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Yoga Journal USA - June_2016


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practice well HOME PRACTICE A home practice to find your courageBy Kiyomi Takahashi IT TAKES CREATIVITY and fearlessness to adventure into our heart’s deepest desires, and this Kundalini Yoga practice passed down by Yogi Bhajan, the master of Kundalini Yoga, can help you find both. Through energetic movements that activate and strengthen the lower nerve plexus—the area below the navel that houses our digestive organs, including the “gut” we’re so often told to follow—we can move vital energy up into the heart, making us feel stabler. This is particularly helpful as we face challenges and fears around stepping into the unknown. What’s more, the meditation at the end of this practice can help you rediscover who you truly are, and support you in pursuing your deepest, most heartfelt desires. It can also prompt you to fine-tune the goals you already have, enabling you to see where tweaks are needed and helping you stay the course when distractions inevitably arise. Prep work Say or chant Ong namo guru dev (rhymes with “save”) namo three times. This means “I bow to the teacher within” and is used at the beginning of every Kundalini practice to tune in to the divinity and knowledge in each of us. Practice tips 1. Do the poses in order, trying not to skip any. You can, however, modify any posture to accommodate injuries or your present level of strength and flexibility. 2. Start slowly, taking rests when needed and gradually building up to the time given for each pose. Between poses, pause for at least 30 to 60 seconds of rest. PHOTOS: IAN SPANIER; MODEL: KIYOMI TAKAHASHI; STYLIST: MATTHEW PERIDIS; HAIR/MAKEUP: MICHELLE COURSEY AND ANGELA KIM; TOP AND BOTTOMS: ALO YOGA; BRA: GAPFIT 1 Run in Place Start standing with your upper arms pulled back, forearms parallel to the ground and hands in fists facing each other. Alternating sides, lift each knee as high as possible while you punch the opposite arm forward, so that your arm reaches straight out. Move your arms forcefully forward and back. Repeat for 2 minutes. 2 Ego Eradicator Sit cross-legged and apply Jalandhara Bandha (Neck or Chin Lock). To engage the lock, lift your chest and lengthen the back of your neck so that the chin naturally drops toward the front of the neck. Curl your fingertips onto the pads of the palms, with the thumbs stretched back and aimed at each other above the head. Begin Breath of Fire: This is a rhythmic, continuous breath through the nostrils in which on each exhale you pull the navel point back and upward; breathe at roughly 40 to 60 breaths per minute to start, gradually increasing the speed as you feel ready. To end, take a big inhale; as you suspend the breath, touch your thumbs together above your head. Exhale to release your arms down and touch your fingertips to the ground. 3 Cat-Cow Pose Come onto your hands and knees, with the hands shoulder-width apart and knees directly under the hips. For Cow, inhale as you tilt your pelvis forward, extending your spine downward and head and neck upward. For Cat, exhale as you reverse the pelvic tilt, flexing your spine up and pressing the chin to the chest. In both poses, keep the arms and legs still. Continue rhythmically alternating between both poses with powerful breathing. Repeat for 2 minutes. To end, inhale into Cow, hold, and pull your energy up the spine with Mula Bandha (Root Lock) engaged. To engage Root Lock, gently contract your anal sphincter and lower body to access the lift of the pelvic floor. Exhale and relax on your heels. Sit quietly, feeling the energy circulate throughout your body. CONTINUE SEQUENCE ON PAGE 48 june 2016 47

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