Shambhavi Mudra & Mahamudra Kriya: Steps, Benefits & More

Most meditation techniques that you practice are done with closed eyes. You are told to sit in a comfortable posture, place hands on knees or thighs, close eyes, and bring awareness to breathing and thoughts. Some guided meditations also ask you to chant a seed mantra to enhance your focus.

Amongst these techniques, it will be interesting to know that meditation can also be performed with open eyes and are equally beneficial as traditional meditation.

Shambhavi Mudra is one such unique meditation technique where you are focusing your eyes on the middle of your eyebrows for a sustained time. 

It may seem simple, however, it is one of those ways which can take you to the higher transcendental planes if done in the correct way.

Here, In this article, shambhavi mudra has explained: what does it mean, how to do it and the benefits you can reap.

What is Shambhavi Mudra? 

Shambhavi Mudra is also called eyebrow centre gazing technique. It’s a mana mudra (a type of mudra which comprises the head or its organ) in which the eye is used as a tool to cultivate a deep state of concentration for meditation.

In this mudra, you inwardly focus at the center of your eyebrows while keeping your eyes half-closed. Roll your eyes up and back towards the eyebrows’ centre. Now you must keep sight steady in a way that you may appear to see everything, while in reality, you see nothing outside, below or above.

It’s a highly regarded practice in Tantra for awakening the power of the third eye, also known as Ajna Chakra is yoga. It is described in many Yogic and tantric texts such as Gheranda Samhita (chapter 3), Hatha Yoga Pradipika (chapter 4), Shiva Samhita, and Amnaska Yoga.

The meaning of Shambhavi

Why is Shambhavi Mudra called so, there is no concrete evidence for it, but there are certainly some theories around it. One such popular mythology is in Shiva Samhita where Hindu god Shiva addresses yogic practices to his consort Parvati.

Shambhavi in Sanskrit means “Lord Shiv’s Beloved”. She is the wife of Lord Shiva who is also known as Shambhu and Adi Yogi. He taught the technique of this mudra to his wife and thus the mudra came to know by her name, ‘Shambhavi Mudra’.

Another theory suggests that shambhavi mudra is related to how the Kundalini Shakti works. When you practice this mudra, you actually stimulate the Kundalini that lies in the Muladhara or Root Chakra. 

As this shakti rises, it follows the path through all nadis and chakras in the spine and ultimately reaches the Ajna Chakra. The Ajna Chakra is also the same location where you are focusing your gaze, in between the eyebrows. 

The Kundalini Shakti helps you unite with the energy of Lord Shiva or Shambhu, thus the name Shambhavi Mudra.

It is interesting to note that this technique has been named “mudra”. While Shambhavi Mudra’s techniques involve a lot of meditative aspects, the mid–eyebrow gazing gesture helps redirect and “seal” the energy. This energy helps in connecting you to your inner self, makes you self-aware, and also connects you to higher realms.

Preparing eye muscles

Before you start doing shambhavi mudra, you should first train your eye muscles to stay focused at a focal point for a long duration. Trataka (Candle Flame Gazing) and Agochari Mudra (Nose Tip Gazing) are two extremely effective techniques for this.

For Trataka, you need to sit in a comfortable pose and place a lit candle at a distance. The distance should be such that you do not need to bend your head forward or backwards. The candle flame should be at eye level. During candle gazing, your spine should be straight and gaze fixed at the point where the flame originates. 

Your focus should be unwavering and to the point where you start feeling tears form in your eyes.

In Agochari Mudra, you should sit in a relaxed pose, place your index finger at the tip of the nose and fix your gaze at the tip. When your eyes have become accustomed to this placement, slowly start moving your finger towards the middle of the eyebrows. 

Keep your eyes fixed throughout the movement. Stop when the fingertip is out of sight and your eyes have substantially moved up to focus on in between the eyebrows. Practice any one of these methods regularly and when you feel that your eyes can automatically find the point of gaze between the brows, you can start practising the Shambhavi Mudra.

How to Do Shambhavi Mudra?

shambhavi mudra
Buddha concentrating on third-eye. Source: canva

To perform this mudra, sit comfortably in a meditative pose, preferably Padmasana, Siddhasana or Sukhasana. Adopt Gyan mudra with both hands. Slightly upturn your head so the natural focus of eyes goes to the eyebrows centre. This will be your position for the entire duration of the shambhavi mudra.

Now gently without moving the head, half-close your eyes and roll your eyeball up and towards the brow center. The easy way to identify the center is to focus on V-shape juncture made by eyes and brows center. If you are able to locate this shape, that means you are gazing in the right direction. If the V- formation is not seen, the gaze is not directed correctly.

Hold your gaze at the center of the brows for as long as you can. At first, it will be difficult and you may start feeling a strain in your eyes. In such a situation, bring your eyes to the normal position, close your eyes to relax them for a few seconds, and then resume the practice. With practice, gazing becomes involuntary. 

For better concentration, you can chant OM and focus on its echoing sound within you.

Throughout this practice, your breathing should be stable and your head should not move.

When your eyes start to feel tired or watery, bring your eyes to the normal position, close them and clasp with the palms. When relaxed, resume your practice. Practice at least 10 rounds of Shmabhavi Mudra. In each round, try to hold the gaze without straining for 2 minutes at least. This whole session can take 15 to 20 minutes for beginners. It can be practiced two times a day.

Variation

After mastering the basic shambhavi mudra technique, eye movements are coordinated with the breath.

  • Inhale slowly while raising the gaze. Direct your awareness up at Ajna Chakra with eyes upward movement.
  • Hold your breath while maintaining your upward gaze.
  • Exhale slowly as the gaze is lowered.

Advanced practitioners can perform this mudra with closed eyes. It is difficult to access the position of your gaze when your eyes are closed however with regular practice, your eyes will automatically be directed to the correct position even when they are closed.

Shambhavi Mudra Benefits

A seeker may experience the following benefits of practicing Shambhavi Mudra either instantly or in the long run.

1. Strengthens and Detoxifies the Eye 

When eyes gaze fixed at the eyebrow center properly, it can help in strengthening weak eye muscles. Shambhavi mudra may help in problems like Ptosis (drooping of one or both eyelids) and Double vision (diplopia).

On practising this mudra, you experience watery eyes as your practice progresses. It’s a sign of detoxification. This mudra is a purifying exercise that eliminates toxins.

2. Works on the subconscious mind

From a scientific point of view, Shambhavi mudra activates the pineal gland which secretes the serotonin hormone to keep us calm and regulates our subconscious mind. Further, the subconscious mind is a powerhouse of energy and reduces the stimulation of the cortisol hormone when we get angry. This way, it activates energy, passion, and insight to direct one’s life.

3. Stimulation of Pineal and Pituitary Glands

Gazing at the junction of the brows helps overcome the distance between the brain and the body, allowing for seamless and unrestricted communication between the two hormone-producing glands.

With consistent practice of this mudra, the various organs and systems will operate better, resulting in a healthy balance between them. The body remains stress-free, resulting in a healthy lifestyle.

4. Gateway to reaching Samadhi

Shambhavi mudra leads to Samadhi, the highest stage of Yoga. By mastering this mudra, you can master the art of focus and concentration. From perfect concentration is followed by meditation which ultimately leads to Samadhi.

5. Activates the Ajna Chakra

When the Ajna Chakra is stimulated through Shambhavi Mudra, practitioners are believed to be able to transcend the gap between the outer and inner worlds. The practitioner will experience a significant amount of energy if the mudra is done properly and with the right kind of awareness. The intuitive mind is heightened and psychic power is developed when this chakra is engaged.

6. Spiritual upliftment 

In the advanced stage of Shambhavi kriya, there comes psych power to the seeker. Even with closed eyes, a practitioner is able to watch the object of focus in the inner space of his mind (chidakasha 1). On practicing Shambhavi mudra, the mind becomes still, Vrittis (thought waves) no longer fluctuate as it was before. It makes meditation easy and more natural.

7. Promotes Mental Clarity

It balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain to promote clear thinking. You will feel more relaxed after doing Shambhavi mudra as it increases the theta and delta brainwaves which relaxes the brain. It sharpens the creativity of the person and reduces depression symptoms as a result of increased alpha brain waves. Also, in case of insomnia, shambhavi mudra is very effective.

8. Offers a Healing and Therapeutic Experience

Because this mudra requires eye muscle activity and focus on the forehead, it can help prevent migraines, headaches, irritation, exhaustion, and lethargy, which are all classic symptoms of today’s modern lifestyle.

Precautions | Contraindications

While practising shambhavi mudra, remove contact lens, glass, or any kind of external wear from eyes that can obstruct the vision.

The eyes are very sensitive and consequently, the gaze should not be held for too long between eyebrows.

If the nerves are weak, any strain can cause retinal detachment. Release the position quickly when strain is experienced in this case.

People suffering from Glaucoma should not practice this Mudra.

Those with diabetic retinopathy or those who have just had cataract surgery, lens implant, or other eye operations, should not perform shambhavi without the guidance of a yoga expert.

Side Effects

Although there aren’t any significant side effects of Shambhavi Mudra, one may see and feel the following physical or mental changes:

  • Over holding eyes in Shambhavi mudra position initially may cause dizziness and consequently, mild headache can be experienced.
  • As eyes aren’t adaptable to still for a longer duration, initially a strain may be experienced in the eyes muscles. To avoid this, fix your gaze without any strain, and palming of eyes can be done after practice ends.
  • Sometimes intense practice may induce phantasmagoric visions (wildly variant scenes that meld into one other). With time and consistent practice, it will go off.

Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya

Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya is development over conventional mudra and practised in kriya yoga. Whereas in shambhavi mudra merely gaze is emphasized to focus on eyebrows’ center, in Mahamudra kriya, some preparatory exercises are performed prior to it.

A Mahamudra is called to a practice in which Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, and Bandha are altogether performed in a sequential manner. This practice is intended to arouse a quiet mind for meditation. Shambhavi Mahamudra does the same. It activates the third eye chakra.

Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya is preached by Sadhguru and served as a course in Isha Foundation 2. When learned officially, this kriya is performed in 21 minutes session. 

The kriya can only be taught by expert gurus and is performed only after a detailed initiation process by Sadhguru himself. The Initiation process takes 4 days where you are briefed about the process of practising the kriya and building trust with your guru.

Technique

The 21 minutes session of Shambhavi Mahamudra kriya happens in this way:

  • The practice begins with sitting in Siddhasana (accomplished pose) which is a cross-legged posture with left heel pressing the perineum.
  • Then 6 to 7 minutes slow-paced pranayama like Nadi Shodhana is practiced to encourage balance in both hemispheres of the brain.
  • The pranayama is followed by 21 long repetitions of OM chant aloud. While chanting OM, hands are placed in Gyan Mudra.
  • Next, to spread over the sensation of chanting over the whole body, fast-paced pranayama called Bhastrika is practiced for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • It’s followed by breath retention during both inhalation and exhalation while actively applying the three bandhs, on the pelvic floor – Mula bandha, abdomen – Uddyana bandha, and throat – Jalandhar bandha.
  • After engaging Mahabandha (all three bandhas together), shambhavi kriya (head upturned eyes closed and focussed on the space between the eyebrows) is performed.
  • In the end, Shambhavi Mahamudra practice concludes with 5 minutes of open-monitoring meditation (OMM). It let practitioners monitor the contents of experience without any reactions or judgments.

Benefits of Kriya

The Isha Foundation has highlighted some key research results which prove the effectiveness of the Shambhavi Mahamudra kriya.

One research, which had the famed Deepak Chopra on its panel, was conducted on 142 participants of Shambhavi Mahamudra kriya on a 3-day retreat. On practising Shambhavi Mahamudra for 21 minutes 6 weeks daily 2 times (42 minutes), participants reported a significant reduction in perceived stress and increased general well-being 3.

In a survey having 536 practitioners, Isha foundation reported Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya reduces the risk of heart diseases, menstrual problems, disease conditions, and medicine usage in chronic diseases. It also enhances mental capabilities, quality of sleep, alertness, awareness, and relaxation in practitioners.

Stimulation of Bandhas

In this kriya, when we apply Jalandhar bandha, it gives the pressure on those Nadis which supply blood to the brain and that stimulates various centres in the brain, which eventually consciously control the brain. It destroys all throat ailments.

When we keep our spine erect and apply Uddiyana bandha, all the abdominal organs are toned and strengthened. Therefore, those suffering from abdominal and stomach ailments like diabetes, constipation can be cured.

Strengthens Cortisol Awakening Response

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (preacher of this kriya) said Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR) is significantly higher in persons who practice Shambhavi Mahamudra. CAR brings wakefulness in persons and occurs in imminent danger which prepares an individual to face eventualities that are forthcoming.

Some more known benefits highlighted by him are:

  • It is said that 90 days practice of Shambhavi Mahamudra kriya makes people 6.4 years younger on the cellular level.
  • Shambhavi Mahamudra makes the brain sharper (by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor 4) as well as brings calmness and peacefulness to the mind.
  • It provides sufficient oxygen for functioning every cell in our body and metabolizes food properly while during the practice of Nadi Shodhana and Bhastrika pranayama.

Final Words

In nutshell, Shambhavi mudra is a very effective technique. Negative emotions like fear, depression and worry are reduced and a calm state of mind is developed. In adverse situations, practitioners are ready to face the problems as a challenge and manage themselves.

It helps to increase memory, confidence, clarity of thoughts, and willpower. The regular practice of this mudra develops a magnetic and charming personality.

References

  1. Chidakasha https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chidakasha
  2. Isha Foundation https://isha.sadhguru.org/in/en
  3. Effects of Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871312/

4 Comments

  1. Yeshwant June 30, 2021
  2. paul April 8, 2021
  3. Bradley Collins Taylor December 16, 2020
  4. Swaraj Prakhar July 9, 2020

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