Monday, August 25, 2008

Meditation-In-Motion: a Kripalu Yoga Experience

A statue in Bangalore, India depicting Siva me...Image via Wikipedia In this post I am going to set the stage for you to experience Meditation-In-Motion, which is a unique aspect of the Kripalu Yoga tradition. This type of "prana awakening" will open doors to new body wisdom for you. First a little background, and explanation.

Kripalu Yoga comes from the lineage of Kundalini yoga and so it is all about cultivating, releasing and harnessing prana, which is energy or life-force. (I will discuss the concepts of prana and Kundalini in greater depth in up-coming posts.) The idea is that as we practice the different components of yoga, like asanas (postures), prana is strengthened and focused. This in turn has great and far-reaching effects in every area of our lives.

Meditation is often an elusive term for most people conjuring pictures of yogis cross-legged in full lotus for hours, but really it is a mental, physical, and biological event that occurs quite naturally when the conditions are right. Creating the conditions is key.

If you have ever been so totally absorbed in work that hours passed without you realizing; have felt the absorption of oneness with a beloved; walked in the forest and had a sense of oneness with all things; participated in an ecstatic dance class, or just danced with reckless abandon by yourself (one of my favorite things to do!) then you have experienced a form of meditative absorption, or Dhyana.

Spontaneous posture flows are something that can occur as prana is released during these deep states of meditative absorption. In fact, this is how yoga asanas were developed. 5000 years ago, yogis living in seclusion, spending hour upon hour in meditative absorption, began to have spontaneous movements as a result of their increased prana. They began recording some of the most common movements, and I would speculate the ones that seemed most effective in harnessing prana, and helping the body to deal with excruciating hours spent in sitting meditation. These were eventually refined into common sets of postures and practices that moved forward with the evolving yogic tradition.

So... what Meditation-In-Motion is, simply, is to allow yourself to come into a relaxed, meditative state and then let your prana move you.

Not you doing doing you.

To begin...
Find a space where you have room to move around, and lay out a yoga mat (if you have one-it's not required for this experience.) You can use music if you like, BIJA by Todd Norian is a favorite of mine for MIM. Begin on your back in Corpse Pose. Inhale and exhale deeply through your nose.

Feel the breath as it moves into your body and imagine it swirling in a spiraling motion in the center of your body. With each new breath, let this spiral expand, moving out into your limbs. Let the energy flow and grow with the breath as you inhale and exhale. Keep expanding until the energy is moving out through your finger tips, toes, and the crown of your head.

Now let the breath and the energy begin to guide your movements. Forget what you know of yoga postures, or dance movements; follow the waves of sensation and energy. There is no wrong way to proceed.

You may find yourself, moving a lot, or a little, staying on the floor, or transitioning to standing movements. You may sway, arc, make shapes, find yourself in long, holding positions - anything is possible, everything is good.

Notice your breathing, and feel free to release any sighs or vocalizations that may come through. Continue this way, riding the wave of sensation, allowing your prana to awaken and flow, for as long as you like. When you feel complete, make your way back down to the floor and end with a five to ten minute Sivasana (relaxation and integration time), in Corpse Pose.

I hope you enjoy dancing with your prana-
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