Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 51 - Strange Gurglings in Pranayama
Date: Thu Dec 18, 2003 0:16pm
Q: Pranayama has been going smooth for me, and my breathing gets very slow. But something strange is happening. It feels like air is accumulating in my belly, and my intestines are making strange gurgling noises. That’s not all. I’ve noticed a glowing mint-like sensation there too. What’s happening?
A: This is an excellent sign of progress. It means that prana is being drawn up from your pelvic region into the digestive system, and air is being drawn in to mix with the prana. You have food in there too, of course. Prana, air, and food; these are the three elements that fuel a new process that occurs in our digestive system as our body transforms to a higher state of functioning.
Actually, it is the activation of the belly chakra. In Sanskrit, the language of the ancient wisdom of India, it is called, “manipura,” which means, “city of jewels,” referring to the glowing sensation you described. The Chinese are less romantic about it; in Taoism it is called “the cauldron,” referring to the mixing and cooking that goes on in the belly. By whatever name, it is a tangible process in the body that is stimulated by advancements in pranayama and meditation. As our body and nervous system gradually become purified, breath naturally begins to suspend, and a new kind of biology comes up in us.
But to what end? We know that mind and body are connected. The condition of our nervous system determines what we can experience. Advanced yoga practices work to purify and open the nervous system. This is not separate from our biological functioning. As we transform neurologically, biological transformations will occur also. In the ancient scriptures, there are references to inner alchemy and to magical substances called “soma” and “nectar” arising in the body. These are biological substances that are produced as the body transforms to a higher state. The process that comes up in the digestive system is one of the primary producers of refined biological essences in the body. From the digestive system, these essences go out and play a central role in further biological and neurological transformations throughout the body. We can readily observe these essences working in our body both during practice, and in daily activity. We witness the transformation going on within through our refining senses. In time, the distinction between the body and the witness (our pure bliss consciousness) becomes blurred. They become one continuum. This transformation is as much biological as it is spiritual. The two are aspects of the same reality. So, we should not be surprised as biological transformations occur in us in connection with our journey. No stone will be left unturned as we enter our new life in yoga — union.
For thousands of years humanity has regarded enlightenment as something that is for a chosen few, as coming from somewhere else, or from someone else – a mysterious spiritual blessing that arrives like magic on the doorsteps of the anointed ones. This is an incorrect view of humanity and its capabilities. It is self-limiting. In this scientific age, we will come to know the process of spiritual transformation for what it really is – the result of a systematic application of specialized knowledge.
The truth is that we all have equal access to the divine life through our human nervous system. You can choose to be anointed if you are willing to do the work that goes with it — the work of applying the knowledge of human transformation, which is doing spiritual practices every day.
The guru is in you.
Note: For detailed instructions on spinal breathing, see the AYP Spinal Breathing Pranayama book. For a detailed discussion on the “nectar cycle,” see the AYP Diet, Shatkarmas and Amaroli book. Also see