Monday, August 31
Both evening classes were dedicated to our friend's mother, who is vey ill. We wish you peace, M.C.!
The 6:15 Gentle Beginning class was about cooling down. We sat crossed legged and visualized walking our awareness up the ladder of the spine, lifting each "rung", or vertebra up off the one beneath it; this created length and awareness and prepped us for practice. We sat here for about 5 minutes. Then came chandra bhedana pranayama. Last month we did a lot of sitali; both are cooling and mellowing breathing exercises.
Chandra bhedana means "to pass through the moon". In it, we inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right, continuing in that loop for a couple of minutes. It's a digital pranayama, meaning the index finger and thumb of the right hand control the opening and closing of the nostrils. We did between 3 and 5 minutes.
Baddha konasana, sitting with the souls of the feet together and the knees wide, followed. We engaged mulha bandha on exhale; mulha bandha is similar to practicing kegals. The pose tones the kidneys and brings circulation to the contents of the pelvis. Then we straightened the legs, keeping them wide, and practiced side stretches over each leg, raising the opposite arm and spinning the belly toward the sky. It's called ardha upavistha konasana; that was followed by upavistha konasana, coming forward through both legs. But we prepped for these by simply sitting long and tall , balanced over the sitbones with the legs in this position. We returned to baddha konasana, interwove the toes, and drew the heart way out over the toes in a long forward folding stretch.
It was then time to stand. Tadasana and urdvha hastasana reminded us to maintain a long spine and brought energy to the upper back and shoulders. All these were perfect preps for trikonasana, the triangle pose. We practiced twice - once in the regular fashion and once with the top arm wrapped around the back of the waist to stretch the chest and shoulder.
Chest expansion was done 3 times. Inhaling, we clasped hands and reached back; exhaling, we bent the knees and folded forward, resting the ribs on the thighs and staying for 3 breaths. The standing sequence ended with uttanasana, the classic standing forward fold.
Heather L., a student teacher who was assisting me, passed out bolsters and we lied back in chest expander, allowing the bolster to support us along the length of the spine. This was our back bend. It's always a favorite in this class! We used the bolster again in child's pose, lying over it.
Bharadvajasana, a classical and beautiful twist, came next. Then Heather taught janu sirsasana and paschimottanasana expertly. We ended with more chandra bhedana, 2 or 3 minutes, and an OM meditation. It's the 1/2 meditation. In it, you listen to the silent sound of OM on the exhale; and on the inhale you can do whatever you want! Eventually, the mind decides to stay with OM on the inhale as well, since doing so was so peaceful. It's a simple and lovely way to start meditating with OM.
Savasana and closing ended our practice.
The Kundalini yoga class at 7:45 came from the book, Sexuality and Spirituality. We did sets for the pituitary and pineal glands. The pituitary is also known as the master gland because it produces hormones which support the function of all the other endocrine glands, as well as producing human growth hormone. The pineal secretes melatonin and seratonin. These were intersting and fun sets. I'll write here just the pineal gland set:
ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO (I honor the Guru within and around me.)
1. Interlace fingers overhead in Venus Kyiya (right thumb on top of left for women; other way for me) and bend elbows lightly as if you are embracing your arc line. Try to pull the hands apart with long, deep breathing, inhale SAT and exhale NAM. 2 minutes.
2. Meditate on center of top of head (sahasrara chakra). 5 minutes.
3. Same arm position, but interlace fingers and streth thumbs back as far as you can. 2 1/2 minutes.
4. same as 2.
5. same arm position, thumbs as in the first exercise, stretch the index fingers up toward the sky for 2 1/2 minutes.
6. same as 2 and 4.
7. Stretch arms overhead straight, open fingers apart, arms shoulder distance apart, breath of fire for 3 minutes.
8. Meditate on crown of head as done throughout sequence.
We rested and then began a healing meditation, the last few minutes dedicated to M.C.