Kriya Yoga and Bipolar

by Reba

Do you recommend Kriya Yoga for people with Bipolar?

Ben's Response:

I recommend Kriya to certain people with Bipolar Disorder, with a strong caution. Kriya should only be practiced under the guidance of a very experienced teacher or Guru, and you should have a guide or therapist who fully understands the risks. Kriya Yoga can generate a tremendous amount of energy and this energy surge can trigger mania for those with a history of bipolar disorder.

Mania can be triggered by an intense experience - whether positive or negative - emotional or mental activity or certain physical triggers, such as lack of sleep. In Kriya Yoga, energy (Prana) is generated in the spinal channel. This energy must be awakened gradually and in a balanced way in the central channel. Mania, by nature, is a state in which this same energy overwhelmes the nervous system, often producing not only states of bliss and ecstacy and hightened intuitive or psychic awareness, but also disturbing, intense emotions, racing thoughts, delusions, grandiosity, etc.

If Kriya is done with too much intensity, progresses too quickly, or is done without guidance, there is a risk of inducing such a state of mania, as the nervous system must be gradually strengthened and conditioned to handle that kind of voltage.

In my particular Kriya practice (as taught by Yogiraj Siddhanath), we start with 36 Kriya breaths per day, then progressing to 72, and then 108, and so on, over a period of months. For someone with Bipolar Disorder, I would advise that you start with only 12 per day, and that you carefully monitor your mood and energy level. Any increases should be done very gradually and with a lot of mindfulness and care.

I would also advise eating warm, grounding foods (not a raw or vegan diet). And there are other good balancing practices that compliment the Kriya, such as Surya Yoga in my tradition.

Feel free to contact me directly if you have more questions about any of this.

Best Wishes,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT

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Mar 13, 2012
Foods that help BiPolar
by: Anonymous

Dear Ben,

Thank you soo much for your response to my question about Kriya Yoga and Bipolar, and for the added bonus of mentioning which foods to eat. This is an important comment because I am always trying to get my friend to eat raw foods as I thought they would be able to help him heal better.

What about fruit? Is it okay to eat raw fruit, or should it also be cooked?

You write about balance. Does this relate to Ayurvedic practices?

Again my sincerest thanks.


Ben's Reply:

The idea of eating balancing diet is a huge part of Ayurvedic practices, as well as other eastern traditions such as Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Some of it can get quite complex - especially in ayurveda. But it is important to at least think of foods as being primarily "yin" or "yang" - strengthening/warming or weakening/cooling. Both are important for balance, but too much yin foods (raw foods especially) can cause energetic imbalances, emotional problems, a feeling of not being grounded...

Fruit is fine in moderation. But again, most fruits are cooling, and some have a lot of fructose. Better to eat more of, if you live in the hot tropics, but not if you live in Michigan. Berries are some of the best types of fruits to eat on a regular basis.

I recommend fish oil for people with bipolar or depression. Some people avoid this if they are keeping a vegan diet, but the fact is it that other sources of omega 3 fatty acids, like avocados, walnuts and flax, are not as complete.

Thanks for the question.


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