As an avid reader of Steve Pavlina’s blog, Personal Development for Smart People, I have long admired his tenacity in determining a course of action and sticking to it. He is the champion of the thirty day trial – a process whereby he’ll try something out for thirty days to see how it impacts his life. After thirty days, the practice is sufficiently ingrained into his day so that if the results have been beneficial, it is simple to carry on.
It’s a great way to make a lifetime commitment to something, without saying, “I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.”
In yoga, the commitment to a specific daily practice is sometimes called “sadhana” – or spiritual practice. Steve’s great at sadhana, and in being great at it, he carries his readers along for the ride, and also inspires many of them to do the same sadhana themselves. As my stated mission on this site is for everyone in New Zealand to be doing yoga, I’m going to borrow from Steve, and go public with my own sadhana.
In my New Years’ post, Ten reasons to make practicing yoga your New Years’ Resolution, I stated that the only resolution needed to transform one’s life fro the inside out was to practice more yoga. I already practice every day in some way, shape or format, but I wanted to make this my resolution too. Part of the reason I love Prana Flow is that it’s a style of yoga which allows me to do whatever I need to do on that day to bring myself into balance – whether it’s asana, pranayama, meditation or a combination of all three. Yet this also means that my practice is not consistent from day to day. So, in order to both do more yoga and find a daily consistency, I am committing to practicing a specific kriya for forty days. I’ve chosen forty days, over Steve’s thirty, because committing to something for forty days aligns with spiritual practice, plus that’s how long it’s meant to take before the benefits really start to show themselves.
Sodarshan Chakra Kriya:
This kriya is meant to be one of the most powerful pranayama techniques in yoga. I discovered it via this excellent post at Mastery of Meditation, Yoga and Zen – 3 Most Powerful Yoga Pranayamas and Kriyas – Sodarshan Chakra Kriya – Part 1. Anmol gives expert instructions in how to perform this kriya for the beginner, intermediate or experienced practitioner. I’m starting out at the intermediate level, committing to 11 minutes a day of this breathing technique.
I’ve chosen this particular sadhana because the area of life I am struggling with the most at the moment (and have been for awhile) is the emotional arena. Yoga may be a wonderful practice, but being committed to spiritual growth is not always fun, nor easy! Yet to not press forward with growth, when you can clearly see the garbage that needs to be cleared, is not an option either. So, if I must deal with all this stuff that insists on coming up, it’s better that I do it as fast and efficiently as I can – hence the choice of this practice.
Here’s what Shakta Kaur had to say about this particular kriya:
This is one of the greatest meditations you can practice. It has considerable transformational powers. The personal identity is rebuilt, giving the individual a new perspective on the Self. It retrains the mind. It can purify your past karma and the subconscious impulses that may block you from fulfilling you. It balances all the 27 facets of life and mental projection and gives you the pranic power of health and healing. It establishes inner happiness and a state of flow and ecstasy in life. It opens your inner universe to relate, co-create and complete the external universe.
To gain these benefits requires different efforts from different people. Each mind has stored up its own pile of negative thought and energy. So each pit is cleaned on its own time and scale. You decide how much time you have and you need to invest in this practice. (KRI Teacher Training Certification, Level 1 Manual, p. 380.)
In the Summer 2002 issue of Aquarian Times magazine, Yogi Bhajan stated that Sodarshan Chakra Kriya can remove impressions of past male partners in the female’s arc line.
Further, a recently published medical study showed it to be more effective than antidepressant medication in treating psychological issues. 11 minutes a day will build your confidence and capacity to know who you are; 31 minutes a day will give you great strength and discipline. One year will make you feel fantastic; 1,000 days of doing this meditation and no one will be able to match your strength. It helps inner happiness and ecstasy in life. It gives you a new start, against all odds. When external pressure becomes too great, it brings power from the inside. This meditation is said to be the most powerful kriya in the history of yoga. (Meditation as Medicine, Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa, pp. 273-274.)
After reading that description, how can you not want to do it?
So, over the next forty days, I will post perhaps twice a week giving updates on my progress, and on what I’ve noticed through this practice. Today was my first day, and it was a tumultuous day to start. My mind was scattered, my emotions were raw, and I was feeling a lot of un-loving thoughts toward myself. Being able to witness one’s ego in action can mean that if one tends towards perfectionism, it’s very easy to be filled with self-loathing and to judge oneself harshly – all while being aware of doing this as well!
Doing the actual practice wasn’t tough. I’m used to sitting and meditating, so 11 minutes isn’t long. (And this sadhana will be in addition to my regular practice.) I’m also familiar with the other components of the kriya – breath retention, stomach pumping, mantra, counting… Still, getting it to all come together was tough. I felt uncoordinated and even out of breath initially. But after the first few rounds, I fell into a rhythm.
After my eleven minutes, I did another 20 minutes of meditation (using another of Anmol’s posts, So Hum Mantra Meditation Technique). As this kriya will always be in addition to other practices, it will be impossible to separate out the results. Suffice to say, that after the eleven minutes, I already felt straighter, taller, lighter and more expansive. It was like I had reached down into my centre and captured hold of myself again. The mind chatter hadn’t ceased completely, but instead of being a discordant swarm of buzzing insects, it had settled down into a steady stream of dialogue. Best of all, I didn’t feel so awful about my perceived weaknesses and failures. The emotional rawness remained, but there was a steadiness that had not been there previously.
Now, a few hours later, I feel able to write for the first time in awhile. Such discernable gains for a mere eleven minutes of effort… such is the joy of yoga!
So, if you’ve decided that you too are going to do more yoga this year, I encourage you to choose a sadhana that suits you. It doesn’t have to be long… just a daily, consistent practice. Maybe you do asana, like doing 10 sun salutations every morning. Maybe it’s a ten minute meditation. Perhaps it’s some pranayama, or mantra. Whatever it is, choose something that you’re attracted to, and something that you can maintain for forty days. Better to do the ten minutes every forty days than to start with a whizz bang 90 minute practice and only last a week. If you’re stuck and don’t know what to do, talk to your local yoga teacher, ask me via my contact form.
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