Laya (dissolve/dissolution) + Yoga (union)
Laya Yoga Definition
The aim of Laya yoga is to get the individual self and pure consciousness/supreme energy to merge together. This frees the self from karma and the cycle of rebirth.
Laya yoga leads to complete absorption or samadhi and means being free from all attachments where the transcendental self is realized over the individual self.
Laya Yoga Deep Dive
Georg Feuerstein calls Laya yoga the “Dissolving of the Universe”.
You can think of it as trying to dissolve the microcosm of being into the macrocosm of pure consciousness. Laya yoga takes place through rigorous meditation, which helps to dissolve the self – until only one reality remains.
Laya yoga’s roots are attributed to Gorakhnath (a disciple of Matsyendranath) and Laya yoga can include:
- Mantras – sound repetition often on the syllable Om
- Bandha – a lock to keep vital energy in the body
- Mudras – A bodily seal such as kechari mudra or hand gestures
- Pranayama – breath control or retention
- Asana – physical postures
The goal of Laya yoga is to reshape and elevate consciousness. The aim is to transcend karmic patterns and what makes it different from other forms of yoga is the emphasis on “psychoenergetic” centers or chakras. You can find out more about the goals of laya yoga in the Yogabija.
Shyam Sundar Goswami says that Laya yoga is the “process of absorption of the cosmic principles in deep concentration, thus freeing consciousness from all that is not spiritual, and in which is held the divine luminous coiled power, termed kundalini”.
Hence, Laya yoga is sometimes referred to as Kundalini yoga.
Laya yoga is a Shaiva practice (often drawing on tantric elements too) and draws heavily on the use of chakras or energy centers. By focusing the mind on the different chakras and practices to encourage Kundalini energy to rise, samskaras (the cycle of life and death) and ego are “dissolved”.
Laya yoga is one of the four yogas which are:
- Mantra – A mantra is considered a sacred word or utterance that serves as a vehicle for meditation.
- Hatha – Meaning the yoga of force. It was developed in the medieval period and has more focus on the embodied/physical state than other forms of yoga.
- Laya – Meaning the yoga of dissolution. A type of meditation that is considered superior to Mantra and Hatha yoga and focusing on energetic centers and kundalini.
- Raja – The Royal yoga. Raja yoga was introduced in the 16th century and refers to the renowned text, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. All roads are said to lead to Raja yoga, and other practices are considered subordinate.
It is through Mantra, Hatha, and Laya yoga that Raja yoga is achieved.
“The laya-yogins seek to meditatively dissolve themselves by clinging solely to the transcendental self.”– Georg Feuerstein
laya Yoga In Your Life
Practicing Laya yoga is said to elevate consciousness to a higher level and awaken Kundalini energy, and like all meditation and yoga practices, it is good for the mind, body and soul!If you want to bring Laya yoga into your life, a good place to start is with a regular meditation practice. Once you have become familiar with developing awareness and attention (breath is a good place to start) you can begin to incorporate meditation on one of the chakras:
- Sahasrara chakra – crown
- Ajna chakra – third eye
- Vishuddha chakra – throat
- Anahata chakra – heart
- Manipura chakra – navel
- Svadhishthana chakra – sexual organs
- Muladhara chakra – root
If you’re looking for some meditations using the chakras, then check out Joe Dispenza. Working with internal energy and kundalini can be a tricky practice so be sure to seek out a great teacher to support you.
To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and timeless yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.