Kriya to the rescue

I have to admit some­thing. Most of my  vis­i­tors don’t come here to read about my yoga prac­tice and other jottings.

They come to check out my pages on the Art of Liv­ing Foun­da­tion, sudar­shan kriya and sahaj samadhi. I get a huge amount of traf­fic from Some­times, they will ask ques­tions about the prac­tice or where to find a teacher or what­ever. I am not very qual­i­fied to talk about AoL prac­tices. I am not one of their trained and cer­ti­fied instruc­tors. I haven’t been to the maja kriya (group prac­tice) in at least four years, even though the Wash­ing­ton DC National Chap­ter has great facil­i­ties for classes and yoga (Merid­ian Yoga Stu­dio) on 15th Street, NW. For a long time, I let my kriya prac­tice lapse as I con­cen­trated on hatha yoga. But this sum­mer, I started to return more reg­u­larly to my breath­ing prac­tice, and now I try to fit it in every­day, but it’s closer to five days a week.

In many ways, I’ve become less method­i­cal with my kriya now. I don’t freak out if I don’t get the exact num­ber of rep­e­ti­tions of pranayama that are pre­scribed. I’ve also soft­ened my approach: I used to be a Type-​​A breather who tried to get the biggest vol­ume of air in and out of my lungs as fast as pos­si­ble. Ever since Howard Rontal lib­er­ated my diaphragm, I’ve become more mel­low in my breath­ing prac­tice because the same vol­ume of air seems to flow with­out as much effort. I pay more atten­tion to the qual­ity of my breath.

I’ve also added my per­sonal touch to the kriya prac­tice. In between each exer­cise, I fit in yogic stretches for my arms and shoul­ders so that I open up my rib cage and broaden my shoul­ders as much as pos­si­ble. I also need to stretch my legs if I am seated on the floor; oth­er­wise, my legs will be numb by the end of the session.

I fit my rou­tine in when­ever I can. If I have 15 min­utes to spare before going to work, I do it before going to the Metro sta­tion. At work, I may look for a vacant meet­ing room dur­ing lunch or on a break. Oth­er­wise, I prac­tice in the evening after din­ner or my yoga class. On the  week­ends, it’s a nice boost of energy in the after­noon because I am usu­ally drag­ging after yoga class in the morning.

Now that I am writ­ing about the AoL kriya prac­tice, it reminds me that I really should go to a maha kriya. There is noth­ing like 10-​​20 peo­ple breath­ing in uni­son to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s high-​​pitched voice chant­ing the pace of the breath.