For all of you who have called me “The Yacht Stew Guru” over the years, I wonder how many of you know that I actually am a certified Yoga Instructor?
(No that photo is not me , but I thought it would be nice to see a picture of a hot guy for a change, instead of a girl in a bikini , doing a full Yoga wheel.) Try holding this pose for 3 minutes and completely integrating your breathing and saying a mantra. It is not as easy as it looks, lol. This photo is courtesy of www.liftingrevolution.com
Lately I have realized some of the devastating effects that stress has had on my body. Anxiety and weight gain have taken a toll, and it it time for me to regroup. By discovering this new (for me) style of Yoga, I have had my own epiphany. I would like to share it with you, and hope that it helps you as much as it is helping me!!
I took my second Kundalini Yoga class recently at Yoga Source in Davie, Florida, and I believe I have found what I was searching for all these years. What took me so long? Going beyond physical exercise into the deeper realms of yoga is a life-changing experience.
Kundalini yoga focuses on releasing the energy that is stored at the base of the spine. With all of the back injuries I have sustained throughout my life that are exacerbated by my yachting lifestyle, this sounds like heaven to me.
I started out doing Yoga when I was about 12 years old. I had an old copy of Richard Hittleman’s 28 Day Yoga Exercise Plan that I loved. Then when I was in my early 20’s I took the 4-week long residential Yoga Teacher Training course at Ananda in Nevada City, California. I became a disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.
That was a very intensive course, with poses, meditation, and instruction for 8-12 hours every day, no weekends off. I really learned how to meditate there, and I started to develop an interest in chanting and toning. The Ananda Self-Realization style of practice was unique because each pose has an affirmation. From there I learned various other routines.
Throughout all of my years in yachting I carried with me several videos and then later DVD’s of Yoga sessions. Yoga is one workout that you can do in a small space. It benefits the mind as well as the body, and I have happily done my routines in my cabin or on deck. I continued to do Yoga even after I fractured a vertebrae in my neck in an auto accident. I still love Ali McGraw’s Yoga Mind and Body, with master Yoga Master Eric Schiffman. Many of my Rodney Yee Dvd’s have been worn out from constant use. I toyed with Bikram Yoga, and followed that religiously for years–(by the way, Bikram Choudry studied with Bishnu Gosh, who was the brother of Parmahansa Yogananda).
Bikram is Hot Yoga. The 90-minute routine is normally done in a room that is 105 degrees F. If you think Yoga can’t get any more intense than that, you may be mistaken. Kundalini Yoga takes me to a whole different level. Kundalini yoga focuses on awakening kundalini energy through regular practice of meditation, breathing, chanting, and asana (and no, it is not “the sex Yoga”–that’s Tantric Yoga).
To get the most out of your practice, you have to be fully present mentally and wiling to go the distance. It is called “the yoga of awareness”, and it aims “to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others.”
I think it is the perfect prescription for those of you who have, like me, chosen a life of service. It is more heavily concentrated on breathing and mindfulness than on acrobatic postures. Don’t get me wrong-the asanas, or poses, are important. But the real change occurs with the mental focus and with the breathing. It was introduced to the US in 1968 by Yogi Bhajan who founded the”Healthy, Happy, Holy” (3HO) as a teaching organization. Check out the website, http://www.3ho.org/
I have just begun my exciting journey of exploration into this practice, and I hope you will come along with me! I’ll give you feedback on my experiences as I go along. And now, for a little taste of how Kundalini Yoga works, watch Anne Novak demonstrate the technique, and then try to do 50 Yoga Frogs. Your liver and kidneys will thank you for it. Be mindful of your breathing!