Original photo by Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa
News From KRI – June
The Trainers Forum at Summer Solstice is almost upon us! It will be held at the Langar Hall at beautiful Hacienda de Guru Ram Das. We have a spectacular line-up of presenters and workshops just for you! Members of the Aquarian Trainer Academy, applicants, those considering applying, and all contract administrators are invited and encouraged to attend.
This is an exciting event and is the beginning of the annual cycle of Forums around the world. The discussions are always engaging and illuminating.
The Academy has over 700 members from 50 countries. Come meet your fellow trainers and participate in the ongoing evolution of the Academy and all three levels of The Aquarian Teacher®.
Wednesday, June 13th (12:30pm – 5:30pm)
Thursday, June 14th (8:30am – 5:30pm)
Do you want to immerse yourself in Sikh Dharma? Camp Miri Piri is for you!
As a practitioner of Kundalini Yoga, are you interested in learning about and having a deep experience of Sikh Dharma? If so, Camp Miri Piri is for you! Camp Miri Piri is for and about Sikhs – four days of sharing the spiritual warrior experience. The camp is a celebration and a dedication to Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh Guru, who started the warrior tradition in Sikhism. He wore two swords, naming them “Miri” and “Piri”. These swords represented the balance between spiritual and worldly powers. This concept of the warrior-saint has permeated the Sikh philosophy and lifestyle ever since.
The goal of Camp Miri Piri is to challenge you to connect to your soul in a deep way. Here you will find recitation of the five morning Banis, a powerful group Sadhana, challenging physical training, and inspiring Sikh stories and meditation. You will gain an in-depth experience of Sikh values by balancing the mind, body, and spirit through the practice of Gurbani Kirtan, Kundalini Yoga, meditation, and warrior workouts, as well as classes to build healthy relationships.
Two Camp Miri Piri experiences are coming. Click the links for more information about these camps.
Join us in the midst of the mountains and blue skies of New Mexico where you and your family will have a chance to take a deep journey within to experience the identity of the spiritual warrior.
Join the students of Miri Piri Academy in Amritsar, India. Immerse yourself in the spiritual warrior experience and feel your spirit ignite. This is the first time the sangat is being invited to join the MPA students on campus for an authentic experience of the many facets of Sikhism. Don’t miss out!
These camps are for adults, age 18 and older, however children are welcome and attend free when accompanied by a parent.
By Ishpreet Singh, M.B.B.S. and Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D.
Headache refers to any pain in the region of the head and/or neck. Headaches can be classified into two broad categories: primary, which include tension headache, migraine, and cluster headache, or secondary, which are symptoms due to the presence of another condition or disorder. According to the National Institutes of Health, the tension-type headache is the most common form of primary headache. Emotional stress at work or at school, physical tension, and neck or back strain due to poor posture are among some of the most common causes of tension-type headache. According to the published prevalence estimates of tension-type headache, the episodic form is affecting 38.3 percent of the U.S. population and the chronic form is affecting 2.2 to 3 percent of the U.S. population, while migraine affects 29.5 million Americans with higher prevalence among women (17 percent) compared to men (6 percent).
Migraine is characterized by severe pain intensity on one or both sides with a pulsating sensation and is often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and/or sound. Migraines are classified as either “with aura” or “without aura.” It is strongly believed that changes in blood vessels, disruption in the endocrine system, and some aspects of metabolism can create a dysfunction in brain blood flow that is the cause of migraine or primary headaches. The most commonly used treatment for headaches continues to be pharmaceutical. The pharmaceuticals for tension-type headaches consist of analgesic, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and opiate medications. Medications for migraine sufferers are divided into two categories: drugs to treat acute attacks, and other daily drugs to reduce frequency and severity of attacks preventively in addition to botulinum toxin (Botox) type A injections which work as a potent inhibitor of muscle tone.
There is a good deal of existing knowledge regarding the causes of headache. For migraine, certain factors like depression/anxiety, medication overuse, poor sleep, and high stress are associated with worse outcomes. Stress is considered to be one of the most common triggers for migraine headache and a major factor in the progression of headaches from episodic to chronic. Chronic stress involves a hyperarousal of the autonomic nervous system and creates an imbalance between its two branches by increasing activity of the sympathetic nervous system, thus contributing to the interruption of the normal balanced state that is essential for health and well-being. As we know, stress and anxiety are modifiable risk factors and conventional psychological relaxation-related behavioral interventions targeting these factors in people living with chronic headache have been introduced.
As a well-known and efficacious strategy for stress management, yoga is obviously well-positioned as a promising candidate treatment. Yoga therapy for migraine generally focuses on the prevention of the episodes of occurrence, which includes not only addressing stress reduction but also avoidance of the various causes of the attacks. The physical movement with enhanced body awareness in yoga practice can reduce the habits of adopting problematic and maladaptive physical postures. Pain perception and regulation in general is also known to be modulated more effectively in yoga practitioners. There is also evidence of reduction in physiological markers of both inflammation and stress. Specifically relevant to benefits for addressing headache symptoms, yoga-based interventions have been associated with decreased blood pressure and heart rate. By decreasing both of these cardiovascular variables, yoga-based interventions potentially allow the heart to work more efficiently thus contributing to a more efficient blood supply to the brain and lowered sympathetic nervous system activity. Yoga may also contribute to some behavioral changes that positively affect headaches. These may include an increased social network or an increase in regular physical activity. Psychological changes, such as increased positive mental state, can also contribute to more effective coping mechanisms and increased pain acceptance/tolerance. Given the scientific rationale above, it is not too surprising that there have been a number of clinical trials reporting on the efficacy of yoga to treat headaches.
Perhaps the earliest yoga-related study in 1981 compared savasana (corpse pose) alone with a biofeedback intervention and found that the yoga posture was equivalent to the biofeedback intervention, consistent with prior research that found the similar practice of progressive relaxation to also be somewhat effective. This was followed a decade later by a Journal of Neurology India publication in 1991 of a well-conducted randomized controlled trial (RCT) in which 47 patients were assigned to yoga therapy and 38 to drug therapy for tension headache. The results of the study indicated that the yoga and drug treatment were both equally effective in significantly reducing the duration, intensity, and frequency of headaches. Depression and anxiety also showed a significant decline in both treatments. However, the magnitude of improvement was significantly more in the yoga group in comparison to the drug group. One year later, yoga researcher Dr. Latha in Chennai published a small RCT with 20 patients suffering from migraine and tension headache in which the yoga therapy group reported reductions in headache characteristics (e.g. intensity, duration, and frequency) and medication intake. In comparison, the control group reported an increase in symptoms. Both of these latter 2 studies were encouraging not only with respect to headache symptoms but also noted important factors related to mechanism and lifestyle relevant to yoga for headache.
Other notable and more recent studies include a large study of migraine sufferers published in 2007 in the journal Headache, in which 72 patients were randomly assigned to either yoga therapy, which included yoga postures, pranayama, and neti kriyas (nasal water cleansing) or a self-care group for three months. The yoga therapy group demonstrated lower headache frequency and lower pain rating compared to the self-care group. Furthermore, anxiety and depression scores were significantly lower in the yoga group. The journal Pain Management Nursing in 2014 published one of the very few U.S. yoga-for-headache studies. This was done in a pediatric population with 7 participants aged 11-18 using alignment-based yoga. It reported improved quality of life (parent-reported), daily functioning scores (self-/parent-reported), and decreased state anxiety scores (self-reported). In addition to providing positive support for the efficacy of yoga, a few studies have additionally evaluated potential mechanisms involved. For example, a 2007 controlled study at the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi conducted an efficacy trial demonstrating the involvement of muscle spasm in tension headache showing that the yoga intervention reduced both pain scores and muscle activity as measured by the electromyogram. Another Indian study demonstrated changes in both headache frequency and intensity with a yoga treatment, while also showing changes in vagal tone and sympathetic activity consistent with the downregulation of autonomic activation. A more recent study by an Iranian research team reported improvements in headache with yoga but did not observe hypothesized changes in nitric oxide levels. Overall these studies have all provided support and preliminary evidence for the potential use of yoga for headache and possible mechanisms involved in yoga’s benefit.
Limitations of the research literature in this field include the absence of control groups and provisions for reducing potential bias in the research design, relatively few RCTs, inadequate description of methods and yoga practice within the RCTs, and small sample sizes. The outcome measures were also mostly subjective patient evaluations. As with much of the preliminary research in yoga, there is also a lack of long-term follow-up data which would test the durability of the treatment effect. There is also a need for information about the duration of yoga participation, or ‘‘dose,’’ required for benefit. However, despite these limitations, the preliminary evidence that yoga therapy can be an effective treatment for migraine and tension type headache is encouraging.
Ishpreet Singh is a medical doctor and researcher from the Dayanand Medical College in India. He has worked extensively in India and USA with individuals with mental health and neurological disorders and is inclined towards integrating eastern yogic and meditation methods into mainstream medicine. He is an avid practitioner of Kundalini Yoga and meditation and brings this as a tool to help people heal, addressing deeper causes of illness and disease.
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.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our Spring Fund Drive in May, Experiencing the Gong with the Master. We are so grateful to all of you for your consistent, generous support, making this the most successful fund drive yet! It’s what keeps this work moving forward.
June brings a wonderful time of gathering together during the Summer Solstice Sadhana in the beautiful Jemez Mountains of Northern New Mexico. I hope you have a chance to stop by the KRI booth and speak with myself or our CEO, Nirvair Singh. We will be available to answer all your questions about The Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings or The Endowment Fund. Just stop by, we would love to meet you and, as always, we want to hear your feedback! We will be at Ram Das Puri to meet with you at two times:
Saturday, June 16th, on Peace Prayer Day, at the KRI booth from 5:00-8:00pm, and
Sunday, June 17th, after Gurdwara, at the KRI booth 2:00-5:00pm.
We are also celebrating Father’s Day on June 17th in the United States. A warm Happy Father’s Day shout-out to all the wonderful dads in the world!
We look forward to seeing some of you in just a couple weeks in New Mexico. Thank you again for continuing to support this invaluable work of preserving these teachings!
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).
MASTERING THE SELF
Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan®
91 Transformational Kriyas & Meditations
These Kriyas and meditations, drawn from Transformation Level Two Teacher Training, are organized to facilitate your personal practice and deepen your experience of the Self. Many of these kriyas were selected specifically for Level Two and have never been available before. Practice something new or master something familiar with this wonderful collection.
SERVING THE INFINITE
Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan®
86 Transformational Kriyas & Meditations
This volume continues and completes the Kriyas and meditations from the five Level Two Teacher Training. Organized not only for personal practice but also for Kundalini Yoga Teachers. Develop workshops or 6 week themed courses, using each chapter individually, or combining topics gives you limitless possibilities.
Both Volumes together: $44.93! (25% off retail)
The 21 Stages of Meditation
Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, PhD
Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan
Defined by Yogi Bhajan and elucidated by Gurucharan Singh, The 21 Stages of Meditation is a key work in deepening your understanding and experience of meditation. Ranging from Upset and Boredom, to Humility, Graceful Enlightenment, and the Sage, explore these stages and more; explore three distinct meditative journeys, which culminate in the pinnacle of contemplative awareness-Stage 21-The Infinite Pulse.
Regular Retail: $44.95
Foundations DVD Series
Create a firm foundation for your yogic practice and gain insight into what it takes to live as a Teacher of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan with these essential lectures and meditations.
Volume 1: The Purity and Power of a Teacher
Volume 2: Get Rid of Anger and Fear
Volume 3: Balance & the Law of Equality
Volume 4: Use Your Body for Higher Living
Volume 5: The Change of the Age
Volume 6: Becoming a Sage in the Aquarian Age
Volume 7: Emotional Compensation
Retail: $19.95 per DVD
A Delicious Taste of New Mexico in anticipation of Summer in Espanola!
From Vegetables, With Love: Recipes and Tales from a Yogi’s Kitchen (Revised and Expanded New Edition)
Siri-Ved Kaur Khalsa
Yield: 10–12 servings (4 quarts)
This New Mexico inspired squash soup is flavored with roasted green chiles, red chile, corn, potatoes, and tomatoes. Super nourishing, wildly flavorful, and hearty as can be, I love it most made with butternut or kabocha squash (also called Japanese pumpkin). But, you may use any combination of winter and/or summer squash.
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 cups chopped onions (2 medium)
3–4 stalks celery, chopped
10 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable broth powder
1–2 tablespoons red chili powder
1¼ pounds red potatoes, peeled and chopped in bite-size chunks
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
12 ounces diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
3-4 long green or Poblano chilies, roasted, peeled and chopped
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed
8 ounces frozen corn or kernels scraped from
2 ears of corn
2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
½ cup crumbled Cotija, Queso Blanco, or other fresh crumbly cheese (optional garnish)
Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Sauté onions, garlic, and celery until tender. Add water and seasonings. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Then turn heat to medium-low. Meanwhile, prep veggies and add to the pot as they are chopped. Add salt, adjust seasoning, and simmer (without boiling) for about 30 minutes until all vegetables are soft. Crumble fresh cheese over each serving.”