The four purusharths (goals of human life) as prescribed by our sages are Dharma, Arth. Kaam and Moksha. Moksha is the ultimate goal which means escape from the cycle of birth and death.
Sushumna Kriya Yoga is a method to attain mukti (freedom) from this cycle.
On the 14th day of each month during the waning moon (Krishna Paksha) half which also happens to be the night before Amavasya (New Moon Day) is celebrated as Shivaratri. Every Shivaratri night there is a natural upsurge of energies within the human system. This energy can only be made use of by those who have straight vertical spinal cords or spines. Only humans have evolved to that level of the vertical spine. Therefore, keeping the spine straight and vertical on Shivaratri night has immense benefits. It is therefore recommended that all Sushumna Kriya Yogis do the 49-minute midnight meditation on Shivaratri day.
But the Shivaratri which falls during the month of Magh (in South India) and Phalgun (in North India) is celebrated as “Mahashivaratri” and the reason is that on this Shivaratri the energies are at a peak – more than any other time of the year. So, to make the most of this natural cosmic phenomenon all traditions of Shivaratri require us to do things which are beneficial to our sadhana. Fasting, so that the body is light, and meditation becomes easy, staying awake the entire night and sit with our spines erect so that we can absorb as much energy as is possible.
Most of the legends of Shivaratri, you will notice are also built to drive different practices for this day.
One legend says that when the Samudra manthan happened Shiva drank the poison (halahal) which emerged and the Gods kept him awake the entire night so that the poison did not affect him. The poison eventually didn’t harm Shiva, but turned his neck blue. This was when he got the name Neelkantha. Since then, the night is celebrated as Mahashivratri.
Another legend has that Shiva gets married to Parvati and in the night the wedding is celebrated. What this means metaphorically is that Shiva i.e. Adiyogi first stirred with the power of Shakti (Parvati) and material creation began. On this day therefore the energies are such that a Sushumna Kriya Yogi can transcend everything to experience the divine, the pure consciousness.
So let us make the most of this divine day to elevate our level of consciousness and move one big step towards becoming one with the divine.