We have two forces that animate us in life — inhalation and exhalation. The two energetic pathways in our being that govern the flow of these forces are called Arohan and Awarohan (“ascending” and “descending” in Sanskrit). We can feel this rising and falling energy in our bodies, but it’s nothing that can be found anatomically.
Arohan is a passage that is activated when we breathe in: the body opens and there is an impulse, an energetic movement, which starts at the root between pubis and anus. It travels up the front of the body to the jugular notch, then to the back fontanel (called Bindu), to the top fontanel (Bramha Randra), and then into the middle of the brain. This all happens in order for the muscles to work in harmony for inhalation to occur. Physiologically, when we breathe in the spinal erector muscles contract and the sternum lifts. As the sternum lifts, the ribs move out to the sides and the diaphragm moves down, allowing for breath to enter the lungs. As this is happening, energy moves through Arohan from the middle of pelvic floor up the body up to the jugular notch. Then the pectoral muscles lift the third, fourth, and fifth ribs, pulling the energy up. If you were to let the head continue with this upward movement, it would move backwards and you’d get a choking feeling. Instead, the energy of Arohan actually moves the head to tilt forward slightly. As the head tilts, this energy moves from jugular notch to Bindu. Then the scalene muscles on the sides of the neck pull the first and second ribs up, allowing energy to move from Bindu to the top of the head, and then into the middle of the brain.
The exhale is governed by Awarohan. During exhalation, energy moves from the middle of the brain back to the C7 vertebra (the bump bone at the back of the neck), and the head lifts a little bit. Then, the energy moves down the vertebrae of the back, releasing the back of the body. When the energy reaches the area of the navel, just below the thoracic vertebrae, the belly pulls in to expel all the toxins. As the belly pulls in, the tailbone tucks a little bit forward and the energy moves back to the root.
These two forces and passages, arohan and awarohan, are so important in our lives. The inhalation – the front passage – opens us and is inspirational. The exhalation – the back passage – releases and lets go. When we breathe in, we are inspired, animated; this is called rajas in Sanskrit. When we breathe out, we release, we let go – tamas. In between these two forces, there is a passage from the top of the head to the middle of the pelvic floor called bramha Nadi. It is this passage that is activated when we are completely in balance, or in a state of sattva. Always in that center is our pure energy. When the passage from the middle of the brain to the middle of the pelvic floor is enlivened, we are tuning in to inspiration, intuition, healing, and all the things we need in life.
We cannot find these subtle energies through force. The only way to find these things is through samaprajna, or surrender. When we find that place where bramha nadi is alive, meditation is delightful and easy. One way to do this is by balancing arohan and awarohan. It’s very difficult to meditate without first finding that balance! Your energy has to go to that central line.
All of this, all of the Kriya techniques that I share with you, are to help you get to the place where you can just sit and be – to feel who you really are without any attributes. It is a place of no particular thing, but all things at once.
These insights are from Alan’s recent meditation classes. For more on all things ISHTA, come to the studio and experience Alan’s class first-hand. To read more of his work, check out the Ishta Studio blog here.
Illustration copyright: Ishta