You know how when you’re really pissed and someone tells you to just breathe? If you’re anything like me it makes you see red. I mean, seriously, that’s not helpful.

Their timing may be off (as in, way off), but there’s a reason why people instinctually remind you to breathe in those situations. It’ll calm you down.

(Personally, I’ve found a glass of organic Shiraz works wonders, too. But I guess that won’t go down too well in your Monday morning staff meeting.)

I digress. Breathing —aside from keeping us alive— brings with it numerous health benefits. Interestingly, we humans are not very good at it. We tend to spend our waking hours taking in short, shallow breaths, usually through the mouth.

As this article from Harvard Health attests, shallow breathing limits the diaphragm’s range of motion. In order to enjoy the full benefit of the oxygen we’re inhaling, we need to do so deeply and through the nose.

Breathing like this —with intent and to the very bottom of the lungs— relaxes one, quelling those errant stress responses that invariably arise when you’re late for the staff meeting. Again.

What is Sudarshan Kriya?

Sudarshan Kriya is pretty much breathing on steroids. Taught as part of The Art of Living Happiness Program, the powerful breathing technique brings with it more juicy goodness than you could possibly imagine.

Whether you’re prone to anxiety, are easily stressed or suffer from a medical-related ailment, such as diabetes, it will help. If, like me, your demeanor tends to be more Eeyore than, say, Tigger or Pooh, Sudarshan Kriya can change that.

I kid you not. I used to be that droopy-eared donkey for the longest time. I tried everything from antidepressants and and self-medicating (let’s not go there) to hypnotherapy.

Medication (prescribed or otherwise) can only take you so far, and while the weekly hypnotherapy sessions definitely helped, my budget didn’t see it as a long term solution.

The Happiness Program That Turned Me into a Happy Yogi

Things have a way of pitching up exactly when you need them. I learned about The Art of Living Happiness Program from an ex-colleague. Seeing how upbeat and chilled with life she was looking, I knew I had to sign up.

Run over four evenings and a weekend, the program offers a sneaky, yet remarkably attainable, approach to this business of being happy. At the heart of it is the Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique that activates the vagus nerve.

If you’ve never heard of the vagus nerve, don’t feel bad. Most people haven’t. Known as the wandering nerve, this little known organ is responsible for our gut feelings and the sense of inner peace we feel (or, wish we’d feel more).

Okay, but will Sudarshan Kriya make you a better yogi? Yes, without a doubt. Plus, it will also make you happier, healthier and more relaxed. Just saying.

Where Can You Learn Sudarshan Kriya?

You’re onboard, now what? First, the bad news. Sudarshan Kriya is probably the only thing left that you can’t learn by asking Google. Sorry, not sorry.

The good news is that although its headquarters are based in Bangalore, India, the Art of Living has more than 10,000 centers in 155 countries, so there’s a good chance you’ll find one close to you.

From Learning to Doing: Making Sudarshan Kriya a Daily Practice

Here’s the caveat you were waiting for. You can’t just do the Happiness Program and be done with it. You need to make Sudarshan Kriya a part of your morning routine.

Ideally, it’s the first thing you do upon rising. Because it ends in a meditation, doing it on an empty stomach straight after waking up will allow you to get the full benefit of the practice.

It takes roughly half an hour to complete, which can seem a little time extravagant in today’s go, go, go world. But honestly, it’s the best thirty minutes you’ll spend all day.

Don’t be tempted to skip it because you’re in a hurry, either. Like a lot of things, it’s only in their absence that you truly appreciate the benefits of Sudarshan Kriya.

Once a week, the centers host follow-up sessions. This longer, guided version of Sudarshan Kriya serves as a very necessary top-up to your daily practice. Think of it as plugging into source for an extra boost of power.

There you have it. That’s WTF Sudarshan Kriya is.


What questions do you have about Sudashan Kriya? Have we piqued your interest? Have you tried this practice? Let us know in the comments!