The Asanas – The Postures
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Kundalini yoga integrates postures as essential elements of its practice. Each exercise is done through a specific and precise posture.
Yogi Bhajan’s teaching follows the path of “perfect postures” in that he encourages the practitioner to find his balance in his search for the perfect posture.
That is to say that the essential thing to retain here is that the success in executing a posture is not about how it looks “outside”, but rather how one aligns the energies inside oneself in the search for the perfect posture. Thus, no matter whether you are flexible, stiff, young or old, mobile or immobile, you can achieve the effects of the posture even if you do not execute it perfectly and even if you do not hold it for the duration of the exercise.
For example, during a tension posture (resting on the buttocks and shoulders, legs stretched, feet together at 20 cm from the floor, arms straight up to the feet and head raised, eyes looking between the big toes) of 2 minutes, if your physical ability does not allow you to hold more than a minute, you will do your best, by pushing your limits a little and put your legs a few seconds while visualizing you are holding the perfect posture. Once you feel a rush of energy, then you can resume the posture. Consequently, you channel the energy in the direction desired by the exercise.
The Standing Postures
Standing, feet are slightly apart, parallel to each other, flat on the ground. Bend forward at waist level, and lay hands palms flat on the floor, about 1 meter in front of you, in alignment with the feet.
The weight of the body is well distributed on the hands and feet. The palms of the hands and the soles of the feet keep good contact with the ground.
Let your head hang between your arms. Visualize from the inside the triangle formed by the body with the ground:
– A straight line from the heels to the base of the column;
– A straight line from the base of the column to the wrists;
– The 3rd line of the triangle being formed by the ground.
The breath is normal. Get out of the posture by putting your knees on the floor.
ouching on the tip of the toes, knees are spread wide. Heels touch each other. The arms are stretched towards the ground, between the legs.
The fingertips, apart, are placed on the ground, in front of the feet. The spine is straight. The head is straightened, thrown back.
– Inhale while raising the buttocks, legs stretched, while lowering the forehead on the knees. Hands do not move.
– Exhale squatting in the initial position, head back.
The movement is fast and the breath is powerful and synchronized with the movement.
Standing, feet together, move the left foot about one meter forward. Bend the left knee: the thigh and calf form an angle of 90°. Keep the knee bent.
The right leg remains stretched behind, the foot resting flat on the ground at 45 °. Extend the left arm in front of you, parallel to the ground.
– The closed left hand holds the imaginary bow.
– The right hand pulls the imaginary rope of the bow, the elbow is lifted at the back, as if the tension of the bow was at the maximum. The right arm is in alignment with the left arm.
Create and maintain tension in the chest. The chin remains above the left shoulder. The spine remains straight and vertical. The eyes focus at a point above the left hand, as if there was an arrow stretched towards this point. Concentrate all your physical and mental energy on this point. Practice long and deep breathing. Then reverse the posture and do the same on the opposite side, bringing the right foot forward.
The Miraculous Arch
Standing, feet are slightly apart, at the hips. The arms are stretched over the head, thumbs are crooked. The biceps touch the ears.
Flex the body back from the waist, keeping an extension, until a vibration overtakes the entire body. The body shakes only if you are sufficiently leaning backward. Flex enough to feel a little lumbar pressure. Be careful not to go too far, do not force on the column.
Visualize the bow that forms your body, from the hands to the heels.
Practice long and deep breathing.
Hold the posture while breathing deeply, inhaling as well as exhaling.
To get out of the posture, on an inhale, slowly come back vertically. Then continue this forward motion by folding at the waist, until the bust hangs from the waist down. Let the arms hang as well as the head and the bust, only the legs are stretched. Relax the upper body.
In this posture inhale deeply, block the breath full lungs, and pump the abdomen, making a movement back and forth, very clearly, until the end of the breath. Then exhale thoroughly, block the breath without air in the lungs, and pump the abdomen back and forth until it holds itself back. Do this sequence many times.
Release everything, and inhale as you slowly straighten your body up – exhale standing up. Relax standing, your back is straight and both arms are relaxed beside your body.
Standing, leaning forward from the waist. Catch the top of your feet, legs are straight. If you can’t catch the top of the foot, catch your ankles, calves or knees.
Let your head hang between your arms. Then walk in the room, keep your legs straight the entire time of the exercise, and make great strides if possible, without raising your head.
The Postures on the stomach
Lying on the stomach, the chin is placed on the floor. Palms of the hands flat on the ground, under the shoulders, the elbows are close to the chest and are pointing towards the back of the room.
The legs are stretched behind, feet together, the back of the feet resting on the floor.
Inhale while pushing on the hands. Straighten your head, then take off your chest and stomach from the floor.
The lower abdomen (the pubis) remains in contact with the ground. The arms are stretched out, the shoulders back, the head is also held back. Arches the spine from the neck to the sacrum, until the arms are stretched.
Ensure there is no unnecessary tension in the body, the muscles that are not used to hold the posture are relaxed. In the case of fragility of the spine, take the same posture by resting on the floor with the forearms, palms are flat on the floor (i.e., Sphinx pose).
Do not force on the spine. Long, deep, regular breaths, mentally saying SAT on each inhale, and NAM on each exhale.
Lay down on your stomach, reach out for your ankles behind you, firmly grab them (or the top of the feet for an easier option). Pull your feet up and down, keeping your arms straight.
Take off your knees and thighs from the floor. Take off the chest, and pull your head well back. Arch the spine at the level of the kidneys without forcing on the spine.
Remove unnecessary tensions. Visualize your body forming a perfectly stretched bow, the arms being the bow’s strings.
Practice the breath of fire, or long and deep breathing.
At the end of the exercise, inhale thoroughly, pulling everything up, then exhale and relax on your stomach, one cheek on the floor, arms alongside your body.
On a flat stomach, place and keep your chin on the floor. Close your fists, thumbs are held inside, on both sides of the pubis, under the body, in the hollow of the groin.
Raise your legs straight up, as high as possible. Your knees and thighs are off the floor while your feet remain joined.
Practice long and deep breathing in this posture.
Then relax on the stomach, one cheek on the floor, arms alongside your body.
The Postures on the Back
Lay on your back, legs stretched out 20 cm off the floor, feet together and up, arms at your sides stretched over your body, your fingertips are pointing towards your feet. Raise your head and look at your tiptoes.
Practice breath fire or long and deep breathing.
It’s a difficult posture, do your best – if possible hold the posture at least until your body starts shaking.
Sitting, legs out stretched in front of you, put your arms slightly behind your body, palms flat on the floor, fingers pointing backwards.
Bend the legs, soles of feet flat on the floor and about 30 cm apart. Raise your buttocks and belly. Your arms and legs are forming a 90° angle with the ground, and your body is parallel to the floor. Releasing the head backwards. Do either breath of fire or long and deep breaths.
The Candle - Sarvangasana
Lying on your back, feet together, legs are stretched out and moving upward. Take your buttocks off the floor as well as your back. The spine and legs are placed perpendicular to the floor.
The hands support the back, if possible at the level of the shoulder blades while the elbows rest on the floor.
In its full expression, the posture is practiced “standing on the shoulders”, the weight of the body is evenly distributed between the shoulders and the elbows. The feet are directed towards the ceiling, the buttocks are tucked in, the kneecaps pulled towards the body.
Practice long and deep breathing.
To get out of the posture, slowly return to the lying posture, being aware of your spine rolling out vertebrae by vertebrae. Finish off by your legs coming onto the floor. Relax by having your arms alongside your body.
Lying on your back, feet together, arms alongside your body, slowly lift both legs straight up, and take your back off the ground while having your hands supporting your back.
Continue to transition into the posture by lowering your feet on the floor behind your head. Keep your legs straight with your toes pointing towards your head. The arms come to rest behind the head, hands close to the feet.
Relax in this posture. If you can’t get your feet on the floor, keep your hands behind your back and keep your spine as upright as possible, dropping your legs straight back.
Practice long and deep breathing.
Get out of the posture by slowly placing the spine back on the floor while keeping your legs straight. Roll out your spine vertebrae by vertebrae. Finish off by your legs coming onto the floor. Relax by having your arms alongside your body.
Sitting, legs are out stretched in front of you, feet together. Place the arms slightly behind your body. Your hands are flat on the floor.
Raise your buttocks so that your body is stiff and forms a platform. Your feet are pointed forward. Your head is pendulous and falls backwards.
Practice either the breath of fire or long and deep breathing.
On all fours, rest on the knees which are slightly apart and aligned with your hips. Your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your hands are flat on the floor.
Your arms are straight under your shoulders. Your arms and thighs remain perpendicular to the floor.
Inhale while arching your back by bringing your buttocks up and gently throwing your head back.
Exhale by rounding your back and bringing your chin close to the base of your neck.
The breath is powerful. Movements and breath are well synchronized. Find your rhythm and keep it. Your spine is constantly moving. Gradually increase the speed if you feel your spine is flexible enough.
Postures on the Knees
Standing on the knees lean back from your waist, and catch your ankles. If this posture is too difficult at first, grab your heels or put your fingertips on your heels, or even your palms on your lower back. Lean back, buttocks tucked in, lower back is arched by pushing your hips forward. Let your head hang back. Some pressure may be felt at the level of your kidneys. Control this pressure so you avoid straining your body too much.
Rock Pose - Vajrasana
This posture is known for its stimulating effects on the digestive system. Its name comes from the idea that whoever master this posture can digest even stones.
You are kneeled, with your feet on the floor behind you, and you sit on your heels, keeping your spine straight.
This is a very powerful and fundamental exercise in the practice of Kundalini Yoga. The general posture is the rock pose, in addition of bringing both arms straight up, as closely as possible from the ears. Fingers are interlaced and the index of both hands are pointing at the ceiling.
The mantra Sat Nam is pronounced out load.
On “Sat”, one contracts anus, sexual organs and abdomen, giving an energy impulse upwards.
On “Nam”, one releases the contractions.
The contractions and releases are done rhythmically at a fast enough pace . The focus is not so much on the breath that will adjust itself automatically, but rather on the energy that rises from the bottom on the spine to the top of the head.
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In most exercises where you have to sit still, the most important thing to remember is to stay steady, still and exempt of physical discomfort.
If you lean to one side or feel pain in your knees or ankles, any exercise will then be inefficient, especially when it comes to meditation.
When physical discomfort occurs, you also risk a bad channelling of energy stimulated by the Kriya you are practicing. In this case, it is best to sit on a chair as long as both feet are firmly anchored to the floor. Whether sitting cross-legged or on a chair, the most important thing is to keep your spine straight. Your posture must reflect externally the inner harmony it creates. For this we block the spine at the lumbar level, resulting in the chest being straight and opened up while the head is kept stable and upright.
Sit with crossed Legs - Sukasana
There are two variations of this posture:
1) The easiest way is to put the left feet under the right knee and the right foot on the left knee. This does not require as much flexibility in the legs but requires you to pay more attention to keeping your spine straight.
2) Place the left foot against the groin, and bring the other foot on the ankle of the left foot near the thigh. The spine is kept straight. You can reverse the feet depending on which side you feel most comfortable.
Lotus - Padmasana
Sit with legs out stretched in front of you. Bend the left leg and bring the left foot to the right thigh. Then bend the right leg and bring the right foot to the left thigh.
The spine is kept straight. This is the most stable posture that exists. It is used for deep meditation, as long as it is well controlled, which means that it must not cause any physical pain. The yogic writings attribute to it an infinity of benefits.
Half Lotus - Siddhasana
This is the same posture as Sukasana. However there is one variation as the top foot is brought to the opposite thigh instead of remaining on the opposite ankle.
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Vertical is not straight like a stick
During the practice we often tell you to “straighten your spine” or to assume a “vertical spine position”. It does not mean that you must compensate your natural spine curvature (lordosis and khyphois).
Here bellow is what your “straight spine” must look like.
Lordosis : Cervicals and Lumbar
Khyphosis : Thoracic and sacrum-coccyx