By Marisol Rascon
For those of you who are new to kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan you may have heard that the breathing and exercises used are a little strange. Some people call Kundalini yoga the yoga of awareness, i’ve also heard it called Kindaluni - both work for me. Keeping it a little weird makes it interesting, right?
I want to offer a quick look at the inner workings of a common posture we use in warm ups and sets. If you’ve questioned your attendance in class when the teacher asks the class to stick their arms and thumbs up in the air and pant like a dog, I hope to uncover some of the mystery. I promise there’s a science behind the process.
The Posture: Ego Eradicator (sitting)
Comfortably find your seat in easy pose, legs crossed.
You will raise both arms to 60 degrees making sure that spine is straight, chin parallel to the floor, and both shoulders are relaxed and gently fall away from the ears.
Eyes are closed and the inner gaze is at the point between the brows.
Begin Breath of Fire.
Breath of Fire is done as an equal inhale and equal exhale through the nose. The tricky part comes in the engagement of the navel area. On the inhale expand the belly and on the exhale draw the navel in towards the spine. If the rhythm seems reverse or you’re unsure if it’s correct try breathing through the mouth like a panting puppy. Once you have the breath down you can try through the nose.
Noticing the direction of the muscle fibers in this image will give you a visual of which direction it moves your body. In yoga you will be strengthening muscles but I’d like to take a look at the muscles that you’ll be stretching. Our jobs and commutes require long periods of time in a single position and so introducing lengthening movements to often contracted muscles is key to a happy body. The main muscles engaged are the internal rotators.
Subscapularis,Teres major, Biceps Brachii, Deltoids, Pectoralis major and minor, Rhomboids, Trapesius, Lattisimus Dorsi
*If you are healing from a shoulder/rotator cuff injury, go easy. I’ve seen too many students test their boundaries with “easy” postures like this and activate unnecessary pain.
Breath of Fire: This breath is excellent as an energy boost because the powerful breath circulates oxygen throughout the body. The powerful pumping action massages the digestive system aiding in sluggish elimination and strengthens your core abdominal muscles. Increasing the fire element in Ayurveda & Yoga transforms energy making this an excellent choice to help clear energetically but also incredible for moving toxins out.
The energy centers directly engaged are the 2nd, 3rd chakras, and 4th chakra. What this means is that you are engaging your center of creativity (2nd), will power (3rd), and self love (4th). The energy will find it’s way where it needs to go the most. The purpose of this pose is to lift yourself up beyond the ego making sure you’re not overly indulgent in emotions, power, or shame. Sounds like a great place to start to me! Don't worry if this sounds like a lot, the power is in the experience after all. Leave me a comment and tell me how you feel after a minute of thumbs up and keep up!
I’m happy to answer any questions or offer modifications! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.