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Observations placeholder

Six Dharmas of Nāropa - 04 Physical exercises



Type of Spiritual Experience


Before engaging in the actual yogas, one begins by doing the "six exercises of Naropa". Trülkhor (Tibetan 'khrul-'khor)

  • Filling like a Vase — a breathing technique
  • Circling like a Wheel — rolling the solar plexus
  • Hooking like a Hook — snapping the elbow into the chest
  • Showing the Mudrā of Vajra Binding — moving the mudrā from the crown downwards
  • Straightening like an Arrow — hands and knees on the floor with the spine straight; heaving like a dog
  • Shaking the Head and Entire Body — pulling the fingers, followed by massaging the two hands

A description of the experience

THE SIX YOGAS OF  NAROPA [From Esoteric Teachings of the Tibetan Tantra, by C.A. Musés, [1961

Master Pag-mo-grub-b’a exposed, in his Stanzas on the Skillful Path, the methods and physical exercises as follows:

1. Making the body full like a vase.

2. Turning like a wheel.

3. Bending like a hook.

4. With the Vajra Mudra shooting the sky and tightening the lower part.

5. Like a dog vomiting, shaking the body.

6. Shaking the head and body, and stretching the limbs.

These are the famous Six Exercises of Naropa.

1. Making the body full like a vase: The Yogi should sit on a comfortable seat in a lotus posture, his body and spine erect; put his two palms on his two knees; inhale the air with the right nostril, and then look to the left and exhale all the air very slowly and gently. Take in the air with the right nostril and look toward the right, and slowly, gently, let all the breath out. Then take in the air with the left nostril and look toward the left; gently let the breath out as before. Next take in the air with both nostrils and let the breath out while the body remains sitting in a normal position. Repeat this manner of breathing three times. Altogether nine repetitions are required to expel all the defiled air within the body. During the inhaling and exhaling, the mouth should not be opened. The yogi should keep his body straight and turn his two fists inward. Then he should inhale very gently and slowly and send the air down below the navel. Meantime he should gulp down the air without any sound, using the diaphragm to press the Upper Prana down and to gently pull up the Lower Prana. Thus, the Upper and Lower Prana meet and unite. The mind should concentrate on the center of the navel Chakra, and one should hold the breath as long as he can as if holding the air in a vase to its fullness. During this breath-holding period, all the body movements should be carried out. Although not a real Akrul-akor exercise, this exercise is called a form of Akrul-akor. At the moment when the yogi cannot hold the breath longer, he should very gently let the air out through the nostrils, but never through the mouth. While doing this, the mind should not think of anything.

2. Turning like a Wheel: Sitting in the Lotus posture,

use the fingers of the right hand to hold the large toe of the right foot and those of the left hand to hold the large toe of the left foot. Hold the body erect, and turn the waist and stomach clockwise three times; turn them counterclockwise three times. Next bend the body from left to right and from right to left three times; then bend the body forward and reverse it to the looking-up position. Repeat the body-bending three times.

3. Bending like a Hook: Put the two fists, in the vajra-fist manner, upon the Heart Center and stretch them forward with great force, then stretch both arms forward. Use the right fist to make a circle around the head from left to right. As the arm and fist come down, use the elbow to strike the side of the chest. Do the same movement with the left arm from the opposite direction. Then holding the Vajra-fists and putting them on the Heart Center, again stretch them forward with force. Next, stretch both arms to the right, as before, and strike the side of the chest.

4. With the Vajra Mudra shooting the sky and tightening the lower part: Cross the two knees and hold the body erect. Join the fingers of both hands and massage the body from the lower part up to the head; then use the fingers to support the whole body and lift it up. Then suddenly loosen the fingers, and let the body drop down vehemently.

5. Like a dog vomiting, shaking the body: Cross the knees and keep the body straight. Put the two hands on the ground, and then successively lift up the body and the head. As the hands release the support and the body drops down, the whole body should be waved and shaken as though trembling. At the same time exhale the air and utter a prolonged Ha sound, turning round at the waist. Repeat three times.

6. Shaking the head and body and stretching the limbs: Put the right hand on the left knee and the left hand on the right knee. Use the fingers of both hands to pull up the knees, then shake the head and body.

The yogi who practices these exercises must be acquainted with the art of holding the breath. He must be at ease and gentle. The best time to practice these exercises is before eating, or some time after the meal when the stomach is not too full. These exercises should be practised until the body becomes very flexible and energetic.

The source of the experience

Six Dharmas of Nāropa

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Science Items

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