40 days of Shambhavi Maha Mudra Kriya

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I have completed 40 days of practicing Shambhavi Maha Mudra Kriya twice a day, and in this post, I would like to share with you my experience of it so far.

But first, let’s start at the beginning.

At the end of September, I attended Inner Engineering, a course conducted by Sadhguru’s Isha foundation.

I have been following Sadhguru for the last few years. I have completed inner engineering online (this is not a pre-requisite for the teacher-led program) and also the Hata Yoga Surya Kriya program (you can read about my experience here). My husband has also been practicing for the last two years, so the prospect of taking this course was not new to me, and yet, everything was.

This blog post isn’t to share much about the specific events of the program,  the teachings, the exercises, the schedule or the initiation to the kriya itself. I truly believe it is something you need to experience for yourself. Words can only take you so far, and besides, no two peoples experiences are the same. Telling you too much will only take away from your experience.

My friend happened to also be taking the program, and as the location was closer to her house than to mine, I stayed with them for the 4 days. I brought my diary with me, where I usually write my spiritual contemplations and reflections. And yet, I could not write. Each moment simply demanded to be felt and lived, my cells saturated in all that I learned and have come to understand about life. I just could not find it in me to write

But now, I have returned to our quiet home, and life resumes as usual, and yet, nothing feels the same. Everything feels brand new. I can hear the rain falling outside, and there is a soft shadowy darkness in the room. I feel bright and full of light and yet when it rains, I also rain inside myself in the most beautiful way.

There is nothing in this world that I cannot contain within me, and there is nothing in this world that does not contain me. I never knew it before, but I feel it now. This is just one of the things that it has been unearthed in me.

Let me begin by telling you a story about a rose. The day before the course started, I had a particular desire to draw a rose. I had never drawn a rose before, but I tried anyway to bring it to life on the pages of my book. The act of drawing is almost an internal experience. My perception has to increase, I have to notice a rose in such intricate detail in order for me to capture and translate at least a fraction of the beauty onto paper. I observed the way the petals overlap each other and cradle in the inner bud, so condensed and yet so open and blossoming at the same time. There are many subtle aspects of the rose.

There are so many subtle aspects of everything in life, and yet, I never notice it.

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This is the drawing.

At the very end of the course, each participant was given a single red rose as a thank you. My rose, blossoming first on paper, then in my heart, and then in my hand.

Once I returned home after the 4 day course, I began my 40 days practice of Shambhavi Maha Mudra, practiced twice a day.

I took some simple notes throughout this time period of my experiences and challenges encountered, so that I may share them with you.

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The practicalities

First let’s look at the practicalities of incorporating this kriya into your day.

The whole practice takes around 30 minutes to complete, which includes the 10 minutes of preparatory asanas. Certainly not a large time commitment, especially if your spiritual growth is a priority for you, and if you account for all the time we waste doing meaningless things – then it really puts that total 1 hour investment into perspective.

Of course this is looking at the actual physical practice of the kriya itself which is confined to the 30 minutes. The effects of this practice are likely to spill into the rest of your day and send ripples throughout many facets of your life.

So I personally did not look at it in terms of “1 hour invested every day towards my spiritual practice.” I was ready for a whole shift. I was ready for it to consume my entire day, and my entire being. I was ready to make it everything, and that has made all the difference.

The second requirement that you practice on an empty stomach. This means 4 hours after a full meal, 2.5 hours after a snack, or 1 hour after a beverage. This does take a little bit of scheduling, especially if you have a busy day with many engagements. But once you have set your schedule, there isn’t much forethought required.

I practiced my first session the morning as soon as I woke up, when I am naturally on an empty stomach. I would then have breakfast.

After lunch at 1pm, I would remain on an empty stomach till 5:30-6:00, and then practice the Kriya. I would have dinner shortly afterwards.

By the end of the 40 days, I appreciated the order and discipline the practice bought to my eating habits throughout the day. I started eating at the right time, and I stopped senselessly snacking throughout the day. I was aware of each and every time I decided to consume food – which sounds simple enough, but it now surprises me how unconsciously I would eat food before.

Did maintaining this practice mean I had to sacrifice much on a day to day basis? Not to me. The benefits far outweighed any effort I had to put into making it happen.

I am blessed to have a husband who is as passionate about my spiritual growth as I am, and his encouragement really helped on days when fitting in my practice was more difficult.

Novelty vs dullness

The first 15-20 days were quite enjoyable, most likely due to the novelty of it all. But then I came across my first hurdle in my practice. I was becoming dull. The novelty was wearing away, and I found myself going through the motions just to be able to complete that day.

I needed to find away to make my practice vibrant again. I thought about it. I realized that this kriya has not changed, it is only I who have changed. The kriya has not become slack and dull. I have become slack and dull. I had stopped approaching the practice with a sense of reverence.

So, I recalled something that had been taught to us in the course – that before we begin our sadhana, we should spend 2 minutes reminding us for the concepts bought to light during I.E.

This made a huge difference in my practice. It lit a warm fire in my sadhana again. In my experience, Shambhavi Kriya acts as a magnifying glass of what is inside us, so it is important to fill yourself with what you want to be magnified before you practice it. Spending 2 minutes reminding myself of these profound concepts of life and living, made a difference.

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Being in Sadhgurus presence

I flew back to Vancouver to attend an evening with the mystic. Everything about that night and everything about me was electric. Being in his presence, listening to him speak, meditating together, being blessed by his touch and intense gaze which sent waves of electricity through me, and to have my book signed by him.

That evening, when I returned back to the hotel room to do my evening Kriya, everything was absolutely heightened to another level completely. Perhaps for the first time I realized how powerful this tool I have been given really is. We may all be given different tools in life, but to make magic happen, you have to know how to use it.

The entire evening served as the perfect opportunity for me to deepen my kriya, and now I experience it so differently to how I did when I first began.

After that evening, I started to feel that practicing kriya was a way for me to switch myself “ON.” I started looking forward to it each day, not out of novelty, but out of necessity. I needed to be switched on. I don’t want to go through my day on “off” mode. I need to be on.

I also started to approach practice with a greater sense of reverence. I began to treat it as sacred as it is. I stopped rushing. I started to sit there with as much intensity as I did on the first day of initiation.

I started approaching kriya thinking “if there is even just one thing I do today that I absolutely lose myself in, that I can do with complete intensity, let it be this. Let it be this meditation.”

My body began to grow more comfortable with each component of the kriya. I can sit for longer periods of time comfortably (which was not the case when I first started). My breath deepened. Maintaining Vapreeta Swasa for 3 minutes, which seemed impossible to me initially – slowly became available to me.

I initially used the app Yoga Timer to help guide my practices. The entire kriya takes 21 minutes, which is further divided for each component of the kriya. The timer was good at first, but ultimately, I found it disturbing. Sometimes I would have to open my eyes to reset the timer if I got a little off sync etc. Eventually I put the timer away and allowed my internal timing to improve.

Finally it got to a point where I would naturally complete the Kriya at exactly 21 minutes, and I don’t know how.

Life on Fast Forward

They say once you throw yourself into your spiritual practices, when you make your spiritual growth your absolute priority in your life, your life goes on fast forward. Because we need to burn through karma, we need things to happen fast, so that we can reach our spiritual liberation. Life becomes blurry.

I became pregnant.

For a few days after finding out I was pregnant, my kriya was not as focused. I felt so distracted and overwhelmed. I found it difficult to be present and melt into my breath. I was filled with thoughts. Filled with excitement and fear. Filled with plans and expectations.

After a couple of days of that, I thought – this cant go on this way. Something has got to change. So instead of being lost in thoughts about how much life as we know it was going to change, I focused my energies on the growing life within me. I began a communion with my unborn child. A connection from my baby, to me, to the divine. A connection from the divine, to me, to the divine.

I sank into my ability to be a mother of the world. 

And then morning sickness kicked in and greatly impacted the quality of my practice. Infact, I found that certain parts of the kriya intensified my nausea, and I was unable to give my sadhana the intensity it requires. I completed my 40 days and decided as much as I felt energetically prepared to continue on, I should take a break until I feel better. And I did.

Now what?

40 days is not a long time. It feels long in the beginning, because perhaps there aren’t many things I have stuck to for that long. But once I got into it, and felt the roses blossoming within me, I realized that 40 days is nothing. It seemed senseless to stop there, and had it not been for being so sick, I could never have stopped. And so, now that I am feeling better, I return to my practices.

For my unborn baby,

For my family,

For the world.

For my liberation,

I cannot change the world without being able to change my life first.

And though 40 days is not much, it is something. It is the first small step in the right direction and one thing I am certain about is that life can never be the same again.


Pranam

m

xo

39 thoughts on “40 days of Shambhavi Maha Mudra Kriya

  1. Audrey says:

    Thank you so much for this. 🙏🏼
    I completed the Inner Engineering Course 3 weeks ago and I had to re-start my 40 days of Shambhavi today because I had missed some evening practices. After reading your post, I feel encouraged to succeed in completing my 40 days this time.

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Hi Audrey! I am so glad to hear this. You should definitely restart your 40 days! It is so worth it. Once you notice the benefits from it, and the changes in yourself and life, I believe you will naturally want to continue the practice, as I have. I’m planning to continue shambhavi for this year and sharing the ways in which it has touched and changed my life in a blog post later. Stay in touch, I would love to hear of your experiences xo

      Like

      • sanjiv says:

        Hi Malavika
        I have started isha yoga including Shambhavi mudra as available on Isha app. Though I have been doing Yoga since last 10 odd years, tryimg isha kriya gives a different feel.
        Your shared experience has been quite motivating for me indeed.
        Can you please guide me whether it is required to undergo IE course to do Shambhavi mahamudra in a proper and structured manner.
        Your response will be highly appreciated.
        Om tat sat

        Like

  2. Thushaa says:

    Thank you so much for your post! I completed the inner engineering complete program 5 days ago and it was an amazing experience. I have been practicing since I finished the program and yesterday unfortunately I missed one 30 minute practice. I was very disheartened and felt like I needed to approach the kriya with more intensity and discipline because in the little experience I have with it, I knew it was something I did not want to lose. I went online to search for some inspiration through the experience of others and came across this post. Very inspiring! Thank you!

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Hi Thushaa! I’m so glad that this post can give you some inspiration to continue your practices. I hoped it would, because I am familiar with our tendency to get disheartened, and what a shame it would be to let that get the better of us. We would miss out on so much. For you today, just 5 days after inner engineering, my post can give you inspiration, a reason to keep practicing. In a few months, your own experiences from the kriya, and the way your life will transform – will be the inspiration you seek. I know that for sure 🙂

      Like

  3. Tiago says:

    Hey! Thank you so much for your post.
    Me and my fiancee have been in Coimbatore to attend the Inner Engineering course, and right now we are at the final stages of the 40 days.
    It is being such a challenge though. Since we are not used to sitting in these poses, as we are from Brazil, it makes it difficult on the body. We have been cushioning and using a lot of padding to try to relieve the pain.
    You have answered a lot of my questions. I was just going to send Isha Yoga an email with them.
    We felt the practice was becoming dull, as we often just wanted to get through the motions to get over it. Also, the energy we got during the IE course is just not there anymore. Reminding of the teaching prior to the kriya is a great exercise!
    Thank you so much!

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Hi! I’m excited for you to hear that you have started on your Shambhavi practices. It’s so life changing – I can’t wait for you to experience it!

      Sitting in the poses was difficult for me too in the beginning – and I always considered myself quite flexible! But it was challenging. In my experience, consistent practice helps to open up the body and you will be comfortable again.

      I think practice becoming dull is a very common obstacle in the seekers path. I’m glad that my experience could give you some inspiration. I hope you find your practices now are coming back to life again!

      Like

    • Julia says:

      Hello Tiago, I was very surprised (and glad) to hear that you are from Brazil. I too live in Brazil and I attended the IE programm this year in Tampa. If you were interested we could get in touch to exchange experiences. Finally someone from Brazil who knows Sadhguru 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Krisheela says:

    HiMalavika, thanks for your blog. I have recently been initiated into shambhvi by sadhguru and after few weeks of practice i fell pregnant. As its my first pregnancy i started searching onlinw about yoga and have seen posts discouraging certain pranayam like breath retenstion which we do with bandhas and badhas during pregnancy which confuses me. Could you let me know how your experience was with each one of the kriya. Thanks

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Congratulations on beginning your journey with Inner engineering and on your pregnancy! How wonderful!

      When I was practicing while pregnant I contacted my Isha teacher and received the following guidance:

      Do the three preparatory asanas as is comfortable for you. If they are uncomfortable, you can omit them completely.

      Avoid doing the locks/bandhas. Or if you can do them, do them for less time – you do not need to hold them for long. Or avoid doing them completely – whichever is more comfortable for you.

      I followed these guidelines. Towards 6 months of pregnancy, I found it difficult to do the bandhas, and so I would release them as soon as soon as I did it.

      Otherwise, I had no other problems completing the kriya during pregnancy.

      CONGRATULATIONS and blessings to you and your baby ❤

      Like

  5. Surenraj says:

    Hello Malavika,
    Greetings from Singapore.
    My name is Surenraj and I recently (about more than a month ago) was initiated to Shambhavi through a 7 day isha yoga program held over here. It was very good for the first few days as I was practising it for two times and I had to stop twice as there was a urgent trip I had to take on a specific day during my 40 days practise. That thing changed few things as I couldn’t make it to practise twice a day and kept restarting. Another thing was bad neck pain that usually accompanied after the practise. I had improved sleep and very good emotional balance and anxiety issues like heart palpitations was decreasing. It was indeed great.
    As of now, I do feel the last few days, the practise itself seems very bad as I am not able to focus and it seems like I am doing a set of practises only despite me putting my heart and soul. I have finally began to do this for two times since today but I also have to note here that I was sleepless during the last three nights. Emotions are still balanced and Anxiety issues is here and there but I just find it really funny why my practise dosen’t seem fulfilling as it was and the new sleep issues which is causing me to panic if I am doing something wrong. I did have a practise correcting session with a teacher and all he advised was to just keep practising and show me an demo of how the steps have to be done. So far, except my vivaritha swasa, all others seems consistent. I feel a little lost although my hopes are still held high in this regard to obtain the earlier status in this.
    I am furthering my yoga practise by taking two other programs called Bhuta Shuddi and Suriya Kriya. I believe they are other supplementary tools that can enable the heat back in my practise of Shambhavi Mahamudra. I hope to hear some advise from you as I am quite down because of this. My practise has been the most life changing experience ever and I am always a disciple to Our Beloved Sadhguru. May Lord Shiva bless you sister. Thank you.
    Regards,
    Surenraj

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Namaskaram Surenraj,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with me.

      As I am sure you know, approaching the practice with intensity, heart and soul, is such a huge factor in making it successful for you. When do you do your Kriya? Doing it too close to bed time can make it difficult to fall asleep.

      My suggestion: if I was in your position – I would likely stop kriya for a week or so, and then return to it after a short break. Try that, and then let’s discuss further.

      Oh another thing that I have found to be useful is – don’t think so much about how much each kriya will benefit you. That will come by itself, and over time. For me, I only felt the power of the kriya long after 40 days, and once I was into my regular daily practices. Perhaps about 6 months of continuous practice later? After I reached that point, then every time I practiced felt electric. So I don’t think you need to evaluate each day – maybe instead just focus on doing the kriya with as much intensity as you can. The changes will come anyway.

      So, try taking a short break, and then please feel free to get in touch with me again once you are back to practice and let’s see what else we can do.

      Like

      • Surenraj says:

        Hello Sister,

        Thank you so much for your response. I recently completed suriya kriya and bhuta shuddi and combining it together with shambhavi is magical!

        Sleep is back to usual with really high energies just after finishing the both kriyas… I will update here but it is indeed a great journey..

        With Lord Shiva’s grace and Guru’s guidance,
        Surenraj

        Liked by 1 person

  6. endharassmentnow says:

    Hi there, thank you for sharing! In your opinion, do I really have to restart if I have a break of couple of sessions during the 40 day period? I feel anxiety about this issue. What would you say – Is it better to do 40 days with couple of unavoidable breaks or not do at all?

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Hello,

      I don’t think I have a factual answer about this, for this you should probably contact your Isha teacher who you did Inner Engineering with.

      To share with you my personal experience, when I have missed a practice in the past, I have always restarted my 40 days of practice. The intensity of the 40 days is built up through not missing any of the two daily practices.

      But you don’t need to feel anxious about this. And I don’t think you should look at shambhavi as an “all or nothing” thing where either you do 40 days of practice twice a day with absolutely no breaks, or none at all.

      If you miss a practice, or even a day, just keep going the next day. You may have to start your 40 day count from the beginning, but the benefit of doing this sadhana at all, even if you miss a couple days or practices here and there, will still be far greater than not doing it at all.

      As an example” Suppose I am on day 15 of doing the kriya twice a day, but on this day, I happen to do it only once instead of twice. The next day I will begin again at day 1 of 40 days. But the 15 days I have already completed are still benefiting me.

      Like

  7. Tripathi says:

    Hey/ This is a well written and honest blog. I am a victim of Shambhavi Mahamudra’s addiction and all the side effects of it. I sleep better and less. I no longer get angry at my always angry wife :p And most importantly, I can read one full blog without getting distracted. And I have dropped the cancer sticks for good. And just like when I was in college, my friends picked my habits and I picked theirs. So the addiction have spread to few of my friends as well. The only downside is the money you spend on learning the practice or in other words taking IE class. I had to spend $1000, 2 days off, travel, accommodation etc… But lets admit, it;s more worthy than a trip to Florida 🙂

    Like

  8. Sharanya Sharma says:

    You’ve written this just the way I needed to read it! Today is my 4th day of the 40th day cycle, and I already love and look forward to my kriya.

    Like

  9. Gautam Subbaiah says:

    That was such a soulful read especially when you are treading on the same path and feels relieved to see a signboard as an assurance that the path is worth walking. Introducing myself to the practice as i trace back to the events seems like a divine plan. Sadhguru has always been a GPS (Guru Positioning System) in the phone with his youtube talks constantly drilling sense.It was in no time i realized am at his presence among other Spiritual aspirants and practicing the kriya initiated by him. its just been 3 days of the 40 days cycle, not much to say but i truly believe something profound is awaiting as much to my calling.
    Pranam

    Like

  10. Nelliyan says:

    Hello Malavika, I did my inner engineering in the year 2008, I was practicing Shambhavi for Six years, no doubt those were the carefree six years, ( I meant the care is free for everything I see, touch, feel and smell ) my love towards the world was outbusting.

    This post of yours seems repainted my experince.

    I was not able ( the truth is I had taken it for granted, which I feel bad now ) continue the practices due to various reasons, post reading your note here, it brought back my inspiration that I drew on my first Mandala (40 days) of practice.
    Morning tomorrow is my first day post initiation… my forty days starts tomorrow.

    Let Sadguru’s grace guide us. Pranams.
    Namaskaram

    Nelliyan K.

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      I am so happy to read this message and to hear that you have decided to breathe new life into your practice. I have no doubt how well it will go for you, especially since you have already tasted the ecstacy of it once before.

      Namaskaram.
      Malavika

      Like

  11. Deenie says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing this.

    Did you learn Upa Yoga when you did your seminar? They told us ideally we should do Upa yoga first and then Shambhavi.
    I’m nearly done with my 40 days and I haven’t missed a session. It takes me 1 hour twice a day for Upa Yoga and Shambhavi. It is a lot of time I’m investing but I feel grateful to have it. I love it in the morning but it is harder when I get home from work.
    I will also take the Surya Kriya seminar so I will have to figure out how to add that as well. I already dropped some classes I’d normally take in the evenings (for now). But I’m excited about the next seminar. I’d love to take them all of the Hatha Yoga seminars as they all sound amazing. I only wish I had the time.
    D.

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Hi Deenie,

      I did learn Upa yoga at the seminar, though I had already been doing these practices after learning them from youtube videos available for free on the Isha website.

      I am sorry for the late response. Maybe by this point you would have completed your 40 days! How do you feel?

      I personally do not practice Upa yoga daily, only time to time.

      I understand what you are saying about creating time for all these practices. It can be difficult, and I personally don’t think I could invest more than 2 hours a day on practices (At a maximum). If I was staying at an ashram, maybe then I could do practice and practice, kriya after kriya. But in real life -it doesn’t make sense for me to do it.

      In this issue, I feel that the point is quality not quantity – it is about bringing a certain quality to your life. That quality can come from doing 4 types of kriya a day, or doing 2, or 1, or for some, maybe none. If I can maintain the state I felt when completing IE, or after my 40 days of shambhavi, then I don’t need any kriyas. Of course, it is difficult for me to maintain that state, and that’s why I practice daily.

      If I was in your position, I would probably continue doing shambhavi daily once a day (After my 40 days), and once I had been initiated into Surya Kriya, to begin adding SK to my practices twice a day for 40 days. After that, I would pay attention to my state of being and practice as required (a minimum of once a day).

      M

      Like

  12. Prasadh says:

    Hi
    Thanks a lot for sharing ur experience here. Iam sure it’ll motivate anyone who is the beginner doing this Kriya.
    Thanks

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Hi Naresh, I think it would be best for you to contact one of the Isha Volunteers on their website to get an answer to your question 🙂

      Like

  13. Motely Fool says:

    Hi Malavika,
    In the photo where you are sitting under the tree, your hand posture (especially fingers) is not correct. Please talk to your teacher or a trained person who can give you corrections. You may want to fix that photo with the correct posture. Or May be check out some of the Isha photos. You might be able to spot the mistake.
    All the best.

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Hello 🙂

      I was not assuming any particular posture, meditation or involved in kriya at the time this photo was taken. I was simply sitting for the photo.

      Like

  14. shreyjit says:

    HI Malavika,

    The inner engineering courses offered are really far away from my place. Can you teach me about the Shambhavi MahaMudra Kriya through a video or tell me the guidelines to practice it so that I can do it at home. I have been doing Isha Kriya for 24 days now and it is really helpful, I would now like to move onto Shambhavi Kriya along with Isha Kriya.

    Your help would be much appreciated.

    Warm Regards,
    Shreyjit

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Shreyjit, I completely understand your deep desire to take your practice to the next level. I feel the same way too. I however, cannot initiate you into this kriya, and nor can anyone who has not completed their training. When I lived in Ireland, there were no Isha events in the country and I felt so disappointed in that. I was ready to take the next step, but was unable to. I just kept practicing with whatever small tools I had, and then all of a sudden, Isha began offering Surya Kriya in Dublin for the first time ever. It was a miracle for me and I was so thrilled. I would recommend to keep up your isha kriya practices – that is a very powerful process in itself, and keep your eyes open for opportunities to learn more.

      Like

  15. MKK says:

    what i should do when i think that my life is on fast forward?
    i tried implementing 2min course but i didnt feel the energy? so plz tel me what exactly i should do in 2min ? i should meditate i amnot the body for 2 min??

    Like

    • Malavika says:

      Hi MKK, I am not completely sure what you mean by your first question about life being on fast forward. When you think your life is on fast forward – just keep practicing! It means you’re getting somewhere.

      Which 2 minute course are you speaking of? If you are talking about Isha Kriya, this practice takes longer than 2 minutes to experience.

      Like

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