Shiva is one of the three main Gods in the Hindu Pantheon; he is the God of destruction and transformation. Shiva is also the God of Yoga, as the goal of Yoga is transformation; transformation of our bodies into healthy, flexible, strong temples for our soul and mind, and transformation of our „monkey mind“ into a peaceful, stable, relaxed and joyful state, allowing us to perceive life as a beautiful, growing and flowing ride despite of all challenges and ongoing changes. So what can we do to achieve this? Of course, Practice Yoga... :-) But what does that mean?
Most commonly when we talk about Yoga, we think of practicing Asanas (Yoga postures) and maybe doing some breathing (Pranayama) along with it. And thats fine as a good Asana session can already leave us feeling more relaxed, more balanced and connected to ourself and others. But gaining this stability in ourself through the Asana practice is only one of the paths of Yoga. There are three additional paths to reach the same goal. Karma Yoga (selfless service), Jnana Yoga (studying of spiritual scriptures) and Bhakti Yoga (devotional service). Depending on our own personality or life circumstances one may work better for us than the other.
An important part of Bhakti Yoga is the repeating or chanting of „Mantras“. Loosely translated, Mantra means: „protection of the mind against negative thoughts/forces“. Mostly we try to protect our house, our money, our children against negative influences, but what about our mind? Is our own mind sometimes not the most harmful and our worst enemy? Chanting a „Mantra“ can help us attain peace of heart and mind by cultivating the positive qualities represented by a specific Hindu deity.
As mentioned, Shiva is the God of destruction and transformation. By chanting his mantra OM NAMAH SHIVAYA we literally try to build and cultivate in ourself the power to destroy our negative thoughts like greed, anger, jealousy and to transform them into postive ones like tolerance, humility, compassion etc. which we then have to cultivate and carry in our heart in order to bring our inner light to shine. Only when we „destroy“ first, i.e. when we let go and make space, we have room to fill our cup again. Clarity of the mind opens our third eye, our eye of Intuition. NAMAH and also NAMAS means prostrating or bowing (the English word „name“ has its roots here). OM NAHMAH means „to bow in the presence of Om“, i.e. „in the presence of the primordial sound“; thus OM NAMAH SHIVAYA may loosely be translated as „in the presence of the primordial sound I bow to you Shiva“.
In the Yoga tradition using mantras or chanting is the royal path to transforming our mind as it works over emotions and thus touches the very essence of our being. So perhaps you may want to give it a try, see what a bit of meditation and listening to or even singing this mantra may do for you. Be open, be surprised.... J
check out the video below:
blogpost by Kathrin
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 10 years now. For the first 8 years, you can say that I was pretty much obsessed with the power Vinyasa style. More recently however, I’ve begun to dabble in various different styles of yoga including, but not limited to Iyengar, Sivananda Hatha Yoga, Jivamukti, Vini Yoga, Yin Yoga and Anusara. Some may say that being involved in the different styles and different philosophies waters down my commitment to each, but I disagree. Students come to my classes from different backgrounds and practices. I want to understand where they come from and what they practice. I love incorporating aspects of the different philosophies into my teachings because I believe there’s truth in all of them. That’s why, when Yuri approached me last week to ask whether he could teach a Kundalini Yoga class, I jumped at the opportunity to again expand my knowledge and understanding of yet another yoga perspective.
Of all the yoga styles and philosophies that I’ve encountered, Kundalini Yoga has always peaked my curiosity. It’s quite different from the Hatha and Ashtanga yoga lineage. I’ve also heard the claim that one Kundalini class is something like ten times more effective than other forms of yoga in stimulating change in a person’s life. So yesterday morning, I went to find out for myself.
Before I get into the specifics of the practice, I’d like to clear up one minor detail – one that tends to confuse people. As the goal of all yoga practices is the union of the Shiva and Shakti aspects, representing consciousness and creation, which is triggered by the awakening of Kundalini energy, a dormant potential force that lies at the base of the spine, all yoga is essentially Kundalini yoga. However, in this case, I’m referring to the “Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan,” who brought the practice to the west in the late 1960s.
Now, to the practice. We began with a short meditation while repeating the mantra “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” to open the heart and empower us through our practice. Then began a series of short repetitive movements accompanied by the “breath of fire,” which is a little bit like controlled hyperventilation. I found the movements to be similar to some of the Vini Yoga movements that I’ve practiced before, but much faster. A simple example of one of these movements is taking your fingers to the shoulders with the elbows lifted to shoulder height. Inhale as you turn the entire torso, head and neck to the left. Exhale as you turn to the right. Now repeat this fast while using the breath of fire for about a minute and a half. Try it. It’s a lot harder than it seems, but somewhere between the burning shoulders, the focus on the area of the third eye and the breath of fire, I felt energy being released inside my body.
Okay, maybe it was the light-headedness that resulted from the hyperventilation, but through the movements and breathing and focus, I experienced a complete release of all the tension that I’d been holding on to all week. I shrugged it out through my shoulders, chopped down my obstacles with an invisible sword, released my fears through my breath and let all the worries escape by focusing on the light between my eyes. When it was all done, I laid down in Savasana and let the emptiness sweep over me.
I won’t vouch that everyone who attended class yesterday morning felt like this, although I’ll bet there are at least a couple of sore shoulders out there. Do I think I’ll be enlightened ten times faster? I’m not sure, but I do know that this certainly will not be my last Kundalini Yoga class. I’d like to thank Yuri for teaching such a great class!
Blog post by Julie (juliehana.com)