The initiation: Arms up in an Equilateral Triangle
The aim of these practices is to eventually transcend the personal through active manipulation. This is because the personal holds habits, conditionings, and beliefs from one’s upbringing, culture and institutions. These can at times be limiting and can keep us trapped in suffering. The archetypal form holds magic, it enables you to decide where you are going based on a higher view, as opposed to personal understanding based on one’s upbringing.
To start the practice, first open up the windows of your house. These are your lungs. This lets air through, a breeze in, while making everything smell fresh. Reach the arms up in the air in an equilateral triangle, which is the definition of strength, structure and stability. Put yourself in the centre and put the memory behind you. The minute your arms line up with your ears you are playing the ability in the arms to participate, as arms are all about the communal, as well as the stability in the ears, which are the gateways to the kidneys, the legs. If your arms end up in front of your ears you are more capable than you are stable. If your arms move behind your ears you are more stable than capable. Go beyond the personal, make it formal, line everything up so that you are in the best possible position to become liberated within the confines of form. Remember, life is about positioning yourself rather than finding yourself in a position.
When all the prior conditions are set up, pump the breath in kapalabhati. This is all done on the out breath in short, sharp bursts. Make a count, tell yourself you will do it 50 to 100 times, and make effort. Eventually you want to set goals and achieve which will develop your personal integrity. As you keep pumping your breath out, think that you are emptying yourself out and expelling all the toxins that are sitting in your lungs by virtue of being a human on the planet. Let your belly pull up into your spine on all the out breaths and don’t worry about the inhales as they will come on their own accord.
The lungs are the windows, the first technique is designed to open up the windows. When the windows are open you can catch a breeze, look outside and see what is going on outside of your house. In this way you set up the conditions to feel safe in your house, the physical body. As you begin to manipulate the breath, begin to manipulate the mind so it becomes subservient to you. When the mind tells you to stop, keep going, when the mind tells you it is hard to keep the arms up, persevere, and in this way you begin to develop your stamina, playing for the endurance. Lungs are the one organ you can participate in and the breath is a powerful practice used to manipulate the other systems of the body, knowing that everything is interrelated. Lungs are participatory, they are your arms and they are how you handle situations. Handling the world is the right side and the home is on the left. The centre mediates all polarities as it is never just about polarity, it is about the third principle that modulates the dialogue.
When you have had enough take an inhale, then three more sips of air to regulate the pressure in the lungs and exhale to release the arms, letting it all go. Bring your palms to your lap, facing up, so that if grace is raining down you can catch it. Then for a moment, be still, find centre. Inhale up the back and let it be the heat that rises up through you, exhale rain down the front knowing it is the grace and the liberation that is falling down all around. When you inhale you make effort, as you exhale know that grace is always available to you. Always put yourself in the middle knowing that you are in the middle of a happening thing.
If you have time repeat this technique, refine it, get to know it, so eventually you own it. It is better to do one thing 10,000 times than 10,000 things once. This is how you become a master.
Keep yourself in centre and take the hands on the knees so you establish a good fit that will move current. Hands are shaped as mitts, knees are shaped as balls, and the minute you fit the ball and mitt you are playing gender. If your hands don’t fit your knees because you are too high, grab the thigh or the heel. It doesn’t matter what you leverage, what matters is that you make effort. Eventually everything will fit. With your hands on your knees you are playing the ability to handle situations in the hands with the substantiation of the legs, equally stable and able. Engage the mind to put yourself in centre, direct the personal drive and then move it all with the breath. The inhale opens up the space from chin to pubis, the exhale opens the space from coccyx to head. Match your ability, your stability and your vision, then undulate. Move it back and forth.
The lower body is the primal desire. Primal doesn’t mean primitive, it just means at the very base of your being, it is your support. Undulating the lower body makes the pelvis as pliable as the mind is. The pubis sniffs the earth below you and sniffs out the situation on ground before you sniff out the situation in the atmosphere above you. The dialogue of the third foot is pubis to anus, with the arch of the foot matching the arch of the groin. The anus is the back door of the mouth and the mouth is your tongue, your heart, your ability to speak and be fluent with your words. The anus is to get your trash out. Rolling back and forth develops a dialogue of speaking your heart while getting your garbage out. The art is in endurance, how long you can sustain the movement using the proper technique and speed. Learn to kick yourself below so it opens you up above. Always know that where you go is where you’re good. Where you don’t go is where you don’t have as much insight. Go somewhere new.
Use the rocking to generate heat in the groins. You always want to heat ourself up from the basement, beginning at one’s primal level of being so that the heat rises up. The first main gland we work with is the reproductive organs. It is the ability to strike a match, create a fire and generate heat. Heat ignites; it initiates conversation. There are three things are needed to create a fire: oxygen, spark and fuel, then constant attention so the fire doesn’t go out. The breath is the oxygen for the fire, the mind is the fuel that is driving the fire and the friction of rocking back and forth is to ignite. After that it is all about constant vigilance, constant attention to maintain the fire, knowing that if it gets too hot it will be burn down your house down yet if there is too much moisture, it will go out. Rocking back and forth lets you play with not only your heat, but also your fluency. Your underground waters will heat up and create steam, this steam then moves through your heart so your heart doesn’t become overheated. The first dialogue is fire and water, north and south, effort and grace.
Keep using the breath and keep the mind fixated. Keep the rhythm fluid and moving. When learning a new skill there will always be a constant amount of effort required to learn technique, to not be personal, to do the work, to achieve the goals you set. If you make enough effort it will soon be all about the grace. Make graceless effort; find the effortless grace. The grace will always rain down, you just have to keep yourself open and available to catch it. Maintain the imagery that you are an open vessel, an open container that has the capacity to be filled and emptied. In this way, you won’t get stuck in your personal story, thinking that it is hard, that you can’t do it. Instead, rid yourself of your personal opinions and prejudices and remain formal while working to transcend the personal limitations within the confines of form.
After you have done this rocking for a few minutes begin to switch to a circular motion which will set up the “drain” for the kidneys, one’s toilets. When you start to spin around yourself image that the spine is a spoon, while the pelvis is a pot. Stir the spine in the pot to move the water, so as to create more fluency and fluidity within the body. First you played with the heat of going back and forth, now you want to ensure that the fire you started doesn’t grow out of control. Move all around yourself so you train yourself to move around obstacles. Everything in nature is circulatory, only the mind is linear; move the body in a way that begins to emulate nature’s cycles. A stir in time would be clockwise, the perennial spin of the seasons. A stir counterclockwise would be the spin of baseball, from home base, to first, to second, to third and back to home. You are training yourself to play the game within the realm of time. Draw the lines with the intellect and circle the lines as nature intended. Repeat a few times in both directions.
Go back and forth between rocking and circling until your lower body is so pliant that all stagnancy and rigidity has left. After you have had enough, finish with a full inhale and then exhale to release, to let go, to librate your spirit from the confines of form.
Circles with Shoelace Arms
This practice build on the last one. So after you have completed technique 1 and 2, add this one in.
Put the arms in a shoelace grasp, with one arm up and one arm back, hands clasped behind the centre of the chest. This gives a different handle on the situation than prior. Imagine that the arm position is now the spoon and the pelvis is the pot. You can whisk it by making the movement small and quick, or stir it big, like it is a thick soup. Eventually it’s to know that wherever you like to go, you are already good, and wherever you don’t go, you don’t have as much insight. The trick is to find options, to get around obstacles, to use every technique in the book to go where you don’t normally go. The more options, the more power. You are more powerful when you can change directions as needed.
The kidneys are linked to the adrenal glands. Ensuring that your waters are draining well enables your physical safety and pliancy. When one is rigid, the fear is that one will fall and break, at which point one never moves. This is not a good life. Everyone will fall, learn to be buoyant and spherical so when you fall, you bounce back. The adrenals are the ears, to hear the alarms, to listen to soothing sounds and to be nourished by the sound of the breath. Adrenals are one’s inheritance, one’s ancestral waters, the ability to stand ground and be physically safe within the body.
Do both spins, then switch the arms and spin both ways again. Do it again and again until it is so fluid that you don’t feel caught.
End the way you began with the undulations to ensure the primal fire remains heated, knowing that the heat of the fire is controlled by the fluency of the kidneys. All of this practice is a mystical and magical dialogue, it is not medical. It is magical that you can heat yourself up, it is magical that you can stir your waters and it is magical that you can participate in your health and wellbeing. Use every piece of yourself, become fluent in the practice so you have the capacity and facility to get more joy and understanding out of the mundane things you do.
Then take that big inhale, taking in three sips of air to equalize the pressure in your lungs, and when you can’t hold anymore, pop your cork, let the spirit shoot out of the top of the head and let the gift waves rain down upon you. Keep yourself open and available by opening your palms on your lap and taking a moment.
Hands Interlaced Behind the Back
After you own the first few pranayama techniques, add in another, working your way up your body. It takes three glands to make a floor, a surface, a triangle, and the final gland we are playing with in the lower body is the pancreas. You struck a match at your primal heat source, the reproductive organs, by flicking the pelvis back and forth. You then flushed the adrenals and kidneys by setting up a drain and circling your lower body. The third and final gland in the basement, the lower body, is the pancreas.
The pancreas is connected to the spleen and it is one’s ability to think, ponder, chew, masticate, and exercise good judgement. This is connected to the muscles, which is linked with the mind. The nature of muscles is that they will get rigid and stiff. An overworked muscle is an overworked mind. When one’s thinks too much, one ruminates and chews something until all the air is out of it. Just like a piece of gum is hard after three hours of chewing, your muscles are hard after hours of thinking. As westerners we are taught to overuse our minds, that the intellect is our most valuable asset, so it is very common for muscles to get dense. In fact, our intuitive insights are what we should be developing as it is a deep knowing state. Therefore to lighten up a muscle, to get out of the rational and conditioned mind, use air. The more you can lighten something up and air it out, the more fluffy and porous it will become, and for our muscles this translates to soft and supple tissue. This is what we are striving for in our practice.
Place the hands in reverse prayer with the palms together, or if that seems impossible simply interlace the fingers behind the back like a coat hanger. The breathing technique we use to air out the muscles is bhastrika. This is a quick and forceful inhale and exhale with the idea that your lungs are a great bellows, a large pump for prana to move through. This breathing action is initiated in the diaphragm and works to lighten everything up. With your hands behind your back you have a handle on the memory, which resides in the back of the body. This allows your front, your potential, to be supported as you move forward. Again, if you set a count, don’t do it to burn yourself out, but do it to challenge yourself and remain in a position that becomes uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable but this transformation develops integrity by achieving goals. Make the goals manageable, but don’t make them so easy that you are not challenged.
After a while you can integrate the previous technique and rock back and forth from pubis to anus, ensuring the pilot light is still lit, that the fire is still warm and that you maintain the pliancy in the lower body. When you know you still have that connection to the base level of your being begin to use your arms, Flap your “wings” a bit, moving the elbows back and forth, so that it is very buggy and very small, like you are an insect. This is an opportunity to heat up and move the scapula, to start to roll all around the shoulder joint and to create a dialogue that is initiated in the upper body to handle things in a slightly different manner. Play it in the depths initially and know the only reason to go deep is for a higher rise. The higher rise starts to put us in the living quarters so we develop our ability to be capable on the planet.
After the personal count is finished, take a deep breath, take in those three extra sips of air and then exhale to let it all go. Always establish your centre, mediate in the middle, take a moment after each technique to direct your breath: inhale up the spine which is the effort to fire up, then exhale down the front which is the ability to let grace fall. Be open and available to catch grace.