Physically if we see Shambhavi Mudra, it’s eye gazing technique where we have to fix our gaze at the center point between eyebrows. In higher states of meditation, however, Shambhavi takes place its own and eyeballs roll back into the head, Swami Muktananda Paramahamsa described in his commentary over Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Shambhavi mudra is one of the highly regarded practices in traditional yogic texts. It is mentioned in the Gheranda Samhita (chapter 3), Hatha Yoga Pradipika (chapter 4), Shiva Samhita, and Amnaska Yoga.
Shiva, the Adi Yogi, is also called Shambhu which means, that is born from happiness or bliss.
Shambhavi is derived as the feminine aspect of Shambhu that experiences happiness or bliss of Shiva.
Shambhavi is the synonym of ‘Kundalini Shakti’ that rests on the base of the spine, in Muladhara Chakra. In Shambhavi Mudra, when the complete attention is drawn at eyebrows center, Kundalini Shakti starts piercing Chakras and move upward to the point between eyebrows. Here, Kundalini Shakti unites with the Shiva and feels the ultimate bliss of Shambhu thus known as Shambhavi.
The practice of Shambhavi mudra brings the mind into a higher state of consciousness where the practitioner feels the ultimate bliss. It’s called the union of Shiva and Shakti.
NOTE – Before the practice of Shambhavi Mudra, a seeker is advised to do Jala Neti, Trataka (a part of Shatkarma), and Netra shakti vikasak kriya very well. It makes seeker able to concentrate on oneself for a long period in this mudra and attain a higher state of consciousness.
Shambhavi Mudra Steps
- Sit in any comfortable meditative pose, preferably Padmasana, Siddhasana/Sukhasana. Select the place where there is no disturbance.
- Keep the head and spine upright and straight, adopt Gyan mudra on the hand and place the palms facing upward on the knees.
- Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
- Relax all the muscles of the face, including the forehead, the eyes, and behind the eyes.
- Slowly open the eyes and look ahead at a fixed point, keeping the head and the whole body absolutely relaxed. Then look upward and inward, focusing the eyes at the eyebrow center.
- The head should not move.
- When performed correctly, the curve of the eyebrows will form a V-shaped image. The apex of the ‘V’ is located at the eyebrow center.
If the V- formation is not seen, the gaze is not directed upward and inward correctly.
- Concentrate yourself while looking at the point between the brows without blinking. When eyes get tired or start watering, discontinue the practice. After a short rest, you can resume it.
- Hold the gaze for only a few seconds at first.
- Close the eyes and relax them.
- While eyes closed, suspend the thought process and meditate on the stillness of darkness that has taken over your eyes. For better concentration, you can chant OM and focus on its echoing sound within you.
After mastering the eye movement, coordinate it with the breath.
- Inhale slowly while raising the gaze. Direct your awareness up at Ajna Chakra with eyes upward movement.
- Hold the breath while maintaining the upward gaze.
- Exhale slowly as the gaze is lowered.
Here’s Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev defined Shambhavi Mudra practical demonstration:
Time & Duration
Shambhavi Mudra practice is effective when done 2 times a day. The first practice of the day should be in the morning, empty stomach, and another can be in the evening.
Make sure to maintain a gap of 4 hours between Shambhavi mudra practice and a heavy meal.
For Shambhavi mudra, each time 6-minute practice is enough in the beginning while you consistently, without any strain fixing your gaze on the eyebrows center. Gradually increase this period after 2 weeks of practice.
A seeker may experience following benefits on practicing Shambhavi Mudra either instantly or in the long run.
- On practicing Shambhavi mudra, the mind becomes still, Vrittis (thought waves) no longer fluctuates as it before. It makes meditation easy and more natural.
- When eyes gaze fixed at the eyebrow center properly, it can help in strengthening weak eye muscles. Thus problems like Ptosis (drooping of one or both eyelids) and Double vision (diplopia) can be resolved.
- From a scientific point of view, Shambhavi activates the pineal gland which secretes the serotonin hormone to keep us calm and regulates our sub-conscious mind. Further, the subconscious mind is a powerhouse of energy and reduces the stimulation of cortisol hormone when we get angry. This way, it activates energy, passion, and insight to direct one’s life.
- Shambhavi mudra leads to Samadhi, the last limb of Yoga. By mastering Shambhavi, perfect concentration comes, from perfect concentration meditation comes and perfect meditation is Samadhi itself.
- 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).
- It sharpens the creativity of the person and reduces depression symptoms as a result of increased alpha brain waves.
- In case of insomnia, shambhavi mudra is very effective.
- 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.
Precautions & Contraindications
- Remove contact lens, glass, or any kind of external wear from eyes that can obstruct the practice.
- 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.
However, there aren’t any side effects of Shambhavi Mudra but one may see and feel these following physical or mental changes, which can be termed as side effects:
- Overdoing Shambhavi mudra initially can 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 a similar technique as Shambhavi mudra but it adds up a few more practices like bandhas, pranayama & meditation over traditional Shambhavi mudra. This kriya is taught by the Isha Foundation where the overall practices are performed in 21 minutes session.
Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya works on the same principle. In this kriya, 21 minutes session is divided in such a way:
- The practice begins with a meditative pose called Siddhasana (accomplished pose).
- Then 6 to 7 minutes slow-paced pranayama like Nadi Shodhana is practiced to encourage balance in both hemispheres of the brain.
- Then root syllable OM is chanted aloud and in long repetitions for 21 times. 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.
- 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.
NOTE – Please note that this outline of the kriya is taken from research paper; the Shambhavi Mahamudra practice should be learned under the instruction and observation of a qualified teacher.
Research & Benefits
- On practicing Shambhavi Mahamudra for 6 weeks daily 2 times (42 minutes), participants reported a significant reduction in perceived stress and increased general well-being 2.
- In a survey having 536 practitioners, Isha foundation reported 3 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.
- 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 centers in the brain, which eventually consciously control the brain. It destroys all throat ailments.
- 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.
- It has also been said, 90 days practice of Shambhavi Mahamudra kriya makes people 6.4 years younger on the cellular level.
- Unlike other Buddhist meditation where with calmness and pleasant, there comes a downgrade in brain activities, Shambhavi Mahamudra makes the brain sharper (by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor 4) as well as brings calmness in mind.
- While doing this kriya, when we keep our spine erect and apply Uddyana bandha, all the abdominal organs are toned and strengthened. Therefore, those suffering from abdominal and stomach ailments like diabetes, constipation can be cured.
- 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.
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 the memory, confidence, clarity of thoughts and will power. The regular practice of this mudra develops a magnetic and charming personality.
- Chidakasha https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chidakasha
- Effects of Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya, a Multicomponent Breath-Based Yogic Practice (Pranayama), on Perceived Stress and General Well-Being https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871312/
- Survey Result for Shambhavi Mahamudra https://www.ishayoga.org/program/isha-yoga-center/survey-result-shambhavi-mahamudra
- Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor: A Key Molecule for Memory in the Healthy and the Pathological Brain https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2019.00363/full