“When you don’t go within, you go without.”
Creating a Kundalini Yoga practice to counter stress
As the summer holidays and Eid celebrations come to a close, you may find your fall calendar filling up quickly. With new demands from work, more traffic on the road, back to school events, and social invitations, the month of the September can become synonymous with stress. Whilst all forms of yoga, meditation and physical fitness can help manage the extra stress that September brings, Kundalini Yoga is a particular favorite for those with limited time.
When we become overworked and/or stressed out, we are putting extra pressure on the glandular and nervous systems, which in turn impacts our immunity and vitality and can have long term health consequences. Yoga Bhajan, a Master of Kundalini Yoga, emphasized the importance of “going within” through a daily practice, called sadhana. Daily practices can range from 3 minutes to 2.5 hours and provides the space to reconnect and align the body, mind and soul.
Below are simple practices that can help you relax, release stress and connect within. They can be practiced at any time of the day or anywhere.
Mantra: Sat Nam
Anyone that has ever taken a Kundalini Yoga class, often remembers this simple mantra. One of the most common mantras in the practice, Sat Nam means “truth is my identity.” Sat Nam is a seed or bija mantra that activates the chakras and plants the seed of universal truth. In times of stress, this mantra helps you connect to the truth within you.
To practice this mantra, find a comfortable place to sit, place your hands in your lap and have a straight spine. Gently close your eyes and bring the focus of your eyes to the center of the eye brows, at the third eye. As you inhale, silently meditate on the word “Sat” and imagine the sound coming from the base of your spine. As you exhale, mediate on the word “Nam,” and feel the sound current extend around you. Continue this mediation for three minutes. You can continue to add time to your practice and use the mantra in times of stress.
This meditation can be done at any time but is often best practiced at night and can help you prepare for sleep. I often do this mediation while I am sitting in bed and use my headrest to support my spine. Legs are crossed, spine is straight, chest is lifted, and chin is tucked down. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath. Inhale through the nose in 8 equal strokes. Exhale through the nose in one deep powerful stroke. As you do this meditation imagine the stress washing away from your body with each breath cycle. Continue the meditation for 11 minutes. To end the meditation, inhale deeply and hold the breath for 5-10 seconds. Exhale and inhale deeply two more times, holding the breath for 15-20 seconds. On the last exhalation roll the shoulders as fast as you can.