Kundalini Yoga: Find the Missing Sock in Your Soul!

By Sariah Sizemore

Housekeeping 

I love it when my house is clean. Everything is in its place and the thin film of dust that covered the tables and countertops has been wiped away exposing vibrant color and shine. The air is fresh and fragrant. As I move around my space, I actually feel the spaciousness inside of myself as a reflection of my external experience. I find things again! I’m no longer irritated and confused when I can’t seem to locate the one knee sock that goes with the other knee sock that perfectly goes with the dress I want to wear. I know, as they say, first world problems, but it can be maddening to not find the missing piece to your ideal outfit. For me, laundry always seems to be my downfall when attempting to keep a tidy home. 

I know you might be thinking that this is a blog on Kundalini yoga and energy so why the heck is she talking about cleaning her house and finding her socks! As I was contemplating what I wanted to share with you about my experience with Kundalini, I thought a lot about how developing a relationship with the life force in myself, the Kundalini energy, has allowed me to more directly clean, clear, and organize my internal experience.

Through practicing Kundalini Yoga, I have cultivated more spaciousness within myself. I have more access to the information my mind, body, and spirit has to offer me. Ultimately, I experience more clarity and awareness so I’m able to find the “sock” within myself, or I should say my soul, that completes my whole self.  

 

Kundalini Yoga

Yes, I’m saying that Kundalini Yoga will help you find the missing sock in your soul! It is an ancient technology that works to cleanse, balance, and activate the self-healing superpowers inherent within you. We humans are pretty complex beings with a lot of bells and whistles. The amount of information we process is mind blowing, literally, and we manage to do all this processing as we accomplish our daily tasks at work, spend time with our families, travel, plan for the future and tend to all of the other threads that weave our lives together. The way we manage all of this data is through the subconscious mind, and it’s called sub – conscious for a reason…it’s not conscious. If all of the info we take in on a daily basis was in the forefront of our consciousness it would in fact blow our minds. However, this does not mean that it is not contained within us. 

The Subconscious Mind and Autonomic Nervous System

Our subconscious is associated with the autonomic nervous system that manages all of the functions our bodies carry out without us having to think. For example, we don’t consciously tell our heart to beat-beat-beat, it just does that. We don’t have to tell our food to metabolize, or our cells to regenerate. These things just happen and they happen through the silent work of the autonomic nervous system. Our nervous system keeps us alive and functioning on all levels and using the subconscious, records all of the data it needs to diligently perform that duty.  Sounds good right?! Thank you Autonomic Nervous system! 

So what does all of this have to do with Kundalini Yoga and finding our socks? As evolving humans, our physiology is constantly changing to meet the needs of the modern environment we live in. Unfortunately, we haven’t quite managed to sync up. Actually, we haven’t changed that  much since the time of the cave man except for the ability to use language, which happened about 4,000 years ago. When we examine how our autonomic nervous system works, we gain some insight into this fact. The nervous system is categorized into two different functions: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” mechanisms in our system. For example, if we are in the jungle and see a sabertooth tiger, this will activate your sympathetic nervous system which in turn fires up everything in your body to run or pick up a big stick and fight! The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for resting, regeneration, and relaxing. 

The subconscious starts recording information from the time we are in the womb and stores info on how to stay safe, comfortable, and out of danger. It saves the threatening experiences, imprinting trauma right into your system, so you will be activated to move away from that same danger again through the sympathetic nervous system. The problem is that in modern society we experience so much stress and pressure that our nervous system’s ability to recognize a real threat can be off base. 

Is it a tiger about to eat you, or just your boss breathing down your neck to finish a deadline? Our ability to switch between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system becomes abnormal when we experience our every day environment as a threatening place. This contributes to fear, confusion, disorientation, and anger. When spending more time activated into sympathetic nervous system response, our adrenal glands excrete high levels of adrenaline and cortisol hormones. These hormones increase blood flow, heart rate, and send more nutrients to our muscles so we can get the power we need to escape the threat. The problem is that it takes away resources from other bodily functions and that leads to lack of sleep, irregular metabolism, fatigue, and dis-ease in the body. 

When we are inundated with information that is not being processed appropriately and our nervous system is not regulated, we often have an experience of feeling blocked, cluttered, or not having enough space to execute on the things we want to accomplish. Fear can be a debilitating emotion and when you mix that with a lack of physical energy and resources, struggling may be more of your experience than fresh energy and spaciousness. Our minds may feel foggy, memory slow, and our ability to connect with ourselves and others becomes more difficult. When all of this is happening inside of us, it is very much like having a messy home with dust covering our color and shine and it’s very hard to find that missing sock or perhaps even know what we are looking for! 

Kundalini, The Healing Life Force Energy

Practicing Kundalini Yoga infuses you with fresh life force energy and regulates the nervous system. It is a practice that cultivates awareness and through that awareness, you have more choice in how to respond to your environment instead of being in the reactionary place of fight or flight. You are able to recognize the triggers that happen in your everyday experience that re-stimulate you into experiencing the trauma of the past, and consciously clear them instead of having them lay dormant in the subconscious continuously activating fear and protection. Soon your experience becomes more neutral, you are more embodied and present, and have more space to bring forth creativity from a deeper connection with the soul and our whole self. 

Kundalini YogaKundalini Yoga combines all of the aspects of yoga practice: physical, breath, sound, service, and intention to quickly and powerfully realign the energetic centers in the body connecting you with your whole self. It is a quantum technology that if practiced regularly will give you the ability to transcend time and space and create the life you want to have through the power of vision and directed positive thought. The life force energy, or Kundalini, moves from the base of the spine, through concentrated energy centers called the chakras up to the crown of the head and out into the aura, the electromagnetic field that surrounds the body. You can think of this energy as a healing salve that washes through entire system to regenerate you – mind, body, and spirit. This practice unlocks you in such a way where old trauma is brought up from the subconscious to the conscious so it can be healed and cleared. If you are looking for a yoga practice that gives you the full package of physical, mental, emotional, and nervous system fitness, give Kundalini Yoga a try. Because it’s so powerful, you might have a range of experiences with it. Sometimes it’s pure bliss and at times as it wears away the layers of fear and protection, it’s uncomfortable. Practicing yoga teaches you how to stay present with that uncomfortableness, however. In allowing that stuff to come up and move, you experience more presence, liberation, and ultimately more joy and expansiveness in your life. 

sariahheadshot

Want to learn more about Kundalini? Listen to Sariah speak further on the Spirituality 101 Podcast.

Please join Sariah at Namaste Grand Lake for weekly Kundalini Yoga classes and monthly workshops and events. You can see her schedule and preregister for class here. Sariah is a life coach offering private Kundalini Yoga sessions as a tool for quickly moving through the blocks that hold one back from experiencing a fully expressed and joyful life. Please visit her web site at ritualwork.com

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Savasana as a Tool for Less Stress

Over Twired
By Vickie Russell Bell

How twired are you? First things first, what is twired? Twired = tired + wired. And it’s an epidemic in our society. We are running on empty. Some of us go to bed too late, don’t get enough sleep and then run on adrenaline all day. Others don’t sleep well (due to hormones, stress, alcohol) and then wake up, and move caffeinated and wired through the day. We don’t know how to rest. No one taught us. We think that zoning out to TV, or answering emails on the couch while we down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, or playing candy crush on our ipad is rest. Think again. Rest involves stopping and we don’t do that well. Some of us are so twired, we’re afraid that if we stop, we may not be able to start again (you know who you are!)

Being busy is the new addiction, and it’s actually a control mechanism that keeps us from feeling. It keeps the fear and the loneliness below the surface. Stopping to rest can be downright frightening. It might mean that we tap into a part of ourselves that we’ve denied and kept hidden for a long time. Stopping and feeling requires that we wake up.

So, how can we learn to rest? Yoga and savasana to the rescue!

Restorative Yoga and Savasana
Here’s What You Do:

Set a timer for 15-20 minutes. Place a folded blanket under your head as a pillow and a roll under your lower thighs/knees (or put your legs up on a chair or your bed). Place your arms a little away from your sides. Let the weight of your body drop into the floor. Notice your breath. Soften something that feels tense. Do nothing but rest. Attempt to relax, and stay awake. Feel + breathe + be.

Savasana lacks ambition. Savasana is receptive. Savasana is soft and kind. Savasana is about being and not about doing. Savasana is the practice of deliberate stillness. Savasana is the antidote to twired. 15-20 minutes will radically shift your nervous system. You will feel more relaxed, more at ease, more peaceful. The more you practice the easier it becomes, and it will change your life. Your friends, family and co-workers will thank you!

Want More? Try the 30-Day Challenge: 

For the next month 30 days, do 15-20 minutes of savasana every day, once a day. Drop the twired – be more at peace – get to know yourself. I promise you won’t regret it! (Oh yeah, let us know how it goes in the comments below…!)

Go Further: 

Dive deeper into Restoratives and their benefits for life with Vickie in her upcoming Restorative Yoga Training, Level 1+2, July 19-22, 2019. Get all the details here.

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Active Twist / Passive Twist

What is the difference between an active yoga pose vs. passive yoga pose?

Most of us learned to use our hands to push and pull us into a twist, for example, in Easy Sitting Twist with one hand on our knee and the other on the floor. This is using our passive range of motion, which involves adding an outside force in addition to using the muscles needed to create an action at a joint. In a twist this is rotation between spinal bones. In the seated and standing twists, that outside force is usually your hands and arms. In other types of poses, like forward or side bends, there can be other outside forces.

When we move the muscles in the torso to twist without using our hand to push or pull on anything, we are engaging only our active range of motion of our spine.

This is the actual amount of movement that our spinal rotating muscles can create on their own, including both the deep rotator muscles, such as the rotator muscles that are present in all spinal regions, and more superficial muscles, such as your middle abdominals (the obliques), as well as others.

Doing an active twist versus a passive twist is beneficial, because we are building strength in the rotating muscles.

And, because those muscles attach directly to our spinal bones, they can also help to keep the spinal bones stronger. We are also more likely to avoid over-rotating our spinal bones. Over-rotating, which can lead to soft tissue or bone injury, is more likely to occur in a passive range of motion where we are involving the hands and arms more actively in creating our twists.

To feel the difference between your active and passive range of motion, you can try a little experiment.

Active Twist vs Passive Twist

Compare how it feels to actively twist, vs passively twist, in this gentle therapeutic offering with Sierra Wagner Sierra Laurel Yoga

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Thursday, April 4, 2019

1. Sit in Easy Sitting pose or another seated posture where you can easily find an inner lift through the center channel of your body. You may want to sit on a folded blanket or other lift to help you find that length in the spine. 

2. Bring your arms into Cactus Arms. This means take them out to your sides at shoulder level, with your elbows bent to 90 degrees and your fingers pointing to the sky.

3. Slowly rotate your upper belly, chest, and head to the right as you exhale until you cannot go any further, noting where you are. Consciously contract the back and ab muscles. This is your active range of motion.

4. Inhale and turn back to center, lengthening your spine again.

5. Exhale and turn to the left in the same way you did on the first side.

6. Repeat this a few more times on each side while moving with your breath. 

7. When you are back on the right side, bring your hands to your knees and the floor. Ground down into the hands as you inhale and lift the spine. Then, slowly push with your back hand and pull with your front hand to see how much further you are able to turn. This extra distance is your passive range of motion.

8. Release to center and repeat on the second side.

Learn more about Sierra on her website Sierra Laurel Yoga, or read the interview with her on our blog. Check her class schedule here.

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Mama Needs a Minute

Mama Needs a Minute is a short prenatal yoga sequence created by mama and Namaste teacher Ashley West Roberts. This short but powerful practice is aimed at taking a break throughout the day when you may feel wiped out, overwhelmed or simply in need of reprieve.

Try this practice any time of day and focus on rooting down through your strong legs to get grounded in to this special time.

Use props like blankets, blocks and eye pillows to help yourself find comfort in each pose and hold each pose for at least 8 breaths.

You’ll feel good as new (and baby will too) when you’re done with this sequence.

Mama-Needs-a-Minute

Mamas remember, your practice should support you. Practice when you feel up for it but be gentle with yourself. Practice one or all of these poses to reconnect with yourself and your baby.

TIP: Use the wall in standing balances like tree pose to practice accepting support when you need it.

For more information on the full Prenatal and Postnatal offering at Namaste, including workshops and classes, please visit our PeriNatal Offerings page, where we have consolidated information on classes, workshops and more just for mamas and mamas-to-be.

For another quick yoga sequence check out Ashley’s recent post 5 Minutes to Move.

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Mudras for Focus with Sonya Genel

Follow along with Sonya Genel as she takes you on a mudra journey…

to cultivate focus and life energy.

A mudra practice has many physical, mental, and emotional benefits. They work with the subtle energetic body and they are a great ally on the spiritual path!

Liked this practice? Join Sonya Genel for her upcoming workshop Beyond Asana, on Saturday, September 29th.

She also teaches public classes at Namaste Rockridge on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7pm. Sign up for class here.

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Yoga: It is an Honor to Meet You

Honor Yourself with Rachel Heron

Rewind…October 1992

A rainy day in New York City. I walk into the Jivamukti Yoga Center on 2nd Avenue and 10th Street. The walls of the yoga studio are purple. There is an altar with pictures of Ram Dass, the Beatles, Jesus, and almost every guru in every lineage of every eastern mystical tradition. The heavy scent of Nag Champa incense is in the air. I am transported from the chaotic streets of Manhattan into…I don’t know what. A familiar feeling of recognition and home in myself, a feeling that I am absolutely in the right place…and I have no idea why.

25 years later…

Honor Yourself with Rachel Heron

 

My perspective is this:

Hatha yoga (the physical practice) is a gateway toward the more contemplative practices.

It grounds us in the physicality of being human. We learn to breathe and feel. We learn to tolerate a certain amount of discomfort, not as a value or an attachment to pain, but as an inevitable aspect of life and a way to cultivate our inner witness.

Honor Yourself with Rachel Heron

I teach from a place of honoring.

• I honor myself and what is true for me about the depth of this practice and the related practice of seated meditation

• I honor my students by offering gentle guidance and encouragement to explore their bodies and minds without bias or judgement

• I honor what is profound about embodying presence, and experiencing ourselves in physical form

• I honor the limits of our physical bodies and guide practitioners toward exploring meditation and other contemplative practices

Please join me in this inquiry. I look forward to meeting you, exactly as you are.

Honor Yourself with Rachel HeronRachel Heron will be teaching our upcoming 3-week Intro to Yoga Series.  She teaches from a place of deep intuition and a desire to share the potency of the practice.  “Yoga has given me many things, but one of its greatest benefits has been increasing my ability to tolerate challenge and it’s accompanying uncomfortable sensations.  I believe that when we can stay present in a pose, truly present to the fluctuations of energy, sensation, breath, thinking-we are able to take that experience into our day-to-day lives, and find a more harmonious relationship to the mystery of life unfolding.”

The Intro to Yoga series offers basic instruction of this contemplative movement practice, and the chance to explore the foundational elements of breath and mindful awareness. It also provides a way to become familiar with our studios and guide you toward the appropriate next level of classes going forward.

We’ll create a safe space where you can connect with yourself in movement and meditation, and be able to ask questions of a Namaste teacher (me!) who loves introducing people to this life-changing practice. Please arrive a few minutes early to settle in and lay down your mat. We invite you to have a cup of tea before or after class, and spend some time orienting to the studio.  Learn more about the Intro Series here.

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Kundalini for Transformation

Kundalini Yoga for transformation is a natural use of the medium, since kundalini means “creative potential.” It is a powerful form of yoga that can lead to transformation.

We wanted to know more.

We checked in with Sariah Sizemore for more details and to gain a deeper understanding.

“What can one expect from a Kundalini workshop?” Hear her description in her own words below.

 

Sariah’s offerings are an opportunity to heal in a focused way. Her upcoming event works with Kundalini Yoga and Breathwork to heal habitual unwanted patterns, however those may be revealed in your life.

Step 1: Identify Unhealthy Patterns

Take a moment to write down one or two habits that you want to release. These can be addictions like drinking or eating unhealthy food, or they could be more subtle patterns like watching too much TV, working too much, or getting angry while driving. Get clear on the pattern that you are looking to let go of.

Step 2: Breathwork Practice to Release Unwanted Patterns

 

Step 3: Join us

Sign up for Sariah’s upcoming workshop Healing Habitual Patterns: Kundalini Yoga and Shamanic Breathwork, on Sunday, July 15 to go deeper into the realm of transformation.

 

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Yoga for Cancer Support

Yoga can help reduce anxiety and improve physical wellness in our stressful everyday.  The effects can perhaps be even more pronounced when one is in the experience of living with cancer.  Although not a cure, yoga can help soothe the nervous system and encourage the body to relax and heal.  Gentle movements linked with breath can help practitioners cope with challenges and uncertainty.  Try this home practice to help with your journey.

You can also catch Poh for weekly classes:

Sun 9 – 10.20AM Yoga for Beginners
Grand Lake
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The Perfect Prenatal Practice

Preparing for a new baby may be one of the biggest events you’ll experience in a lifetime. As a woman, your body is changing constantly while mentally you prepare for birth and what a brand new member of your family means to your way of life.

In the midst of it all yoga can be a valuable tool for birthing mothers and their partners to remain calm, grounded and present during the transitions of pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood. This simple five-minute flow from Namaste teacher and new mom Annemaria Rajala is perfect for sneaking in a few moments of self-care. Enjoy this prenatal yoga practice in the morning, evening, or even on a lunch break! Plus, check out this weekend’s upcoming Prenatal Partners Workshop with Annemaria and Julia Anne Stathis!

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Liberate the Neck and Shoulders

by Poh Teng

Do you have achy neck and shoulders from too much driving?  Me too! Try these easy-to-do yoga postures to create some space in the neck and shoulders and relieve neck and shoulder pain.  I commute four times a week from Oakland to San Jose and these postures are a part of my self-care routine.  Try holding each posture for 5-8 deep breaths.  Remember to practice on both sides of the body.

Neck and Shoulders Yoga with Poh Teng

 

 

1203_nourishyourheart-social-400Don’t miss Poh’s next workshop:

Nourish your Heart with Reba Gray and Poh Teng

Sat Date: Dec 03, 2016 From: 1:00 PM4:00 PM Location: Rockridge

 

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