Read my experience of Inner Engineering Program here
Shoonya program is one of the advanced programs offered by Isha Yoga center. You are expected to have completed the Inner Engineering program to be eligible for this and also be regular with the Shambhavi Mahamudra practice. Also there is a huge demand for this program, so if you want to participate, make sure you register immediately as soon as it is announced on the Isha Yoga website. I participated in the Shoonya program in March 2017. I had to pay Rs.4000 for the program including accommodation and food.
I reached the Isha Yoga center in Coimbatore on the morning of the day the program starts. There was a long queue at the reception area for the program registration. There were around 300 people participating the program with both men and women from all parts of the world. After registration we were provided with ID tag which one needs to wear all the time so that we are allowed into the Ashram area. The program was conducted in the Adiyogi aalayam and were given room for keeping the luggage. Sleeping area for men was in the Adiyogi aalayam itself and the ladies were given separate sleeping space.
The program started with teaching the practice of Surya Namaskar. I had learnt this in Inner Engineering Program itself so it was not new to me. But I later heard that Surya Namaskar was not taught in Inner Engineering program anymore so they are teaching it in Shoonya program. One new aspect introduced in the Surya Namaskar was the visualization aspect where one has to visualize the subtle body while doing the asanas and also holding the poses for a longer time which makes it much harder and also more effective.
In the first two days of the program we were screwed big time asking us to do Sukha kriya and Aum chanting for long periods of time sitting in Ardha Siddhasan. This was supposed to be for creating the inner balance required for the initiation into Shoonya meditation. I struggled really bad with lot of pain in the legs but did observe increase in my Energy level. Also the place itself was brimming with some special energy which helped quite a bit especially getting up early in the morning as the program started at 6 in the morning everyday and we had to get up around 5. We were provided special food 3 times a day consisting mostly of Fruits and vegetables (Some typical south indian food item in the night) served by the dedicated volunteers.
We were also taught the steps for Shakthi chalana Kriya which has some advanced Pranayama steps like Kapalabhati and few other Kriyas. We are taught this step by step over 4 days and I was left wondering how many more steps are there in this Shakthi Chalana Kriya? Since all these Kriyas required empty stomach condition, we were usually showed videos of Sadhguru talking about different topics after every meal. Quite a few videos were about reviewing some teachings from Inner Engineering program like Taking responsibility for everything which was good to recap as I had forgotten about them.
On the third day we were initiated into the Shoonya meditation. We were divided into smaller groups and taken to a separate room. We were provided a beeja mantra and provided instructions on how to do Shoonya meditation. We were asked not to utter the mantra loudly and not to share it with others. Also one of the interesting condition of Shoonya meditation is to approach it with no expectation that is to approach every meditation as though doing it for the first time and leaving the past experience behind. This was an interesting thing for me because I always judge a meditation session on whether it went good or bad and be disappointed if it was bad. Another aspect mentioned by Sadhguru was that Shoonya meditation does not use the mind and therefore more powerful compared to other meditation types which use the mind like chanting or concentration based. We were warned that it is dangerous to do Shoonya meditation for long time and can damage the body due to reduction in metabolic activity and restrict to the stipulated time of around 15 minutes. Sadhguru mentioned that Initiation process of Shoonya had been toned down due to a person damaging his body due to overtime of Shoonya meditation.
On the last day we completed the steps of Shakthi Chalana Kriya and clarified the doubts about the practices. We were told to do the practice twice daily for at least 40 days and once daily after that. Overall it was a very intense three and half days in the Shoonya program and I recommend everyone to try it out to take the spiritual practice to the next level. I will write again after practicing this for some time.