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Thursday, September 26, 2013

What is AUM (OM?)

Aloha Everyone,

What is AUM (OM)?

AUM (OM) is a chant, (mantra) or vibration that is believed to be the basic sound of the universe and it contains all other sounds. AUM is often chanted at the start of the class to tune in our body and mind and again at the close of yoga or meditation sessions  

What does AUM (OM) mean?  .

Aum (OM) symbol is made out of three Sanskrit letters and represents the different states of consciousness.  They are aa, au and ma and combined together, they make the sound of Aum (OM)   According to B.K.S. Iyengar in his book Light On Yoga, he said,  

"The letter A symbolizes the conscious or waking state
The letter U the dream state
The letter M the dreamless sleep state of the mind and spirit
A-U-M in its wholeness represents the “realization of man's divinity within himself."

Understanding the AUM symbol

Left upper curve = deep sleep state
Left lower curve = waking state.
The dot = Divine, The one, the self
Right crescent shape = infinity
Right curve begins from the center = dream state

How do you make correct sounds of chanting AUM (OM)?

The ancient yogi says that there are 4 sounds to AUM.

1)  "A" - vibrate this sound like in the sound "far" in the center of your mouth.
2)  "U" - vibrate this long oo sound in the back of the mouth
3)  "M" - vibrate this buzzing sound with your lips closed
4)  Final sound is the sound of silence which can only be realized when you give your full and complete attention to the first 3 sounds.  When the buzzing vibration of the "M" is no longer audible, focus on the silence become mindful and you will come to experience the sound of silence.

AUM (OM) Meditation Technique:

1)  Sit tall in a comfortable easy pose or in a chair.
2)  Elongate your spine, lift your chest, close your eyes, bring chin in slightly about 1/10th of an inch.
3)  Inhale deeply as you vibrate "A: sound, raise your arms up palms facing the sky to the shoulder level
4)  Move your arms forward, palms facing as you vibrate "U" sound
5)  Cross your hands in front of your heart as you vibrate "M" sound
6)  Bring your hands to namaste mudra as you listen to the final sound of silence
7)  Exhale slowly as you chant 4 sounds including the sound of silence and try to have the single breath last through the cycle
8)  Inhale deeply and repeat
Begin with 3 minutes and work your way up to whatever you feel comfortable


  • Helps to be in the present moment, to be mindful
  • Practice deep listening and accept impermanence of life which will lead to bliss and enlightenment.
  • Assists in healing yourself, improves your immune system
  • Helps you experience peace and tranquility
  • Helps generate mental clarity, improves brain function.
  • Helps relieve stress and heal your body.
  • Removes obstacles from your life
  • Provides protection
  • Purifies the mind, body and soul
  • Helps you focus mind and body and improve concentration
CAUTION: This meditation is very simple yet this is a profound yogic practice. If you enter this practice with the intension of experiencing the sound of silence, you might be disappointed. Relax, practice this often, and practice without any expectations on results and experience.  If you get dizzy or feel unusual sensation in your body, stop return to your normal breathing.  Do not over do.

Namaste -- Cathi

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One Minutes Yogic Breath of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan ®

Aloha Everyone,

We have practiced 1 Minutes Breath a few times in our class.  For some of you, 1 minute may be too long and difficult to achieve.  As in any practice, it takes time to learn something which you are not accustomed to.  We have to prepare our mind and body so you are both mentally and physically ready for this practice. 


1.  Sit up tall with spine elongated
2.  Tuck your chin slightly in about 1 1/10 of an inch
3.  Close your eyes
4.  Relax your hands in Drona mudra
5.  Start with 3 long, deep breaths and relax your body and mind
5.  Now do slow and deep inhalation for 20 seconds
6.  Hold the breath for the next 20 seconds
7.  Exhale slowly and completely for 20 seconds 

If you are unable to do 20 seconds segment, then start with 5, 7 or 10 seconds and build it up.  For example begin with 5 seconds inhalation, 5 seconds retaining your breath followed by 5 seconds of full exhalation.  Then immediately begin the next cycle.  Try to see if you can inhale, hold breath and exhale for the same amount of time. 

According to Yogi Bhajan, the rate of one breath per minute develops cooperation between the hemispheres of the brain, brings the mind under control of the yogi, and builds intuition.


1.  Calms the mind, experience of tremendous inner peace and tranquility
2.  Gives wisdom and stability, will power
3.  Maintains the brain healthy
4.  Free your mind from fear and worries
5.  Calming of the nervous system and relieves stress
6.  Better working of your respiratory system
7.  Experience meditative states of consciousness


Be kind and mindful to how your body is feeling. Don’t over do. 

Sat Nam -- Cathi

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nadis - Definition and Explanation

Aloha Everyone,

Nadis means “stream” or “movements” and they are a network of subtle channels of the body. Nadis connect at special energy centers or energy vortex in our body called chakras in which energy flows through. In Kundalini Yoga, a nadi means psychic passage of energy which can be compared with nerves in physical body. Tantra Yoga identifies fourteen principal nadis; the following three are most important nadis:

Sushumna – this is the central channel, passes through the spinal column.  Kundalini moves upwards running up the body from just below Muladhara (Root) Chakra to Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra at the top of the head.

Ida nadi is located on the left side of Shushumna and considered as the moon or lunar nadi.  The Ida nadi is white, feminine, cold, passive and physic energy and control mental processes of our personality.  The Ida nadi originates in Muladhara (Root) Chakra and ends in the left nostril. 

Pingala nadi is located on the right side of Shushumna and considered as the solar nadi. The Pingala nadi is red, masculine, active and hot physical energy. The Pingalai nadi originates in Muladhara (Root) Chakra and ends in the right nostril. 

One of the goals of yoga is balancing ida and pingala, the solar and lunar energies that are within us.  This then will allow the awakening of Kundalini which will lead to the awakening of the higher consciousness that is felt at the Sahasrara (Crown) or the Seventh Chakra.  In yoga, we are always looking for a balance between left and right side of the body as well as balance between left and right side of the brain.  When there is balance in the mind, between left and right hemispheres, between ida and pingala then there is also balance in the body. 

All balancing asanas which your attention is focused on your core muscles are helpful in balancing your body and the mind.  Here are some examples:

Garudasana (Eagle pose)
Vrikshasana (Tree pose)
Natarajasana (Dancer  pose)
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Information on the Seven Chakras, please refer to my other chakra entries.

Namaste -- Cathi

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Left Nostril (Ida) Breathing

Aloha Everyone,

The Ida energy, on the left side of the body, is the moon energy.  It is reflective, calming, cooling, feminine and associated with the River Ganges. Ida energy slows you down and helps your body automatically run its day to day jobs of digestion, elimination, sleep cycles and more. The ida is physic energy and control mental processes of our personality.


1)  Sit in a comfortable pose.  Elongate your spine. Eyes closed

2   Simply take your right hand and, block off your right nostril by putting gentle pressure with your right thumb.  Keep the rest of your fingers straight and pointing up towards the sky.  Left hand – Drona Mudra (palms facing down on your left knee.)

3)  With a long, slow, deep breath, gently inhale through your left nostril. 

4)  Follow with a long, slow, complete exhalation through the left nostril.  Begin to relax your body as cooling breaths bring new life into every parts of your body.  Continue to relax deeper and deeper with each inhalation.  Breathe out all tension, stress and disease with each exhalation.

5)  Be mindful of your slow and deep inhalation.  Fill up your lungs to the count of four.

6)  Gentle but complete exhalation as you count to six – eight.

7)   Repeat the cycle of inhaling and exhaling for a total of eight times. Each time you inhale, feel your body relaxing as you fill your lungs. As you exhale, feel the stress exiting your body.

For beginners, if you are timing, do it for 1 minute.  You can eventually increase up to 31 minutes.


  • Sharper, clearer focus of the mind
  •  Helps you achieve deep sleep
  •  Helps you enjoy  deep and full relaxation
  •  Regulates your digestive system

CAUTIONS:  Should be done in class under a guidance of a teacher or experienced yoga students only

Do not attempt the Kundalini left-nostril breathing technique or force air through your nostril if you cannot comfortably breathe through your nose.  Do not over do.

Namaste -- Cathi

Monday, September 16, 2013

12 Things You Can Do To Be Happy And Live Longer

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.  It’s what sunflowers do.”
- Helen Keller


Aloha Everyone,

Are you happy?  I have asked this simple yet profound question to my family, friends, acquaintances and even a total stranger who just happened to occupy the airplane seat next to me.  Some give me an instant and enthusiastic reply, YES absolutely!!!  Others look at me puzzled as if the question requires deep thoughts and soul-searching. Actually, secret to being happy is all about maintaining a positive attitude. 

Here are 12 things you can do to be happy and live longer:

1.  Live in the moment, let go of the past attachments, don’t worry about the uncertainty of our future, stay in present, accept the impermanence of the facts of life

2.  Wake up early, go to bed early, live life with order

3.  Count your blessings, you are perfect, you do not need to change, you already have everything you need

4.  Be grateful to everyone, especially to people who are challenging, they are the one who can help you grow, practice equanimity

5.  Meditate, do physical exercise, eat healthy

6.  Everyday, spend sometime in the nature and spend some time alone to meditate

7.  Let go of your ego, forgo your self importance

8.  Don’t be envious, don’t be jealous, don’t blame your situation on others, accept life as it is

9.  Laugh, dance, sing -- don’t worry about what other people say

10.  Live life honestly, live life simply, live life fully, live life with loving-kindness and compassion

11.  Go travel, see new places, have new experiences, make new friends

12.  Learn something new, do something difficult that would challenge your mind and your body

Namaste -- Cathi

Sadhana for Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Class Students

Aloha Everyone,

In Kundalini Yoga, Sadhana means daily spiritual practice.  It is your personal and individual practice.  Sadhana can be done alone or with a group.  The best time to practice Sadhana is during the “ambrosial hours” (approximately 2 – 3 hours prior to sunrise or when the sun is at a sixty-degree angle to the Earth. This is when the mind is quiet and not yet filled with day to day activities.  The air is clean thus you can enjoy the greatest amount of prana.  The world is still asleep and you will not be disrupted during your meditation.  Light of the sun at dawn is also beneficial to your meditation.  And finally starting the day early with meditation will help you get on the correct path for the rest of the day.

Here is a suggested Sadhana:

1.  Sit up nice and tall.  Your back should be straight, close eyes, relax muscles of your face, body, elongate your spine, lengthen your neck, and chin tuck in slightly about 1/10 of an inch.  Breathe deeply and slowly until it becomes rhythmic and calm. Use Namaste mudra and tune in - ONG NAMO GURUDEV NAMO, chant 3 times

3.  Spinal warm-up series, also I refer to these as Morning Warm Up Series A - Kundalini yoga stomach grinds, yoga camel ride, cat-cow exercise, hands on shoulder twist, alternate shoulder shrugs, yoga shoulder rolls, yoga neck rolls followed by child’s pose, or sit up straight to relax.

3.  Morning Warm Up Series B all done with Breath of Fire.  Modified Rowing, thumbs up, 4 fingers touching, single leg extension, modified bridge pose, stretch pose (hands under your buttocks, palms facing down, modified Tuck Pose, Eagle Pose, Maha Bandha, the Great “Triple” Lock.

Alternative is doing Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) 6 times in a row.

Start with 5, 8, 16, 20 minutes each morning, but just be consistent.  Remember in yoga, doing little is better than none at all. 

Be well, be content, be kind to yourself and others and live a joyful and compassionate life.

Namaste – Cathi

Yogi Bhajan said, “Sadhana.  It’s a committed prayer. It is something which you want to do, have to do, and which is being done by you.  Sadhana is self-enrichment. It is not something which is done to please somebody or to gain something. Sadhana is a personal process in which you bring out your best."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Right Nostril Breathing (Pingala) - Surya Bhedan Pranayama

Aloha Everyone,

The Pingala energy on the right side of the body is the sun energy.  It is active, masculine, and hot physical energy. The Pingala energy increases the Pranic energy that revitalizes the body.


1)  Sit in a comfortable pose.  Elongate your spine. Eyes closed

2)  Right hand – bend index finger and middle finger, press them into the palm of your hand, extend the thumb, using ring finger and pinky close the left nostril.  Left hand – Drona Mudra (palm facing down on your left knee)

3)  With a long, slow, deep breath, gently inhale only through your right nostril using count of four.

4)  Follow with a long, slow, complete exhalation through the right nostril using count of 6 - 8.
5)  Begin to notice new supply of oxygen in your body and removal of carbon dioxide from your body.

6)  Imagine that your blood is being purified of toxins.  Experience and be mindful of your energy level rising.

7)   Repeat the cycle of inhaling and exhaling for a total of eight times.  For beginners, start with 1 minute.  You can eventually increase up to 31 minutes.


  • Increase the body temperature, helps removes the Kafa (mucus) imbalance.
  • Regular practice - used for weight loss
  • Prana increases in the body, increases the vitality
  • Fights depression, low energy
  • Effective for stress management


Should be done in class under a guidance of a teacher or experienced yoga students only
Do not force your breathing.  Do not over do.  Anyone who had recent surgeries including brain, heart, abdominal, etc. make sure to consult your doctor first.

Namaste -- Cathi

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Favorite Meditation Quotations

Aloha Everyone,

Here is a selection of some of my favorite quotes on meditation.  Enjoy!

Namaste – Cathi

“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”

“No great work has ever been produced except after a long interval of still and musing meditation.”
~Walter Bagehot

“If one's life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements. And finally, there is an intense delight in abandoning faulty states of mind and in cultivating helpful ones in meditation.”
~Dalai Lama

“Meditation is the life of the soul: Action, the soul of meditation; and honor the reward of action.”
~Francis Quarles

“I have brought myself, by long meditation, to the conviction that a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and that nothing can resist a will which will stake even existence upon its fulfillment.”
~Benjamin Disraeli

“Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It's like the ultimate rest. It's better than the best sleep you've ever had. It's a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.”
~Hugh Jackman

“We meditate for various reasons. Peace of mind we all badly need. Therefore, when we meditate, either consciously or unconsciously we aim at peace of mind. Meditation gives us peace of mind without a tranquillizer. And unlike a tranquillizer, the peace of mind that we get from meditation does not fade away. It lasts for good in some corner of the inmost recesses of our aspiring heart.”
~Sri Chinmoy

“Mindful meditation has been discovered to foster the ability to inhibit those very quick emotional impulses.”
~Daniel Goleman

“During meditation your metabolism and your breath rate go down to a level of rest twice that of deep sleeps.”
~Mike Love

“Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation.”
~Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Whatever forms of meditation you practice, the most important point is to apply mindfulness continuously, and make a sustained effort. It is unrealistic to expect results from meditation within a short period of time. What is required is continuous sustained effort.”
~Dalai Lama

“Walking is magic. Can't recommend it highly enough. I read that Plato and Aristotle did much of their brilliant thinking together while ambulating. The movement, the meditation, the health of the blood pumping, and the rhythm of footsteps...this is a primal way to connect with one's deeper self.”
~Paula Cole

“If you are doing mindfulness meditation, you are doing it with your ability to attend to the moment.”
~Daniel Goleman

“In meditation we are continuously discovering who and what we are.”
~Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Favorite Quotes from Yoga

Aloha Everyone,

Here is a collection of some of my favorite quotes on yoga.  Enjoy!

Namaste – Cathi

“Yoga meditations and practice methodology promotes a greater awareness and appreciation of the present moment, which calms the mind and allows the peace deep within to surface.”
~Anmol Mehta.

“You must purge yourself before finding faults in others.  When you see a mistake in somebody else, try to find if you are making the same mistake.  This is the way to take judgment and to turn it into improvement.  Do not look at others' bodies with envy or with superiority.  All people are born with different constitutions.  Never compare with others.  Each one's capacities are a function of his or her internal strength.  Know your capacities and continually improve upon them.”
~B.K.S. Iyengar

“The ultimate language of yoga is expressed in doing yoga, a practice that transcends words as we open our lives to living more consciously through the infinite wisdom of the heart.”
~Mark Stephens

“Yoga is really trying to liberate us from ... shame about our bodies. To love your body is a very important thing -- I think the health of your mind depends on your being able to love your body.”
~Rodney Yee

“[Let] go of your attachments: your attachment to being right, to having total control, or to living forever. This process of letting go is integral to the process of becoming whole.”
~Judith Hanson Lasater

“When you listen to yourself, everything comes naturally. It comes from inside, like a kind of will to do something. Try to be sensitive. That is yoga.”
~Petri Räisänen

“Yoga practice can make us more and more sensitive to subtler and subtler sensations in the body. Paying attention to and staying with finer and finer sensations within the body is one of the surest ways to steady the wandering mind.”
~Ravi Ravindra

 “Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul.”
~Amit Ray

“What we're trying to do in yoga is to create a union, and so to deepen a yoga pose is to actually increase the union of the pose, not necessarily put your leg around your head.” ~Rodney Yee

“That's exactly how it is in yoga. The places where you have the most resistance are actually the places that are going to be the areas of the greatest liberation”.
 ~Rodney Yee

“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” ~B.K.S. Iyengar

“As we look deeply within, we understand our perfect balance.  There is no fear of the cycle of birth, life and death.  For when you stand in the present moment, you are timeless.”
~Rodney Yee

“The yogi will tell you that you feel and look as young as your spine is elastic”
 ~Richard Hittleman

“Yoga is not about self-improvement, it's about self-acceptance.”
~Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa

“Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.”

“Yoga doesn't take time, it gives time”
~Ganga White

“Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one's being, from bodily health to self-realization. Yoga means union—the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one's actions.”
~B.K.S. Iyengar

“The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind. “
~Rodney Yee

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bhandas or Lock Mudras

Aloha Everyone,

Bhandas, or lock mudras is the one of the four basic categories of mudras we study in our Kundalini Yoga class.


Category -  Bhanda Mudras (combines mudra and body lock)

Position & techniques – To begin our practice, sit up tall, elongate your spine, relax your abdomen, life your chest and relax your shoulders.

Inhale deeply, exhale completely then holding your breath out contract your rectum, sex organ and then pull back the lower abdomen towards the spine.  All these muscle groups should be contracted at the same time.

UDDIYANA BHANDA: (Diaphragm Lock)
Inhale fully, exhale completely then holding your breath out pull up the abdominal muscles up and pull your stomach in and under the rib cage.

JALANDHARA BHANDA: (Neck Lock or Chin Lock)
Jalandhara Bhanda is practiced every time we sit down for meditations and pranayama.  Lift your chest, pull your chin back gently and bring it about 1/10 of an inch which will create slight tension in the back of the neck and causing a compression of the throat region.

MAHA BHANDA: (Great Lock - the application of all 3 locks at once)
Apply these locks while your breath is held out.  Do as long as comfortable.  Release the locks as you inhale and relax your mind and body.  Begin with 3 rounds of Maha Bhanda then increase to 6, 9 and so on.

  1. Experience deep relaxation, stress relief
  2. Promotes a meditative state of mind
  3. Allows energy to travel up the spine, activating each chakra
  4. Balances the entire endocrine system
  5. Helps improve the digestive, nervous and respiratory systems
Do not over do.  Do not over strain.  Always use common sense.

Sat Nam -- Cathi