According to ancient tantric texts such as the Rudra Yamala and the Bhuta Shuddhi Tantra, your body is a living shrine—and a meditation practice called bhuta shuddhi is one of the best ways to render that shrine wholesome and pure. The practice is so potent that the sages forbid students who are not familiar with the broad range of yoga practices from undertaking it. Bhuta shuddhi, they declare, is fruitful to those who combine asana, pranayama, and mantra japa, but fruitless for those who isolate those practices. It’s also a prerequisite for seekers who hope to learn the more advanced practices of the yogic and tantric traditions.
So why has Yoga International chosen to introduce bhuta shuddhi to the modern seeker? Because there are a large number of aspirants in the West who are studying yoga earnestly and seriously—they practice kumbhaka (breath retention), visualization, and mantra meditation—and as a result, they are qualified to undertake this unique and highly secret practice.
If you haven’t reached this level of yoga practice yet, you’ll be motivated. Just reading this article will give you a glimpse into the depth and breadth of authentic yoga practice in a world where people equate “yoga” with “asana” and “tantra” with “sex.” Swami Rama (1925–1996), the founder of Yoga International and an adept who studied in the cave monasteries of the Himalayas before coming to the West, reveals an inspiring beginner’s version of bhuta shuddhi in the series that follows.