A Proper Understanding of the Active/Passive Aspect - pg 2
This means that throughout the practice the orientation is always to be aware, as follows: Concerning the Awareness of postures and movements in Kundalini Yoga:
When there is a posture, movement or angle, it is also important that you s–t–r–e–t–c–h. For example, if you are instructed that the arms are to be held at 60°, you bring them to 60° (not 45° to 90°) and stretch the shoulders, arms, fingers, opening the armpits.
Kundalini Yoga is the yoga of angles. The angle leads to a specific effect. By stretching, you will discover that the exercise becomes easier and achieves its full physiological intent. The same for raising legs, or arching. There needs to be an attention and awareness of a full and complete execution of a Kundalini Yoga exercise, not necessarily to do a posture or movement to perfection, as with some yogas, but to do ones best to perform the Kundalini Yoga exercise correctly (and never to over exertion or strain, which might hinder practice later). A little done right will enable you to do much more later. In time, progressively, you will find that what you can do now for 30 seconds or for a minute or 2, within a matter of weeks it will be easy to do these same exercises for 3 minutes, 5, 7, 11, 31 minutes. The stretching is the key to holding a position for a long time, because it vitalizes the entire life system in each area. Otherwise the body will feel like a dead-weight.
Also, in movements, begin slowly and feel the link of the awareness to the pranic radiance; then begin to add breath. Then, to effect the electric charging of the body, begin to gradually increase the power of the breath and the movement. The result will be that you will see a tremendous difference in the overall experience and realization of the benefit of each Kundalini Yoga exercise.
In Kundalini Yoga, awareness is the important factor to the practice. That's why Yogi Bhajan emphasizes that "Kundalini yoga is the Yoga of Awareness." He doesn't say the yoga of postures, movements, angles, breath, bhandas, and so many other factors, but specifically "Awareness." This is because our Awareness is the True Self, and through the practice of Awareness in a yoga that generates and deepens the experience of radiance, identity to the limited mind dissolves, and the substratum support Awareness emerges – the Infinite Being, and you abide as That.
Therefore, when we move into a posture and movement,we begin slowly, being aware of every part of the body, of the stretching of muscle and ligaments, of the relaxation of all parts of the body not involved in the exercise, so that the energy generated can flow directly to the areas under pressure, and then to relax inwardly those areas under pressure, so that these too will be able to fully absorb the energy flow being generated. The very directing of awareness to these areas will also greatly expand the growing sensation of radiance that flows from the muscles and organs, then deeper from the cells, then deeper from the atoms, and then even deeper, as ever expanding radiance is felt that you eventually realize to be the Radiance of the Self, the light of your consciousness.
Awareness in Breathing:
It is also very important that you learn to do the breathing properly. The basic breaths are long deep breathing (yogic breath), breath of fire and suspension of breath (holding the breath). But there are other breaths as well, such as kapalabati, canon breath and others that have specialized applications in conjunction with posture and movement that result in a unique effect that is exponentially greater and different than as practiced in other yogas.
Breath of Fire
- whether one is sitting cross-legged with hands on the knees or arms extended in front of the chest, hands clenched or other angle,
- the main focus is on the rhythmic expansion and contraction of the diaphragm powered by the movement of the solar plexus and navel,
- so that the air is felt deep in the lungs, in the middle, and through the chest area without using the muscles of the abdomen, chest or shoulders.
- This means that as you enter lightly into this breath,
- once you feel the light flow of the breath and the beginning of the emergence of a delicate pranic radiance,
- you begin to watch through the abdomen, the sides, the legs, the lower spine,
- the middle and upper arts of the back, the solar plexus and chest,
- the shoulders, neck and throat,the facial muscles, lips, jaw, eyes and forehead, relaxing each and every area.
Then you refocus on the light rhythm of the diaphragm, relaxing its movement. The very application of this awareness to the diaphragm also gives it a greater voltage and energy,
- so that you'll notice that the power and movement, combined with increasing radiance all through and around the body, deeper and deeper, becomes steadily stronger.
- In this way, you develop the Awareness to practice in a manner that allows the energy being generated to go to the actual areas under pressure from the posture or movement and not to be dissipated in other areas
- that might be under tension or stress only because awareness was not applied to relax and release these areas.
- Then the focusing of the energy flow to the areas under pressure will bring about the greatest benefit.
This same approach should be used in the beginning and active part of every Kundalini Yoga exercise, kriya, mantra and meditation.
Long Deep Breathing
- in the Breath Awareness exercise, which is simply the practice of the yogic breath,
- there are three areas one becomes aware of:
- The inhalation together with the expansion of prana
- or feeling of radiance through the legs, lower middle upper part of the body, the chest/heart, neck head, up through the top of the head
- and expanding outward around the body field.
You inhale deeply down to the bottom of the lungs by allowing the lower part of the diaphragm to unwrap and expand downward and out against the abdomen.
- Then, pushing lightly down in the knees with the hands and
- pulling in with the hands against the knees,
- the spine will arch, chest come forwards,
- shoulders back, chin comes in slightly
- and neck stretch upwards, slightly back at the axis and atlas. This is neck lock.
- Then "suspend the breath forward in the chest,
- and you will feel the gradual expansion of the energy flow, as described.
- With each breath more and more prana is stored in the heart,
- located it the 8th vertebra pranic center.
After 5 to 10 seconds initially holding 5 seconds and then gradually increasing to 10),
- slowly exhale, squeezing from the top of the lungs downwards until
- a sensation of upwards contraction of an area just below the navel is felt.
- Then you will feel all the expanding energy, the prana, withdraw and flow down from the centers in the brain and higher centers, down into this area,
- which you just maintain in a contracted state without pulling upward as with root lock, for 5 or more seconds.
- In this way, the prana is expanded then together with the downward flowing apana, contracted.
- With every breath a greater and greater radiance will be felt throughout the body,
- all around and deeply into the cells and atoms of the body.
- Then inhale and hold the breath,
- come into neck lock, suspend the breath,
- meaning there is no downward pressure at the throat on the expanding pranic radiance.
- Then pull the root lock, which draws the accumulating polarity of energy in the Kandal below the navel up into the spine
- and experience a flow of energy radiating upwards and out, expanding in an ever widening field through the 10 Bodies – the chakras, throughout the aura, ark line and radiant body.
In the Breath Awareness Exercise, you also become aware that in the suspension of breath you will notice that the radiance felt in the chest extends all through the front of the body, a kind of an infilling electric sensation that entirely suspends the breath and the mind.
- With each breath, you will notice a sense of abiding singly as the seer, with less and less interest or focus on the energy increasing throughout the body.
- The emergence of a sense of being "empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind's power (attention)."
- (from faith Mind of the Third Zen Patriarch) Thus, suspension of breath in holding the breath produces an effect that is vastly different from the breath retention in other yogas.
By incorporating this in the way that Kundalini Yoga exercises are practiced, the body becomes acclimated to the experience of greater energy flows, the mind becomes more expansive, pure/satvic, inertia is relinquished, and your awareness grows in inward clarity and expansion and the emergence of a deeper knowledge of who and what you really are, less and less centered around the focusing of the sense of "I" identity, more and more simply abiding in the consciousness of radiant, expanding being and the inward emergence of your True Identity in the Infinite.
Pieter Schoonheim Samara
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