Lecture 1 | Lecture 2 | Lecture 3

Vladimir Ivanovich Orlov

Lecture 3

I will now present the ideas underlying the so-called KRIYA technique. The Kriya technique consists of three main components: position, breathing and concentration.  These components may be used either independently of each other or in any combination.  Let us start with positions.

ASANA is an uncomfortable position of the body that induces static stress on various, carefully chosen muscles and is maintained without moving for a long period of time.  Very nervous and highly developed children frequently think up such positions for themselves as a way of calming themselves down.  Rigid poses are also encountered as a symptom of one of the forms of schizophrenia – catatonia.  However, the positions assumed in schizophrenia are typically simpler.  When Asana is performed correctly, there is no need for it to be accompanied by performance of any breathing or concentration exercises.  When it is performed incorrectly, even combining it with breathing and concentration will not help.  What is correct performance?  The exercise is being performed correctly when it is accompanied by an unusually pleasant sensation - the bliss of muscle happiness –and for a long period of time one does not want to stop the exercise.  However it should be stopped at the first signs of fatigue.  After a single correct performance of such an exercise one retains a feeling of optimism, equilibrium, and an elevated, happy mood for 2-3 days.  But learning to perform it correctly requires a great deal of work. Moreover, should you stop practicing Yoga for a significant period and you will lose the knack of performing Asanas.  Then you must spend a great deal of time “learning” how to perform them once again.  It is best to perform only one carefully selected Asana.  You can learn to do a single Asana more rapidly.  Virtually any of the complex Asanas may take the place of all the others and this Asana will become your faithful assistant and life’s companion, if, of course, you are not intending to devote your life to the study and development of Hatha Yoga.  To perform Asanas you nevertheless need some degree of talent.  Only one in five children and one in twenty adults succeeds in learning to perform Asanas correctly. But the programmatic statement for Yoga maintains that anyone can be taught – with enough effort and time. I never had such a great deal of time or energy and so I only taught those who were most capable.  All this also applies to breathing and concentration.  Of the people capable of performing Asanas far fewer can master breathing and concentration. But if a person is not capable of doing Asanas, breathing and concentration should not even be attempted.  After all, there are a great many safer and more appealing activities in the world: motorcycle racing, mountain climbing, skiing, etc.

Mastery of Asanas is not only conducive to an elevated mood and psychological and physical health, but also prepares the practitioner to ascend further up the ladder of Yoga.  Having mastered any Asana to perfection, you can try concentration.  However, you do not need to be in an Asana to concentrate.  You can concentrate in any comfortable position, for example, lying down.  The goal of concentration is to achieve a state of deep self-hypnosis.  The techniques for inducing hypnosis and self-hypnosis are well known and I will not discuss them in detail here.  Verbal autosuggestion is a possible route.  You can fix your eyes on a bright point, you can look at your own navel or at a point 10 cm above your navel.  You can listen to the sound of silence, you can picture bright images of warmth and heaviness, vividly visualize colors, or you can imagine God, you can repeat the syllable “OM” or any other word, you can imagine the touch of water or fire ascending the column of your spine. You can image the alternation of a rippled and smooth water surface, you can image any dynamic process.  You can do all this at one time, or in turn. I recommend choosing a particular concentration technique and never straying from it. Best of all is to learn by heart, to memorize like a prayer, a standard text for hypnotic induction that can be found in any hypnosis textbook: “Your eyelids are closing, you are getting sleepy…” (Except, instead of “your,” you should say “my.”)

Only after you have learned to plunge yourself into deep hypnosis and have learned how, automatically without conscious control, to follow the suggestions in the self hypnosis formula (for example, if the formula includes the suggestion that you draw a lotus flower on a piece of paper, and after you are awakened by the memorized, unconscious self-suggestion at the end of the text to “wake up,” you will have absolutely no idea how a drawing of a lotus got into your hands), only then will you be entitled to consider that you have mastered concentration and thus will be able to move on to breathing.  Of course you can use a tape recorder for self-hypnosis. Although that would be a violation of the tradition of Yoga, it makes the task much easier. Unlike concentration, which, in principle can be performed without first learning to do Asanas, breathing exercises must not be performed until you have perfectly mastered self-hypnosis (concentration).

There are only scattered instances of breathing exercises being successfully performed in a wakeful, active state.  Indeed, the technique for breathing becomes dramatically more difficult to implement under such conditions.  It becomes so complicated that describing it in comprehensible words becomes impossible.  Nevertheless, I will say a few words about this later.

The normal practice is to first immerse yourself in a state of deep hypnosis, let us say, using a tape recorder, and then to induce one or another breathing rhythm in yourself. Induce is the key word.  When, a companion or your teacher has confirmed that the rhythm given by the tape recorder (one can simply count during recording) is being followed, then you can move on to Pranayama, that is very slow, maximally deep breathing with maximal holding of breath on inhalation and exhalation.  Here duration of breath holding must be increased very slowly and gradually.  You must achieve a rhythm of 1-minute inhalation 1-minute holding of the breath, 1-minute exhalation, and 1-minute holding of the breath, etc.

You must breathe in accordance with the rules of complete breathing (first the diaphragm, then the ribs, then the apex of the lungs).  After you achieve a breathing rhythm of 1:1:1:1 with each phase lasting 1 minute, you can successively train yourself to master other types of breathing (the “cleansing” breath, the breath of the yogis, etc.).

If you train your breathing before working on concentration (the so-called short-cut route), then you should start with rhythmic breathing and work on it for a very long period on and then begin to work on superficial breathing.  But while it is easy to say – train yourself on rhythmic and superficial breathing, it is a great deal more difficult to do these properly.  When you perform rhythmic breathing correctly, your whole body begins to vibrate, then is covered with perspiration, then for a long time afterwards you feel renewed, cleansed, clear and light, even if you do not continue to train for as long as two weeks.  And when you do superficial breathing properly you acquire a remarkable ability to concentrate, strength of gaze, and harmony and power in every movement.  And only after extended practice in superficial breathing can you move on to Pranayama – that is very deep breathing with very long periods of breathholding.

I have a few more words to say about superficial breathing.  This type of breathing is very important.  It occurs while the lungs are almost empty.  The major task is to reduce depth of inhalation and exhalation virtually to zero.  And yet it is very rhythmic and smooth, without holding of the breath.  This type of breathing under no circumstances should be performed in jerks nor involve breathholding.  In general this is a very difficult, maybe the most difficult type of breathing.  I will not undertake to describe in detail the technique for performing it.  I will merely say that the pharynx is tensed in a particular way (and even in this tightening conscious effort plays virtually no part), and the bronchi produce certain rhythmic movements (smooth muscles of the bronchi), which is remarkably pleasant so that you don’t feel like stopping.  When you perform this exercise you must never feel as if you are not getting enough air – not even to the slightest extent.  This is the grossest error.  You must not strain your will to perform this exercise.  A feeling of serenity, freedom and happiness permeates you with great strength when you perform superficial breathing exercises correctly.  Furthermore the emotional lift is remarkably enduring.  After performing these breathing exercises a single time, the effects endure for many months if you live a very moderate life and eat temperately.

The most powerful Yoga exercise is Pranayama.  The effect of this type of breathing is the most long lasting and powerful.  It far surpasses the effects of other breathing exercises.  Pranayama leads to an awakening of still unstudied human capacities.  Pranayama, in combination with deep concentration, leads to the state known as SAMADHI.

A person who is able intentionally to immerse himself in controlled Samadhi at any moment has reached the highest lifetime Yoga level.  He obtains the right to be a teacher.

If a yogi achieves a somewhat higher level of progress, which can be attained through constant “practice of Samadhi,” he becomes able to control his body and all his capacities (including the ordinary and extraordinary, little known capacities) virtually completely.  He is able to read the book of feelings of any other person at any distance.  He is able to do many other things.  But there is no degree of progress that makes a yogi omnipotent or omniscient, as is often stated in poor books.  All yogis are just as mortal as ordinary people.  They generally do not even live much longer.  They even get sick, sometimes incurably sick.  And in such cases they are unable to, rather than do not wish to, help themselves.  But yogis always die with their heads held high.  They do not know the fear of death.  No other philosophy or psychophysiology can achieve that.

In addition I wanted to mention several other programmatic statements made by yogis.  For example, that if you perform the simplest exercises (Asanas, concentration, simple breathing) correctly or are merely a very honorable, decent person and do a good job on the work you have been assigned in a government institution, then this is enough to allow you to become a real yogi and achieve Samadhi, as is written in certain books, especially poor books about Sufism (one of the simplified versions of Yoga, a kind of Yoga for everyone). As programmatic statements these may be justified, but I myself know nothing about such simple ways of achieving Samadhi.

Yoga is, first and foremost, hard, exhausting work.  And all the lightning quick methods are either deceptions, or self-deceptions.  In any event, they are methods for the extraordinarily gifted individuals.  These methods are poorly developed and presuppose very solid preparation, which must be obtained using another technique.

I first entered deep Samadhi a half century ago, in other words I have had a rather solid foundation of experience, but when I read various books about Yoga and attempt to follow the techniques described there exactly (in the very few cases where they are not obviously nonsensical), I generally achieve nothing.  Only 2-3% of the books contain a reference to a technique that can actually be used.  Bit if you knew the idea and the final result, it would actually be easier to think up your own technique.  However, recently I came upon a very good book by Zakharov in German, with the help of which I followed Zakharov’s path in about 3 hours and achieved not merely the results described but actually somewhat more.  This is a very simple but insufficiently rapid and effective technique.  A person with good capacities who used it would need 20 years to attain deep Samadhi.  Other books are even worse.  Furthermore, training using Zakharov’s method is quite dangerous.  You must have an experienced teacher.

With this I will close the first half of the course.  The second half will consider in detail the technique for Asanas, one method of concentration and Pranayama, minor and major, with the help of deep concentration.  In addition, I will describe in detail one safe and somewhat more efficient version of Zakharov’s method, say a few words about the techniques of Sufism, and propose one simpler and safer method, analogous to Sufism.  In conclusion, I will present a complete bibliography of books on Yoga and will speak briefly about several unwritten laws concerning the relationships between teachers and pupils.

Translated by Lydia Razran Stone

(Edited by Val Price)

Lecture 1 | Lecture 2 | Lecture 3