It’s one week into my forty day Sadhana and I am loving it.
No matter what is going on in my day, no matter how I am feeling, I know I can take eleven minutes out to myself to do this practice of sodarshan chakra kriya, and afterward I always feel better.
One of the most noticeable benefits has been clarity in the mind. I’ve been dealing with a lot of mind chatter in the past week, and the difference after my eleven minute practice is like the difference between the height of a downpour and a passing shower.
The first couple of days, I felt breathless by about round three or four, which is unusual, because I’m used to doing all types of pranayama.
The last couple of days though, I didn’t notice this so much. I imagine this means that my lung capacity is improving, even if only incrementally. Or perhaps I’m just able to use the air that I take in more efficiently.
The first round of sixteen pumps is always the easiest – my belly feels light and open and I can get some great movement going on. After that, it begins to tighten up. My stomach feels uncomfortable, and it’s like there’s a blockage in my chest preventing me from moving my stomach. This can get so bad that I have difficulty in completing the last couple of pumps in a round.
On Day Three, I noticed lots of sensation in the front of the body, moving up the chest and into the throat. I felt so breathless that I actually had to stop and breathe normally a few times – something I never do. But I do know that it’s always important in any pranayama to be breathing with ease – it’s not about pushing the body and the breath no matter what. It really felt like a part of me was trying to hold on to something, even while the technique was trying to release something.
By Day Six it was so much easier to pump the stomach. I was able to concentrate on doing stronger pumps (this must be good for the stomach muscles!) and as soon as I did this I was again aware of a feeling of restriction in the upper chest. Was feeling very strong sensations of energy moving around the body. By the last round of 16 pumps, my body wanted to undulate so strongly it was difficult to remain still while finishing the set.
At the end, the inner shoulder blades spontaneously pulled together, lifting the chest out and up and there was a loud click from the very inside of the spine, right at about the bra-line. This is an area which I don’t often get openings like that happening. Also felt a great deal of warmth in the upper shoulder and neck area during this today – this was particularly noticeable on the right side.
On Day Seven, I felt particularly unsettled in the morning so was eager to jump straight into my sadhana. It was a beautiful day, so I did it outside in my meditation area. Noticed a lot of pain in my upper back area during the meditation, nothing really before or after though. I also felt energy rising up the spine toward the crown of the head – felt much clearer and stronger after.
Over the past six months or so with my yoga practice, my ability to be aware of my thoughts and feelings has heightened considerably. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that I’ve necessarily been able to change anything about what I’m thinking or feeling, or even doing.
This combination of increased awareness yet continued behaviour patterns has meant I can see clearly how I am causing most of my own misery (and joy!), but haven’t always been able to do anything about it. However, the first step in breaking lifetime patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour (samskaras*) is awareness. Unfortunately, this is not a comfortable place to be in though – I see all my faults and failings and it’s easy to feel down and awful about myself.
However, this week, I felt like there was this shift of about 1 to 3 degrees. Whereas previously I could see the samskara yet didn’t feel strong enough or motivated to break the pattern, this week, I was able to discern a different path of action and feel strong enough to take it. It was only in very small moments, very small choices, but reviewing my days at the end, I could see that that small choice had completely changed my thought patterns and feelings for the rest of the day. Powerful stuff indeed.
For those who are interested, the rest of my practice this week consisted of a mixture of Prana Flow Yoga for 60 minutes (3-4 times) and 3rd Eye (Ajna Chakra) Opening & Balancing Class (3 -4 times), plus my daily sadhana.
The word samskara comes from the Sanskrit sam (complete or joined together) and kara (action, cause, or doing). In addition to being generalized patterns, samskaras are individual impressions, ideas, or actions; taken together, our samskaras make up our conditioning. Repeating samskaras reinforces them, creating a groove that is difficult to resist. Samskaras can be positive—imagine the selfless acts of Mother Theresa. They can also be negative, as in the self-lacerating mental patterns that underlie low self-esteem and self-destructive relationships. The negative samskaras are what hinder our positive evolution.
Seven days down, and very curious to see how the next 33 days turn out!