KRIYA — 1971 SERIES

(The Art, Science & Application of Kundalini Yoga, Nirvair Singh Khalsa, pp. 213-229.)

  1. Cow/Cat. Come up onto the hands and knees. Have the hands on the ground shoulder width apart, knees directly down from the hips, heels touching. Inhale as you tilt the pelvis forward, arching the lower back slightly downward. The head moves last. Arch the head back. Exhale as you arch the back up, tilting the pelvis the opposite way. Push up through the shoulders, chin on the chest. This is a two-part motion. Get the full range of motion with the head and neck. Inhale through the nose into cow, exhale through the nose into cat. (If your wrists hurt, make your hands into fists and place the knuckles on the ground.) Alternate between cow and cat for 2 minutes. Keep the eyes closed and firmly fixed at the brow point.

It is a total spine exercise. It stimulates the higher glands, stretches the lower back, opens the pelvis and chest. 

  1. Cow. Remain in cow position. Place the hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart, fingers pointing forward. (Again, if your wrists bother you, make your hands into fists.) Knees are straight down from the hips, slightly apart with the heels touching. Press the spine down by lifting your head up and back. Hold the position with long, slow, deep breathing. (1 minute).

Stretches the lower back, opens the pelvis and chest.  

  1. Cow/Cat Kick Left and Right. In cow position, kick the left leg out and back of you as you bring the head up and back. On cat bring the knee up to the nose. Continue for 1 minute. Switch sides. In cow position, kick the right leg out and back of you as you bring the head up and back. On cat bring the knee up to the nose. Continue for 1 minute.

  1. Washing Machine on Knees. Sit on the knees and heels. Bring the arms up so that the upper arms are parallel to the ground and the forearms create a slight right angle to the upper arms. Thumbs in back and finger in front of the shoulders. Inhale and twist to the left, exhale and twist to the right in a smooth motion without a pause (2 minutes).

Loosens the waist and torso. Opens the nerve channels on either side of the spine. Sitting on the knees and heels works on a little higher part of the spine than sitting in Easy Pose. 

  1. Basic Spine Flex. Remain on the knees and heels. Place both hands on thighs, flat and fixed. Inhale through the nose and lift the chest up high and tilt the pelvis forward. Now exhale through the nose and tile the pelvis in the opposite way. Inhale forward and exhale back. Continue. Remember to lift the chest up high on each inhale and keep the chin level to the ground in both positions (2 minutes).

  1. Standing Forward and Back Bends. Slowly stand up. Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart and have the hands hooked together with the thumbs. Inhale and stretch up and back and then exhale as you reach forward and down. Keep the upper arms hugging the ears so that you move as a unit from the upper body. 2 minutes.

Total spine exercise that also exercises the hamstrings and opens the chest, diaphragm and lungs. 

  1. Standing Shoulder/Neck Relax. Remain standing with the feet shoulder-width apart; allow the body to hang over the waist. Keep the knees a little bent. Let the shoulder, neck and head hang totally relaxed. Normal breath. 30 seconds.

Great for relaxing the upper back, neck and shoulders. Brings extra circulation into the head. 

  1. Wide Leg Stretch. Sit back on the floor and stretch both legs out in front of you straight and then separate the legs until they are wide apart. Inhale, bring the torso upright, exhale and turn the torso to the left and with both hands, stretch forward and then down over the left leg. Inhale and come up to the center. Exhale and stretch in the center, forward and down, placing the hands on the ground shoulder-width apart. Inhale and come up to the right using both hands, stretch forward and then down over the right leg. Inhale and come back up center. Continue left, center, right, center. 2 minutes.

It stretches the life nerve (sciatic) and the sex nerve (along the inner thigh). Good for the lower back, stretches the hamstrings and relaxes the quads. Helps with elimination, too. 

  1. Wide Leg Stretch Center. Bring the torso upright. Bring both hands on the ground in the center with the palms flat on the ground shoulder-width apart. Keep the chin at a right angle to the chest. Stretch forward and then down, until you feel gently challenged by the stretch. Hold it steady, no bouncing. Long, slow, deep breathing. 2 minutes.

Stretches the life nerve and the sex nerve. Good for the lower back, stretches the hamstrings and relaxes the quads. Also helps with elimination.

  1. Butterfly Pose. Bring the soles of the feet together with the heels close to the groin. Tilt the pelvis forward and keeping the chin at a right angle to the chest, press the knees down. Hold the position. Long, slow, deep breathing. 2 minutes.

Opens up the hips. Stretches the inner thigh and life nerve.

  1. Butterfly Flex. Holding on to the toes with both hands, begin flexing the spine in this position. Inhale, tilt the pelvis forward and lift the chest high. Exhale; tile the pelvis back. Keep the chin level to the ground in both positions. 2 minutes.

  1. Pelvic Raises. Lie down on the back flat with the knees up and the feet flat. Feet are about shoulder-width apart. Reach out with the hands and catch the ankles. You can have the palms flat against the carpet and the feet out a bit further, if needed. Inhale and raise the pelvis up high, really arch up. Exhale and lower the body back to the ground. Inhale up and exhale down. 2 minutes.

  1. Leg Thrusts. Remain lying on the back. Bring both knees to the chest. Have the arms by the sides with the palms down. Place the hands underneath the buttocks if needed. Inhale and thrust the left leg out so it is about 12 inches off the ground with the toe pointed away from the body. Exhale and switch legs. Powerful, deep breaths. 2 minutes.

Energizes the navel center. Helps regulate elimination. 

  1. Short Rest. Come out of position and rest on your back. Lie down flat, have the arms by the side palms up, with the eyes gently closed and the breath soft and normal. Have the knees up slightly for comfort, if needed. 1 minute.

  1. Nose to Knees Rock. Remaining on your back, draw the knees up to the chest. Wrap the arms around the knees and lift the head up and place the nose in between the knees. Begin rocking on the spine. Rock all the way up and back. Continue inhaling as you rock back and exhaling as you rock forward. 2 minutes.

  1. Cobra Pose. Come lying down flat on the stomach. Bring the chin on the ground with the palms down on your mat underneath and slightly forward of the shoulders. Inhale and raise the head up, chest up and now smoothly push yourself up. Make sure the arms are shoulder-width apart, fingers pointing forward, elbows rolled back and down, chest high and head back. If you’re flexible, the whole pelvic area is on the ground.

(There are two ways to move into Cobra Pose. The classic way is to engage the hands under the shoulders with palms flat on the ground. The feet are together with the tops of the feet on the ground. Arch up with the upper body first. Pull the shoulders down and back. Then pull the head and heart up. If you are flexible, straighten the arms. Alternatively start out in Platform Pose and drop down into Cobra, gradually moving into the posture, even keeping the pelvis off the ground. If you are not very flexible keep the forearms on the ground like a sphinx or do not straighten the arms. Either way, stretch up across the abdomen and chest and away from the lower back.)

Turn the head over the left shoulder keeping the chin level to the ground for 15 seconds. Turn the head over the right shoulder keeping the chin level on the ground for 15 seconds. Repeat. Bring the head forward, chin up and back. Long, slow, deep breathing. 1 minute.

  1. Behind Back Arm Lift. Push yourself up on the knees and heels with the forehead on the ground. Interlace the fingers into a basket behind the back with the palms against the small of the back. Keeping the forehead on the ground, lift the hands up high and away from the body keeping the elbows straight and the palms facing down. Do your best to create a right angle with arms to the plane of the back. Hold the position with Breath of Fire. 2 minutes.

Relieves tension in the upper back and shoulders and clears the lymphatic system. It brings extra circulation to the head and neck. 

  1. Pelvic Grind Left. Sit in Easy Pose. Place your hands on your knees and begin grinding yourself in a big, smooth circle going to the left. Lift the chin up high as you come forward and let the chest collapse and the pelvis tilt backwards as you go back. Keep the chin level to the ground in both positions. Normal breath. 1 minute.

Great for lower back and hips. Helps make elimination regular. 

  1. Pelvic Grind Right. Continue grinding yourself in a big, smooth circle going to the right. Lift the chest up high as you come forward and let the chest collapse and the pelvis tilt backwards as you go back. Keep the chin level to the ground in both positions. Normal breath. 1 minute.

  1. Arm Swings. Remain sitting in Easy Pose and bring the upper arms by the sides with the forearms parallel to the ground, palms face down. Inhale, thrust the elbows back. Exhale and cross the arms across the chest. Inhale, thrust the elbows back. Exhale and cross the arms across the chest in the opposite way. Continue, every time you inhale, you thrust the elbows back. 2 minutes.

  1. Shoulder Shrugs. Stretch your legs out for a moment and shake them out. Sit in Easy Pose and bring your hands resting on your knees. Grasp the knees with the hands. Inhale through the nose and lift the shoulders up high. Exhale and let the shoulders drop. Go at any pace that is comfortable to you, from moderate to rapid. Just let the whole shoulder girdle drop down.

Opens the upper spine, loosens the shoulders. Also energizes the heart and throat centers.  

  1. Neck Rolls or Turns. Remain sitting in Easy Pose. Slowly begin rolling the head in a large, smooth circle in one direction. (If you are not comfortable with rolling your neck you can turn your head from side to side keeping the chin level to the ground.) Consciously relax the neck, throat and shoulders as you roll. Reverse the direction. 30 seconds each direction.

Neck rolls and turns both relax the neck and shoulders and back of the head. Opens up the higher glands.  

  1. Arm Chops. Remain in Easy Pose. Make the hands into a basket (Venus Lock). Keeping the elbows straight, inhale and raise the arms up. Exhale and lower the arms down in a wood-chopping motion. Powerful, deep breathing. 1 minute.

Loosens and strengthens the shoulders and opens the lungs. 

  1. Arms Up. Remain in Easy Pose. Place the hands in a basket (Venus Lock). Raise the arms up overhead and invert the grip so the palms face up. Hold the position. Breath of Fire. 1 minute.

  1. Deep Relaxation. Come out of position and rest on your back. Lie down flat, have the arms by the sides, palms facing up, with the eyes gently closed and the breath soft and normal. Have the knees up slightly for comfort, if needed.


Allows the body to be rebalanced and the mind to refresh itself. This is the position at the end of every series of exercises (or kriya).

Comments: Yogi Bhajan taught this series in nineteen seventy-one. It is a favorite of many because it is such a complete workout.