The Approximate Yogi

Conquering life one breath at a time


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Immune Boosting Yoga and Meditation + Other Goodies

It’s that time of year again -cold season. Here is a kriya and meditation you can do that specifically targets strengthening the immune system. Remember, the more days in a row you do it, the more powerful it will be (read this post).

Kriya for Disease Resistance (find complete instructions here).

This is a fun kriya, with a nice mid-set relaxation, wrapped up with one of those crazy Kundalini poses (elephant walk). You’ll notice that many of the exercises target digestion or elimination. Good digestion is so tied to our immune system and fighting off illness. The relaxation in the middle really reminds you how important rest is to your health, slowing down, giving yourself enough time for good health.

Remember that taking the time to rest and take care of yourself actually saves time in the long run, avoiding a lingering illness that could knock you out of commission for a while.

summer solstice sun

find your inner sun

Meditation: Immune System Booster: The Inner Sun (find complete instructions here).

This is a quick meditation that can be built up to a longer time gradually. It is recommended in the instructions to wear a head covering while practicing to avoid a headache. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy -a winter hat, bandana, or hood on a hoodie, but I’d follow those instructions.

Another great thing you can do for your immune system, and a comforting self-care routine -drink yogi tea!

Find my recipe here.

You can also re-read my spring allergy regime, which is another way to strengthen the immune system.

Completely unrelated note: I will be taking the month of November off from blogging as I participate in National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org), and will need all my writing energy for that project. 🙂 I will also take a break from social media.

I will miss you, but I’ll be back in December! In the mean time, I’ll wish you good health, and a happy Thanksgiving, if you live in the states, one of my favorite holidays, since it consists of a couple of my favorite things -food and family.

You can check out these posts for some nice vegetarian dishes for the fall holiday:

Gem Squash with Pesto & Pine Nuts;

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apple Cinnamon Stuffing

Acorn Squash with Spiced Chick Peas & Kale;

Carrot & Beet Salad;

Quinoa & Feta Stuffed Peppers;

Potent Potatoes;

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Sauce

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Balance Head and Heart: Attempting to Let Go of Guilt and Worry

My cat has been missing for the last three days. I have been filled with worry, guilt, and fear –worry over his safety out there, guilt over letting him go outside, fear of the worst case scenario. It hasn’t been a pleasant week. So, on the third morning, I’m turning to yoga. 001

Last night as I laid in bed, I tried to rationalize these feelings away, tried to think myself right, as I often do. As a writer and very introspective personality, I often try to out-think my emotions. Even in meditation, I will find myself trying to think through a problem, rather than simply sitting in silence with it. When we sit in silence with problems or ucky emotions, I know, we have a better chance of working through them, letting our intuition, our heart, our soul, whatever you want to call it, do the “thinking.” But that is easier said than done.

So, this morning I am reminded of a kriya that was especially recommended for me when I did my numerology through 3HO. I’m not yet sure how much stock I put in this, but what I read did make sense to my personality, and I welcome any form of guidance like that (If you are interested in getting your numerology, you can do it here). It specifically recommended this kriya for me –Balancing the Head and Heart, which did instantly speak to me.

Balance Heart And Mind

image from shamaninthecity.com

Kriya for Balancing the Head and Heart

Find it here, or in Kundalini Yoga by Shakta Kaur Khalsa

I have been working with this kriya on and off (this time of year is my favorite time to go for a run in the morning, so I sometimes switch out kriya for run) for the past couple weeks. It is short, but it will make you sweat!

Don’t forget to tune in, and also, although I’m sure you won’t after this one, don’t forget savasana, or resting on your back afterwards. I started with the minimum suggested times and am working my way up slowly to full times.

Meditation

This morning, I finished my sadhana with a meditation for the neutral mind. I know I write about the neutral mind a lot, because it is something I struggle with finding in my own life, and really connect with and enjoy the meditations for it. This morning I did Shabd Kriya, which I wrote about last week (in Conquering Sleep, Naturally)

Other good meditations for the neutral mind:

Kirtan Kriya

Bi-furcated Kirtan Kriya

Meditation for the Neutral Mind

I’ll leave you with the comments written with the last meditation (found in Meditation as Medicine, by Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD and Cameron Stauth)

“It is easy to hear a truth, but difficult to live it –-imbed it deeply into your heart and mind. The Neutral Mind opens the gate to that deep remembrance of the self and soul. The Neutral Mind lives for the touch of vastness. It lets other thoughts be, without disturbing your inner light. Call on your higher self and keep going steadily through all barriers. Let it go and let it flow. See how the universe provides.”

I’ve said it before –yoga doesn’t take away all the bad feelings and make life all happy and grand, but it does make it better. A sadness and underlying worry did continue to hang over me today, but I was able to let go of some of that guilt and fear, replacing it with positive thoughts of him coming back in time instead of worst case scenarios.

Blessings to you on your journey.


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Conquering Sleep, Naturally

Last week a reader was looking for a meditation to help with insomnia, which got me thinking about sleep.

Sleep can be something that evades many of us, whether it’s chronic or that every once in a while annoyance of waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back to sleep. I know when I haven’t gotten enough sleep it affects all aspects of my functioning the next day from productivity, to mood, and even meal choices.

Let Sleeping Children Lie

remember when sleep came so easily? (Photo credit: stewickie via flickr)

Yoga can help. A regular practice, whether in the morning or evening, can help regulate your schedule, get rid of unnecessary anxiety and tension, and begin to relax your body and mind. Yoga and meditation can also get at those underlying causes of your sleeplessness by helping you explore your emotions and release the unproductive ones.

Yoga Kriya

Here is a kriya designed specifically for dealing with insomnia:

Kriya for Conquering Sleep can be found in Kundalini Yoga Guidelines for Sadhana or here. The accompanying comments for this kriya:

“We waste billions of dollars on sleeping aids and stimulants when a much safer and more stable approach exists in exercise and meditation. Unfortunately, the exercises take effort; a pill doesn’t. If you choose to put the effort into this kriya, it will eliminate sleep disturbances and give you alertness throughout the day.”

My notes on the kriya: Boy, no joke about the effort part! I had done this kriya a while ago, but wanted to try it out again before writing about it. This is a tough kriya. If you are new to Kundalini, it is not tough in the bend-yourself-into-a-yoga-pretzel sort of way, but it takes endurance. You’ll build a lot of strength doing this kriya. My suggestions are to really focus on your breath to get you through the tougher exercises, and start by cutting the specified times in half (but do this consistently for every exercise), then build up to the full times.

Don’t forget to tune in by chanting Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo (the Adi Mantra) 3 times.

In exercise 6, note the picture for “bridge pose,” which is different from the hatha version of the pose.

The comments given with this kriya also note that if sleep is a constant problem for you, practice it regularly for 90 days (It takes 90 days to totally eliminate an old habit and establish the new one in its place, read more about it in this post here).

white dog sleeping on pavement

every body needs to sleep (Photo credit: epSos.de via flickr)

The last exercise can be extended into a full meditation.

Meditations

There are also other meditations that you may find helpful for insomnia. One I have written about before, is Meditation for Mental Fatigue, a lovely little three minute meditation, perfect for just before bedtime (find it here or in Meditation as Medicine, by Dharma Singh Khalsa and Cameron Stauth). This meditation uses the mantra Ong, chanted out loud, such a healing sound.

Shabd Kriya, also called Shabd Kriya for Deep Sleep and Radiance is another lovely meditation to do before bed. It is a great one for the neutral mind as well. It makes sense that it would also help with sleep, since strengthening the neutral mind helps us come from a place of nonattachment –we aren’t attached to our worries, or the things that make us worry, and often keep us awake at night. You can find it in Waves of Healing: Listening to the Voice of Your Soul, by Siri Atma S. Khalsa, MD (a lovely book I just picked up that explores the 10 bodies –more on this later) or here.

This meditation uses the mantra Sa Ta Na Ma (chanted silently, which is nice if you have others already asleep nearby), one of my favorite mantras, meaning the cycle of life: Sa=Birth, Ta=Life, Na=Death, Ma=Rebirth.

Left Nostril Breathing is another simple meditative pranayam you can do before bed. Simply block your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand, and breathe long and deeply through your left nostril. This is soothing and cooling to your system.

I would love to hear about your experience if you practice any of these, especially for 40 or 90 days. Or if you have other favorite nighttime meditations. Please share in the comments section.

Related Articles:

Kundalini Yoga for Sleep, includes yogic lifestyle practices to help with sleep

Sleep, has some kundalini tips and sleep from a yogic point of view

Four Simple Steps to Deep, Dreamless Sleep


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Class of the Week: Quick Set for the Glands and “Grit”

This is one of my go-to kriyas that I incorporate regularly into my practice. It’s a really powerful and energizing set, plus it can be done quickly. I usually practice it on days I don’t have as much time in the morning. It’s also got a great “built-in” meditation at the end, just enough to set you right for the day.

A healthy glandular system is so fundamental to your overall health. It is really good to incorporate a kriya that works on it into your repertoire. This set also works on the inner organs and is a great boost to your metabolism.

The kriya is called Build Up the Glandular System and Inner Organs. You can find it in Owner’s Manual for the Human Bodyor here. I couldn’t find any images, so please let me know in the comments below if you need further descriptions of any of the poses.

Notes on the kriya: I wanted to note that the version on the linked web site includes a fourth pose before the meditation that isn’t in the manual, which is what I use, so I have not done that. In the first pose your head is lifted, but still looking down towards the ground, you don’t need to strain it to look forward. You’ll want to make sure your back and legs are warmed up with some warm-up exercises (here’s some examples of good warm-ups).

John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.

This set will give you true grit, not like the movie, but like real life! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A note on the meditation at the end: You are silently repeating “Har” on the inhale and “Haree” on the exhale. Both words are different aspects of God (remember God can mean G.O.D., here’s a post about it) or the divine. “Har” is joing the Infinite within you and without. “Haree” calls upon the creative energy.

The instructions say that you chant each “about 84 times.” I don’t count while I’m doing this, I just repeat it as quickly as I can to fit as many in as I can on a very slow inhale and exhale (about 12 seconds each). With challenging instructions such as these, I just try to get as close as possible to what they tell me!

This is the comment at the end of the kriya: “This entire set will make your mind fresh, you’ll have ‘grit.’ It takes away fear and you’ll experience yourself, you’ll ‘feel’ yourself. Mind will heal itself. Body will heal itself.”

Sounds good to me!


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6 Travel Yoga Tips –Just Because You Go on Vacation Doesn’t Mean Your Practice Has To

Here is an article on how to take your yoga practice with you when you travel, which I wrote for Spirit Voyage’s blog: Click here to read it.

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Class of the Week –Become Like an Angel and Heal

Becoming Like Angels is a beautiful and calming kriya. For some reason, I forget about it until this time of year. I guess I like the idea of feeling as light as an angel in the summertime.

Although this kriya’s intent is more than light-hearted. In Open Your Heart with Kundalini Yoga, by Siri Datta, she writes, “This kriya is for those who experience the ‘longing’ to make a difference for the evolution of humankind and the planet…This kriya will put you in tune with your Angelic Essence, where you will be able to access your mission and your message.”

Angel 013

(Photo credit: Juliett-Foxtrott)

Find full instructions for the kriya, with photos in an excerpt from the book by clicking here (pg. 162). It can also be found in Kundalini Yoga: Unlock Your Inner Potential Through Life-Changing Exercise, by Shakta Kaur Khalsa.

Rather than move directly into meditation the last exercise directs you to stretch, walk around, and talk for 2 minutes in order to ground yourself. This is essential, easily done in a class, but if I am practicing by myself I talk to myself, my cat, my houseplants. It’s ok to just talk, about anything that pops into your head.

Then what better meditation to end with than Healing with the Siri Gaitri Mantra, or Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung, found in The Aquarian Teacher Level One Instructor Manual, I also write about it here, and the full instructions can be found here. This is a beautiful meditation that is especially nice to do with music. Find Snatam Kaur’s deeply calming and healing version of it on her album Grace.

May you enjoy this healing practice for yourself, and anyone else you are meant to touch.


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Food, Self-Care & Yoga for Great Skin, Part 2

Radiant clouds

feel radiant (Photo credit: grytr)

Time to get down to the yoga stuff. If you missed Part 1, see the previous post.

Let’s look at those underlying causes of skin problems. Remember, the health of the skin is connected to the health of the lungs, liver, and kidneys –along with the skin, the organs of the body that deal with and expel toxins.

Sometimes we are also carrying around toxic emotions that can affect the skin. Skin problems may be related to unreleased anger. This makes some sort of inherent sense to me, as I think of anger festering just below the surface, just as a pimple or rash does.

“Stress and anger affect the skin. Inner anger can make you accomplish a lot, but if you are angry and blaming, then this anger will keep you in a state of low self-esteem. This creates long-term stress which dulls the mind, makes life boring, and takes away your happiness…”

That’s where this kriya comes in –To Make the Skin Radiant.

“…This set of exercises works to improve the skin by removing the effects of long-term anger and stress through adjustment of the metabolism.” (from Owner’s Manual for the Human Bodyan awesome kriyas manual)

I’m not gonna sugar coat it –this is a tough kriya, one of the toughest I’ve done, and it can release a lot of stuff, but it’s well worth it. The times for some of the exercises are quite long, so you can cut them in half or even quarter time to start out (just remember to do this for every exercise, not just the longer ones), then build up to the full time.

Find instructions for Kriya to Make the Skin Radiant here.

Find some beautiful music to listen to while you do this kriya, and just experience it.

Exercises to Make the Pores Breath

This is another nice kriya for the skin, a little shorter, a little less intense. “This series removes obstructions to the flow of prana through the ‘third lung.'” Find it here, or in Kundalini Yoga Guidelines for Sadhana.

The skin is associated with the eighth chakra or the aura, as both are like a shield of protection for you. With an expansive aura, you are automatically radiant.

A war shield

the aura is your divine shield (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is a lovely meditation for the aura, deep and calming (also found in The Aquarian Teacher Instructors Manual):

The Divine Shield Meditation for Protection and Positivity.

The linked article also gives a beautiful description of the meditation and the purpose of your aura.