Kundalini Yoga should be learned under the guidance of a qualified teacher. For those of you who have been attending classes, these tips will help you to refine some of the yogic techniques taught in class. There is now a lot of information and misinformation available online and I have written these notes with the aim of clarity and authenticity.
BREATH OF FIRE
Breath of Fire is one of the key breath techniques in Kundalini Yoga that has many benefits including cleansing the body of toxins, strengthening the nervous system, and boosting the immune system.
The best way to learn Breath of Fire is in class or 1 to 1 with a qualified and experienced Kundalini Yoga teacher. For those who are already using Breath of Fire and would like to check if you are doing it correctly and to perfect it, then follow this link to see Guru Prem Singh, a very respected and experienced Yogi, demonstrate the technique; Breath of Fire Guru Prem Singh
Some essentials for the technique are;
- Before you begin, check that your posture is stable, balanced, and aligned.
- Locate, and focus on, the navel point (3 finger widths below the tummy button) – this is the area that will power breath of fire.
- Starting on the exhale, the navel and solar plexus move back and slightly upward as you exhale.
- The inhale will follow naturally as the navel and solar plexus relax.
- The inhale and exhale are equal in length.
- The rhythm is fairly rapid, at approx. 2 – 3 cycles per second.
- Beginners should practise it slowly and gently at first for up to one minute, to develop the rhythm and feel comfortable with it. (
- Feel relaxed with it, bringing a smile to your lips as you practise!
- If it is the heaviest day of your period, you’re pregnant or have any abdominal problems then be kind to yourself and practise long deep breathing instead!
Meditation is a process. By involving our mind in the process of meditation we can correct mental patterns that prevent us from fulfilling our potential and being happy / contented.
We use focal points to involve our mind in the process of meditation. These include breath rhythm, eye focus, hand positions, points of the body and sound (especially mantra either silently repeated or chanted)
When meditating, our mind will wander. Our intellect releases thousands of thoughts at a rapid rate on a constant basis. It is not possible for us to escape our thoughts.The process of bringing it back to the resting place of a specific focal point (e.g. mantra or breathing) helps us to break our over-projective (risk taking) or over-protective (risk averse) thought patterns, replacing them with balanced, contented thought patterns. In this way, the meditative, neutral mind is cultivated. Meditation is a cleansing process that clears our sub-conscious garbage, bringing greater clarity and a feeling of well-being.
Each of us will have our own experience and side effects of meditation including;
- Stress release
- Increased mental clarity and focus
- The quiet, still time helps the body heal
- A feeling of love and connection
- Builds our intuitive capacity so we better know what to do, and when
It is important to adopt the correct sitting posture whether in a chair or on the floor. Your body posture should be stable, rooted and aligned with a straight spine, chest slightly lifted and chin gently tucked back to allow the energy and breath to flow. Doing some breathing and warm up exercises before meditating stimulates our glandular and nervous systems and helps us to feel physically comfortable for a better focus during meditation.
The process of meditation requires commitment to a regular practice for best results. I would strongly advise that you try / learn Meditation in a class or 1 to 1 with a qualified and experienced teacher (we touch on meditation in all of my classes and I devote time each week to a meditation in the Wash Common class on Wed evenings – see Classes page).
The beauty of achieving the benefits of meditation is amazing, uplifting and life enhancing – it is the jewel in the crown of yoga and is well worth the effort!
“Meditation is the art of breaking habits, to purify the mind and to take care of the day-to-day things.” – Yogi Bhajan
Sat Kriya is a classic Kundalini Yoga exercise taught by Yogi Bhajan. Designed to raise the kundalini energy, it contains just about all the benefits of Kundalini Yoga within itself. It uses body locks (bandhs) and makes dynamic use of the navel point to chant the mantra “Sat nam” (the true name / in the name of truth). This Kriya can be practised for as little as 3 minutes a day to help keep you strong, balanced, healthy and happy!
Always tune in with the Adi Mantra (Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo x 3) before starting your Kundalini Yoga practise
- Sit in Rock pose (on your heels)
- Raise your hands above your head interlocking the fingers but leaving the forefingers pointing straight up, men cross the right thumb over the left, women left thumb over right)
- Keep your chest lifted and your shoulders relaxed (shoulder blades down)
- Roll your armpits towards each other so that your shoulders are open and your arms hug your ears
- Keep the spine straight and the chest lifted. ensure that your pelvis is tilted correctly by keeping a hold on your navel point, do not collapse your lower back
- Tuck your chin back in a light Jalandahar bandh (neck lock)
- Keep your arms straight
- Close your eyes and focus on the brow point
- Inhale to begin
- Squeeze in and up with your navel point as you chant “sat” (the diaphragm moves downwards) and relax the navel point as you chant “Naam”
- The breath is not specified for Sat Kriya, the squeeze of the navel point on chanting “Sat” powers the exhalation and the release of the navel point on chanting “Nam” draws the air into the lungs as the diaphragm relaxes back upwards.
- Give equal time to both the contraction on “Sat” and the release on “nam” keep the movement rythmic and relax into it with a smile
- Start with 3 minutes, working the time up very gradually to 11 minutes (with regular, daily, practise)
- To end, Inhale and hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds as you draw your energy up your spine to the top of your head
- Exhale completely and hold the breath out for 5 to 10 seconds as you apply the root lock (squeezing the muscles from your anus, up through the pelvic floor and in and up at the navel point), then apply the diaphragm lock (pulling your diaphragm upwards) then pull the neck lock (tucking your chin back). Pulling the 3 locks should be one smooth movement to achieve holding all 3 together. Hold this posture as long as you can comfortably do so then relax the locks as you gently inhale
- Always follow Sat Kriya with at least an equal time of relaxation
Always tune out with 3 x long “Sat Nam” at the end of your Kundalini Yoga practise.
Here is a great utube clip showing the highly respected Kundalini Yogi Guru Prem Singh demonstrating Sat Kriya perfectly!
“Mantras are not small things, mantras have power. They are the mind vibration in relationship to the Cosmos. The science of mantra is based on the knowledge that sound is a form of energy having structure, power, and a definite predictable effect on the chakras and the human psyche.”
In Kundalini Yoga Classes we chant mantra. Although at first we may find it a little strange to chant, most of us will enjoy the experience once we relax and join in! There are very good reasons for including mantra in our yoga practice and the following extract from Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power, by Shakti Parwha Kaur is one of the best summaries I have found to share with you:
“There is a vibratory frequency that corresponds to everything in the Universe. Happiness or sorrow, joy or regret are vibratory frequencies in the mind. When we chant a mantra we are choosing to invoke the positive power contained in those particular syllables. Whether it’s for prosperity, peace of mind, increasing intuition, or any other possible benefits inherent in mantras, simply by chanting them we are setting vibrations into motion that shall have an effect. It doesn’t actually matter if we understand the meaning of the sounds or not.
Chanting mantra produces specific vibratory frequency within the body. The sounds and thoughts produced by the body and mind radiate out from you. The vibratory frequency of a mantra draws to you whatever you are vibrating. You are like a magnet attracting vibrations to you by what you send out. As a vibration, a mood, a state of being that results from chanting mantra is compatible with all belief systems. In addition to the vibrations set in motion, something else happens when you chant. This is really important. There are eighty-four meridian points, or pressure points, in the roof of the mouth. Every time you speak, you stimulate them and their associated glands and organs—with the tongue. And every time you chant a mantra, you are tapping out a particular sequence, rhythm, and position that initiates a chemical reaction in the brain and body. It’s as if you have an electronic, computerized security system in your mouth. Punch in the right code on the upper palate and you gain entry to the brain and your inner chambers of higher consciousness!“