Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 139 - Dynamic Jalandhara - The Chin Pump
Date: Fri Mar 12, 2004 2:03pm
With meditation and spinal breathing we are doing global house cleaning in the nervous system, stimulating and balancing the divine energies in us at the same time. On top of these two wonderful global practices, we added a series of mudras, bandhas and asanas to directly target certain areas of the body, top and bottom. With kumbhaka (breath retention) in yoni mudra, we greatly increased stimulation of kundalini and the flow of prana in the spinal nerve, and beyond. Then we added nauli, and began targeted practice to bring kundalini up even more from the pelvic region, through the abdomen, and towards the heart.
Now, with all of that under our belt, we are ready to target the energy flows between the heart and the head. This is the territory of dynamic jalandhara. We learned static jalandhara bandha with yoni mudra kumbhaka. It is letting the chin go down to its comfortable limit toward the chest. Now we will use it in a more dynamic way. The effect will be to stimulate the movement of prana between the heart and the head. I call it the “chin pump,” because prana gets pumped up and down between the heart and head with this practice like you would not believe. It is a real cleanout and energy stimulation practice for the upper body and head.
We will be adding a new kumbhaka session with the chin pump. More on the logistics of that later. For now, what we will do is set up the same way we do for yoni mudra kumbhaka, except we will not be using the fingers on the eyes or nose. We want the head to be free to move around.
The same guidelines given for yoni mudra kumbhaka apply here regarding having the prerequisite practices in place and stable, and no health issues that could be aggravated by breath retention. You should be stable in all aspects of yoni mudra kumbhaka before you try the chin pump. An added precaution for the chin pump is that you should not have any neck or head conditions that could be aggravated by moving the head around.
So, we are sitting in siddhasana. We do our standard inhalation from the root up the spinal nerve to the point between the eyebrows, and we hold our breath closing the windpipe in our throat in the regular way we hold our breath using the epiglottis. Then we have ourselves in mulabandha, uddiyana, sambhavi and kechari, and looking out with attention through the third eye, all the same as in yoni mudra kumbhaka. With the chin pump, our hands are resting easily on our knees or thighs.
Now we begin to rotate our head slowly to the left, then back, then right, and then we let it “fall” down toward the chest in a faster swooping motion, sweeping across the bottom from right to left, and coming back up the left side of the circle, slowing down, and then around and dropping down again, and again, and so on. So we are making a slow circle with our head, except for the faster falling/swooping down toward the chest going from right to left. We keep doing this circular head motion when we are ready to let our kumbhaka out at the comfortable limit and are going back down the spine with our breath. We keep the head going as we fill up again, going up the spinal nerve with the breath. Then, when we are full again, we reverse the direction of rotation of our head, so we are falling/swooping from left to right as we go down towards the chest. We continue like this for the breath retention and until we exhale and inhale again. Then, when we are full, we switch the direction of the head again. And so on, rotating left on a complete kumbhaka breath, and right on the next kumbhaka breath, and so on, switching the direction of head rotation each time we are full with air again. This is the chin pump.
Now let’s talk more about some more particulars. When we are first learning, we limit this practice to four breaths. Later on, as we get comfortable with it, we can switch to the clock and do it for five minutes, and eventually ten minutes, using self-pacing to get there. The chin pump is done right after spinal breathing, right before meditation. When we add the chin pump, we move our yoni mudra kumbhaka to the end of our practice, after meditation and before rest. There is no change in yoni mudra kumbhaka practice. It only shifts to a different position in our routine. So we have kumbhaka with the chin pump before meditation, and kumbhaka with yoni mudra after meditation. There is great power in this combination.
The chin pump will feel clunky at first. You knew that would be the case, right? It takes some getting used to. It is worth the effort to make the adjustment. We don’t force anything about it. We never go beyond the comfortable range of motion of our neck. And we go slow, being mindful not to strain. With practice, the range of our head motion will gradually increase. In time, our chin may come close to or even touch our upper chest when we swoop down. But don’t rush it. We may never get that far down, and that is perfectly fine. As with all yoga, we never exceed our comfortable limit. Always start with a smaller motion of the head and let it increase naturally and gradually during a session to its comfortable limit. The chin pump will work optimally for you right there. You may notice some noise or sensation in your chest as you do the chin pump. This is normal. It can sound like a thumping, or feel like crunching, behind the breastbone. Your neck may crunch a bit too, which is also normal. But discomfort is not normal, so if you have any, back off right away. Do not overdo the chin pump. It will take some time to build up to it. Be very careful and be sure to use self-pacing, staying well within your comfortable range of motion. Remember that we continue to use all of the other indicated mudras and bandhas during our chin pump kumbhaka. And, of course, we are in siddhasana for our whole routine, as long as we are comfortable staying in it.
What might we experience as a result of dynamic jalandhara – the chin pump? If you have some active kundalini in your body, some prana moving in the nervous system, the chin pump will do two things. First, it will bring prana down into the heart area strongly where it is combined with prana rising up through the abdomen from the pelvic region. These are two different kinds of prana, characterized by the energetic polarities in the body. Second, the chin pump will bring the combined pranas from the heart back up to the head in large quantities. If kundalini is active in the body, the head will feel like it is being pumped full with vital essences and light. Every cavity in the head will light up. Even the sinuses can have these sensations. It can be a bit strange, but the strangeness passes soon. If kundalini is not very active in the body yet, the chin pump will facilitate its arousal, along with all the other means being applied. Everything is connected. It is only a matter of time with so many aspects of the nervous system being stimulated.
In the beginning, there can be some side effects from the chin pump. They shouldn’t last long. Some dizziness can happen. Maybe a slight headache. Maybe energy currents not experienced before in the upper body and head. It is a powerful practice, and we are making a bid to break through to a higher level of functioning in our nervous system, so there can be a few bumps in the road. For this reason, you may wish to begin your chin pump practice for the first time on a weekend when obligations will be less. Be methodical and don’t overdo. If any symptoms become uncomfortable, back off practice immediately, and give yourself time to recover. Then you can come back later and try again, slowly. Honor your limits and use self-pacing. Self-pacing is very important with the chin pump. We are moving a lot of energy with this practice, up through channels where the energy has not been in such quantities before. And we are dealing with delicate components of our anatomy, our neck and head. If we want enlightenment, we have to nudge open the doors so the spiritual energies stirring inside us can find their natural neuro-biological functioning. The chin pump is a powerful way to open the doors between the heart and the head.
As we continue with the chin pump daily over time, we will notice a strengthening in our chest, neck and head. It is a spiritual strengthening, as prana flows through us in commanding new ways. Our heart becomes full with a powerful and palpable love. Our spiritual vision will strengthen. The third eye is a direct recipient of the increased energy flow, as is the crown. It feels very good to have the energy moving in healthy ways in the higher regions of the body. There is also a physical strengthening that occurs with the chin pump. So there are many benefits, and it is a practice well worth learning and refining over time. Just start slow and build up very gradually.
When we finish our dynamic jalandhara session, we will feel energized and we may wish to take an extra minute or two to settle into meditation. It is more of a pranic energizing than a physical one, though both can be there after doing kumbhaka with the head going around for some minutes like that. So take a couple of minutes to settle down as you go into meditation. Maybe delay starting the mantra for a couple of minutes if you feel the need. Make sure you start the mantra effortlessly as originally instructed, and follow the easy procedure of meditation as always. We will be going from high pranic energization to deep silence. Mixing these two is very powerful, and it will be a different kind of experience in meditation. It is the ultimate cultivation of chin pump kumbhaka marrying the ultimate silence of deep meditation. A new kind of luminous fullness will be born in our nervous system, and it will follow us out into our daily activity. So we will be both silent bliss and ecstatic radiance happening at the same time.
Translation: Ecstatic Bliss!
The guru is in you.