Updated: Mar 28, 2022
Trataka is one of the six cleansing techniques or Kriyas in Hatha yoga. These kriyas cleanses the inner organs and Trataka is done to cleanse eyes. The word Trataka means "to look" or "to gaze". It forms a bridge between the physical and mental aspect of yogic practices.
The practice of Trataka is explained in the second chapter of Hathapradipika as:
"niriskshennishcaladrisha sukshmalakshyam samahitah
Ashrusampatparyantamachrayestratakam smartam" - II:32 HP
Meaning : Keeping the eyes steady, one should attentively stare at a small object
until tears come out. This is called Trataka by the teachers (of Yoga).
The principal Hatha texts demand that the practice of trataka should be greatly valued and secretly preserved, like a casket of gold.
Traditionally many types of trataka are practiced such as constant gazing at the tip of a Wick of a lamp flame produced from clarified butter (ghee) or upon simple candle light; staring at the rising (or setting) sun, at the moon, the green grass , the sky, a small round object, a minute black spot on a white background, or an illustration of Aum.
Different Authorities have classified the trataka into:
Antar Trataka: one does this Trataka with eyes closed and gaze at the Bhumadhya (space between eyes) Hrydya ( heart), Navel and other internal organs.
Madhya Trataka: Still gaze on Bhumadhya ( space in between eyes), Nasagra ( tip of the nose), AUM like in black ink on a paper or a point in black ink.
Bahya Trataka: Stilling the gaze on the moon, rising sun or any distant object.
The objective of Trataka is :
- to cleanse the inner tract of the optical path
-to develop inner awareness
-to remove strain from the eyes and make it clear, bright and radiant by cleansing the tear gland and purifying the optical system.
- to relieve nervous tension, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
- Improves concentration, inner awareness and prepare an individual for meditation.
Preparation for Jyoti Trataka
Trataka should be done after Asana and Pranayama.
Jyoti Trataka should be done in a dark room and candle should be kept at the eye level. The flame should be steady.
Beginners should start with 30 seconds and can be increase up to 1 - 5 minutes.
In the beginning it should be done under the supervision of an experienced teacher.
Sit in a comfortable meditative Asana or position like sukhasana, Padamsana or in a chair with eyes closed.
Keep your head , neck and back in one straight line.
Open your eyes with few blinks and look at the floor.
Slowly look at the candle stand and then to the candle
First fix your attention at the wick of the flame. Do not strain as this will cause tension and the eyes will flicker.
When the eyes become tired or begin to water, close them gently.
Close your eyes and gaze at the after image of the flame in the space of the closed eyes.
When the image disappear , lie down on your back and relax in Shavasana.
After few minutes of relaxation come back in the Sukhasana or comfortable seated position. Rub your palms against each other and palm your eyes.
People with Glucoma and eye disorders should not practice trataka.
People with Epileptics, eye ailments , astigmatism and early symptoms of cataract should not practice on a candle flame. They can use a black dot or some other steady object to gaze at, with steady background light.
People with tension headache should avoid this practice.
Hathapradipika by Kaivalyadhama
Meditation and its techniques - compilation by Ravi Dix
Yoga through doctor's eye - Dr. Satish Pathak