Happy February All!
Sat Nam, I hope this finds you well and in good spirits. During the month of February our theme centers around releasing fear and coming into consciousness. A good deal of the time it can be scary to try something new – I often think about all the ways things could possibly go wrong or even fantasize about all the possibilities of what “could be”. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, yah know?
What if instead of stepping forward in fear, we step forward in consciousness – what would life be like? Has there ever been a moment where you took the leap of faith only to look back and realize it wasn’t all that hard after all? Or maybe we are afraid to take up space, be heard, or seen? I often times tell my dancers in class to go for it because the worse thing that could happen is that they might fall. I say this with love and in a space where they will be helped up, a space where they will get another shot, and a space where they can learn along the way. I hope your practice becomes this space for you.
What if you could release the hold of fear by becoming conscious of the patterns you’ve learned and adopted over time? What would that be like? Through the practice of yoga we are able to unravel the outer layers of ourself, our ego or individual identity that we develop over time, and come down to tootsie roll center that is our true self and, when we know our true self we know the divine.
Yoga Set: Kirtan Kriya
Kirtan kriya is a gold standard when it comes to kundalini yoga. This meditation is often used for healing the mind, body and spirit. The mantra used is “Saa, Taa, Naa, Maa.” These translate to life, death, infinity, and rebirth. When we chant this we are honoring and taking our place in this great cycle. In kirtan kriya visualization is key. As you chant and focus on the brow point visualize a light entering through the crown and coming out through the third eye, making a small “L” like shape. It’s this visualization that allows the sound current to clear the mind and body of anything that is no longer serving it.
Pranayama Exercise: Breath of Fire
How to Practice: Hands can be in prayer pose or on the knees thumb tip to index finger, gyan mudra. Breathing through the nose, keep the inhale and exhale equal and coming from the navel center. As the belly moves out the breath comes in and as the belly comes to the spine the breath goes out.
This pranayam is used in many kriyas, meditations, and warm ups and it is really easy to do incorrectly. Don’t feel bad if you’re trying this for the first time and you feel dizzy, it happens to the best of us – just take some long deep breaths and come back when you’re ready. My best advice is to start slow and work toward increasing your speed. Doing this breath should make you feel radiant and luminous as it’s moving huge amounts of prana and oxygen through your body. This is great to do if you need a boost of energy, to quickly clear your mind, and can even be done on the morning refresh the system and clear out any mucous from the night.
Tips for Yogic Living: Breath Control, Pranayama
- Control the breath, control the mind.
- Vibrate the Cosmos and the Cosmos will clear the way.
Yoga is much more than a set of postures and reciting mantras. Yoga, for many, is a lifestyle and the practice goes beyond the mat. How I try to incorporate living my yoga is to have a regular practice of controlling my breathing and how I use it. Like last month we talked about the extended exhale and how that can help the mind find calm. This month we are talking about breath of Fire and how that can increase energy in the mind and body. So basically, if you can control you breath, you can control your mind.
When I am taking time to practice breath control I am challenging my nervous system, It’s kind of like taking my nervous system to the gym. For this I’m thinking of exercises where I’ve been asked to hold my breath out or have long periods of time between breaths activating my fight, fight, freeze response. When you encounter small amounts of stress in controlled or safe environments you can get better at processing stress. Knowing the rhythm on my mat helps me to know the rhythm when I’m off of it. Over time this has helped me learn that not everything is an emergency and that not everything has to happen “right now, right now.”
It is through our control of breath that we can articulate the spoken word. With our word we bring our creation into existence. When we are using mantras in class or our own practice we are using our prana to vibrate a specific sound current. With our chanting we are vibrating out into the the cosmos what our intention is – is it for healing, for guidance, or prosperity – and opening ourselves up to that frequency. What would it be like for you if you created a thoughtfulness about your breath? How could that effect your speech, your interactions, your meditations?