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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Introduction to Mantras for Kundalini Yoga Class

Aloha Everyone,
A mantra can be a single word, group of words, sound or syllables repeated to help in concentration in meditation.  The word “mantra” is of Sanskrit origin and may be translated as “mind”.  One of my meditation teacher stated, “the mantra cuts through the chatters of your mind.”  Mantra is considered capable of creating spiritual transformation.  Some mantras are whispered and said quietly, others are done in singing with musical instruments.  Still others are chanted loud and powerfully often accompanied by hand gestures (mudras).
I will be introducing you more frequently used mantras in our Kundalini Yoga and Meditation class.
Namaste — Cathi

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dao Yin Exercises

Aloha Everyone,
How many times to repeat and how gently or forcefully to do individual exercises are up to how you are feeling at the time you start.  As in any exercises, do not over do it.  Listen to your body.  You should not be feeling pain when you do any of the exercises we do in our class.
1.  Raise your arms – bring them down forcefully, exhale with your mouth uttering powerful “Ha” sounds
2.  Body Tap – start with your left arm, left hand up and down 3 times, then to right hand, right arm, up and down
3.  Tip toe – up and down
4.  Stomach grind – move from your Lower Dantien.  Start in one direction, then reverse
5.  Squat – up and down
6.  Interlace your fingers at the back of your lower back
7.  Gentle back bend
8.  Maintain interlaced fingers, gentle forward bend
9.  Wider stand – holding an imaginary ball, move the ball around, let the qui guide your hands
10.  Move your body from the lower Dantien to the left and to the right, let the arms follow the body’s movement naturally
11.  Move your hands to the shoulders, left to right, gentle taps, again your movement should be from the lower Dantien and the arms are moving according to the speed and the movement of your body
12.  Pushing one hand up to the heaven, the other hand down pressing the Earth, reverse
13.  Hug yourself with arms under arm pits – reverse
13.  Hug your nees – half lotus – both legs
14.  Knee circle, reverse then change leg
Namaste — Cathi

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Three Major Dantians or Focal Points of Energy

Aloha Everyone,
When we practice Qui Gong, Tai Chi and Dao Yin exercises, I often speak of being aware of your Dantian, or your focal point of qui or energy.  Dantian or sometime referred to as Tan Tian, your energy center.   Tai Chi, Qui Gong and Dao Yin teachers I had always instruct that we center our mind in the navel area of more specifically lower dantian or in Kundalini Yoga,  the swadhisthana (the 2nd) chakra.  
There are three major dantians.
1.  Lower Dantian – located below the navel – considered most important as cultivating life energy
2.  Middle Dantian – located at the heart level – storing life energy   
3.  Upper Dantian – between the eyebrows, location of the 3rd eye, energy of consciousness and spirit
Namaste — Cathi

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dao Yin – Guiding and Stretching

Aloha Everyone,
Dao Yin written in Chinese character literally means Dao (guiding) and Yin (stretching).  Dao Yin is regarded as a traditional form of Chinese calisthenics focused on stretching and breathing. 
A series of Dao Yin exercises are usually gentle with  fluid movements done in standing, sitting or lying positions.  Dao Yin exercises are considered a precursor of qigong and it was practiced in Taoist monasteries in China for health and spiritual cultivation.
Dao Yin exercises create balance between internal and external energies.  By doing them in proper sequence, the spirit, mind and body are energized.  One develps flexibility in muscles and tendons, develops over all physical and emotional strength as well as balancing of body and mind.
If practiced regularly under a proper guidance, Dao Yin exercises will help maintain good physical and spritual health.  Clinical studies have shown that there are many health benefits of Dao Yin including improvement of your inner strength, you will gain better balance and flexibility, you will have more energy and gain better coordination.  Dao Yin exercises are used as preventative, curative as well as recupeerative in maintenance and restoration of one’s health and fitness.
Namaste — Cathi

Monday, March 18, 2013

Deep Meditation

Aloha Everyone,
Set your timer for 3, 5, 7 minutes for beginners and  9 to 11 to 20 minutes for intermediate practitioner.
Come to a seated meditation posture or, if you are doing yoga on-the mat, in Savasana.
Allow your body to sink into the seat and your feet into the floor, toes spread open.
Become aware of your breathing; begin focusing on the yogic breathing.
Bring your awareness to your eyes.  Inhale deeply and as you exhale, allow your eyes to relax.  Imagine your eyes sinking back into you head.  Let go of the tension in all the tiny muscles around your eyes.  Allow your eyes to rest as you send love and gratitude to your eyes for allowing you to see.
Bring your awareness to your mouth. Inhale deeply and as your exhale, allow your mouth to relax.   Allow your jaw to relax.   Bring a smile smile to your lips.   Smiling releases the tension in the hundreds of muscles in your face.  Feel the tension release in your cheeks, your jaws, your throat.  Breathe.
Inhale; bring your awareness to your shoulders.  Exhale; allow your shoulders to relax.
Let go of all the accumulated tensions in your shoulders.  Breathe.
Deep inhalation, bring your awareness to your arms.  Full exhalation, relax your upper arms, your elbows, your lower arms, your wrists.   Breathe, and relax your fingers.   Wiggle your fingers a little to help all the tiny muscles to relax, let go of all the tension.  Be mindful of your body and your breath.
Inhale; bring your awareness to your heart.  Deep exhalation, allow your heart to relax.   Your heart beats for you day and night.  E mbrace your heart with mindfulness and tenderness.   Breathe.
Deep inhalation, bring you awareness to your legs.  Exhalation, allow your legs to relax.  Release all the tension in your legs, your thighs, your knees, your calves, your ankles, your feet, your toes, including all the tiny muscles in your toes.  Wiggle your toes a little to help them relax even more.
Deep inhalation, retain your breathe, deep exhalation.  Imagine your entire body becoming light; now imagine your body floating on the water.   You have nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to see.   Surrender completely.  Notice how your breath is slowing down.  Each inhalation and each exhalation is effortless. 
<After at least two minutes pause…>
Bring your awareness back to your breathe.  Be mindful of your abdomen rising and falling, your chest rising and falling  Bring your awareness back to your body.  Gentle shake of your arms and legs, wiggle your toes and fingers.
Come back to your normal breathing
Rub your palms under they are warm, cup your eyes with your palms.  Part your fingers apart and slowly open your eyes. 
Maintain your calm state of mind.  Do not suddenly become active.  Drink plenty of water and enjoy the effect of your deep meditation experience..
Namaste — Cathi

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lao Tzu's Teachings

Aloha Everyone,
Lao Tzu first wrote the Tao Te Ching in the Sixth Century B.C. was a great Chinese philosopher and considered the Father of Taoism.  The Tao Te Ching has been translated into Western languages over 250 times
I believe that you will find that Lao Tzu’s teachings are profound and timeless:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
- Lao Tzu
“Silence is a source of great strength.”
- Lao Tzu
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment.”
- Lao Tzu
“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.”
- Lao Tzu
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
- Lao Tzu
“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”
- Lao Tzu
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
- Lao Tzu
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
- Lao Tzu
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
- Lao Tzu
“Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy.”
- Lao Tzu
Namaste – Cathi

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Seven Chakras of Kundalini Yoga

Aloha Everyone,
Chakra means wheel and it could be thought as energy vortex or energy centers. The Chakras are located along the spine starting from perinium to the top of your head, the 7 Chakras are root, sex (sacral), naval, heart, throat, 3rd eye and crown.  By doing pranayamas and asanas, cosmic energy can be transformed into spiritual energy.
We will be studying each of the 7 chakras and how they affect our health and how to unblock, to balance and heal them to maintain our mental, emotional and spiritual well being. Here us a brief explanation of the 7 Chakras and what personality traits and characteristics are associated with each of them.
First Chakra – Root Chakra (Mooladhara)  – relates to the Earth elements, controls sexual energy, helps you get grounded and balanced, and influences physical security & fear.  Element is Earth and color is red. Activating the root chakra also helps the vital organs of our body gives us the freedom to enjoy pure and simplicity of mind.  Location is at the base of spine in tailbone area.
Second Chakra – Sacral(Sex) Chakra (Swadhisthana) located at the lower abdomen approximately two inches below the navel.  This is the chakra of self expression, creativity and pure knowledge.  The second chakra  element is water and also influences your power of concentration. Element is water and color is orange.
Third Chakra  Naval Chakra (Manipura) located at the navel center.  The Manipura Chakra is the power center, and the element is fire and color is yellow..  Manipura Chakra influences your digestive systems, helps with will power.  If the Manipura Chakra is unbalanced, a person may experience fear, anger, aggression or even eating disorder.  Balancing this chakra, one will have self-respect, self esteem and physical and emotional balance.
Fourth Chakra – Heart Chakra (Anahata) located at the center of the chest, right of the physical heart and influences circulatory and respiratory systems.   This chakra is associated with unconditional love, forgiveness and compassion.  The element is air and the color is green
Fifth Chakra – Throat Chakra (Vishuddhi) located at the throat, this chakra influences auditory and speech systems.  Activation of Vishuddhi Chakra influences communication, seat of intellectural awareness and freedom from ego.  The element is either and color is blue.
Sixth Chakra -  Third Eye Chakra (Ajna) located at the center of head, between the eye brows.  The Ajna Chakra influences communication and perception.When properly activated, Ajna Chakra develops spirituality and humanity.  All elements in their pure essence and color is indigo.
Seventh Chakra – Crown Chakra (Sahasrara) located on top of head.  Influences brain and nervous system.  Sahasrara chakra relates to pure consciousness.  When proper balance of the Sahasrara Chakra is achieved, the practioner will be able to experience a state of bliss, void of all other feelings including one’s needs, wants or any emotions. Like the Sixth Chakra, the Seventh Chakra has all elements in their pure essence.  Color is violet and white.
Namaste — Cathi

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

Aloha Everyone,
One of our yoga participants inspired me to write about randum acts of kindness simply by her own action.  In the technological age where one can find anything on the internet, I first goolged, random acts of kindness and wow, what do you know, there is a website with that name. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a non-profit  organization and provides kindness ideas, ideas for educators, lesson plans,  stories of kindness and inspirational kindness quotes, etc.
The goal of The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is to inspire others to practice kindness and pass it on.  However you must be kind to ourselves even before you can be kind to others.  Be kind to your body and mind.  Do not judge yourself.  Accept who you are, and tell yourself that you are already perfect. You don’t have to try to change who you are. 
Here is a list of 5 golden rules for Living an Enlightened and Good Life as taught by Yogi Anmol Metha, Master of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation.
1. Relax, embrace the reality.
2.  Witness – be aware of all that is constantly taking place with your mind and body
3.  Affection, – to forgive, to be kind, to be thoughful, to be nice and be good, to be sensitive and be loving, be compassionate.
4.  Practice absolute honesty in word, deed and behavior.
5.  Courage of self-cofidence and self-belief, do not play it safe, by never taking the necessary chances, and walking away at the first sign of challenge.
Namaste — Cathi

Monday, March 4, 2013

What is the Purpose of Our Life? – Dalai Lama

Aloha Everyone,
Source:  The Art of Happiness
A Handbook for Living
His Holiness The Dalai Lama with Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
“What is the purpose of our life?”
Our days are numbered.  At this very moment, many thousands are born into the world, some destined to live only a few days or weeks, and then tragically succumb to illness or other misfortune.  Others are destined to push through to the century mark, perhaps even a bit beyond, and savor every taste life has to offer:  Triumph, despair, joy, hatred and love.  We never know.  But whether we live a day or a century, a central question always remains.  What is the purpose of our life?  What makes our lives meaningful?
The purpose of our existence is to seek happiness.
Namaste -- Cathi

Friday, March 1, 2013

Hatha Yoga Daily Practice – 2nd Set

Aloha Everyone,
Here is the second set of HathaYoga asana (pose) to follow as your daily practice list which you can do at home.  Just as a reminder be fully aware of every movements in asana, breathing in pranayama, mudra and mantra and be in the moment and focus.  Whether you are doing Kundalini Kriyas or Pranayama, remember that breathing is an integral part of yoga practice.  Finally, do not over do it.  Always remember that it is your yoga practice and yoga is not a competition.
1.  Long Deep Breathing to start your practice
2.  Tadasana – Mountain Pose
3.  As you inhale, raise your arms up above your head
4.  Exhale, namaste hands
5.  As you inhale, open your arms wide, exhale, bend your knees and come to airplane pose.  A more challenging pose is to raise your arms up above behind your ears, elbow straight, bend your knees to chair pose.  Ultimately your knees are bent 90 degrees and thighs are parallel to the floor.
6.  Step your leg wide, Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) pose – change side
7.  Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
8.  Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose).
9.  Back to Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
10.  Repeat other side for 7, 8 , 9
11.  Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend
12.  Low Lunge – both legs
13.  Low Lunge with twist
On the mat
14, Upward Facing Dog
15.  Dolphin
16.  Downward Facing Dog
17.  Wide leg Seated Forward Bend
18.  Reclining Butterfly
19.  Hug your knees
20.  Spine Twist – both sides
21.  Hug your knees
22.  Savasana (Corpse’s Pose)
The total practice times should be 30 to 60 minutes.  If you find any of these poses too challenging, it’s okay to skip them.  Do not force yourself, do not over do it.  Always allow sufficient time for Savasana (Corpse pose) at the end.  Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and enjoy the relaxed body and mind as you do your daily activities.
Namaste — Cathi