Article by Sundernath (Shandor Remete)

Pranayama – The Practice of “Breath Control” and The Art of Listening.

The Janeu Mantra (The Prayer of the Sacred Thread) describes the art of listening within: 

“By raising the sound Auṃ, one removes suffering and gains accomplishments. The accomplished one brings the thought of sound to a point. Then the sound of the moon and the sound of the sun stay completely within the body – in the heart, in the mind, in the soul. The soul is small yet the immense is smaller than that which is the smallest. Therefore sound (Nāda), point (Bindu) and the Yogin have the same nature…. Nāda is the field of the body while Bindu is the path of the body, and the one who encompasses these two, the Yogin.”

This profound analysis has many implications for the practitioner: the first is that the practice of prāṇāyāma has little to do with the process of breathing. Prāṇāyāma is the complete cessation of respiration which brings about the rise of sound. The entire journey of enlightenment can be viewed as a step by step refinement of prāṇāyāma by practical application over a long period of time. Before beginning the practice of prāṇāyāma it is important to understand the real significance of a term so often misrepresented as merely the practice of ‘breath control’. According to the Pāśupata Sūtra of Kauṇḍinya,

‘Prāṇāyāma Kṛtvā – breath control is done for the purification of the nāḍīs (the body)….. Prāṇa is the wind which flows out through the mouth and the nostrils. Control (āyāma) is the restraint or suppression of that breath. This breath control is to be regarded as voluntary, for it is preceded by knowledge, desire and effort. It should be practiced according to ones ability and strength.’ (I.16)

After performing Sankalpa, facing either East or North, and sitting in Padmāsana one should raise the neck and begin with either inhalation or exhalation, practicing until the breath is under control and one enters the state of trance. The state of trance is attained when the body is full with its own inner life wind and no longer needs to draw in the external nor release out the internal. Only then can the breath be considered to be under control. 

The root an – means to breathe. The aa – in āyāma indicates the limitations inherent in the bodily posture and the need for its continuous adjustment and the constant destruction of the impurities it generates. The root yam means to tie or bind, indicating that the vāyus (winds) must be bound. Kr means to do (practice). The suffix tva is an indication that the process is to be repeated in a reverse order. This combination of references indicates that the process referred to is the practice of Nāḍī Śuddhi by which the senses are purified and the breath controlled. When this is achieved one hears an unbroken flow of the unstruck sound, the Anāhata Nāda. Through this process the states of Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna and Samadhi are traversed and at its end the unification of NAD-BIND-YOGIN achieved (as described in the Janeu Mantra).

The purpose of the natural suspension of breathing is therefore the complete internalisation of sound since the heavenly sounds cannot be heard within while one is still reliant on the flow of respiration. The Janeu mantra goes on..

‘The one who knows how to pierce the one pointed sound does it alone, becomes one with Śiva and enters his eternal dwelling, the twilight zone where the Siddhas (the accomplished ones) who are the masters of their string instruments (their bodies) are assembled through the successive ages.’

Nāḍī Śuddhi involves the gathering together of all the sounds that are scattered across the inner and peripheral bodily realms into a single point (Bindu). This explains the nature of the knowledge which (together with desire and effort) Pāśupata Sūtra I.16 states must precede breath control. This is the knowledge of the field of those sounds. This field consists of the 52 scattered sounds that reside in the peripheral body, the corresponding sounds within the central chakra systems and the sixteen important nadis or sound corridors through which these scattered sounds are gathered during Nāḍī Śuddhi prāṇāyāma.

It is of the utmost importance that the desire required for breath control is also of the right nature since the path is full of pitfalls and obstructions that result from learned habits and misunderstandings. The effort referred to here is that required to cultivate the processes of respiration – pūraka (inhalation) and rechaka (exhalation) – through the practice of asana. Specifically it refers to the attainment of the correct seat for Nāḍī Śuddhi prāṇāyāma – Padmāsana.

Without Padmāsana, the processes of Cālana, Mathana and Melana are not possible. These three acts belong to the advanced practices of Khecarī mudrā. Cālana refers to the action of the tongue when it enters the nasopharyngeal region above the hard palate and behind the uvula. Mathana is the churning action carried out using the tongue during the different phases of the breathing cycle. Melana means to gather together into a single point all the substances churned up. 

Clarity about the required procedures, the appropriate tools and their use will allow one to tread the path of self-cultivation with the minimum of setbacks. Confusion will result in the multiplication of these setbacks, and the accumulation of injuries and disappointments will eventually result in the collapse of ones undertaking. 

The mastery of Prāṇāyāma leads to the innermost depth of ones soul. 

The next article will continue with the subject of Nāḍī Śuddhi prāṇāyāma.

© Sundernath (Shandor Remete)


Shadow Yoga is concerned with the social and environmental impacts of industry and the marginalisation of various groups. We have pledged 1% of sales to help fund diverse grassroots organizations and appreciate the support of our community.

In 2002, Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, created 1% for the Planet and started a global movement. “The intent of 1% for the Planet is to help fund these diverse environmental organizations so that collectively they can be a more powerful source in solving the world’s problems.”

Important Information


  • Accommodation for the specified nights. We will do our best to provide your choice of accommodation
  • Vegetarian meals catered by local chef with local produce.

If you are flying to Auckland, when your flights are confirmed, please pass the info to Jaymin Gansell who will co-ordinate transport to the retreat on the Tuesday. This will be an additional shared cost. If you are already in Auckland you are welcome to contact her too.


  • 5% For EarlyBird booking and full payment received before 15 July will be applied at checkout.
  • We regret that Teacher’s Discount is not available for this retreat.

Cancellation Policy

  • After 15 August: Cancellation fee of 20%
  • After 15 September: Cancellation fee of 40%
  • After 15 October: Cancellation fee of 100%
  • We will do our best to replace your booking in which case the fee will be halved.

Limited to 20 participants. We expect places to fill quickly.

Important Information

August is the time of the monsoon in India. Ancient writings outline that this season is the best season for Panchakarma treatments (Ayurvedic cleansings) which are enhanced at this time. Alongside this, the yoga will be offered with the treatments.


  • Accommodation for the specified nights. We will do our best to provide your choice of accommodation
  • One consultation with the Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor)
  • Treatments as specified
  • Three vegetarian meals a day with two beverages (ideally herbal tea if not, tea/ coffee) and fruit bowl
  • One group session on Diet and Ayurveda


  • Extra meals/fruits/tea/coffee & juices


  • Airport taxi pickup and drop are available (see below)
  • Additional specific treatments are available
  • Astrology Session: INR4,000


  • 5% For EarlyBird booking and full payment received before 31 March (will be applied at checkout)
  • If you are registering for more than one course at Poonthottam an additional 5% discount is available. We will also include the night between the courses. In this case, please email Danny May with your course selection and room type.
  • We regret that Teacher’s Discount is not available for these retreats.

Venue information
The closest domestic airports in order are Kozhikode, Cochin, Coimbatore. Cochin takes longer because of very heavy traffic. The ashram will help organise a taxi for you – see contact details below.


For taxi bookings and information about additional treatments or extending your stay, please contact Jishnu Ravendranath
WhatsApp is prefered +918075435242

Cancellation Policy

(based on Ayurvedasram policy)
After 30 April – Cancellation fee of 25%
After 28 May – 100%

Limited to 25 participants. We expect places to fill quickly.

Meditations of the Thunder Dragon (Taranyali Dhyanam)

with Sundernath

Over the past twenty years, we have introduced and taught all the preparatory practices required to cultivate the subtle energy and initiate the gathering of vital power that leads to the spontaneous or natural state of Sahajavasta which is the highest peak of meditation.

These practices and technical tools were laid out in Sundernath’s book Taranyali Tridha Dhyanam in the chapters on Krantam and Kriya. In the last chapter, he introduces the principles and characteristics of the final phase to which they lead – the acquisition of Shambhavi Mudra. These properties can be summed up in the term prasādājñā which implies that this mudra has a double nature – Rudra Shakti, the command of authority for the removal of impurities and Kundalini Shakti, the command of grace. When these two energies are drawn together into a single point the portal of transmission is opened. In this explanation I gave enough for genuine seekers to gain some sense of the path ahead and the demands that it would make.

The time has come to teach those individuals who are suitably prepared and open, by practical steps and in a systematic manner, the complete process through to this final stage.

This will be undertaken in four stages as follows:

  1. The Sheathing of Thunder and Lightning
  2. Stabilising the Thunder and Lightning
  3. Opening the Sky and Flooding
  4. The Arousal of Hamsah – the Anahata Nad, (the unstruck sound of the heart).
    Shambhavi Mudra

Each stage will consist of three-weekend workshops, each weekend consisting of three sessions. Between these stages, the students will be given suitable time to practice and absorb what they have learned before proceeding further.

Copyright © Shadow Yoga. All rights reserved. No part of these teachings may be reproduced, distributed, recorded or transmitted in any form or by any means, including, recording, or other electronic or mechanical means, without the prior written permission of Shadow Yoga. All advice given is strictly in confidence.


About the region

Tourism center information

Close by: Remember to call ahead for visit conditions

Roche de Solutré: Not to miss, on the Great Site of France Solutré Pouilly Vergisson

Musée de préhistoire: Jardin archeological and botanical garden, the Maison du Grand Site to complete the tour.

Château De Pierreclos: In the midst of organic vineyards.

Chateau De Berze-Le-Chatel: Historical monument, one of the most well-preserved medieval fortified castles of Burgundy (where Ridley Scott shot ‘The Last Duel’!)

Chapelle Des Moines: In Berzé-la-Ville (the next village!)  – not to be missed.

Château De Cormatin: (only possible to visit its magnificent garden) Between Tournus et Cluny.

Les Communs: Local ceramists.

Chapaize – L’église Saint Martin & L’église De Lancharre: The village offers bed and breakfasts, 3 restaurants a Sunday organic market, an art gallery, and artists’ ateliers.

Grottes D’azé: Earth under life: in -350 000, a primal man appeared in the cave, then rhinos and antique elephants…the prehistorical cave and the underground river hide one of the largest European cave bears fields.

Grottes De Blanot

Château De Saint-Point-Lamartine: If one appreciates the writer

Solornay sur Guye: The neighbouring town – includes a restaurant, small food store, salon de thé – pâtisserie 

Cité- Abbaye De Cluny: The Benedictin Abbaye Of Cluny Shined On The Whole Middle Age Europe, Being The Widest Of Western Christianity Before The Building Of Saint-Peters In Rome.

Communauté De Taizé: Christian Ecumenical Community Founded In 1940 By Brother Roger.

Abbaye Saint Philibert – Tournus: One Of The Largest French Monastic Cities.