The summer has been rough on my Sadhana. There – I said it.
Despite my best intentions, there were days when I simply couldn’t find my way to my mat. The madness of keeping up with three teenagers, multiple work commitments, community seva, a dog . . .the list goes on-and-on. Of course, I know all of that IS part of my Sadhana. But, whew. . .there sure were days when I felt like I was absolutely failing as a yogi.
But, before I let the old voices of shame and judgement get too loud, I took a step back and reevaluated. I know committing to my Sadhana benefits me immensely. I know how I feel and interface with the world when I have a strong Sadhana – and how I feel when I don’t. I realized that I really needed to ask myself: What other pieces of my life serve me in this way and what pieces do not? And, for the pieces that do not, I needed to lovingly ask them to step aside.
Every day, we have the ability to make choices that bring us to own higher consciousness and support our inner and outer vitality. I think these choices are courageous, as we learn to respect and follow our own unique rhythm, following the voice of our Soul. This is Sadhana: making the choice – despite the obstacles – to create a steadfast and strong relationships with our Soul through daily spiritual practice.
When approaching a recommitment to my practice, I found this kriya to be immensely helpful, as a stand-alone practice or just before another kriya or meditation. Enjoy and meet yourself wherever you may be on the path, with love and acceptance!
THE MAGNIFICENT NINE
These nine exercises were recommended by Yogi Bhajan in 1988 as a daily practice for every woman to maintain her youth and beauty.
1. Cat Stretch – Lying on the back, stretch the arms above the head on the ground. Keeping the shoulders on the ground, bend one knee over onto the ground of the opposite side of the body. Do the same with the other leg.
2. Eye Opener – Lying flat, place the palms tightly over closed eyes. Open the eyes, and look directly into the palms. Holding the gaze, slowly lift the hands to 18 inches above the face. Bring the fingertips down to the center of the forehead, and massage with a circular motion, out to the temples and down both sides of the face to the tip of the chin. Massage your nose and ears, squeeze the nostrils and ear lobes.
3. Stretch Pose – Lie on the back with the feet together, toes pointed. Flatten the lower back. Place hands palms down over the thighs, pointing towards the toes. Lift the head up, apply Neck Lock and look at the toes. Lift the feet up 6 inches and begin Breath of Fire for 10 to 15 seconds.
4. Cobra Pose – Lying on the stomach, place hands under the shoulders with palms flat. Elongate the spine, lift the chest and heart up, drop the shoulders, and stretch the head back. Straighten the arms. Long Deep Breathing or Breath of Fire for 1 minute.
5. Cat-Cow – On the hands and knees, hands are shoulder-width apart, fingers facing forward, knees directly under the hips. Inhale and tilt the pelvis forward, arching the spine down, head and neck stretched up. Exhale and tilt the pelvis the opposite way, arching the spine up, pressing chin to chest. Breathe powerfully. Speed can be increased as flexibility is gained. 3 minutes.
6. Front Stretch – Sitting down, stretch the legs out in front. Grab the big toes in finger-lock. Inhale, lengthen the spine. Exhale, bend forward bringing chest to thighs, and nose to knees. Avoid leading with the head. Do this three times a day, to check your mental strength. Yogi Bhajan said, “Anytime you feel tense, your energy is off, you need to balance it, and you want to face the world for hours, do this exercise. Do it every four hours. For a female, this is a must! Make it your ‘Mental Standard.”
7. Rock Pose – Sit on the heels with palms flat on the thighs. Do Breath of Fire or Long Deep Breathing for 5 minutes.
8. Fish Pose – From Rock Pose, keeping knees bent, and the feet outside the hips, extend the torso back until the head and shoulders rest on the ground. Hold for 5 to 7 minutes. Yogi Bhajan said, “Whenever you eat, you must sit on your heels for 5 to 7 minutes. If it is possible for you in the evening, in the twilight zone, when the sun is setting, lie down like this flat on your back. If a woman can do this, she will seldom get sick. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes.”
9. Shoulder Stand – From lying on the back, place the hands on the hips, just below the waist, and bring the hips and legs up to a vertical position, spine and legs perpendicular to the ground. Support the weight of the body on the elbows and shoulders using the hands to support the lower spine. The chin is pressed into the chest. Hold for 5 minutes in the morning. Shoulder Stand is especially good for the female. It releases pressure on all the organs and stimulates the thyroid gland.
Note: Some may remember this as originally called “The Magnificent Seven.” In those days, that was the name of a popular movie. Some of the postures had been coupled together to appear as 7 instead of 9.
This kriya and many other amazing options for daily practice can be found in I Am a Woman: Creative, Sacred & Invincible.