Kundalini yoga

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Erin O’Hara’s top six exercises for a quick energy lift and tune up.

Kundalini Yoga was designed to strengthen the nervous system and develop intuition. Yogi Bhajan, who brought Kundalini from India to the West, described it as yoga for those with a busy life and juggling a job, family, business, and other life commitments.  Kundalini yoga combines powerful breathing techniques, postures, mudras (hand positions), mantras (chanting) and meditations.

Erin O’Hara from Golden Yogi yoga studio in Takapuna, Auckland, shares her top six Kundalini Yoga postures to supercharge you and give a quick energy lift to boost overall health both physically and mentally.  Any of these six postures will give you a quick tune up in just a couple of minutes, helping you feel energised and uplifted.

BREATH OF FIRE: Agni Pran

Sitting up tall, with a straight spine, hands placed on knees with palms upwards and your eyes closed. Start by observing your breath and feeling your belly expand with each inhale and contract with each exhale.
Breath of Fire is powered from the navel point. The diaphragm is used to pump the breath in and out using the navel. Make sure that when you pull in your navel you are exhaling. Don’t allow your breath to reverse.
Once you understand the movement of the diaphragm and belly during breathing begin to try breath of fire.  Start by breathing through an open mouth and pant like a dog using the navel. Once you have the rhythm of the breath and belly, close your mouth and breathe through your nostrils. This is breath of fire.
Continue with the quick breath pace keeping the inhale and exhale equal length. There is a quick inhale and quick exhale with no pause between them at the rate of approximately 1 cycles per second to start with and build up to 2-3 cycles per second.

This breath is used in the Ego Eradicator and Stretch Pose.

Please Note: If you feel dizzy, giddy, or light headed, slow down your pace and ensure that both the inhale and exhale are of equal length and the breath is coming from the belly. Breath of Fire should not be practiced during menstruation or when pregnant, use long deep breath instead.

BENEFITS:
Yogi Bhajan said that practicing Breath of Fire daily for a minimum of five minutes can strengthen the lungs, purify the blood, and enhance oxygenation of the body.  By practicing breath of fire daily, Yogi Bhajan said that disease can be prevented and karma burnt up.

EGO ERRADICTOR

EGO ERRADICTOR

EGO ERRADICTOR

TIME: 1-3 minutes
POSTURE: Sit in a cross-legged position or on knees.
HAND POSITION: Raise your arms to 60 degrees. Curl the fingertips onto the pads at the base of the fingers. Point the thumbs up towards the sky.
EYES: Eyes are closed and your focus should be above your head.
BREATH:  Breath of Fire (see notes)
TO END: Inhale, hold the breath and touch the thumb tips together over the head and extend all your fingers. As you exhale, release the hands out to the sides and down towards the ground envisioning clearing the energy space around you. Relax and observe how you feel.
BENEFITS: A great posture to eradicate your ego, release stress, balance your aura and powerfully activate your energy. It releases stale air from your lungs, expands lung capacity, and increases vital energy in the body.
The nervous system is restored to help you manage stress and focus your mind. If you practice this posture daily, your life will begin to flow and you can release negativity.

STRETCH POSE: Siri Om

STRETCH POSE: Siri Om

STRETCH POSE: Siri Om

TIME: 1-3 minutes
POSTURE: Lie on the back with the feet together and the hands by the sides.  Flatten the lower back into the ground.  Lift the arms, legs and head up off the floor. Be sure to keep the lower back pressed into the floor.
HAND POSITION: Hold the hands wherever comfortable by the side with the palms facing whatever direction is most comfortable.
EYES: Eyes are open and looking down the body to the toes.
BREATH:  Breath of Fire (see notes)
TO END: Inhale, hold the breath for a few seconds, and then slowly lower body down to the ground.  Take rest and feel the energy circulate out from the navel point around the body.

BENEFITS: Stretch Pose activates the third chakra at the navel. The third chakra is your source of personal power and governs self-esteem, warrior energy, and the power of transformation. By working on the navel point, stretch pose resets the entire nervous system and strengthens the abdominal area. It tunes-up your digestive system and rebalances the reproductive organs.

Please Note: Stretch pose should not be practiced during first few days of menstruation or when pregnant.

LIFE NERVE STRETCH: Paschimottanasana

LIFE NERVE STRETCH:
Paschimottanasana

LIFE NERVE STRETCH:
Paschimottanasana

TIME: 1-3 minutes
POSTURE: Sit on the floor with the legs stretched straight out in front of you.  Keep the leg muscles activated during this exercise by pulling the toes up towards you.  Keep the knees and ankles together.
HAND POSITION: Wrap the index and middle finger around the large toe and press the toenail with the pad of the thumb.
EYES: Eyes are closed.
BREATH:  Deep and powerful through the nose. Inhale as you lengthen the spine up and exhale as you bend forward from the hips and bring the head towards the legs while keeping the spine straight and neck long with the chin slightly tucked. Continue inhaling and exhaling, lifting the body up and down, always leading from the navel and hips, not with the head.
MENTAL FOCUS: Inhale think “Sat” and exhale think “Nam” in your mind. This helps you to stay focused on your breath and connect to your truth.
TO END: Inhale, lengthen the spine, and then release the hands from the toes.

BENEFITS:  Low back pain and upper back stress are some of the most common health complaints of adults. Life nerve stretch ideally should be practiced daily for optimal flexibility.It stretches and stimulates all the muscles of the lower spine, pelvis, and the back of the legs. It most significantly involves the stimulation of the sciatic nerves, which supply the motor and sensory information to the legs. The yogis say that youth is determined by the flexibility of your spine.

ARCHER POSE: Virabhadrasana

ARCHER POSE:
Virabhadrasana

ARCHER POSE:
Virabhadrasana

TIME: 1-3 minutes
POSTURE: Stand with the right foot about 2 to 3 feet in front of the left foot.  The right leg bent over right ankle.  The left leg is straight and the foot is at a 45-degree angle. Draw the navel back towards the spine to strengthening the lower abdominals and elongating the lower back.
HAND POSITION: Curl the fingers of both hands into the palms, and stretch the thumbs upward. Raise right arm parallel to ground. Pull left arm back as if pulling a back a bow to bring the hand alongside the shoulder.
EYES: Eyes are open and fixed on your right thumbnail.
BREATH:  Long deep breaths through the nose.
MENTAL FOCUS: Inhale think “Sat” and exhale think “Nam” in your mind.  This helps you to stay focused on your breath and connect to your truth.
TO END: As you exhale, release out of the posture and then repeat on the other side.

BENEFITS:  Archer pose is great to develop strength in the legs and navel and strengthen the nervous system. It builds physical stamina, opens the hips, and builds power at the navel point. Mentally helps to develop mental steadiness and focus of the mind.

SAT KRIYA

SAT KRIYA

SAT KRIYA

TIME: Start with 2-3 minutes and build up to 7-11 minutes
POSTURE: Sitting on the heels with a straight spine.
HAND POSITION: Interlace the fingers with the Index fingers (Jupiter) pointing straight up.  Cross the thumbs – Females cross left over right and Males cross right over left.
Raise the arms straight up so the arms are hugging the ears.
EYES: Eyes are closed and look up at the brow point (third eye)
CHANT:  Chant the mantra “Sat Naam” in the following way: Pull the navel point in as you chant “Sat” (Sounds like ‘Sutt’) Release the lock as you chant “Naam” (almost like a sigh with the sound “Naam”)
Sat Naam means, basically: “Truth is my whole identity.” Sat=”Inner truth,” and Naam =”the whole identity.” Mantra is a projection of the mind using sound, so basically this mantra vibrates the higher self in the sub-conscious and focus the mind.
TO END: Inhale completely and hold the breath, squeezing the base of spine, navel, and the muscles of the back and shoulders for as long as you can. Imagine that you are sending the energy up through the top of the head. Exhale and release the arms down.  Relax. Try to relax for about the same amount of time as the exercise.

BENEFITS:  Sat Kriya is a powerful kriya with numerous benefits. By sitting on the heels it stimulates the stomach, intestines and overall digestive system. It strengthens the nervous system and reproductive system, and stimulates the natural flow of energy. It redirects the energy flow upward through the central channel to cause balance to the glandular system.  It will rebalance the entire energy system and clear the mind for overall wellbeing and radiance.

For more information or to try Kundalini Yoga, visit goldenyogi.co.nz

Erin O’Hara and Rebecca Taggart.

Erin O’Hara and Rebecca Taggart.

Fitness Journal tries…Kundalini yoga

Rebecca Taggart is a long time yoga fan and has immersed herself in several different types of yoga with yogis around the world. With experience in hot yoga, vinyasa, yin, power and hatha yoga, she was keen to experience Kundalini yoga, from Auckland’s recently opened Golden Yogi studio, under the guidance of Erin O’Hara.

The first inkling she had that this would be something a little outside the norm was when a fellow classmate whispered to her: “be ready for something different.”

“I was game and confident as I have practised many types of yoga throughout my years of living abroad,” says Rebecca.

“However after the first few minutes I realised Kundalini was worlds apart from yoga I had done before.

“Instead of working with power, strength and flexibility, Kundalini works to strengthen and balance the nervous system. Your energy is woken through the breath (breath of fire) instead of firing up your body through movement.

“What stands out the most is the time you give to yourself sitting and healing from within, instead of the focus on external.

“Kundalini is ideal for those wanting to try a holistic form of yoga which applies to all aspects of life and does not focus exclusively on fitness.”

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