy flows in the body; we are said to have 72,000 nadis, but there are three principal ones, of which Pingala is one. Another is ida, which is said to flow along the length of the spinal cord, on either side of the main Nadi or the Sushumna). The Pingala, the masculine or solar principle, is associated with the brain’s left hemisphere, which controls the right side of the body. The left nostril dominance is associated with the Ida Nadi or Chandra Nadi, the feminine or lunar principle, associated with the right hemisphere of the brain and controlling the left side of the body.
Just by observing the direct effect of solar and lunar currents of breath on human behaviour, Swara yogis could ascertain the activities best suited during the left nostril dominance and activities best done during the right nostril dominance. The nose can be seen as the main switch of cerebral hemispheres. It can stimulate electromagnetic activity on one side of the body, and it can switch the hemispheric activity on and off at will. The above table gives activities associated with the nostrils.
At any given time, we only breathe through one nostril. You can check this for yourself right now by closing one nostril after another. The dominant nostril changes on its own accord every one to two hours. You can choose to do activities appropriate with the nostril as per the above table. But on occasions, you might need to adapt the nostril to the activity, such as while doing meditation (left nostril) or undertaking a strenuous activity (right nostril). Here are some tips on how to change the active nostril.
Sleeping on the left side opens the right nostril while sleeping on the right side opens the flow through the left nostril. Plugging the active nostril or the corresponding ear with a cotton plug can close it and open the other. Inhalation through the active nostril and exhalation through the inactive nostril helps to change the dominance. Cold water or hot water bath helps to change the dominant nostril.
The swaras can also be opened by placing pressure on the opposite armpits (this is why many portraits of ancient sages always showed them meditating with a stick under their armpits). There are other, purely mental methods.
Swara yoga also deals with the third Swara, the ‘shushumna’ breath, where the left and the right are perfectly balanced. It represents ‘Shiva’ (pure consciousness) in the state of ‘so-hum’. Whenever the nostrils switch, both are open for seven to eight breaths. That is the time when the shushumna breath flows. No worldly activities are recommended in Shiva Swara. One must meditate. Intuitive knowledge is received best during this state. A yogi tries to remain in shushumna Swara for maximum duration.
The practice of Swara yoga can produce miraculous results. Try these simple measures:
- If you want to alter an unwanted physical, emotional or mental state, just breathe through the more congested nostril. This prevents the worsening of the symptoms and promotes rapid recovery.
- Whenever it is desirable to influence the other person if one’s right nostril is operating, the person to be influenced should be positioned on the right, below or behind. In case of the left operating nostril, onto left, above or in the front.
- Get up each day at least half an hour before sunrise. Find out the dominant nostril. Kiss the corresponding hand. With the same hand, touch or rub the face, neck, chest, thighs and feet. Then while stepping out of bed, the foot that corresponds to the operating nostril should be placed on the ground first.
- To cure a common cold, breathe through the right nostril 21 times by blocking the left nostril. Also, sleeping on the left side gives considerable relief; as it activates the right nostril.
- In case of acidity and fever, activating the left nostril helps. You can block the right nostril and breathe through the left nostril 21 times. Also, sleeping on the right side helps to reduce fever.
Swara medicines can be prepared with the knowledge of Swara yoga. Swara medicines work at the vibrational level and have no side effects.
Breathontology and the creation of sequences
The dance of the flow of Swara in the nostril can be directed to achieve a specific effect in the brain by using precise combinations of the eight main yogi pranayamas ( control of breath) mentioned in the yoga sutras.
By controlling and managing the Swaras, a therapeutic result is evident in emotional and mental disbalances cases.
The eight yogi breath
- Dirga Pranayama’ Three Part Breath’…
- Nadi Sodhana’s Alternate Nostril Breathing.
- Shitali Pranayama’s Cooling Breath.
- Ujjayi Pranayama’s Ocean Breath.
- Bhramari Pranayama Humming Bee Breath.
- Bhastrika Pranayama’s Bellows Breath.
- Viloma Pranayama ‘Against The Wave’
Construction of sequences
Breathontology sequences are constructed according to:
Capacity, age and gender of the individual.
Season of the year.
An ayurvedic body type of the individual. ( vatta, pitta Kapha)
Desired health outcome of the individual.
Time of the day.
Desirable duration of the practice.
A practitioner designs all sequences in Breathontology.
Preparation to practice breathontology.
Practitioners of breathontology make sure that the candidate’s anatomy is suitable to circulate the prana in the body.
Some of the preparatory practices may include:
Jala net or Navana nasya (Ayurvedic nasal cleaning.)
Change of diet.
Other dinacharya ( daily routines) practices.
Balancing the five pranas in the body.
Familiarization with the principles of Swara yoga and pranayamas.
Objectives of breathontology.
The stabilization of the flow of prana in the body offers a study mind. With a steady mind, the practitioner can re-program obsolete/negative brain pattern responses and aim clear perception of reality. Breathontology works both as a self-empowerment and well-being as well as a platform for inner realization.