Sodarshan Chakra Kriya: physical and practical instructions

Here are for your reference merely the physical and practical instructions without the philosophy or benefits:

POSITION: Sit with a straight spine (either with legs crossed or sitting on a chair with feet flat on the ground) Eyes are focused at the tip of the nose, or closed if you prefer.

(more about sitting straight & focussing on the nose below the unaltered teachings of Yogi Bhajan)

a) Block off the right nostril with the right thumb. Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril and hold the breath.
Mentally chant ‘Wahe Guru” 16 times, while pumping the navel point 3 times with each repetition (once on ”Waa”, once on ”hey”, and once on ”Guru”) for a total of 48 pumps.
b) Unblock the right nostril and use the right index or pinkie finger to block the left nostril. Exhale slowly and deeply through the right nostril. Continue, inhaling left nostril, exhaling right.

TO END: Inhale and hold 5-10 seconds. Exhale. Then stretch and shake the body for about 1 minute to circulate the energy.
TIME: Suggested length for this kriya is 31 or 62 minutes a day. The ideal is to start at 31 minutes, but you can begin with 11 minutes, then build up to 31, then 40, and eventually 62.

Yogi Bhajan has suggested that we follow any Kriya with One Minute Breath: 20 seconds slow inhale, 20 seconds suspending the breath and 20 seconds slowly releasing the breath. Do this for up to 11 minutes. If you have trouble with 20 seconds then do 15 seconds. Don’t beat yourself up. This should be a delicious experience where you savor the subtlety of your efforts. This will allow your whole psyche to fully assimilate and digest the Kriya consciously and will help you sustain the effects of your practice.

Yogi Bhajan said in Gurdwara on Sunday, December 22nd, 2002:
“Now, most powerful and beautiful is Sodarshan Chakra Kriya.  I thought that I have taught for so many years, now people are ready for it.  We didn’t start teaching it the first day. For me (I do not know about anyone else) it took 30 years to be able to control my left and right nostrils without holding them with my fingers.  And I still do that sometimes when I feel very weak – I use my hand and fingers.  Somebody can say, “Switching nostrils is not needed since the air coming through the right nostril and the left nostril meets.”  We shall not take any responsibility for such wrong practices!   What the hell is one creating? Disturbing the pituitary, the master command gland?  These kinds of jokes will end by themselves, but it will be dangerous for those who practice it wrong.   There is nothing in the teachings which are not clearly stated and which have not worked accurately”

And another Yogi Bhajan Quote from
“The Teachings are the Teachings, and have no one’s personality in them.  I never edit them; you should not edit them.  It is a Golden Chain.  My own prayer is that you can perfect what it is, and go with it.  It is a funny thing.  It is a three thousand year old proven path – it’s not going to stop.  Why do you want to add or subtract something – to satisfy your ego or convince students?  It is very deceitful on the part of a teacher to teach teachings to please people.  So honestly give people what we have.  Teach like me. Teach exactly as it is.  If you are not going to teach Kundalini Yoga purely, then don’t teach it at all. With Kundalini Yoga you are dealing with the life force of the atom.  Don’t play with the pranic energy”

This is how the Siri Singh Sahib (Yogi Bhajan) keeps track of the counting.
Inhale (blocking the right nostril with the right thumb, other fingers held straight up in the air). And then I hold, and then I count ’16’ – – how? One. two. three — counts with the pinkie finger, moving it slightly three times. Four. Five, six — moves the ring finger three times. Seven, eight, nine — moves the middle or Saturn finger three times. Ten. eleven, twelve: — moves the index finger three times Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen — moves the thumb slightly for three beats. Sixteen — brings the index finger over to block off the left nostril, as he releases the right thumb from the right nostril. Then Exhale through right nostril.
You are open to try what works for you.

— above were unaltered teachings of Yogi Bhajan in order not to change anything.
The way I counted was that
I moved my thumbs from finger to finger on each 3 “Wahe Guru” pumps:

Left Thumb to left Index finger and
1. right thumb to right index finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
2. right thumb to right middle finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
3. right thumb to right ring finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
4. right thumb to right little finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
Left Thumb to Middle finger and
5. right thumb to right index finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
6. right thumb to right middle finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
7. right thumb to right ring finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
8. right thumb to right little finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
Left Thumb to left Ring finger and
9. right thumb to right index finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
10. right thumb to right middle finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
11. right thumb to right ring finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
12. right thumb to right little finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
Left Thumb to left pinky finger and
13. right thumb to right index finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
14. right thumb to right middle finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
15. right thumb to right ring finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”, then
16. right thumb to right little finger pumping “Wa”, “He”, “Guru”.

However I want to point out, that both counting systems are just suitable until you internalize the 16 pump cycles. Then you should put your hands onto the knees and feel the 16 beats (I feel them as 4×4 beats now).
About the posture:
From the Hindu Tradition (one of the sources for Sikhism) I gathered:
The Jalandhar Bandha is a yoga position in which the neck is to be bent a little for achieving this bandh. But it should not be bent much. It is to be pressed onto the depression just as a spring is pressed with a little force.
It has been described in Hathapradeepika in the third chapter:
“The chin is to be pressed on the chest (heart) after contracting the throat. This bandh eliminates old age and death. The contracted veins in the throat ensure that the liquid from the skies is received here. Hence, the bandh has been appropriately known as Jalandhar Bandh, which means that it destroys any pain in the throat.
… Who practices this bandh for six months will, no doubt, achieve siddha status.”
And I also want to emphasize that I read that this exercise is even more effective be done with eyes focussing on the tip of the nose. This will definitely be the hardest part of the entire exercise and everyone I know hates this.
It is futile to force it, but instead constructive to relax into a forceful non-resistant state of mind which allows the eyes to drift within. (I did set myself from time to time a second short timer repeating itself which reminded me often to focus on the nose again.)
It has literally to do with a state of relaxed focus and by my experience this leads to a stronger presence, to literally be more in the “here and now” – which is probably why this Kriya is for focus (on the third eye).

2 Replies to “Sodarshan Chakra Kriya: physical and practical instructions”

  1. I don’t have complete control of my right hand. My right side has an awful tremor. I use my left hand to block off the nostrils. Do you think this will make a difference?


  2. Hi Amy, your question just comes at the right time, because I am just writing a series on the principles behind Sodarshan Chakra Kriya (or spiritual principles in general) and because of that thought about whether someone I know who lost the nerves of his right arm due to an accident could do SCK.

    I know how you must feel, because I once broke my back (in a lucky way, because would it have broken a bit further I would have been paraplegic, but I am not). I could take the fact that I will have only be able to stay of sit upright for a few hours and could not do a physical job, but when I had the fear that I could never reach the maximum spiritual bliss, because my Kundalini may not rise anymore, I asked a longterm pranayama meditator called JV (whom you can reach through my contact form if you wish), and he told me that the Kundalini-Energy would not be blocked by spinal issues. This did comfort me big-time and kept me practicing – in the beginning only being able to sit for 10 minutes at the time, and what do you know – I now can sit for a full 2.5 hours and even start doing things afterwards on top of it.

    In the same way I can comfort you that the good news is: No, don’t worry, SCK will work, because the most important is to take the air in through the left side of the body and let it out through the right side,
    the second most important is that you block the right nostril with the thumb (which is a tiny bit more uncomfortable with the left hand) and block the left nostril with your index finger, because the left nostril is related to the (yin) moon side and the right to the (yang) sun side, and the thumb also is related to the sun whilst the index finger is related to Jupiter, the spiritual aspect.

    Even if someone had no fingers anymore it would work by blocking the right nostril with the thumb area and the left one with the dorsal side of the palm at the opposite side, because it is related to the moon.

    There are other techniques out there which don’t even utilise the left-right nose-breathing.
    This is just a refined version which uses all tricks at once, so I would do it.

    Since you subscribed, you will get my upcoming series of the hidden principles behind all of this and if there are still questions just post them below the correlating articles in the blog.

    Actually: If you do this – your right arm may even improve very slowly in time, just as my back does.

    The reason why your right arm might improve is because in Chinese Medicine is related to blood in general and the liver and gallbladder which both correlate to the etheric soul called Hun. And this aspect , is strongly related to spirituality. Hence spiritual work in general (not only SCK) will adjust that aspect, and since Liver and Gallbladder belong to the wood-element, which correlates to the free flow of energy any kinds of stagnation (which tremors are a pathological symptom of) will be rebalanced towards a free flow of your energy.

    Just be very patient, because this Kriya (exercise) is holistic and will not specifically work on your right arm but your entire personality (so you might cry a few more times on the way there, because it will bring up quite a few literal “in-sights”, which at times can be unpleasant when realising own previous misconceptions).


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