"The mind is given as a tool to you. Mind is
not master. Mind was given to you to serve you. You develop all
other facilities of the world- electric instruments, cars, air
conditioners- but the biggest computer you have is your mind.
You never developed it"
So said Yogi Bhajan, who was the leader of
the Kundalini Yoga movement in the US, in Feb 1978.
In the 35 years he was in the United States
(he passed away October 6, 2004) he proved the power of what one
mind could do and taught this idea of self-reliance and growth
through Kundalini Yoga sets and meditations. Not only did he do
that, he started the American Sikh movement and 27 successful
businesses, one being the Yogi Tea Company that many of you may
be familiar with. He practiced what he preached and wanted his
students to be, as he said, ten time greater he, to be full of
In Kundalini Yoga practice the job of the
teacher, according to Yogi Bhajan, is to provide the tools for
the student to feel elevated, by allowing their perception to
These tools are both physical and mental, such as specific sets
like transforming the Lower Triangle to the Upper Triangle, a
challenging series of yoga movements, sound and breath, that
opens the energy from the base of the spine, hips and navel
(lower triangle) to through the heart to the Upper Triangle,
which is the throat, third eye and crown.
Other forms of yoga can be transforming
physically as well as mentally also. There are numerous stories
of people healed from physical ailments and injuries through
various forms of yoga. Iyengar is particularly known for its
focus on alignment while Kundalini is known for adjusting
imbalances in our energy and the chakras, a subtler but also
important thing!! Ashtanga is a very physical practice that in
the long run with patience and practice can help our body
realign and become strong and supple. Because the practice is so
physical the mind once again plays an important part, as does
the breath. The breath can be extremely helpful for anxiety
disorders and specific breathing techniques can be practiced for
this and other mind-related transformation.
"The job of the mind is to think. The mind
controls the entire human presence and the way one progresses to
get out of the cycle of fortune and misfortune. You must have
control of your mind. Our basic problem is we do not know how to
concentrate. You have to have some time to be all to yourself,
where there is nobody else, you have to work with yourself."
Yogi Bhajan said in Dec 2001.
Yoga is a way to teach us to concentrate the
mind, to transform our thoughts, patterns and habits. In
Ashtanga Yoga, for example, if we are to reap the benefits of
proper alignment adjustment, it is especially important to
concentrate on each move, how you move and move specifically
with the breath (as we also do in Kundalini Yoga but often with
repetitive movements). This is a great beginning point for
transforming yourself through Yoga practice, taking the time to
breathe in a relaxed manner, never mind the pace of the
In order to transform our lives through yoga
(and some people say it does this simply by making them more
mindful) it is helpful to use the tool of meditation as well to
alter our old ways of thinking and being. Often we are forced to
transform our lives through loss, pain or fear. Whatever the
pain, be it physical or mental, Yoga can help us reach deep
within to draw the lesson and learning. There is another set in
Kundalini Yoga called Meditation to release Anger, Sadness and
Fear. Much of the work in this set is for the Navel, where we
often hold our anger and fear. It also works on the Heart, which
is supported by the Navel. Processing grief in the Heart can
transform the energy into acceptance and willingness to love and
be loved. Forty days is the suggested an ideal time of length to
practice Kundalini Yoga.
Sometimes we make all sorts of changes in an
effort to transform our lives- change our diet, our job, our
spouse, our weight, our hair color, the type of yoga we do! -
Only to find some of our deep-rooted unsettling issues still
present. The subconscious is a powerful thing that holds it in
samskaras, issues from our Karma and past lives. Here is a
powerful kriya (completed action) to help you break through and
combat the negative effects of the subconscious mind, to
transform on a very deep level. Try it at first a few times,
don't give up, and build up the pace to 3, 5, 11 minutes or
SUDARSHAN CHAKRA KRIYA :
Sit with a straight spine. Look at the tip of the nose or eyes
closed, as you prefer.Block the right nostril with the right
thumb. Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril. Hold
the breath. Mentally chant Wahe Guru 16 times, pumping the navel
point (below the belly button) 3 times with each repetition,
once on Wa, once on Hey and once on GURU (total of 48 pumps). If
this is too challenging, pump once per Wahe Guru for a total of
16 pumps. Unblock the right nostril. Use the right index or
pinkie finger to block off the left nostril and exhale slowly
and deeply through the right nostril. Continue this way.
This literally clears your internal garbage,
purifying and giving you pranic (life force energy of the
breath) power. Start gradually and even if you can work up to 31
or even 62 minutes a day it is good.
A simpler task to transform how you walk in
the world is simply to do 3-sun salutation a day. A woman who
came to my retreat this past summer told a great story I have
recounted often about a man who came to Yoga class very stiff.
The teacher told him to do 3 sun salutations a day. Five years
later he returned to class and his body was totally supple and
strong. The teacher asked what he had done and he replied he had
done what she said, so never underestimate your ability to
transform and the power words have to do that (Yogi Bhajan often
spoke to us about the power of the word). If you have not the
time in the day for sun salutations or meditation then become
mindful of the words in your mind and that come out of your
mouth. For example instead of " I just don't have enough time"
substitute " I have time enough to do all that is important to
"Do not let the mind dwell in thoughts of
what is good and bad. Just relax and forget that you are
meditating. Do not desire to become a Buddha. If you do you will
never become one." Anonymous.
Finally Yoga can transform many areas of our
lives, even our relationships and so I would like to close with
an e-mail a student sent me after my first class teaching her
this fall in NY. Never underestimate the power of timing!
Patience pays, another Yogi Bhajanism, and use those forward
bends to remind us of this!
Good to see you. Last Sunday a funny incident took place in our
class. There was a woman in that class that I recognized but
couldn't figure out from where and this was driving me crazy!
She called me yesterday, as she is a client I worked with years
ago and for whatever reason she stopped speaking with me and
taking my phone calls (she and I had dinner several dinners
together, too). She recognized me but she couldn't place me
either and then she heard you say my name- so she rang to say it
was she! I asked her why she stopped speaking to me as I left
her a message years ago stating that "if there is something I
did or said to offend you then I am sorry, please call me to
discuss" but I never heard from her. She said she has had issues
staying connected but that yoga brought us together - how random
So keep looking for those unusual
experiences, big or small, as they make us remember the wonder
of life and each other.