A Better and Safer Alternative to Sudarshan Kriya
Over a year ago now, WhistleBlower (one of our regular contributors at the time) wrote this post where he presented a strong case that the kriya tape is used to enslave people to SSRS/AoL, and where he also debunks much of the magical thinking surrounding the tape.
He also briefly mentioned an alternative to SK for those who continue to leave comments on the blog asking for a copy of the Kriya MP3. To this day, we still receive many such comments, so it would seem that a great many people still want to practice the technique though without having to attend the group sessions.
For some time, I’ve been meaning to look into this alternative technique but I never really got round to it. As it happens, a good friend of mine who left Art of Living not long after I did recently got in touch with me and told me they had discovered the very same technique and encouraged me to check it out. So I did, and here’s what I discovered.
The technique, which is known as Eiriu Eolas (herein abbreviated to EE), can be found an the site http://eiriu-eolas.org/about/. I discovered that there are an amazing number of similarities between EE and SK, and also some key differences.
Like SK, EE also involves a 3-stage preparatory breathing exercise which is almost identical to SK’s 3-stage pranayamas with one key difference: instead of ujjayi breathing, it utilizes what is known as pipe breathing. After this, there is something known as Warrior’s Breath, which is their version of bhastrika. And finally comes the breathing exercise and meditation which they call beatha (pronounced “ba-hah”), or bio-energetic, breathing. Yes, the similarities between EE and SK are indeed striking!
In the title of this post I have asserted that EE is both better and safer than SK, so I think it is only reasonable that I take the time to justify these.
There are a number of immediately obvious advantages that EE has over SK.
Firstly, the technique is completely FREE to try out, with everything you need to do it available on the above website (the online version can actually be found at http://eiriu-eolas.org/online-version/) There are two videos, one which contains an overview of the technique, including purported benefits as well as a scientific explanation as to how the technique works. For those who want to get straight to the technique, I would at the very least recommend you watch the Pipe Breathing segment of this video and the Practice segment which follows. The second video contains an audio commentary for the whole exercise, which includes the 3-stage breathing, Warrior’s Breath and beatha breathing and mediation. The whole thing lasts a little over an hour.
Since the technique is available online, this means that it is accessible to anyone and everyone who wants to try it, without needing to pay any money to the organization behind it. If you do find the technique useful, you can optionally donate some money to the organization, or buy a DVD/CD set for 40 Euros so you can have your own copy. Remember, the donation is optional and not a “compulsary donation” as it is with AoL.
It also means that anyone who wishes to practice the technique can do so in the comfort of their own homes without having to travel to and from a local center in order to do so. For many who practice SK this will usually involve a money as well as time saving.
It also means that no one need continue their association with the organization who is making this technique available, and in fact no association is required at all. On the video the presenter makes absolutely no attempt to try to entice people into her organization using the technique.
Another advantage is that the overall time taken to practice EE is shorter than SK, 1 hour compared to 1.5 hours for the latter. There is no need to practice it daily every morning (which is another huge time saving) as it is recommended to do it only twice a week.
But most interestingly of all, the technique works without anything which vaguely resembles the “magical thinking” which surrounds SK. It is presented as a “revival of an ancient breathing technique”, and not something which was revealed to the person who developed it from “the divine”. Although I understand that one can become a teacher of the technique, there is no mention or belief that they somehow become channels, “instruments of the Divine”, or any of the other BS which revolves around SK and SSRS. The effects the technique produces are completely independent of who is present.
This is actually one of the biggest advantages that EE has over SK. The organization behind EE are not trying to enslave people in the same way as AoL is clearly doing through SK. They haven’t even tried to patent or copyright any aspect of the technique. And in fact, the fact that EE works in the way it does without any magical mumbo jumbo is further evidence that there is nothing magical about SK, that any effects which participants feel as a result of practising SK are purely down to the breathing alone and nothing else.
To assert that one breathing technique is safer than another may seem to be a purely subjective statement to make, however it is not one I have made without good reason.
Possibily the most common criticism against SK which is made across these blogs is that the fast breathing cycle is little more than hyperventilation. This is supported by the fact that many of the symptoms of SK do indeed match those produced by hyperventilation. What makes EE any different then?
Well, if any of you take the time to watch the overview of the technique on the first video explaining the physiology of EE, you will note that the presenter actually mentions hyperventilation and specifically states that the faster of the three breathing cycles which are part of the bio-energetic breathing is not hyperventilation, although it is faster than normal breathing.
However, the presenter goes on to mention that if you feel any discomfort whatsoever during the fast breathing cycle then you can simply skip it and just do the other cycles. This is another key aspect of EE which makes it safer that SK, since AoL teachers do not teach this in the courses at all.
It is difficult to determine just from listening to the recording whether the fast cycle does actually classify as hyperventilation or not, however what we can do is to compare the breathing cycles of EE against those of SK and try to objectively determine how the two compare against each other.
The SK tape lasts for 60 minutes, the first 30 minutes being the SK breathing itself, the last 30 minutes being mostly silence followed by SSRS’s voice giving instructions to come out of SK. As everyone who is familiar with SK already knows, the breathing portion of the kriya tape consists of a number of successive rounds of long, medium and short breath cycles. The duration of each of these is detailed in the following table, together with the actual breaths/minute for each cycle:
|Time (minutes)||Breath Cycle||Breaths||Duration||Breaths/minute|
|00:00 – 00:10||Silence|
|03:29 – 04:00||Short||33||0:31||63.9|
|06:22 – 06:46||Short||28||0:24||70|
|09:59 – 11:10||Short||109||1:11||92.1|
|15:10 – 16:11||Short (*1)||90||1:01||88.5|
|20:23 – 21:29||Short (*2)||34 + (112) = 146||1:06||132.7|
|26:26 – 26:51||Short||26||0:25||62.4|
|28:29 – 29:35||Short (*4)||51 + (37) =||1:06||80|
|30:26 – 01:01:48 (End)||Lie down|
() – numbers in brackets indicate an estimated breath count when the instruction is to breath at your own rhythm, based on the current rhythm at the time of the instruction
*1 – own rhythm halfway through, but if you listen to the tape you will clearly hear a person hyperventilating in the foreground
*2 – own rhythm from 20:47-21:29
*3 – including “MMM” sound
*4 – own rhythm from 29:16-29:35
UPDATE (19/12/2011): certain values which were original posted have been redacted as a precautionary measure.
The EE recording also lasts 60 minutes, however only 17 minutes of that is dedicated to the bio-energetic or beatha breathing (which is equivalent to SK). It too consists of long, medium and short breathing cycles, and the durations of each of these together with the corresponding breaths/minute are detailed in the following table:
|Time (minutes)||Breath Cycle||Breaths||Duration||Breaths/minute|
|00:00 – 03:27||Long||30||3:27||15.4|
|03:27 – 04:44||Medium||30||1:17||20.7|
|04:44 – 05:33||Short||30||0:49||36.7|
|05:33 – 09:00||Long||30||3:27||15.4|
|09:00 – 10:18||Medium||30||1:18||20.5|
|10:18 – 11:07||Short||30||0:49||36.7|
|11:07 – 14:34||Long||30||3:27||15.4|
|14:34 – 15:52||Medium||30||1:18||20.5|
|15:52 – 16:41||Short||30||0:49||36.7|
Remaining 26 minutes until end of recording:
– one deep breath
– lie down, a few rounds of pipe breathing
– meditation on “Prayer of the Soul” seed.
By comparing these two tables, a number of things are immediately obvious. Firstly, that the short cycles of EE are are at much lower respiratory rates (breaths/minute) than SK. In actual fact, they are about equivalent to the medium cycles in SK.
Secondly, EE is repeated for only 3 rounds, and lasts for 17 minutes, whereas SK takes 8 rounds and lasts for 30 minutes.
Over the 8 rounds of SK, the short cycle varies between 63 and 132 breaths/minute, each cycle lasting between 30 seconds and a little over a minute. For EE it lasts 49 seconds each round and only 36.7 breaths/minute, a little over half that of SK.
We know that breathing faster than normal causes CO2 to be expelled from the body at a higher rate than during normal breathing. And we also know that if too much CO2 is expelled from the body without anything in place to re-address this imbalance, then this increases the chances of experiencing the various symptoms of hyperventilation (e.g. claw hands / pins and needles, light-headedness).
Now, since the body can re-balance this loss of CO2 during the long cycles, a quick glance at our two tables shows us that with SK the long cycles last on average 30 seconds – 1 minute, whereas with EE they each last 3:27, though the rates are at least comparable. This tells us that during EE the body has more time to rebalance any CO2 levels which were expelled during the short cycle than during SK.
So with EE, we have shorter short cycles at much lower respiratory rates and much longer long cycles at slightly lower rates to SK. And EE lasts a little over half as long as SK. This is sufficient to conclude that EE is a considerably safer technique than SK.
It is also interesting to note that the breath counts for EE remain constant at 30 for each cycle and across each round, whereas during SK they vary greatly. It almost makes you wonder if with SK they are just made up by SSRS each time without any real consideration as to what he is doing.
And it can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the short cycles in SK reach alarmingly high breathing rates which are clearly hyperventilation. And looking at these figures it now seems obvious why Art of Living have done everything in their power to keep the tape a closely guarded secret: because if it were ever made public, it would only be a matter of time before someone examined the tape in the same manner as I have done above and come to the same conclusions.
I cannot say for sure if EE is 100% safe, and although the majority of the criticisms made in these blogs against kriya do not apply to EE, the same precautions we have advised over and over again should still be considered if you decide to practise EE.