Renew Yourself with Panj Graani Kriya

During Simrit’s workshop last spring, she lead Panj Graani Kriya. Working with the breath, it’s a simple but powerful exercise that can completely renew you. Among the benefits of this kriya, it will increase lung capacity, clear out the lungs, activate the diaphragm muscle (which especially for shallow breathers can become tight and inflexible), strengthen the nervous system and increase vitality. Indeed, Yogi Bhajan said that if you practice this kriya for 40 days it can completely change you inside and out. 

Posture: Sit cross legged in easy pose or in a chair with both feet flat against the floor, spine straight, shoulders relaxed, chin in, chest out.

Mudra: Bring your right hand in front of your face, palm facing left. Spread your fingers, with your thumb pointing toward you mouth. Fingertips are at the level of your eyebrows. Bring the fingers of your left hand to press against the palm of your right. The fingertips should touch the mound at the base of the corresponding fingers on the opposite hand. The left thumb wraps around wrist of your right hand.

Breath: Make an “o” shape with your mouth and begin Breath of Fire through the “o”-shaped mouth.

Focus: Eyes closed

Time: 11 minutes (no matter how good it feels, do not practice for more than 11 minutes)

To end: Inhale and hold the breath for 15 seconds. Press your hands together with maximum force. Your hands will be imbalanced but keep the pressure up. Through the mouth, powerfully exhale.  Repeat 2 times. On the last time, as you hold the breath, keep your hands pressed together as you twist all the way to the left, all the way to the right, and then back to centre. Through the mouth, powerfully exhale.

Yogi Bhajan taught this kriya January 2, 1996. It is included in the Library of Teachings website and is published in the manual “Infinity and Me.”

Simrit demonstrates the mudra for Panj Graani Kriya. Photography by Vik Singh Taak.

Simrit demonstrates the mudra for Panj Graani Kriya. Photography by Vik Singh Taak.

Students practice Panj Graani Kriya at Simrit's workshop. Photography by Vik Singh Taak.

Students practice Panj Graani Kriya at Simrit's workshop. Photography by Vik Singh Taak.

Yogic Lifestyle: Shop Consciously

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As conscious yogis, we should be mindful of the clothes we wear, where they come from, how they are made, and the materials used. For Kundalini Yoga, we encourage students to wear modest comfortable clothing and to dress with grace. Happily, the product offerings for yogis have long since transcended the spandex staples of years gone by.  Increasingly fashion-conscious yogis can show their sense of style in apparel that can move easily from the yoga studio to the street.

Of course, buying yoga clothes should reflect more than style. The conscious yogi will consider where yoga clothes are sourced and how they are made. For Kundalini, we encourage natural fiber clothes as synthetics can adversely affect the electromagnetic field. Cotton and linen are popular fabric choices for a Kundalini wardrobe. These fabrics are treated with fewer chemicals than their synthetic counterparts, and organic options are available.  Mass market products tend to be produced in overseas factories where working conditions are poor if not inhumane and often child labor is used.  Fortunately, there is a growing trend toward more conscious production. Many new businesses are monitoring working conditions more closely, interacting directly with craftspeople and sometimes choosing a production team closer to home.

While disposable fashion is a huge environmental problem, buying versatile, high quality clothes that will last a long time can save you money in the long run and, more important, help to protect the planet. With an increasing number of entrepreneurial yogis in the UK, the opportunity to shop consciously is getting easier. Many designers are sourcing their products ethically, using sustainable materials and manufacturing locally or through fair trade programs. So how do you find these designers? You need to look no further than your laptop. 

Last year, former marketing executive, published author, and avid yogi, Lucy Edge founded Yoga Clicks. Based in the UK, Lucy wanted to create a one-stop shop to enable yogis to buy from other yogis. In so doing, she seeks out some of the UK’s most inspiring and talented artisans and designers. Most of the product makers are yoga teachers or serious yoga students whose practice has motivated them to create the perfect pair of yoga pants, wraparound top, or devotional mala.

The site doesn’t specifically cater to Kundalini Yoga, but there are a few pieces that might inspire you to get up early for sadhana. Following are a few samples. Be sure to visit www.yogaclicks.com for these and much more!

Special offer for JOY friends and family. Yoga Clicks will give you 15% off your purchase. Use code JOY15 at checkout. Offer expires at midnight 17 May.

 

 

Stabilize Yourself

Especially during periods of transition and change, it's important to be able to stabilize, to feel calm and secure in oneself. The following Kundalini meditation can help you connect with your inner strength, preventing you from being swayed by other people and giving you a strong sense of self. This meditation also strengthens the heart, builds courage, and stimulates the flow of prana.  

Posture: sit in the floor in simple cross-legged pose or in a chair with your feet flat against the floor, spine long

Mudra: interlace your fingers in venus lock in front of the centre of your chest. Forearms are parallel to the floor and palms face down, angled in towards you just slightly. Pull on the lock.

Focus: eyes are closed

Breath: breath of fire through the “o” shaped mouth. As you breathe, focus on the navel.

Time: 11 minutes

To end: inhale deeply. With the breath held and the hands still in venus lock, stretch the arms overhead. Exhale and repeat breath suspension 2 more times. 

Comments from Yogi Bhajan: This meditation can change your elemental psyche. It will help you know that you are not an emotional beast, but at least part angel, part beast, and part human.  Out of this trinity you must develop the mastery of the human mind.

This meditation appears on the CD ROM A Year with the Master (c 2001). It was the homework assignment given during the Sat Nam Rasayan training in December with Doris Kunz.

Prosperity in the form of a peanut butter sandwich

Prosperity comes in many forms. We most often associate prosperity with money: cold, hard cash. And of course prosperity does present itself in the form of cash, perhaps as a well-paying job, inheritance, or on very rare occasion lottery winnings. Money is a useful means of exchange. Money can pay for our homes, food, clothes, yogic pursuits, and is a means to give back to the community. It’s not wrong to associate prosperity with money but it can be limiting.

Prosperity isn’t about accumulating cash, it’s about having our needs met. When we embrace prosperity consciousness, we trust that our needs will be covered and that there is plenty of everything to go around. When we stop hustling and hassling, when we relax into the divine flow, opportunities come our way and, more important, we recognize and can take advantage of them. 

The day of JOY's inaugural prosperity workshop in London, I managed to miss both breakfast and lunch. When I arrived at the venue, one student was already there. As it happened, he had a bag full of sandwiches. This was not a pot luck event, he just had a bag of sandwiches. After we exchanged hellos, he promptly offered me a sandwich. For one reason or another, many of us have been trained to refuse gifts. In this spirit, the words “no, thank you” started to form in my mouth. Thankfully, recognizing the immediacy of the need for food at that moment, wisdom intervened and I accepted a sandwich. One perfectly delicious peanut butter sandwich which gave me the steam I needed to administer the workshop and to teach a vigorous kundalini kriya.

That's prosperity in action. You get what you need, when you need it. One way or another, the universe provides. Prosperity doesn't always come in the form of cash. It can take many forms. And for me on that day, it came in the form of a peanut butter sandwich.

How does this peanut butter sandwich relate to Kundalini Yoga? Through the practice of Kundalini Yoga and meditation, we develop our capacity to recognize opportunities. In this case, I could see the sandwich as a delicious gift instead of refusing with a perfunctory “no, thank you.” As well, Kundalini Yoga and meditation refines our ability to attract opportunities. In simplest of terms, despite a hectic morning and growling stomach, my morning sadhana allowed me to carry on with grace and a smile. Very likely, if I had been scowling and cranky, the sandwich wouldn’t have materialized.

The moral of the story: do more Kundalini Yoga, don’t be afraid to say “yes, please!” and bask in the bounty that surrounds you.

Holy #%*@!! Ishnaan Therapy

The icy waters at Hemkunt Sahib. Taking a dip here is profoundly healing.

The icy waters at Hemkunt Sahib. Taking a dip here is profoundly healing.

For many, it might seem absurd to suggest that you give up your warm showers for a jolting, slap-in-the-face cold shower. But taking cold showers – a practice known as Ishnaan Therapy – can keep you healthy, happy, and holy. 

As preparation for deep meditation, yogi’s have been practicing Ishnaan Therapy for millennia. Immersing the body in cold water – whether in an outdoor lake or your shower at home – offers many benefits.

Among the benefits...

Cold showers jump start your circulation: your capillaries open as blood rushes to the surface of your skin. The increase in circulation is energizing, can help get rid of cellulite, and helps the body flush out lactic acid.

Cold water in the eyes helps increase circulation there too which in turn can help keep your eyes healthy and can delay and even reverse degenerating eye sight associated with aging.

While hot water will dry out your skin and hair, cold showers help to keep your skin young and supple, your hair shiny. 

Cold showers can help fight depression. The increase in circulation is mood-boosting and the cold water clears the electromagnetic field, helping to release negative thought patterns and impressions.

Cold showers help strengthen the nervous system allowing the body to both recover from and better handle stress.

You can start your day with a victory! Your ego may try and trick you into not taking a cold shower. When you exert your will to turn on the cold water, you overcome your ego and WIN the battle with your mind.

Finally, by invigorating the body and reining in the mind, Ishnaan Therapy is excellent preparation for yoga and meditation.

A Few Tips for Your Ishnaan Therapy

Really, any way you do your cold shower works. But there are some tips to make your time in the icy water more productive and that can help take out the sting. 

Before you shower, massaging the body with almond oil is great for the skin and stimulates circulation which will make your plunge into the cold water that much easier.

Start one limb at a time, hokey pokey style. Put your right arm in, massage it and take it out. Put your left arm in, massage it and take it out. Repeat with each of your legs. Then you’re ready for full body immersion. Continue to massage your body throughout your shower and ladies, make sure you massage your breasts, including underneath.

Come out of the cold water and go back in for a minimum of three full body immersions.

If you need to wash your body, glycerin soaps work well in cold water. It's also okay to warm up the water a bit - warm not hot - while you wash your hair and body. Just make sure you end with a final rinse in cold water. Hot water will leave your pores open and make you more susceptible to catching whatever cold or flu is making the rounds. 

You can make it a holy experience. Whether your mantra is holy #%*@!! or Wahe Guru, feel free to chant.

Contraindications

People with heart conditions are advised not to take cold showers. Women should avoid cold showers on the three heaviest days of their period and after the seventh month of pregnancy.

Kundalini Yoga London

Better Than Coffee: Morning Yoga You Can Do in Bed

Before you even get out of bed, you can do some yoga to help jumpstart your day. These four simple exercises work better than coffee to energize your body and wake up the mind. Not only that, practiced every day, this simple series of exercises can give physical, mental and spiritual stamina so you can handle whatever life throws at you with grace and a smile or, if need be, decisive action.

The morning series has four parts, each part should be practiced for 1-3 minutes. To end each exercise, take a deep inhale, suspend the breath for a few moments while still holding the posture. Exhale and relax.

1. STRETCH POSE Lie on your back with your legs together, toes pointing forward, arms at your side. Raise your arms, legs, and head six inches off the ground. Do your best to keep your lower back pressed against the floor. With your eyes open, look towards your toes. Hold the position and begin breath of fire, inhaling and exhaling through the nose.

Stretch pose

Stretch pose

If you have weakness in the lower back and have trouble keeping your legs up, try bending your knees a little. Alternatively, you can hold up one leg at a time; just make sure you keep alternating, don't keep one leg up for more time than the other. If you need to, as a last resort, you can place your hands underneath your lower back. This is fine for alignment but won't do much to strengthen your core muscles.

Something to watch for: some students have a tendency to raise their legs and/or shoulders too high. The tips of the shoulder blades should stay in contact with the floor. 

Tuck Pose

Tuck Pose

2. TUCK POSE Still lying on your back, draw your knees into your chest and wrap your arms around your legs. Bring your head forward, nose as close to your knees as you can manage. Hold the position and begin breath of fire. 

3. ROCK ON YOUR SPINE Still holding your knees close to your chest, begin to rock forwards and backwards on your back, moving from your tail bone to your neck. Keep yourself tucked in a tight ball and try to move from your navel point, using your core muscles. 

4. EGO ERADICATOR Come sitting in simple cross legged pose, aka "easy" pose. Bring your arms out to the sides and raise them 60 degrees from parallel. Palms face forward and bend your fingers at the first knuckle, bringing the pads of your fingers to press against the pads at the top of your palms. The thumbs stretch out and you should feel a stretch across the palm. Close your eyes, focus at the brow point, and begin breath of fire.

Ego Eradicator

Ego Eradicator

SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF THIS MORNING SERIES: There are many benefits of stretch pose. The posture adjusts the navel point and tunes up the nervous system. As well, stretch pose strengthens the abdominal muscles. Stretch pose is good for digestion and can help burn off inner anger. By stimulating the navel point, stretch pose activates internal strength and the ability to project.

Tuck pose allows the heart to relax, helps to release gas, and is good for elimination. Rocking on the spine massages the muscles of the back and can be energizing. Ego eradicators strengthen the electromagnetic field and the heart and builds courage. It is a posture of victory. The mudra stimulates the brain.

Breath of fire is both calming to the mind and energizing to the physical body. It strengthens the nervous system, releases toxins from the body, and increases lung capacity. (If you are unclear about how to approach breath of fire, Posture Master Guru Prem Singh Khalsa gives a great tutorial on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBjnograjq4&list=PL2qdjvEBX7h458mT3sSr0msvvuKS8h3Kh)

CONTRAINDICATIONS:  Stretch pose and breath of fire should not be practiced by women who are on the three heaviest days of their period or who are pregnant from the 120th day onward. (Breath of Fire and stretch pose during the first 120 days is permissible if there are no complications with the pregnancy. )

Instructions for Morning Call

What can this long Ek Ong Kaar do for you? It can give you all knowledge which existed in the universe of universes of universes.
— Yogi Bhajan

As with any Kundalini Yoga practice, begin by tuning in, chanting the Adi Mantra (Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo) three times, each time on one breath. It is recommended that you cover your head with a natural fiber cloth which will help contain the energy you produce while chanting.

Posture:  Sit in easy pose with a light neck lock

Mudra: Hands may be in gyan mudra, touching the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb or resting in the lap

Focus: Eyes are closed or 1/10th open and focused at the brow point

Mantra:

Ek Ong Kaar       There is one Creator of all Creation

Sat Nam Siri       Truth is the Name, Great

Wahe Guru         Wow! Indescribable Wisdom

Directions:

Chant the mantra in a 2 ½ breath cycle.

Inhale deeply and completely. Chant EK ONG KAAR. Pull in the navel sharply as you chant a short, powerful EK. (Note: you needn’t chant loudly to be powerful.) ONG and KAAR are long and drawn out, completing the exhale. The time chanting ONG and KAAR should be equal and the sound continuous as you move from one syllable to the next. The tongue should not touch the roof of the mouth. The air should come out of the nose on ONG. KAAR should resonate from the back of the mouth, the throat and upper chest.

Inhale completely. Chant SAT NAM SIRI. Pull in the navel sharply as you chant SAT. NAAM is long and drawn out, nearly completing the exhale. Pull in the navel and the diaphragm as you chant a short SIRI. The sound of NAAM should vibrate in your chest and throat.

Inhale a half breath. Chant WAHE GURU.  Pull in the navel as you chant a short, sharp WAH. Keep the navel point pulled in for the rest of the chant. HE is short and runs into GURU, the two words becoming like one syllable (hayg’roo).

Pitch:

When chanting in groups, try to chant in one voice, we are not harmonizing, we are chanting in unity. The pitch should be steady but you may need to raise the pitch from time to time if it becomes unsustainably low.

To End:

Inhale deeply, suspend the breath, focus on the brow point for several seconds, then exhale and relax.

Meditating on the Chakras (optional):

In Yogi Bhajan’s own words:

Each sound vibrates and integrates a different chakra within the aura. Ek is very short, as when we split the atom, releasing a humongous amount of energy from the first chakra. Ong is vibrated from the second chakra, resonating through the nostrils to experience the conch of the third eye. Kaar is vibrated from the navel. Take another deep inhale and chant Sat Nam Siri. Sat is short, coming abruptly from the navel, pulling up the diaphragm. Nam is very long and resonates through the heart. Siri is the greatest of all powers, the Shakti, and is chanted with the last bit of breath. It is pulled from the navel and up through the neck lock. Then take a short breath and chant Wahe Guru. Wahe and Guru are released through the top of the head. –20 July 2000

Yogi Bhajan did not exclusively teach this meditation with the focus on the chakras which is why we present this additional focus as optional. However, if you chant very precisely, pulling the navel point and vibrating the sounds as instructed, you will achieve the same result. But you may find focusing on the chakras as Yogi Bhajan describes here will deepen your experience with this mediation

Time: 3 minutes- 2 ½ hours. Typical times for this meditation are 7, 11, 22, 37½ , 62 minutes or 2 ½ hours.

Comments:

The first meditation that Yogi Bhajan taught and the primary meditation he taught during his first year in the West, Long Ek Ong Kaar’s activates the Kundalini energy. Whether or not you consciously focus on the chakras, the meditation will clear and balance all seven chakras and the aura. Chanting this mantra helps you to connect your individual consciousness with universal consciousness.  You have the opportunity to experience your own divinity and liberate from the cycle of karma.

Rising to the Challenge of a 2 1/2 Hour Meditation

Despite knowing that there is tremendous potential for self-healing during a 2 ½ hour mediation, if you find the idea of meditating for such a long period of time unappealing, you are not alone. It is fair to say that almost every Kundalini Yogi, at one stage or another, has balked at the prospect of doing a 2 ½ hour meditation.  It’s a long time to sit!  So how do you rise to the challenge?