Practising sarpa kriya helps release the energy blocks in the upper back region
‘Sarpa’ means ‘snake’. Many of the ancient cultures associated healing, transformation and time/space with the snake. It has its positive as well as shadowy associations which are complementary like the sun and the moon.
The snake symbolises wisdom and beauty in the Chinese system. The skin and other parts of the snake are used in Chinese medicine to treat skin diseases, arthritis and paralysis. In ancient Egypt, the snake was considered a symbol of royalty and wisdom. The ancient Ouroboros symbol or the snake biting its own tail represents the continuum of life and time and a merging of one into the other. It symbolises unity and infinity at the same time.
Two snakes intertwined on a staff, with a pair of wings on top, is a symbol used by some pharmaceutical companies. A modified version is used by the Indian Medical Association. This symbol is called the caduceus. It was the staff of Hermes, the Greek god of commerce, invention, theft and verbal artistry. Later, it also came to be associated with alchemy. The staff of Asclepius, a medicine man in Greece, later revered as a god, is the original symbol of healing and comprises a single snake wound around a long staff and used by the World Health Organisation and various medical associations around the world.
In Christianity the snake has both good and bad associations. The bad associations are there as Eve is believed to have been misled by the serpent. However Moses makes a rod similar to that of Asclepius, a rod with a snake that would make the Israelites look up to heaven and protect them from snake bites.
In India too the snake is respected as it is associated both with Siva (cosmic consciousness) and Vishnu (preserving principle). It symbolises time and space, the capacity to release the past and start afresh. The same symbology applies to Buddhism and Jainism. In fact, the chapter on the snake is the first chapter in the Sutta Nippata or collection of discourses. It speaks of a monk who transforms or sheds his passions like a snake sheds its skin.
In esoteric yogic teachings, the kundalini shakti is represented as a snake. This shakti which is dormant is represented as a coil of three-and-a-half times at the base. With practice, this energy uncoils and rises up the pranic channels upwards. All yogic practices are ultimately aimed at kundalini arousal. However, nowadays due to branding, people mistake it to be a form or kind of yoga.
In the higher or shakti practices one has to be careful to do it after a lot of purification and preparation. This is not something one does after picking up the basics from a book or in a weekend workshop.
By practising the sarpa kriya one can release the energy blocks stored in the upper back region as well as relieve muscular tension. It is preliminary to any of the more complicated kundalini practices and safe when done gently and with awareness. It is excellent to ease shoulder pain and stiffness caused by prolonged computer/desk work.
The technique: Lie in Makarasana. In this asana, one lies on one’s belly. Now interlock your fingers behind your back. Breathe in and come up gently bringing your torso up; then breathe out and come down. Do this thrice. This is the sarpa kriya. When the position is held, it is called the sarpa asana.(Visit www.arkaya.net or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) MAITREYI