Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 143 - Chin Pump - Effects in the Lower Body
Date: Tue Mar 16, 2004 5:01pm
We have discussed the chin pump (dynamic jalandhara) as being a “targeted” advanced yoga practice. Its main focus is in opening the channels for prana going in both directions between the chest cavity and the head. But it is much more than that.
All yoga practices are linked. Sometimes we can see (or feel) the connections, and other times the connections are not so obvious. It is a matter of how much purification we have cultivated in our nervous system. The more the purification, the more perceivable the connections will be.
Back in lesson #91 on yoni mudra kumbhaka, we introduced the static version of jalandhara, which is letting the chin go down to its comfortable limit and rest there during kumbhaka (breath retention). We mentioned that jalandhara stretches the spinal nerve for its full length from the point between the eyebrows all the way down to the root at the perineum.
The chin pump takes this stretching effect on the spinal nerve quite a bit further. The rotations of the head affect the spinal nerve all the way down to the root also, in a much more stimulating way. The effect is a subtle twirling of the spinal nerve from top to bottom. With ecstatic conductivity rising in the spinal nerve, this twirling is also ecstatic, and plays an important role in the union of pure bliss consciousness (shiva) and divine ecstasy (shakti) in the heart, and throughout the whole body.
The chin pump evolves over time to find natural coordination with all of the mudras and bandhas in the body. In the end, there is only one subtle “whole-body” mudra that is made up of all the parts we are learning one at a time now. All the pieces start out “clunky” and end up subtle, smooth and intimately connected as unending ecstatic bliss is born and radiates out from the body. The chin pump is part of this refinement. Later on in practices, when the head stops, the spiritual twirling will keep right on going inside, centered around the spinal nerve, and sending divine energy out in all directions. Don’t worry, by then you won’t even notice, and no one will be able to tell by looking at you, except for the glowing smile on your face, and the pleasure of being around you. A mere intention on your part will be enough to set the spiritual currents in motion. Then you will be twirling the ecstatic energies without moving your head at all.
If you are inclined to let the inner spiritual twirling manifest outside, you can go visit the Sufi whirling dervishes and dance the night away. Many spiritual rituals and dances are geared to our inner spiritual whirling. It is natural for some to openly celebrate the inner light. Others may prefer to sit quietly and dance in ecstatic reverie within. No matter what the culture, religion or personal preference is, it is the same dance. It is the dance of the divine inside us.
As you become acclimated to doing the chin pump, you will notice many things happening. The energy flows between the heart and the head we already discussed earlier. You will also notice the stretching and twirling of the spinal nerve going into the lower body. As your head is on the up-swing during rotation, you may find a tendency for your knees to lift slightly, and then go down again as the head falls toward your chest after it goes around the back side of its rotation. Then, later on, you may find the knees going slightly up and down at different times during the chin pump. A kind of coordination between the rotation of the head and the small movements of the knees will develop.
What is this? It is the beginning of the micro-movements of subtle nauli, as mentioned in lesson #129. And what is nauli for? Twirling kundalini energy upwards. There is that word, “twirling,” again. In time, the chin pump and nauli naturally team up on the level of internal micro-movements to foster this twirling of the spinal nerve. It become visible as our chin pump advances and the legs, hands and abdominal muscles naturally find their way into the practice. Do not try and put all this together at this beginning stage. Just be aware of it. It is not mainly a physical act. It is the body’s response to the movement of ecstatic energy in the spinal nerve. Ecstatic conductivity is the basis all natural connectivity between practices.
The rise of these subtle movements during the chin pump also puts a new spin on siddhasana, making it subtly dynamic, and even more delicious. You can figure that mulabandha, sambhavi and kechari eventually get into the act as well. These are all techniques that stimulate different aspects of our nervous system. The nervous system is a single entity, and, sooner or later, all practices merge into a single multidimensional act that is the expression of the nervous system. At that point, we are no longer the instigator. God is. That is what yoga is, becoming what we are – the gateway to infinite bliss, ecstasy, love and joy.
The guru is in you.