Q: Sadhguru, you said you started practicing hatha yoga as a boy. Did this include Surya Kriya? And if yes, what was your experience?
Sadhguru: When I was a young boy, it used to be a project to wake me up in the morning. We had to leave for school at 8:30, so, from 6:30, my family would begin the effort. First, both my elder sisters would try their best. I would sleep through it. Then they would bring cold water and sprinkle it on my face – again I would sleep. Then my mother would come and make me sit up. She would say, “Get off the cot and come now.” “Yes, yes.” As soon as she would leave, I was gone again.
Then they got me out of bed and took me near the bathroom to wait for my turn. There were only two bathrooms in the house. Only one was an actual bathing place, the other was a water closet. All four of us siblings had to go to school, and my father had to go to the hospital, so there was a certain time usage allowed in the bathroom. My mother put paste on the toothbrush and gave it to me. I stuck it in my mouth and fell asleep. Then my turn to go into the bathroom came, and I would go inside, lie down on the floor and again fall asleep. If no one woke me up, I would sleep till twelve or one o’clock. I would get up only if I got extremely hungry. It is not that I was pretending – I was just sleepy. When I was active, I was super-active. Otherwise, when I slept, I was gone.
Then I started practicing yoga. Fundamentally, I did Surya Kriya, but in a completely different way than the way you are doing it right now. In about six to eight months of practice, no matter where I was, around 3:30 or 3:40 am, I was always up. I just had to wake up – there was no question about it. My sleep quota started shrinking. By the time I was thirteen or fourteen years of age, I was always up before everyone else.
Brahma Muhurta and the Sun
Before the sun begins to come up on the horizon, at approximately 3:20 to 4:00 a.m., the sun’s energy starts reaching us. Light will not yet come, but the solar energy significantly rises on the planet at that time. In the night, the solar energy actually goes down well before sunset. In different parts of the world, the sun sets at different times, also depending on the time of the year. As you get closer to the equator, the sunset is somewhere between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m.
In India, let us say the sun is setting at around six o’clock. Somewhere around 5:20 p.m., the solar energies start dwindling away. Light is still seen, but the energy will recede. Because of the turning of the planet, the sun is moving away from us and energy begins to withdraw. It is that withdrawal of energy that people experience as a kind of ethereal happening. If you really pay attention to the sunset, you will see there is a transcendent nature to it because what was there and at full blast around noon is suddenly gone. It almost takes your breath away.
In the morning, somewhere from 3:20 a.m. onwards, the solar energy begins to rise. We call this brahma muhurta. Brahman is an abstract source of creation. As far as we are concerned, in this solar system, the fundamental source of our energy and creation is the sun. Trillions of chemical reactions that are being conducted every second in your body would not happen without solar power. The moment the brahma muhurta starts, your body wakes up by itself in a deep way within yourself. Just in six to eight months of practice of Surya Kriya, I started waking up ahead of everyone else. My family could not believe that this guy is actually waking up!
What Kriyas Are Ultimately About
Surya Kriya just set me on. It was not the exercise. It is just that you get in tune with that energy, and suddenly everything is on. This is what kriyas are about. A kriya is not about driving you in some direction – it is about getting into proper alignment with everything. When everything is in alignment, it is so smooth, there is no friction. Where there is no friction, there is no wear and tear, no stress. Where there is no friction, it can go on incessantly. Where there is friction, it needs more breaks.
The process of yoga is just this – on many levels – to create an alignment with the rest of the existence. The only way you will know yoga is when you are in perfect alignment. You do not have to create an alignment with something outside. If you come into perfect alignment with your own system, naturally, there will be a perfect alignment with everything. When this happens, everything will happen according to the natural order.
There will be no struggle about how much to eat, how many calories to consume, how much to exercise, what to do – all this nonsense will disappear. You will just know what to do with your life, without even a thought, because the necessary intelligence is invested in this life. It is the same intelligence that manufactures your body and your brains from within.
Editor’s Note: Traditionally available only to select groups of yogis, Surya Kriya is being offered by Sadhguru as a comprehensive spiritual practice that is ideal for the hectic pace of today’s world. Find a Surya Kriya program near you.
A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower May 2017.