KRIYA – STRETCHING SERIES

(The Art, Science & Application of Kundalini Yoga, Nirvair Singh Khalsa, pp. 95-99).

  1. Wide Leg Stretch Left. Stretch both legs out in front of you straight and then separate the legs until they are wide apart. Bring the torso upright and turn it to the left and with both hands, stretch forward then down over the left leg. Hold on to your shin, ankle or foot with both hands. Think “belly to the thigh” or “heart to the knee.” 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).

  1. Wide Leg Stretch Right. Bring the torso upright and turn it to the left and with both hands, stretch forward then down over the right leg. Hold on to your shin, ankle or foot with both hands. 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).

  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 (1 minute).

All three of the above exercises stretches the life nerve (sciatic) and the sex nerve (inner thigh). They are also good for the lower back, stretching the hamstrings and relaxing the quads. Helpful with elimination as well. 

  1. Pelvic Grind Left. Place your hands on your knees and begin grinding yourself in a big, smooth circle going to the left. Lift the chest up high as you tilt the pelvis back, then lean to the left, then arch and lean forward, then lean to the right. Keep the chin level to the ground in both positions. Normal breath (90 seconds).

Doing this exercise, by itself, for 31 minutes a day can maintain your youth.

  1. Pelvic Grind Right. Continue grinding yourself in a big, smooth circle going to the right. Lift the chest up high as you tilt the pelvis back, then lean to the right, then arch and lean forward, then lean to the left. Keep the chin level to the ground in both positions. Normal breath (90 seconds).

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

  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.)

Long, slow, deep breathing (2 minutes).

Opens the diaphragm and chest. Energizes the navel and heart centers. It is a great stretch for the total spine. It adjusts the internal organs. It benefits the kidneys and adrenal glands. 

  1. Body Survey Relaxation. Relaxing on your stomach, taka moment to survey the body, working from the feet all the way up to the head. Go part by part and let the body speak to you. Discover where you are holding tension in the body. Normal breath (1 minute).

  1. Baby Pose Arms Front. Sit back on the heels and place the forehead on the ground. Have the arms stretched out in front of you on the ground, shoulder width apart. Have the forearms on the ground supporting the head, palms flat against the floor. Relax in this position. Normal breath (1 minute).

This is a resting posture that is great for the digestion, heart and circulation. 

  1. Front Stretch Left. Stretch your left leg out in front of you straight; right foot against the inner thigh of the left leg. With both hands, stretch forward then down over the left leg. Hold on to your shin, ankle or foot with both hands. Think “belly to thighs” or “heart to knees.” 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).

  1. Front Stretch Right. Stretch your right leg out in front of you straight; left foot against the inner thigh of the right leg. With both hands, stretch forward then down over the right leg. Hold on to your shin, ankle or foot with both hands. Think “belly to thighs” or “heart to knees.” 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).

The above two exercises stretch the life nerve. They are also good for the lower back, stretching the hamstrings and relaxing the quads.

  1. Half-Spinal Twist Left. Come out of position, sit down and stretch your legs out in front of you straight. Bring the left knee up. Cross the left foot over the right leg placing the foot flat on the floor. Take the left hand and bring it all the way back down and behind you on the left side. Take the right arm and wrap it around the left leg. Straighten up. Keep the chin in neck lock, level to the ground and turn the chin all the way to the left. Chest up high, left shoulder and chin all the way left. Long, slow, deep breathing (1 minute).

  1. Half-Spinal Twist Right. Stretch your legs out in front of you straight. Bring the right knee up. Cross the right foot over the left leg placing the foot flat on the floor. Take the right hand and bring it all the way back down and behind you on the right side. Take the left arm and wrap it around the right leg. Straighten up. Keep the chin in neck lock, level to the ground and turn the chin all the way to the right. Chest up high, right shoulder and chin all the way right. Long, slow, deep breathing (1 minute).

Both of the above exercises open up the hips and energize the spine.

  1. Shoulder Shrugs. Stretch your legs out for a moment and shake them out. Sit in Easy Pose. Gently grasp the knees with the hands. Inhale as you shrug the shoulders up to the ears. Exhale as you drop the shoulders down. Go at any pace that is comfortable for you, just let the whole shoulder girdle drop down. Continue for 1 minute.

Opens the upper spine and loosens the shoulders. Energizes the heart and throat chakras. 

  1. Shoulder Rolls. Keeping the hands on the knees, inhale and lift the shoulders up high. Exhale and roll the shoulders back and down in big, slow, smooth circles. Continue rolling the shoulders in big circles. Normal breath (1 minute).

Loosens tight shoulders. Opens the heart and throat chakras. 

  1. Head Turns. Sit up tall with the chest high, neck lock and root lock both pulled. Place the hands on the knees. Inhale and turn the head to the left and exhale and turn the head to the right. Keep the chin level to the ground and breathe slowly move (1 minute).

Relaxes the neck and shoulders and the back of the head. Opens up the higher glands. 

  1. Breath Meditation — Ratio Breath for Slow.

Posture: Easy Pose.


Focus
: Mid-point between the brows.

Breath: This is a counting breath in a 1:2 ratio. Count to four on the inhale and count to eight on the exhale. Or, use an affirmation like, “I am, I am,” on the inhale and “I am, I am, I am, I am” on the exhale. The mantra “Sat Ta Na Ma” is also very good for ratio counts of four. Example: Inhale “Sa Ta Na Ma” and exhale “Sa Ta Na Ma Sa Ta Na Ma.”

The breath is long, slow and deep and is done by pulling root and chin lock, inhaling, feeling the ribcage expand and the diaphragm relaxing down. On the exhale, the upper chest will collapse first; the diaphragm comes in and up last. The root and chin locks should be pulled during the entire meditation. When the lungs are full, empty them and when the lungs are empty, fill them again.

If you can extend the count even more with comfort, then that is even better. For example, you would inhale to a count of eight and exhale to a count of sixteen.

Mantra: See above.

Mudra: Hands can be folded in the lap or use Gyan Mudra.

Time: 3 minutes.

End: Inhale deeply, hold the breath for 5-10 seconds and then relax.

The ratio breath will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (your “relaxation” response), slow you down and mellow you out. Corpse Pose for 5-15 minutes. Totally and completely relax on the back with the arms by the sides, palms gently facing upwards, feet approximately hip-width apart.

  1. Pulse Meditation. Take the fingertips on one hand and place them on the upturned wrist of the other arm, with hands resting comfortably in your lap. If you cannot feel the pulse at the wrist, then place the fingertips at the carotid artery at the throat. Simply feel and meditate on the pulse, linking up an internal affirmation or mantra with the beat of your heart. Normal breath (5 minutes).

  1. Deep Relaxation. Totally and completely relax on the back with the arms by the sides, palms gently facing upwards, feet approximately hip-width apart.

Comments: This series includes a lot of stretching. It is a good set to do if you are interested in increasing lower body flexibility. It is also a good series to do before a longer meditation or meditative kriya.