Sadhana Challenge – Day 2

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It’s day two of the Sadhana Challenge. If you’re doing the Challenge with us, how are you doing? If you’re just running across this and wondering what the Sadhana Challenge is, see our March 1 entry.

In addition to some of our local community members (Bhagavati, Bhaktisukhini, Chandra, Kalabhairavi, Maya, Puspa, Raia, Ranapandita and myself, Sundari), one of our global community members has joined the Challenge. Welcome, Anna!

Now, on to today’s practice, including some instruction on basic pranayama, active meditative breathing.

Getting up this morning was more difficult than yesterday. But again, the mantra echoed through the dark and quiet, as did the loving support and companionship of all those who are taking part of this, and that was a powerful thing.

Agni felt very important in stoking the inner flame this morning. This is a common practice in our pujas at SHARANYA, to begin our puja with the invocation to Agni from the Rig Veda, to honor the stoking of the fire within, in order to be fully present for worship and meditation.

Another useful tool for this morning’s practice was pranayama, with alternate nostril breathing. All practice begins with the breath, and prana is the life-breath, the energy of the physical body. Conscious breathing is an important part of any yogic practice (in this sense meaning disciplined meditative practice), and alternate nostril breathing helps to align the various energies of the body, and the hemispheres of the brain. Consider it an exercise in getting your left and right brain to talk to each other! The breath pattern is 1:4:2. So, one count in, four counts hold, two counts release. Any multiple of that is acceptable – my own current pattern is 4:16:8 seconds, but you could just as easily do 2:8:4, or 8:32:16 (though some would argue that this last one is not so easy!).

Note: this practice should only be done if you have no obstructions in your nasal passages. If you have a cold or are congested by allergies, let your body rest and simply breathe consciously.

The practice begins by holding the right nostril closed with the thumb, then inhaling for the first count, closing both nostrils by bringing the ring and pinkie finger together to hold the left nostril closed as well, and gently holding the breath for the second count. I stress gently because there should be no pressure or struggle in this holding – it’s a quiet, gentle resting place. Release by opening the right nostril and gently releasing the breath in the third count. Pause, holding the breath gently again with your lungs empty. Begin again, this time breathing in through the right nostril. When you breathe out through the left nostril, you have completed one cycle. Repeat for three cycles, and add one cycle each week until you reach seven rounds.

Some teachers will suggest a simple pause between these cycles, others will suggest holding the breath out with the lungs empty for the same count as the holding with the lungs full. This can be very difficult, and may be a practice you wish you move into after you get comfortable with the rhythm. If you do wish to cultivate that, it helps to remember the core of the practice – surrender.

The resistance to the vinyasa yoga practice was very instructive – there’s always a lesson in resistance, and cultivating inner listening can be very helpful in honoring and moving through it. Ultimately, the stretching and activation of the body was fulfilling, and I was reminded that this kind of physical yoga practice helps me accept my body as it is – which, in turn, supports the embodiied and loving nature of the Sha’can path.

Do let me know how you’re doing with your practice! Let’s motivate each other with our words and spirits. And if you have any questions, please ask!

Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu
Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu
Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu

Peace and happiness to you all in the world out there. And so, so much gratitude.

2 Responses to "Sadhana Challenge – Day 2"

  1. Sundari Posted on 03/03/2007 at 5:23 pm

    Jai Maa, Kamalam! Amma is right in many ways. In my own experience, I find that meditation has been as rare as gold, and so the last few days have been like suddenly becoming extremely wealthy. I pray that all beings can experience this wealth, whether through prayer, meditation, silence or simple happiness.

    So glad to have you with us!

  2. Kamalam Posted on 03/03/2007 at 1:47 am

    Checking in to say how nice it was to chant and smudge my house this morning, even with a short period of time. I am reminded that Amma says that ‘meditation is as precious as gold’ and that there is no such thing as too little gold to be worthwhile. I can see that my desire to join with a group effort over-shadowed the judgement that I didn’t have time to do it properly (whatever mental obstruction that is…) Instead, I felt the power of intention carried me into my day.


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