Lets Get Started!
Welcome. I am so delighted that you’ve made the choice to take part in this adventure of energy and awakening. You’ve been called by your divine inner light, the life force within you that holds the power to transform every part of your life.
As an Energy Practitioner, I offer you these lessons on awakening your energetic pathways so that you can open to and experience kundalini every day. These lessons do not follow a particular format. Rather, they are offerings and practices on how to awaken or re-member another part of yourself. Beyond the mind and into the heart, you will find this extraordinary part of you that is always waiting to be discovered.
We are all such unique individuals, each having our own expressions and energy. These teachings honour that uniqueness and therefore include suggestions on how to find your own path within the energy of kundalini. This discovery is yours to find – to work with, to play with, and to expand into.
Also, these lessons are heart-based kundalini energy practices, I believe that all healing and energy work – as well as living your truth – begins with the heart.
Now, tune into whatever is calling for your time, attention, and care at this moment in your life. What are the circumstances, situations, or patterns that you would like to change? It’s probably safe to assume that you have a lot going on-responsibilities, obligations, projects, goals, dreams, and desires galore.
As you begin to set off on your self-paced kundalini program, it’s helpful to identify some of the specific motivating factors in your life. Take a moment to write down on a piece of paper, or in your journal, the top three things that would most benefit by you having more vital life force energy elegantly moving through your body and soul. These could be a combination of things: a goal you want to achieve, a habit you want to release, a conflict you would like to resolve, an opportunity you’d like to allow, a situation you wish to transform, and so on.
What Is Kundalini?
Kundalini is a Sanskrit term first used by the Vedics thousands of years ago. The word “Kundalini” refers to the primordial power, the origin of all energy. The term is thought to have originated from the Sanskrit word Kunda, which means “deep pit, cavity,” or from the word Kundal, which literally translates to “coiled one” (that which is coiled). It is frequently shown as a three and a half times coiled sleeping serpent. The serpent represents awareness in all of the world’s oldest mystic traditions. These three coils stand for:
- Three Mantras of OM – past, present and future
- Three Gunas, or states of consciousness – waking, sleeping and dreaming
- Three types of experiences – subjective, sensual and absence of experience
The half coil is the symbol of transcendence. Altogether, the coils express the total experience of the Universe.
When activated, this potent energy flows upward through our chakras or energy centres. Moving through the nadis, channels of light that are equivalent to the Chinese meridians, kundalini swims its way toward the seventh chakra, the crown chakra, which lies atop the head. Here the feminine principle merges with the masculine principle, where the promise of enlightenment is fulfilled.
Kundalini was originally a study of the science of energy and spiritual philosophy. In ancient times, royalty would sit with Kundalini Masters to hear the ancient scientific teachings of kundalini and spiritual visions. Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini to our western culture and transformed it into the beautiful practice with ancient knowledge and the modern practicality that it is today, making it accessible to all.
Kundalini energy is the ultimate life-force energy. It is the source of our creative power, spiritual gifts, and divine feminine energy. Practicing Kundalini awakening is a tool to expand consciousness and reach a state of lightness, joy, and boundless love. Kundalini pulls the energy that lies dormant at the base our spine up to the crown of our heads, creating an upward flow of energy and balancing our chakras and energetic bodies.
Kundalini allows for the free flow of energy up through the chakras, leading to an expanded state of consciousness.
What is a kundalini awakening?
According to Tantra, kundalini energy rests like a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. When this dormant energy flows freely upward through the seven chakras (energy centres) and leads to an expanded state of consciousness, it’s known as a kundalini awakening.
A kundalini awakening is a remarkably powerful spiritual experience, one that yogis and practitioners spend years preparing for. The experience can happen intentionally through practices like meditation, pranayama, yoga, and prayer, or it can happen without warning. This type of awakening is considered to be fairly common in the spiritual world, but in our Western society, kundalini awakenings are considered rare.
A kundalini awakening can be an amazing tool for healing and self-improvement, allowing long-term positive change. It is said once your kundalini awakens, life will never be the same. Your entire system, mind, body, and spirit goes through a massive energetic upgrade, causing you to move through life in a very different way. Some of the benefits of a Kundalini awakening can be:
- Feelings of blissfulness
- Enhanced psychic abilities
- More compassion and empathy
- Increased creativity
- Increased spiritual connection
Benefits of a kundalini awakening aren’t limited to this list. Many report the desire to change their diet, job, relationships, and shift their entire life to match their new way of being after awakening.
Signs and symptoms of an awakening:
There can be many different signs that your kundalini is awakening. When we experience kundalini “symptoms,” that energy is knocking on the door to get our attention and awareness so that we can make the changes our soul desires. When that happens, we are able to become who we are meant to be and live our highest calling. Some of these symptoms include:
- Experiencing a heightened awareness of intuition
- A deep sense of purpose and destiny
- The urge to make life changes
- Physical and emotional changes like sleep disturbances, anxiety, surges of energy, and shaking
Whatever symptoms you are experiencing, try not to fixate too much on whether or not it is kundalini and why it is there. Instead, focus on allowing the energy to move through you and working to heal any uncomfortable symptoms coming up on a holistic level. The less you resist these feelings, the quicker they will pass.
The Chakras and Kundalini
Our chakras play an integral and intimate role in the movement of kundalini. Whether you’re new to chakras or well-versed, I will begin here with a brief description (and with a particular focus on the first two chakras where kundalini energy begins its rise).
Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning “wheel”. A chakra is like a vortex: a constantly revolving wheel of energy. These vortexes connect the subtle bodies and act as transducers for life-force energy.
The chakras themselves are not physical, but they interact with the physical body through two major vehicles, the nervous system and the endocrine system. To best understand what chakras are, imagine little highways of energy running through your body. These little highways are called nadis. The nadis are to your energetic, or pranic, body what blood vessels are to your circulatory system.
In our spine is our major energy line called the susumna nadi. Just like the word chakra comes from a Sanskrit term meaning ‘wheel’, according to ancient yogic traditions, the chakras are the places where different energy lines, or naids, meet.
According to ancient texts, there are seven major chakras in the human body. All of these lie along the spine, as that is where the susumna nadi is located. Each chakra is associated with different physical and psychological characteristics. For instance, our first chakra, the root chakra (at the base of our spine), which houses our dormant kundalini, manages security and survival issues, our physical existence, money, career, primary relationships, and our most potent feelings. Our second chakra, the sacral chakra, one step upward (in our abdomen), relates to our emotional and creative instincts. Each of the in-body chakras also interacts with the biological functions of its locality. This means that our first chakra influences and correlates to our coccygeal vertebrae, lower hips, excretory organs, and reproductive faculties. Our second chakra correlates in the same way with our intestines, sexual organs, and in women, the womb.
As kundalini climbs through each of the in-body chakras, it stimulates that specific chakra. The goal is to cleanse that energy center so that once it’s purified, we can attain our highest optimal health as related to that particular chakra’s functions. This applies to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and well-being.
Many of our chakras, however, are burdened by active or latent illnesses, negative beliefs, repressed emotions, mental misperceptions, spiritual misunderstandings, and even energies that aren’t our own. As the kundalini travels upward and through our chakras, these hidden energies come to light, where they can then be integrated and/or cleared.
The 7 Chakras
Some say there are 114 different chakras, but there are seven main chakras that run along your spine. These are the chakras that most of us are referring to when we talk about them.
The root chakra, or Muladhara, is located at the base of your spine. It provides you with a base or foundation for life, and it helps you feel grounded and able to withstand challenges. Your root chakra is responsible for your sense of security and stability.
Physical symptoms of blockage include: lethargic and physically drained, problems in the colon, with the bladder, with elimination, or with lower back, left arm, leg, or feet issues, Inflammation, cramps.
Since the root chakra is all about being grounded, stable and safe, along with reiki, doing things that get you into your body and feeling connected will help you to open it: yoga, dancing, going for walks, getting a massage, walking barefoot or putting your hands in the earth will all help to heal this chakra.
There are many Crystals that support the root chakra, some of the best known include Brown Jasper, Red Jasper, Smoky Quartz, Hematite, Cuprite, Mahogany Obsidian, Tourmaline, Rhodonite, Garnet and Bloodstone. In general, red stones and crystals are associated with the root chakra.
The Sacral Chakra is the second of the seven chakras. The sacral chakra is the centre of emotions, feelings and stimulates pleasure. It plays an active role in our sexuality and expression of our sexual needs and desires.
When the sacral chakra is out of alignment or blocked, issues with the reproductive system can pop up, including menstrual cramps, urinary tract infections, and lower back pain. A person may experience feelings of fear, depression, manic or emotional instability, feeling overwhelmed, loss of imagination or creativity, and sexual dysfunction.
How To Open the Sacral Chakra:
1. Burn Svadhisthana incense and essential oils. Aromatherapy has powerful healing properties that can restore feelings of sensuality and creativity.
2. Repeat positive affirmations about sensuality and creativity.
3. Practice postures that stabilize the sacral chakra.
4. Reconnect with Water.
5. Reiki and crystal healing.
There are many healing stones for the sacral chakra including Unakite, Carnelian, Snowflake Obsidian, Orange Calcite, Red Jasper, Citrine, and Sunstone. In general, stones with orange, golden or red-orange colour are considered supportive stones for the Sacral Chakra.
The solar plexus chakra, or Manipura in Sanskrit, translates to, “city of jewels.” Located in the upper belly at the diaphragm, it acts as the centre of personal power. This chakra governs personality, ego, and identity, as well as personal freedom, choice, and authenticity.
A blockage in the solar plexus chakra can sometimes lead to solar plexus pain. While this pain may be centralised to nerve fibres around the solar plexus area, you can also experience: chest pain, stomach pain, anxiety, intestinal contraction, painful sensations in the upper abdomen or even severe abdominal pain.
Along with reiki and crystal healing, meditation is one of the most effective ways to balance the Solar Plexus Chakra. Soothing meditation is often best done in the dark or in dim light. To unlock your Solar Plexus, try imagining a bright yellow ball of energy over your solar plexus.
Here are 5 simple ways to strengthen Solar Plexus chakra, so you can reclaim your personal power and integrity:
1. Physical Workouts.
2. Pranayama Exercises.
3. Optimized Digestion.
4. Binaural Beats Meditation.
The stones for the solar plexus chakra are Citrine, Amber, Calcite, Tigers Eye, Pyrite, Yellow Jasper, Yellow Topaz, Agate, Yellow Tourmaline, Lemon Quartz, and Sunstone. They help to clear out blockages from the solar plexus and bring strength, determination, and self-esteem.
The heart chakra, or anahata chakra in Sanskrit, is located at the centre of the spine at heart level. Anahata roughly translates to, “unhurt.” Accordingly, the heart chakra acts as the individual’s centre of compassion, empathy, love, and forgiveness.
Stress, illness, emotional upset, or conflict all can cause blockages or imbalance in your chakra system. When your heart chakra is underactive, it can affect your overall wellbeing. When your heart chakra is blocked or underactive, you may experience the inability to forgive others or move on from past experiences.
Ways of Opening the Heart Chakra:
1. Burn Anahata Incense and Essential Oils.
2. Repeat Positive Affirmations About Love.
3. Practice Yoga Poses to Open the Heart.
4. Use Healing Stones With the Vibrational Love Energy.
5. Recite Mantras to Shift Energy Toward Love.
With an energized and balanced Heart Chakra you:
Manifest compassion, forgiveness, and empathy
Feel and manifest unconditional love
Radiate the energy of pure love
Feel love for yourself, love for others, love for everything that surrounds you
Begin to open to the universal energies of love
your relationships strengthen and you begin to feel aligned with yourself
The stones for the heart chakra are Rose Quartz, Emerald, Green Aventurine, Rhodonite, Amazonite, Green Jade, Malachite, Rhodochrosite, Prehnite, Chrysoprase, Green Tourmaline, Green Calcite, Kunzite, Green Moldavite, Moss Agate, and Peridot. They help to clear blockages in the heart and to grow love and compassion.
The throat chakra, Vishuddha Chakra, is located at the base of the throat, at the centre of the Larynx. The energy element governed by this chakra is effective communication. The Sanskrit word ‘vishuddha’ means purifying the body from harmful substances.
Your throat chakra embodies your true originality and authenticity. The throat chakra is motivated by expression and truth, it allows you to see the knowledge that is true, beyond the limitations of social conditioning.
When your throat chakra is blocked or misaligned, you may have issues with creativity and communication. Throat chakra problems can also lead to physical symptoms like thyroid imbalance, sore throat, and hearing difficulties.
When it is in balance, we can express what we think and what we feel easily. We can communicate our ideas, beliefs, and emotions. Being able to talk openly and honestly—but with care and concern for others—is a gift to all your relationships. You’ll be able to articulate your ideas, feelings and opinions clearly. When you’re able to express thoughts with clarity, you may also find that you feel heard and understood.
How to open your throat chakra:
Protect your neck. A scarf or clothing that cozies up to your neck can help you bring attention to the throat area.
Reiki crystal healing.
Follow the practice of professional singers who rely on warm tea and honey to keep the throat in fine shape.
Try sore throat herbs such as slippery elm, marshmallow, or elderberry.
Practice yoga poses that bend and stretches the neck.
Chant, sing, or hum to start your throat literally vibrating.
Do pranayama practices that focus attention on the throat.
The throat chakra stones are Aquamarine, Lapis Lazuli, Amazonite, Sodalite, Blue Lace Agate, Angelite, Blue Apatite, Chrysocolla, Blue Chalcedony, Blue Kyanite, Celestite, Azurite, Larimar, and Blue Calcite. They help to remove blockages in the throat and facilitate clear and open communication.
The third eye chakra, also known as Ajna, is considered to be the sixth chakra in the body. This chakra is said to be located in the centre of your head, parallel to the middle of your eyebrows. When open, the third eye chakra can provide wisdom and insight, as well as deepen your spiritual connection.
This chakra is believed to be linked to the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a pea-sized gland shaped like a pine cone, located in the vertebrate brain near the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. It is a revered tool of seers and mystics and is considered to be the organ of supreme universal connection.
When your third eye chakra is blocked or underactive, it can negatively affect your ability to concentrate, process information, or keep cool under pressure. When the third eye chakra becomes blocked, it can often cause you to be fearful of the unknown.
The benefits of opening your third eye can include:
a sense of bliss
Ways to unblock your Third Eye Chakra:
1. Explore different perspectives and viewpoints.
One big problem associated with a blocked third eye chakra is being rigid and closed-minded. To overcome this problem, try reading books, watching new programs or experimenting with activities outside of your comfort zone.
2. Decalcify your pineal gland.
To decalcify your pineal gland, try to avoid products and water sources that contain fluoride.
3. Ground yourself with mindfulness.
Our third eye functions the best when it is grounded in reality. Otherwise, we get lost in fantasy and delusion very easily. Try to practice being present with whatever arises in your daily life. Focusing on your breath helps a lot.
4. Get out into the sunlight.
As the element of the third eye chakra is light, you might find your mind becoming much clearer if you get outside a bit more. On a physical level, light awakens the pineal gland which improves the function of the third eye.
5. Use the following herbs:
Use herbs such as mugwort, star anise, saffron, basil, jasmine, lavender, passionflower, rosemary, and blue lotus. You can diffuse these herbs, burn them as incense, apply them topically (in a diluted form), or consume them.
6. Explore your limiting beliefs.
One major cause of third eye malfunction is limiting core beliefs. Core beliefs are the central convictions we have about ourselves which cause us to feel fear, insecurity, and self-loathing.
7. Hum or chant the sound “OM”.
This sound matches the vibration of the third eye chakra. Try drawing out the letters into sounds, such as “ommmmmmmmmm” or “auuuummmmmm.” You might also like to listen to binaural beats which helps to activate and clear all the chakras through alternating sound waves.
8. Eat more fruit and veg.
Introduce more of the following fruit and vegetables into your diet which all resonate with the third eye chakra: prunes, dates, blackberries, blueberries, figs, raisins, eggplant, purple cabbage, purple kale, purple carrots, and purple potatoes.
9. Reflect on all that you think and do.
Self-reflection is an important skill to develop, and it helps to increase your self-awareness. Try reflecting on your thoughts and feelings in a private journal each day. Try to dissect why you believe certain things and behave in various ways.
The stones for the third eye chakra are Amethyst, Lapis Lazuli, Labradorite, Sodalite, Azurite, Black Obsidian, Citrine, Clear Quartz, Iolite, Lepidolite, Moonstone, Purple Fluorite, Black Tourmaline, Kyanite, and Turquoise. They help to clear blockages and connect us with our inner wisdom.
The crown chakra, or sahasrāra chakra in Sanskrit, is known as “the bridge to the cosmos.” It is the most spiritual in nature of all seven chakras. Located above the crown of the head, it acts as the individual’s centre of spirit, enlightenment, wisdom, universal consciousness, and connection to higher guidance. In a sense, the crown chakra is our highest potential. It governs interaction & communication with the universe, one’s senses of inspiration & devotion, union with the higher self & the divine, and deeper understanding; simultaneously, it is responsible for a healthy spiritual life.
Stress, illness, emotional upset, or conflict all can cause blockages or imbalance in your chakra system. When the crown chakra becomes blocked, it can often cause you to detach from the world around you and lead to spiritual malaise.
As you start to balance the crown chakra, you may feel more at ease. Mentally, you’ll feel much more relaxed and clear-headed—gaining the ability to situate yourself in the world around you. You may also find increased synergy between your physical body and your mental state, and feel more connected with the spiritual realm.
How to unblock The Crown Chakra:
1. Use Crown Chakra Crystals For Healing
To start with, try any one or more of these crown chakra crystals:
Clear quartz: A crystalline mineral linked to enhancing energy, you can use clear quartz to boost your spiritual attunement. It is a particularly good choice when you’re looking to get more clarity on what you want from life.
Sugilite: Sometimes known as a love stone, this lavender crystal is better used for spiritual grounding and for guarding you against negativity.
Selenite: Another mostly clear mineral, selenite is a lovely stone that is said to help open not only the crown chakra but also the third eye chakra. It can be useful in pushing you past stagnation and in propelling you forward
2. Crown Chakra Meditation And Yoga Techniques
All meditation practices are good for keeping the seven chakras open and aligned. Meditation promotes self-awareness, emotional regulation, and relaxation. In addition, there are chakra meditation techniques for beginners that target each chakra.
3. Chakra Foods List And Diet Suggestions
The most famous chakra foods are natural, wholesome foods that promote general well-being. Think of fresh and organic vegetables and fruits, brown rice, brown bread, and hearty broths, for example. All such foods help to bring your energy centers into alignment.
4. Crown Chakra Affirmations
Affirmations are a well-known technique for balancing the chakras. All of them aim to boost confidence, and since the crown chakra is connected to self-esteem then it is standard to reason those affirmations generally promote an open crown chakra.
The Yamas & Niyamas
To support you in opening the channels for kundalini to move and transform, many of the practices and exercises throughout this course involve the breath, the body, and various awareness practices that will awaken your felt sense of this radiant energy. However, this first practice session is unique in that it’s more mentally focused. It’s a mini lesson from the Yoga Sutras, engaging the intellect before entering into the realm of energy and light.
According to yogic understanding, no matter what stage of kundalini awakening we find ourselves at right now, we already are the self that we hope to become in the future. Unaware of this beautiful truth (and highly stressed out by our attempts to improve or fix ourselves), many of us don’t experience the optimum health and deep happiness that we are designed for. To help us realise and manifest our authentic self, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali defined the Eight Limbs of Yoga, principles and practices for consciously pursuing enlightenment in the midst of ordinary life. Patanjali himself was one of the great sages of ancient India whose clarity and wisdom has impact on the modern world on a daily basis.
The yamas and niyamas are the first two limbs of yoga and together provide yoga’s ten guidelines for skilful living; these are the ten principles that invite peace within ourselves, within our families, and within our communities. When we find practical ways to employ these ten codes in our daily lives, we’re essentially embodying the spirit of kundalini.
Yama – The First Branch of Yoga
At their most core essences, the yamas are concerned with ways to use our energy (including kundalini) for the betterment of all our relationships. In the outer world, they are codes for evolutionary action.
(1) Compassion for All Living Things (Sanskrit: Ahimsa)
In Sanskrit the prefix a means “not,” while himsa means “harming, injuring, killing, or doing violence.” Ahimsa, the first of the yamas and the highest ranking among them, is the practice of non-harming or non-violence. This is the key, the sages tell us, to maintaining both harmonious relationships in the world and a tranquil inner life. At a deeper level, ahimsa is less a conscious process than a natural consequence of yoga practice. As our journey unfolds, it leads to awareness of the peaceful and enduring core that is our true nature; the desire to prevent harm is a spontaneous expression of that awareness. We begin to realize that the inner self in others is identical to our own inner self, and we wish no harm to come to any being.
Practice Tip: Practice being more kind, accepting, and forgiving of yourself and others. According to the sages, when ahimsa is fully embraced, an inner confidence emerges that is deep seated and surprisingly powerful.
(2) Commitment to Truth (Sanskrit: Satya)
Central to Satya is a single truth: honesty that heals, uplifts, and transforms. We start within our hearts, cultivating an awareness of our inner values. Internal integrity leads to external ethical behaviour. The word sat, in Sanskrit, means “that which exists, that which is.” Satya, in turn, means “truthfulness”—seeing and reporting things as they are rather than the way we would like them to be.
Practice Tip: Inwardly learn to recognize the cascade of fears and other negative emotions that prompt you to twist reality. Once you have understood and processed these fears, your thoughts, speech, and actions can be realigned with the truth, even as you look more deeply into your needs and desires. Outwardly, refrain from telling lies and speak with kindness, compassion, and clarity.
(3) Not Stealing (Sanskrit: Asteya)
The word steya means “stealing.” When it is combined with the prefix a, it yields the third yama, asteya: non-stealing. We are most likely to associate stealing with tangible objects, but intangibles, such as information and emotional favors, are more likely to be the objects stolen in our world.
Practice Tip: Because the urge to steal arises from a sense of unhappiness, incompleteness, and envy, the solution is to practice giving any chance you get. Give food; give money; give time. Since wealth is ultimately a state of mind, you will feel increasingly wealthy; and through selfless giving, your sense of inner wealth may bring you outer wealth.
(4) Merging with the One (Sanskrit: Brahmacharya)
The literal translation of brahmacharya is “walking in God-consciousness.” Practically speaking, this means that brahmacharya turns the mind inward, balancing and supervising the senses, and leads to freedom from dependencies and cravings. And the sages tell us that when the mind is freed from domination by the senses, sensual pleasures are replaced by inner joy.
Practice Tip: Making wise choices about the books and magazines you read, the films you see, and the company you keep will help you conserve energy and keep your mind focused and dynamic. Being moderate in all sensual activities so that you don’t dwell on them, staying committed and faithful to one partner in a relationship that is mutually supportive—this is the middle path of brahmacharya.
(5) Generosity (Sanskrit: Aparigraha)
Graha means “to grasp” and pari means “things”: aparigraha means “not grasping things,” or non-possessiveness. It helps us achieve a balanced relationship with the things that we each call “mine.”
A yogic maxim says, “All the things of the world are yours to use, but not to own.” That is the essence of aparigraha. Whenever we become possessive, we are in turn possessed, anxiously holding onto our things and grasping for more. But when we make good use of the possessions that come to us and enjoy them without becoming emotionally dependent on them, then they neither wield power over us nor lead to false identities and expectations.
Practice Tip: Examine your own tendencies toward possessiveness. Do you take better care of an object in your possession than one belonging to someone else? Do you acquire more of something than you can use? Do you depend too much on others, give more in a relationship than is healthy for you, replace mutual give-and-take with the need for tight-fisted control, or attempt to increase your self-esteem by gaining someone else’s love? The practice of non-possessiveness helps us to examine our assumptions and guides us back to healthy relationships with others.
Niyama – The Second Branch of Yoga
The niyamas increase our ability to make life-affirming choices by inviting the integrity of the soul to be our guiding light. The combination of these timeless ideals and practices helps us to cultivate inner wisdom and knowing. In the interior world, they are codes for evolutionary thinking.
(6) Purity (Sanskrit: Saucha)
The first niyama, shaucha, means “purification; cleanliness.” It includes a number of techniques for cleansing the body as well as the mind, and it has even been called the aim of the entire system of yoga. The sages say that shaucha is not only the foundation for bodily health, it is also the doorway to deeper and more tranquil states of meditation.
Practice Tip: Select wisely from the many choices of food, emotions, and thoughts waiting to come into your body and mind. As the body becomes purified you will experience radiant health; as the mind becomes purified you will feel increasingly clear, friendly, and cheerful.
(7) Contentment (Sanskrit: Santosha)
The word santosha means “contentment” as well as “delight, happiness, joy.” It comes from an experience of acceptance—of life, of ourselves, and of whatever life has brought us. When we are content, we are happy. Thus—and here is the key to this niyama—through the power of contentment, happiness becomes our choice.
Practice Tip: Let go of the past. Do not condemn yourself for not being wiser, wealthier, or more successful than you are. Free your mind of expectations. Then you will see life in a larger context and be able to ride its ups and downs with equanimity.
How do you achieve contentment when inwardly you are disappointed and striving for change and improvement? Create it. Try to keep in mind the yogic premise that whatever you have in the present moment is enough. Once you do this, happiness will find an enduring place in your life; whatever aspirations you have for the future will simply add to your joy.
(8) Burning Enthusiasm (Sanskrit: Tapas)
The literal definition of tapas is “heat,” in this case the heat that builds during periods of determined effort. Tapas accompanies any discipline that is willingly and gladly accepted in order to bring about a change of some kind—whether it be improved health, a new habit, better concentration, or a different direction in life. Tapas focuses energy, creates fervor, and increases strength and confidence. The practice of asanas is a form of tapas for the body; meditation is a tapas that purifies and focuses the mind.
Practice Tip: Remember that tapas can go hand in hand with any task—even something as mundane as cleaning the bathroom floor. Whenever we perform our actions with full determination and effort, they are performed with tapas.
Through the ardor of tapas, choose to make healthy changes in your life—but focus on only one or two changes at a time. Take small steps that can be accomplished successfully, and find replacements for habits that are unproductive.
(9) Self-Study (Sanskrit: Swadhyaya)
Svadhyaya means, literally, “to recollect (to remember, to contemplate, to meditate on) the Self.” It is the effort to know the Self that shines as the innermost core of your being.
Practice Tip: Begin with the study of writings that inspire you to feel the presence of the indwelling spirit. Then begin to apply svadhyaya in your daily life by practicing the yamas and niyamas, the asanas, breath awareness, and meditation, and learn to recognize when you are acting in harmony with your goals and when you are unconsciously acting counter to them.
(10) Celebration of the Spiritual (Sanskrit: Ishvara Pranidhana)
Ishvara refers to all-pervading consciousness; pranidhana means “to surrender.” Together, these words may be translated as “trustful surrender to God,” the last and most important of the niyamas, and perhaps the most difficult for students to embrace. This niyama is not a process of defeat or of mindlessly submitting to another’s will. It is the act of giving ourselves to a higher purpose.
Practice Tip: When you practice meditation, observe the thoughts and desires that distract your concentration, and instead, rest your attention in the center of your being. At such times you may be able to transcend the limitations of your attachments and sense the presence of inner stillness.
In whatever form it presents itself, that experience, the sages tell us, guides us toward wholeness and the fulfilment of our inward quest.
Take 10-15 minutes to reflect and consider how these qualities are active within your own life right now and to what extent. It’s okay to let your observations be simple – a word, a phrase, whatever comes to you first. In your journal or notebook, write down whatever you see.
Well done on getting to the end of lesson one! I know that was a LOT of information to take in. You will be glad to know the rest of the lessons are not so learning intense! But I felt it was important to cover the chakras and everything in detail right from the start.
As you prepare to begin Lesson #2, I encourage you to slow down, take your time, and use each lesson as an opportunity to feel the pulse of your own body, soul, and spirit. 🙏