I compiled this Yoga for Complete Beginners series after having been taught the Basics by my Guru in Jaipur, India. My Guru, Arvind, was in fact an AirBnB host. Little did I know when I booked this accommodation that I would find a friend who would pass so much wisdom on to me. After practising Yoga with Arvind, this sacred practise received a whole different meaning.
Settling into the routine
As our alarm goes off at 6.30am, I feel very reluctant to get up. I’m tired and tempted to just switch it off and continue to sleep. ‘Get up. Within 10 minutes you’ll be glad to have gotten up!’ I think and so I jump out of bed, grab my yoga mat, waddle up to the rooftop and greet Arvind who is doing some boxing moves as I walk out on to the patio.
Ben is here with me – he seems much better this morning. Not as tired and a bit more healthy than the day before. Besides taking one Paracetamol yesterday, he has not taken any other medication and just sipped on Arvind’s herbal concoctions which seem to have done him wonders.
I admire his immune system. I grew up in a household where medication was treated like chocolate. Whenever I felt aches and pains, my mum would immediately feed me meds. I was unlucky to have had a paediatrician who had very much the same mentality. My mother thought he was great, of course.
We settle onto our mats. At some point, when I struggle to adjust into camel pose (bending back on your knees to touch your ankles), I look over to Ben who is perfectly aligned as if he had done this forever. I keep wiggling barely touching my one ankle, quickly releasing the asana as I have the feeling I’m about to break my back.
‘How on earth does he do that? Yesterday he wasn’t able to do it and today this?’. As we sit back into a cross-legged pose, Arvind talks a bit more about Chakras. “Why is it that on some days you are struggling to adjust to a pose when on other days it is almost easy to do? Why do you think that is? – This is an indication that the particular Chakra for which this pose is meant for, is out of balance – so try, whenever this arises, to push yourself a little bit harder to bring back balance.”
I sit there thinking ‘How much out of balance must you be if you can’t do any of the poses anymore? I used to hover in plank pose for several minutes – now I feel stiff and the simplest of poses ache. Don’t be so hard on yourself…it’ll come back’ I remind myself, in an attempt to practise self-love.
“Today I want to talk about raising your energy and Kundalini. We won’t do any more Yoga poses but I will introduce you to Pranayama – this means literally ‘breath’ and ‘life’”. Pranayama is found to relieve any stress-related disorders – including Asthma, migraine and other ailments.
”Let’s start with the first one – we want to raise the Kundalini from the bottom of the spine up one stage to the next Chakra. If you are pressed for time and there is only one Pranayam you can do, do this one! Sit straight, place your hands in the traditional mudra, close your eyes, breath out one breath per second in a way that your tummy expands. Keep doing this for 300 times!”
Afterwards, we do several other breathing exercises until we have reached the Crown Chakra. These include, an exercise to lock the Kundalini in the solar plexus region and later in the throat chakra. My favourite is the exercise which relates to Yin and Yang – the alternate nostril breathing.
Arvind enlightens us with more of his wisdom “we all know that on some days we love our neighbour and we promise to ourselves to be nice to him. Then all of a sudden we are back to our vicious selves and all the good intentions are gone. This is because we are out of balance – whenever this happens, this is a good exercise to do. Make sure to do it really gentle – don’t operate with force. Be kind to yourself!”
Raising the Kundalini to our Throats involves doing a vocal exercise which already feels less uncomfortable than the Lion Pose from yesterday. I do notice how quiet I am during this exercise – which is not surprising – my shyness and introversion naturally makes this an out-of-my-comfort-zone experience!
As I had read up on my Chakras imbalances I can very much relate to the explanations of an under-active Throat Chakra and imbalances in the Heart Chakra. Camel Pose, Lion Pose, Fish Pose are all asanas I need to practise regularly – as Arvind suggests. Aside from that, I need to wear more green and blue, supposedly, and do sound mediation where I chant either YAM, to balance the heart chakra and HUM, to balance the throat chakra. I feel like proper Hippie already and we aren’t even two months into our trip yet.
I also need to sing, whistle and make any noises with my voice as much as I can. Letting go of past hurts are also part of my regime (easier said than done!). As I’m writing this, I’m already ‘YAM-ing’ away whilst listening to ‘Heart Chakra Meditation Music’ on You Tube. I guess at some point I should try to get myself into some sort of routine incorporating Yoga, breathing exercises and Chakra-specific meditations.
Later that day I ask Arvind “Why do I always have chest problems – bronchitis, pneumonia – and general issues with my lungs” he responds “are you quite a shy and introverted person?” – I stand in front of him and my critical voice in my head answers him ‘well…it’s not hard to guess, is it?’ but I say: “Yes I am”, instead. “I think your heart and throat chakra might be in imbalance. These diseases are quite common if that happens. I think you may have some blockage – your energy is stuck and you need to find a way to raise your energy”.This website explains what blockages in different chakras can result in.
I drift off into my own thoughts and smile ‘with everyday day that passes at the Explorer’s Nest, I explore a little bit more about myself’. I travel deeper within myself!
Have you done Pranayama? What is your experience with raising the Kundalini? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.