A stepping stone between physically oriented practices and mental practices which lead to higher states of awareness, A bridge between Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga. – Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, Swami Satyananda Saraswati
What is Trataka?
The word Trataka means ‘to look‘ or ‘to gaze’. It is called ‘concentrated gazing’. Trataka is a practice in which a person gazes at any object like a candle flame/ a black dot on a white background or a Yantra (a geometrical figure with a spiritual meaning). It is one of the practices of Shatkarmas (Six Kriyas which is for cleansing the body and mind). It is one of the practices which also prepares you for meditation.
What are the things required to do Trataka?
This is a practice where you just need three things to do it:
- Candle (There are other objects too to practice trataka on like a black dot on a white surface or a Yantra (Spiritual geometric figure))
- A Candle Stand or something like a table to put the candle on.
- A yoga mat or a cushion (acts as an insulation from the ground)
What is the best time to practice it?
The best time to practice trataka is at dawn or dusk with an empty stomach.
How to practice Trataka?
- Light a candle and put it on a candle stand or a table. Please make sure the candle flame remains at eye level while sitting.
- Choose a dark place to practice making sure the candle is the only source of light.
- Wait for the flame to be steady.
- Sit in any comfortable posture of meditation with your spine, neck, and head in one straight line. Your hands resting on your knees or within your lap in a mudra of your choice. Remove any lens/glasses if you are wearing them.
- The distance between you and the candle flame should be an Arm’s length.
- Gently close your eyes and relax your mind and body for a while by taking a few breaths in and out.
- As you are calm and ready, gently open your eyes and start gazing steadily at the candle flame. Remember not to blink or move the eyeballs.
- Keep your awareness on the flame for a minute or two.
- If the eyes begin to water, close your eyes gently.
- After closing the eyes, imagine a brightly burning candle flame afterimage in between your eyebrows.
- Try to stabilize the afterimage if it moves up or down or on the side. If the image starts to fade, try to bring it back again.
- If the image vanishes completely, open your eyes again and start gazing at the flame.
- Repeat steps 7-12 three to four times.
- After the final round, close your eyes and rub your palms to produce heat and put your palms over your eyes, and gently massage the eyes and your face.
The practice of Trataka is Complete.
What are the Benefits?
There are several benefits of Trataka and some of them are:
- It makes your eyes clear
- Improves concentration
- Balances the nervous system
- Improves the memory
- Improves the willpower
- Removes nervous tension
Who should not practice it?
People suffering from Glaucoma should not practice trataka. Also, Epileptics should not practice on a candle flame, they can use it on a black dot instead.
Note: Beginners should do it in the presence of a master or teacher for the first time. Always remember, Yoga and its practices is not a competition, it should only be done as long as you are comfortable. Please do not strain yourself.
If you are in Goa and want to practice it, SWAN Yoga Retreat is a place you must visit, they do it on Monday evening every week.