How to Breathe



Adapted from “The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga”

[Note: The following outlines a very formal practice of the Hong-Sau meditation technique. This can also be practiced more informally at opportune times during the day, while lying in bed at night, etc. Please contact me if you would like personalized advice or clarification of the Hong-Sau technique.]

In Sanskrit, the word Hamsa (Hong-Sau) means wild gander, and has great symbolic significance. No matter how far the wild gander flies, at some point it remembers, and migrates back to its home, always at the proper season. In the same way, we as spiritual beings following a spiritual principle must, like the wild gander, remember, and migrate back to our spiritual home. The spiritual home is the inward state of Samadhi. The Hong-Sau Kriya meditation is a key technique whereby you return to the spiritual home.

In most systems of meditation, there is a particular spiritual result that is sought. This may be trance, vision, or clairaudience. This is not, however, the end goal of Kriya Yoga. There is a higher meditation, in which you enter a state of consciousness with meaning beyond your own mind. In this state of meditation, you remove the illusions, delusions, cravings, loyalties, and prejudices. These states produce emotional ignorance within your everyday consciousness. When these states have been removed, you see the reality.

Higher meditation produces a strength and an intensity of consciousness making you courageous and fearless. The most universally applicable method for developing meditation is attentiveness on the incoming and outgoing breath! This technique in no way interferes with the normal breathing pattern. It is used as a point of concentration. It is a pattern upon which the Hong-Sau meditation technique is based.


The Hong-Sau technique is a little different in that it is more than a mere Mantra. It is a technique for focusing the mind and developing deep concentration.

One’s mind is usually preoccupied with reliving memories of the past, contemplating events of the future, acting out imaginary conversations and situations, etc. If one is to undergo profound change, then one must learn to view reality without the tainted filters of past negative experiences, and to refrain from creating a self-fulfilling negative future.

When one focuses on the breath in Hong-Sau meditation, one’s mind is fully focused on the present moment. The filters are dropped. With continued practice, one develops the ability to focus intently on a philosophical concept or life issue, and see the solution quite clearly, in a wonderful “the answer was right here under my nose all of the time” moment.

The Hong-Sau Kriya technique is an extremely powerful, illuminative procedure. It is powerful because:

It utilizes Yama (Self-control)

It utilizes breath control, one of the greater mystical techniques.

It utilizes Mantra (Holy vibrational sound)

It utilizes focused concentration on the breath

It utilizes meditation.

Finally, it utilizes mindfulness of the self, which leads to the balanced awareness of Samadhi.

In Hong-Sau Kriya, multiple techniques are blended into a natural, harmonious method for reaching Samadhi. You can, through the Hong-Sau Kriya technique, reach illumination within this very life- time! However, it must be practiced regularly. The practice of the Hong-Sau technique must also be an adjunct to a sane, spiritual way of life, with ceaseless longing to know and merge with the Infinite Being.

At first, it may require weeks of practice before you can breathe meditative Hong-Sau’s without mental distraction. It is important to establish the technique properly. Spend plenty of time practicing Hong-Sau so it becomes automatic and effortless. In this way, a groove is formed within your mind.

When Hong-Sau is performed without thought of anything other than the feeling and the joy of meditation, it will then begin to produce the desired effects. This is the most important facet of meditation.


It makes no difference whether you practice the Hong-Sau technique in the morning, afternoon, or evening – just practice it. Find a regular time in your schedule to do so. For maximum effect, at whatever time you choose, practice it, daily, at the same time. Consistency is very important, for “where” and “when” are important to the subconscious mind.

Hong-Sau practice begins with a Cleansing Breath. Inhale slowly, deeply, through the nose. At the end of the inhalation, turn your head to the left, not to the right, exhale twice through the open mouth with short, explosive breaths – “Huh huuuh”. When the breath is fully exhaled, close the mouth. Immediately turn your head forward and relax. By expelling the air in this direction, you are symbolically casting off the ego self. When you bring your head forward, the breath that flows in is known as the resurrection breath. In a symbolic way, this new breath is bringing in new life… a new spiritual life.

Repeat 3 times.

Now the Hong-Sau breathing technique itself begins. For the rest of the practice, you are breathing normally, naturally, through the nose. You are not counting the number of breaths, or focusing on anything except the natural inhalation/exhalation cycle of your breathing.

Do the Hong-Sau Kriya breathing with the following awareness:

Now the breath is flowing in… Now the breath is still.

Now the breath is flowing out… Now the breath is still again.

Now the breath is flowing in again.

The stillness of the breath occurs at the point where the breath is “held”. This is not an intentional or artificial hold, but rather, it is something which occurs naturally as you breathe.

You are not breathingdeeply – you are breathing naturally.

As the breath flows in of its own nature (through the nose), mentally chant Hong. (It’s Hong as in Hong Kong). When the breath flows out of by its own nature (through the nose), mentally chant Sau. (It’s “Saw” as in seesaw).

As mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the holy breath is considered to be the one spiritual principle. Hong-Sau Kriya consists of concentrating on this principle – inhalation and exhalation. You can also concentrate on the single principle of the Mantra that is chanted during this Pranayama. There is also the meditation during the still-point of the breath. All are valid and one may drift from concentration on one to another.

In breathing Hong-Sau, there can be no forceful inhalation or exhalation. There can be no stress or strain. You must allow the breath to naturally do its own thing. In short, the breath breathes you.

Pranayama-wise, Hong-Sau is a totally passive process. You merely watch the incoming and outgoing breath. But, with regards to the Mantra, it’s totally active.

Whenever the breath is at full chalice or empty chalice, you simply remain in silence and enjoy the meditative bliss of that breathless state.

The result of Hong-Sau practice is to increase the interval of breath suspension. This naturally increased interval of breathlessness is what it is about. It is this moment of silence which gives one a glimpse of Samadhi (the breathless state).

In Hong-Sau, be aware whether you are breathing in or out (whether there is an empty chalice or full chalice). However, you may find at times that you have lost awareness of your breath, and have not been breathing at all for an indeterminate length of time. This is the beginning stage of Samadhi.

While performing this technique, in no way, shape, or form should you attempt to regulate the breath. Do not try to chant in any given pattern or to any definite rhythm. The mental chanting must follow the exact natural pattern of your breathing. There is no mantra sound at the hold points.

At the automatic hold of the breath, meditate upon blissfulness. In no way should you force the extension of the breathless, blissful state.

By observing this breathless state, you mystically loosen identification with your body. You come to realize you are something other than the body. You come to know that your body is sustained by something other than physical breathing.

The breath and/or Mantra is a mystical valve that ties consciousness to its body. This valve must be controlled, enabling you to release your mind’s consciousness from body-consciousness. This is obtained by reaching the breathless stage. In this breathless stage, your mind meditates without distraction and perceives the Reality within you. By performing the Hong-Sau Kriya technique, you transcend consciousness of bodily desire. .


The practice of Hong-Sau energizes your physical body and fills it with great peacefulness.

It activates and instills in the mind an enthusiasm, but not a restlessness.

It rests the catabolic process of the inner organs.

It is conducive to spiritual experiences that lead to wisdom.

Your humor will improve.

Your detachment (not indifference) will unfold.

You will become more mindful and more aware of what is happening in your mind, your external world, and the astral world.

You experience quietude and serenity. You see the unfoldment of consciousness within yourself, and the creation of events external to your body.

Hong-Sau is a regenerative technique. It is the only time you are pouring energy into your mind-body vehicle, rather than taking energy out of the vehicle.


At any time of the night or day, if you find yourself standing in line, waiting on the phone, lying awake in bed or otherwise in a situation where the body is relatively motionless and the mind is not preoccupied, you can practice the Hong-Sau Kriya technique as outlined in Step 2 (above).


Many practitioners combine Hong-Sau Kriya with other techniques. Others make the Hong-Sau Kriya their exclusive practice. There is no one answer or set of techniques which fits the needs of all practitioners. Develop a deep trust in your intuition to help determine which practice(s) are best for you. Make it your primary goal to face and overcome any weaknesses that are barriers on your path of spiritual development, using the best tools available to do so.

For those who combine Hong-Sau Kriya with other techniques, the following order of practice is often followed, and can be used as a general guideline:

Hatha Yoga (Postures)

Mantra (Holy vibrational sound)

Pranayama (Controlling the Prana through breathing)

Hong-Sau Kriya



This discussion of Hong-Sau is concluded with an affirmation called Love, by John Lennon.


Love is real,
real is love

Love is feeling,
feeling love

Love is wanting to be loved

Love is touch,
touch is love

Love is reaching, reaching love

Love is asking to be loved

Love is you
You and me

Love is knowing
we can be

Love is free,
free is love

Love is living,
living love

Love is needing to be loved …

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