“…No matter how far the wild gander flies, at some point it remembers, and migrates back to its home, always at the proper season. In the same way, we as spiritual beings following a spiritual principle must, like the wild gander, remember, and migrate back to our spiritual home…” – Goswami Kriyananda
When I began exploring a meditation practice some years ago, I found it difficult to remain present at first. Who hasn’t? Luckily there are a myriad of techniques available for generating awareness. And, through trial and error, it’s possible to discover a method that speaks to you. In the end, a meditation practice should give you energy, enthusiasm, peace and joy.
Today I am introducing what may be the most effective concentration/meditation technique that I have encountered in my training and practice. It frequently helps to remove the attachments and fluctuations from my mind so that I can focus on my breath and generate positive energy.
As we continue to explore the poses and our breathing practices, we are expanding our level of awareness. We are learning to pay attention. We are discovering what it is to be in the present moment. And, it is in the present moment that we experience our true “state of yoga.” It is where we see our connection and remember who we are.
The fourth limb of the yogic system is pranayama or breath control. It is made up of a range of techniques that begin with simple awareness and continue on with more intensive control approaches.
Although pranayama is an integral part of yoga, the practice is not generally taught until a student is comfortable resting with their breath in either a supine or seated position. In this way, a student learns to relax completely in order to receive the breath.
Breathing practices give your mind focus – you virtually tune in when you pay attention to your breath. This can occur whether you are in a resting pose or actively performing the asanas. As many teachers will tell you, “if it is not with the breath, it is not yoga.”
We made it! We have arrived at the summit – the uppermost chakra. This marks the end of a long journey that started on week 14 – the site where we laid down our roots for the climb to the top.
This shining star located at the apex is called the crown chakra. In sanskrit, it is known as sahasrara and translates as the “thousand-petaled lotus.” The number 1000 is the symbol for boundless, infinite and tremendous.
The yoga postures associated with the sahasrara or crown chakra are restorative and meditative in nature. They are the ones that enable you to tune into your inner mind – that divine spirit that is within you and create an infinite connection to the cosmic world.
To achieve this contemplative state, it is helpful to balance your chakra wheels from root to crown so that the energy can appropriately ascend.
Try this 30 minute sequence daily and be sure to leave plenty of time for the “prize” at the finish:
Muladhara (Root) Chakra: Easy Cross Leg Pose
Svadhisthana (Sacral) Chakra: Cat-Cow to Child’s Pose
Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra: Downward Dog to Plank
Anahata (Heart) Chakra: Sphinx
Vishuddha (Throat) Chakra: Bridge
Ajna (Third-Eye) Chakra: Seated Staff Pose to Supported Forward Bend
Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra: Modified Rabbit Pose – from child’s pose, lift your hips and roll onto the top of your head supporting your weight with your hands.
Savasana (well supported with props)
Spend about 1-3 minutes in each “chakra pose” and give yourself at least 10 minutes for Savasana.
Unwavering in its pronouncements, the songbird vocalizes in clarity and honesty. Like the songbird in the sky, we should feel free to sing out and fill our surroundings with positive vibrations.
The 5th Chakra is located in the area of the throat and is your communication center – figuratively and spiritually. The Sanskrit name, Vissuddha means pure. When your throat chakra is balanced your self-expression is clear, virtuous, and free of pollutants.
The challenge this week is to incorporate a “Vissuddha” yoga posture into your practice each day. The following poses and practices will target the areas of expression – your neck and throat.
Ujjayi Breathing – a superb pranayama practice for honing your larynx, nasopharynx and all parts related to the breath and speech. Look back to our YOLY Challenge #5 for directions on this method.
Lion Pose – A focus for the mouth, jaw and neck, this posture is especially good for stimulating the platysma muscle – unattractively known as the “turkey neck.”
Upward Facing Dog – Correctly performed, the shoulders should be aligned above the wrists so that the neck can comfortably balance the head. Through this pose, all the structures surrounding the neck and throat are learning to support and stabilize.
Shoulderstand(variation with a chair)– Targets the thyroid to balance the blood flow in this area. A boon for the entire neck and shoulder areas if supported correctly. This posture should be initiated under the guidance of an instructor.
Chanting – Find a recording that speaks to you and learn it. Silently follow along until you are comfortable reciting the words clearly and with purpose.
Here are the words and definition for your reference:
Om bhur bhuvaha svaha
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyo yonah prachodayat
Praise to the source of
It is due to you that we attain
true happiness on the planes
of earth, astral, causal.
It is due to your transcendent
nature that you are worthy of
being worshiped and adored.
Ignite us with your all
The Gayatri Mantra is a prayer that allows me to express gratitude to the universal spirit. I see it as an all-embracing chant that transcends religion and speaks to my intention. The vibration of its sounds is known to be a healing source for our subtle bodies.
In Sanskrit, the meaning of the chant is relatively simple:
Om– Ever present, it is the pulse of the universe and the source of our whole being.
Namah– A word that means to bow.
Shivaya– Literally it means Shiva; but more than that, it represents the inner self.
When understood fully, the phrase translates to “I bow to the inner Self”. In class, you may have heard me say, “bow to the teacher within”.
A wonderful set of words that expresses exactly how I feel as I end each and every practice. Bowing to the teacher within me is saluting all of my wisdom and where it stems from. It is how I respect my journey and honor all those who have made it possible.
For your reference, here is an audio link to the pronunciation of Om Namah Shivaya