Vitality is the ability to live and thrive. In the practice of Kundalini Yoga, when we talk about vitality, we’re referring to our energy, health, and capacity to enjoy life. Stress, distress, and disease are common factors that diminish our vitality. Vitality can also be affected by fatigue, poor nutrition, or even a toxic living or working environment. Thankfully Kundalini Yoga offers many easily accessible tools for maintaining our vitality.
1. Stay connected with your Self.
Sometimes we become so stressed or exhausted that we disconnect from our selves, losing our vitality and feeling numb, almost zombie-like. It’s important to realize that this numbness is often a result of our inability to relax and to just BE. In the words of Yogi Bhajan, we lose our capacity to be “self-sensory humans”. When you feel this numbness and disconnection set in, this is a wake up call that something needs to change! Resist the temptation to wallow in your despair; instead, find a healing or heart-centered mantra that you love, like Ra Ma Da Sa or Ardas Bayee for example, and sit with it for however long it takes to begin to feel a physical sense of relief. Over time and with practice, you’ll begin to notice the stress before it takes you to numbness and you’ll be able to intervene earlier.
2. Connect with your Physical Body
If we’re too sedentary, we begin to lose our vitality. Physical movement is an excellent way to release stress, to boost the glandular system, and to jump start the metabolism. Kundalini Yoga offers many wonderful kriyas that work the body. Short on time? Try 3 minutes of breath of fire. Even a gentle kriya such as “Experiencing the Relationship of the Pranic Body and the Physical Body” in Infinity and Me will make a world of difference. In fact, almost any Kundalini Yoga kriya will reconnect you with your physical body and inject you with a nice dose of vitality.
3. Adjust your Diet
What we eat does matter. Examine your diet. Do you eat a lot of sugar, processed foods, or food with additives? Is your food consumption balanced, with plenty of fresh fruit, veggies and grains? Do you eat a good variety of healthy foods? Sometimes we aren’t even aware of what we’re consuming, especially if we’re operating with a high level of stress. Additionally, caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs may bring momentary relief from stress but will deplete the body of much needed nutrients. Try keeping a food journal to build awareness of what you are eating. The results may surprise you.
4. Sleep well and practice Yoga Nidra
An ongoing lack of sleep depletes our vitality, but if we’re very stressed out, sometimes sleep seems impossible. Too little sleep can put you at risk for long- and short-term health problems, including high blood pressure, metabolic disorders, and loss of muscle mass. On the other hand, too much sleep can feed depression and lethargy. Quality is as important as quantity; we want to make sure that we spend enough time in deep, undisturbed sleep. Yoga Nidra is deep yogic sleep, often following a Kundalini Yoga kriya. In just 10 or 15 minutes, Yoga Nidra can totally revitalize us.
Yogi Bhajan gave some powerful techniques for improving sleep and increasing vitality. One easy meditation to do when you aren’t able to sleep is Shabd Kriya. Sit comfortably with a straight spine. Place the hands in your lap, palms up, with the right hand over the left. The thumbs are together and point forward. Focus the eyes on the tip of the nose, with the eyelids half closed.
Inhale in 4 equal parts, mentally vibrating the mantra Saa Taa Naa Maa. Hold the breath, vibrating the mantra 4 times for a total of 16 beats. Exhale in 2 equal strokes, projecting mentally Wahe Guru. Continue for 15 to 62 minutes.
The best time to practice this Kriya is every night before bed. With regular practice, Yogi Bhajan said your sleep will be deep and relaxed. Your nerves will regenerate and you’ll feel regenerated.
If you find yourself losing your vitality, try any or all of these tips. The more you build awareness of your body, mind, and spirit, the more quickly and easily you’ll heed the call to revitalize yourself.