News From KRI – September
This summer I had the blessing of taking the KRI Level Two Mind & Meditation module in Espanola, NM. I had taken Lifestyles & Lifecycles eons ago but had not participated as a learner with a “beginner’s mind” for a very long time. Whereas the Level One program gives the Foundations of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, the Level Two modules are about Transformation and deepening your core capacities, character, and consciousness. In the words of Yogi Bhajan, “I am just trying to make you change, because you want to change but you don’t change. I know you. It is very difficult for you to leave your habits. First we create habits and then our habits create us.”
Six days of intensive study with our four extraordinary trainers from South Africa, Canada, and the United States, along with the Master himself through daily video classes, answered a personal prayer — to have the time and opportunity to delve more deeply into my Self after decades of “doing” in the world. Over fifty students from around the world came to do the hard work, as described by Guru Nanak, of “Conquer your own mind and you will conquer the world”. I observed and experienced unique qualities in this group, even as we were all working on ourselves. There was always kindness, generosity, compassion, humor, and love in the room. A key component of the training program is ongoing personal meditations, journaling, and small group meetings for ninety days – transformation doesn’t happen in a New York minute!
A few members of my small group offered to share their experience for this article.
“I would recommend “Mind and Meditation” Level Two Teacher Training to every teacher. The level of teaching went beyond my expectation. The content of the program is rich, illuminating, and expanding. It has accelerated my spiritual growth and development and catalyzed a new depth in my own practice. In this training I achieved a level of depth and understanding of the mind that I have not been able to reach before. I am deeply grateful for these teachings and these teachers.” Liv Amrita Kaur
“As always, the precise curation of the teachings – the commitment of time and devoted labor by all who serve this work of Love – awakens my heart. The program design conveys a wealth of information in a short time, while inviting compassion and personal depth. The leaders are clear, purpose-full…and fun! Mind & Meditation set me on a whole new course with my practice and my teaching.” Dharam Inder Kaur
“My psychic fields were cleared out, my personal sadhana was deeply strengthened, and I received wisdom and practices that I know will support me and the students I share them with for many years to come. Creating the space in my life to take this training, surrounded and supported by other Kundalini Yoga teachers, was one of the best investments of time, energy, and money I’ve made this year. The gift that keeps on giving. Mind & Meditation was my second Level Two module, after taking Vitality & Stress. Together they are super powerful!”
Christine Arylo, Feminine Leadership Advisor and Author
We hope to see you next summer for Vitality & Stress!
Blessings to all,
Sangeet Kaur Khalsa (Espanola)
Sangeet Kaur discovered her singing voice at the age of 8, and studied music performance at the University of Toronto. After several years of singing with Canada’s first professional chamber choir, she became a longtime student/teacher of Yogi Bhajan in 1978. Sangeet Kaur is well-known as an accomplished singer and recording artist. She serves tirelessly in her local Sikh community, in her home studio, and via the internet –mentoring others to find their own true voices.
KRI Level 2 Certification Program in Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan®
June 23 – 30, 2019
Espanola, New Mexico
Vitality already exists within you. Many of the kriyas and meditations in Kundalini Yoga gradually build and circulate energy within you, removing blocks and releasing stress. Free yourself of tension. Give yourself a chance. Join Senior Trainers at the Mother Ashram for this transformational Level 2 module, Vitality & Stress.
Plan to stay in Espanola after Summer Solstice to continue studying with KRI’s International Teacher Training Program. Registration opens November 15th. View details on the Level 2 Program website.
“Once you are content, everything will come to you. When you are discontent, everything will go away from you. This law applies to you and beyond you. With elementary stress you can never be content.” -Yogi Bhajan, November 8, 1989
By Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D.
The ability to self-regulate internal states, either physical, mental, or emotional, is a fundamental construct underlying not only the field of mind-body medicine (which includes yoga), but also much of what is in the broader field of behavioral medicine. The practices in this realm include cognitive and meditation skills, relaxation techniques, and the contemplative mind-body practices of yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. Through these practices, one acquires the skills of regulating functions including physical movement, respiratory activity, cardiovascular functions, and cognitive and emotional activity and reactivity. Research studies have confirmed that yoga practice can lead to significant improvements in muscular tension, neuro-muscular activity and coordination, basal respiratory rate, blood pressure, heart rate, cognitive performance, meta-cognition, and management of mental stress and reactivity of emotion.
The control of some of these functions is mediated through the direct command of the central nervous system including the ability to consciously relax muscles and change respiration rate – this is somewhat self-evident. What has been of more interest scientifically, with respect to self-regulation, is the ability to exert control over processes believed to be automatically regulated, such as the autonomic nervous system, which can affect changes in the activity of internal organs and functions including heart activity, blood pressure, and metabolic rate. This is because historically, and even currently, in the field of medicine these activities have been believed to be out of the control of conscious will. One of the most well-known measures of this self-regulation of autonomic function is heart rate. Historically, what is of particular interest, are the early descriptions of instances/cases in the West that have suggested the feasibility of this kind of self-regulation.
William James was a very notable philosopher, psychologist, medical doctor, and Harvard faculty in the late 19th century. In fact, the Department of Psychology on the Harvard University campus now bears his name, William James Hall. He was a pioneer in the field of psychology who gained widespread recognition from his seminal 1890 textbook The Principles of Psychology, a tome of 1,200 pages taking 12 years to complete. He also had the opportunity to interact personally with yoga master and proponent Swami Vivekananda during his visits to Boston in the late 1800’s. This influenced his work in research on contemplative states and practices, and meditation specifically, culminating in his landmark 1902 book The Varieties of Religious Experience. He was one of the early academics to recognize and describe the mind-body interaction and the capacity for self-regulation. In his 1890 text he wrote a clear statement of the mind-body connection: “Mental states occasion also changes in the calibre of blood-vessels, or alteration in the heart-beats, or processes more subtle still, in glands and viscera. …it will be safe to lay down the general law that no mental modification ever occurs which is not accompanied or followed by a bodily change.” He then cites cases of “exceptional individuals” reporting direct effects on the heart rate at will –a famous medical anecdote of a Colonel Townsend who could stop his heart at will and a 1889 report on voluntary control of the heart by a Dr. S.A. Pease.
The case of Colonel Townsend can be traced back to its first description by George Cheyne M.D. in his 1733 book A Treatise of Diseases of all Kinds. He recounts being called to examine Townsend with two medical colleagues near the end of his life, as he was on his death bed suffering from a terminal disease. It was Townsend’s wish to convey to them an experience/phenomenon in which “…composing himself, he could die or expire when he pleased, and yet by an effort or somehow, he could come to life again.” Despite cautions by the doctors not to do a demonstration given his condition, the Colonel insisted, and Cheyne describes the event of that morning.
“We all three felt his pulse first: it was distinct, tho small and [weak]: and his heart had its usual beating. He composed himself on his back, and lay in a still posture some time: while I held his right hand, Dr. Baynard laid his hand on his heart, and Mr. Skrine held a clean [mirror] to his mouth. I found his pulse sink gradually, till at last I could not feel any, by the most exact and nice touch. Dr. Baynard could not feel the least motion in his heart nor Mr. Skrine the least soil of breath on the bright mirror he held to his mouth; then each of us by turns examined his arm, heart and breath but could not by the nicest scrutiny discover the least symptom of life in him.”
They then began to conclude that he had gone too far and had actually died. Surprisingly, after a half-hour he showed signs of life.
“As we were going away, we observed some motion about the body, and upon examination, found his pulse and the motion of his heart gradually returning: he began to breath gently and speak softly: we were all astonished to the last degree at this unexpected change, and after some further conversation with him, and among ourselves, went away fully satisfied as to all the particulars of this fact, but confounded and puzzled, and not able to form any rational scheme that might account for it.”.
Townsend died the next evening, leaving an intriguing anecdote about his possibility of controlling his heart.
The 1889 5-page report by Pease in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, the first U.S. medical journal and precursor to the New England Journal of Medicine, was entitled “Voluntary Control of the Heart”. In this paper he contended that “… we have now evidence that there are gifted individuals who have a certain amount of direct control over it” and noting that previously “physiologists have long been aware of the close relationship between the heart’s action and that of the brain; yet, for lack of sufficient evidence, have not granted that any direct control over the heart could be induced by a simple effort of the will”. He then recounts several anecdotes/cases of simple willful direct control of heart rate (including the Townsend report) distinguishing these from anecdotes describing an indirect effect on the heart rate due to physical/mechanical manipulation of the vagus nerve (such as physical pressure on the neck) or forced evocation of mental imagery or emotion (such as sadness). One of the cases he mentions describes the research by a Russian physician on an individual who was able to increase his heart rate, through direct willful control, by up to 35 beats per minute. Dr. Pease then presented a detailed analysis of heart, breath, and blood pressure recordings of an individual at Harvard Medical School who was also capable of increasing his heart rate, in this case by about 25 beats per minute. From his analysis, he concluded that this change was indeed through simple willful control or pure self-regulation of heart rate.
These articles and reports on control of heart rate occurring so early in the field of Western medicine indicate the early openness to the possibility and concept of the self-regulation of internal state. Once reports appeared in the West from India on advanced yogis who claimed the ability to self-regulate internal states, it was not so surprising that scientists began studies on these yogis. Ultimately, those studies provided a foundation for further research, the evolution of the field of biofeedback, and ultimately to our work in modern yoga research, which has expanded to studying the self-regulatory capabilities of yoga practices to change many internal psychophysiological functions. Most of these were believed to be out of the range of self-regulation, and most of modern medicine is still under that impression.
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D. is the KRI Director of Research, Research Director for the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has practiced a Kundalini Yoga lifestyle since 1973 and is a KRI certified Kundalini Yoga instructor. He has conducted research on yoga for insomnia, stress, anxiety disorders, and yoga in public schools. He is editor in chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy and The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care and author of the Harvard Medical School ebook Your Brain on Yoga.
Sat Nam from The Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings!
We have just completed this year’s Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings Endowment Fund campaign. Your contributions, big and small, are all an important part of our success. Building the Endowment Fund will be a project for many years to come, Thank you!
Our prayer is that over time we can raise enough funds to create an endowment fund of $11 million to support the Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings in perpetuity. This may sound like a lofty goal, but as Yogi Bhajan said;
As many of us have experienced, the teachings of Yogi Bhajan continue to touch people’s lives in very profound ways. At the Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings we are dedicated to extending his teachings out into the world through this online database so that they may continue to touch and transform individuals for many years to come. Join us in our mission as we continue this work. Your gift to the Endowment Fund will secure the Library for many years to come. Call us at 855-519-4790 to find out how you can become part of serving this legacy.
Shabd Simran Kaur Adeniji, Fundraising Coordinator
The Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings®
Kundalini Research Institute
Find us on Facebook “The Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings”
The Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings® is a non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible under IRS code 501(c)(3).
Praana, Praanee, Praanayam
Exploring the Breath Technology of Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan®
Compiled from the Teachings of Yogi Bhajan and illustrated by Harijot Kaur Khalsa
Praana, Praanee, Praanayam is a collection of Yogi Bhajan’s quotes and kriyas gathered from lectures throughout his 35-year teaching career in the West. Yogi Bhajan was a Master of praanic energy, and these quotes and kriyas can help you to understand and experience who you truly are in the universe of praana.
Regular Retail: $35.00
Art & Yoga
Kundalini Awakening in Everyday Life
by Hari Kirin Kaur Khalsa
“The sole purpose of life is the soul.” —Yogi Bhajan
Learn to express your soul’s longing, delve into images that awaken your imagination and speak of a truth yet explored. Allow Art & Yoga to take you on a journey to your intuitive, creative, and authentic self—the True Being, awakened!
This book is for anyone interested in yoga and the arts. It explains how to create a daily Art and Yoga practice. It provides step-by-step guidelines for producing art and doing yoga as complementary practices individually, in a group, or in community. Yogis will find creative exercises to deepen their experience of yoga, while artists will discover simple, yet profound yoga and meditation practices that will help their creative flow, focus, and intuition. Along the way, we will draw inspiration from the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, nature, artists of the past, and recent developments in healing and spirituality.
Timeless Wisdom from Yogi Bhajan DVD Series
3 Kundalini Yoga Class DVDs and 3 Kundalini Yoga Lecture and Meditation DVDs in two complementary mini series
Kundalini Yoga Class Series
(These all have yoga sets)
Kundalini Yoga Lecture and Meditation Series
(These are lectures followed by meditation)
Retail: $19.95 per DVD
Raita — Two Ways
From Vegetables, With Love: Recipes and Tales from a Yogi’s Kitchen
(Revised and Expanded New Edition)
Siri-Ved Kaur Khalsa
Yogurt & Tomato Salad
Yield: 6 servings
2–3 Roma tomatoes
1½ cups plain yogurt
4 green onions, minced
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove
skins. Cut in half, scoop out seeds (discard), and finely
dice. Peel cucumber. Slice in half lengthwise and
scoop out seeds (discard), and finely dice. Combine all
ingredients. Let sit for 1 hour and serve.
Plain and Simple Raita
Yogurt Dill Salad
Yield: 4 servings
2 cups plain yogurt
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dill weed
2–4 green onions, minced
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika or cayenne
2 tablespoons milk
½ cup crispy brown rice cereal
Combine all ingredients. Let sit for an hour or so
Raita (“RYE-tah) is a yogurt side dish, usually flavored with salt (or black salt) and various combinations of chopped vegetables, parsley, cilantro, and spices. A most basic raita would be yogurt mixed with salt, a little toasted cumin, and minced green onions or fresh dill. Customarily served as part of a spicy Indian meal, a serving of raita helps soothe the stomach and cool the palate. For very best flavor and loving vibes make your raita with homemade yogurt (see How to Make Your Own Yogurt on page 90). For lighter results, dilute with water as desired.