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The Aquarian Teacher™

KRI International Teacher Training
in kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan®

Level 2 Practitioner certification course

Kundalini Research Institute

The Aquarian Teacher ™
KRI International Teacher Training
in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan®
Practitioner Certification Course

Vitality & Stress Student Manual

Produced and Published by
Kundalini Research Institute

13-Digit ISBN: 978-1-934532-04-1 Student Manual and Study Guide

Copyright © 2008
Kundalini Research Institute.
First Edition, February 2008

All teachings, yoga sets (kriyas), techniques, and meditations courtesy

of YB Teachings, LLC. Reprinted with permission.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of these YB Teachings may be reproduced

or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval
system, except as may be expressly permitted in writing by
the Kundalini Research Institute.

To request permission please write to:

PO Box 1819
Santa Cruz, N.M. 87567 USA

Many people served to create the Vitality & Stress Course and manual, one of five modules in the Level 2
Transformation Series of The Aquarian Teacher™, Kundalini Research Institute’s International Teacher Training Program
in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan®. The teachings represented here are based entirely on the teachings of
Yogi Bhajan, Master of Kundalini Yoga and Doctor of the Psychology of Communication.

We would like to acknowledge the following people for their dedication and service to the teachings
throughout the development of this course.


Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, Ph.D.

Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa

Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, Ph.D., Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa,
Guru Raj Kaur Khalsa

Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa

Devi Dyal Kaur, Jai Jeet Sangeet Kaur Khalsa, Siri Neel Kaur Khalsa

Guru Raj Kaur Khalsa

Grace Hopper

Kirn Kaur, Siri Chand Singh, Hari Bhajan Kaur, Hargobind Singh,
Panch Nishan Kaur, Tej Kaur, Ardas Kaur, Sat Purkh Kaur

Gurujot Singh Khalsa

Narayan Singh Khalsa

Special thanks to all the members of the KRI Teacher Training Executive Council
who have guided and held the vision for this project.



traditions. Nothing in this manual should be construed as medical advice. Any
recipes mentioned herein may contain potent herbs, botanicals and naturally occur-
ring ingredients which have traditionally been used to support the structure and
function of the human body. Always check with your personal physician or licensed
health care practitioner before making any significant modification in your diet or
lifestyle, to insure that the ingredients or lifestyle changes are appropriate for your
personal health condition and consistent with any medication you may be taking.


The aquarian teacher training

level 2 Program


Welcome to Transformation: The Aquarian Teacher Training, Level 2. This will give you an overview of the purpose,
goals and approach of this second stage of training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan.

THE VISION OF THE AQUARIAN TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAMS this stage of training makes you an acknowledged and certi-
is to produce teachers of Kundalini Yoga who demonstrate fied teacher of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan.
awareness in consciousness, excellence in teaching skills, and Each stage has its own tasks, criteria and inner and outer
serve as an example of depth and maturity of character. The disciplines. When Yogi Bhajan gave the task of completing
purpose of creating our global community of teachers has this course of training to KRI he used the analogy of a B.A.,
three main parts: M.A. and a Ph.D. In the intimacy of your own consciousness
it is similar to youth, adolescence and adulthood. It is a con-
1. Prepare the foundations for the shift of humanity to the tinuous process with distinct stages of growth and develop-
Aquarian Age by applying the legacy of the teachings, the ment followed by accomplishments and service. The Aquarian
Golden Chain and the example of Yogi Bhajan. Academy supports this process by providing the training,
2. Serve and uplift individuals to be healthy, happy and selection and support of trainers for each of the three stages.
holy. I welcome all of you who have taken on the challenges
3. Provide the opportunity for each person to awaken his and opportunities of the Transformation stage of our training
or her capacity, character and sensitivity as a self-sensory program. You are all instructors who have successfully com-
human being who can be effectively intuitive, creative and pleted studying the Foundations of Kundalini Yoga and apply-
compassionate. ing your awareness to cultivating the identity of a teacher
within yourself. To certify as an instructor is quite an arduous
To achieve these goals we have created, with the direct process filled with challenges and insights.
guidance of Yogi Bhajan, a training program whose core In the first stage of study you must master a lot of con-
process has three stages: tent: kriyas, breathing, postures, philosophy, sadhana, medi-
1. Aquarian Teacher: Foundations & Awakening. This tation and the basics of instructing students. Along with this,
stage includes the fundamental understanding and experience many of you had to understand and commit to breaking old
that the basic self is always one with the One (Ek Ong Kar); habits and establishing new ones that support the lifestyle and
understanding of the essential parts and character of a human applied consciousness of these teachings. Kundalini Yoga is all
being; and the fundamental principles and practices of about direct experience and the capacity to apply that experi-
Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. Completing this ence to your life. It is not simply a collection of techniques,
stage makes you a certified instructor of Kundalini Yoga. concepts, good ideas and inspiring beliefs. So I congratulate
2. Aquarian Teacher: Transformation. This stage includes you for your efforts, accomplishments and heart.
the projection of identity (Sat Nam); the embodiment of char- The Aquarian Teacher: Transformation is the second stage
acter through word and behavior; and the expansion and of training and personal development. It is fundamentally dif-
deepening of the teacher's state of consciousness. ferent from the first stage in which you established the foun-
Completing this stage makes you a certified practitioner of dations for becoming a teacher and for a lifetime of personal
Kundalini Yoga practice.
3. Aquarian Teacher: Realization. This stage is the experi- The second stage of training is about the transformation
ence of ecstasy (Siri Wahe Guru) in all states of awareness. and deepening of your own core capacities, character and con-
That experience is expressed in the teacher's words, actions, sciousness. In this stage we will share a lot of new content in
accomplishments, character, seva and reputation. Completing terms of information, techniques and themes, but the essence

Transformation overview

of this stage is about your establishing the ability to use your The idea is to build the foundation of a new age. “Only
applied mind, applied intelligence and applied awareness. people of experience will be talked to and listened to in the
This is why we require at least two years of teaching expe- Age of Aquarius. For the past five thousand years religion
rience during your mastery of the five modules of study con- has taught you to redeem your soul. But the soul is already
tained in this stage. It will give you the opportunity to apply redeemed! Rather you should redeem your “shallowism,”
the ideas, habits and techniques to yourself, both in your own redeem your “cheapism” and your not being true to your
life, and to a broad range of different classes and students. In own words. Redeem your “pimpism” and your “prostitution-
this stage of training, we are establishing depth: the capacity ism” of your self.
to reflect on your own experience and to analyze your own Sensory humans will be deeply sincere. They will per-
habits, communication, mind, and relationships, and then to ceive and act on the fact that they are factual. We are a
act with consciousness, intuition and compassion. When this fact of life; a fact of existence born in the image of God.
is fully embodied, it shows clearly in your words and actions Understand that there is nothing more beautiful than you.
through your kindness, service, willingness to accept and give The time of self-value has come. It is time “to be, to BE.”
feedback, capacity for effective teamwork and your focus on The time to know that “I am, I AM.” The time has come
uplifting others. Critical to this stage is the practical ability to not to search for God, but to be God. The time has come
step back from your impulses, attachments, fears, and agen- not to trust in God, but to dwell in the working God. You
das and apply your neutral mind to your own inner conflicts, must be aware of how ugly we have made this earth and of
imagined limitations and projections. how beautiful it's supposed to be. Every grain of sand is
Each of the five modules of Transformation focuses on a God but we have to have our subtle body, our sophisticated
crucial facet of your mind and consciousness. Think of all the self, in order to see it. That's why over the last thirty years
modules as parts of a single process. To master the lessons of of teaching I couldn't fit in with your concept of reality.
each module is to cut the facets of your own diamond mind You are a collection of molecules living by the pranic
so that it can scintillate and reflect your spirit. This stage of body. The pranic body and the psychic body in proportion
Transformation will take all that you have learned before and and in conjunction with creation, make you clean and clear.
polish it and let you apply it. It is a time to clear inner con- You stop searching and you begin practicing. Your flow
flicts, along with any mental and emotional blocks that might becomes as vast as the universe—and sometimes beyond the
inhibit your full linkage to the Golden Chain and to the radi- universe.
ance and responsibility that comes with being an adept I don't want anybody—because I want everybody!
teacher. That's a difficult concept. I run with the flow of the psyche
It is not a small thing to know how to zero your ego and of universe. I go as it takes me, moves me and desires me to
allow the Infinite to serve through you. Without the ego con- go. Man will finally stop cutting corners and come to live a
stantly dividing the world into polarities there exists only God. real existence. We must help each other and deal with each
The energy that generates, organizes and delivers all of our other as equals.
existence and experience. The love of existence—of our life and reality—with the
This is a special time in the evolution of human con- flow of the psyche, will give us the flow of Self within the
sciousness. People's sensitivity is changing and the pressure self. Our sensory system will be our archangel, protecting
of the world growing and evolving is provoking us to become and glorifying us. Those who hustle and hassle will die suf-
self-sensory humans. We who go through these courses and fering. Your mind will direct you toward the right channel.
master the consciousness within ourselves are the teachers Our presence is our purity. We won't have to create fan-
and guides of this new age. tasies and imagination of the unreal.
Yogi Bhajan presented his vision of the coming times and
who we are to become as self-sensory human beings:

Transformation overview


transformation overview

We will master ourselves and our service, character and When we learn deeply it requires a real transformation:
commitment along with the most powerful thing, our indi- a transformation of thought, in the neurons, in the dance
vidual grace. Our nobility is our projection. Gracious, kind and intelligence of the trillions of cells in our body and in
and compassionate: these are our central features. Our cre- our capacity for intuition and subtlety. We want to learn,
ativity will be our sensory system. We will be overflowing but it only happens with discipline and with the rhythm and
with energy, touching the hearts of people and filling their regularity of applying that discipline. That change is painful.
empty cavities. Our actions will be great, and our flow will We want it without “deserving it.” We want to build and
fulfill the hearts of others. We will create a new humanity. decorate our spiritual house without having to lay and test
We will have a new sensory system and thus will create the the foundations. Because laying solid foundations means
Age of Aquarius. This is the fundamental character you digging, which often uncovers old assumptions, perspectives
must remember. This is how you will purify yourselves. and beliefs that we don’t want to face or confront.
An important part of this first problem of truly learning
Learning Versus Knowledge is avoidance. When something is painful, our negative mind
The first problem for us is that we must learn. Not just acquire protects us. We limit the feedback, advice and assessment
things or knowledge. We need clear eyes, not simply new that a teacher gives us or that our peers give us. We react
sights to behold. In order to do that, Yogi Bhajan has given us against things that do not agree with our self-image and
an impeccable and grand discipline: a platform of practice on with the strategy and interests to which we have committed
which we can test ourselves, heal ourselves, expand ourselves ourselves. Most of the time, we do not even know that we
and gradually become Aquarian Teachers. That individual and do this. We rationalize it. We slip into a quiet self-decep-
group discipline produces the base of experience that becomes tion. We demonize the other. We form into cliques that
the wisdom within us, which gives strength and reality to our only agree with us for their own reasons. It is normal
consciousness and actions. Our practice and training must go human behavior, but it is not the standard of a good stu-
beyond the mind while also training the mind. dent, or a good teacher. Yogi Bhajan put it this way:
Learning at this stage requires discipline, humility, vitality
and courage. For the change is inside you. He explained this You are lying to yourself as a matter of habit…I know you.
goal: I know you what you think, I know what your base is, I
I am just trying to make you change, because you want know what your projection is. I can understand your psy-
to change but you don't change. I know you. It is very diffi- che. I understand the frequency and I can compute it in a
cult for you to leave your habits. First we create habits and second. If I start telling everybody what I know, anybody
then our habits create us. who sees me coming will cross to the other side of the
Lots of people say, “We want to learn.” Not true! It is road. Because nobody wants to know!
the last thing we want to do. Learning is as painful, as diffi-
For Transformation to fulfill its purpose we must each
cult, and as tragic as tragedy can be. Learning is training
commit to the discipline of regular practice and to the disci-
the subjective to read the objective. Learning is not about
pline of communication that is direct, open and real. We must
the object. Learning is not “Okay, I am going to do business.
never isolate ourselves from each other. Part of the growth that
I am going to reach the goal.” That is objectivity. Learning is
happens during this stage is the dynamic interaction with
no such thing. Learning is first subjectivity and then objectiv-
other students and teachers in authentic conversations from
ity. The problem is that no human has the nerves for it.
the heart.
Forgive me for that. You are wonderful people but you
are bad students. That is just the way the Western mind is.
You want what you want. The first principle of the world is
to deserve what you want, not to desire what you want.

transformation overview

Conscious Communication When we learn deeply and we clear our inner capacity to
Conscious communication is the second skill that is critical perceive; when we stay open to listening and correction; when
to master during this stage of learning. We will dedicate an we apply the art of conscious communication as students and
entire module to this key capacity. It is something we culti- teachers, then, we become simply who we are. We share that
vate and improve in every moment of the Transformation with each person so they, too, may become themselves in the
training and, in fact, every day for the rest of our lives. Yogi light and reality of their own spirit.
Bhajan taught volumes on this topic and even completed his
doctoral dissertation on it. It is central to success at this The Core Capacities of a Teacher
stage. Demonstrating this core capacity is one of the para- The third problem Yogi Bhajan identified is the challenge of
mount criteria with which to assess your progress. character and virtues. We might call them the character and
core capacities of a teacher. Having a good time learning
Communication is a gift to know. Communication is a something is not enough. We need to embed the lessons
gift to understand. Communication is a gift to realize. If into our body, mind, habits and life. He forewarned us, “You
you do not use communication for these three things you do not develop in you the inner vitality to grab the virtues.”
had better shut up and not talk. When we have enough vitality, devotion, focus and neutral-
Communication plays the most vital part in anybody's ity to invite virtues into our own character, then we can live
human life. Mostly seventy percent of your talk is uncon- them. He called this the ability to live and act personally, but
scious and about sixty percent of your communication is decide impersonally. We live by certain virtues and charac-
purposeful. In that communication, you have an aim. You ter no matter what our personal characteristics, tendencies
want to achieve something. That is another category. or situation may be. Consciously working on this depth of
Third category is your approach to another person where character is central to Transformation.
you want to impress. You want to control. You want to be From his first class to his last, Yogi Bhajan taught us to
acknowledged. This is eighty percent. These are the three rise to our caliber and character. He spoke about this chal-
main categories of human talking. lenge this way:
Three things are unfortunate. You have never learned
to talk in order to know each other. You do not have a Life was not given to you for play. Life was given to
rapport with the other person at the same frequency. You you for one simple thing: to experience life. Life was given
do not have the strength to acknowledge the other person— to you to experience life. Life was not given to you to expe-
to acknowledge not just the character of that person, but rience traumas. Life is a caliber. It is given to you once,
also the characteristic of that person. and it's not meant to be wasted in games.
That is why you don't talk truthfully; because, truth is •••
simple, straight and with a smile. You don't have to
remember it. You have to say it. You know it and then you You have two options: you can serve the ego or you
have to live it. It is so simple. You make it so complicated can serve the truth. There are three ways to live: live by
and then you mess yourself up in the end. You all die of your spirit, live by your mind, or live by your ego. You
your own entanglements and your life suffers because of cannot live by your mind because your mind is etheric. It
your own entanglement. Communication is one of the best goes back and forth. So you have to either live by your
arts God gave you as human. It can make you the best! spirit, by your soul, or you have to live by your ego. If
Worst of all is that you can't talk to yourself. That is the you live by your ego, then you are going to do funny
worst. Three things you can't do. You can't listen to your- things. Then you are going to do what you want, not
self, you can't talk to yourself and you can't be yourself. what the universe wants.

transformation overview

What is the problem? The problem is that we don't you? I give you one simple answer for all. Just to tell you
have depth. We have dimensions. We have so many how refined you are. Maya is a faculty to test your steel.
dimensions that we do not know which direction we have. Can you cut through time and space or can't you?
So we have neither depth nor direction. All we have is Nothing can make you great. Nothing. If money can
dimensions. And we play games with our dimensions. We make you great, there are many billionaires here. Are they
definitely play games with our ego. Heavily. great? No. If a wife can make you great, there are people
We love games. Why? Because we do not know how who have married ten times and divorced twenty times. If
to pass time. We love going outside ourselves because we children can make you great, there are people who have a
do not know how to go inside ourselves. We have to great line of them that goes on forever. Does your own self
create one situation or the other because we do not know make you great? No. Great is when you impossibly make
how to meditate. We have to play games because we do the impossible possible. When you project to make the
not know truth. Why does a man who knows truth have impossible possible that is called?
to play games? Students: Great.
In our caliber of consciousness the purity of our mind Yogi Bhajan: That needs a commitment and character
needs to have a base. Can you build any house where you in your base, because you need a projection into the
don't build a base first? If a human being wants the life, Infinity. In reality, you are trying to stimulate your own self
and the life is without the base of character, do you think into the Infinity. That's a law.
that life will be a life? And do you think without commit-
ment there will be character? How can you know your Assess your own character as you go through the
character? First you know “dos” and “don'ts.” And when it Transformation training. Find your base. Establish your princi-
comes to temptation you conquer it. That means you have ple commitment without any split of personality. You, reality
character. and God are a unity, a non-dual presence in every moment.
All facets of the human body have to be controlled and The exploration of character begins with the dos and don'ts.
characterized by the character of commitment, and that The discovery of your depth and virtues happens with chal-
has to be tested by the principle of commitment. That's lenges and tests. The ecstasy of your character is effortless
the beauty of Dharma. Dharma is nothing, my dear folks, grace and innocence that sees the impossible done by the
but a principle commitment. It is not whether I am reli- Infinite. Character, as understood in Kundalini Yoga, is not
gious or I am not religious. I am a good man or bad man. good or bad, but a property of consciousness.
That's not the test. The test is: Do I have principle com- As a Master and as our teacher, what does Yogi Bhajan
mitment and do I live it? want in us and from us as practitioners of Kundalini Yoga at
Are we crazy that we do not have character and con- this second stage of training? What is the charge we accept
stant strength and we still feel that we are human beings from him to guide us as we open up to learning, to com-
and we can carry our life? No! It won't happen. Treachery municating consciously, to expanding our own conscious-
shall meet treachery, betrayal shall meet betrayal, non- ness and cultivating our character? He gave a lecture after
commitment shall meet non-commitment. What is the twenty-three years and thirty days of teaching us. He evalu-
result? Agony, pain, disease, and death. ated our efforts as students and said exactly what he want-
Who can say whether you have a committed character ed and what we had to deliver at our next stage of growth
or not? Maya. Maya has a very subtle way to test you. and maturity as student-teachers.
Maya has to do just one thing. It splits your personality.
Sometimes you might be worried, “Why do all these things
come to harass me?” Why do all these things come to test

transformation overview

Now I want the result. I want you to grow up. Because as dents and in your life. We do not need you to simply teach
my students you do not understand what will happen to about intuition. You must be intuitive, recognize it, and form
you. The whole world is going to fall apart in such a way an effective realistic relationship to that capacity. Most
that only the few of you will be the hope. The time has capacities are life-long studies. But at this stage you must
changed. It is not the Piscean age. You must go out and demonstrate them, not simply understand them.
uplift people and not worry about yourself. Do not worry References and links to web resources will encourage you
about facade and fads, and what you like and you dislike. to expand your knowledge, practice additional techniques
Have you learned something? You are responsible. and master background materials for each area of study. The
Nothing but responsible! And there is no other way but to courses themselves emphasize carefully chosen meditations,
be responsible. If you can't show a response to me then kriyas, and quotations. All needed information is presented
you have no relationship with me. If I can't respond to in highly interactive learning environments. You will explore
you then I have no relationship with you. That word topics and discuss them with other students in both small
“response” makes the word “responsible.” If I am not able and large groups. You will answer questions, generate ques-
to show you the response then I am no good. If you can't tions, role-play, solve puzzles, and write short and long
respond you are no good. Let's face the truth. essays. You will have the opportunity to practice meditations
We have to learn something today. And that is how to deeply over an extended time. You will test and observe the
talk, how to work, how to live, how to have facets and application of these techniques and attitudes in your life.
facilities and how to have the characteristics and character
to live. I want to live as me. I don't live like you. You Experiencing the Master
don't have to live like me. You have to live like you. Each Pivotal to this path of study is a chance for you to encounter
person must live it to his infinite psyche. Then there will the energy, teaching, and character of Yogi Bhajan as direct-
be harmony. ly and personally as you can. We will see many videos of
him teaching classes. You will study those classes, feel the
In order to deliver an effective response to another per- effects, and explore the edited transcripts, and then write on
son or to a student, we need to be stable, trustworthy, and the key ideas that create a meaningful unity across the great
mature. We need to be able to apply our intuition and ele- diversity of topics.
vate them in consciousness to heal, become clear and live There is also a mentoring process that occurs throughout
in the creative reality of their own soul. We need the caliber the time you are studying in these Transformation classes. It
to do this in each and every circumstance. is designed to catalyze your capacity for self-examination.
Transformation is organized with this challenge and goal Ideally you will have a mentor who will help you reflect on
in mind, so that all five modules are a single process. Each how well you have integrated these teachings into your life,
module has a central theme. That theme is reinforced in all how deeply you have confronted and dealt with your own
the other modules. The links between the different ideas are inner conflicts, and how your actions as a teacher embody
forged through your experiences and by constant exercises grace, character and conscious communication. Questions
and efforts to refine your ability to reflect, to be aware and about the content, philosophy and application of what you
to be consciously conscious of what you are learning. In learn can be shared and explored in student groups, with
addition to the central theme of each module, we have iden- your mentor and with your primary course teachers.
tified core capacities, which you must master. Powerful and For each of the five modules there is a brief overview of
clear intuition, the capacity for shuniya (living at the still the specific goals for the course. The student manual will
center), the mastery of polarity, and the ability for harmo- guide you through the materials, primary exercises and
nious communication are examples of those capacities. Each tasks, and link you to other resources on the web that sup-
module cultivates those capacities and asks you to assess port all the modules.
how well you can use those with yourself, with your stu-

transformation overview

As Director of Training for KRI, I welcome you to a new

level of challenge and accomplishment. Many trainers have
contributed to the development of these courses. Those
contributions have been honored and brought to reality by
an excellent development team. Creative ideas and practical
tests of the exercises and processes in the modules have
been an exciting group achievement over several years. The
goal is to give you a course of study that authentically
embodies the intentions and directions of Yogi Bhajan so
that you may all experience the touch of the master. It is
also part of a systematic presentation that can be used
worldwide and in many languages. His vision was to have
unique and vibrant differences all working in unity. Having
been his student since he began teaching in the United
States in 1969 up until his death in 2004, I know that in-
depth training has been paramount in his efforts. He wanted
to give each of us a chance to be a realized, content human
being, capable of happiness, excellence and fulfillment in the
Aquarian Age—to give peace a chance and to give God a
chance in every heart.

Gurucharan Singh Khalsa

KRI Director of Training



Chapter One: Explore Your Vitality, Recognize Your Stress

Chapter Two: Adaptive and Toxic Stress

Chapter Three: Commotions, Consciousness and Character

Chapter Four: Perpetual, Preventive Habits

Chapter Five: The Spiritual Warrior: Identity and Victory

Chapter Six: Cherhdi Kala: Heal and Lead in the Aquarian Age






Explore Your Vitality,

recognize your stress


Welcome & Overview

Someone once said that it doesn’t matter how long you live, COURSE GOALS
instead, what matters is how alive and vital you are each Kundalini Yoga prepares each of us to be teachers who act
moment. No one wants to simply exist. The goal of most peo- with undaunted spirit, live with exalted caliber and character,
ple, but especially the Kundalini Yogi, is to feel all of life and and have the vitality to cross every crisis. We must cultivate
let life feel you. the core skill in this coming age—recognizing stress in our self
To live without cultivating your vitality is to be cursed like and others and being able to transform it.
Tithonus in Greek Mythology. When Eos asked Zeus to make This course is our chance to look closely at how we react
her lover, Tithonus, whom she had kidnapped from the royal to, cope with and master stress in our lives.
house of Troy, live forever that they might enjoy eternal bliss,
the wish was granted; but with a harsh twist. Eos forgot to ask 4 We will identify our stress personality.
for vitality and eternal youth. So Tithonus indeed lived forever; 4 We will build our core vitality, mental
He was trapped and begged constantly for death to take him: endurance and spiritual clarity.
4 We will explore consciousness as a primary
“But when loathsome old age pressed full upon him, and he
tool in building vitality.
4 We will explore the process, effects and
could not move nor lift his limbs, this seemed to her in her
heart the best counsel: she laid him in a room and put to the
downsides of too much stress.
shining doors. There he babbles endlessly, and no more has
strength at all, such as once he had in his supple limbs.”
Then we will identify strategies to cope with stress and miti-
(from Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite)
gate its ill effects. Who knows? We may even come to love
the times of challenge and crisis in life. We will connect to
This is a profound description of our inner polarity: the desire
the spiritual warrior within us—the leader, the healer and the
to live forever and the fear of infirmity. We do not fear death
teacher. Finally, we will connect with other teachers and iden-
as much as the loss of vitality. Without vitality, life is but a
tify how we can build and strengthen our 3HO community so
shadow of existence. When we are vital we have energy and
that it excels in the face of transformation, upheaval and glob-
consciousness to act on our values, to express our highest
al change that marks the coming of the Aquarian Age. Each
character and to fulfill our destiny. What wears us down is
of us as teachers must be well versed in the conversation of
stress; stress gradually invites infirmity, dulls the senses and
stress in order to lead each person toward their own inner
clouds our judgment. When we are vital, our entire projection
vitality, mental endurance and spiritual reality.
reflects that vitality and capacity; we show our vitalized per-
The affirmation for this course is:
sonality. When we are under the heavy burden of too much
stress, we flip into our stress personality. “I cultivate my core vitality and honor the opportunities
Yogi Bhajan asked us to recognize the reality of stress and that come with each breath—to receive them as a gift. I
encouraged us to practice the disciplines that would cultivate recognize the value of my physical and energetic bodies
our innate vitality and counteract the stressors in our lives. and take steps to maintain them. I thrive under stress
Vitality is a property of consciousness and the intelligence of and challenge; I am a spiritual warrior who delivers lead-
our body and mind. We ignore it at our own peril. Yogi Bhajan ership, elevation and effective decisions. I practice a
advised us to give in to our own consciousness, to surrender lifestyle that incorporates continuous preventative habits
to the disciplines of our soul, and to honor and optimize the for vitality and victory. I have the mental and spiritual
gift of life. That is why we master the art of relaxation, culti- endurance to cross every crisis and be a beacon to navi-
vate our reserves of vitality, and learn to recognize and defeat gate and excel in the Aquarian Age.”


On this first day of our course we will: This course is one of the five mirrors of Transformation in the
4Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress in KRI International Level Two Teacher Training. We will see how
ourselves and others we behave under stress and learn the skills needed to help
4Understand and compare the qualities of vitality, stress other stressed out people. Stress affects our communication; it
and relaxation provokes the shadow aspects and hidden agendas of our per-
4Profile our stress personality sonality, which we explore further in Conscious
4Explore what our stress burden actually is Communication. It pressures our mind and the capacity of the
4Experience a class with the Master, Yogi Bhajan, that three minds to function smoothly, which we observe in Mind
takes us to the essence of our basic elementary stress and Meditation. It strongly affects our capacity for relation-
4Begin to fill our Stress Backpack with meditation tools ships that are true and authentic; this we observe in Authentic
that will help us to excel during the change of the Age Relationships. Stress comes from many sources throughout
4Enhance our vitality and rid our body and mind of the the stages of our life and we can cultivate those qualities and
effects of stress through kriyas and meditations habits that will support us or hinder us throughout those
changes, our LifeCycles and LifeStyles.
This is a time to exam yourself, share and compare with
other teachers, and commit deeply to your Self and your
growth, to do what you need to do in order to be vital, to
inspire and to serve All.



Meet and Greet

The purpose of this exercise is to meet other people in the Walk around once more, but keep your eyes lowered. Raise
course, to direct your attention toward the topics of stress and your hands slightly in front of you using your fingertips as an
vitality and to have some fun. antenna to sense your way forward. Do your best to not run
into anyone without raising your eyes. When the facilitator
Begin by walking around the room at a moderate, relaxed pace gives a signal, find your new partner without looking into their
while chanting Sa Ta Na Ma. Walk smoothly, but in unex- face. Sit with your eyes closed and share your answers to the
pected directions and keep a ‘Mona Lisa’ smile on your face. following question:
What gives you relaxation after an unexpected
When the facilitator calls out ‘inhale’, choose a partner, say stressor?
Sat Nam and introduce yourself. Share with your partner the As you leave your partner say Sat Nam and open your eyes
answer to the following: to see who your partner was.
What is the funniest stress reaction you have
witnessed in another person? Walk about chanting once again. As you travel through your
To end, instead of just saying goodbye or Sat Nam, make a universe smiling and chanting, mentally solve this mathemat-
unique sound—a signature sound projected from your divine ics problem so you can share your answer with your partner
animal or your divine self. Make the sound a few times so that when you meet.
you can recognize your partner’s and your partner can recog- What is the Square Root of 108 minus 28 plus 1? Divide
nize yours. Then with a smile, leave your partner and begin that number by 9 and share the answer with your partner.
walking and chanting again. After you share and compare the results of your computation
with your partner, ask your partner this question:
Again, when the facilitator calls out ‘inhale’, greet the next What is a great example of someone handling
person, introduce yourself and share the answer to the ques- stress with vitality and consciousness?
tion: Leave your partner and thank them with a Sat Nam.
What are the little everyday things that
add your stress levels? As you begin waking again, lower your eyes and use your fin-
After sharing, say goodbye with Sat Nam; make no other gertips as a guide once again. Begin making that unique sound
sounds. that you created with your first partner. Listen for the sound
of your first partner. Carefully and gradually, with your eyes
Walking and chanting with a smile, find your next partner and lowered to 1/10, find your way back to that partner until you
share the answer to the question: are touching fingertips with theirs. Open your eyes and share
What are the pet peeves that trigger your stress? with your partner the answer to the question:
Thank your partner and leave them with a Sat Nam. When is uncertainty exciting for you and when
is it stressful for you?
This time as you walk around chanting Sa Ta Na Ma, think Sit with this partner for a few minutes and discuss your
about the question: experience during the Meet & Greet exercise:
What is a personal stress trigger for you that How did the different ways that we greeted each other
others might find inconsequential? change your experience? How did your own perception,
Greet your new partner and share your thoughts about this internal reactions and stress change with each of those
question. conditions? Were you equally relaxed and/or stressed in
each part of the exercise?


Each of us meets new situations and new people every

day. We bring to each of those meetings our internal state,
our background stress and our background relaxation, which
shape how we are perceived and how we perceive the other
person. Our subconscious alertness is hard-wired in and it
responds very quickly. The Negative Mind is one of the most
powerful functions of our mind. To be able to know ourselves
clearly and to walk around as Guru Nanak did or as Buddha
did, with openness and compassion for all people, we must
be relaxed inside. We cannot be defensive. Instead, we must
be filled with the vitality and openness that allows all our cells
and thoughts to communicate in unison with each other and
with the people that we meet. Monitoring, developing, and
projecting from the vitality of our inner world changes the
outer world. It is one of the arts of a yogi.


Self-SURVEY FOR VITALITY & STRESS Date: __________________

Take a few minutes to answer the following self-survey. Rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 9 for each of the statements or ques-
tions that are listed. They are intended to alert you to the topic, expectations and possibilities that mastery of vitality and stress
can bring you in the science of Kundalini Yoga.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I can recognize stress in myself before it becomes symptomatic.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 During high levels of stress, I tend to overeat.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 During high levels of stress, I tend to undereat.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 During high levels of stress, I take actions to lower its effect.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I recognize when the “stress personality” of another person takes over their normal projection.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I regularly confront my “elementary stress” and release its effects from my body and mind.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I can recognize vitality in my feelings, behaviors and approach to fulfillment.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I know the difference between vitality, stress and relaxation.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I understand the difference between adaptive and toxic stress.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I am aware and follow guidelines for nutrition and eating that help to combat the buildup
of allostatic load.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I know and cultivate the primary characteristics and attitudes that lead to resilience and hardiness
in the face of great stressors and crises.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I can recognize and control the reactions of my subconscious reverse personality.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I know my own stress personality profile.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I know about and cultivate good sleep habits that combat stress and increase vitality.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I know and practice specific techniques to overcome information overload and the fragmenting
effects of stress on my physical, pranic and subtle bodies.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I can recognize when stress creates a tendency to relapse into negative habit patterns,
and I counter those tendencies before acting on them.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I do not isolate under the pressures of stress and crisis and strive to create positive social
relationships with others.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I know specific massage techniques to relieve stress and increase health.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 I am confident that I can maintain vitality and consciousness throughout any crisis.



Yogi Bhajan often said that we could revitalize behind it, all we have to do is open the gate. That rush of
ourselves in as little as 15 or 20 minutes. water clears every obstacle before it, making a way for the
streams to flow and for growth to come to the thirsty lands
Many of the kriyas and meditations that he gave for increased awaiting it.
vitality would gradually build energy within our system, circu- This kriya unleashes the energy that is within you. It
late the energy we already have or release the blocks keeping begins by stimulating the Navel Point energy and releasing the
us from our own energy. The goal is to use the energy that is reserve energy that is stored there. It brings that energy to all
always, naturally with us. Yogi Bhajan thought of vitality as a the meridians in the body.
property of our being, a quality of our spirit. It was not so Then the exercises systematically awaken the same flow of
much something that we get, acquire or possess but rather a energy from the solar plexus up to the throat. The kriya then
gift that is always within us, which we can accept, nurture guides the energy to the higher centers and glands.
and release. Vitality is expressed in our flow of life and in our Finally, it opens the energy superhighway of the sushmu-
intuitive sense that guides us to act with integrity, innocence na and the spine. The kriya ends with a short navel medita-
and kindness. tion for healing that creates the effect of Ang Sang Wahe
Because vitality is an innate part of our being, we can do Guru in every cell of your body.
certain, simple things for a very short time and have a pro- It’s a simple set. Its effects are immediate. It’s appropriate
found effect. If there is a dam with miles of water locked up for beginners and advanced alike.

Yogi Bhajan • Spring 1992

1. Balance on your toes and fingertips with the knees

straight but not locked. Rapidly move your hips from
side to side like an animal swishing its tail. 3 minutes.

2. Sitting in Easy Pose, lean back to 60°. Fold your 1

arms across your chest and lock your elbows with your
hands at diaphragm level. Keep your neck straight with
your chin pulled in and roll your shoulders forward in
a circle. 3 minutes.

3. Come into Baby Pose. Bring both hands to the small

of your back and interlock your fingers. Raise your arms 3
up into Yoga Mudra. 3 minutes.

4. Cross your legs in Lotus Pose and lean back on your

elbows. 3 minutes.

5. Stretch your legs out in front of you and grab your

toes. Bring your head to your knees and come back up.
Do this movement rapidly—11 times only. Breathe nor-
mally; do not do Breath of Fire.

6. Sit in Easy Pose, with your hands in Prayer Pose in

the center of your chest. Focus your eyes at the tip of
your nose. Keep your chin in, chest out and neck
straight. Pump your navel point and imagine 30 trillion
points of light in and around you. 3 Minutes.
TO END: inhale deeply, hold your breath and tighten
every muscle of your body. Hold the breath for 10 sec-
onds and then let it go out of the mouth explosively 4
like cannon fire. Repeat this 2 more times.



Exploring vitality, relaxation & Stress

Vitality is a universal gift of consciousness, responds to the stressors and then establishes our optimal bal-
caliber and strength. ance. The gradually increasing negative effects on our system
that “deforms” its normal functioning is called “allostatic
Stress and crisis are universal, too; we’re all stressed out; we
load”; this is what happens when our own stress response
all deal with one kind of crisis or another every day. Relaxation
turns against us. What we define as allostatic load is most in
can be experienced universally as well. When the waves of
line with Yogi Bhajan’s sense of negative stress as a pressure,
action driven by our polarities combine and cease, we can
challenge or change accompanied by fear or other enduring
relax and enjoy the space that arises from that silence, that
emotional response. If we do not control and direct our inner
response, we suffer and create our own problems.
Each of us as teachers wants to awaken vitality, recognize
Sometimes under stress, we maintain an effective con-
and release stress, and master relaxation. One place to begin
sciousness and act from a place of vitality and applied intelli-
this journey is to consciously formulate our own stress profile.
gence. That is certainly the persona and the face that we wish
Let’s start with a common definition of stress as a “constrain-
others to see and that we want to believe is our real self. At
ing force or influence.” Interestingly, the word “stress” has
other times the stressors and the inner allostatic load become
become so common that it has been adopted into many lan-
so heavy that we often act at odds with our self.
guages (Japanese, Hindi, French and others). Usually people
How do we recognize stress and vitality in our self and in
use it to refer to something external, for example, “I am under
our behavior? If we honestly examine our behaviors over time
so much stress.” In general, we experience this strain because
in each area of our life, we will find a mosaic of personalities.
of changes in our life. Yogi Bhajan would say we experience
We are far from constant or unified in our projected personal-
stress or strain when our inner resources are insufficient or
ity and actions. We act very differently in different circum-
blocked and so we cannot respond to challenges effectively.
stances and with different people. Yogi Bhajan emphasized
The same term is used to refer to all the internal feelings that
that 85% or more of our behavior is automatic and determined
accompany stress—overload, tiredness, fatigue and demoraliza-
by our environment. Our physical body supports each of
tion, racing pulse and other unpleasant physical signs.
those personalities and sub-personalities by shaping itself to
Stress is a condition, not an illness be ready to act within any given environment or circumstance.
Stress is not an illness, it is a condition. In this sense it is a It acts according to the dominate emotions, threats, opportu-
general sign of “distress” in an organism. This is how the nities, and expectations in that particular circumstance.
Oxford English Dictionary renders the term. It is a shortened
form of the Middle English where stress and distress were syn-
onymous. In engineering it refers to “the external force exert-
ed on a body that tends to strain or deform its shape.”
In this broad sense, stress means the pressure that life
exerts upon us and the way this pressure makes us feel and
act. Too much unprocessed stress will ultimately “distort” us.
We lose our shape, our focus, our sense of self.

Allostasic Load
The most contemporary approach labels the source of the
pressure as the “stressor,” and our changes in feeling and our
resources to cope with it as the “stress response,” “adaptive
stress response” or “allostasis.” This is the process that Figure 1.1 The Balanced Perspective


We Adjust and Adapt to Internal The Energy Snapshot of Vitality

and External Environments Vitality has a distinctive energy snapshot. When we experi-
We are literally shape shifters! Our body is so cooperative and ence our maximum vitality all these waves of communication,
sensitive that we change in milliseconds. We are “plastic”— emotions, feelings and responses flow smoothly and freely,
neuroplastic and somaplastic—sculpting our form to perceived coordinating all of our functions from the individual cell to a
needs and challenges. We adjust and adapt to our internal and complex problem-solving thought wave. We are a pulsing,
external environments. Our faces change, our movements and interactive, distributed network of information and energy
walk change, our speed of action changes, how our eyes scan exchange. When this happens naturally and unimpeded, we
the world around us changes. All those changes can be sensed are our most present and our presence is most potent. We do
immediately by others on the subconscious level. We reshape not restrict life, we embrace everything that we feel and we
our brain. We strengthen and weaken connections between act spontaneously without distraction or over thinking. Our
individual neurons, groups of neurons and entire brain auras are bright, extended, symmetrical and penetrating. Our
regions. We alter our brain waves and the flow of blood that chakras are flexible and shift their activity seamlessly in the
powers the metabolism of those nerves. We grow new nerves immediacy of life’s flow and our own identity and energy. It is
and destroy others. Some sub-personalities are strong enough these waves of information and emotion that alert our body,
to have their own distinct signature, which registers its partic- call on particular states of consciousness and invoke our var-
ular pattern in the senses, emotions and cognition. Our hor- ious sub-personalities.
mones and neurotransmitters generate complex cascades of Our vitality diminishes when we block off our responses
chemistry that establish a matrix of constant communication to this flood of life. When emotions are denied, suppressed or
between all of our cells. They know their identity, the activity rigidified instead of being processed, when our fears and trau-
of other cells and the needs of the body and the mind. mas constrict our natural flow of intelligence, we lose our
Recently, new tools have allowed us a glimpse into the world sense of integrity, within both our body and our personality.
of genes and genomic expression. The genomic expression of This process often goes unnoticed, dwells in the subcon-
particular genes and their related proteins and chemical scious, or is simply denied. That is why Kundalini Yoga is
helpers change quickly according to the demands of the exter- about freeing what we already have as much as building fur-
nal environment and the internal environment, which includes ther resources and capacities. Kundalini Yoga re-establishes
stress, activity, thoughts, feelings, nutrition, history and pre- the integrity and vitality of our emotional, mental and physi-
dispositions. cal bodies and, in so doing, profoundly closes the gap
The vision of vitality as conceived by the yogi and the sci- between our self and what we experience. Neuroscientist,
entist converge as we observe this somatic intelligence and Candice Pert, expressed this connection of the body and the
sensitivity, which forms a profound matrix of communication mind and its life-enhancing emotional clarity with this defini-
and interaction between every cell, organ and system of the tion: “Emotion can be thought of as ‘the flow of information
body. In yoga we call this Ang Sang Wahe Guru. Each cell is perceived to be essential to the survival of any particular state
a living potential and intelligence. Yogi Bhajan calls this our of consciousness that is making the observation.’” Thoughts,
“30 trillion intelligences” that communicate, compute and act. feelings and information flow together to make us alert, to be
In this framework, the body becomes our subconscious, leap- and express who we are in the moment. This is why a real-
ing into action as intuition and emotion are embodied. We ized yogi is full of vitality! A signature of that vitality is the
can trace many of the thousands of neuropeptides, hormones ability to act consciously conscious and authentic while being
and other signaling molecules down to the individual synapse emotionally flexible and available to the entire universe of
and cell receptor—as they shape us, our body and our subcon- emotions. It is only with this capacity that we can universal-
scious. This is what Yogi Bhajan meant when he said our con- ly engender compassion, kindness and courage. All these
scious experience was based in oceanic waves of chemicals complex mechanisms let us change, respond and adapt. They
and subtle electromagnetic connections. support our highest level of intention, feeling and behavior.


They help us create and change the way we live and our rela- have one. The stress personality gets stronger as we perceive
tionship to our self. our stress levels increasing. The stress personality is a combi-
The automatic changes we go through may be complex, nation of our instinctual coping patterns interacting with the
rapid and pervasive, but we are each designed to notice them, learned attitudes of our ego. When we act from our stress per-
especially in others. People who are familiar with you and sonality, our senses change: the emotion that dominates our
those who don’t know you at all and are equally sensitive and awareness changes, the sound of our voice changes, and per-
can see what state you are in with a single glance. In the haps more fundamentally, our judgment and our ability to
blink of an eye, an energy snapshot is taken. According to that assess a situation changes. We become less flexible, narrow
snapshot, they form an evaluation and instinctively change and increasingly prone to error.
their own behavior toward you. Sometimes we call it our “stress monster”—our raging
We all have a powerful ability to mirror others. We have demon. On the internet you can find many comic and trag-
the capacity to feel empathy and to know what goes on in ic examples of road rage, office freak-outs and frustration melt-
another person. Our immediate assessment of that person and downs. They are frequent enough and recognizable enough to
their energy snapshot determines how we will act and inter- become their own online genre. Most stress personalities do
act with them. True harmonious communication requires both not get that extreme. They are more gradual and relentless, like
parties to be free of inner conflict and to listen to the subtle a desensitizing mask. Our personal stress monster can be very
projection of the other person. Yogi Bhajan told us repeated- clever, deceptive, sweet and even seductive—a silver tongued
ly, “If your presence will not work, then nothing will.” devil. Or it can be a chameleon that changes its colors, disap-
Regardless of our words, skills or goals, a relationship with pearing from threats and stress. It is a pastiche of coping
another person, our self or the Infinite begins with the fre- strategies created by our ego to give us a sense of control,
quency and the quality of our projection. We constantly read safety, and even happiness. For the most part, we accept the
and heed each other. The skill to read and heed our self is not stress personalities of others because we know we have one,
as automatic. Individuals can be either highly aware or barely too. However, the more the stress personality dominates our
aware of their self. Through calm, contemplative discipline, we communication and our actions, the less trust we engender
can observe our self consciously and improve our perception and the more we court disasters of our own making.
and awareness of our self. We need to sit with our experience in a contemplative way
In this next exercise, we will have the opportunity to prac- in order to recognize and identify not only our beauty and
tice this calm, contemplative awareness. You will need to be vitality, but also our stress personality and our relaxed and
open to all your behaviors and feelings. We often automati- healing state.
cally filter our memories and perception to move away from
painful perceptions or to enhance the things we want to “Kundalini Yoga is simply the uncoiling of yourself to find your
believe. For this exercise, accept the positive and the negative potential and your vitality and to reach your virtues. There is
equally, the pleasurable and the painful equally, the instinctu- nothing outside, everything is you. You are the storehouse of
al and the divine equally. From that reflective posture you can your totality.” —Yogi Bhajan
notice, experience and gain mastery over the contrasting ways
you experience life—you will begin to have a choice. You will Later in the course we’ll look at the many sources of stress,
also begin to notice how others respond to you and your var- the mechanisms of stress and the ways that we can effective-
ious expressions of self—your divine projection, your stressed ly cope with stress. Today we’ll begin by contrasting three
projection and your relaxed projection. areas of our experience as we begin to build our stress and
vitality profiles. A profile is ultimately individual. The more
Your Stress Personality—Our “Stress Monster” clearly you can observe yourself and the specific changes and
As you scrutinize your behaviors and feelings under stress you qualities that embody each state, the more useful and realistic
can begin to identify your own “stress personality.” We all your profile will be.



Builing your vitality & Stress Profile

Get into your small groups. Take three sheets of drawing paper At each level, examine yourself. How did you behave, speak
(pages are provided in your textbook) and share colored pen- and interact? What were you like when you were alone and
cils, crayons, and markers. stressed? With a friend and stressed? With a group and
stressed? At work and stressed? Teaching and stressed? How
PART One do you behave as you experience increasing levels of stress?
YOUR ENERGY SNAPSHOT Before you initiate your coping mechanisms—isolate yourself,
15 minutes reach out to others or exercise—are you able to notice the
Immediately after the first kriya, sit straight, in a relaxed, med- stress? How does your body and flow of thoughts change?
itative posture. Slow your breath and begin to experience How does your interaction with others change? Look through
yourself in a very relaxed state. Take time to scan every part the eyes of others. How do they experience you when you are
of your body. Notice the flow of your thoughts. Notice the stressed? What is your stress personality like?
primary feelings and emotions that accompany this state. Take a deep inhalation, exhale and immediately sketch a
Visualize yourself at those times in your life when you were picture that represents you in that stressful state. Capture the
relaxed. Examine your Self. How did you behave, speak and energy and projection of your stress personality.
interact? How were you when you were alone and relaxed? After you sketch your energy snapshot, find eight words to
With a friend and relaxed? With a group and relaxed? At work describe your stress personality. Write the eight words down
and relaxed? Teaching and relaxed? Look through the eyes of along the bottom of the sketch in the spaces provided.
others. How do they experience you when you are relaxed?
Take a deep inhalation, exhale and immediately sketch a PART THREE
picture that represents you in that state of relaxation. Capture YOUR Vitalized personality
the energy and projection of your relaxed personality. 20 minutes
After you sketch your energy snapshot, find eight words to Inhale and stretch up several times to leave behind the last
describe this relaxed personality. Write the words down the visualization. Sit in a meditative posture and do the 1-4-2
right side of the sketch in the spaces provided. Naadi Cleansing breath for 11 minutes. To close, inhale and
let the open energy of your naadis vibrate in every cell. Relax
PART TWO the breath and become completely alert, neutral, vast and
your stress personality filled with vitality.
20 minutes Sense yourself intuitively. Connect and flow with the
Stretch your arms up and take several breaths. Leave the other greater mind, the universe and God. Feel a merger with your
state behind. Once again sit straight in a relaxed, meditative soul, your unknown and the Creator. Allow your own Infinity
yoga posture. Slow your breath and begin to experience your- in; create a sacred space of being and action.
self in your most stressed state. Take time to scan every part As your breath slows down and deepens, allow yourself to
of your body. Notice the flow of your thoughts. Notice the experience your own vitality. What is it like in your body to
primary feelings and emotions that accompany this state. have no hesitation, to act with authentic spontaneity, and to
Visualize yourself in several different situations in your life have all your cells communicating with each other in seamless
when you were stressed and felt stressed. merger with your spirit? Take time to scan every part of your
Imagine a scale of your stress level from 1 to 10 with 10 body. Notice the flow of your thoughts. Notice the primary
being your highest level of stress. As you experience yourself feelings and emotions that accompany this state. Visualize
along this scale, notice your state at a stress level of 2, then yourself in those times in your life when you were filled with
at a level of 5 and finally at a level of 7. vitality. Examine yourself. How did you behave, speak and


interact? What are you like when you are alone and filled with PART Six
vitality, or with a friend, in a team or group, or at work? What formulating an intention
are you like when you teach from this space of original vitali- 3 minutes
ty? Look through the eyes of others. How do they experience Finally, take a moment to formulate and write down your
you when you act from vitality? intention for this course. In what way will you use this course
Take a deep inhalation, exhale and immediately sketch a to uplift and expand yourself, grow as a teacher, and create a
picture that represents you in that state of vitality. Capture the transformative opportunity for yourself and other participants?
energy and projection of your vitalized, higher personality. Think about what you just experienced and formulate an
After you sketch your energy snapshot, find eight words intention that will be fulfilled by your participation in this
that describe this vitalized personality. Write the eight words course.
across the top of the sketch paper in the spaces provided.
Large group discussion
PART FOUR Share significant observations that arose for you and your
comparing the energy snapshots small group with the whole group.
10 minutes
Compare your energy snapshots and experience with your
small group. Where do you notice similarities and differences?
What stands out about these three conditions? Is there any-
thing that is shared among you? How do you tell the differ-
ence between your three behavioral projections and personal-
ities? What is your stress personality? What is its key emotion,
coping defense and projection?

describing the essence of each state
15 minutes
From your own experience and what you shared in your
group, discuss and formulate the ways vitality, relaxation and
stress are different. What are the first signs that let you know
you are in each state? Do you first notice it in yourself or
through the reactions of others toward you? With your group,
formulate a brief written description of the essence of each
state in a few words or sentences.


My Relaxed Personality and Projection


My STRESS Personality and Projection


My Vitalized Personality and Projection

Ang Sang Wahe Guru


The Master’s Touch:

an experience with yogi bhajan

Your Basic Elementary Stress
November 8, 1989

This class introduces us to our fundamental orientation in relation to stress in the world and
in our self. We have a relationship to our core spirit and consciousness. When we stray from
that foundation, when we cease to rely on the Infinite Self to fulfill our needs and destiny,
then we create stress in our lives. Yogi Bhajan awakens us to this inner dynamic, its conse-
quences and what to do about it. He introduces the use of the body and the poetry of its
rhythms as an approach to releasing this “basic elementary stress”.
Participate with the master and give yourself an experience.

A transcript, edited for reading, is included in your Study Guide.

Yogi Bhajan • November 9, 1989

1. Sit in Easy Pose. Begin clapping your hands in the follow- 1a & e 1b & d, 2
ing sequence:
a. Slap the thighs
b. Clap the hands in front of the chest
c. Open the hands in a V (hands are in front of
the shoulders)
d. Clap the hands in front of the chest again
e. Slap the thighs
Repeat the cycle. (As you repeat the cycle, you will slap the
thighs twice in a row.) Create a rhythm. 3 minutes.
TO END: Inhale deeply and hold the breath for 15 seconds.
Close the eyes and have no thought. Exhale. Repeat holding
the breath for 10 seconds. Inhale and hold for 10 seconds, 1c
inhale more and hold for another 10 seconds. Exhale.
You will be stress free in exactly three minutes. There is noth-
ing you have to do. One, two, three, four, five. One, two,
three, four, five. That’s it; it’s musical. Your body will start
releasing the elementary stress.

2. Begin clapping again in the same sequence and rhythm as 3a&b

Exercise 1. 1 minute.
TO END: Inhale deeply and hold for 10 seconds. Exhale and

3. Clasp the hands in front of the Heart Center. Fingers of

each hand are together and thumbs crossed over them.
Bounce the elbows against the sides of the ribcage. Strike the
ribs hard and fast. 3 minutes.
TO END: Inhale deeply and hold for 10 seconds and press
your ribcage with your elbows. Tight. Exhale. Inhale deeply
and hold for 10 seconds, hold and tighten the elbows against 4a&b
the ribcage. Exhale. Inhale deeply, hold up to 30 seconds;

4. Sit with your elbows relaxed and your hands in front of

shoulders, palms facing forward. Criss-cross your hands in
front of your face, as if you were a child, saying ‘No, no.’
Create your own rhythm. 2-1/2 minutes.
TO END: Inhale deeply, hold for 10 seconds, exhale. Repeat
twice more and then shake your hands out.

Yogi Bhajan • April 7, 1993

5 5. In Easy Pose, bring your hands to the ground in front of you, allowing the
spine to bend gently. Beat the ground with your hands in time with the
music. Close your eyes and move rhythmically. 3-1/2 minutes.
Music: Punjabi Drums.
Relax. Let the body move with the rhythm.

6. Immediately begin to dance the body in the seated posture.

Play with the rhythm. Dance the shoulders. 7–10 minutes.
TO END: Inhale deeply, hold and exhale. Repeat twice more.

Get rid of arthritis. . . . you have to move the ribcage to create the calcium-
6 magnesium balance. . . . let your body change the chemistry, relax itself. Free
yourself of tension. Dance it away! Give yourself a chance.

7. Place your hands on your Heart Center, left over right, parallel to the
ground, one hand resting on the other. Close the eyes and nap while seated.
Music: Gong is played. 8-1/2 minutes.
Rhythmically sit straight and hypnotically go to sleep.

8. Listen and chant with Chakkr Chattr Varti. 1 minute.

If you don’t know the mantra, just copy the sounds.
7 8

COMMENTS: “You have no enemy, you have no poverty, you have no disgrace, you have nothing wrong with you. It is
the elementary stress that causes a zone of horror in you and you become the victim of it.
. . . . The idea of religion, of meditation, of higher consciousness—call it anything—is that there should be no discontent-
ment in a person. A stabilized, mentally enlightened person is the one who enjoys the spirit, the life. If you want to say
you are not corrupt, you are corrupt just in saying it.
It’s not only a corruption that you wrong somebody; it’s not only a corruption that you take away something from
somebody; it is a corruption that God gave you the gift of life and you cannot even feel it. . . . Life is a gift. We waste
it on our own inner conflicts. We complain to the whole world and whole world complains to us, but we’ve got to
become our own friends.”


symptoms, sources & sensitivitY under stress

As we will see, stress left untended and vitality ately knew I had two stones and which way to throw them. I
unexpressed makes us our own worst enemy. knew what I knew! Three year old kid. I knew it then. I expe-
rienced what that knowledge meant. It was a basic training.
We’ve examined how to recognize stress, vitality and relax- We are not educated or trained to answer under pressure.
ation in ourselves and we’ve noted how we behave when we We are not educated or trained to have stainless steel nerves.
don’t handle stress well. Our goal as Kundalini Yogis is to raise We give in to stress. The problem is very simple. The answer
our consciousness so that we can enjoy the constant chal- is also simple. If you don't give in to your Self and there is a
lenges and changes in life. Instead of trying to control some- stress, then you cannot meet the stress. You are not you. . . .
thing, we control our self. Instead of reacting to something, There is a gap. Then, in reaction, you have to make that gap
we act with applied intelligence to elevate the situation and up, you have to cover up. That is dead painful—that gap from
serve our consciousness and our soul. your Self. There is no other pain in your life. ”
When we can recognize our internal and external sources —Yogi Bhajan, March 3, 1989
of stress and overcome or adapt to them with grace, intelli-
gence and gratitude, we become more relaxed. In that deep When we master living in this healthy, happy and holy man-
relaxation, we can accept our self and tap into our own vital- ner, we are genuine and can face the constant ups and downs
ity. That is Raj Yoga. of life as our own. It is the weight of our ego and our attach-
ments that make us so heavy that a single tremor—things not
Applying Ourselves to Living Fully going our way—makes us fall down and tumble to the bottom
All of our practices are pragmatic; they are to be applied—prac- under our own weight.
tically—so that we can not only recognize stress and under-
stand the situation in its reality and polarity but also know “Life is a realistic, meditative, concentrated attitude to be
exactly how to act. We can know what to do instantly and where you ought to be, because life is ‘I am, I am.’ Imagine
apply ourselves to living fully. When we reach this state of someone who is walking. He is shining, he is radiant, and
vitality, we stop rejecting life. We are not caught in the men- people trust him, like to talk to him, give him gifts, and love
tal and emotional intrigues that try to shield us from our fears him. Now imagine another man walking who nobody wants
and anxieties about ourselves and our lives: to look at. It is because man under stress is his own enemy.
. . . What goes wrong is that your depression about life and
“Everybody is born to be happy. We are unhappy because we its crises invites frustration. Your frustration invites rejection.
get short-circuited. We are unhappy because our nervous sys- Your rejection invites neurosis. Your neurosis invites condem-
tem cannot take it. We are unhappy because our intuition nation and then you are set into your own hell. Ahah! Is that
does not answer us within nine seconds—the time our brain what you want?” –Yogi Bhajan, April, 10, 1980
has a system to respond to. I don't blame you. I blame our
education system. When I was three years old, I was given “Life is not meant to be lived the way we want to live. It has
certain exercises to test my responses to see whether I could to be fulfilled in itself. It has to have contentment. There is no
figure out the right action within nine seconds or not. My gov- substitute for contentment. There is no price for contentment.
erness who tested me was not a psychologist or psychiatrist There is no kingdom which can buy contentment. There is no
or child specialist. Nothing like that. It was the natural way soul which can destroy contentment. There is no tragedy
of training. I was told “If you throw a stone on this side, or which can totally beat it out of us. A man who is content, he
throw a stone on this other side, which side do you think will is king of kings, he is the God of Gods and he is the God. . .
have an angle so that it won’t create any splash?” I immedi- . There is no king who can be a king without contentment. It


is a Catch-22. Once you are content everything will come to Symptoms:

you. When you are discontent everything will go away from Signs and Effects
you. This law applies to you and beyond you. With elemen-
tary stress you can never be content.” Recognizing the signs of stress is important because they can
–Yogi Bhajan, November 8, 1989 build up and reveal themselves in so many different ways. It
is often easier to notice them in other people than in our-
This attitude is so important in our approach to vitality and selves. After all, the more stressed you become the more your
stress that Yogi Bhajan frames all of his teachings about stress judgment narrows and distorts. If you are not stressed, you
with this awareness. He starts with the Basic Elementary can easily see the beginning signs of stress in your students
Stress and its source because that affects how we handle all and in the people that you work with. The particular patterns
other levels and sources of stress. We begin with what is real are individual. They arise along with the stress personality.
within our Self. He pressed us to realize that in order to be What are the signs of stress?
effective we had to correctly identify the problem we face and
experience the depth of our Self. That is why he listed the
Soul Body as first. It is the foundation from which we gain
clarity and applied consciousness. If we begin in the right
place, we can change; we can experience transformation.


Anxiety Forgetfulness Isolation Emptiness Appetite change

Frustration Dull senses Intolerance Loss of meaning Headaches
The “blues” Poor concentration Resentment Doubt Tension
Mood swings Low productivity Loneliness Unforgiving Fatigue
Bad temper Negative attitude Lashing out Martyrdom Insomnia
Nightmares Confusion Hiding Looking for magic Weight change
Crying spells Lethargy Clamming up Loss of direction Colds
Irritability Whirling mind Lowered sex drive Cynicism Pounding heart
“No one cares” No new ideas Nagging Apathy Muscle aches
Depression Boredom Distrust Need to “prove” self Teeth grinding
Nervous laugh Spacing out Lack of intimacy Demand recognition Rash
Worrying easily Negative self-talk Using people Obsessive rigidity Restlessness
Discouraged Repetitious thought Role distortion Foot-tapping
Little joy Indecisiveness Facial twitches
Procrastination Poor sleep
Digestive upset
Nail biting
Hair twisting



small group discussion

4 Think of someone you know, work with or live with.

Do you notice when stress arises in them?
What is the first sign?
What habits start to appear?
Do you treat them differently?
Do you intervene in some way?
Do you get equally stressed?
Is there a point where they will be “lost” to their stress
At that point what do you do?

4 Imagine the same thing happening to you. Other people

see you reach and cross your own stress threshold.
How do they behave toward you?
What is your response?
Does it aggravate the stress further or does it help you?
Are you able to get an accurate sense of the effects of your
actions when you are stressed?

4 Do you have an illustrative story of how you failed to iden-

tify or ignored symptoms of stress?

4 Symptoms can be looked at as simple communications from

all your cells.
What is the message you need to accept when your symptoms
become clear?
Which symptoms tell you everything is fine?
Which let you know that you are just responding to a chal-
lenge appropriately?
What symptoms begin to tell you that you have gone past
what is needed and that it is time to intervene?



EXtreme symptoms As the noise increases, we invariably make more mistakes.

Our ability to understand even the simplest sensory informa-
The Western historical approach to illness is to find a specif- tion deteriorates or falls apart. Ultimately, we become insulat-
ic agent or cause and a unique profile of symptoms that help ed from reality. Our mind begins to create stories and distor-
identify a problem and eventually find a cure. Stress is associ- tions. We no longer know what is real. We lose our connec-
ated with a wide range of symptoms; it’s non-specific in its tion with the present. Or we become lost in one detail of the
causes, so the typical approaches to cause and cure don’t present and lose our sense of the whole. This degree of men-
apply. Because emotions and beliefs all play a part in how our tal noise creates a stimulus overload, which is devastating to
system of nerves, glands, meridians and chakras interpret and our ability to maintain a sense of ourselves. That is why under
respond to stressors, the results of high stress can lead to stress, a very normal person can suddenly exhibit unusual
unusual and unexpected consequences. Therefore, stress is behaviors, becoming more impulsive and compulsive, trapped
characterized as a condition arising in both normal conditions in habits that seem completely outside their normal choices or
and with identified illnesses. This is unsettling to many values.
Western physicians. Oriental medicine, on the other hand, is
based on a systems approach and is therefore more familiar Relationships Effected
with identifying and responding to multiple conditions that A noisy mind impairs our ability to form and maintain rela-
have equally complex and diverse indications or causes. tionships with others. This is one of the first and most dev-
astating impacts of too much stress. We start losing our
Mental Noise authenticity and our integrity in relationships.
Stress increases mental noise; it’s a universal effect. As men- At the same time, our memory begins to be affected. Our
tal noise increases, our minds fill with sensations. Our reasoning skills no longer function at the same level. We
thoughts whirl about and start to lose coherence. The mind become very concrete. No longer able to read the subtlety in
begins to repeat things; it gets caught in a loop. The mind each communication, we start taking things at face value. We
can no longer think about one thing at a time or get a clear live on the surface of things. Our world becomes very black
focus. Instead we're filled with a storm of swirling, some- and white; we no longer see the variegated textures and col-
times incoherent thoughts, feelings and sensations. There ors that make life so rich. Our ability for abstract thinking
seems to be no center, nothing adheres. We experience fleet- diminishes and whatever ability we had to project through
ing but powerful thoughts that seem unrelated to our feelings, time and to understand long-term consequences disappears.
and our feelings seem independent of the body’s sensations. Instead we are overwhelmed with mythology, conspiracy the-
Just think of a pot of water sitting on the stove. You can heat ories and short-term impulses. We become self-involved, self-
it up with gas, bombard it with microwaves, hit the side of absorbed. We stop listening to others when we most need
container with a hammer, or simply blow on the surface vig- their feedback and guidance.
orously. These are all ways of sending energy into the mol-
ecules of the water. The result in each case is some degree Escape Routes
of agitation. Waves start forming on the water’s surface. Our stress personality, when overwhelmed by this internal
With enough energy, the water begins to simmer, then bub- noise, will try to escape. We escape the pain by acting out,
ble and, finally, boil. Now imagine that the pot is your mind. repeating old, negative behavior patterns or simply grabbing
The sensory overload, whether it comes from outside sources onto new, more benign ones: we clean out our closet when
or from inside your own mind, starts to churn your thoughts we should be writing our exam. We begin to need something
and feelings to a slow simmer and then finally to a full boil. tangible to hold onto, to steady us. We escape into meaning.
In the case of mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, this agita- We passionately seek the one great cause for our misery, mis-
tion can express itself in voices and powerful narratives that takenly assuming that great tragedies, illnesses and disasters
seem separate from our self. have one great cause. And because we believe in the single


great cause, we seek a single, great solution. We seek the

highest, most meaningful thing—the comfort of Jesus, the SCIENCE BOX: VOODO DEATH
image of the guru—believing it will somehow be a solution
Voodoo death is an example that shows how mind and emo-
to our pain. In this way, spirituality devolves into mere reli-
tions play a powerful role in our ability to assess our stress
giosity. Our striving for higher values becomes a platform of
response; it’s an example of the final and extreme effects of
judgment on which we demean and separate ourselves
stress. This unusual example fascinated early western
from others. We start blaming and begin isolating from oth-
researchers and caught the attention of one of the leaders in
understanding stress and homeostatic mechanisms in the body
The other most common escape is into fantasy.
and mind today, Walter Cannon. That controversial phenome-
Whether fantasies of romance and action, or drama and
non was “Voodoo Death.” This is a quote from Walter
comedy, we involve ourselves in anything but what is actu-
Cannon’s original report in 1942 (American Anthropologist 44:
ally happening. Emotional dramas or television watching
can become obsessive. Both of these escape mechanisms
have one thing in common: they keep us from the simple
“Before denying that “voodoo death” is within the realm of pos-
and direct action that could actually be effective in relieving
sibility, let us consider the general features of the specimen
our stress and taking the pressure off.
report. . . . First . . . is the fixed assurance that because of cer-
tain conditions, such as being subject to bone pointing or other
magic, of failing to observe sacred tribal regulations, death is
When we are vitalized and balanced, we use our whole
sure to supervene. This is a belief so firmly held by all mem-
brain. Our consciousness is awake. Under the pressure of
bers of the tribe that the individual not only has that convic-
noise, we slowly devolve. That rising pressure moves us
tion himself but is obsessed by the knowledge that all his fel-
gradually from consciousness and elevation, our entire
lows likewise hold it.
brain, to using only the most basic, primal instincts of our
Thereby he becomes a pariah, wholly deprived of the con-
brain stem. We literally “dis-integrate.” At first we lose our
fidence and social support of the tribe. In his isolation the mali-
frontal lobe. We can’t direct our impulses or keep a sense
cious spirits which he believes are all about him and capable
of identity. We lose our ability to make meaningful associ-
of irresistibly and calamitously maltreating him, exert supreme-
ations in language and relationships. Then we start losing
ly their evil power. . . . The victim “pines away”: his strength
the function of the middle brain, the limbic system, which
runs out like water . . . and in the course of a day or two he
gives us the ability to have compassion, to communicate
our own emotions as well as be able to read the emotions
The question which now arises is whether an ominous and
of others. Finally, we seek the shelter of our impulses, our
persistent state of fear can end the life of a man. . . .These dis-
oldest brain. In this part of the brain our actions are pre-
turbances if they are lasting can work harmfully.The sugges-
programmed. They are largely unconscious and are com-
tion which I offer therefore is that “voodoo death” may be real,
posed of the most primitive and basic emotions and pat-
and that it may be explained as due to shocking emotional
terns of behavior. We are thrown into survival mode. We
stress, due to obvious or repressed terror.”
are alive, but we’re not really living. Our practice of
Kundalini Yoga and Meditation helps us to keep our center
Voodoo death in Haitian American culture results when a
despite all the noise and to hold on to our identity and to
person is "hexed," and no cure for the "hex" is known from
our character.
any past experience by the subject, resulting in the patient's
premature demise. Herbert Benson, one of the founders of
mind-body medicine in the United States, picked up on the
same example to show the power of the mind and explore how
our emotions and thoughts can affect the heart.


Stress, Shock & the Power of the Word ality trait that disposes one to this experience although it can
certainly be aggravated if you already have emotional or men-
The example shown in “Voodoo Death” offers a mechanism
tal imbalances. It probably developed as a group response to
based on what was known about emotions and the stress
threats and stress. We are quite capable of modeling each oth-
reactions of the sympathetic nervous system. It opened the
ers' behaviors. If one person is upset, others immediately
discussion about the symptoms of stress and shock and how
become upset before they know what they’re upset about. It's
they can be life-threatening. It also suggests that belief and the
a kind of group survival technique.
mind are equally important to the reaction and final result of
In contemporary environments where we are exposed to
shock and stress. Nothing has countered that intuition in the
mass media, instant communication and news that come
many decades since.
unexpectedly and regardless of geographical boundaries or rel-
The power of verbal and social incantations to affect our
evance, we are more subject to this effect. The symptoms usu-
stressreactions is very common. Here’s an example: A patient
ally begin with a few individuals. They may be affected by real
goes to see a doctor and hears that he has a life-threatening
stressors such as poison, attack or gunshot. Or, they may sim-
carcinoma of the liver. He is assured by the doctor that the
ply believe that they are under danger or attack. The symp-
cancer has metastasized and that he will live only briefly. In
toms rapidly spread to a large percentage of the group associ-
this documented case, the patient died very prematurely even
ated with that person. We see this in schools, church groups,
though the autopsy showed that his cancer hadn’t actually
workplaces, villages, and street gatherings.
metastasized. In this case, the modern doctor acted as the hex
The symptoms are usually grouped into two categories:
for this patient.
anxiety symptoms in the body and motor symptoms that
This example shows us how important it is, when facing
affect how people move. Common symptoms include nausea
a life-threatening illness, to direct our mind and call upon our
and vomiting, headaches, dizziness and lightheadedness.
own healing power to bring about possibility and hope. There
There is often fatigue and weakness accompanied with faint-
are many documented cases such as refugee camps and high-
ing or unconsciousness. Frequently, there is hyperventilation
level security prisons that leave an indelible imprint and incan-
and shortening of breath. It can also lead to twitching,
tation in those who have suffered under these conditions.
seizures, tingling, numbness, paralysis, and even into a giddi-
They persist in feeling that they will die, or that they should
ness and laughter. Frequently, there are rashes and sensations
die, or that they are not worthy to live. They die prematurely,
of chills or fever in the skin. Sometimes it leads to confusion
independent of the direct effects of stress, illnesses or torture
and trance or an aimless walk.
they may have experienced. Their subconscious still holds the
The duration can be very short or can last as long as a
incantations and prejudice of those environments and the
month. When this happens, schools are shut down, trans-
abuse they suffered under. This is one of the reasons it's so
portation is interrupted and emergency services are often over-
important to clear the subconscious of fear, anger and pain
whelmed. It is especially confusing in the midst of a real emer-
because when their vibration, their sound current continues to
gency because Mass Psychogenic Illness can appear in a sig-
reside in us, they can and will interfere with our perceptions,
nificant part of a group or population who have no direct
our consciousness, and our health.
injury or manifest disease. This is especially relevant because
emergency responders need to be able to distinguish between
Mass Psychogenic Illness
those who have a treatable injury and those are showing
We live in times that are beset by concerns about environmen- extreme stress symptoms without a treatable injury.
tal quality, terrorist attacks, food and water poisoning, and
pandemic diseases. A natural result of this seems to be an There are hundreds of books and articles to document histor-
increase in Mass Psychogenic Illness, also called Mass ical evidence of these phenomena: medieval dance manias,
Sociogenic Illness or group hysteria. Occurrences that we tarantism and possession by demons. Between the 15th and
know about have a very long and mottled history, and can 19th Centuries, in very strict, Christian religious orders, there
happen with very normal people. There is no known person- were dozens of epidemic motor hysteria outbreaks among


nuns. The episodes can typically last months. Priests would tices the art of "being" and “not being,” develops great
be summoned to exorcise the demons and the most reviled resilience. She can resist the effects of the group hysteria and
people in the community or those targeted by the church eld- be a leader in times of great stress and hardship.
ers were often banished, imprisoned or even burned at the
stake. There are more than a hundred books alone, just on the Traumatic Footprints
outbreaks in France between 1632 and 1634. In the 18th and
Stressful conditions that are highly intense, acute or enduring
19th Centuries, many outbreaks were reported in England,
leave permanent footprints in our nervous system and emo-
France, Germany and Italy. This corresponded with the
tions. We will look at the more common manifestations of
Industrial Revolution and the notoriously stressful work con-
the effects of trauma and stress, such as PTSD, later. But as
ditions for men, women and children during this period. New
we continue with these extreme examples, we’ll now look at
and unknown industrial technologies produced extreme lev-
how stress can affect the growth and vitality of children into
els of stress—loud, abrupt noises, caustic smells and chemi-
their adulthood. Stress dwarfism is well-known and often
cals, labor insecurity and unionization—along with the poor
referred to in textbooks. It’s a term used to describe cases
conditions became the background for mass breakouts of hys-
where severe stress has shut down growth. Generally, it occurs
during childhood and can stunt the growth and shorten the
In contemporary times, epidemic episodes have been trig-
normal development of a child by two to four inches. One
gered by environmental concerns over food, air and water.
most commonly sees stress dwarfism in cases of severe abuse,
Many incidents are initiated by people smelling a strange odor.
for example, when a child was chained to a radiator. It used
A typical example was in a Hong Kong school that affected
to be thought of as very unusual, a rare condition.
over 355 students. A recent incident occurred in a Maryland
Psychologists and doctors are now aware that dwarfism
subway station—35 people collapsed complaining of nausea
occurs in many wars zones, areas of civil strife, and regions of
and dizziness. They all believed that there had been a terror-
mass exodus. It is also well-documented in the Japanese
ist attack. It proved to be a strange odor from a harmless,
internment camps in the United States during World War II.
popular window cleaner.
The good news is that this effect is often reversible with
Some statistics show that about 30% of people are strong-
proper care, nutrition and the absence of the stressor. There
ly affected by Mass Psychogenic Illness symptoms under
are also documented cases of psychogenic dwarfism. A
group stress. As a yoga practitioner and teacher, you can be
famous case is J.M. Barrie, who as a boy saw his older broth-
affected like everyone else. But your fearlessness and
er horribly killed in front of him. His mother and family
enhanced clarity, your ability to be strong under any circum-
ignored him and constantly praised the brother who had died
stance, even when the wave of emotion and fear goes through
as the only perfect one. Mr. Barrie learned very early on to
a crowd or across a close-knit group, makes you a primary
emulate his brother. He stayed 4’10” tall his entire life and
resource, healer and hope in emergency situations. These
never married. He became a prolific writer, always obsessed
types of incidents increase greatly in times of transition, stress
with the same themes. All this speaks not to how horrible
and uncertainty. Combine the rate of cultural transition with
traumas can be, but to how adaptable, malleable and impres-
what we know about mental noise and we can understand the
sionable we are.
rapid increase in this kind of experience.
As much as we are shaped by external circumstances, we
People most frequently experience this internal anxiety as
can also reshape ourselves using our internal circumstances.
coming from outside them. There are many religious groups
We have a deep ability to regenerate; we are extraordinarily
currently that induce hysteria and invoke exorcism as part of
resilient. The statistics on trauma attest to this: about two
their group experience and resolution, which strengthens
thirds of people who experienced extraordinary traumas show
membership and lowers stress. It may seem unusual that there
no long-term impacts on their psychology, emotions or phys-
is such a rise in this practice, but it should be expected. Stress
ical well-being. That still leaves over a third of us dealing with
under a time of uncertainty calls on our most basic emotions
some degree of impact that needs treatment and healing.
and patterns of survival. A Kundalini Yoga teacher, who prac-


Adding tools to your stress backpack

After looking at the normal and the extreme symptoms of The Polarity of the Brain Hemispheres
stress, it's good to end with the positive virtues of stress. We The brain has a rhythm. The two hemispheres alternate which
usually think of the effects of stress from an acute situation or one is dominate at any one time. This is reflected by which
shock when actually small amounts of stress are very helpful. nostril is active or dominant at any given time. As one hemi-
Our adrenaline surges and we become alert. We act faster, sphere becomes active, the other hemisphere takes on some
think faster, and move with less hesitation. That small stimu- of its functions. The two hemispheres act like a dynamic
lation can come from exercise, exposure to new things, an polarity in a constant hand-off. One focuses on a sense of
increased tempo, or by lots of coffee at the office. Many what I think I am—my self-concept in the moment—what I am
employers report that having coffee freely available in all their doing and what needs to be done. Meanwhile, the other
offices is very important. Evidently, if you stop making coffee hemisphere focuses on what I am—the intuitive imprint of
available, workers’ error rates go up and productivity goes what is—and provides forewarning, foresight, and insight. The
down by 20%. As yogis, we have better approaches to create less active hemisphere shadows the active one. These two—
that small, helpful stimulation—a little breath of fire goes a the active and the subtle—interchange their roles.
long way. We are designed to learn and change and grow by When the nostrils equalize and then shift is a critical point
seeking out optimal levels of stress. This optimal stress level of synchronization in this play. Normally these shifts occur
is often called “eustress,” that is, good stress. throughout the day and over the month. If a phobia or deep
fear is activated by one side, you can get out of synchroniza-
Don’t Be Stressed Out By Stress— tion—ever feel out of “synch”? You feel disconnected, adrift;
Add Tools to Your Stress Backpack or driven by an emotion. This meditation is like a little “slap,”
So don't be stressed out by stress, just have enough vitality a wake-up call alerting the mind before it loses its ability to
to be the master of your stress. Seeking out a little stress is function in an emotional, “limbic” loop.
actually one of the healthier impulses we have. The hand position and eye position need to be exact and
This first meditation is an excellent everyday practice. steady through the 11 minutes. Yogi Bhajan called this “co-
Done in the evening, it will wash the stress from your body cycling the channel.” This refers to stabilizing the central
and your aura. You can reclaim yourself, quiet the mind’s meridian flow of the brain in the sushmuna (naari sobandha)
noise and open into a profound stillness. A little at a time, and by dwelling in the Neutral Mind, that is, not letting the
with regularity and patience, will add balance to your life. reactions to emotions and the subconscious desynchronize
The second meditation is the first tool in your Stress the hemispheres (sahasrara naari).
Backpack. It is all about the brain. Yogi Bhajan removed much
of the mystical language of the ancient Vedic scriptures and “Gray Periods”
instead translated them into practical actions and energetics to Yogi Bhajan has described a period of brain disorientation that
achieve a particular result. When he shared this meditation, has occurred in times of great transition. It occurred before the
he said it would protect each of us and create within us a sen- rise of Chinese civilization, before the Atlantas era, among
sitivity, and a prosperous mental horizon. He also said it others, when the current axis of the Earth shifts and the mag-
would make us calm and cozy under the pressures of our netic field changes. Our biological systems will be under a
minds and the times, the changes of the Age. It strengthens profound and pervasive stress. He called this the “gray peri-
the nervous system and develops a steadiness to act intelli- od” of the planet. Many people become depressed. Many
gently. brains cease to function well, make good judgments or keep a
sense of self. It is a natural phenomenon. This meditation is
a legacy from those sages that experimented in those times


and found a way to counter the inner cold depression and “My intention right now is to see all the human suffering and
existential disconnectedness that befell those civilizations. to prepare a body of humans, irrespective of their religion,
In today’s Master’s Touch class, Yogi Bhajan identifies a faith, and belief to prepare for tomorrow, when emptiness and
diverse spectrum of sources for stress. He discusses our emo- depression combine and turn into the self as a cold-depres-
tional reactions, our nutrition, our bad habits, our unrealistic sion. ‘Cold depression’ is a term which is very evident.
expectations, our tendency to always push for things, our Because of the earth changing its axle, and the electromagnet-
inauthentic relationships, our difficulty loving ourselves and ic field changing with the sun, the psyche of the human is
being who we are, information overload, and even the all- changing tremendously.
encompassing change of the Age itself. Many stressors are lit- [These cosmic changes are pressuring the psyche to radi-
tle things, personal things. Some are shared with others. Some cally shift into a different game and mode of action.] Earth has
are from sources we don’t know or even recognize. Some are never faced a complete darkness, but it has happened. It has
cosmic and larger than the normal scales of time and space happened in the people who are eclipsed all the time. They
that we live with on a daily basis. don’t see their own light, it is true.
Humans are not made stupid.The wisest God did not want
The Six Meditations for your Stress Backpack to build an idiot for a human being. But we are so insecure
Each day of this course we include and call your attention to and such egomaniacs that we actually blind ourselves. We do
one of the meditation techniques Yogi Bhajan gave to deal not believe, in spite of whatever we say, that God which
with the rising tide of stress, the gray period, dissociation, rotates the earth for us, will take care of our life and routine.”
cold depression and existential fatigue. Your Stress Backpack –Yogi Bhajan, August 11, 1999
will have these six meditations as a foundation. You can add
more. In this course we want you to be familiar with these Answering the Call as Teachers
essential techniques, their applications and stages. As teachers we have answered the call to be those humans:
Yogi Bhajan saw this particular source of stress as a natu- resilient and vital so that we can delight in the challenges and
ral part of the profound shift of the Age in social forms, eco- always have the energy and the hope to serve and to share.
nomic models, consciousness, identity, planetary and environ- As teachers of Kundalini Yoga we are already awake. With the
mental wellness. Instead of happening in one isolated zone of clarity that connects us to the Infinite through our intuition,
the Earth or only one class of people, this shift affects all lev- our compassion and our higher self, we are replete with the
els of humanity at once. He felt we needed specific tools to kindness, courage, humility, service and character that can
survive and thrive as well as experience of our Self to serve make life a joyous dance, even in the face of the darkest times
others through this transition. and deepest transformations.

So let us fill our Backpack well. The journey is long, the oppor-
tunities and challenges daunting and the destiny preset. Let’s
master our stress, relax and share with each other and the
world the vitality within all.

Yogi Bhajan • August 8, 1994

Sit in a comfortable meditative posture with a straight spine,

chin in, and chest lifted.

EYES: Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath.

BREATH: Inhale through the nose in 8 equal strokes. Exhale

through the nose in one deep and powerful stroke.

TIME: 11 minutes.

TO END: Inhale deeply and hold the breath 5-10 seconds.

Exhale. Inhale deeply and hold the breath 15-20 seconds and
roll your shoulders. Exhale powerfully. Inhale deeply and hold
the breath 15-20 seconds and roll the shoulders as fast as you
can. Exhale and relax.


Sit in a meditative posture.

MUDRA: Connect the tips of the thumb and middle finger of

the right hand and the thumb and pinky of the left. The finger-
nails don’t touch. Females reverse the mudra in each hand.
With the shoulders relaxed, hold the hands 7-8 inches apart,
fingers pointing forward, just in front of the nipples.

EYES: The eyes are 1/10 open.

BREATH: Breathe normally and meditate.

TIME: 11 minutes.

TO END: Inhale and lift both hands a bit and move them round
and round quickly for the length of the breath. Repeat twice
more and relax.


how big is your stress burden?

identifying your allostatic load

The big question is how heavy is your stress burden? Other traditions have similar tales of heroes who overcome
seemingly impossible odds: Achilles in the Greek tradition. He
We have identified the signs and symptoms of stress and how
shows all the signs of trauma and PTSD as he returned from
our behavior changes under stress. We understand now that
his harrowing trek recounted in the Illiad. His burden was not
the more we allow stress to take root inside us, the more it
just the traumas of the journey but the stress of his relation-
creates long-term reactions and the more negatively we are
ships and his role.
affected. That final burden depends on the stressors that are
In a more internal journey, Buddha experienced shock and
in our life and our relative reactions and coping strategies in
deep distress when he realized the omnipresent suffering in
relation to those stressors.
the world. He had been so shielded from suffering as a youth
that the realities of the world put him into a ‘healing crisis’.
Arjuna Overcomes His Duality & His Stress Burden
And the journey of that crisis is well-known. He spent the rest
The burden of stress is evident in our earliest historical records
of his life searching for a solution to the suffering he saw in
and pervasive in our contemporary culture. The condition of
the world and then teaching the four principle truths he dis-
stress, without naming it as such, is found throughout classi-
covered along the way.
cal literature in every culture. It is a universal human problem.
Each year the American Psychological Association takes a
In the Bhagavad Gita, a perfect portrait of elementary stress is
survey of thousands of people to measure and track changes
drawn as Arjuna, the world’s greatest archer, is suddenly over-
in the prevalent stress is in America, its effects, and people’s
come with weakness, shaking and suddenly helpless. The
capacity to identify and combat its hazardous effects. Though
stress is so intense he drops his bow and leaves his chariot—
the results of such a survey would certainly vary in every
driven by none other than Krishna Himself—just as he is
country, it gives us a respectable place to begin (+/- 2 points):
expected to act, just as he was to begin the great battle, a
million warriors poised and ready for battle on the two sides.
80% of people think stress is an inescapable and
He tells Krishna that he cannot compute the situation. He is
pervasive fact of life
torn and confused by his complex and contradictory loyalties
32% experience extreme levels of stress
to relatives and friends on both sides of the conflict. His mind
17% say they experience the highest levels of stress
could make sense of nothing. He lost all spirit and drifted into
15 days or more per month.
a depression.
80% think they handle stress well
Today he might be offered Paxil or some other antidepres-
46% say it affects their physical health strongly
sant. Instead, Krishna—Arjuna’s own higher consciousness—
9% report negative emotional consequences
guides him to look into himself, into his true nature, and real-
More than 50% report significant amounts of fatigue,
ize that it is time to be who he is without conflict, without
irritability and headaches
duality. Instead of focusing on changing the stressor—the
70% realize they can use help but only 7% seek it out
impending battle, the family loyalties, and the unpredictable
outcomes—Krishna guided him to transform his conscious-
On a monthly base, people report:
ness. Once this deep inner disconnect was healed, Arjuna
77% experience physical symptoms
moved like lightning toward his task, showing courage, integri-
73% experience emotional or mental difficulties
ty, intelligence and compassion with each strike of the bow,
48% have insomnia or sleep disturbances
with each fell of the sword. He overcame his stress burden
43% resort to over or under-eating patterns
during the most complex and massive battle of the Age. So
54% say stress led to arguments or fights with
history tells us that even when there is a huge elementary
people close to them
stress burden, there is always a way to defeat it.


25% report a significant disintegration of key relationship You can see that stress and the burden of stress are wide-
due to stress in the last five years (alienation, ly experienced. Eleven of the top 15 causes of fatal illness are
divorce, etc.) linked to high levels of stress or acute traumas. Let’s take some
About 50% report increasing smoking, drinking or time to probe into our own experience and identify the
over-eating under stress sources of stress that are personally significant to us so we
55% of employees say they changed jobs or careers can begin to counterbalance them effectively.
due to stress We will approach this in three ways.
First, we will identify external stressors and sum up their
Lower income increases the impact of stress and lowers cop- impact.
ing skills. In terms of generations, it is the 34–54 age group Second, we will take each stressor and assess how we
that has the highest levels of stress, which impact relation- react to each of them and how frequently they occur.
ships and stress behaviors. Third, we will enter a meditative state and assess our held
Asked about the common sources of stress, the typical tensions and stresses.
responses are graphed in the table below. You can also go through a medical stress test, where you
Children and the obligations of family are consistently are monitored, stressed by exercise or drugs, and your
high sources of stress. In the sample from the United States, response pattern is recorded. This is usually only done when
the failing economy and insecure living conditions are increas- there is a medical reason for the expense and the risk involved.
ingly a source of stress as well.



interactive group exercise

measuring stress

Part 1 each event for a total stress score. The score was used to pre-
Identifying Stressors dict possible stress-related illnesses or accidents that may
The first approach to creating a measure for stress was popu- occur over the next two years: 150 points or less meant a 35%
larized by Holmes and Rahe in a short questionnaire called the chance; 150 points to 300 points meant a 51% chance; 300
Life Events Scale or the Holmes-Rahe Social Readjustment points or above meant an 80% chance or higher.
Rating Scale in 1967. It lists major life events and assigns a Take a few minutes and see what your stress score is.
value to each. You check each item that has occurred in your Compare it with the scores of others in your group. If you
life in the past 12 months. Then sum up the points given to have time, look at the results of each group.


SERIOUS PERSONAL INJURY OR ILLNESS 45 change in roommates, remodeling house) 20
FORECLOSURE OF MORTGAGE OR LOAN 25 TOTAL SCORE ___________________________



Part 2 Let’s use some structured questions about common stres-

Getting a Handle on Your Individual sors in our life to assess the load each gives us. Evaluate each
Stress Burden—Your “Allostatic Load” stressor by:
4 How much it burdens you and provokes your
The research using the Holmes-Rahe Scale yielded correlations
Negative Mind
4 How much it supports and elevates you through your
with illness that were significant but low. There were obvious-
ly many other factors. The biggest factor is that each stressor
Positive Mind
4 How meaningful or important it is in your Neutral Mind
affects each of us differently. Setting a standard impact as we
4 How frequently you encounter the stressor in your life.
did on the Holmes-Rahe Scale is not realistic. One person’s
stressor is another’s opportunity or blessing. And the things
that actually stress us day to day are not just the big events.
Each of the scales below has a series of questions. Moving
It is the little peeves, the repeated stress injuries and the fre-
from left to right, they correspond to:
4 Negative Mind/annoyances
quency of these ‘little’ things. Essentially, the higher the men-
4 Positive Mind/supports
tal noise and the longer we experience it, the greater the stress
4 Neutral Mind/importance and frequency.
burden we carry.
4 Marking the items
Let’s explore this by thinking of your sources of stress and
assessing each one in a more personal manner.
To get a good result: use your feelings and answer directly,
Take a few moments to bring to mind your many sources
assume the time period for your answers and evaluation is the
of stress (See Appendix A).
past 40 days, and mark all the scales (questions 1 through 4)
The load of stress, the cumulative impact on our body and
for a single item before going on to the next item. Answer
mind, is ultimately individual. It depends on many factors:
each of these items for yourself, not by a group process or
how we react, how we think, what we believe, our individual
sense of threat and our perception of annoyance. To capture
a sense of how much stress we actually carry with us and how
much it affects our health, judgment and relationships, we
The following questions can help you get a sense of your stress
need to assess common, day to day life events as much as we
load. You can generate a “score” for each stressor by ranking
did the major ones on the Holmes-Rahe Scale of Life Events.
the stressor on a 0 to 4 scale for each of the four questions.
Road rage and other explosive behaviors have shown us that
small triggers can lead to major symptoms. So we need to look
0 = Not at all, never, none, did not occur, not applicable
at how the Negative, Positive and Neutral Minds evaluate the
1 = A little bit, slightly, somewhat
stressor. And we need to know how frequently we’re exposed
2 = Moderately often; moderately intense, strong or important
to the stressor. We may have had only one car accident but if
3 = Mostly, very frequent, strong, quite a bit
we revisit it frequently in our minds, experience chronic pain
4 = Extremely severe, often or highly important or strong,
due to the accident, or have to drive by the location daily, its
a great deal
effect on our overall stress load increases. Sometimes a life
Using the ranks you applied, here’s how you would score each item:
threatening event—like cancer—can become a life-awakening
(Question 1 - Question 2) X (Question 3 x Question 4)
event and generate a reaction from our Positive Mind as an
opportunity to bring change to our life, to regain a sense of
You may get a positive or negative score depending on your


Suppose you answer an item like this:


How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 ▲ 1 2 3 4 0 1 2▲ 3 4 0 1 2 ▲ 3 4 0 1 2 ▲ 3 4

Here’s how you would score the example above:

(1-3) x (3x3) = -18 Stress Load
Interpretation: You get more uplift and meaning from this
than hassle and stress. You probably like the constant attain-
ment of small and large goals.

Some one else might answer the same question this way:


How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2
▲ 3 4 0

1 2 3 4 0 1 2▲ 3 4 0 1 ▲2 3 4

Here’s how you would score the example above: Your Final Score: Once you’ve completed all 30 items, find
(3 – 1) x (3 x 2) = +12 Stress Load. Interpretation: The frus- your mean Stress Load Score. Get a grand total and look at
tration of deadlines with little personal reward or recognition your patterns. This can be approached in two ways:
adds up to a strong work demand and higher stress load.
1. Add up all your individual item scores and divide by the
There are 15 items listed below. Answer those first. Then total number of items. This is your average Stress Load from
devise 15 more items for the remaining blank scales. Quickly all the sources (negative, positive, neutral and frequency).
choose those items as a group. Pick a wide range of ques-
tions to capture the day to day, normal life activities that 2. Another comparison is to sum up the scores for all items
may add constantly to your stress loads. within one category, that is, your total Negative
In professionally designed tests used by clinicians a lot Mind/annoyances, your total Positive Mind/supports, your
of work goes into each item in order to get numbers that total Neutral Mind/importance and your total frequency
serve as norms. The total number of items in a survey may scores. You can play with the results and get a picture of the
be as high as several hundred or as low as a few dozen. The level of constant pressure and support you experience.
following scales and items are informal, giving us a chance
to explore how our three minds individualize the impact of
our common stressors. In total, we have 30 items.




How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor: YOUR EATING HABITS

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this

or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


4 How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4



How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor: STAYING ORGANIZED

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


Source of Stressor: PREPARING A MEAL

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor: HEARING GOSSIP

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor: BEING ALONE

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4

Source of Stressor:

How bothersome, annoying How much did this elevate, How important or How frequent does this
or negative was this for you? support or help you? meaningful is this to you? stressor happen or affect you?

0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4


Part 3 ition to inform our applied intelligence and learn to love and
Large Group Discussion excel throughout our life.
After summing your scores and looking over your answers,
share with your group and with the larger group. Compare Part 4
your test scores. What is your overall stress burden? How fre- Small Group or Partner Exercise—
quently must you cope with a particular stressor? How much Sensitivity and Stillness
positive support do you experience? How varied are your We have listed the external events and stressors and assessed
assessments of the importance of the stressors? What else do our relationship to each stressor. Now we’re going to approach
you observe? What varies the most between you? Why? Do these stressors from a completely different point of view—we
you have good coping responses and strategies for some create a zero-state of stillness in our Self and we notice how,
things and not others? How do you think the lifecycles would where and to what level stress is held in someone else. We’ve
alter your responses? Would the concerns be different when drawn our attention away from the stressors themselves and
you’re young, middle aged, or elder? How would the stress of turned it toward how stress is reacted to and held by the per-
aging and the consciousness which accompanies it show up son affected. We use sensitivity and comparison. Sit with a
in these daily stressors? partner. Both of you meditate with a slow breath and enter
There are certainly many more items you might add to into the state of shuniya. Scan your body and relax.
such a survey. You can think of this survey in terms of larger One of you stays still and meditates. The other touches the
categories of concern. Examples are time pressures, concerns hand of your partner. Notice with your own sensitivity how
and hopes for the future, inner and spiritual feelings, environ- you change, what you sense as you allow the energy of the
mental concerns and conditions, positive and negative health other person to imprint your aura. Just be the observer. Do not
factors, relationships, and money, resources, credit and debt. change anything at first. Notice as you scan your partner’s
All these areas are present whether a big crisis has occurred in body where you sense tightness or lack of flow. You might
life, or whether great successes and opportunities have come experience this in your own body/aura as well. You can get an
to you. immediate sense of the level of stress, the stored tensions and
This survey is ultimately about how you experience and patterns, without needing to know the causes or sources. You
respond to your unique flow of life. Yogi BHajan often quot- can sense the current state of this person. When your senses
ed, ‘nothing is good or bad, thinking makes it so.’ A perfect are open, and you stay still, bless them as you invoke, men-
example of this in our culture is affluence. We generally tally or out loud, the Guru Guru Wahe Guru, Guru Ram Das
assume that being rich is good. But let’s look at the group of Guru mantra. Let the healing hands and heart of Guru Ram
people who have won the lottery. Many become unhappy, Das bless them, release the tension and heal them. Be still and
exaggerate destructive coping mechanisms, and fall prey to the remove yourself to allow the healing to occur. Then inhale
intensified demands that come from family and other interest- deeply and stretch up. Reverse your roles, repeating the exer-
ed parties while others transform their life and find a balance cise. Share your observations with each other.
that empowers their growth and expresses what is truly impor- When you were sensing or being sensed by your partner,
tant to them. The lottery itself is not predictive of the stress did the sources of stress you explored earlier take a concrete
or the benefits that results from a major change of resources shape or place in you? What insight did you receive from
in an individual’s life. identifying your stressors? What insight did you gain from
Our consciousness, emotional balance and reactions, cop- sensing directly? What did you learn by combining the two
ing mechanisms, skills, relationships and subconscious pat- approaches?
terns all determine how well we embrace, direct and act under
the challenges and opportunities of life. As yogis, we build the
base of our energy and vitality, clear the subconscious of
residual stress, trauma and commotions, and invoke our intu-


Reflexes for the Vital Core

Now that we have assessed our levels of stress, let’s move it
out! Let’s release the stored stress and fill ourselves with vital-
Many of our problems and much of our behavior come
from a lack of vital energy. When we sense that deficit in our
body we seek out food, pick arguments, focus on unimportant
details and destroy relationships, anything to avoid feeling ‘not
enough,’ empty. This kriya is a fixer. It uses the power of the
many systems in your body to re-vitalize.
The first exercise is so powerful when done correctly that
it is a potent contributor to yoga therapy. The next two exer-
cises use special reflex areas—the golden gate of prana on the
sides of the rib cage at the seventh rib line, and the major
nerves and meridians that are just under the cheek bone, at
the base of the “magic mountain.” The rhythmic stimulation
of these points goes beyond the relaxation of muscles and
blood flow to actually be able to coordinate the actions of the
nervous system.
Dancing with your partner is for circulation. It is also a
chance for the body to “re-see” itself now that the energy flow
has been adjusted. Changing the soma—the intelligent body
mandala—is essential to open the deep meditation process
that immediately follows; so dance with vigor!
The final meditation sequence calms the emotions, opens
the heart and establishes a powerful radiant aura. The gong is
a chance to let everything go—to enter into stillness and stop
all the mental chatter. Using rhythm and deep meditation on
the central channel and the heart, this kriya initiates us back
into the world, ready to act through our presence and vitality.

This kriya can be done for up to one and a half hours. Plan
to relax a bit afterwards. Don’t leap into a car where you have
to deal with heavy traffic. Open your radiance, calm the mind
and let the infinite do some of the work.


Yogi Bhajan • February 22, 1992

1. Sit in Easy Pose. Cover your ears with your hands. The 1
Venus Mound at the base of the thumb is just behind the
cheekbone at the temporal lobe; the palms cover the ears
with the fingers pointing up and slightly behind the head.
Alternately press and release; apply 25 lbs, of pressure to the
head and then release the hands away from the head about
3-6 inches. (Nirinjan Kaur’s Humee Hum Brahm Hum is
played in class.) 22 minutes.
Note: For the final 3 minutes, increase the pace of the
press/release; move quickly.
TO END: Press the skull with the hands and inhale and hold
for 15-20 seconds. Cannon Fire exhale but keep the pressure
constant. Repeat twice more.
3 3
2. Break for 10 minutes. Relax, talk, enjoy.

3. Place your hands on your seventh rib, just beneath the

line of the breasts. The thumbs point up toward the shoul-
der and the fingers point toward each other. Move the hands
upward and inward, very fast! The breasts will move. Don’t
be shy. Look at the tip of your nose. Meditate and massage
your seventh rib. (Punjabi Drums is played in class.)
11 minutes. Inhale deep and hold tight for 10–25 seconds
Press the ribs. Cannon Fire exhale. Repeat twice more.

4. Break for 6 minutes. Shake out your hands and shoul-

ders for a few seconds and then relax. 5

5. Put the base of your palm on your cheekbones; the fin-

gers point up and rest at the top of the forehead. Squeeze
the hands up and in toward the nose, pressing on the cheek-
bone, the hands will cover the eyes. Move in a steady, rhyth-
mic pattern. (Punjabi Drums is played in class.)
11 minutes.


6. Stand up and dance with a partner. After 6 minutes, keep
dancing and move your hands up and down above your head and
continue to move your feet. Continue 3 minutes.

7. Sit down.
a) Rest the hands on the heart; right hand over the left. Breath
long, slow and deep. Breathe consciously. Try to breathe four
breaths per minute. (Nirinjan Kaur’s Say Saraswati is played
throughout the rest of the class.)
Close your eyes and go deeply within. 6 minutes.
Begins a gong meditation. 6 minutes.
Continue meditating, breathing slowly, consciously. 2 minutes.

b) Now begin clapping with the breath. Clap once on the inhale;
clap once on the exhale. Inhale clap and hold, exhale clap and
hold, find your rhythm. 3 1/2 minutes.

c) Bring the hands together in Prayer Pose at the Heart Center and
put maximum pressure on the hands. Breathe slowly and deeply.
3-1/2 minutes. Inhale deep and hold for 20 seconds. Relax.



TOXIC stress


Welcome & Overview

On the first day we tuned into how we experience stress. Small Group Discussion
Today we want to “look under the hood.” We want to take a Begin with a check-in. Relate how you are doing, personal
look at the mechanisms of stress, the nature of adaptive and insights and concerns from the first day, and observations
toxic stress, and examples of how we use yoga to optimize about stress in your life.
our adaptive stress responses and minimize our toxic stress
This is a very practical day filled with practices to counter
stress. With each exercise, we will discover useful insights
about the core processes of healing that yoga provides.


The mechanisms of the stress response

Stress Serving Us Like a true connoisseur, we apply stress proportionately, as

As Kundalini Yogis we are warriors, healers, and connoisseurs. a part of the recipe for a healthy, happy and holy way of life.
We not only destroy stress and heal its ills, we also enjoy We refrain from eating for several hours before going to sleep.
stress. We relish it, using it in small amounts like a fine spice. We exercise consistently and moderately each day. We pre-
It is the wily, ill-behaved stress that we dislike, the clumsy pare for going to sleep and allow our breath to flow through
mismanagement of stress that we disdain. Instead, we invite our left nostril as we drift quickly into the first stage of sleep.
stress to join us as a welcomed guest. If the guest overstays We retire to bed and awaken at regular hours. With these
his welcome, we find ways to move it along. The fact is that small disciplines, we need only the slightest touch of stress—
we rely on stress. the right amount at the right time—to function smoothly.
We consciously use stress in small homeopathic doses to Without attention to these details, we might find ourselves
alert our mind and redirect the flow of our thoughts. We responding in appropriately. When the friendly guest arrives,
intentionally use strong doses of stress to provoke the healing we call on the entire fire department instead of simply making
resources of our bodies. We use small, precisely applied tea and sitting down to visit! We observe ourselves. We
amounts of stress in systematic ways to toughen our nervous observe the natural rhythms of life. We observe the positive
system and develop caliber. This continuous relationship with and proportionate use of stress. Nothing is good or bad in
stress, this practice, gives us an extraordinary ability to deliv- itself. The effect depends on a proper and proportionate use
er ourselves under any circumstances. of each thing, including stress. Each kriya and meditation in
Kundalini Yoga embodies this sensitivity to proportion, pur-
A Little Bit of Stress Goes a Long Way pose and effect.
Just imagine that it’s early in the morning. You've slept sound-
ly and for just a minute you dwell in the borderlands between
sleeping and waking–the hypnopompic state. Gently your
heart begins to beat faster and you are drawn by an irresistible
pull toward wakefulness. You accept the prodding of your
mental alarm clock—the one you set as you slipped into bed
the night before. It's 3:30 a.m. Your well-trained mind guides
the brain to flood your blood with high concentrations of the
stress hormone adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH), which increas-
es by 30%. Blood pressure rises, energy and blood sugar are
rallied, and alertness gradually follows as you slough aside
sluggishness and disorientation that comes from sleep inertia.
It can take up to half an hour for a normal person to reach full
alertness. For many people, performance in the first half hour
of waking is worse than if you've been up for a full 24 hours
straight. As well-trained, disciplined yogis, we wake up
smoothly and quickly, bringing all of our systems into full
function with a cold shower, a few exercises, and our morn-
ing routine. We don’t even begin our day without calling on
our old friend stress. Figure 2.1 Eustress Versus Distress


Positive Stressors challenging situation, such as being placed in a tank of water

We are designed to survive, adapt and heal. Our brain, nerv- where they suddenly have to swim.
ous system and entire cellular apparatus is constantly healing, In order to understand our stress response it's important
changing and adapting. Stress is essential for our brain to to recognize that it’s about our own energy in relationship to
thrive and maintain some measure of its original plasticity. For the stress—it’s a balance of the two. When we are exposed to
many years the popular view of stress was that any change or a stressor, a pain or a threat, the first thing we have to do is
challenge was stressful. Some people tried to master stress by mobilize our resources and energy to meet the challenge. This
avoiding all change, going to quiet retreats, or eliminating any process of shifting from one level of energy to another is
conflicts in their lives and their relationships. Job promotions called allostasis1. Allostasis adjusts the body’s systems to a
were seen to be just as distressing as job losses. The reality is level of functioning that keeps the entire organism, body and
that positive stressors can be enormously good for us—and mind, stable in the face of any change or challenge. “Allo”
good for the nervous system. It is only when the stress is too means variable. The central process of allostasis is rooted in
extreme, too prolonged, inappropriate to the challenge or the body's primal defense mechanisms. Under threat or
accompanied by strong negative emotions like fear that we change we have three options: fight, flight or freeze. These are
begin to accumulate an unmanageable allostatic load and all our most basic survival strategies. To act on any of these we
the negative results of being overburdened by stress. first have to gather and redistribute our energy.
It turns out that the timing of stress is critical. A bout of In order to fight or to flee, we need to shift our energy
strong exercise or jumping into a cold stream is good for us if from long-term needs to short-term needs. The lungs need
it is intermittent. We know this from our personal experience. increased oxygen and the muscles need quick fuel (blood sug-
This effect is used in all martial arts training, military training ars and increased oxygen), especially in the large muscles,
and sports in general to toughen us up and increase such as the legs. The heart rate speeds up in order to deliver
endurance. The biggest mistake trainers make is simply over- enough oxygen to the blood and organ systems. Another way
doing. That is why you see “Boomeritis”—a record high use of that we shift things is by constriction or dilation. The blood
orthopedic surgery, arthritis and bursitis for all those Baby vessels in the skin constrict; this prevents bleeding. If we have
Boomers who persist in over-exercising in order to avoid the
inevitable progression of age.

Stress Adaptation Response

Under short-lived, acute stressors, we are alert, we learn more
quickly, and we generate positive emotions—in short, we
thrive. We respond properly to challenges and are able to relax
and release the stress response with equal alacrity. Many
experiments done on mice prove the benefits of small, inter-
mittent stressors. Researchers will take a baby mouse and sim-
ply handle it. This is highly stressful to such a small creature.
Researchers then compare mice that have been handled to
those that haven’t. There are great differences. The handled,
more stressed mice show less anxiety, less biting, less nervous
ambulation and almost no fear when they are thrown into a

1 Allostasis is in contrast to the more familiar term, homeostasis, which refers to

the biological processes of the body to maintain a constant state, such as steady
temperature, acid-base balance in the blood, or oxygen levels, in which a small
change can become life-threatening.
Figure 2.2 Moving Your Energy Resources


to move fast or far, the increased exertion needs fuel so our The Chemistry of Stress Response
glands secrete hormones that immediately turn stored carbo- Your body is like a great orchestra with many parts developed
hydrates into usable blood sugars. for specific purposes. The entire orchestra must act together
in order to have a healthy stress response; so we need a con-
Secondary Stress Responses ductor. The master conductor is known as the hypothalamus.
The secondary stress responses defend against injury and In the first moments of stress, the hypothalamus is put on the
pain. Most of our contemporary stressors are not life-threaten- alert and called into action by a flood of information from the
ing, or even that serious. But still, the body’s autonomic sys- body. The first response is reflexive and handled by the fastest
tem responds: the immune system mobilizes and moves our communication link in the body: a circuit of nerves that goes
white blood cells into the bloodstream, our sensitivity to pain directly to the adrenal glands. The adrenals answer by pouring
is lowered, digestive and reproductive systems slow down. out the first major stress hormone—adrenaline, also known as
Everything that repairs us is put on the back burner and all our epinephrine. The pulse begins to race, the blood rushes to the
energy is directed to that which can defend us. If the stress- muscles and organs, oxygen swiftly absorbs into the bronchial
ful situation continues for an extended period of time, the tubes as the lungs dilate, and extra oxygen is sent to the brain
body dampens the immune response in order to shift the ener- to keep us alert and ready to respond. Your hair stands on end
gy back to the primary systems, the heart and lungs. It is bet- as the blood vessels constrict. The adrenaline releases fibrino-
ter to escape the hungry tiger than be caught and have to gen to speed up blood clotting and protect against the loss of
repair the damage! blood. At the same time, glucose is released from energy
Ideally our body and mind can recognize the difference stores such as glycogen in the liver and from long-term fat
between these frequent, minor stressors and the more serious, storage in the adipose tissue.
life-threatening events and be able mediate the automatic, These increased levels of adrenaline heighten performance.
autonomic and secondary responses. With higher levels of adrenaline, students scored better on
If you hear a hurricane is on the way, you don't start test taking and showed a greater attention span as well as bet-
repainting the dining room. You make sure your flashlights ter social skills. Firefighters and paratroopers perform better
have batteries, the windows are secured, and you have plenty and jump more accurately with higher levels of adrenaline. It
of water and food for the duration. You might have found this is interesting that those who have a weak adrenaline response
same pattern in the behaviors we surveyed yesterday—under to stress in turn show higher levels of neurosis, meaning they
stress many of us quit taking care of ourselves. Instead we think too much and experience emotional conflicts under day-
generate a flurry of activity that gets us to our goal or removes to-day stresses, which interfere with their own happiness and
us from the perceived threat. accomplishment. So we can see that a short, high-level pulse
of adrenaline that rapidly returns to normal is very adaptive.
This secondary stress response is orchestrated by the hor-
mone’s “special forces.” The hypothalamus sends a message
to the pituitary gland, which releases corticotropin releasing
factor (CRF). In turn, the pituitary releases adrenocorti-
cotrophic hormone (ACTH). This spurs the adrenal medulla
to send out waves of cortisol—a primary stress hormone. This
loop is called the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA).


stress burden we carry and the risks it brings with it. In addi-
tion, cortisol pulls minerals from the bones.
It’s a delicate balance: a short burst of cortisol helps the
immune system to mobilize its defenses, but sustained, high
levels of cortisol can create problems. Cortisol is monitored by
the hypothalamus in the pituitary. If cortisol remains too high,
the pituitary sends out a signal to suppress the immune sys-
tem and bring the body back into balance. Because cortisol
can signal suppression of the immune system, large amounts
of cortisol can cause the immune function to be suppressed
altogether. This explains why people under chronic stress are
more susceptible to infections, colds and autoimmune prob-
lems. But on the other hand, if there's too little cortisol, the
immune system continues unchecked, resulting in allergies,
inflammation, and autoimmune disorders, which is why the
Figure 2.3 The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis standard allopathic treatment protocol for allergies and inflam-
mation is corticosteroids.
This sketch from The New England Journal of Medicine, May 18, Normally, we have the highest level of cortisol in the early
1995, shows the autonomic nervous system pathways from the hypo- morning, which helps us wake up. Its lowest point is in the
thalamus to the adrenal medulla and to the cells of the immune sys- afternoon and evening. But as we’ve discussed, cortisol can
tem with dotted pathways, using norepinephrine to transmit its mes- remain chronically high. This affects the brain, too. The hip-
sages. The solid pathways are hormone secretions of CRH to the pocampus, which is an area of the brain that helps to manage
pituitary and ACTH to the adrenal cortex to release cortisol. Note memory, can begin to atrophy. Another area of the brain
that cortisol secretion levels feed back to the hypothalamus and pitu- called the amygdale, which affects our sensitization to pain,
itary to turn off the response and return to balance. fear and perception of threat, can also be damaged, sometimes
even permanently.
Cortisol is a steroid made from cholesterol. It restores your
reserve energy supplies, which were used up in the rapid
adrenaline rush. The release of cortisol immediately begins to
store blood sugar as glycogen or fat. It also spurs your
appetite—that’s why you hear so much about obesity and
stress. If you are constantly stressed, the body automatically Ongoing Depression, Melancholia Chronic Fatigue
Sleep Deprivation Fibromyalgia
stores more sugar in the blood to replace what you’ve used in Diabetes Allergies
an “emergency.” This creates a problem with another hor- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Asthma
mone called insulin, which stimulates the muscles to let in (OCD) Atypical/Seasonal Depression
glucose (sugar) from the blood. But if the cortisol levels stay Exercise Addiction Rheumatoid Arthritis
Panic Disorder PTSD
high and continue pushing sugar into the bloodstream all the
Alcoholism Hypothyroidism
time, insulin will eventually begin to resist and a lot of fat Cushing’s Syndrome Atopic Dermatitis
from this particular hormone loop begins to be stored in the Gastrointestinal Disease Inflammatory Diseases, Lupus
abdominal area. Because of this relationship between cortisol Memory Disruption Osteoarthritis
and insulin, our waist to hip ratio is a good measure of the


One of the characteristics of depression is that cortisol lev- disorder (PTSD), we also see an abnormal regulation of the
els remain moderately elevated throughout the day, and espe- cortisol response. Cortisol becomes unresponsive to normal
cially in the evening. This is an important idea. We know that stimulation in these patients, remaining very flat, which con-
repeated, small exposures to stress temporarily elevate the cor- tributes to insomnia.
tisol level and lead to the kind of toughening and endurance There are numerous other hormones, neurotransmitters,
that we desire. However, if cortisol levels remain high, as in cytokines and peptides that are part of the full cascade of
depression, there is no synchronization with the demands of chemistry and change within the stress response. We are
the environment and the mildly depressed person is unable to touching on these two principal hormones as a foundation for
seek out the healthier forms of stress, like exercise or trying understanding the stress response in order to inform our prac-
new things. They are already stressed—and even a seemingly tice as teachers and yogis. The body’s 30 trillion cells make up
small stress can send them spinning. a complex system. Shifts in hormones, energy resources, cir-
Ideally, the deep relaxation response, when combined with culation, nerve stimulation and cellular communication affect
mild stimulation like regular exercise creates a cascading, heal- all levels of our body and mind. Stress affects everything from
ing effect that ripples through all levels of the body and the pulse rate, to genes, to thought, to mood. And now we can
mind. But depression flattens the stress response within us measure its affect on the rate of production of new cells in the
and disconnects us from the world and other people. It gives nerves, the number of spikes and connections between the
us a flat affect, removes us from life, and isolates us in a tight neurons, and even the rate of expression of different genes.
cocoon of ongoing, unrelenting stress. In post-traumatic stress



The Master’s Touch:

an experience with yogi bhajan

Pittra Kriya
November 18, 1991


PITTRA KRIYA In the second exercise we balance the chakras. Chakras are
This kriya is fantastic for releasing stress. It has a long histo- always working and shifting with whatever challenges arise.
ry in India. When people were filled with grief over the death They correlate directly to the nerve plexuses in the body. The
of a loved one or a tragedy of some sort, they did this first first exercise in this sequence opens the flow; this second
exercise standing in a river. Rivers were seen as the flow of exercise optimizes that flow and opens the chakras, synchro-
life, as sacred and healing. They would toss the water over nizing with our circumstances and environments. Sometimes
their shoulder. The yogis knew that the brain had to be they interlock with our wandering thoughts or feelings. Stress
restarted, broken out of the freeze state that stress produces. and emergency response can come from these thoughts,
To do that they used a simple technology: the hand moves whether subconscious and conscious, and we find ourselves
precisely and smoothly past the side of the head near the ear. ‘out of synch.’ Because our response is regulated by the pul-
The hand is an electromagnetic field in itself and has its own sation of the hypothalamus, we lock our eyes at the tip of the
aura. The arc traced by the hand and the wrist stimulates the nose and stimulate the 34th, 35th, and 36th meridian points
arc line to re-compute who you are and the energy you have on the palate. We command the glands to move in rhythm
available to accomplish what you need. To get that effect, the with our attention and sounds. In this way, we align our mind
hand passes by the earlobe as the wrist relaxes a bit at the with the moment. Yogi Bhajan said that the flicking of the
zenith of the arc. It also triggers the two hemispheres to work Saturn finger, the middle finger, heightens the energy of the
together smoothly. In addition to the benefits and effects to psyche. He often used a point system to indicate the strength
the crown chakra and arc line, you will also experience a deep or vitality of the psyche’s auric projection. In this case he
relaxation all the way down to the pelvis and lower spine. wanted to raise the frequency “from 1.16 megawatts to 2.35
Once stress is released, the flow of the central channel opens. megawatts.” Without enough vitality, we cannot grab the
Yogi Bhajan said that this exercise is very potent and can cre- virtues and initiate change.
ate a profound release in exactly 11 minutes. In the third exercise, we focus on our ability to act. We
This kriya works best if practiced regularly for a while. Yogi want the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems to work
Bhajan explained that many people would do it a few times smoothly with our motor nerves. Kundalini Yoga shows us
but then stop before the full benefit ripened; they would not that the autonomic and motor nerves converge and are bal-
do a full 40-day sadhana. So the priests connected the prac- anced in the armpit and shoulder areas. This exercise enlists
tice to “Surya Namaskar,” or worshipping the source of life, this part of our body to synchronize and work with our inten-
the sun, the inner spirit. This element of worship made it a tions.
more meaningful practice to them, more than just an effective Yogi Bhajan asked us to share this kriya, to give it to our
technology of self-stimulation and self-adjustment. This illus- friends, family, students and strangers, too. He said that it
trates Yogi Bhajan’s emphasis on self-initiation: are we able to would save a lot of trouble in life. “Once you restore your own
do something just for our Self? How much do we still rely on vitality, you can enjoy your virtues. You do not enjoy your
something outside our Self to stimulate or motivate us? How virtues because you lack inner vitality. If you have no teeth or
much do we long for our Self? Because, in fact, if you do this you have too many cavities, then even if you are given 36
practice without a river and without belief in anything but gourmet dishes, you are not going to eat and enjoy them. You
your own Infinite Self, it works wonders. are not living; you are existing and wasting your life.”

Yogi Bhajan • November 18, 1991

1. Pittra Kriya: Your left hand rests on your Heart Center and
your right hand is cupped in front of you with your elbow
relaxed by your side. Eyes are on the tip of the nose. The
right hand lifts up and passes the ear, as if you are splash-
ing water over your shoulder. You will feel the wind pass
your ear as the hand moves toward the shoulder. Your wrist
must cross the earlobe; the hand must travel that far back.
11 minutes.
TO END: Inhale and suspend the breath for 15 seconds—
stretch the hand back as far as you can. Exhale. Repeat
twice more.
“It will hit the kidney energy. . . . it will start working with
the adrenals and then the whole system. . . . the lungs . . .
the central line . . . your hip-area, pelvic bone area; it is
going to affect your body and you will become very relaxed.
Do it with a rhythm and do it with a devotion and do it just
to get rid of this stress . . . get rid of this inner mental and
physical tension. . . . You are your vitality, minus tension,
you are fine.”

2. Place the elbows on the second rib below the base of the 2
breast, in line with the nipple. Hands are slightly wider than
the elbows and the palms are facing up in Shuni Mudra. The
thumb covers the nail of the Saturn finger (middle finger).
Eyes are at the tip of the nose. As you repeat Har, flick the
Saturn finger. The sound Har is very specific and made with
the tip of the tongue. The mouth remains slightly open as
you generate the sound. 11 minutes.
TO END: Inhale deeply. Continue moving the fingers.
Suspend the breath for 15 seconds, let it open your
ribcage…it will balance the chakras and then Cannon Fire
exhale. Repeat three times more.
You have to touch the upper palate—34, 35, 36 meridian
points that relate to the hypothalamus will regulate the pitu-
itary and take the secretion which you have created and
start asking the energy to open up the chakra. It will start
changing the serum of your spine. It will revitalize the gray
matter in the brain.


3. Bring the arms out in front of you in a V, about 15° above 3

shoulder height. Superman Pose. Hands are flat and facing
down. At the rate of one repetition per second, repeat Har
as in the second exercise, crossing the hands in front of you
and keeping the arms straight. Do not bend the elbows.
Alternately cross one hand over the other. Eyes are at the tip
of the nose. 11 minutes.
TO END: Keep moving the arms and inhale, hold for 10 sec-
onds and Canon Breath out. Repeat three more times, mov-
ing the hands as fast as possible during the last repetition.

COMMENTS: “There are thirty three minutes in your life, if

you can spare, you can eat up your own stress. . . .One
exercise you are going to do is going to take care of your
glandular system and will affect the liver; it will relax you. .
. . The second exercise will balance the chakras and the third
exercise will balance your nervous system: parasympathetic,
sympathetic, and all that.”

NOTE: These kriyas must be done together and should

never be done for less than or more than 11 minutes.



The paths to toxic stress

THERE ARE SEVERAL WAYS THAT WE CAN BECOME TOXIC. trauma triggers a chronic stress response. Repeated elevations
It should be clear by now that it is not the stressor of cortisol cause the immune system to be suppressed and
itself that is the problem. It is our response. Therefore, many animals become ill or die.
we must cultivate, through our practice, a belief in our Self We find a more familiar example in our daily relationships:
along with the adequate coping skills, resilience, hardiness, married couples who argue and fight. The social stress com-
and stamina to cross any crisis. bined with the negative emotions predicts a pattern of chron-
ic stress. A psychologist at Ohio State University tested this
Four Contributors to Toxic Stress hypothesis by having couples volunteer for an assessment.
There are four common situations that gradually turn our stress They were observed while they argued. Blood pressure, corti-
mechanisms toward an unmanageable allostatic load. Figure sol and interleukin-6, a cytokine used by the immune system
2.5 summarizes each situation and is adapted from Bruce to control wound healing, were monitored during the assess-
McEwen’s excellent The End of Stress as We Know It. The top ment. They were divided into high argument and low argu-
graph shows the normal stress response, which maintains ment/harmonious groups. A small injury was introduced into
allostasis: the hormones and other components of the stress each group—eight small blisters on their forearms—and their
response rise quickly to a peak at the onset of the stressor, then rate of healing was measured. A single, half hour argument
the response levels off and rapidly returns to the initial level.

The First Path: Repeated Hits

The first path toward toxic stress is shown in the next graph.
These conditions are represented by multiple, frequent stres-
sors with little time for relaxation or adjustment—chronic
stress. The stress response is primarily automatic, even in
yogis. The only difference is that an experienced yoga practi-
tioner is able to bring the response back to normal more quick-
ly and regularly, creating the time and space to enter a stress-
free zone and initiate the body’s innate healing process.
However, extreme, chronic stress will eventually disrupt even
the master practitioner.
Social and political upheaval and conditions of unmitigat-
ed poverty are classic examples of chronic stress in humans.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, all social structures were
left in disarray. Premature death and illness rates jumped while
life expectancy dropped by five years. Most of the deaths were
due to an increase in cardiovascular disease and hypertension,
although violent crime and suicide increased as well. The
heart and blood vessels are the front lines of our stress
response. Increased blood pressure, clotting and inflammation
cut a clear path to heart problems and premature death. In
animals we see similar problems. When wild animals are sud-
denly moved from their natural habits into zoos and forced
into close proximity with other unknown animals, the sudden Figure 2.5 FOUR CONTRIBUTORS TO OUR ALLOSTIC LOAD


slowed the rate of healing by 40% for an entire day. Measured The Second Path: Lack of Adaptation
over a longer period, stressed couples healed over 12 days, The second path to toxic stress is when your system fails to
compared to only 6 days in unstressed couples. So we see adapt to a repeated stressor. This applies to extreme, severe or
that harmonious communication is not just pleasant and cre- long-lasting circumstances, and to minor, day-to-day annoy-
ative; it is protective. The same research group has shown that ances. Some people fail to adapt and continue to show high
chronic stress changes your genetic expression; for example, levels of stress response long after the event or circumstance
the rate at which your peptides signal the immune system. If has passed. Imagine speaking in public, driving in heavy traf-
you yell loud enough your genes hear you; if you argue long fic, getting on a plane or a fast amusement ride. In such situ-
enough, your immune system lets you keep your pain. ations, we gradually learn that we are all right, that we have a
degree of control and that there is no real immediate threat.

Science Box—Discovering Stress Since these early discoveries about stress and its generalized
Hans Seyle, in 1936, started his career by defining stress as a mechanisms, a great amount of research has shifted from the
generalized response to a non-specific agent or cause, that is, purely damaging aspects of stress to the positive coping and
he showed that regardless of the type of stressor the body had healing mechanisms that stress engenders. We are beginning to
a common response with similar symptoms. Before that, medi- understand how the innate healing mechanisms work with the
cine focused on specific agents for specific effects. This idea— allostatic adaptation and defense mechanisms. A contemporary
that our own adaptive response could go awry and lead to ill- leader in stress research, Sapolsky, wrote an excellent study
ness or emotional disarray—was revolutionary at the time and called “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers,” which elaborates how
widely rejected. As a medical student, Seyle noted that many social status, poverty and personality create stress. He points
sick patients had similar symptoms independent of the main ill- out that although Seyle’s work was brilliant, it also distracted
ness: coated tongues, aches and pains, loss of appetite, fatigue the direction of research for 50 years with his label of three
and inflammation. He thought that just being “sick” was a stages: alarm, resistance and exhaustion of the organism.
problem in itself. Years later in his search for new hormones as Because in fact, the body is characterized less by “exhaustion”
an endocrinologist, he was testing a substance on rats that pro- than “neglect,” our adrenals do not exhaust themselves. They
duced a common damaging pattern: stomach ulcers, enlarged continue to pump out hormones. Instead, the stress response
adrenal glands and atrophy in the lymphatic system. He realized shifts all the resources away from repair and maintenance. We
the damage was from contaminants in the preparation, not the stop repairing muscle, managing our blood sugar levels, and
potential hormone. So, he began injecting rats with a wide array relaxing our heart and vessels. This explains why rest alone is
of chemical irritants, such as formalin. Then he subjected the not the cure for stress. We need a deeper “relaxation response”
rats to cold, radiation, pain, forced exercise and other stressful that re-engages the innate maintenance mechanisms of the
conditions. They all produced the same group of symptoms. He body’s innate intelligence. Once we are chronically stressed, we
concluded that the body has a powerful, consistent array of do not go back to zero. The body remains on high alert, mean-
mechanisms to combat damage and insults to the body. He while the internal organs and other systems slowly collapse
called this GAS: General Adaptation Syndrome. He wrote many from neglect or wear and tear. We start to break down, rust,
papers and a series of books that popularized this idea of stress, swell, inflame and drown in toxic levels of our own cortisol
which promoted further research. Since then a vast range of soup. If we can regularly get to that inner zero point, we give
research has teased out the mechanisms of stress; explored ourselves the chance to heal. That is why lifestyle, meditation
which illnesses are more susceptible to stress; documented the and exercise are far more effective than any pill or other treat-
powerful effects stress has on health, personality and emotions; ment protocols currently available.
and discovered worlds of chemical, epigenetic and psychologi-
cal contributions to how we cope with stress.


Our blood pressure and hormones stop spiking. But if our Small Group Discussion
mind continues to perceive a threat or if we were already How We Build Up Toxic Stress
stressed, then the stress response can continue unabated, Discuss your experience of these paths to toxic stress.
with significant consequences to our long-term physical and
mental health. 4Have you ever let things slide? How did you reverse the
condition? What was your experience in turning these
The Third Path: Prolonged Response around?
The third path to toxic stress is shown in the graph that rises
and stays elevated. Some of us can get in an argument or take Our bio-molecular, allopathic orientation in medicine has
a test and drop it when it’s over. Others ruminate, worry given us many benefits—and a few medical miracles. But there
about what just happened or how we performed. Various is also a curse imbedded in this perspective. Many of the best
things can contribute to this pattern: ability to control the formulated pills and treatments either create a stress them-
mind, our discipline; emotional temperament; learned patterns selves—“stretch the system” as Yogi Bhajan said—or produce
in the family; genetic tendencies. If you maintain high levels unintended side effects that we read about in the small print.
of stress after events have passed, the body begins to experi- As holistic practitioners we encourage all forms of treatment,
ence a vicious spiral, an escalating loop of cortisol–stress but as yogis, we specialize in natural treatments that are grad-
response. Recall that high levels of cortisol and continued acti- ual, proportionate, and systems-oriented. We strengthen the
vation of the sympathetic–adrenal system can damage parts of entire system and try to eliminate stress or at least soften its
the brain, namely the hippocampus and the amygdala. The impact, so that the innate, constituent healing mechanisms of
damaged hippocampus can impair memory, so you lose the the body are triggered and enhanced. We take into account
context of what has happened and are unable to determine the mind and emotions as essential and regard them as more
that it’s over. The “on” switch stays stuck. You don’t see the important than most outer stressors or physical treatments
exit sign, so you repeat the same mental perambulation and alone.
intensify the experience. The damaged amygdala increases our
anxiety and fear. It makes us anticipate the worst and we 4What positive effects have you experienced by simply
begin to make even the smallest problem into a catastrophe. reducing stress and focusing on regular internal mainte-
Stress begets more stress! nance—self-care?

The Fourth Path: Inadequate Response 4Do you think we can be stress free or at least stress-wise
The final path to toxic stress is shown in the last graph—too in the contemporary environments we live in? Many people
little, too late. Cortisol acts as a trigger to reduce its own say that modern conditions—constant change, instability,
action. As it rises, it signals the hypothalamus to stop the two unexpected shifts in work, globalization and increased com-
hormones that fire up the adrenals and the sympathetic nerv- munication—are not only a recipe for stress but also stretch
ous system. It also turns off the immune system and reduces our stress response beyond what it’s evolved to handle. How
inflammation. If the cortisol response is too weak, the do you see us adapting to these new challenges in the near
immune systems cascades wildly in an attempt to fend off the future?
invaders! Dust, dander and dogs seem like deadly bacteria.
Allergies and inflammation escalate uncontrollably. This can 4As teachers, what is the proper attitude and approach to
also lead to more serious health problems such as clots, guiding and assisting our students in dropping stress, heal-
strokes, and increased pain and sensitivity. ing and becoming healthy, happy, and holy?


Keeping and regaining vitality

or How to Dump Your Allostatic Load

There are many ways to combat the ill effects of allostatic load tion from our vacation if we don’t have good anti-stress cop-
and build our resilience to stress. We have many tools: exer- ing strategies.
cise, meditation, pranayam, music, positive thoughts, faith The techniques of Kundalini Yoga take us into what Yogi
and belief, reducing negative emotions and fears, and practic- Bhajan calls the stress-free zone. Each kriya and meditation
ing good lifestyle habits like regular sleep and good nutrition. has a universal effect to counter stress, using specific path-
Certainly we have tranquilizers, pain relievers and other med- ways that help us deal with the many facets of the stress load.
ications, but each drug exacts its own toll and creates its own As we explore these kriyas together, we will look at how each
stress. Vacations are useful, although we often need a vaca- unique approach works.


Releasing the elements

and becoming stress free

HOW CAN WE GET PAST THE BARRIER TO OUR TRUE and understood the five elements and the gift of life. They
SELF? The key to vitality is being who we are. We are born could see what is Being and be with that Being as a being.
into the world as a part of it, an integral piece of the universe’s In contract, the inauthentic gap we experience in our own
expression of itself. We are born by God’s will. We come to lives drives us to cover up the emptiness with some kind of
experience existence; we come to experience our spirit; we distraction or stimulation. Yogi Bhajan said this was a primary
come with a destiny to bloom. source of addictions of all types. He was very pained by the
When we act out of anxiety, fear, greed, and the hundreds toll that drugs had taken on individuals and society. He traced
of other feelings our mind creates in anticipation of the best the fall of empires to drug use, stemming from this basic cor-
or the worst, we lose touch with the basic conversation of our ruption. India fell into slavery under marijuana; China under
Self and our soul, our heart and our God, our humanity and opium; Romans under alcohol; and Egyptians under psyche-
the flow of the world. Yogi Bhajan calls this our basic corrup- delics.
tion. We exist in perfect innocence with our Infinite Self “We are not inside. We are absent. We have just to feel,
always present, yet we deny it. We try to clothe our naked- to exist. We do not cultivate tranquility. There is no space, no
ness—the naked nonexistence of our finite self without the stress-free zone. You do not know the beauty of being stress
grace of the Infinite. We dodge and hide. We put on masks. free. It is marvelous. It is the highest richness you can touch.
We try to control our very small kingdoms. You want to feel God? You do not have to feel God. When you
are stress free, you become God. Because you in you, as your-
“We are basically corrupt. . . . You are corrupt to yourself. self, is God. Nobody can deny that.
You are corrupt to your elementary strength given by God that To have energy and to contain it and to maintain it is the
is in you . . . and you want to solve that through religion or act of a saint. That is why a human becomes a saint.
yoga. However, what yoga cannot do for you is what you Otherwise your own energy will become your own destruction.
have to do with yoga.” You have to remain stress free and to do that you must sub-
ject yourself to a point of order. You have to understand and
What is needed is a simple conversation of the elements. We confront the fact that the stress you are causing to yourself
lose touch with the beauty and openness of the sky, the solid dumps you deeper and deeper into not knowing your Self.
reality of the earth, the penetrating, moving depths of our own So what do we want? Attention. We want it either in a good
emotions, and the power and clarity of our internal fire to act way or a bad way, but we want it. That is basically stress-
and engage life. This conversation of the elements is one of ful. Even if people pay you attention and homage, there is no
innocence, gratitude and presence. There is nothing to place for stress. We have to become a stress-free zone and
acquire. You are in it, like a fish in water. Before sharing this deeply understand that that is the source or key to happiness.”
kriya, he shared a story about meeting the elders of a local –Yogi Bhajan, (date)
Native American tribe. Yogi Bhajan lived in Northern New
Mexico (USA) and was surrounded by many Indian Nations This is our situation. Out of compassion and love he
and pueblos. He noticed in speaking with their elders that offered this meditation to help clear the blocks and emotion-
within their language and their logic they have a direct, kinet- al corruptions that separate us from our true vitality and inno-
ic connection to the flow of life. The elements flow through cence. “The idea is not to feel momentarily stress free. We
them—in their thoughts, speech, actions and feelings. They want to make the subconscious clear, burn out all the garbage,
embraced all that came to them. They did not judge each so that you can feel stress free for a few weeks! Until you fill
thing and then defend those same judgments. They analyzed it up again.” Part of the problem is that we are so used to


high, permeating levels of stress that we feel completely empty conditions necessary for healing will be established. As Mera
without it. When we are stress free, we become non-impos- Man Loche is played, enter into a prayerful state and receive
ing. We realize love; we become ecstatic; and we feel great the blessings. Create a conscious relationship. This is a key
without needing anything. We are real, direct and true each element. We are built to rely on our sense of infinity—it is per-
moment. sonal, practical and interactive. It is intimate and immediate.
Only our corruptions and conditions mask the simple power
ReleAsing the Elements Kriya of this feeling. So let everything go. Be still.
In the first exercise of this kriya, we use a wave-like motion Moving your hands to the Heart Center, let the body repair
with the hands and arms, moving smoothly in three parts. itself. Let it know you love it. Gradually shift your focus to the
This is a good example of how we use the language of the crown of the head, the 10th gate. As the gong is played free
body to do the healing. Don’t try too hard. This is soft. It is your Self. Become a “sparrow of time and space.” The ele-
a whispered body language, like a lover to the soul. Allow the ments of the body have balanced so let yourself go beyond
mind to become still, nonreactive and content. To do this cor- the mind and its limits.
rectly, you have to allow yourself to be an artist—play with the This entire set is an example of how we use our awareness
movement, feel the movement and enjoy it! The fingers are of the elements, the elementary self and our body language to
the elements playing. The smooth motion relaxes and extends clear the graffiti left over from stress and the play of the ego.
the shoulder and the elbow. The precise movement releases Some techniques are about relaxing. Some are about support-
any tension being held in the meridians for the liver, spleen ing an organ system This is about freeing the Self, finding the
and immune system. It uses the water element to command Self and speaking the original language of the elements.
the healing. Let go and become this gentle wave.
The second exercise focuses on the fingertips and how the
body balances the play of the elements through touch and
rhythm. As your body begins to feel all the elements and their
energy, you complete the experience by holding the breath at
the heart to open it.
The next exercise moves the shoulders, releasing the bur-
den we all hold in this area. The lion’s breath develops in
rhythm with the drums so that your entire digestive lock is
released. If you move well, the lungs expand, minerals adjust
and you detoxify. (Remember how stress can rob you of min-
Now raise the arms to the sky. It is a gesture. It should be
felt. Just placing your arms at the correct angle communicates
in a way that the sky and ether elements understand. Hold still
and sense the vastness, the lightness. It doesn’t matter
whether there is something in the heavens or not, whether
you believe or not. The body will understand the gesture and
your elements will shift. Possibilities will open up and the

Yogi Bhajan • November 9 1989

1. In Easy Pose, with your elbows gently bent, dive the hands
down and then extend the wrists up in a wave-like motion
and then repeat—like waves of the ocean. It gives you the
father principle, water. Use the entire arm to create the wave:
shoulder, elbow and wrist. 8 minutes.
TO END: Inhale deeply. Suspend the breath for 20 seconds.
Exhale and relax.
Exactly one minute from now you will be upset. I can bet
with you. In one minute more you will be upset, you will feel
either angry or bored or you will feel both. This will do it. It
is a very difficult exercise. . . . you are working on a merid-
ian here which connects with the liver, spleen and your
whole immune system. You are directly dealing with your
toxins and your poisons in the body.

2. Bring your hands in front of the chest. Make a tipi with

1c your hands, fingers are slightly separated and tap the finger-
tips together. You are playing with the five tattvas. All five
fingertips meet at once. Move with the music: Punjabi
Drums. 4 minutes.
TO END: Inhale deeply and suspend the breath for 30 sec-
onds. Meditate at the Heart Center. Exhale.


3. Bring your fingertips to your shoulders. Dance the
shoulders like wings, any way you like, to the rhythm of
Punjabi Drums. Your spine will start adjusting and your
lower back will hurt if it is out. After 2 minutes, extend
the tongue and begin to breathe through the mouth.
Lion’s Breath—heavy, long, deep breathing. Use the
Navel—you’re engaging the fire element. 5 minutes. [7
minutes total]
TO END: Inhale deeply and suspend the breath for 15 sec-
onds. Exhale. Then inhale and suspend the breath for 10
second. Exhale. Repeat.
Get your toxins out through the lungs—that is all you are doing. Tongue has
to be out. That is the condition. Move the shoulders, move; break the calci-
um deposits. . . . You are working with your air element and you are work-
ing with your fire element. 4

4. Extend your arms up to the heavens. The arms are in a wide V, 45° above
parallel, with the palms facing each another. Drop your head back and bring
your gaze up to the sky. Listen to beautiful, inspiring music. Nirinjan Kaur’s
Peace and Tranquility was played in original class. 5 minutes.
Pray as your original self—the original man.

5. Place your hands on your heart—one hand resting on the other.

Concentrate on what was the fontanel (the soft spot in the skull) in the
crown of the head. Close your eyes. Try to become a little sparrow of time
and space and project out. Leave the body and let it heal. Gong is played. 9-
1/2 minutes.
6. Hands still on the heart, inhale deeply and begin Breath of Fire.
3 minutes. Nirinjan Kaur’s Mera Man Lochai is played.
TO END: Inhale deeply and hold for 20 seconds, circulate the breath and focus
on the area you want to heal. Quickly exhale and inhale. Concentrate as you
suspend the breath for 15 seconds. Quickly exhale and inhale. Hold the breath
for 15 seconds and concentrate on the area you want to heal. Exhale and

COMMENTS: What do we want? Attention. The entire destructive behavior

[and] improper human dialogue is because we want attention—and we get it
by either behaving good or bad. It is stressful. . . . We have to become a
stress-free zone. We have to deeply understand that [being free of stress] i the
source or key to happiness.


Poke, provoke, confront & Elevate

What if Nietzche Did Yoga?

The “Why” of Our Real Self the present as it is, and into the Infinite flow of life by grace,
Yogi Bhajan was a master of aphorisms that would stick with going beyond any concept of ego that we have. That final sur-
his students and illuminate the corners of the heart. These render to our own higher Self is the essence of elevation. It is
aphorisms also captured values and core processes that cre- an act of humility, innocence and commitment. It is a letting
ated change and healing. “Poke, poke, confront and elevate” go of the things that no longer serve us, those bad habits of
is one of his most familiar adages. neglect and self-loathing, those things that come from old
It sounds a bit like the call for inner strength made famous misunderstandings, or loss of esteem and integrity.
by Nietzsche: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Experience and self-discipline are the soothing balms we apply
Kundalini Yoga would have been right down his ally! The sec- to these self-inflicted wounds.
ond, oft-forgotten Nietzsche quote is, “He who has a strong
enough ‘why’ can conquer any ‘how’.” The ‘why’ for us as
yogis is our real self, our elementary existence, our spirit. It is Meditation to Renew Your Rhythms
never outside of us. This quality of building strength and char- and Invite Prosperity
acter gives a unique flavor to many of our kriyas. This kriya is an example of this healing process. Experience it,
It’s not that effort itself is the point. It’s that the discipline and then reflect on your perspective of vitality and stress as a
we derive from cultivating a stress-free center in our con- yogi. How do you experience the tonifying effects of yoga?
sciousness—shuniya—can guide us through the murky waters What has worked for you in the past? Does it still work for
of our commotions, fears and habits to a place of renewed you? How do you communicate it to your own students?
strength, action and clarity. It is through strenuous exertion This kriya brings the many rhythms of your body back in
that we can then deeply relax. Our nervous system is a bal- tune. Stress creates a gradual but significant gap among the
ance of autonomic polarities and a dynamic loop between the many parts of the body and layers of and the mind—you’re
bottom up impulses of instinct and the senses, and out top ‘out-of-synch.’ When you’re synchronized, ‘in synch’, you
down flow of ideas, associations and visions. experience great vitality and many things begin to heal that
The techniques of Kundalini Yoga use the polarities of our seemed intractable before. This kriya creates a pressure on
nervous system and our minds to reach a new level of your autonomic nervous system and connects the energy of
strength. We will often poke at an area of our mind, or pro- your pelvis and the earth elements to your upper body.
voke our body, or confront our fears; but always from a place Normally the arms will protest. Your brain will send out
of stillness and calm—the stress-free zone. Then we sit with signals of pain or tiredness—even distress. But nothing is
the results, the reaction. We watch. We wait. We investigate. being hurt. It is pain without danger (unless your doctor has
We allow it to speak its piece and we bring it out of the sub- restricted you for some personal reason). By letting the pain
conscious into the light of awareness. Then we confront it be, by letting it pass, you separate yourself from your thought.
simply by staying who we are. We let the thought or feeling You conquer your instinctual fear and the tendency to inflate
be what it is and we stay strong in our presence; we are con- and escalate a simple pain into a grandiose problem. As you
sciously conscious; and so we’re not hypnotized or absorbed persevere and become calm and move in rhythm, the body
by thoughts that we don’t initiate or agree to. We confront reorganizes the functions of the hypothalamus to reassess
the thought with the power of our being. We confront stress what is going on. The brain gives you relief with endogenous
with contentment. We manage fear with trust. We conquer opioids and other secretions. The arms rotating in that 18-inch
depressive thoughts by expanding our vision and projection. zone pressures your aura and electromagnetic fields to adjust.
We elevate our self by merging into our Self as we are, into The finger lock guides the meridians to facilitate your energetic


conversation with the Infinite. Yogi Bhajan alerted us to the Practice and Prosper
ardor needed in this kriya in order to win its rewards: One kriya, experienced through sincere practice, without
stress, in an attitude of surrender, is enough to give profound
“Nobody is going to become divine tonight. Instead, you health to your body and mind. And that health is essential
are going to be miserable. You will be very miserable. And out for awareness. It is the first word in our motto: “Healthy,
of that pain, your brain will issue the natural morphines. It’s Happy and Holy.” When all the glands and nerves function
called neuro-morphine essence. Then the shashara (the brain) well then they help you toward a realization of your spirit.
will command its thousand petals. Then under your flood of Living without the awareness he describes produces stress. It
thoughts and feelings you will freak out. Finally, the pain will is like trying to walk a 100 miles using only one toe instead
disappear and then you will conquer your pain for the first of both feet.
time. That experience may give some of you an idea that you
are a conqueror. Once a man or a woman knows that they “Just be healthy. Then just be happy and holy, if you are
can conquer pain, they can conquer their insanity, they may healthy. I survived my own stress from overworking and over-
conquer their vanity. They are successful against their pain serving because I am a yogi. My mind is very bright, self-con-
and impulses. And every successful person is nothing but trolled, and my soul and consciousness are very much with
prosperous. me. But I tell you: the physical body does interfere if you are
Prosperity is a simple science. Duality will take away your not healthy. I know all the preventative exercises and herbs. I
reality, identity will give you prosperity. It’s not a two-way give this to you because they are effective and so you know
street; it’s just one way. Because once you surrender and them and can practice them, and enjoy and prosper.”
become shuniya, zero, then the One will carry you. You
become One and zero together which is 10.
May I tell you something? There is only one thing you
should know: Conquer yourself! Conquer your mind, conquer
your soul and conquer your body. Don’t follow me, any belief
or personality. Experience!
Yoga was made for a person to be healthy, happy and
holy. Kundalini Yoga was made to be healthy, happy and holy
and aware! The secret of your soul is awareness. Can any-
body here describe to me what you mean by awareness? For
a human, what is awareness?
Repeat after me: ‘We are from Infinity, we are Infinity,
Infinity we shall be.’ Just three simple lines really. That’s
awareness. We are from Infinity, we are Infinity, Infinity we
shall be.”

Yogi Bhajan • August 31, 1995

Sit in Easy Pose with a straight spine.

MUDRA: Stretch your arms out to the sides with

the palms down. On each hand, touch your
thumb to the mound under the Mercury finger.
Close your fist around your thumb. Keep your
elbows straight as you revolve your arms and
fists in a backward circles—18” circles. Note: The
circles must be 18’’ wide for this movement to be
effective. Move quickly.

BREATH: Breathe like a cobra, with a hissing

breath through the nose.

MUSIC: Tantric Har by Simran Kaur has the prop-

er rhythm and can be used with this meditation. 11 minutes.

TO END: Inhale, deeply fill the rib cage with air, hold the breath for 8 seconds and exhale powerfully, like Cannon Fire.
Repeat this sequence twice more.

COMMENTS: This meditation done with the thumb touching the mound of Mercery, will communicate to every
organ of the body to re-organize and regulate itself. It is calming and, if practiced for 120 days, will put everything in
the body in rhythm. It can help menopausal problems, glandular system problems, and regulate any part of the body
that needs regulation.

OTHER VARIATIONS: You can achieve different results with different mudras.
If the thumb is on the mound of the Sun finger, this meditation will give you energy and will fight disease.
If the thumb is on the mound of the Saturn finger, it will give you purity and the experience of ecstasy.
If the Jupiter finger is extended, with the thumb touching the side of the Jupiter finger and all the
other fingers are closed, it will give you wisdom.

One kriya, experienced through sincere practice, without stress, in an attitude of surrender, is enough to give profound
health to your body and mind. And that health is essential for awareness. It is the first word in our motto: “Healthy,
Happy and Holy.” When all the glands and nerves function well then they help you toward a realization of your spir-
it. Living without the awareness he describes produces stress. It is like trying to walk a 100 miles using only one toe
instead of both feet.

“Just be healthy. Then just be happy and holy, if you are healthy. I survived my own stress from overworking and over-
serving because I am a yogi. My mind is very bright, self-controlled, and my soul and consciousness are very much with
me. But I tell you: the physical body does interfere if you are not healthy. I know all the preventative exercises and herbs.
I give this to you because they are effective and so you know them and can practice them, and enjoy and prosper.”
Appears in Harijot Kaur’s manuals as “Regulate the Systems of the Body”


A gentle Poke and Little Shake

There are two principles at work in this kriya. They apply to Introducing a small irritant enhances the functions of the
our cold showers in and to our preference for moderate organism. In higher doses it may be toxic or even lethal. But
exercise. These principles are part of the secret to dealing a small dose triggers a cascade of responses in which the
effectively with allostatic load—and life in general. organism rises to a new level of functioning and heals itself
The first principle is also found in the world of chem- or becomes stronger. Figure 2.6 illustrates this effect.
istry, toxicology and physiology: it is called hormesis.


The two graphs on the left show that low doses of

gamma rays and cadmium (both poisonous) enhanced
survival of cells. The graph below shows an idealized
curve of this effect from a wide range of stressors.


Leaning on the Intelligence of the Body ception of choice and empowerment before a surgery can pro-
In this first principle, hormesis, we lean on the intelligence of foundly affect the outcome and survival rates of the surgery.
the body by creating small, focused, non-harmful stresses. The
body senses a risk and responds with strength. This is the Meeting the Challenges
foundation principle in many of our kriyas—to excel under Another key factor is simply the amount of energy or vitality
stress. With practice, a little stress makes us strong enough to that we feel we have. If we don’t have the vitality to focus our
be effortless under pressure. This principle is widely applied in resources and cope effectively with the challenges, we find
sports training because stimulating the stress response is ourselves wanting to give up. Kundalini Yoga is very effective
essential for success. Contemporary approaches to stress that in training the mind to cope with stressors because we volun-
use positive psychology and constructive emotions have tarily practice facing these small stressors and accumulate suc-
revived the early distinction between eustress and distress or cess after success in meeting these self-imposed challenges
allostasis and allostatic load. with vitality. We learn that we can control our urges to give
Instead of directly correlating increasing levels of stress up; we can master our feelings, our bodies, and our minds.
with increasing levels of damage or distress, we now know We tap into our own vitality and begin to welcome every chal-
that there are positive and negative results of stress and that lenge as a positive opportunity for growth. Hope, excitement
they occur simultaneously. Childcare can be both a distressing and curiosity rally to our aid.
and inspirational experience at the same time. The total effect
is a mix of the two. What determines whether a stressor is The Inherent Polarity of the Nervous System
distress/allostatic load or eustress/allostatis? The biggest deter- The second principle uses the inherent polarity in the auto-
mining factor is the perception and reaction of the individual. nomic nervous system to stimulate and strengthen the
One person finds sky-diving a thrill while another finds it hor- parasympathetic nervous system, which coordinates the
ribly threatening. The individual’s reaction changes the effect actions of our glands, nerves and muscles. This polarity is
of the action completely. important for the Kundalini Yogi to understand. The sympa-
There are other contributing factors that influence our thetic branch of the autonomic system is a polarity to the
reaction to a stressor. Control is a good example. If we believe parasympathetic branch. One stimulates and the other relax-
our choices have an effect on our self or what happens, we es; one speeds and the other slows; one acts and the other
relax. Or, if we see that we can influence other people, we feel restores. Yet, they are not opposites; each requires the other
better. Hence, the therapeutic rapport and the patient’s per- to function and stay in a healthy balance.


Sympathetic Nerves




The relationship between the parasympathetic and sympathet- tion, and lets us find a sense of self and meaning in what we
ic nervous systems means that if you push one of them do. It also allows memory and associations to process and
toward an extreme, the other pushes back to create balance. change so that fears, irritations, and transient memories can
If you exercise vigorously, you will collapse into a deep relax- clear.
ation. If you sleep too long, you will twitch, dream and start When the vagal nerve plexus of the parasympathetic sys-
to move. tem is strong, it can apply or release the brakes. This flexibil-
In classical, progressive relaxation we might squeeze the ity in responsiveness is a good sign of health and vitality. This
foot and then consciously relax it and feel the shift in tension. mechanism is called the vagal brake, or vagal tone.
Squeezing intensifies the sensation, activates us sympatheti- Strengthening the parasympathetic system and the vagal brake
cally and focuses the mind on that part of our body. We can is an important goal of Kundalini Yoga kriyas. Yogi Bhajan
apply this method to pain modification. For example, by gave many descriptions of how to develop this part of our
focusing on a pain sensation instead of avoiding it, we inten- nervous system. He said that without it we are just crazy. We
sify the experience, as if inviting it, even as we stay still and can’t exert ourselves, connect with other people, or hold up
non-reactive. This type of challenge strengthens the vagus under stress.
(parasympathetic) system profoundly. What allows this to It is this vagal system that lets us cut short the stress
work is that the pressures are voluntary, intermittent, rhythmic response. So, too, the responsiveness of this system helps us
and attended mindfully. When we commit to an action vol- change to match the demands of our environment. The vagal
untarily and intentionally, we accept the consequences con- system has several branches. Through evolution we have
sciously and maintain a sense of control. Therefore, we don’t retained the most ancient vagal pathway, from the back/dorsal
spin out in a full-blown stress reaction. It’s like choosing to go area, and a more recent one, from the front/ventral area. The
on a rollercoaster—it’s a thrill not a threat. front pathways are fastest and the nerves are myelinated (insu-
Intermittent implies variation, stop and go. In Kundalini lated) to support that speed. These nerves have several feed-
Yoga it can mean that either the exercise is short in duration back loops, from the heart, to the viscera and also to muscu-
or the breath or movement changes rapidly. Variation creates lature—like the face. In this way, the vagal nerves respond to
the greatest plasticity and adaptation in the body mandala. functions such as social interaction.
Because our minds adjust so quickly, when stressors are regu-
lar in duration and intensity, we easily adapt. So to provoke “The myelinated vagus nerve functions as an active vagal
the stress response and cultivate a strong nervous system, brake in which rapid inhibition and disinhibition of vagal tone
kriyas use rapid motions or other mechanisms to make the to the heart can rapidly mobilize or calm an individual . . . it
nervous system think that we have started and stopped many actively inhibits the sympathetic nervous system’s influence
times. This provokes rapid leaning and plasticity. on the heart and dampens the HPA- hypothalamic-pituitary
Rhythm and music call on a special area in the hypothal- axis activity in stress… . . . by modulating the visceral state it
amus that integrates motion, sound, rhythm and our body enables the individual to rapidly engage or disengage with
mandala. It is unique in its power, sophistication and integra- objects and other individuals to act on and promote self-
tion in humans. We can use directed movement and mantra soothing behaviors and calm states. . . . If it is unable to reg-
to interrupt the reactions of the hypothalamus to our subcon- ulate properly, i.e., it is weak, then social engagement behav-
scious thoughts and fears. When we use mantra that has the iors will be minimized . . . psychiatric disorders of autism,
qualities of elevation and repeated rhythm, we break from our reactive attachment disorders, major depression, schizophrenia
normal reactive mind and create a moment when our own will and others show this mechanism compromised.”
and intention can direct our mind. (“Polyvagal Perspective”, S.W. Porges, Biological Psychology 2007)
Mindful attention is basic to yoga. It develops multiple
perspectives as observer and participant. This engages the Putting on the Brakes... or you Crash!
“top down” processes of the shashara, the brain and cogni- In plain terms, when you cannot stop and start as needed,


you crash. It is the strength of your vagal system that is the chanting imbue our nervous system, our emotions and our
linchpin between your perception and thinking (thalamus and actions with flexibility and the capacity for positive change.
cortex), senses, actions, internal organs and the heart and cir- So we use many approaches at once: relaxation response,
culation. If this connection is good, you can easily participate increasing HRV, challenging our nerves for a hormetic effect,
socially with others and you do not freeze or panic. A strong improving our social connections, changing our thought flow
parasympathetic system lets you live a healthy, happy and and emotional stance, and prayer to merge into the stillness
holy life. of the Infinite. Take a vacation from ego and anxiety, bathe in
a pool of soothing mantras and healing ‘no’, breathe in deeply
and consciously and be grateful, enjoy your life, and ‘poke,
provoke, confront and elevate’ your nerves system so that it
develops and grows in strength and stamina to face the com-
ing Age with vitality.


We can get a measure of our vagal strength or weakness by Small Group Discussion
looking at our heart rate variation pattern (HRV). HRV shows Discuss this approach in terms of Kundalini Yoga.
how much our heart rate changes beat to beat. When we are
well and engaged in life, the HRV is large and its internal 4What experiences have you had that are a good example
structure has an order to it that we can identify. HRV is flat- of the ‘poke and provoke’?
tened by other conditions: depression, alcoholism, anxiety,
ADHD, diabetes, hypertension and many others. In research 4How does your mind react to these types of effort if you
we have done, changing breathing patterns, meditation and are not in the right emotional state?
Breathwalk®, all affect the HRV profoundly by increasing it
and making it more complex (able to integrate many more 4How important is positive emotion and a sense of choice
levels of input from emotions and the body). (See Goldberger in order for these provocative exercises to be successful?
and Khalsa, International Journal of Cardiology)
4How might a teacher apply this principle incorrectly when
When we change the nervous system directly and then coaching students through a kriya or sadhana?
engage emotional change, we are walking the royal path to
change. If you begin with an emotion, it can be difficult to 4When does it help to give an example and when does it
change if the parasympathetic system does not allow you to not?
respond in a balanced way. Preparing the body and then
beginning to cultivate new healing patterns of meditation and


The Magic Balm of Breath

All this talk of parasympathetic strengthening and reestablish- One Minute Breath
ing our vagal set point leaves us wanting an experience. How Now begin the One Minute Breath:
do we do it? What is the royal road to new vitality, steady
nerves and a sensitivity to the world without all the deeply 20 seconds inhale
engrained marks of stress? 20 seconds suspend
Breath is the way. As simple as it is, it grabs the nervous 20 seconds exhale.
system and reshapes it. The effects are very quick. Let us prac-
tice two breaths that are central to our revitalization strategies: Watch the breath. Be aware that you are aware of the breath.
Breath of Fire and the One Minute Breath. We teach Breath of For 11 minutes breath and let your mind be still before you.
Fire in our beginning classes and it is knit throughout the fab- Allow yourself to delight in the vast readiness of your mind.
ric of most kriyas. One Minute Breath is also basic although Receive any thought or intention that comes to you. Be alert
it takes a little more work to master. Let’s do them in an and relaxed. Then inhale and stretch up, shake out.
advanced meditation to heal and revitalize our body and emo-

Breath of Fire
Sit straight in any meditative pose with spine erect and pelvis
balanced. Close your eyes. Begin a classic Breath of Fire at the
pace of 120 times a minute. As you become steady and
relaxed and the rhythm becomes a flow of distinct pulsations,
begin to scan the body.

Go through each area of the body very professionally. Be alert

and precise. See each slice of the body, every cell and struc-
ture. Go steadily with patience and appreciation for the gift of
the body. Your attention will automatically guide the prana of
the breath to each cell. Cover every tissue from toe tip to top
of the head. Stay centered and aware. As the flow of energy
becomes established and your aura brightens and extends,
visualize light pouring from every pore of the body, extending
without limit in all directions.

Take your time and be absolutely thorough.

After 31 minutes, inhale deeply, hold briefly and let the breath
naturally relax.
Repeat twice more.
Sit still and thoughtless for a few minutes.


Bring Your Self Home:

Three Exercises to Eliminate Tension and Stress

These three exercises represent another strategy. We match head to stimulate the liver to self-cleanse. It uses the slight
and expand on a sample of the energy we want to acquire; pressure on the right side of the body, just under the ribs,
we create a resonance in the body, which attracts what we to adjust the liver’s function. Stress throws the body’s sys-
seek. This kriya also brings prosperity. The reason is very tems out of balance—especially the blood sugar level. The
simple: liver tries to cover the need; but overuse can contribute to
“Sometimes you look for things, but you forget that long-term metabolism problems.
sometimes things look for you. If you have a meditative, Holding this pressure steady is a bit like stroking a cat
relaxed mind, then you understand that there are millions of until it purrs. It alerts the organ to support your need while
things looking for you. The problem in your life is that you at the same time telling your body to be calm, so it relaxes
are never you. They look for you but you are never at home. its response. Relaxing, elevating music helps to bring the
Sometimes things are already in your neighborhood and mind along so we are not creating a stress. We are bringing
instead you are off seeking and searching in New York City!” our mind and body to resonance with a model of relaxation.
We are matching our body language to the state we want
Not finding what you need at the moment you need it to experience. After 11 minutes, the effect is crystallized in
creates frustration. In that frustration we entangle ourselves our meridians, blood and genes.
with our emotions, our neurotic impulses and endless wor-
rying and thinking. We become insensitive and numb. That Expanding and Consolidating
numbness creates tiredness; but not just any typical tired- with the Jupiter and Saturn Energies
ness. It creates “cold tiredness,” which freezes the move- The second exercise is a beautiful example of subtlety, focus
ment of your life, the flow. Your mind becomes stronger and synchronizing your Self and your cells around a certain
than you are and when you are weaker than your mind, quality. That quality acts as a guide—like a tuning fork,
every thought is a powerful, shrieking wind that blows you which holds a central tone so that all the strings of a musi-
away from your home. You cannot connect. You can barely cal instrument can be harmonized. We use the mudra to
live. You are fatigued by existence and refuse to try or strive. select one frequency, in this case, the Jupiter finger. The left
You become habitually insecure. You lose trust in God and hand crosses the index and middle fingers, the Jupiter and
life. “You have life, but you cannot live. You live, but you Saturn energies and their associatied qualities of expansion
cannot experience. You experience, but you don’t enjoy. You and consolidation, locking their natural polarity. The normal
don’t trust yourself and without releasing tension you nor- pulsing and play of those polar energies comes into a tem-
mally live a very numb life.” porary state of neutrality. “It’s a very simple thing to do.
Normally yogis do it when they want to get out of the pres-
Relaxing Buddha sure of the whole world and just sustain themselves. The
This kriya restores you to your Self. It helps you find the only movement in your body at this time is Jupiter.” With
way home. Once you’re home, everything else can find you stillness established on the left side, in the imaginative and
and you can enjoy the simple flow and blessing of your life. fanciful flow of Ida, the right side, we create a projective,
The first exercise, the Relaxing Buddha, creates a deep relax- expansive, Jupiter-like quality with the index finger of the
ation response in the body. The body language of the mudra right hand.. This small rhythmical movement is not a stres-
itself communicates relaxation; it creates a gentle pressure sor; it is an attunement. It creates expansiveness and move-
on the meridians where the fingertips touch the upper fore- ment of the air element. This part of the exercise requires


attention. Become mindful of all the sensations in the Clear the Heart!
Jupiter finger and all the sensations it perceives in the aura, The third exercise circulates the energy. It opens the lungs
room and universe. Everything in your body should be and clears any contraction in your chest from negative emo-
absolutely still except for the movement of the Jupiter finger. tions, grief, or loss that make you reject life’s gifts and the
The music that accompanies this kriya is full of energy and prosperity you naturally attract. This exercise is brief, force-
courageous projection. Ang Sang Wahe Guru gives an insis- ful, and directive. You actively push out any block. You clear
tent invitation for every cell to join in, to vibrate in concert the heart and open your Self to life. You are in command.
with the movement of the finger and the flow of creative You decide who comes into your home.
prosperity in which we abide. “Ang Sang Wahe Guru means Invite your Self, invite God, and invite all those things
30 trillion gods are dancing around me. Exactly, literally, sci- that seek to help, sustain and uplift you and your destiny.
entifically that is what this mantra means.” Let the mind With this practice you are ready to engage life!
relax and attune. When you sit satisfied and still in your
identity, prosperity runs to you. As Yogi Bhajan puts it,
“Normally there is so much tension in life that we are all
numb. We miss opportunities through a lack of sensitivity.”
This exercise resets your sensitivity.


Yogi Bhajan • March 9, 1993

1. Relaxing Buddha: A relaxing pose that will release tension 1

and stress in just 11 minutes. Sit in Easy Pose. Your right elbow
is bent and resting on the right knee. Lean your right cheekbone
on the palm of your right hand with the fingers loosely covering
the right half of your forehead. Close your eyes and just relax.
This pose will put pressure on your liver, so just relax and let the
body adjust to it. If you want to really relax, play the Guru Ram
Das Lullaby as you do this meditation. 11 Minutes.

2. To Experience the Jupiter Energy: Sit in Easy Pose.

Left hand mudra: the Saturn (middle) finger crosses over the back
of the Jupiter (index) finger. The other two fingers are closed and
locked down with the thumb. The back of the left hand rests on
the left knee.

Right hand mudra: the Jupiter (index) finger extends straight up

and the other fingers closed and locked down with the thumb.
Right elbow is bent and the right hand is about chin level. Close
your eyes, relax, and quickly move the Jupiter finger around in a
circle. Only the Jupiter finger moves.
Concentrate on moving the Jupiter finger. Listen to Ang Sang
Wahe Guru recording by Nirinjan Kaur. 11 minutes.

TO END: inhale, keep the finger moving, and tighten all the mus-
cles of the body as you hold the breath for 10 seconds. Exhale
and repeat two more times.

This meditation can release tension and call in the Jupiter energy
of prosperity and expansion.


3. To Get Rid of Tension So You Can Live: Sit in Easy Pose.

Extend your arms out and down with the palms up. Circle your
extended arms inward and upward and continue around to
complete the circle. Really push hard as you move upward. 3
minutes. Then inhale deeply and relax.

COMMENTS: A most powerful combination against stress is to

do the Relaxing Buddha meditation and then do 31 minutes of
breathing only one breath per minute (inhale 20 seconds, hold
20 seconds, and exhale 20 seconds). It will bring you to a state
of calmness that will win the game of life. Normally there is so
much tension in life that we are all numb. We miss opportuni-
ties through a lack of sensitivity.


Relaxation response

Some people describe their experience of the last kriya as vasive in many of the body’s tissues. It has been shown to
slipping into a warm blanket, or as a pleasant, alert clarity, blunt the stress response: lowering norepinephrine released
like a clear cold morning. There is a tangible shift of our by the sympathetic nerves, increasing blood flow, improving
basic state. We are rejuvenated in attitude and in our somat- mobility of immune and restorative cells, supporting
ic readiness to experience. processes that battle oxidative stress from free radicals and
One primary mechanism this set uses is the “relaxation other sources, and facilitating cellular signaling and coordi-
response.” This is a concept that was discovered, researched nation. Nitric oxide levels have been associated with the pre-
and promoted by the work of Dr. Herbert Benson. He con- vention of cardiovascular disease and may be one way that
tributed greatly to the legitimization of the mind/body unregulated stress responses affect our health. Even more
approach to health and the cultivation of the wellness interesting than this central mechanism is the proposal that
model. He knew Yogi Bhajan and they worked together to the delicate chemical balancing act responds to thought and
encourage research in understanding the benefits and mech- belief, to rewards and to stress. Our expectations of reward
anisms of meditation. or pain and our beliefs and assessments about potential
stressors have a powerful effect that can lower pain, increase
Countering the Stress Response health and support clear thinking and emotions.
The relaxation response is a physiological shift in metab- We can now track how various interventions affect this
olism that counters the stress response. It doesn’t mean just central mechanism of the relaxation response and medita-
relaxing in a bath or taking a nap. You could do both; but tion. Exercise, especially steady, rhythmic, non-stressful or
if your mind’s still racing, neither will actually change your briefly stressful exercise, greatly increases the production of
somatic or emotional state. Benson found that meditation is nitric oxide. Controlled breathing does as well. We have
not the same as sleeping, dreaming or normal waking. As tested this relaxation response in Segmented Breathing,
early as 1988 meditation was shown to be “an integrated Breath of Fire, mantra meditation and Breathwalk®. All
physiological response with peripheral circulatory and meta- show potent effects. Certain foods, high in concentrated
bolic changes subserving increased central nervous system greens for example, will also give a transient pulse of nitric
activity. . . . It is a relaxed but very alert state . . . with oxide.
increased cardiac output, cessation of CO2 generation by Figure 2.9 shows some of the complexity and the possi-
muscle . . . ” and other correlates in EEG and blood plasma. bility these researchers envisioned.
As we learned more about the stress response and devel- This diagram shows how belief, meditation and exercise,
oped many new instruments to observe the brain and the through the relaxation response, can affect the stress
chemistry of the body, our picture of the relaxation response response and in turn many conditions that are stress relat-
became much more specific and well-founded. ed. It is important to notice that the relaxation response
Benson and Stephano published a ground-breaking paper does not stop the stress response absolutely—that would be
in 2001: “The placebo effect and relaxation response: neural dangerous. Instead it shortens, blunts or quickly diminishes
processes and their coupling to constitutive nitric oxide.” the response in order to bring the system back into balance,
(see Brain Research Reviews 35) The essence of this techni- back to allostasis. Remember, it is only prolonged stress that
cal paper is that there are mechanisms in our cells that eventually creates harm.
respond to short-term stressors to balance and heal us. This When Benson first identified the relaxation response he
same mechanism is used in meditation, relaxation response tried to find the simplest way to evoke it in his patients. He
and placebo. They proposed a central function of this had each person sit still, slow their breathing, dwell on a
response to the molecule called Nitric Oxide (NO). It is per- short calming phrase or mantra that they felt positive about,


close their eyes and become passive to each thought, with- oxide. It is usually produced by the kidney and liver and is
out reacting. He had them practice for 20 minutes twice a found in various nuts and dairy products. The relaxation
day. With this stripped down version of classical meditation response increased nitric oxide levels and lowered the scav-
practices, he was successful in lowering blood pressure in enging of arginine. So we are beginning to explore, in detail,
hypertension, reducing chronic pain, anxiety and depression, how the powerful effects of this innate healing response
inducing healthy sleep patterns in insomniacs, and decreas- works and how it connects to exercise and meditation in
ing nausea and discomfort in cancer and AIDS patients. order to beat stress and thrive.
Hundreds of studies show positive benefits to regular prac- Any individual exercise can have positive effects via the
tice. Perhaps because of the rapid deployment of nitric oxide relaxation response. Some things evoke it more strongly and
and its cascade of related cellular changes, we see an imme- effectively than others. Kundalini Yoga with its sophisticat-
diate benefit that doesn’t take years to acquire. ed combination of exercise, controlled breathing, the use of
An example of a more typical recent study was done on sound, conscious mindfulness, focused attention, positive
Zen practitioners. (See “Effect of Zen Meditation on serum attitudes and immediate tangible effects is the most power-
nitric oxide activities and lipid peroxidation”in Progress in ful elicitor of the relaxation response and healing. That is
Neuro-psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 29: why Benson endorsed Breathwalk® as one of the best relax-
2005) It tested 20 regular practitioners along with a control ation response tools he had found. As we increase our
group. The markers for nitric oxide levels doubled during understanding of the brain, genes and chemistry, we will
meditation and the markers for the levels of oxidized lipids, find more mechanisms that support this healing mechanism.
indicating oxidative stress and potential damage, were
reduced by 35%. Under stress, arginine is used up rapidly.
Arginine is a precursor to the body’s ability to produce nitric



Throwing Off Stress Seeing Clearly

This next kriya is one of many that deal with the way stress The second exercise focuses you on your sense of Self. The
is held in our body. Women commonly hold stress in their Heart Center and the Brow Point channel the healing ener-
ovaries, and their secretions subtle cycles. Too much stress gy of your hands as you meditate on the primary quality of
will throw off their monthly cycle and disrupt their moods. your being—I am, I am—and the expressive qualities of your
The roles of women have gotten much more complex and soul to be bountiful, beautiful and blissful. Leaving the usual
less secure, even as more power and freedom have been background chatter of the mind behind, this exercise lets
attained. Regardless of all the social changes or what coun- you see yourself clearly.
try we live in, a woman is still a woman in terms of her sen-
sitivity, polarity and energy flows. Yogi Bhajan was con- Calling on the Reserve Energy
cerned that the constant stress of changing social roles The third exercise calls on the reserve energy at your Navel
would rob energy and prana from women. It would upset Point and the blessing of the Golden Chain using the Adi
the natural meridian flow and lessen the sensitivity we have, Mantra. This stabilizes your extended radiance.
which would affect not only primary relationships but also The short burst of rapid hand twisting in the fourth exer-
children and families as well. cise balances the elements, stimulates the brain and seals
This set helps you regain that prana. It is a good exam- the earlier efforts.
ple of an anti-stress technique that is based on increasing
your inner strength and reconnecting you to the qualities of We dance the shoulders very consciously in the fifth step.
your higher identity. Your identity is a source of strength It is not just jerking or pumping the shoulders. Instead, cre-
equal to all of your prana. How you feel about your Self ate a sense of personal expression and control as you move.
affects how you feel about the world, your stressors and Allow the stress held in the shoulders and neck, the tension
your ability to take be self-directed. laced into your words, and the weight of your struggles that
lock up the ribcage like a prison to release. The mantra cap-
Releasing the tension—breaking old patterns tures the power of prana and prepares you to act; to move
The first exercise releases tension from the ovaries and the at the speed of life.
sexual area in general. It also builds prana and increases life The final step is for your creativity and your sexual ener-
force energy by rapidly stimulating the ring finger, which gy; it balances the minerals that are normally robbed under
represents the Sun energy and the element of fire and the enduring stress.
index finger which represents Jupiter’s expansiveness and
the element of ether. Combined, these two qualities break
old patterns and bring in new energy for change.


Yogi Bhajan • January 24, 1990

1. Sit in Easy Pose with a straight spine. Bring your hands
up by your shoulders with the palms forward and the fin-
gers pointing upward. Touch the thumb and the Jupiter fin-
ger and then touch the thumb and the Sun finger. Continue
rapidly touching the thumb alternately with each of the two
fingers. Concentrate on the tip of your nose. Keep your eyes
open. The ideal speed for this action is 9 touches per sec-
ond, but 3 touches per second is acceptable. After 5-1/2
minutes, begin inhaling and exhaling powerfully through
the mouth. Breathe through the mouth for 2 minutes and
then begin Breath of Fire through the nose for another 30
seconds. Inhale deeply and relax. This exercise adjusts the
ovaries, stimulates the life force energy, and releases stress. 1b

2. Cross your hands over your Heart Center, left hand on

top of the right. Close your eyes and breathe extremely
deeply and slowly as you feel the healing strength of your
own hands on your heart. 4 minutes.
Now put both hands on your forehead, feeling the healing
effect of your hands. Concentrate on “I am, I am” as you
listen to Nirinjan Kaur’s Bountiful, Beautiful, and Blissful.
7 minutes.

3. Put both hands on your Navel Point and press with all
your force. Breathe slowly and meditate deeply on Nirinjan
Kaur’s Ong Namo, Guru Dev 2 3
Namo. 8 minutes. Inhale
deeply, open your eyes and shake


4. Twist your wrists back and forth, keeping the five fingers 4a
spread open. This is to change the neurons of the brain. 2

5. Put your hands on your shoulders and sing along with Guru
Shabad Singh’s recording of Pavan Pavan, while you make
your shoulders dance to the music. Dance to free your rib cage.
Your total health will benefit by opening up your rib cage in
this movement. It’s a partnerships between you and your
shoulders, not just an up and down movement. Dot it with
style. 5 minutes.

6. Use your open palms to beat your inner thighs. Use the
rhythm of Punjabi Drums to pace your movement. 3-1/2 min- 4b
utes. This self-massage will balance the calcium and magne-
sium in your body and reduce the effects of old age.

“To be a woman requires a lot of strength. Your glandular sys-

tem, your intelligence and your consciousness have to be
extraordinarily strong so you can be on the winning side. All
the strength of the Universe is within you. It cannot be found
outside. Those who do not develop strength from inside cannot
get it from outside either.” –Yogi Bhajan

6a 6b


Stress backpack Meditation No. 2

Meditation for Stress or Sudden Shock

We conclude this day with a meditation for your Stress

Backpack. Under stress and sudden shock, the two hemi-
spheres of the brain react differently. One side handles the
more positive emotions and the other the more negative;
one side deals with the unusual and threatening changes in
the environment and the other analyzes and systematizes
our responses. This meditation uses the power of the
mantra and the rhythm of the breath rhythm to create bal-
Meditate for 11-15 minutes to end day.


Yogi Bhajan • January 24, 1990

Sit in an Easy Pose, with a light jalandhar bandh.

MUDRA: Relax the arms down with the elbows bent. Draw the fore-
arms in toward each other until the hands meet in front of the body
about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the navel. Place the palms up, and rest
the right hand in the palm of the left hand. Place the thumbtips
together, and pull the thumbs toward the body.

EYE POSITION: Look at the tip of the nose, the Lotus Point.

BREATH: Deeply inhale and completely exhale as you chant the


MANTRA: Chant the mantra 3 times. The entire mantra must be chanted on only one breath. Use the tip of the
tongue to pronounce each word exactly, and chant in a monotone. The rhythm must also be exact.



TIME: Begin with 11 minutes and slowly build up to 31 minutes.

TO END: Inhale and completely exhale 5 times. Then deeply inhale, hold the breath and stretch the arms up over the
head as high as possible. Stretch with every ounce that you can muster. Exhale and relax down. Repeat twice.

This meditation balances the left hemisphere of the brain with the base of the right hemisphere. This enables the brain
to maintain its equilibrium under stress or the weight of a sudden shock. It also keeps the nerves from being shattered
under those circumstances.




and Character



emotions and commotions

Today we focus on how emotions are related to stress. What is a positive and negative emotion? What is the difference between
an emotion and a commotion? Can we call on positive emotions to handle stress better? What characteristics and attitudes pro-
tect us from the effects of stress? How does our personality and subconscious react in dysfunctional ways when we are stressed?
Check-in with your small groups to start the day.

OUR EMOTIONS AND HOW WE USE THEM are the keys The next clip showed a driver stuck in traffic. The video
to mastering stress and if used appropriately, they cultivate was grainy and shot from the car behind him by a fellow
the best of our character and spirit. In Kundalini Yoga, emo- traveler, bored and anxious in the endless train of cars and
tions play a central role, in both their positive and negative SUVs frozen in the rush hour traffic. Without warning, the
incarnations. If we use and react to our emotions in the drivers of the two cars ahead of our accidental videograph-
wrong way we become commotional and easily betray our er began exchanging hand signals and insults. Then one
own consciousness. In this regard, we are always warned of driver leaped out of his car, pulled a bat from his trunk and
reacting, of becoming emotional and of mistaking our emo- began to crush the back of the other car, rapidly shattering
tions for what is real. If we use those same emotions right- glass and smashing the rest of the car into a shape that
ly or better yet, if we cultivate constructive emotions, we would make a junk yard proud. People all around either
can be kind, compassionate and passionate as we overcome stared with disbelief or applauded with ribald enthusiasm.
every obstacle in life. The last clip was someone in formal military dress, a
Looking at our own behavior day-to-day and sometimes snapshot of neutrality, intense alertness and dignity. As a
even hour-to-hour, we can’t help but see the dramas and gnarly gang swept toward him like an ominous shadow, he
traumas, the comedic moments, and the creative insights wasted no motion, surgical in his precision and fearlessness,
which make up the palette of our colorful lives. We work he moved in an effortless ballet of swords, legs and fists. All
hard to seem consistent; so when an emotional wave takes the foes vanquished, he rose slowly to his original posture,
over a colleague or friend or ourselves to reveal a whole sub- composed and alert, but with a barely perceptible smile of
personality—talented, tragic or delightful—we’re often sur- satisfaction.
prised, shocked even. But our stress response is learned. We So we see that emotions are powerful. They can lead to
adapt to what is allowed and what isn’t; good and bad heart attacks and sudden death. They can propel us to act
habits accumulate over the years. How was stress handled as if we were some primitive, alien version of our more
in your family? Where are you on the scale of stress and familiar, dependable self. They can give us the power to act
how you respond to it? with unbelievable courage and resilience. Emotions can
Everything is on the internet these days—some comedy, hijack our normal personality. Emotions can be not only a
some tragedy—and videos capture every facet and quirk of tactical defense against frustration and threat but also a
human behavior for better or worse. One recent clip showed strategic disaster diverting us from our goals. But emotions,
a middle aged gentleman, apparently in good shape and well when cultivated, refined and aligned, can also support us in
dressed, enjoying a party. He suddenly got mad at his becoming extraordinary, passionate and fully alive to our life.
daughter’s escort. He started to yell and shook his fists at Are there good and bad emotions? It is a question of pro-
the young man. Then, just as he extended his pointed, portion, appropriateness, authenticity and response time.
accusatory finger, he grabbed his chest with both palms and Whether emotions have a negative impact and end up
with a pained grimace crumpled like an abandoned mari- increasing the problems associated with stress depends on
onette. how you use them and how well you process them: feel it,


know it, accept it and act appropriately, or reject it and let emotional and instinctual reactions of the old brain. We can
it go. Every thought can generate a feeling or sensation decide the bear is too far away to be a threat or that light-
which in turn cultivates emotions and then desire. Desires ening will only hit the hill above us. This capacity to assess
activate the glands to adjust all the resources of the body to situations, to generate a response and not just a reaction, is
act. Because the body is effectively the embodied subcon- the core of mental strength and the key to handling our
scious, those thoughts can arise from bodily patterns, stressors. In this way, we initiate healing rather than gener-
neuro-images, somatic maps, as well as ideas, words and ate more stress and trigger a stream of reactions that snow-
memories, or any combination of these multiple processes ball beyond our control.
and patterns. Emotions may be conscious or not. To the When a strong feeling arises from the old brain and
yogi, the point is to make conscious those things which are builds into an emotion, it is almost impossible to hold onto
hidden—to shine the light of wisdom on these origins of any other emotion that might be able to counteract the
desire which motivate our actions, thoughts and inten- automatic response. The primary emotions have their own
tions—and which, to the untrained eye, seem beyond our distinctive patterns in the body and the old brain allows for
will or conscious control. only one emotional guest at a time. It’s difficult to feel cozy
and angry at the same time. Usually one emotion has to
Our Emotional Map pass before the other can find a foothold.
In the old brain, the amygdala maps out the world in terms Emotional fluidity is important in successful relation-
of survival. We are hardwired to instinctively run, fight or ships; the ability to forgive and let go is the mark of emo-
hide; that particular neuro-pathway does not require thought tional maturity. But we can also take fluidity too far and be
or even conscious recognition. In this way, we can act on out of control, hysteric and volatile. In these situations, the
an emotion in a few milliseconds. We feel in charge, in con- emotion itself has lost its purpose and has become the goal
trol, when we are on automatic—partly for our own survival. in itself. There is a third source of emotion which is often
If our environments are fairly stable then this works well. overlooked. Aristotle identified it when talking about happi-
Unusual things are noticed, experienced and encoded in our ness. He used an analogy to speak about these higher emo-
memory along with emotional tags—somatic markers—that tions, saying, we flourish as we bloom. Flourishing is a good
immediately cue our bodies and our minds to deal with way to describe some of the most powerful, positive and
whatever is happening as we have before. transformative emotions. As human beings we flourish—we
In fact, much of our memory and perception depends on realize our natural guna and innate capacity when we are,
that emotional map. However, if our environments or cir- for example, compassionate. These higher emotions are not
cumstances change rapidly, or if we are affected by things impulses from the old brain, or just associative feelings we
beyond our immediate surroundings, tribe, time or space, generate when appreciating a piece of art. These emotions,
then those emergency maps become the emergencies them- like compassion, are greater than our own ego or domain;
selves. We can’t seem to turn off our alarms. We start to they arise from the mindful observation of our own feelings
imagine monsters in the dark, serpents in the sea, and evil and those of another. Our mental picture and intuition
all around us. Thankfully, our feelings don’t come soley from about the other person opens up within our body.
the amygdale, the old brain. We can also generate thoughts Compassion can apply equally to our self or to the many
and feelings from the neocortex. Our frontal cortex associ- sub-personalities that we generate. Flourishing emotions
ates thoughts, objects, feelings and events. We assess what expand us, complete us and express our highest conscious-
is happening, apply beliefs and decide if something is a ness as a human being. These are guests of the Neutral
threat or an opportunity. We can train this part of our mind. Mind and use not only the positive emotions of the left
In fact, if the frontal brain is strong, the autonomic system frontal cortex, but also the pineal and pituitary to commu-
responsive, and our glands healthy, we can override the nicate with and synchronize the many parts of the in order


to represent our Self and what is beyond our Self. In this Personality Types and Stress
sense, the state of shuniya, which is not an emotion, gives
rise to a flow of flourishing feelings—ecstasy, self-content- A concrete example of what happens when we allow our
ment, and innocent delight. thoughts to run amok, unprocessed, which produce negative
Kundalini Yoga and meditation gradually refines the impacts on our health and quality of life is the Type A per-
sources of our emotional flow, processes all levels of emo- sonality and its history. This personality type has become
tion so that our consciousness stays aware and has choices, part of popular culture, although it’s often misunderstood
and counters negative emotions such as fear and rejection, and of course, debated among the researchers who identi-
which lead to stressful consequences. As we train our mind fied it. At first, Type A was thought to be a way to corre-
and our subconscious to use the three minds to process our late personality with cardiovascular illness, which has now
thoughts—Negative, Positive, and Neutral Minds—we awak- been disproved. But it was the first volley into observing
en innate healing resources within ourselves. We open our personality factors and their impact on health and vitality.
sensitivity and easily link to the higher sources of healing This has led to more focus on emotion and commotion as
and mastery, such as Guru Ram Das, Yogi Bhajan, Mother keys to the effects of stress.
Mary, Buddha, Christ, and so on. Our conflicts lessen and Let’s look at the four identified personality types, with a
we are able to focus our minds on receiving, perceiving, and particular focus on Type A, and zero in on what contributes
conceiving our intentions—and we now have the emotional to stress and illness and observe the role our thoughts and
maturity and integrity to support those intentions with emotions play in dealing with stress.
appropriate feelings.
The idea of a personality type, fixed attitudes and style of
thinking, leading to increased risk of cardiovascular illness
and other ailments started with Dr. Meyer Friedman and an
upholsterer. Friedman, a cardiologist, is a classic Type A
himself, according to his own self-reporting. He worked long
hours and saw patients until one week before he died at age
91. In the 1950s, no physician wanted to talk to a patient
about how their emotions or psychology might be contribut-
ing to their illness, or think that cardiovascular disorders
might be complicated by those same emotions. How would
you operate on that? You certainly couldn’t keep a clinical
visit to the 8–11 minutes we allow now. So doctors often
missed the obvious. Like a carpenter trying to build a house
with only a hammer, doctors simply didn’t have the right
In the Smithsonian Institute, there is a collection of
chairs from the office of Friedman and others. The chairs are
worn and frayed at the front of the cloth arm rests, the front
edge of the seat cushion and in the mid-center of the back
of the chair. The damage was so unusual, so consistent and
so seemingly proprietary to the offices of cardiologists that
the upholster, who was making a fine living replacing


Freidman’s chairs every so often, told the doctor that it was How much like this original formulation of Type A are you?
his patients that were the problem, not the chairs. They fidg- 4Are you in a hurry more often than not?
et, move and scratch incessantly and mostly unconsciously. 4Do you grind your teeth while asleep?
He suggested that certain personality types seem to have the 4Do you have a hard time waiting for someone to
problems that this doctor specializes in. Friedman, a typical finish talking when you listen to them?
Type A, was irritated with this distraction and promptly 4Do you think people are only out for themselves
ejected the upholsterer from his office. and cannot be trusted?
Five years later Freidman stared at his chairs, looked at 4Do you sort papers, read or do e-mail while on the
his clients, reviewed his data and realized the upholsterer phone or eating?
had it right! From this insight came a flood of research to 4Do other people tell you to relax or slow down?
formulate the characteristics of his clients, the common 4Do you get very frustrated waiting in lines or in traffic?
traits, and what if anything we could do to alter them or 4Do you talk faster than other people and need to repeat
compensate for their tendencies. things for them?
4Are your facial muscles often tense or occasionally
The characteristics we now associate with Type A are twitch?
4 Constant urgency regarding time 4Do you interrupt others when they speak or jump in to
4 Quickly frustrated by waiting, lines, and deadlines complete their thoughts?
4 An abiding emotion that churns in the background, 4Are you focused on achieving your goal and do you
especially irritation, frustration, or anger need to feel you achieved something?
4 Often goal-oriented and gain their sense of worth 4Are you in a stressful, demanding job?
and achievement in competitively reaching those 4Do you eat faster than others, or come to or leave the
goals dinner table early?
4Nervous twitches, teeth grinding and sudden 4Do you walk faster than most people and have to slow
sweating yourself down when walking with someone?
4Constant rumination and intrusive thoughts about 4Do you ruminate about the frustrating things that
what won’t happen, or what disaster will happen or people did or that you couldn’t finish when you try to
what will block them from their goal sleep or when you dream?
4Do you get angry at idiot drivers, slow wait staff or i
So a classic Type A is not just a hard-working workaholic. inattentive store clerks?
4Are you often aware of how things can go wrong and
They also have a certain level of background anxiety. But
they are not just anxious because they also need about a what disasters may be looming?
4Do you break into sweat often or have dark circles
sense of being in control and are easily frustrated by things
and people. So they grind their teeth in irritation at incidents under your eyes?
that are minor to others and are quick to kindle a firestorm
of anger or evasive maneuvers in the face of the slightest irri- Most of these traits are affected by our choices and habits.
tation. The real damage, though, comes from the emotional Have we learned to relax, to pace our work, to appreciate our
response that never dies down. Even if they accomplish their self? High stress environments can aggravate these traits; but
goal—make the sale, meet the deadline, or win at bowling— it is a question of which came first, the chicken or the egg?
they feel it is not enough or that the next thing is already Does Type A create stress and unconsciously choose stress-
upon them. ful environments, or does constant stress create more Type


With such a powerful, aggressive, frustrated profile, why change the context, by belief, circumstance or directed
didn’t it turn out to consistently predict illnesses related to attention, you can redirect the energy of that emotion and
stress? It certainly predicted worn chair upholstery. The traits call in other, more positive, emotions.
of aggressiveness and focus lead many Type A’s to take risks Exercise, especially those incorporating rhythm and con-
and seek active solutions; they enjoy challenges. Absent the scious breathing techniques, interrupts the pattern of an old
negative emotions, the fast pace was not in itself the source emotion, creates energy and space for new ones, and frees
of the problem. The idea that a personality, such as Type A, your attention to take on a new or mindful perspective. It is
makes us vulnerable to stress because of its emotional tone less important to search for the origins of a feeling that it is
leads us to ask "what should we do with those emotions?” to switch the feeling and create a new one that aligns to
you, your intention, and the present moment.
Candor, Confession, Expression? Emotions, from all the sources we’ve discussed, still need
One popular solution is to have people let off steam. If the feedback and testing in the world. Our actions and the reac-
problem is persistent, elevated levels of cortisol and a con- tions of others complete the lifecycle of an emotion. In our
stant background of internal frustration and anger, then per- yogic model, the lifecycle of an emotion is described like
haps if you beat a pillow or yell or just get angry at some- this: Thoughts and beliefs support the development and
one, it will release that inner pressure just like steam from a expression of an emotion. That emotion then joins with the
kettle. The idea is that emotions are somehow suppressed ego and attachment, through the quality of Ahangkar, and
and the effective thing to do is dump the emotions—let it all becomes an embodied desire, moving us to action. That
out. This approached became most popular in the 1960s and action is perceived and assessed by our mind, whose feed-
70s. Candor, confession and expression were the key slo- back limits or corrects the emotion so that we can see what
gans of that period. is real and our intention can be served. If we close ourselves
However, after years of experience we saw that this off from feedback, if we hypnotize ourselves by our reactions
approach didn’t work. In fact, many people who went and the intensity of the feelings, or if we do not move the
through this explosive, expressive regimen simply became thought through the three minds, then that emotion turns
experts at getting frustrated. Some became even more into a vicious spiral, attracting like-minded thoughts and
aggressive and inadvertently struck out at others. They suc- feelings and intensifying the experience even more. We lose
ceeded in freeing the feelings but not in freeing themselves ourselves, our mindfulness and our flexibility.
from them. As yogis, we add to the flood of normal feelings, trans-
The expressive model didn’t take into account the com- formational, flourishing emotions which are catalysts for
plexity of emotions. To be effective, we needed to change change. We consciously provoke and confront an emotion,
our perspective and our assessment of our feelings, our sit- letting it go mindfully as we invite in transformational feel-
uation and our self. And not only that, we needed to bring ings and perspectives. We poke, provoke, confront and ele-
a new feeling to the situation, cultivate new emotional vate. This emotional courage and openness convey great
resources, and focus new levels of attention on how we strength to ourselves and others.
wanted to be, as well as discerning what it was we truly

Emotion in Context
In the case of Type A, it is more effective to either distract
or repress the emotions, or to confront and redirect them,
than to simply express them. The mind understands con-
text. An emotion without context is a loose cannon. If you


Type Bs, Cs, & Ds emotions churning away in the background lead to higher
Of course, Type A is not the whole story. They have also cortisol levels, overactive immune responses, and increased
identified Type B and Type C—and more recently Type D! inflammation.
Friedman, Rosenbaum and colleagues identified a Type B However, regardless of personality type, the primary
along with their original conceptualization of Type A. Type problem in any of these profiles seems to be when emotions
B personalities live with a different set of emotions and atti- turn into long-lasting commotions. Conditions such as
tudes. They are more in the moment, part of the flow and depression, anxiety and compulsive thinking are good exam-
enjoy the journey as much if not more than the destination. ples of commotions that develop from the combination of
Type B is more introspective, spontaneous and patient. They long-standing stressors and personality and behavioral
think change is natural and inevitable and approach any cir- types. If you want to test yourself along these lines, answer
cumstance as an opportunity to control themselves, not the following questions. If your score is high [need a range
anyone or anything else. They tend to be friendly, open to here], go immediately into deep meditation and relax after a
criticism and use humor instead of anger when they can. good sadhana!
They prefer to get along rather than “take territory.” They
have fewer stress-related illnesses and they tend to assume Type Y—Our Basic Human Nature
the good in people, even though they know the world is a What we really need in this spectrum of personalities is a
mix of both good and bad. Type Y, for the refined, sattvic personality derived from the
Type C is more emotionally detached, neutral, assessing discipline of Kundalini Yoga. Type Y would view the world
things on their own merit. They don’t like criticism and trust as neither good nor bad; but instead, as creative, real and
their own perspective. Typically, they are sensitive and fair, responsive. They would be flexible yet able to maintain a
but if they are pulled too much into emotional or interper- strong sense of purpose or destiny. They would be centered
sonal dealings, they can become resentful. They prefer to in the present and look toward the future without becoming
analyze things and need order in their lives; also, they tend lost in speculation or fantasy. They would be open to criti-
to suppress their feelings or distract themselves from them cism and would express altruism, compassion and a deep
easily. They are future oriented and seek a wider perspective, commitment to personal self-discipline. They would enjoy
which makes them prone to drift from the present. the journey and know that it is ultimately a dance between
Type D is made up of negative emotional responses com- themselves and their higher Self or God. Although very spir-
bined with fearful inhibitions and difficulty expressing one- itual, they would feel first and foremost a profound accept-
self and connecting with others. This is a formula for high ance of being a human being. They would direct their
stress-related problems. It is more “clinical” in type than the thoughts, balancing the three minds, connecting socially
others and is similar to Yogi Bhajan’s classification of “men- with others and practicing self- control. Type Y is our basic
tal intrigues” and “complex personality.” human nature and can be cultivated no matter where one
The first tests involving this combination of emotional begins. All these types will change over time. They are sim-
patterns were in the 1990s. For example, a study of patients ply our way of struggling to grasp our basic human tenden-
in cardiac rehabilitation by Dr. Denollet and his colleagues cies and systematize their patterns so that we can commu-
found that 8 years after completing rehab, among those clas- nicate about them. Underlying these personality types is the
sified as Type D, 27% had died, compared to just 7% of pattern of mind: how we assess our self and our environ-
other types.. Most of the deaths were due to heart disease ments, what emotions we use to face our challenges.
or stroke. Since then, Type D personality has been strongly In all the studies and attempts to define types and
linked with early death, increased risk for developing compli- dimensions of personality, one thing stands out: how we
cations after a heart attack, poorer response to proven treat- use our emotions. This is the key to mastering stress and liv-
ments for heart disease and increased chances of sudden ing with vitality. When the mind dwells on fear, sadness,
cardiac arrest. The reason seems to be that these negative embarrassment, anger, guilt, disgust and other defensive or


Personality Self-assessment

Below are a number of statements that people often use to describe themselves. Read each one and circle
the appropriate number next to that statement to indicate your answer. There are no right or wrong
answers; your own impression is the only thing that matters.

0 = false 1 = somewhat false 2 = neutral 3 = somewhat true 4 = true

1) I make contact easily when I meet people 0 1 2 3 4

2) I often make a fuss about unimportant things 0 1 2 3 4
3) I often talk to strangers 0 1 2 3 4
4) I often feel unhappy 0 1 2 3 4
5) I am often irritated 0 1 2 3 4
6) I often feel inhibited in social interactions 0 1 2 3 4
7) I take a gloomy view of things 0 1 2 3 4
8) I find it hard to start a conversation 0 1 2 3 4
9) I am often in a bad mood 0 1 2 3 4
10) I am a closed kind of person 0 1 2 3 4
11) I would rather keep people at a distance 0 1 2 3 4
12) I often find myself worrying about something 0 1 2 3 4
13) I am often down in the dumps 0 1 2 3 4
14) When socializing, I don't find the right things to talk about 0 1 2 3 4

Negative Affectivity Scale: Add scores for questions 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 12, and 13

Social Inhibition Scale: Add scores for questions 1*, 3*, 6, 8, 10, 11, and 14

(*For scoring questions 1 and 3, if you circled 0, enter 4; if 1, enter 3; if 2, enter 2; if 3, enter 1; if 4,
enter 0.)


negative emotions our stress increases and our ability to

recover from stress or illness is also impaired. Under the fog “The joyfulness of Man prolongeth his days.”
of these negative emotions, we choose poor coping strate- - Ecclesiasticus 30:22
gies. Whatever type we relate to—psychological models, “Mirth and merriment . . . bars a thousand harms
astrological signs, or sociological norms—it is ultimately our and lengthens life.” - Shakespeare
emotional habits that determine our experience and create
heaven or hell. In studies of the impact of the September 11th attacks in
When we experience negative emotions and allow them New York City, people who felt gratitude, hope, love or
to remain with us unchallenged or we fail to redirect them, curiosity in the midst of all their waves of anger, sadness
they heighten the activity of the sympathetic nervous sys- and fear experienced less stress, recovered more quickly,
tem and narrow our potential responses to specific tenden- maintained stronger social supports and showed psycholog-
cies like fight, freeze, or flight. This unmitigated response ical growth as a result of the attacks. It may seem counter-
correlates to higher rates of stress-related illnesses, increased intuitive for people to call on positive or flourishing emo-
reports of unhappiness, poor coping mechanisms and disin- tions amidst great crises; but the practice of those positive
tegrated relationships. states makes it increasingly possible to switch to those feel-
In contrast, when we call on positive or flourishing emo- ings, consciously. People who, either by practice or trait, reg-
tions, the sympathetic system is quelled and our thought ularly generate positive or flourishing emotions easily induce
patterns change, allowing for flexible, creative and effective those feelings in others and attract a more supportive social
responses to new information or unfamiliar challenges. network. They are natural healers; Yogi Bhajan often said
Many of these flourishing emotions increase dopamine lev- your presence alone should be a healing.
els in the anterior cingulate cortex, which strengthens the
mind’s capacity to hold multiple thoughts and perspectives, Training the Mind
adjust the direction and focus of action, and select other In Mind and Meditation, we learn that the brain is very
positive factors to include in the decision-making process. changeable—neuroplastic. It responds to use and creates
This breaks the tendency of the personality to focus or new neural pathways to support your habits. Regular medi-
obsess on one tactic or solution and opens up opportunities tation in which you practice positive states and stay mind-
for creative action and even inspiring insight. One of the ful of your experience rapidly reshapes your cortex to
most powerful effects of these positive, flourishing emotions become an expert in positive emotions. Like any expert, you
is to truncate the length of our stress response, cutting short increase the development of your Manas—your sensory
many of the worst problems generated from stress. Folk wis- mind. You begin to notice positive states and emotions more
dom has proven Itself correct: often. You can identify and distinguish many different kinds

Figure 3.1 Flourishing Emotions: Love, gratitude,
The Emotional Context bliss, compassion, self-contentment
of the Three Minds


Positive Emotions: Optimism, hope, Negative Emotions: Fear, sadness,
joy, enthusiasm, humor, emphathy anger, disgust, greed, guilt, rejection


of positive states and create descriptions for them in words, the Negative Mind, its uncomfortable thoughts and feelings,
visualizations and music. Some find Celestial we have to drink, we have to dance, we have to socialize,
Communication a natural way to express and elaborate we have to take crack and cocaine, we have to drink more,
these positive emotions. smoke marijuana, have sex; 99.9% of all our activities are
When you train your mind to process your thoughts in to get rid of the Negative Mind and its feelings.
this positive way, you gain endurance under stress. By Yet we must also keep on developing it; it is a God-given
always looking for the positive in any situation, you will gift; it’s a must in life, also. That’s part of our mental
gravitate toward things you can do to solve problems, rather strength. How is it a strength? When it is used with the other
than becoming frustrated or stuck. You will find it easier to parts of the mind—Positive to Neutral. If the Negative Mind
create positive experiences and social interactions. The opti- tells you what is negative or threatening, can you ask the
mism that comes with this practice inspires spiritual open- Positive Mind what is positive? No. Most of the time, with-
ness and welcomes change. We now know that the immune out training, the subconscious will take up all your fears and
system responds in kind and works more effectively in this complexes to tell you the Negative Mind is right. Everybody
emotional environment. gets lost in this game. That’s why there are divorces; that’s
why you can’t love; that’s why you rape each other; that’s
Processing Thoughts through the Three Minds why you call each other names. The whole world is based
The model Yogi Bhajan gave us was to “shift gears,” pro- on this simple subconscious reinforcement. It is called “men-
cessing our thoughts through the Negative, Positive and tal reinforcement.” Negative Mind tells you negative things;
Neutral Minds to loosen the grip of negative emotions. He Positive Mind puts up everything negative from the subcon-
shared powerful techniques that changed our autonomic scious, and from the memory [to increase your negative
system, shifted our hemispheres or provoked the hidden experience.]”
emotions that lurk in our subconscious so that we become –Yogi Bhajan, September 12, 1989
present to them and process them in order to become free
of them. “In this game mastery is the goal and your main enemy is
If we are balanced and have the training to direct our stress. When you are under stress you begin to lose your
thoughts, then emotions can be friends. They no longer col- mind slowly, to a very polite degree. Your mind starts to
lude with our ego and fears; instead they become like fra- wander on its own. It looks elsewhere for shelter and hope.
grances in a garden that reflect the beauty that is there. It looks into your subconscious and pulls out of it every
But if our three minds are not balanced, they work against memory and every fragment of intention and action left
each other and get entangled, forming vicious emotional spi- incomplete in your life. You begin to live in the past. You do
rals. Each thought building on the next until they seem not act in the present but according to overlays from your
greater than we are; we become powerless in the face of our past. When you cannot sense the present and you cannot
commotions. Something happens —real or imagined—and connect to the future, life becomes very difficult. It is exact-
becomes catastrophic in our minds; we make mountains out ly that day that you are confused and you lose mastery over
of mole hills. This spins us out of control and elevates our your mind. You suddenly feel that you cannot meditate, do
stress level so high and sustains it there, when there is actu- sadhana, or anything else to clear your mind. You start to
ally no cause for it. So we begin to accumulate all the effects feel bad and you want to defeat yourself, so you pick up
of an allostatic load. Our judgment deteriorates, our perspec- every habit that makes you not prepare yourself for confi-
tive narrows and we repeat things unimaginatively. dence and success. . . . Do you understand how this stress
“The first thing we do is to think negative. Is that all? Yes pattern works to lock you into the mind's intrigues? It turns
for majority of the people, 95.6% of people think negative the three minds against you.”
and get stuck with it. That’s how we live. Then to get rid of - Yogi Bhajan, The Mind, page 54


“But the strength of the mind which we are very proud of is takes you in a new direction and guides you. At that time you
not in the body and not in our knowledge. It is not what we are not totally in control. When your glandular system is
know; it is not what we have. Then what is it? It is in effectively different from your intention then you are also dif-
switching gears from a Negative Mind to a Positive Mind to ferent under that push and pull. We are trying to prepare you
a Neutral Mind. It’s a very simple process. If a person does for that pressure.
not train himself or herself in those gears, life is lost.”
–Yogi Bhajan, September 12, 1989 “With intuition it is a different story. Then you can know
what you need to know. ‘Who are you? Who is going and
The good news is that we have all the tools in our discipline who is making you go? What is your origin? What is your
to engage negative emotions, call on positive emotions and reality? What is your personality? What is your identity?’”
dwell in flourishing emotions. The science of thriving under —Yogi Bhajan, November 16, 1994
stress is Kundalini Yoga.
Change the Somatic Signature
“We all have temperament and tendencies. The majority All the changes due to stress are accompanied by glandular
of what governs us is our subconscious. Our subconscious changes. So the best place to start a change is in our glands:
creates patterns in our neurons in our brain which we copy change the somatic signature from stress to neutrality, bal-
again and again and again and again. And our tendencies ance the hemispheres so that our inner appraisal of the sit-
lead to a life where we repeatedly make mistakes. uation is realistic and hopeful, and then invite in new, pow-
Why, as humans, are we are willing to suffer under those erful, positive feelings.
patterns? First, we don’t know. Then we come to know only
after we act. Then we struggle. We want to get out of some-
thing we got into. People became tired of this tug–of–war
way of life—pulling and pushing. They started to look into
some kind of discipline where they could concentrate and by
the intuitive clock, they could guide their way and their life.
That means that all the influences from outside shall be fil-
tered by your intelligence and shall be worked out by con-
sciousness. When you do this the scenario will be nothing
but pure, higher conscious wisdom.

“There will be a place for emotions and feelings, duties and

relationships. The elements of the body will be subjected and
put in their proper place, and your direction shall be intuitive.
The science which develops in a human mind an intuitive
procedure of life and living is called Kundalini Yoga.”
- Yogi Bhajan, November 21, 1990

“Without effective intuition, it’s all just one mad race. We are
all running in that race. It doesn’t make sense to anybody.
Everybody’s trying to make some sense of it, but nobody
knows. People get tired, but still it is just go, go, go. The
majority of the time you have a false sense of control. The
secretion of the glandular system under a thought or feeling


Interactive Group Exercise:

Befriending Your Emotions, Defeating Your Commotions

We will explore this topic together in six steps. mind a powerful, positive emotional state. Recall a memory
1. Sense how we change under positive and negative and enter into those positive emotions. Imagine how you feel
emotions, and what you feel like doing and saying. Once this positive
2. Observe when we shift from emotion to commotion, state is strong and stable, notice how your energy changes.
3. Shift our energy completely with a kriya for the glands What parts of your body change? In what way?
and emotions, How is this emotional pattern expressed in your body?
4. Meditate to balance our brain and vanquish negative What happens to the flow of your thoughts?
thoughts, What other feelings support and associate with this one?
5. Practice expanding our capacity for holding positive Can you stay present and observe this state or are you
emotions, and pulled into it?
6. Share our observations about our experiences versus Now go back to neutral. Be mindful and notice how these two
what we learned about how to use emotions and cope states differ.
with stress in our families. What patterns does each bring to your body, your mind,
and your thoughts?
How does your energy and scope change under these
PART One two conditions?
15 minutes
PART two
Sit in a meditative posture and slow your breath down. Scan What is your “tell”?
your body and relax. Become still and neutral. Then sense 15 minutes
your presence. Be aware of this moment; be aware of your
energy in every cell and your aura. Become consciously con- Poker players look for small changes in their opponents to
scious of your state and energy. This is your baseline. know when they are bluffing. The “tells” are often very sub-
Now bring to mind a stressful situation. Recall a memory tle movements in the body. Whenever we shift states, we also
and enter that stressful state. Imagine how you feel and what have a tell. In fact, each shift has a tell. If we can train our-
you feel like doing and saying. Once the stressful state is selves to notice it, we can catch the beginning of a state and
strong and stable, notice how your energy changes. easily observe it or redirect it.
What parts of your body change? In what way? What happens as a normal emotion begins to slip into a
What is the primary emotion that arises when you are in commotion?
this stressful state? What happens when fear, worry, or even excitement and
What is the pattern of stress in your body? desire slip into a subconscious lock with the ego and enlist the
What happens to the flow of your thoughts? endless stream of thoughts and memories? This happens to all
What other feelings support and associate with this one? of us. When it happens to you, what are its “tells”?
Can you stay present and observe this state or are you We’ve explored our stress personality, so when stress
pulled into it? hijacks your behavior and reactions, what was the signal, the
Now let that emotion go. Return to your neutral state— indicator that you had shifted? Was it in your body, voice,
your original baseline. Let your breath equalize and become energy, attention, emotion? In what specific way do you
slow. Watch your Self and be present to the moment. Once notice it? Commotions use our glands, our automatic behav-
you have stabilized, become mindful of your energy. Bring to iors and our subconscious; we slowly lose the sense of our


own presence. We lose the mindful positioning that gives us experience our basic mental strength depends on the proper
choice and creativity. What is that like for you? functioning of all our glands.

Share your observations from Parts 1 and 2 with a partner or The Power of the Radiance of the Pineal Gland
in your small groups. 20 minutes In a UCLA medical school class, he said he knew that they
thought there were only 9 main glands. He disagreed saying
there are 12 active glands. We don’t understand the critical
PART three function of the pineal gland. We think it’s a dead rock, with
Clearing stress and energizing
the exception of a few secretions for sexuality, sleep and bio-
your glandular system
logical timing. Yogi Bhajan said that the pineal gland had a
30 minutes
special impact on the glandular system: a “reflectory system
Now we shift our energy by throwing off the bodily signatures of projection”. He was referring to the radiance of the pineal
of stress and create a window of opportunity for vitality and gland, or its “vibratory command,” which affects the pituitary
awareness to come in. gland. The pituitary gland normally takes orders from the
Our glandular strength, responsiveness and health is the somatic/emotional assessment of the hypothalamus and then
foundation of our mental energy and projection. In Kundalini sends signals to the rest of our glandular and nervous system.
Yoga we see the body and mind as seamless partners. Yogi That is why the pituitary gland, and the associated Sixth
Bhajan encouraged all of his students to understand the basic Chakra, is the “Lord of the glandular system” and the com-
processes and realities of the body and recognize the impor- mander of action. But ideally, its action is merged with our
tance of the glandular system in generating good health. sense of the Totality of Being and synchronized with our intu-
We live free of stress when we are clear about our “des- ition and subtlety. The pineal, and the associated Seventh
tiny, designation and distance” and feel we have the vitality to Chakra, serve this function. The pineal radiance reflects the
not only travel that path but also fulfill it. This internal confi- flow of the Infinite Self and brings that innate compass of our
dence gives one a sense of intrinsic contentment and control. being to bear through the pituitary’s rhythm and response. It
It is what is known as “effortless effort.” An example from our is this link—between the pineal and the pituitary—that takes us
spiritual tradition is “seva”—selfless service done with devo- beyond our immediate reactions from ego to the flow of pure-
tion. ly instinctual impulses and thoughts. Yogi Bhajan predicted
Our purpose gives us a sense of meaning. Our role gives that in the future we would discover that the full function of
us an identity and a strategy to act. Our projective, progres- the pineal and pituitary must be supported by “the stem of
sive path forward gives us opportunity and tests our ability to the brain and its three rings of nerve action.” This is interest-
deliver our destiny, our unique gift to the world. This focus, ing in terms of contemporary neuroscience: the brain stem is
this mental framework is a coping strategy that gives us more now being rediscovered as a base of consciousness and as a
resilience than any external relaxation. But in order to hold powerful partner with the more recently evolved frontal brain.
this creative healing space, we need to be supported by our Signals pulse between the brain stem, the thalamus and the
glands. cortex to create some of the most central and powerful fea-
Yogi Bhajan was emphatic that the expression of our tures of our conscious experience.
thoughts and feelings were based on our glands and nerves. We need a strong and balanced glandular system in order
“God knows how many names you have given to love: platon- to command our experience, release stress and thrive under
ic love, commotional love, love at first sight, love affairs and pressure. “The amount and proportion of the ratios of the
so many more; but it is nothing but a glandular act. secretions is best if it is according to your genetic needs” and
Everything is a glandular act.” He was elevating the glandular matches the environmental and circumstantial demands, con-
discussion not diminishing love. He believed that our subtle- tinually adjusting the blood chemistry so that you are contin-
ty, our fearlessness, and our ability to act with intuition and ually healed and age well. In this way, you maintain the vital-


ity and potential appropriate to your age and stage. When the react. This exercise is the resistance—the brake—to the normal
glands aren’t functioning at their peak, we become old before flow of thoughts.
our time, aging metabolically faster than our chronological The second exercise is a polarity to the first—a swaying
years. natural motion to the healing rhythm of Sat Nam Wahe Guru.
A Kundalini Yogi is comfortable with the process and The spine, mid-chest and muscles all move, stretch and
progress of life and does not try to become a siddha who adjust. The third exercise seals the kriya with a powerful
never dies. Instead we aim to live well, be conscious, and use release of your Navel Point reserve energy, which you guide
each breath to create a timeless expression of our soul. We along the central meridians with the chopping motion as you
master death as a part of life. We do not focus on the prom- intensify the pulse of the Navel Point.
ises of an afterlife; instead, we become the promise of life Afterward, your breath is immediately deeper, your circula-
now. tion is freed up and your mind is clear. Meditate for several
The daily goal through sadhana and the practice of yoga minutes and consciously dwell within this healing state. “Your
is that the “presence of life [should be] strong with every life has a system; it is called a genetic system. Some of your
breath. . . . With every exercise the nervous system should genes are there to make you live, some are there to kill you.
supplement the body. In every pulse of circulation the glandu- Sometimes the killing genes become powerful and the living
lar secretions should be complete. The glands must be forced genes weaken. It has been seen that people who do not have
to secrete” and come to their optimal level of functioning. a deep breath strengthen and activate the killing genes which
This profound and practical understanding is experienced otherwise stay dormant.” The tension and stress that impair
in specific kriyas and meditations. We can change our entire the glands are released with this kriya and the breath is
world with one thought. We can blunt the impact of daily enhanced in the lungs, circulation and metabolism.
stress and acute traumatic episodes. We can thrive through- When dealing with chronic stress, we must cultivate vital-
out any crisis and be aware of the Creator—Karta Purkh—in ity. “The body is a temple and it needs cleaning, care and
each moment of life and be grateful. When we do this, our healing foods.” Cucumbers, ginger root, onion, garlic,
presence alone is healing. If our glands support us and we cashews, pistachios, walnuts, bananas, pears and mangos all
have the discipline to continue to build our strength, we will support your glands. We will look at more of the support
teach, lead, heal and love from this place without any precon- foods later. Effectively coping with stress is built on consistent
ditions. We become Akal Moort. yogic lifestyle habits: good food, glandular stimulation and a
positive mind.
Meditation for Mental Energy
and Glandular Balance
The following kriya will strengthen your glands and in turn
support your mental strength and your coping strategies under
The first exercise creates a huge pressure on your glands,
heart and nerves. As you tighten the fist firmly and become
focused, you listen to the sound of the whistle. The important
thing is not just the tune. The high pitched whistle encour-
aged in this version of Ardas Bhaee puts a pressure on the
Sixth Chakra. The whistle sound is one of 10 inner sounds
classically used to stimulate higher glandular function and take
us into deep meditation. It produces a deep stillness as your
thoughts whirl, your emotions zigzag and your body wants to


Yogi Bhajan • February 5, 1998

1. Sit in Easy Pose. The left hand holds the right elbow. The right 1
hand is in front of the right shoulder. The arms make an L. Make a
fist of the right hand with the thumb at the base of the Mercury fin-
ger and the fingers curled around the thumb. The fist faces the mid-
line of the body and should be so tight that it hurts to release it.
Eyes at the tip of the nose. Whistle with Ardas Bhaee, instrumen-
tal version. 11 minutes.

2. Interlace the hands behind the base of the spine straightening the
arms so the chest is pushed forward. Sway the upper body and head
as one, left and right with the music. Sway 18 inches from the base
of the spine—9 inches to each side while mentally following the
sound. Music: Sat Nam Wahe Guru. 2-1/2 minutes.
3. Extend the arms in front of you in Prayer Pose with the thumbs
locked. Begin a chopping motion with the arms—like an axe—bring
the arms all the way up and lower them all the way down. Music:
Tantric Har. Chant along with the motion of the arms.
1-1/2 minutes.
TO END: Inhale and stretch up. Suspend the breath for 10 seconds.
Cannon Fire exhale. Repeat. Once again inhale and stretch up max-
imum. Suspend the breath for 5 seconds. Exhale and relax.

Note: Yogi Bhajan does not indicate an eye position for parts two
and three of this meditation.


PART FOUR ness, which is simply the experience of God in the finite
From commotions to Love: embodiment. We each have to measure our own minds. How
synchronizing your brain to
positive and how negative is our mind?. How filled with limi-
positive creativity
tation and anger are we? Or, how unlimited and filled with
31 minutes
gratitude for the gift of life are we? This is a basic attitude.
If the brain doesn’t maintain its balance, we can lose track of
Mastering Our Mental Projection
our Self and go the way of commotion rather than character.
To master the stress and pain of life we need to master our
We fragment our personality instead of unifying it under our
mental projection. That is why a Kundalini Yogi and a Sikh
awareness. This next kriya breaks the depressive, anxious ten-
look beyond the material and see life as a gift. It all belongs
dencies we experience under stress by helping the brain syn-
to God or Guru. This is not false optimism, an opiate to quell
chronize the left and right hemispheres.
the pain. It is a condition, an attitude of mind that allows us
Theories confuse us. Desires confound us. We want expla-
to deal with our reality. It gives us a freedom of thought
nations; we grab at things; we hope for outcomes. In doing
beyond our commotions. It helps us define our character as
so, we collapse our Infinite Self into finite grasping. We
human beings. Through the Positive Mind, we can use the
become angry or depressed because all we want is freedom
power of our thought to set an intention. We place that inten-
and a relationship with our infinite, creative mind; but what
tion, with single-pointed attention, in the lap of God, in the
we get is a battleground of ego-grasping and desires.
unknown of us, to generate an effect. In this way, we master
This is a universal process in our emotional life. We want
the art of manifestation and experience the love of the Creator
love. Real love is defined by Yogi Bhajan as “the totality expe-
for creation. Our intentions may be good but “when you
rienced in sacrifice of the individual. It is absolute Divinity,
effectively cause the intention to come into reality through the
unaltered, untouched and unharmed.” It is merger, the creative
power of action and the one-pointed focus of your mind and
thought which has no dimensions or bounds. Instead of real
you match up to the sacrifice of that, then your achievement
love, we seek validation and security. We enter into a com-
gives you happiness.” It reveals your character and shows you
mon pattern of ‘relationship’: We seek reconciliation. We
the gift that is life.
want an agreement, a contract, an acknowledgement from the
Doubt is the enemy because it splits the mind. It frag-
other person that we are together and the relationship is val-
ments the emotions. It creates a rift in the way we process
ued. We want to know that we have both leaped into the
thought. We can no longer manifest positively; we generate
stream together and we won’t let go of our hands. We want
confusion and suffering and misunderstand the flow of life.
security when this scenario brings us nothing but insecurity.
When we are positive, we express compassion and forgive-
The insecurity engenders fear and doubt. Then we become
ness, live with grace and greatness, and see beyond the mis-
angry. Anger is nothing but frustrated love. You want some-
takes of others. We see the commotion and pettiness for what
one to act a certain way and they don’t. You want to feel a
it is. We rise above the emotional mishaps with laughter
certain way and you can’t. You want to feel connected and
because we no longer base our happiness on how others
clear but you become confused by your subconscious reac-
behave toward us. We’ve put aside any expectations. We can
tions. Your sub-personalities take over and leave you lost in
even help someone to get out of their mistakes and their mis-
the briar patch of your commotions.
ery; and in the end, we can even cover for them, compensat-
Instead of allowing ourselves the experience of unlimited
ing for their shortcomings. We act as a saint: “The path of a
consciousness, we reduce our self and confine our self, living
saint is the steps in dharma and righteousness. There is
within self-imposed limitations and boundaries. We fight the
always a little innocent saint in all of us. It is a mockery of the
constraints of Maya instead of using our Positive Mind to co-
Creator if you think I am holy and you are unholy. . . . Who
create and manifest the highest good; we fail to synchronize
are the saints? It is not those who just face their pains, it is
with the Infinite. We incarnate in order to experience happi-


those who take in the pains of all without pain. It is not some- sound to cut through the internal, emotional narratives that
one who looks good in long robes and white.” create negativity and limit the natural vastness of your mind.
Some technique is needed to reach this healing space. Our Then we mediate at the Crown Chakra via the anterior
normal reactions change our brains so that the two hemi- fontanel. We relax completely, yet remain alert and aware as
spheres that handle the flow of our thoughts do not work we merge into the Infinite Self. This relaxation is profoundly
right. Emotional trauma and commotional living can distort deep and practiced for up to 31 minutes.
the process and the power of our nervous system. When we The ability to merge, with relaxed awareness, into the vast-
seek something outside ourselves to compensate for our inse- ness of the Self is the secret to many miracles. Our own mind
curity, our lack of vitality, our unmet needs or lack of love, we traps us; stops our healing. Yogi Bhajan shared a story about
get into addictions. We invite depression, anxiety and anger. when he was deathly ill and was cured. None of the pills,
We feel trapped. Our brain repeats old patterns. The groove herbs or ayurvedic medications reduced his fever. So he went
of the nervous system digs us ever deeper into our pain and to the Golden Temple. There is a small area there where peo-
neurosis. ple wash their feet. The water is filled with dirt and every pos-
We can break this lock if we use the breath and a little sible bacteria. He sipped this. His rationale was that fire fights
technique to bring the mind into stillness. We can begin to fire—bacteria will fight bacteria. As he bowed to the healing
dwell in the infinite sensitivity of our subtle sensory self. That presence of Guru Ram Das, he left behind his battle of sick-
delectable taste of unlimited being comes easily through the ness and health. His mind became disease free. He felt well-
Crown Chakra once we synchronize the brain and its flow of ness in every cell of his body. “I merged into the lotus feet of
thoughts. Guru Ram Das. Evil had no place. I was healed.” How much
can you heal in the name of the healer? Infinitely.
Anti-Depression and This is the possibility of this kriya. If you remove doubt
Brain Synchrony Meditation and remain innocent, miracles can happen and stress will dis-
The following kriya requires you to look steadily, without appear. This is the quintessence of our human identity and
blinking, into the horizon. As the hands rhythmically come potential. What is the difference between humans and ani-
together and apart in Gyan Mudra, your hemispheres are com- mals? Humans are not earthbound, nor are they slaves to their
pelled to reconfigure their functions. In your subconscious, impulses. Humans can imagine and create a thought, which
the breath and the experience of life are synonymous; so can then become a reality; we are manifesters. When we look
when you concentrate on the breath, you are filled with vital- into the being of our Being, the Infinite is always there. Every
ity and a sense of possibility. The hemispheres gradually syn- situation and feeling can be seen from that inner horizon,
chronize with the movement of the hands and the breath, where we are free to co-create with God. We are bountiful,
breaking your depression and clearing your confusion. beautiful and blissful. Only when we set aside this inner com-
Thoughts are a flow of emotion and action, intention and pass and reduce our awareness to the confines of finite polar-
intensity, focus and context. This matrix of creativity frays ities and commotions do we become overtaken by pain and
under the influence of drugs, addiction and commotion. Many death. That is the law of polarity. “Anything supported by the
people have used drugs, or still do; even marijuana, which is brain and not the heart is a duality. Anything supported by the
usually considered less harmful, confuses the hemispheres. heart . . . and not by the brain is a duality.” What blocks our
The periodic dissociation, lack of motivation and fantasy that ability to be unified? What keeps us from acting with both
accompany drug use can occur anytime, even years after use, heart and mind, in consciousness, to be who we are and trust
especially when we are stressed. Our stress personality takes our unlimited flow in each and every moment? Ego. We need
over our consciousness and character. We begin to make mis- to expand our horizon, live beyond our egos, and use the
takes and miss opportunities. strength of our nervous systems to live in joy and creative
The first 11 minutes of this meditation uses the Sa Ta Na effectiveness.
Ma mantra with the movement. Your mind needs a primal


Yogi Bhajan • January 23, 1975

1. Sit in Easy Pose with an erect spine. The hands are in gyan mudra with
the first finger and thumb touching.
(a) Raise the upper arms parallel to the ground and bring the mudra in
front of the eyes so that the thumbs and forefingers of each hand touch in
front of the bridge of the nose. Open the eyes wide and stare beyond the
hands to the horizon.
(b) Then inhale deeply and separate the hands 36-45 inches while keep-
ing the eyes fixed. Inhale and return to the original position. The elbows
will move a little, but keep them relaxed.
Start with a slow movement, one cycle of the breath taking about 4 sec-
onds. As the hands go outward with the inhale, mentally vibrate Saa. As
they return, vibrate Taa. Then, for the second repetition, mentally vibrate
Naa on the inhale and Maa on the exhale. Meditate on the life energy of
the breath.The feeling of stretching the breath from a single point, represent-
ed by the meeting of the mudras, outward to the full extension of the
mudras is essential. After 2 to 3 minutes, increase the speed to 3 to 4 sec- 1b
onds for each cycle of Sa-Ta-Na-Ma. Continue for 3 minutes.

2. Inhale and relax with the arms and shoulders totally surrendered down.
No mudra is needed, just relax. Meditate at the Crown Chakra at the top of
the head. If you must concentrate at all, focus all your energy at the anteri-
or fontanel, on top of the skull. Place all of your concentration in totally
relaxing or on that one square inch of the skull. Continue for about 15 min-

TIME: You can increase the time of the meditation and relaxation slowly over
a period of weeks. Ultimately you can do Exercise 1 for 11 minutes followed
by the relaxation for 31 minutes.

COMMENTS: You are born and made to be positive and creative. The creativity of your existence is unlimited. Because we
do not have the established habit of constancy in thought and action, we create negative patterns in our thoughts and
actions; we generate our own depressions. This meditation will let you evaluate and measure how positive or negative
you are. It will also make you positive and happy. It focuses on the range of the breath. In the subconscious, breath and
life are synonymous. By meditating this way, depression can be alleviated. If you do it correctly, there will be a tremen-
dous pressure at your lymph glands. The two sides of the brain get coordinated and separated. Those unfortunate peo-
ple who used marijuana at any time in their life get the hemispheres confused. The effect is periodic scatteredness, lack
of motivation, depression or alienation. This can recur anytime throughout the lifespan, even after years of abstinence
from drug use. The body needs to be readjusted through an appropriate beet fast and banana fast. This exercise will also
help to coordinate the brain functions.


PART five Regardless of what you learned them, you have choices
refining your positive emotions now. Emotional maturity along with mindfulness, awareness
15 minutes and character give you new choices, new coping mechanisms.
But it is useful to be conscious of the learned patterns because
Focus and attention increase the brain’s capacity and plastici- they are often automatic, especially under stress. You might
ty. We adapt to what we love and create inner circuits and mistakenly assume that those emotions are what is real, or
short-cuts for things we do. If we attend to a positive emo- that they are your only choice under stress. By attending to
tion and lovingly elaborate each sensation that composes it, your vast spectrum of positive emotions, your choices become
while consciously observing our Self, we refine our experience many, which can be a very liberating experience.
of that positive emotion and learn to be able to call on it as
a resource, whenever we need it. When Yogi Bhajan chose his
epitaph from a pauri of Japji: “Even your pains and upsets are PART six
sweet to me. All are Thy gifts, Oh Lord,” he displayed his mas- small group discussion
tery. He called on the flourishing emotions of love, gratitude 25 minutes
and surrender throughout the greatest pains in life. The
Neutral Mind with refined Manas is strategic, choosing each Share what you learned in this exercise.
action well; with refined Ahangkar, it releases attachment and Describe the positive emotion you invoked.
becomes a good leader; with refined Buddhi, you know what How is it different from or the same as the other
is real and can heal others simply by your presence and aware- participants?
ness. In one line he expressed this mastery; in one line he What happened as you stayed focused on the positive
defined the guiding principle of our character and nobility as state, instead of letting it pass by?
human beings under stress. Even his death became an oppor- Compare your family’s approaches to stress with others
tunity to teach and uplift. in the group.
Sit in a meditative pose. Choose a positive, flourishing What practices do you need to cultivate for the future?
emotion like compassion, love, gratitude or kindness. Bring
that emotion fully into your body, into your Being.
How do you feel in its presence?
What is your projection with this feeling within you?
How do you sound and speak?
What things do you pay attention to?
What are the “tells” in your body?
How would you describe this experience in words?
How well can you distinguish it from other,
similar feelings?
After you get a vivid impression of this positive emotion, think
about how this was used in your family—if at all. Each family
has an emotional culture in which we learn patterns of emo-
tional expression. Some emotions are encouraged, others dis-
What emotional resources did your family call on under
stress—negative or positive? Which ones?
Which emotional patterns did you learn to use to cope
with stress in your family?


predisposition and the emotional response

Although we emphasize to the importance of pre- and Beyond Emotional Fatigue:

postnatal care in other modules, it should be noted that we do Vitality and Prosperity
not all begin with the same settings in our nervous or immune 31 minutes
systems. Our earliest environments—whether love and atten-
tion or neglect—also shape our glandular and nervous systems. We can become so fatigued that it cannot be removed by the
In fact, they have been shown to predispose us to experience body no matter how many spa treatments we take, or how
more negative or positive emotions, even into adulthood. many vacations we go on, or how much exercise we do. This
We can learn to adjust the autonomic system and develop pervasive stress comes from a disconnect between you and
self-control over our emotions through yoga and lifestyle yourself. You begin to believe the universe is hard; that it’s
habits. But some will need much more than others to get the impossible to become rich or succeed at anything you do. You
same effect because of their early childhood experiences. On run after things and push to make something happen. Your
the other hand, those who are sensitive to negative emotion, emotions swing from enthusiasm to despair; from satisfaction
social and environmental fears and depressive moods also have to fear. It is more than workaholism: you work alone, either so
more motivation to change. If they are given the opportunity confident that your own ego does everything that you remain
and the skills, they often become the strongest practitioners. lonely in your self-absorption; or so frenetic in your effort to
We know that the brain is exquisitely sensitive to the envi- gain material things, recognition or power, that you isolate
ronment during fetal development. The HPA is sensitized or yourself in a false sense of satisfaction and control. This takes
normalized by exposure to nutrition, stress, maternal emotions a huge amount of energy and ultimately entangles you in your
and behaviors, inflammation and many other factors. If these own foibles and insularity.
stressors occur in late gestation, the neurological changes are We are entering a new Age; a time when the things that
permanent and become part of the emotional tone of that per- worked in the past no longer work. In the Piscean Age,
son–it predisposes their settings, their ‘normal.’ These stressors progress often came from a steady accumulation of power and
also have extensive physiological impact—increased respiratory wealth gained through extraordinary effort. Today the world is
infections and asthma, decreased vaccination response, elevat- complex and interconnected; you can see how everything
ed immune function responses, and cardiovascular problems. affects you. There is never a chance to totally relax because
Most significantly, gestational stress can lead to symptoms that everything seems to be at risk. We are inundated by all the
express themselves only in adolescence or even late adulthood, tragedy in the world with every newscast, and believe it will
including increased depression, memory and hippocampal come to us next. Even if we are consciously upbeat, we sub-
deficits, psychotic episodes, impaired emotional and cognitive consciously follow our more primitive fears and reactions. So
flexibility. So if you are someone for whom stress resistance we need to change our approach.
and positive moods are natural and easy, remember, it is not
necessarily the result of your own effort or desire to be posi- Becoming a Self-Sensory Human
tive. How you were nurtured from the beginning predisposes We need to cultivate certain attitudes and capacities. Yogi
your reponse to stress, making things much easier for you or Bhajan gave us ways to strengthen our nerves, glands and
much more difficult. brain function. He guided us in using our subtle capacity and
led us toward becoming “self-sensory humans” who rely first
on our own higher Self and intuition. He repeatedly shared the
perspectives and beliefs that we should cultivate in order to
experience a co-creative relationship with our spirit, our infini-
ty and our Creator. He did not hesitate to acknowledge the
existence of a Creator nor did he deny our need to call on a


Creator. In fact, he considered it completely natural and a part “You must have a psycho-electro-magnetic field of such
of our need for fulfillment and meaning; it’s a part of our struc- radiance that within the hour you will have shelter, food and
ture, hard-wired into our nervous system. Even as he steered a friend when you need it, when you are absolutely lonely.
us away from the seduction of our own imaginations and the That happens when your arc line is intact. . . . The Law is very
manipulative confidence of our intellect and ego, he never simple. When your weight is nil, your are light. Then the heavy
allowed any belief that reified the concept or experience of God winds come from all sides to move you. Similarly, when the
as anything but who we are—complete, effective and connect- ego of a person is light (and the aura bright) Mother Nature
ed to All. “God and me, me and God, are one.” comes to serve that person. It’s a law that not even Almighty
God can change. . . . You can prosper in the Age of Aquarius
Hassle and Hustle or Subtle and Surrendered in your personality, in projection, in your polarization and in
Your mind is powerful. What you believe and experience your personal relationships and you can bring the entire uni-
shapes the world. It changes what comes to you and what you verse in to serve you. . . . Everybody shall survive in happiness,
choose to go after. It changes our perception of what is stress- if there is any, by becoming a self. That is the Age of Aquarius.
ful and what is an opportunity for victory. Your attitude and You are a human first, woman later; human first, man later;
practice can call on two different ways of being in the world: human first, doctor, husband, teacher later. The first funda-
hassle and hustle or subtle and surrendered. mental deciding factor of any consciousness or action is 95%
When we hassle and hustle, we use our emotions and based on the experience that you are a human, you are with-
instincts to guide our actions. We manipulate and play the in yourself and you are complete. You are conscious and effec-
game rather than letting the game come to us. When we’re tive. It will all boil down to consciousness. There shall be no
subtle and surrendered, we develop a strong radiant aura; we Guru, no disciple . . . that is why I never became a guru and
crystallize our minds into a projective focus; we set our inten- I never became a disciple. I just learned to become me—as God
tion and synchronize it with the Creator, who fulfills it. made me to be me. I have many titles, wisdom and achieve-
Essentially, we can experience our mental intrigues and suffer ment, which is useful, but I am just myself, and all that does
by the hand of unintended consequences, or we can call on not matter.”
our higher Self and allow the Infinite to work.
This thorough self-acceptance removes the conflicts and
We normally seek pleasure and power through the game of
inner narratives that drive so much of our stress and duality
the world. There is a deeper ecstasy available, which heals the
Three things we must do: remove the conflicts and patterns in
wounds and relieves the stresses of every other effort—our abil-
the subconscious and the body that direct us, automatically
ity to experience our self within our self.
and instantaneously; recognize and separate your Self from
your emotional ego; and act from the deep trust and reliance
“The ecstasy of the joy of the self is so sublime, so supreme,
upon your experience of your Creator, within your own higher
so subtle, so sweet, that all this world is nothing, absolutely
Self. With this orientation you are never a victim. You are never
nothing. And that is the Aquarian Age: you have to know
without resources. You always have what you need when you
need it. You never pursue anything, instead you attract.
Stillness becomes your most powerful action. With this in
This is the hub of our new orientation—our Pole Star. In
place you can act instantly, effectively and powerfully.
the Aquarian Age, to master stress and succeed we need to
recognize our self; trust our self; and expand the light of our
self. Everything we need is fulfilled according to the radiance
of that self.


emotional fatigue buster “This set is enough for an idiot to become wise. It can take
you from a pauper to a prince. It can transform you from the
We do this kriya and meditation: most unfortunate person to the most fortunate person. It has
“. . . to grow out of yourself into your own higher self with- all these elements in it. If you practice it regularly at home, it
in your Self, so you can understand the experience. The ques- will take you to horizons that you do not even believe you can
tion is how to suck in nature, not how to go out and get help… touch. Do it every day, anytime convenient to you, but do the
. . . We come from infinity into the finite to prove our self complete set as taught. Life needs energy. Energy comes
through our purity and to reach the infinity again. That is the through the self and the actions of the self. There is no mys-
purpose of life. Those who travel this journey are always rich tery about that. ..You have to invest in your mental world to
because everything can reach them… . . . Life is a gift. Do not conquer your own universe. If you can conquer your own
drift from the gift and create a rift. Trust in your Maker as if mind, you can conquer that universe. . . . People suffering is
your forehead says “Made in God” and all your problems will not the way God wants it, so there has to be something which
be solved. The moment you train your mind to remember the your Self can do to give you the energy to overcome your has-
Maker, Nature as a caretaker will take over for you… . . . You sle and handicaps. This is such a set. I did my job! You do
are the most blessed when you face calamity, face to face and yours.”
make it your victory through your purity of consciousness. You
are most cursed by yourself when there is a calamity and you This kriya only has a few exercises. The first one is the main
freak out and run like a deer from the cheetah—it doesn’t work. driver of the shift. It puts pressure on the nerves, brain and the
You are caught in the end.” ida and pingala channels. You move the left hand like a pen-
dulum as you breathe through the “O” of the mouth. You let
How do we reach this state? How do we direct our emo- the motion of the hand move your breath in and out. Listen to
tions to follow our consciousness and experience total vitality? the sound of the breath. It makes a slight cave-like whistle
We need to confront and direct our inner story—our inner nar- inside the head. The higher tone creates a pressure on the
ratives—and have them arise from our innocent, authentic self. inner ear and helps you hear the subtle Naad of the universe
That is why we use mantra. They are statements of the self in and drops the neurotic chatter of the mind. The exercise uses
simple, pure form. They bind the power of our word with our the mudra of the right hand and the breath to remove internal
power to create. They make God a partner and our awareness emotional fatigue. It takes at least 7 minutes to change the
the instrument. They clear the noise of the subconscious so nerves and glands. By 11 minutes you create the effect.
that our intention can ring out with clarity and purpose, The second and third exercises release the wild, impulsive
attracting those things that are only for our highest good. things in you. You are in a new place of energy so releasing
But in order to change those heavy set patterns in the sub- them while staying present gives you a new sense of control
conscious, we need to change our brain and neurons first. and calm. Go wild! Become divine as you direct your own
With that clarity, we can then choose and project attitudes, energy and personality with your consciousness.
feelings and beliefs that fill us with vitality and generate excel- The fourth exercise distributes your new found energy. The
lence. This kriya opens our ability to sense “the sensory sys- whistle sound gives you strength to continue to the end of
tem of the universe.” It is a very powerful practice. your journey, allowing you to depend on your own original
energy in the self. If you practice this entire kriya for 120 days,
you will begin to feel the results in delightful ways—you may
just find yourself successful, happy and excellent before you
know it.


We rarely have the experience or self-discipline to be who

we are. We live with an impression of our self made up in our
imagination. We have codes of success, projections of social
status and calculations for avoiding pain and gaining pleasure.
All this traps us in the past. We live on our imaginative calcu-
lation, which brings with it the hassles of yesterday and the
hopes of tomorrow. We miss out on the reality of the present,
the infinite faculty of the self to attract all that is needed to
flourish in any given circumstance. This is an Age where we
need to be an individual, a unique sensory human, innocent
before God in the beginning, in the middle and in the end.
When we live inside our coping stories, we continue to create
the circumstances that always create stress, tragedy and pain.
Drop them and become yourself today—that is the risen and
applied kundalini.
The ultimate beauty of Kundalini Yoga is that we do not
teach postures and philosophy as what works. We teach kriyas
and experience of the self. You do the kriya with your whole
heart and you experience the effect immediately. In that
moment of clarity you are aware and do not make a mistake.
Life is a flow and there’s no reverse. So mistakes are tragedies
you cannot compensate for. We are a real identity—Sat Nam—
that moves and creates with every breath. The opportunity of
each moment does not come back again; so we become aware
and full of vitality in order to act effectively. We have no worry
for tomorrow and no sorrow for yesterday. This attitude is the
first principle of being who you are now. Then all can come to


Yogi Bhajan • March 12, 1996

1. Sit in a meditative state. Spine straight. Chin in and chest out. 1a

Right hand is up with the elbow relaxed down and the palm fac-
ing out. The Saturn and Sun fingers are split—the “Vulcan” greet-
ing—locking the Jupiter and Saturn fingers together and the Sun and
Mercury fingers together. Left hand is palm down, fingers spread
wide, with the elbow relaxed by the side. Move the left hand back
and forth. Hand moves like a pendulum, one complete stroke—left
and right—per second. Breathe through the O-shaped mouth, keep-
ing pace with the movement of the left hand. 11 minutes.
TO END: Inhale deeply and interlace the fingers and stretch them
above the head. Stretch. Exhale. Repeat twice more and relax.
It will take away your internal fatigue forever. The fatigue, which
your body cannot remove, which makes you old, which makes you
weak, will disappear in the first seven minutes. Yawning is natu-
ral, normal. Let it come.
Note: Do not practice longer than 11 minutes.

2. Move your arms vigorously—your entire torso moves—go wild!

[No music is played so that you don’t become systematic, rhythmic.
Go wild!] 3 minutes.

3. Bring the tips of the thumb, Jupiter, and Saturn fingers of

each hand together, then lift and swing the arms alternately back
over the head in a bicycle-like motion. Move quickly. 1 minute.

4. Release the mudra and sit straight. Whistle with the music.
Whistle loudly. Music: Ardas Bhaee, instrumental version.
4 minutes.
Begin singing if you know the words. 1-1/2 minutes.
Whisper the mantra. 1 minute.
Whistle. 30 seconds.
TO END: Inhale deep. Concentrate at your Navel Point. Hold the
breath. Pull the navel in toward the spine. Exhale.
Repeat twice more.

“The ecstasy, the joy of Self, is so sublime, so supreme, so subtle, so sweet,

that all this world is nothing, absolutely nothing.” –Yogi Bhajan 4


The Master’s Touch:

an experience with yogi bhajan

November 14, 1989

A transcript, edited for reading, is included in your Study Guide.


OUR BASIC CHALLENGE IS STRESS. As Yogi Bhajan says, good and be good. But you lack the vitality and the caliber
“In the future stress will become a disease of the modern to deliver. So you become insecure; you try to deliver what
time which shall eat every person. It doesn’t matter who you is expected rather than what is real for you. This comes at
are or what you are. The fatality of stress will become more a great price to the True Self; that distorted energy is high-
than cancer and heart failure. The fact is the basic disease octane fuel for your subconscious reverse personality.
is stress.” Whenever this personality takes over, we become nar-
We have a powerful tool for coping with stress—the row; we make ourselves small. We become less than we are.
mind. One thought can change the impact of any stressor We act from instinct rather than intuition. To adjust this
on us. The mind and its coping strategies can protect us and tendency, Yogi Bhajan guides us toward a quality of expan-
coach us toward our excellence—in opportunity or tragedy. sion that opposes any contraction. The quick movementof
The problem is that 95% of our actions are informed by the the Jupiter finger against the thumb tips add to our sense of
subconscious and its patterns. If our subconscious has been vastness, knowledge and confidence. Against this back-
cleared, trained, programmed and cleaned, it can serve us ground we provoke all the emotions and compartments of
well. But in most cases, it is filled with our shadow self, our our subconscious using specific sounds: whistles, bird calls,
emotional reactions, our rationalizations and our memories. watery noises, and snakes hissing among others. The inner
This meditation helps us clear the “subconscious reverse world is called on, revealed and elevated: “Everything is in
personality,” which Yogi Bhajan refers to as that part of our you—good and bad. I am not bringing anything in from out-
subconscious that rises to dominance under stress and side you. I am asking you to invoke your own powers
counters our conscious effort and intention. It’s what hap- because this is all in you.” Everything in you has a potential
pens when “ . . . the fuse goes off. You go wobbling. You and a power that can serve your purpose if you stay aware,
do not know where you are hitting; you do not know what present and conscious. If you freeze under stress, go uncon-
you are doing.” The subconscious reverse personality acts scious or try to chase outward enemies, your own subcon-
from internal feelings and disconnects from the reality of the scious will entangle you.
circumstances. We lose track of the consequences of our This meditation closes that gap. When the instincts and
actions. We follow a feeling or belief that comes from an powers are fully evoked, the energy is balanced by self-
internal part of the self. This can create tragedy in an oth- awareness at the Heart Center and processed through your
erwise great and wonderful life. “Instead of walking on your core with the gong. The same energies that could have dis-
feet, you put your foot in your mouth. Who will forgive you tracted you or corrupted you now heal and serve you. That
for that?” Our reversals, our expectations and broken trust is why we end with laughter and delight; we are now open
can harm our relationships and our opportunities perma- to all of creation and the play of God.
nently. It is far better to know your subconscious tendencies
and counter them, reprogram them to serve you.
The subconscious reverse personality is fed by our
duplicity and duality, our need to appear other than who Whole Group Discussion
and what we are, our inability to be authentic. “Feeling real After the lecture, share your individual experiences of this lec-
and acting fake is a simple man’s stress.” Everything around ture and meditation with the entire group.
you places demands on you: You want to look good, do


Yogi Bhajan • November 14, 1989

Sit in Easy Pose. Bring your elbows close to your sides. Hands will 1
naturally face toward each other in front of your shoulders. Bring the
Jupiter finger and thumb together and apart, quickly opening and
closing the forefinger and the thumb. Move as fast as you can. 3-1/2
Get stressed. Don’t look at your mood, look at your strength. Doing
it fast is going to be challenged by your own body, you like to give
up, the idea will come to you. . . .You shall be transferred into stage
of duality. . . . It’s a natural tendency to either slow down or feel
negative. Cut it out by personal strength—that strength is your soul,
bring it out, bring the spirit out and move, really move!

Continue moving the fingers as you practice the following sounds:

a. Whistle your National Anthem. 1 minute.

b. Whistle your own personal Love Call. 1 minute.

c. Whistle a bird call. 1 minute.

d. Make an animal call. Any animal of your choice. 1 minute.

e. Make the sound of an animal that lives in water. 1 minute.

f. With your lips, create the sound ‘Hup’. Move the jaw.
Repeat the sound very quickly. Fast! 1 minute. 2

g. Hiss like a snake. 3 minutes.

h. ‘Cluck’ the upper palate with your tongue. The tongue

plays against the center of the upper palate. 1 minute.

2. Bring your hands to your Heart Center, one hand resting on the
other. Begin a powerful breath in and out through the mouth. Jaw is
relaxed down and the breath moves from the diaphragm. Open the
lungs. 1 minute.


3. Keeping your hands at the heart, breathe long and deep. Close
your eyes and meditate at your Heart Center. Try to feel the beat of
your heart. Singing or listening, meditate on the heart. Pull your
lower back in so that you can have all the flow of the serum going
through the spine. Stretch out the third vertebrae. 4-1/2 minutes.
Music: Pavan Pavan recorded by Guru Shabd Singh.
We’ll give you the power of the prana through the mantra. You can
listen or you can sing if you catch these simple words. It’s not dif-
ficult and there is no stress involved. But try to be with your heart,
the beating instrument in you. Meditate deeply and intensely and
be one with your heart. Feel your heart. Bless your heart.

4. Hands still at the heart, meditate on your breath. Gong is played.

12-1/2 minutes.
3,4,5 Become light, hypnotically float. Mentally cut off from gravity.
Physically you can’t, but mentally you can.

5. Cannon Fire Breath—Fast! 30 seconds.

TO END: Inhale, suspend the breath for 15 seconds, and move your
shoulders up and down as fast as you can. Jump the shoulders.
Exhale. Repeat twice more.

6. Talk to each other. Relax. 5-10 minutes.

7. Laugh as loud as you can. You have to open your mouth, open
your mouth and laugh with your tongue; that’s what is required.
30 seconds. Relax again. 2 minutes.

Note: Yogi Bhajan suggests drinking lemon water after this set to
help recuperate quickly.


virtues: Hardiness, resilience and courage

We have looked at the stories, inner narratives and emotional 4. Action-oriented strategies. If we are emotional in our
beliefs that arise under stress. We have seen how they come response to stress we use escapism, fantasy, ceaseless rumina-
from our thinking and our family environments. Now we want tion, somatizing, isolation or emotional venting, which serve
to explore those attitudes and states of mind that protect only to elevate our stress levels. If we are action-oriented, we
against the effects of stress and trauma and how we can devel- identify problems and solutions and seek things that we can
op them. do—distract, control, move, attack, communicate or create.
Yogi Bhajan told us that courage in the face of challenge This combination of attitudes protects against negative life
was essential to success, good character and the experience of events, increases health and lowers our perception of stress.
being genuinely human. He also said it was essential to know
our Self within our self and recognize our destiny moment-to-
moment; this was our depth, our direction and our destiny. He The Avalanche
recommended that we never isolate from others—that our An inspiring example of the control dimension is captured by
social connection was the key to healing and as natural as the tale of two people trapped in an avalanche. A wave of
breathing. He asked us to act when we feel that it is impossi- snow suddenly toppled a truck until it lay upside down buried
ble to even move, much less succeed. He even included this in the snow bank. They were there for several days. Held in
imperative in his Five Sutras for the Aquarian Age: “When the place by their seatbelts in this cold confinement—soon to be a
time is on you, act and the path will open.” Getting emotion- coffin—the two friends coped using opposite strategies and
al or freezing up was the worst approach. attitudes. One sought something to do that he could control
and that might help his survival. He decided to count drops of
The Attitudes that Inoculate Stress water that came from the melting ice. He kept a regular sched-
These attitudes have been widely recognized and validated by ule of drinking the water slowly after he had gathered a cer-
researchers as essential to inoculating stress. In the mid-1970s tain number of drops in his palm. He also made up little songs
psychologists coined the term “hardiness” and “cognitive har- that recounted his story, planning to share them with friends
diness” for the collection of attitudes that seemed to confer later. His companion, on the other hand, believed the facts to
the greatest resilience under stress and trauma. The primary be overwhelming: They were both injured, no one knew where
components are these: they were, their cries were muffled by a thick blanket of snow,
1. A sense of control. The individual believes they can con- and shock made them vulnerable. He talked a lot and then
trol or at least influence events happening to them. This could became completely silent and removed. He conceded to his
be by direct action or by making choices about the use, mean- fate and constantly thought of all the things he should have
ing or implications of what is happening. The individual is not taken care of before he left for the trip. He complained that this
locked-in to a negative feeling, a victim identity or an inflexi- way of dying had no meaning and was God’s little joke. His
ble pattern of repeating behaviors. friend said to relax and to be hopeful. Face it like a test; and
2. A purpose-filled approach to life and the challenges they if they have to die, leave messages for those who will find
face. The individual sees clearly their own values and priorities them and for their loved ones. The action-oriented survivor
and can recognize opportunities to express or act on them. scrawled notes in the dark on scraps of paper he could reach.
3. See change as a challenge and an opportunity—not a A search and rescue team finally located them with long
threat. They are nonattached and flexible in facing the tran- probes and brought them out. The one who had counted the
sience of life. As Yogi Bhajan said, “Until you are in the grave, water drops came away with some frostbite and contusions
life is a crisis with every breath. Excel and enjoy it! To be in but was otherwise healthy and made a quick recovery. His
crisis is to be alive.” friend was not so lucky and died.


How we face a crisis and how we decide to cope with it lenge—social exclusion, physical challenge, monetary
are critical: Make choices—find something that you can claim resources, terrors, past and present, or simply the insistent
some measure of choice or control over. . Call on positive feel- desire for immediate hedonic satisfaction—the strength to
ings—hope in the future or pride in fighting a good fight. Yogi locate our Self in the stillness and to act with consciousness
Bhajan often told us, “It is not the life that matters, but the instead of impulse is the same. This is “applied intelligence”
courage you bring to it.” Courage is a central virtue in his and it is an immediate, tangible result of Kundalini Yoga. Our
approach to coping with stress. nervous system needs strength and flexibility to support and
His concept of courage is similar to that elaborated by the manifest our intentions in the face of vulnerability and chal-
existentialists who observed that the transience of existence lenge. Every time we take a cold shower or hold our arms up
confronts us with anxiety, fear and vulnerability. Paul Tillich, a past our comfort zone, we cultivate this ability. We form a
well-known philosopher, said “The fear of death determines resilient, courageous self-concept which affirms with each
the element of anxiety in every fear. Anxiety in its nakedness breath: we can rise to any challenge by relaxing into our self,
is always the anxiety of ultimate non-being.” To live in a truly by commitment, or by surrender to the Infinite. We practice
authentic way, we cannot deny non-being but instead we must subtlety; we don’t follow the reductionist’s model, which
face it directly within our own experience. This is a choice that would have us narrow our experience to the corridors of stress
requires courage and innocence and love. Yogi Bhajan guides and impulse, restrict our creativity, our neutrality, and ultimate-
us to embrace non-being as part of the imperative for being. ly our ability to act from a place of infinite possibility. This key
He derives courage from accepting his reality, our reality— characteristic within us, which unlocks the diagonal path of
human beings created by a Creator. He asks us to face our feel- spirit, is called “saibhang.”
ings, our vulnerability, with actions that express our purpose, Yogi Bhajan called this same innate capacity our basic guna
our sense of meaning, and trust—in ourselves and in the flow as human beings. He said we have a choice among the three
of the universe. He matches anxiety with commitment—to our basic capacities: to act from our animal self, from our earthling
self and to others—which is why he said, “The first act of a self or basic human, or from our angelic self or refined human.
human being is to commit.” He sometimes called this our We can choose to be tamasic, rajasic or sattvic. But when we
‘exertive’ personality, that part of us which acts in the face of recognize our basic sattvic guna as our fundamental human
challenges, chooses to not reject life, never hesitates or bar- nature, then we can begin to open up our perception and rec-
gains but instead accepts everything that happens as authen- ognize the effect of our actions before we act. Aware of our
tically ours. It’s about empowerment; it’s about ownership: habits and impulses, we can even enjoy them, but we choose
Each moment of health and sickness, strife and peace, friend- based on our Neutral Mind. We assess the situation and then
ship and betrayal is in fact ours. We have the inner resources fully commit to our choice. We accept and create our reality.
to deal with whatever arises—no matter what it appears to be. Perhaps it is this quality that psychologists have noted in
We do not shrink from being or non-being. We choose aware- young children. In studies, they offer a child one cookie or two;
ness and we express awareness in our actions—our kindness, but in order to get two cookies, they have to wait a few min-
courage, compassion, devotion and love. utes. Meanwhile, the cookies are both visible and nearby. If the
child cannot resist their impulse, they get one cookie. If they
Applied Intelligence— can wait, they get two. Children who pass the two cookie test,
Acting With Consciousness Rather than Impulse who have courage and the strength of will (from the frontal
Awareness and the actions that flow from it are fundamental lobe) to say no, are children who see the future and manage
to our understanding of human nature in Kundalini Yoga. The their inner resources, and do better in all measures of their life.
courage we bring to each moment becomes a mark of our per- They are emotionally healthier, do better in school, and
sonal endurance. In the face of negative emotional or physical demonstrate better social and creative skills. Courage and cre-
states marked by fear or pain, we take action toward meaning- ativity go hand-in-hand in the human experience.
ful, positive outcomes. Regardless of the source of the chal-


Cherhdi Kala—Risen Spirit to the human response.

The entire blend of characteristics, these virtues—hardiness, We can’t predict too far into the future. This is one reason
resilience, and courage to act from our character instead of our Yogi Bhajan told us to still our intellect when trying to cope
commotions—is also called “cherhdi kala,” the risen spirit. It is with life, saying, “The past is gone, the future is not here, deal
more than simple optimism. It is the willingness and the with the present—now. Don’t worry, the future will come and
capacity to involve oneself in life with all its complexity, to then it is the present.” He encouraged us to plan and strate-
commit to learn and grow in the face of its constant flux and gize, to assess and analyze, but steered us away from intellec-
change, to accept it all as a gift of God. We embrace paradox tual spinning, worrying and playing games that involve expec-
and polarity; we don’t withdraw, deny, repress, or become tations, or try to control or predict life too much. Life is God
rigidly authoritarian. This indomitable, elevated spirit is the in action and it’s more vast, creative and unpredictable than
way of the Khalsa and is a solution to every problem. anything our ego can create. Be humble, receptive, fearless and
This characteristic, this elevated consciousness, is the sin- engaged to act in the present. The goal is awareness and ele-
gle most consistent predictor of lower levels of somatic and gant, authentic action—not control and defensiveness.
psychological distress. Interestingly, when the attitudes and As for our perceptions of control, people often tell us to be
behaviors of cherhdi kala are compared to the Big Five Factors in control. Or that we need to control everything in our life.
used to describe personality in psychology, hardiness and its The yogi says simply control yourself, act consciously and
accompanying attitudes are much more predictive of happi- enjoy the experience of your Self even if the circumstances are
ness, success and effectiveness than any of the personality unpleasant or hard. When stress is low to moderate, it makes
variables taken alone or in combination. So we see that our sense to increase our feeling of control. We know our actions
most powerful shield against the cumulative impact of stress is will make a difference that things could have been worse with-
our own attitude: to know that it is up to us to interpret our out our efforts. But if circumstances are unavoidable, extreme
situation, to turn challenges into opportunities, and to live or traumatizing, it is better to let go of any notion of control.
with gratitude and trust. Your positive choice is in the act of letting control go. This is
Veterans, who have this quality, hardiness, experience when it is essential to know how to rely on God and trust the
fewer injuries and far quicker recovery from physical and emo- unknown. It becomes an effortless effort. There is no room to
tional traumas. Managers in high stress businesses, when personalize a tragedy or circumstance and search for why.
measured for hardiness, normally have a 93% chance of hav- Instead bless, be compassionate, and invoke contentment,
ing at least one serious illness during the course of the study. courage, and acceptance of what you must face. This is a cru-
If they show one, two or three of the attitudes associated with cial differentiation to make when counseling victims of war or
hardiness, the likelihood of serious illness drops to 72%, 58% refugees of genocide; any suggestion that they are in control is
and 8% respectively. If you add to these attitudes strong sup- not useful. Instead, the mind must come to zero; stop think-
portive habits such as exercise, moderate eating and active ing, calculating and worrying. Come into the present moment
social involvement, it drops to less than 2%! Stress does pres- and choose to be who you are—embrace your destiny.
sure us, but we can deflect the buildup of allostatic load and We can all relate to the need for a “shoulder to cry on.”
its problems by developing our nervous system and cultivating We understand our self and process our emotions through oth-
attitudes that bring flexibility, courage and character to every- ers. Hardiness depends on commitment and involvement with
thing we do. others in order to express our values and goals, so we need to
be aware of our social identity. How do we think and feel our
Elegant, Authentic Action, Rather than Control way through the world: who is our group, what social and eco-
We’ve seen how the stress response changes with different nomic level do we think we are in, and how do we judge our
environments. Perceived control, dominant or ritualistic behav- self and our social status? This is the level of “psychosocial
iors, ability to predict outcomes, and social interaction all play stress.” It turns out to be a key factor in how we cope with
a role in how we relate to stress. Now we’ll apply this research stress, our quality of life, self-satisfaction and even our health.


Science Box: be counterproductive. We tend to become anxious.

Stress and Resilience We ruminate and speculate endlessly. Our brain is
None of these individual characteristics and attitudes designed to predict and to test our predictions.
are monolithic; they do not stand alone nor are they Things in the future cannot be tested so there is no
unaffected by other conditions. Research is working way to escape the spiral of speculation and worry.
to create a fairly accurate map of the primary compo- That anticipatory anxiety overrides any benefit we
nents of hardiness and how they are applied to real may have gotten from the information.
situations. If we train a rat to push a lever which reduces the
Rats are a favorite testing ground of psychologists. number of shocks it receives, it is enthusiastic about
Researchers have shown that when rats are given the control it has. But if we disconnect the lever so
repeated shocks of any particular level, duration or the shock pattern is not affected by any amount of
style, they will produce ulcers as part of their stress lever pushing we get an interesting effect: the ulcers
reaction. But if the conditions are altered, their reac- go down and the effects of stress are significantly
tion to stress changes and the appearance of ulcers blunted. The rat presses the lever repeatedly, like a rit-
drops precipitously. For example, use the same pat- ual. We all do it. Haven’t you pushed the button over
tern of shocks but add another rat to the cage, one and over again while waiting for a slow elevator.
that doesn’t receive shocks. The shocked rat gets Although it doesn’t affect the elevator one bit, it helps
aggressive, biting and beating up on the other rat— us relax. Perhaps subconsciously we and the rat think,
evidence of a negative stress personality. But here’s “just imagine how much worse it might be if I weren’t
the interesting part—the shocked rat no longer gets doing something!”
the ulcers. Seem familiar? Aggression keeps testos- The effect of any circumstance depends on histo-
terone levels high, which prevents many of the effects ry that is, how bad we think things are depends on
of stress that occur when a rat is passive or surren- where we started. If we train one rat to expect 25
ders. On the other hand, if the shocked rat gets a shocks a day and another to expect 50 shocks a day
cage with wood to gnaw on, it gnaws its little heart and then put them in the same environment and give
out and doesn’t get an ulcer! This shows us that hob- both rats 25 shocks a day, the result is astounding
bies and distractions are very effective in preventing and clear. The rat that was used to getting 50 shocks
the negative effects of stress. a day thinks it’s on vacation. Things are not so bad.
Predictive information about a stressor is helpful. It shows none of the effects of stress and no ulcers
A ten-second warning bell or light before the shock is or other symptoms develop. The other rat, treated
another way to alter the conditions and prevent much better before, gradually develops an allostatic
ulcers. But be careful. Information is only useful if it load and ulcers. Maybe it thinks, “This will never end.
is timely and gives us the opportunity to make a Things will never change.” How we relate to a stres-
choice. It is like the old question, “Do you want the sor is ultimately an individual matter. The stressful
good news first or the bad news?” Would you really event plus the individual interpretation mediates the
want to know about something bad that will happen reaction and determines the final impact.
to you? A lot of people prefer not to know their diag- Social interaction is another key way to reduce the
nosis or their chances in the face of death. Is this effects of stress. If we take our stressed rat and sim-
called denial or good coping skills? It doesn’t help to ply add another rat to the cage that is not so stressed,
hear about a problem that is common or expected, touching and grooming each other ensues. The result
like heavy traffic on your route to work or that you is no ulcers. Never underestimate the power of a sim-
weigh too much—again. Bad news about something ple touch.
rare, too far in the future, or out of our control can


Breathing Life, Openness and Resilience negative energy, it spills out in negative coping behaviors, ill-
into our Social Reality ness, depression, and sometimes riots and aggression in their
One of the great stressors that Yogi Bhajan identified was the own neighborhoods, businesses and schools. Support is often
tension between the “have’s” and “have-not’s,” especially as more available for the rich, as is the time to pursue it. But a
we transition into the Aquarian Age. Scarcity of resources, strong community with shared spiritual values is a powerful
increases in population, and inequalities in wealth, power and deterrent to stress, though they can never make up for the lack
access to services will become extreme; stress will become seri- of resources or access to health care and education.
ous and deadly. When we look at the entire globe at this point Yogi Bhajan acted as the Sikh Guru’s did: he shared with all
there is more wealth than ever before! But along with the wide- and gave equal status to all who came to him. His living room
spread global economic opportunity, there is an equally would have young students, professors, congressman, business
extreme polarization of resources within each country. From leaders, couples in crisis and visiting teachers. The smart and
the walled cities of millionaires in Russia to the secured zones the not-so-smart,, the rich and the poor, the educated and the
of Abu Dhabi to the gated communities of Southern California, self-made, the young and the old, all sat together. All were fed
those with great wealth actively seal themselves away from the same meals, just as the Gurus had asked everyone to sit
those of lesser means. They insulate themselves, and grow out and eat the same food, regardless of caste or religion. He did
of touch with the realities of the world; their perspective grow- this from love and it gave face and grace to all. It removed the
ing more warped and distorted the longer they ‘protect’ them- have and have-not mentality that pervades our culture, which
selves and their wealth. The surprising fact is that there is only sits in the back of our subconscious judging our worth. This
a weak correlation between the objective level of poverty or radical social statement is a powerful shield against stress and
social status and stress-related illnesses. One would expect ill- breathes life and openness and resilience to everyone. It is the
ness levels to be even and predictable until you reach a certain lifeblood of a great healing community, a true sangat.
level of income and then have them drop off. But this is not If you feel you have a low rank or that you aren’t valued,
the case. There are characteristic illnesses at every level of then you are stressed without any real stressor even being pres-
income. Some countries with great access to health care, such ent. Perhaps this was one of the most outrageous, brilliant and
as Sweden, do no better than a country with very poor access healing aspects of the Sikh Gurus. By directing everyone to
to health care, like the United States. wear a turban in the royal form, everyone was elevated to the
It turns out that the most important factor in relation to status of a King or Queen. The message being: You are royal-
income and wealth is not the actual bank balance but instead ty, so show it in your life, your dress, and your self-respect. No
our subjective sense of economic or social status. Our stress stress could touch them, even in the face of torture and war.
comes from who we compare ourselves to, not from our
absolute level. So, for example, two executives are highly Courage, Curiosity, and Will
stressed when their bonus is 15 million instead of 16 million The final thing to note about hardiness is that the individual
because their colleagues got bonuses of 17 million. Yet a per- personality and its accompanying attitudes are stronger than all
son who has a yearly salary of less than $40,000 is perfectly the other factors put together. You can be rich with a high
happy with a $500 bonus because it’s the same as their col- social rank and widespread recognition and still lack the qual-
league received. ities you need to avoid illness, depression, or reactivity. If you
How we perceive our circumstances is more important than have courage, curiosity and the will you can exert yourself
the circumstances themselves. The feeling of being poor against the odds, you are better off. In competition, if some-
impoverishes us in more ways than just our monthly budget— one becomes passive or concedes to an aggressor, their corti-
it affects our health and sense of well-being. We decide we are sol levels are twice as high as those who accept the challenge
poor according to what we are told by friends, co-workers and or fight. If you do compete, it is important to know the results;
the media. When the have-not’s stew in the poisonous com- because it’s much more stressful to not know: Did you meet
bination of envy, anger and stress, with no direct outlet for that your goal or not? Did you win or lose? Were your actions


meaningful and valuable in reaching your goal—or not? If you Theatre of Character
do lose a challenge, then how you cope with the loss is criti- and Commotions
cal in determining your allopathic load. In addition to these 75 minutes
critical core attitudes and beliefs that contribute to hardiness
and resilience, we should be aware that several other factors In each course, we want to embody our learning experience so
contribute to our vitality under stress. Here is a short list of the that what we discover will be more available to us in our daily
key factors that we can recognize and test: lives. It’s also an opportunity to share our insights, wisdom
4 Virtues: courage, optimism, altruism, kindness, compas- and humor with each other.
sion, commitment To do that, organize your selves into small groups and pre-
4 Values: strong moral compass, nobility, dignity pare to present skits. Each skit should inform, enlighten, enter-
4 A Sense of Your Life Mission or Destiny: purposeful, tain and provoke us. Depending on the number of participants
meaning-filled life, dharma and your time constraints, design each skit to last 3–5 minutes.
4 Social Network: connectedness, belonging, participation,
sangat Each skit should establish a context: pick a focus or theme and
4 Faith: spiritual path, self-discipline, sadhana take us through an exploration, elaboration or solution to some
4 Role Models: teachers, leaders, gurus aspect of the topics we have covered—emotions, hardiness and
4 Humor: flexible perspectives, able to laugh at themselves coping mechanisms. Show us a practical example of living
4 Training: meditation, awareness, applied intelligence, reg- vitality and its challenges.
ular practice of the principles of vitality
Here are examples of themes and questions your group may
Small Group Discussion use:
30 minutes [Facilitators: Make sure that topics are not duplicated within
Discuss your experience of using courage to face your emo- the groups.]
tions and fears.
4What has worked in making courage a conscious and con- Three commotions and one character go shopping
sistent attitude in approaching life and its challenges, as How an emotion became a commotion which became
opposed to an intermittent effort? a story told to all
4What do you do as teachers to give status and grace to
How my terrible childhood became my strength
everyone you serve?
4Is there an area of your life where hardiness plays a great
Hiding from stress and all the rest
role? Is there another area where it doesn’t? What is different The secret to innocence
about that particular stressor? How does your assessment of How I lost it, found it and gave it away
yourself or the situation differ from where you are able to call Surfing through an emotional tsunami
upon the qualities associated with hardiness? What could
How my soul graduated “cum ananda”
you change in order to master that problematic area?
4What problems do you foresee teachers developing in
Reversing my subconscious reverse personality
relationship to their students or to their spiritual ego if Or make up your own
they’ve never mastered these attitudes?
4What is the best way to lower your social stress? What
inner belief would help you be stress free and victorious?
4Share some challenge that you experienced, which started
out as a threat but then changed into an opportunity
because of the way you handled it. How did you do that?


The Mastery and Mystery of life

Sometimes we do not understand why things happen. We are As Yogi Bhajan has said,
perplexed, confused and helpless. Because we look outside our
Self to understand what is happening, we react to our impuls- “When you are a baby, you have to crawl; when you are a
es, fears and emotions and fail to recognize that we conceived child you have to grow and ask questions; when you are adult
it, created it, in our own minds. Each breath and each word you have to feel, sense and understand; when you are mature
and each thought is a communication between our known and you have to experience, believe and consciously conceive your
our unknown. In that polarity we can be human; we can concept; when you are ripe in age you must have a mind that
become consciously conscious. But until we master that polar- is free and fearless and that understands your identity as a
ity, we need to believe in miracles. We need proof of the human being.”
“You who believe in miracles do not trust God. You want Our entire life is ruled by our mental framing and our experi-
to see something for proof. But those who see God, they do not ence of our Self within our self. We can change our circum-
see anything in miracles. God is and the greatest miracle of all stances only when we create the circumstance within our con-
miracles is that God is. . . . This is the consciousness that Guru sciousness—to be still and to conceive—our Self.
Nanak called Ang Sang Wahe Guru.” In the state of shuniya, we can focus our entire mental pro-
When we do not apply our consciousness and see beyond jection on a single, clear thought and intention. If that thought
the dominating polarities of the moment, life is confusing. Our and intention acknowledges our self, our higher Self and the
ego cannot accept what is. A teacher can tell us directly what Creator within us, no amount of stress can sway us or become
our accomplishments are, what our blessings are, and what an obstacle in our path. We not only cope, we thrive.
our destiny is; but the ego gets in our way, refusing to under-
stand or surrender to our born identity. That is why most peo- “There is no miracle. The mind is infinite when it concen-
ple run from a teacher into the arms of the preacher, the one trates the magnetic energy of the psyche. There are only two
who may not be able to show them their destiny but will speak things: energy and matter. Any composition, permutation of
to them in soothing tones that please and entangle the ego. any energy into matter and matter into energy can be caused
The ego hangs onto the thinning thread of its existence. It is by a disciplined mental concentration. That mental concentra-
the greatest maya in the spiritual world. tion is in you, it is not outside.”
We need a discipline, a condition of the spirit that does
not cater to the ego. We need to cultivate neutrality in the Invoking a Meditative State
state of shuniya in order to go beyond our automatic conflicts The following meditation creates a discipline for the mind to
generated by ego; expectations and fear need to give way to enter shuniya. It uses the breath to stop the reactive impulse-
the innocence and acceptance of each moment as a revelation driven thoughts and feelings. It grabs the moment-by-moment
of our Being, as a gift of God. In that relaxed embrace, life can function of the pituitary and hypothalamus and stills it. It syn-
become practical and we become co-creative with God, the chronizes the clockwise and counterclockwise spins of the
biorhythmic pulse of the Universe—Shiva dancing—the Sixth Chakra to the reality of the moment, not your emotion-
entrancing, pleasing, endless spectacle that spans timeless and al intrigues. This creates a condition in which you can be still
beginningless space. and initiate an intention; you can concentrate your aura and
When we enter into the state of shuniya, whether by flow of thoughts to generate new behaviors; you can pierce
blessing, or command of a teacher or our own practice, we beyond the veil of habits that lock you into a repetitive, inflex-
become stress free. We must attain this state as we mature. ible groove.


From the Shuniya Mysteries Series

Yogi Bhajan • February 26, 1979

Sit in Easy Pose with a straight spine.

MUDRA: Make a solid fist of the right hand and raise it up to

shoulder level with the forearm parallel to the spine. Raise the
left hand up until the wrist is at shoulder level and the forearm
is parallel to the spine. Bend the wrist so that the palm faces
upward and the fingers point to the left. The fingers are straight
and the palm is flat.
Consciously hold the hand positions. The left hand will want
to move from its position, but keep it steady.
“Honest effort will bring the best results in experience.”

EYES: Look at the tip of the nose.

BREATH: Inhale deeply in a long, slow, complete manner.

Completely exhale with the same kind of conscious, controlled
breath. Hold the breath out to your maximum; when you can no
longer hold the breath out without straining, inhale deeply.
Continue this breath pattern.

TIME: Begin with 11 minutes and slowly and gradually build up

to a maximum of 31 minutes.

TO FINISH: Rapidly inhale and exhale twice (2 seconds inhale, 2

seconds exhale) and then inhale, hold the breath in for 10 sec-
onds, and stretch both hands up and tighten the body. Exhale
and relax.

Kundalini Yoga is a systematic method of glandular control

through which the pituitary’s relationship with consciousness is
stimulated to invoke a meditative state in us. “Just experience this
meditation. It affects the pituitary and glandular system and its
impulsation of clockwise and anti-clockwise spin.”


The mind and emotions will keep repeating unless inter- Your Stress Backpack
rupted. The stress you generate with each thought, even sub- Meditation No. 3
consciously, narrows and binds you to a reactive pattern. This As we transition to the new global age, the stress the entire
meditation helps you to gain mastery over your experience and planet will be under will upset the rhythms of the brain. The
breaks through the mystery of why things happen to you. It left and right hemispheres work together. One acts as the sub-
gives you strength and the ability to engage openly in the chal- tle hemisphere, holding the context of a thought, maintaining
lenges of life so they become opportunities, markers along the the thought projection as the environments change, and fore-
way to expressing your soul’s true purpose. Stop rejecting life warning you of danger or blocks. The other hemisphere acts as
out of fear and begin to see how the Infinite reveals Itself to the active hemisphere, dealing with the details and actions
you in each moment, each relationship, and each word. around that thought. The two hemispheres interconnect and
coordinate. They can exchange functions between them as
they co-cycle. The hemisphere dominance changes with the
breath as it flows through the nostrils, the time of day, and the
particular challenge you face. If this crisscross of messages and
functions is disturbed, you become confused, irritated and
impulsive. If it lasts long enough, you enter a gray period and
feel disconnected or empty.
Whenever there is a major shift in the Age and environ-
ments (like a swing of magnetic poles or a shift of the axis),
we enter a massive gray period. People become crazy and do
not know how to handle themselves. This happened at the rise
of the great Chinese civilization and before the time of
The next meditation prevents this tidal wave of stress from
overcoming you. It requires precise angles of the hand and the
eyes, which are relaxed but slightly open (without a focus on
the tip of the nose). It is said to be very cozy and it expands
your mental horizons, improves your intelligence and increas-
es your capacity for effective action under pressure.


Yogi Bhajan • September 29, 1975

Sit with a straight spine.

MUDRA: Hold the right hand at ear level with the thumb tip and
ring finger touching (fingernails don’t touch). Place the left hand
in the lap with the thumb tip and the little finger touching.
Females reverse the position: The left hand has thumb and ring
finger touching with the hand at ear level, and the right hand is in
the lap with the thumb and little finger touching.

EYES: The eyes are one-tenth open.

BREATH: Breathe long and deep with a relaxed, rhythmic breath.

TO END: Inhale deeply, open the fingers, raise the hands and shake
them rapidly for several minutes. Then relax.

TIME: You can practice this meditation anywhere, starting with 11

minutes and working up to 31 minutes.

COMMENTS: Practice this meditation to gain a calm mind and

strong nerves. It will help protect you from irrationality.







perpetual, preventive habits

Today we honor Yogi Bhajan’s approach by remembering to

unwind, relax and take care of our self and each other. We will
look at several of our basic lifestyle habits from the perspec-
tive of stress and vitality. We will practice several techniques,
discuss and share our experiences and deeply relax and reju-
venate together. Balance in our personal, family and work lives
is a central habit we can practice, even in this course.

We will look at the key habits needed to maintain vitality

under stress. We will do a personal profile of our own meth-
ods of de-stressing and we will look at some of the habits we
need to begin cultivating: nutrition, sleep, massage, daily
rhythms, exercise and weight.

Let’s start with a meditation from your Stress Backpack for 11

minutes. Then we will do a check in with your small groups.

Stress can break our basic inner rhythms. The brain depends
on rhythms as do all our organ systems. The meridians move
in rhythm with each other like a series of tidal pools. Our elec-
trical patterns are nothing but synchronized rhythms. When
these get out of ‘synch’, everything seems a little muddled.
Choices are not as clear, we become a bit dim-witted com-
pared to our normal brilliance. This little technique helps you
find answers under abnormal, stressful conditions; it’s espe-
cially helpful when nothing makes sense. Take your fingers for
a stroll and find your path forward.


Yogi Bhajan • September 29, 1975

Sit anywhere, any place.

MUDRA & MOVEMENT: Hold the left hand up as though to clap; then, with the index and middle fingers of the right
hand, slowly and with strong pressure, walk up the center of the left palm to the very tips of the ring and middle
fingers. The left fingers should give in—bend a little under the pressure, and it should hurt. Walk up and down the

EYES: The eyes are one-tenth open.

COMMENTS: This meditation neutralizes the central part of the brain and makes you sharp-witted. It is the answer
to abnormal conditions we don’t understand.


Habits: Building the Good Ones

Kundalini Yogis are not experts in medicine, therapy, or coun- major problems, using intuition, awareness, and conscious
seling. We are experts in yoga, awareness and lifestyle habits effort, is the best approach—never allowing the mole hill to
that increase our vitality, strengthen our nervous system, and become a mountain, This skill is cultivated through habits;
awaken our consciousness. We share techniques that help some conscious and some automatic. All are from our con-
everyone have an experience, one that awakens and fulfills sciousness and are responsive to our basic nature and needs,
them as a human being. Our core approach is to build posi- not just reactions to the circumstances or conditions.
tive, promoting habits. We believe in a gradual, progressive Ultimately it’s up to us to can change our stress level, build
development. Unlike approaches that favor powerful pills or our vitality and be who we truly are—Sat Nam.
the quickest, most intense experiences, we share techniques
that sustain us each day, clearing our body and mind, mind-
fully awakening to the full reality of each moment, and build-
ing our strength and awareness. We use the most humble and
physical of habits, like a cold shower, to the most subtle and
sublime of techniques, like Sodarshan Chakra Kriya.
We begin with our self and end with our self. Each soul
contains the full imprint and nature of god. Beyond any cir-
cumstance, fate, genetic pool, trauma or belief, we can always
find a place of stillness and locate the spirit within us. We can
mount a response to any challenge through our habits. We
can open a way forward and lessen the impact of stress by
calling on our intuition and intelligence to grow and change.
With consistent self-discipline, nurturing self-care, and pro-
gressive practice, we transform the mundane habits of life into
a miraculous combination that heals, protects, awakens and
allows us to enjoy our birthright—to be creative, prosperous
and joyful, or as Yogi Bhajan often said, to be healthy, happy
and holy.
To combat stress, we build perpetual preventive habits:
perpetual because they are always done; and preventive
because it’s easier to maintain than to repair, once the dam-
age has been done. You do not attain a certain level of prac-
tice and then stop. Sadhana is still sadhana— even after you
have mastered it and your Self. Regular exercise is the lan-
guage of the body and it needs your constant attention and
communication in order to maintain its vitality, flexibility, and
responsiveness. Actions always have an effect or conse-
quence—otherwise known as karma. So we need to either pre-
vent the damage in the first place or cultivate habits that
restore and balance us. Life, even when lived with mastery,
still creates polarities and stress; it always will. So preventing


Exercises and Stress Reduction

Regular daily exercise is a central tenet of yoga and a corner- injured—we can lose up to 1/3 of our muscle mass in just a
stone of our perpetual, preventive habits. Exercise reduces the few weeks from inactivity. If we give the body the message
impact of stress, protects our system against stress, and releas- that something is no longer needed, it complies quickly, saves
es a cascade of beneficial effects on our nerves, glands and energy and reshapes our cells. The body is equally responsive
muscles. It also counters depression and weak immune to being built back up; but the effects are slightly slower
responses. Some people are strongly drawn to exercise but because we have to convince our cells we want to increase
most are not. Statistics show that only 30% of people exer- our energy output and build the tissues to support that effort.
cise regularly and only 5% daily. Yet it is the constant move- Lack of physical exercise and in particular the sedentary
ment of all our muscles and the development of our nervous lifestyle is now tied to over 20 major chronic diseases and sev-
system that allows us to enjoy life, to feel alive. Constant eral mood disorders from depression to anxiety. We don’t
physical activity embodies us—puts us on the earth—and think well if we don’t exercise. Without that foundation, we
allows us to become profoundly still and connect to the heav- don’t have access to sharp cognition, clear senses and good
ens. The familiar phrase “use it or lose it” is actually a gross memory. Without exercise we become tamasic and clouded,
understatement. Activity reshapes us rapidly and continuous- which creates a vicious spiral of inactivity. A recent study by
ly. Our muscles, nerves and genetic expression change every the Centers for Disease Control identified physical inactivity as
minute, hour and day, with our movement and interaction in the number two cause of death in the USA:
the world. When we cease physical activity—say we’ve been

Figure E.1 Causes of Death in the United States


TV Nation Amsterdam to Telluride—that provide walking and cycling

Perhaps this is obvious when we consider our lifestyle paths through the city. These cities and towns have less
changes and the modern Western diet: we move less, drive stress-related illnesses and some speculate, more civility.
more, do less physical labor, sleep less, eat more refined foods Perhaps this shift explains why even a century ago we
and sugars, and watch tTVs, ipods or computer monitors a rarely saw Type II Diabetes—“adult onset diabetes”—in any-
large part of our day. If we look just at the average viewing of one under 40 years of age. Now we regularly see 10 year olds
TV over the past several decades we have a snapshot of how with this syndrome. Lifestyle and physical activity are criti-
much time we spend in sedentary pursuits versus exercise. cal to how we are designed to function as a human being.
Add to this that a primary activity along with TV, especially So, the choice is to sit and watch or to move and participate.
in younger children, is snacking, and we have a lifestyle prob- Yogi Bhajan warned us not to forget that we are basically
lem. The average yoga student is not insulated from this envi- just human beings. No matter what status, money and recog-
ronment either. Most of us confront it on a daily basis. nition we may earn, we still need to exercise, clean our sub-
In 1950, only 10% of households in the United States had conscious, and use conscious communication in our relation-
a TV. Now more than 98% have at least one and most have ships. In forgetting to care for these basics, we act less than
more than one. This doesn’t take into account the flood of human and create a great deal of unnecessary pain and suf-
computer monitors and hand held video devices. Viewing fering. That is why he would say that the Guru loves the dis-
time has increased almost linearly according to this 2005 cipline of the disciple more than the disciple. It is that self-
annual review of public health paper by Brownson (seen in discipline that lets you be who you really are.
Figure E.2), which means an average increase of 36 minutes We have adapted and grown as a human species and con-
every decade. tinue to do so. Much of our physical structure evolved in the
Urban planning—or the lack of it—compounds the prob- lifestyle of the “hunter-gatherer”, not the “sedentary pur-
lem. Most cities are made for cars, not for walking or exer- chaser”. Scientists estimate that the average hunter-gatherer
cise. It is hard to find safe, accessible places to walk or ride lifestyle expended about 1,000 calories per day in physical
a bike in most cities—even more so in rural areas. With many activity, while consuming about 3,000 calories per day—a
megacities topping 10-20 million residents, this is a signifi- ratio of 3:1. Today, the typical sedentary person consumes
cant factor that takes conscious lifestyle planning and com- about 2,400 calories per day but expends only 300 in physi-
mitment to overcome. Globally there are many cities—from cal activity—an 8:1 ratio. So even though we have reduced our
caloric intake, we burn a significantly smaller proportion of it
in daily physical exercise. Walking for at least 30-60 minutes
every day is recommended because it moves us just a little
closer toward the lifestyle we are engineered for—and a little
further away from the “couch potato” many of us can
become—without making a real effort.

The More Stress, the More we Need to Move

The more stress we are under, the more we need to move.
Yogi Bhajan would confront a class by calling them “undevel-
oped humans.” He was referring to our musculature as much
as our minds or emotional intelligence. He emphasized the
need for a wide range of exercises. Variety was critical to
developing the many muscle groups. We have about 640
muscles in the body. They form a communicative matrix that
Figure E.2 Average Hours of TV Consumption in the United States


creates changes from the molecular level all the way to the and maintain our vitality in the face of stress.
higher mind functions. He pointed out 14 triangles of mus- He said we could beat stress and slow any decline over
cles that work together and allow the chakras and meridians the years if only we would cultivate vigorous regular activity:
to function properly. In consecutive summers in the early
1990s, he gave long series of kriyas he called “PT” for physi- “That's why they say ‘down the hill at forty.’ Actually it’s
cal training. Like an army commander he would line up the not true. There is no down the hill necessary. But our lifestyle
troops and put his students through exercises designed to can take us down the hill. That is what we should avoid.
work all the muscle groups and to tap the more subtle And the best act of the prophets and the sages is that ‘If you
aspects of the body through the nerves and glands. want to stop any negative thing, stop when you are young.’
Sometimes in our focus on chakras and meridians, subtlety By the time you reach old age, when you have lost all your
and awareness, we forget the foundation—the muscles. teeth, like a bloody wolf, and you say you are vegetarian, it's
His basic guideline for exercise was regular, varied, relax- useless. Your body will wrinkle and fail one day because you
ation proportionate to the challenge, not overdone or under- don't exercise properly. You will have problems. Even I, who
done, expertly practiced, and developed gradually over time. knew everything, when I started traveling too much, everyday
Over the years he revealed how a single finger tap could acti- in the plane, the radiation and stress at thirty three thousand
vate specific pathways and glands and how major movements feet affected the body, and took the toll. It's not that you can
cleansed and strengthened various organs. Small and large escape the high cost of the extremes.
movements were orchestrated in the kriyas to shape our body “Your body is made to walk optimally at four miles an
and mind and communicate to the body and the spirit, hour. The best exercise in the world is that one. If you can
beyond just movement itself. do five miles in fifty-five minutes, an eleven minute mile, there
Exercise for a Kundalini Yogi has rhythm, duration, is no exercise on the planet like this! If you can build your-
sequence and style, poetry and power, coordination and con- self to a standard of an eleven minute mile, there is no way
sciousness, breath and being. Increasing sedentary lifestyles that God shall not ask you: Hey you want to come home
may be a major contributing factor to our vulnerability to when you say ‘yes,’ go otherwise you say ‘no.’ You say, ‘okay
stress, the development of metabolic syndromes and mood thank you.’ That is the most positively stimulating exercise in
disorders. . Exercise approaches to relieve depressions, anxi- the world. Brisk walk they call it. No jumping, no humping,
ety and impaired weight regulation recognize this connection no huffing, coughing and nothing.
between movement, mood, and metabolism. “In the Sikh scripture, it's called Charan Japa. On the left
In his physical training courses, he stressed that sitting to foot, they say “Sat Nam”, on the right foot, they say “Wahe
meditate for an hour or more in the morning and doing a tar- Guru” and they walk briskly. I have trained people to do
geted kriya was not enough. We were designed to walk and that. People get into ecstasy! It's a Japa which is done by
move throughout the day. He said we should walk at least 3 the feet. Normally two people can do it as well. If husband
to 5 miles a day in addition to a morning practice. (And if and wife can do this while holding their hands, you cannot
we’re really honest with ourselves, we often skimp on doing separate them. . . . If a person is engaged to somebody, he
the challenging kriyas during sadhana.) He encouraged walk- should be engaged about for one year and they should do
ing meditation—Charan Jaap and Breathwalk®—as core prac- Charan Japa every day. If they don't, we should dismiss the
tices for a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps this is one reason he engagement! (laughter) It's so essential in life. . . . You do not
called his Breathwalk® techniques the “ultimate fitness pro- know what you are getting into. Find it out. If a man and a
gram for the Aquarian Age.” We will need regular, vigorous woman, at any age of up to thirty-one or to thirty-six year old
walking incorporated into our lives in order to deal with the cannot walk five miles [at an eleven minute pace], they are
overwhelming levels of stress we will face. We will still need not fit human beings. Older can be slower. That's according
meditation and focused kriyas, but walking is our best foot to Charan Japa Kriya, and it's as old as three thousand years!
forward in a powerful, positive 3HO lifestyle to combat stress It says:- ‘The human who cannot keep his breath constant


and consistent in this timing, he is not a human.’ This they diseases like heart attacks and lungs problem and all those
said three thousand years ago! They did not say it today. It kind of things because they do not exercise enough. Don’t
was obligatory all men will walk.” make them to live in the cage and develop that way.”
-Yogi Bhajan, July 6, 1993 –Yogi Bhajan, June 24, 1980

When you add conscious breathing to the charan jap, as in Exercise for health and stress was a foundation principal with-
Breathwalk®, you can get the full powerful effect from 3.5 to in all that Yogi Bhajan taught. He made it a central tenet in
4.5 miles per hour and adjust the walk for your age, goal and his vision of a compassionate, spiritual family of humanity—
condition. No equipment, no gym necessary, just a priority to 3HO—he defined its most basic nature in terms of exercise
combat stress and practice basic human maintenance. and awareness:
Yoga is growing in popularity because it serves multiple
“We call it 3HO, an organization of healthy, happy and holy
motivations: general health, stress reduction, personal
people. It has no membership charge, no presidents, and at
growth, spiritual connection and good fellowship. Kundalini
this point not even a secretary. Anybody can be a member
Yoga’s wide range of exercises, depth of meditation and
who will promise that he shall undertake to practice these
strongly integrated spirituality make it stand out, even in
exercises, and to practice to breathe consciously. Be aware
today’s wide spectrum of available practices. Increasingly peo-
that the breath is the divine charge and it is a gift of the God…
ple are attracted to the range of exercises in the kriyas and
. . . Remember you cannot breathe by your freewill. And you
the confrontation of the Self within the self. Exercise for us
do not know when breath is going to stop. Therefore it is the
is a scientific and poetic language of the body that entrances
only one physical thing which is a gift to you, to take advan-
the mind and serves the spirit. He told us to make it a nor-
tage of this gift with your exercises, to draw power out of it
mal obligation, not something that will make you superhu-
and to circulate it in the body. Make your body beautiful,
man or special.
make your personality sweet and fine. That practice is the
“Yoga is not going to make you great. Yoga is going to make secret . . . . Books and beautiful scriptures are there to guide
you, you! You don't understand. You are not you all the time. you, but to attain permanent advantage out of the knowledge
. . . If you take a car to be serviced it's not going to make you have to put it into your life practically.”
the car great just because the car needs servicing. . . . If you –Yogi Bhajan, April 25, 1969

won't tune up your car, your engine will blow up, or some-
thing else will go wrong, then there could be a serious acci- Yogi Bhajan recommended moderate regular exercise to com-
dent… . . . Oil is changed so that engine can last longer, bat stress. This is backed up by contemporary studies that
things go better. You understand all that? So I eat simple show an inverted “U” curve describing the benefits and anti-
meals.You eat simple meals your health will be better. If you stress effects of exercise in proportion to its intensity and
do a lot of regular exercises you will be healthy. If you med- duration. Apparently intensive exercise, which is relative to
itate, you'll be mentally strong. I still do Breath of Fire every the condition of the person, is a stressor itself. Patience,
day after 20 years teaching you—then you'll not be handi- practice and persistence are the ingredients of anti-stress exer-
capped in dealing with any adversity.” cising. He specifically warned that we could over-exercise or
–Yogi Bhajan, September 20, 1988
focus our exercise too narrowly. The body is delicate, refined
and even the smallest nerve bundle is affected by use or
He wanted us to start the exercise habit early in our life and nonuse within specific exercises; so he shared an incredible
in our families: range of exercises: from still postures, to rhythmical dancing,
to chaotic movements, to choreographed musical mudras, to
“Let your children do enough regular exercise; it is being esti- virtuoso kriyas that meld postures, movement and meditation
mated in America that thirty percent of children are getting in a divine elixir of awareness, vitality and elevation.


In his youth, he was a competitive athlete as well as a Small Group Discussion:

master yogi. He openly shared the successes and tribulations Your Experience with
of his youthful contests, Exercise and Stress
“At one time I wanted to compete in Mr. International. I 45 minutes
exercised about 12-14 hours a day. But unfortunately I did
not take the proper food with it. My trainer from Indonesia Remember that many of the symptoms of stress build slow-
did not have any sense how to give the right food for that ly; they cook you like the proverbial frog in the pot. By the
level of exercise. So my body became so stiff that once I just time the water is hot, it’s too late to jump. Stress lowers your
said, “Hey,” and the hand got stuck like this and the muscle good judgment and masks many of its effects as it narrows
won't repulse. . . . It took the doctors putting weight on it your focus to what you think you should do—not necessarily
and all that, it was terrible. I lost that contest by just a small what’s best.
margin. So over-exercising is not very healthy thing. Take it Exercise and taking care of the gift that is this body, mind
seriously; neither not exercising nor over-exercising is and life is one of our founding values. Still, it is a struggle for
healthy… . . . One wrong exercise can totally take you off. many of us and certainly for our students. As Yogi Bhajan
As today one little exercise took my whole neck out. But it says, we do not see our self or the facts. We react emotion-
was an exercise and I wanted to do it definitely. ally to stress and base our actions on what we like or don’t
like—not on who we really are. We are all immersed in obli-
“So exercise with a very cautious and very delicate mind. gation, relationships and work, which provide us no end to
Exercise intelligently . . . you know some people start jogging, rationalizations, beliefs, excuses and misperceptions that take
and like idiots they just keep running, keep running, and ulti- exercise out of the equation, especially as a first response to
mately they built up one muscle and others are lost. Some stress.
people don’t exercise everything; they just work a routine, and Stress activates our stress personality, our subconscious
develop one area. . . . You must understand, your mental self habits and our emotional conflicts and needs. These play out
cannot be fresh and unique if all structures are not exercised— in the way we feel about, practice and perceive how much we
and especially the glands. You know all these aerobics, and actually move, exercise and use yoga and walking to stay vital
dance you do, if they do not exercise your glands and your and maintain our vitality. Perhaps you are one of the lucky
basic situation in you, you are not really exercised. ones; you have a personality that seeks exercise, movement,
–Yogi Bhajan, July 6, 1984 and exploration. Or, perhaps you’ve just made it a priority.
Whatever your gifts, you need to know how to guide your
So he taught us kriyas and styles of exercise from every behavior and habits to counter stress and have understanding
source of Kundalini Yoga to insure a full spectrum of variety and compassion for all those who struggle in different ways
and a master tool box of specificity. These kriyas build vital- with this first and primary goal of our 3HO way of life.
ity, refine our nervous system and support our ability to act
and heal with awareness and intuition. Take some time to discuss these questions and observations
Your own experience and that of your students is the on how stress affects your exercise and how exercise affects
most convincing support for the power of Kundalini Yoga to your stress:
combat stress and make you feel fully alive. New research 4 When you are stressed, how does that change your
tools, especially in molecular biology, are giving us more exercise habits?
glimpses into the scope of changes that generate our sensa-
tions and experience. 4 When you exercise either in the day or in sadhana,
how does that affect your stress and energy?


Science Box: but has been best-studied in the hippocampus. Exercise reduces
Genetic Expression & Exercise peripheral risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovas-
cular disease, which converge to cause brain dysfunction and neu-
An area you may find interesting as yogis is the research that can rodegeneration. A common mechanism underlying the central and
trace the genetic expressions that accompany exercise. There are at peripheral effects of exercise might be related to inflammation,
least 700 genes that we know of that express themselves as we which can impair growth factor signaling both systemically and in
exercise. They do their work to change muscles, nerves, glands and the brain. Thus, through regulation of growth factors and reduction
circulation in waves. The first wave of genes are called “stress of peripheral and central risk factors, exercise ensures successful
response” genes and start in the first few minutes of exercise and brain function.” (Abstract from “Exercise builds brain health”,
peak around 31 minutes. They represent a generalized stress Cotman, Berchtold and Christie, Trends in Neurosciences Vol 30:9,
response in every cell and give us many of the benefits of hermet- 2007)
ic or small dose stressors that we talked about earlier. They are part “Given the aging populations in many countries throughout the
of the healing response that maintains allostasis. A second wave world, there is an increasing interest in lifestyle factors and inter-
starts somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes of exercise and are ventions that will enhance the cognitive vitality of older adults and
called “metabolic priority” genes. These help with shifts that occur reduce the risk for age-related neurological disorders, such as
in blood glucose, protein use and other metabolic processes that Alzheimer’s disease. We critically review three separate literatures
change as you continue to exercise. As the body’s resources are that have examined the influence of physical activity and exercise
mobilized, there is more support and change needed. These con- on cognition, brain function and brain structure of adults, includ-
tinue for several hours as you repair and return to normal after ing epidemiological or prospective observational studies, random-
about 4-24 hours, depending on how much exercise and what your ized human clinical interventions and non-human animal studies.
baseline fitness is. A third wave of genes trigger more changes start- This literature supports the claim that physical activity enhances
ing at about 31 minutes but continue for the long term to help you cognitive and brain function, and protects against the development
adapt to your challenges. These “metabolic/mitochondrial enzyme” of neurodegenerative diseases… and conclude that physical activity
genes create proteins that regulate how we convert food to energy. is an inexpensive treatment that could have substantial preventative
They arise slowly and last a long time. This is why even a single and restorative properties for cognitive and brain function.”
bout of steady exercise in the morning can change your metabo- (Abstract from “Capitalizing on cortical plasticity: influence of
lism all day and may contribute to the fact that a single exercise physical activity on cognition and brain function” , Kramer and
session can shift how glucose is handled afterwards, as well as low- Erickson, Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol 11: 8, 2007)
ering insulin resistance. The benefits are immediate. This graph We encourage you to explore the vast literature on the bene-
shows the effect visually (from research by Booth and Neufer, fits of exercise and yoga to combat stress and build your vitality.
American Science, Jan 2005) But most of all we want you to look at your own practice and
Many refined experiments on exercise and stress have docu- assess what you are doing right and what you could be doing bet-
mented its effects on the basic neural wiring in our hypothalamus ter.
and other areas. The neuroplastic reshaping of our nervous system
is what makes us so responsive, alive and full of healing capacity.
Here are two quotes from recent studies that show you the effects
we can now prove:
“Human and other animal studies demonstrate that exercise
targets many aspects of brain function and has broad effects on
overall brain health. The benefits of exercise have been best defined
for learning and memory, protection from neurodegeneration and
alleviation of depression, particularly in elderly populations. Exercise
increases synaptic plasticity by directly affecting synaptic structure
and potentiating synaptic strength, and by strengthening the under-
lying systems that support plasticity including neurogenesis, metab-
olism and vascular function. Such exercise-induced structural and
Figure E.3 Gene Expression and Exercise
functional change has been documented in various brain regions


4 When you are in a stressful mood—up or down—

is it easier to exercise for balance or harder? Why?

4 What are your top three most common reasons to not

exercise? Name the three that you most often listen or
concede to.

4 What are the most common challenges for your

students who want to exercise more?

4 How does your perception and feeling about your own

body affect your discipline or lack of discipline around
exercise? Does it matter if you are alone, in a group or
in public?

4 What is the secret to your success?

4 What attitude, feeling or circumstance is most difficult

for you to honestly face and make changes to? What
wisdom can others share about this?

Now let’s exercise and drop some stress!


Yogi Bhajan • March 25 1987

1 a&b
1. Sit on your heels, arms stretched out in front,
right hand over left, thumbs locked. Lean the
torso forward, arms straight and stretching from
the shoulders. Put out your tongue and do Breath
of Fire through the open mouth. 3 minutes.
This breath adds strength to your nervous system.

2. Sit in Crow Pose and stretch your arms up and

out at a 60 degree angle. Begin clapping your
hands rapidly over your head as fast as you can,
moving the entire arm from the shoulder. 30 sec- 2 a, b & c
onds. Then continue the motion, but instead of
clapping, criss-cross the arms without touching.
2-1/2 minutes.
This gives the mind basic strength and balances
the nervous system.

3. Lie flat on your back, raise legs up to 90

degrees and begin criss-crossing the legs as fast
as possible. 3 minutes.
This exercise adjusts the Second Chakra and the
sex organs.


4. With hands under the hips, leaning on the elbows, raise legs up
to 60 degrees. 3 minutes.
This exercise can change the grey matter of the brain.

5. Sit in Baby Pose and with your hands pat your lower back rhyth-
mically (the area of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th vertebrae and the kidney
area). Pat with a slow relaxing rhythm. 2-1/2 minutes.

6. Sit in Easy Pose with arms crossed in front of you at chin level,
right arm over left. Straighten the spine, pull in the chin, close your
eyes and chant the shabd Rakhe Rakhanhar, keeping your body 5
absolutely still, no movement. 20 minutes. Consciously use the tip
of our tongue on the upper palate when chanting to stimulate the

7. Lie down in Corpse Pose and relax. (If possible, listen to a gong
meditation). 5 minutes.

TO END: Briefly do cat stretch left and right, raise and lower shoul- 6
ders, roll neck loosely, stretch rib cage, roll digestive area, stretch
hands, wiggle toes, blink, move lips and roll tongue around the front
of the teeth.

Comments: Yoga is a science through which a person can use his

mental, physical, and spiritual being to tap into the Infinity of God.
This set is designed to take away stress so that we can totally enjoy
what we are living for.


meditation and Mindfullness to reduce stress

The perpetual preventive habit we are most familiar with is ers want to decrease their experience of pain from emotional
meditation. Its general benefits are widely known in our com- disturbances or physical challenges. We know that students or
munity: clients who develop a regular meditation practice show signif-
4 Improved focus, concentration, creativity and precision icant improvements in mood, reduction in pain and improved
4 Enhanced quality of communications and relationships self-motivated behaviors.
4 Heightened clarity: intentions, decision-making and reason- The problems arise in the drop-out rates. Several medita-
ing tion clinics that taught relaxation response or mindfulness had
4 Lasting decreases in a variety of stress-related symptoms, drop-out rates between 21% and 60%—40% is common in the
including chronic pain first 8 weeks and increases over time. If people complete a full
4 Significant decreases in anxiety and depression course of training, some of the effects, like anxiety reduction,
4 Improved immune system function have been shown to continue after treatment for at least 3
4 Increased self-awareness, self-trust, and self-acceptance years. In some of the best run programs that focus on screen-
4 More fluid adaptation to change and adoption of effective ing and follow-up, the drop-out rates fall to less than 10%.
coping strategies Of the 40% who do not stick with it, the major reasons
4 Enhanced appreciation of life and sense of meaningfulness reported are lack of time, work pressures, family pressures, con-
4 Increased resilience to change and trauma flict with the nature of the practice and increased awareness of
4 Increased cortical neuron density and right frontal cortex symptoms. People who stayed and developed a practice tend-
activity ed to be more educated, from a higher socio-economic class,
4 Strengthens faith and self-confidence and began with less severe stress and mood symptoms; but
despite these social indicators, success generally came with
Research on Meditation better social support, a clearer introduction and context for the
There has been massive research on the effectiveness of med- practice, and a perception of immediate change.
itation on many measures of stress. On the following page are
some snapshots of common results in research: So here are some questions to lead into our discussion:
Results consistently show the positive benefits of medita- 4 What are ways that can increase the chances of a student
tion and yoga in reducing stress. Most research in the completing a course of study in meditation?
Kundalini Yoga tradition focuses on clinical and public applica- 4 What challenges are experienced by those most in need—
tions. Our Director of Research, Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa is mood disturbances and high levels of stress?
spearheading efforts to generate more research in many differ- 4 What is the proper use of exercise, meditation, mindfulness
ent meditation traditions world-wide. and role modeling for students under high stress?
So the question for discussion here is not whether medita- 4 What is your own experience of meditating when you are
tion provides a benefit, it does; nor whether it is the most prepared and relaxed versus those times when life is putting
effective approach, because it is. Instead let’s have a group dis- you to the test and you are under stress? What is the most
cussion, as teachers, about what actually happens to people accessible practice? What helps the most? What dissuades or
under high stress who decide to use yoga and meditation as a distracts you from using meditation practices?
means of reducing their stress load. What works best? What 4 What advantages does Kundalini Yoga have over more aus-
would you advise them to do if they sought your help? tere sitting approaches to meditation in handling high or
Students come to practice meditation from a variety of dif- chronic stress?
ferent backgrounds and motivations. For some it is a search for
meaning, for others a desire to increase their wellness, still oth-


Meditation and Stress Research Results

Figures M.1 through M.6

Figure M.1 Figure M.2

Figure M.3 Figure M.4

Figure M.4 Figure M.6


Figure M.7


The Master’s Touch:

an experience with yogi bhajan

November 29, 1989


Perhaps the greatest source of stress and pain is simply mak- impersonally, and everything impersonal has to be understood
ing mistakes. Mistakes are often our greatest teachers. After personally. If you can’t do it, you can’t live.” But with this
all, our Negative Mind is our strongest, most instinctual same formula he warns, “All you have to do is [make] one
aspect. When we make a mistake and create pain, then we are mistake and you are done. That’s how life is.”There is a gap.
highly motivated to move away from that pain. If our Positive That gap represents the choice in how to live. Either we act
Mind is active, we do something different, try to change direc- with awareness from our Higher Self in which we recognize
tion. Mistakes can feel like a waste of both energy and time, God and our own Infinity, or we act from our emotions,
and many are not reversible. Opportunity comes to us each attachments and finite identity. You cannot bridge to the
moment. If we do not take the opportunity, act on it effective- Infinite using the finite. You cannot be partly pure or some-
ly, or follow through and deliver on its promise, then we lose what surrendered: you are either committed to your awareness
it, permanently. Sometimes we choose an unfortunate strate- and your spirit or not. You either trust God or not. You either
gy and it costs us physical distress, mental anguish, or status serve or manipulate.
and face. To correct or compensate for a mistake takes many To cross this gap, we need to experience our own effec-
times more effort than not making it in the first place. tiveness. We must know that we are in partnership with our
In this sense, we create our own stress and pain. We have self and our Infinite Self. We often set up false identities: We
not cultivated the habit of using our intuition and intelligence believe we are useless, that our life is in vain, or that we have
together. Intuition lets us know what is what and when to act. failed because we don’t have the love, status, recognition, sex,
Intuition then uses applied intelligence to solve the problems or other things we think we deserve. We need to clear our
and implement the strategy. Intuition creates a synchrony minds, stop reacting to these false pains, cease creating more,
between our finite self and our Infinite Self. Applied intelli- and invoke the power of our spirit. When we do this, we find
gence uses awareness and efficiency to move progressively that we can live in peaceful coexistence with other people and
toward a goal.. within the natural flow of life. We find a measure of accept-
Normally, our actions are motivated by short-term gains, ance heretofore unavailable to us.
or dictated by our commotions from the past or our fears of “We don’t live and let live. We say so; but when you say
the future. As teachers we are at greater risk than anyone ‘Live and let live”, you mean, “leave me alone.” It doesn’t
because our mistakes not only cause us pain but also cause mean that “I am, I am” and “Thou is Thou” and “You are
our students pain. And in the subconscious of the student, a You” so “Let’s have a peace.” There is no peaceful coexis-
teacher is infinite, therefore the repercussions can be great; tence. Without peace of mind there is no peace of heart. We
even shape a lifetime. Yogi Bhajan would drive this responsi- don’t belong to anybody—Buddha, Christ, nobody—we just
bility into us by reminding us that a teacher who is corrupt in belong to fighting.” So we need to pierce the fog of internal
their consciousness and fails to guide their students wisely conflict and emotional pain and act from a place of effective-
comes back, “reincarnates,” as a cockroach. Whether ness, compassion, and shared purpose. Otherwise our pres-
metaphoric or literal, it certainly doesn’t seem like a good idea! ence no longer creates healing, but only stress.
Who wants to be a creature or a consciousness that is uni- This class leads us through a process of rebirthing. We get
versally reviled, lives in the dark, and eats refuse? to touch that place within us that chooses peace; we go
He does give us a guiding formula on how to avoid the beyond our emotional conflicts and stop making the mistakes
mistakes that create spiritual stress as a teacher. He said, “Life that create stress and pain in our lives.
is a drama in which everything personal has to be understood

Yogi Bhajan • October 29, 1989

1. Sit in Easy Pose. Bring the hands palm down in front of 1

you parallel to the ground. Move the hands up and down
alternately as if you are bouncing a ball. . Feel the magnetic
relationship to the ball of energy in the palms of your hands.
Eyes are closed. 1-1/2 minutes.

2. Keep moving the hands and begin breathing through the 2

mouth, create a sound, like a baboon. Baboon Breath. Eyes
are closed. Go inside and make your own rhythm and your
own pattern. 5 minutes.
Get this monkey out of your mind and system. Don’t be shy.
. . This will stimulate the parathyroid . . . and you will burn
up your sick dreams and your memories. By playing that ball.
You will be able to control the psycho-magnetic energy.

3. Continue Baboon Breath and bouncing the hands as you

bring your hands into Buddhi Mudra: Mercury finger touches
the thumb and the other three fingers are straight. Eyes remain
closed. 2 minutes.

4. Make the hands into a fist, with the thumbs inside touch-
ing the Mercury Mound. Bring the arms out to the sides,
straight from the shoulders with the fists facing up.
Vigorously move the fists toward the shoulders, contracting
the bicep. As the fist comes toward the shoulder, resist so
that you don’t actually touch the shoulder. You are stimulat-
ing the heart meridian inside the elbow. Continue a loud
Baboon Breath. 2 1/2 minutes.


5. Inhale deep and bring your hands to your Heart Center, right hand over left. Press hard,
both hands flat, and feel as if you are taking your ribcage inward. Breathe long and deep as
you continue pressing hard. After 1 minute begin to sing along with Adi Shakti by Nirinjan
Kaur. After 1 minute more begin singing from the navel. Move the navel as you sing.
Combine the Third Chakra and the Fifth Chakra. 11 minutes.
TO END: Inhale deeply. Hold for 20 seconds and circulate the breath let it oxygenate the
blood. Exhale. Inhale and repeat. Inhale, hold for 15 seconds as you press the ribcage. Exhale
and relax.

Break: Encourage students to walk around; circulate or go to the restroom.

6. Interlock your fingers above your head. Thumbs can be interlocked or tips touching. The 5
arms must be round—make your own halo.Close your eyes. Pump the navel strongly with
the simple rhythm of the mantra. Concentrate on the navel. Music: Pavan Pavan by Guru
Shabd Singh. 7 minutes. Keeping the mudra steady, begin singing loudly with the mantra.
Move the navel strongly and sing with the tip of the tongue. 7 minutes.
TO END: Inhale deeply, lock the fingers very tightly and pull the arms away from each other.
Hold the breath 20 seconds. Exhale. Repeat 3 more times holding for 15 seconds each time.
We are going to change the serum of the spine many, many times, to reenergize our gray
matter… when you are tense, you are uptight, you are not happy, your life is miserable,
unfulfilled, I am not enough, this is not enough… you must understand our sound is that ‘I
am not enough.’ You understand how much you hurt yourself by saying I am not enough?
Let us test it out.

7. Stretch your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height. Right hand is resting on 6
top of the left hand, palms up, tips of fingers crossed and thumbs stretched away from the
fingers. Don’t let your hands move. Eyes are open and looking straight ahead; don’t blink;
fix your eyes on a single point. [Yogi Bhajan said to fix on the center of his forehead.]
Music: Bountiful, Blissful, Beautiful by Nirinjan Kaur. Sing along with the mantra. Close eyes
and keep singing for 1 minute.
TO END: Inhale deeply. Hold 20 seconds. Exhale. Inhale, hold 15 seconds and release breath
powerfully. Inhale and hold 20 seconds and release breath powerfully. Relax. 11 minutes.

To End: Shake the entire body. This is self acupuncture. Any part you shake will regroup
itself in energy, cells will rebuild, health will return and energy will go where there are blocks.
1 minute.
Note: When you go home drink as much water as you can. Normally with this course we
require 50 to 80 ounces of water from this minute onward. That's the only expectation we 7
have that you drink maximum amount of water you can tonight. And the fact is, if you
drink the amount of water we require, you will get up at night about four times to go to the
bathroom. And that's what is needed. The system has to be force flushed.


Nutrition for Vitality: Food as Prana

There is no other area of our habits that is so essential and tentment in their lives.
fundamental, yet so confusing to most people than food and The yogic ideal is a flexible body and spine, strong nerves,
nutrition. We are learning new things every day. As yogis, we responsive glands and deeply embodied values that are evi-
have a legacy with its roots in the Ayurvedic Tradition, ancient dent in our character. It is not obsessed with thinness. But it
yogic lore and the many recipes tested and shared by Yogi is concerned that whatever your body type, you can move and
Bhajan over his three decades of teaching. master the stresses that you face. Our culture tends to follow
We introduce some basic nutrition and yogic diets in the latest fad or crash from the most recent crusade. We mix
Teacher Training Level One: Foundations and explore the topic fashion, morality and medicine in a strange brew that sows
in greater detail in Level Two: Transformation’s Lifestyles and misunderstanding and prejudice, even in the most sincere and
Lifecycles. Here, we revisit our approach to nutrition with an open teachers.
eye toward stress. Our students come to us in every size and shape. How
When stressed, our body changes and its nutritional needs well do we accept and welcome each one? And once they’re
change, too. When we are stressed we often act differently and in the doors, how do we then encourage them to take on dis-
eat differently. Our stress personality comes forward, front and ciplines and lifestyle changes that will help them combat their
center! Some of us ignore food, some overeat, some under-eat own stresses, especially those that relate to food, weight, and
and some become random puppets of their environments. body image?
Eating habits as well as a positive relationship to food can Obesity is becoming the new tobacco—even to the point
beat back stress, build vitality, increase immunity, and reduce of allowing social prejudice in many places. As the concern
the effects of stress. Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, KRIs Yogaraj for global obesity has risen, so has misunderstanding. Can
Ayurvedic Herbalist, contributed to this portion of the course you be skinny and be a yogi? Can you be fat and be a yogi?
by summarizing and collating many of the practices, perspec- Or is being a yogi more about how you relate to conditions
tives and formulas for food and herbs that combat stress. First, and act with consciousness than your weight or dress size?
let’s review some Ayurvedic principles and approaches as well How do you react to your own shape, weight and condition?
as common terms we will be using from yoga. Included is a Have you ever noticed that throughout history there have
wealth of information on specific foods, herbs, diets and fasts1. been both fat and very skinny yogis? Have you noticed this
As part of changing our relationship to our habits, we will same extreme in healers?
ask you to assess yourself and commit to some of the habits Yogi Bhajan accepted everyone. He had tremendous com-
or techniques in this section that apply to your situation and passion and showed it by welcoming thin people, fat people
that would help you explore new levels of nutritional vitality. and those in-between. He was not one to be confused by
But before we go too deeply into assessing our current habits, form. He wanted people to be free of unnecessary fat and to
there is one other related topic we should touch on: maintain- cultivate the healthy ideal for each person. He saw the health
ing an ideal body weight and muscular composition. We are implications of obesity in men and women and he wanted us
bombarded with warnings about weight—too much, too little. to enjoy our bodies and our strength. He said healthy was the
We are surrounded by industries ready to feed you, starve first and most important word in our slogan: “healthy, happy
you, balance you, staple you, liposuction you, or cut, tuck and and holy.” It is very difficult to enjoy life if illness or poor con-
lift you. In the face of what can seem like a media assault, it ditioning limits your ability to fully participate in life and all
is very difficult to have a mindful and realistic approach, both its gifts.
personally and as a teacher. People come to our classes in
every shape and condition and each of them wants to receive Looking at Weight Problems
a bit of hope, a taste of challenge and go home feeling uplift- Yogi Bhajan suffered through all the complications of diabetes
ed. They all want to experience more control and more con- and its related conditions—heart disease and circulatory prob-


lems. Although it was painful to see him debilitated in his last the same advice was given, “The principal remedies are
years, it was equally inspiring to see how he embraced his ill- scanty, non-nutritive, vegetable, watery foods and strong cor-
ness and continued to deliver consciousness to his students. poreal exercise.” (Hufeland, Textbook of Medicine.)
If weight and Diabetes II were easy to manage or were simply Contemporary advice books and diet gurus give similar direc-
a matter of will power, he would have been the first to con- tion, although many people try to identify magic foods as the
quer it. But it is a much more complex story. Because obesi- culprit or body, blood, or personality type.
ty is such a common condition in contemporary society, we
want to spend a few minutes looking at the facts. We need a Promoting Habits
reality check for some of our basic attitudes as teachers so that But the story is far more complex. Let’s leap to the answers
we can be effective and compassionate with our self and our provided by our yogic tradition. Our approach is to shape our
students. lifestyle first; because until we have promoting habits in place,
What do we usually assume about weight problems and no diet will work. The more effort or willpower you apply, the
the people who struggle with them? There are three primary more you narrow your consciousness in any given moment.
reasons people give concerning weight problems: will power The brain gets blocked. We start to generate gamma waves in
or laziness; lifestyle and environment; and genes. If you had the parietal area of the brain. We become rigid and often see
to guess the most common response, what would you say? In only the immediate picture and not its long-range effects.
most surveys, people respond 60% will power, 25% lifestyle, Regarding our diet, we’ll tend to focus on one nutrient or pro-
and 15% genes. This bias goes along with all the media, diet gram and lose sight of the broader issues of lifestyle and activ-
programs, and weight-loss formulas that we’re exposed to. If ity. A far more effective approach is to relax and broaden our
you look at the research—the facts suggest almost the oppo- attention. Become mindful of our body and our emotions;
site of our cultural biases—the ratios reverse to 5%, 50%, and notice what we eat and how we eat as we eat.
45%, respectively. So, most of us start off with a false prem- In our culture we spend a lot of time hating our body or
ise—that it is just a matter of motivation and willpower. believing that it’s the only measure of our worth. So as we
In recent news we see this blame the victim attitude every- diet, we deplete our attention and positive ego. We fall into
where. In the 2008 US presidential race, Bill Richardson, a our shadow self. That is why about 80-90% of diets fail with-
well-qualified politician and then governor of New Mexico, in two years. There are success stories though: some people
was disparaged by the political pundits: “Bill Richardson has have lost 40-100 lbs and keep it off for more than ten years.
been discounted as a Vice Presidential candidate because he But in most of them, they have given up on dieting. Instead
is overweight and thought to lack discipline.” In another anec- they’ve changed their lifestyle; they’ve changed the way they
dote, a congressman looking at health costs and policy sim- eat: volume changes, frequency changes, time changes, types
ply said to the obese, “Look in the mirror because you are the of food changes, even where they eat, what they do when
one to blame.” In Sweden, a five-year-old girl was removed they eat, and who they eat with may all change. And in
from her family because they could not get her to eat less. San almost every case, their exercise increases, too. The most
Francisco recently proposed fining restaurant owners who let common activity among these successful ‘dieters’ is a full hour
people order calorie-rich food who had a BMI of more than a day, at least, of walking. They re-evaluate their lifestyle and
30! Which supports the complaint of an opera singer, fired for commit to hundreds of small changes, incorporated slowly,
her weight: “This attitude toward heavy people is the last bas- one at a time. Here’s something positive to hang onto in the
tion of open discrimination in our society.” It may not be the midst of the dieting storm: We consume about 1,000,000
last, but it is certainly growing more and more prevalent. calories in a year. Even with all that consumption, somehow
The prescription for obesity has stayed the same for thou- the body usually accounts for the energy balance without
sands of years and works sometimes and fails often. much thought on our part and usually the change in weight
Hippocrates said more than 2,000 years ago, “They should eat is not more than 10 lbs in a decade. So, your body operates
only once a day and walk as long as possible.” In the 1800s at about 99.6% efficiency—that’s a pretty good number.


In other words, your body works amazingly well and con-

sistently, all the time, across every environment— even when Science Box:
you sleep. When we try to count calories, we often need sup- Sleep and its Relationship
port systems in place to even have a chance. Small ‘exceptions’ to Obesity
add up over time—and let’s face it, most of us find it hard to A University of Chicago research team disturbed subjects
keep focused on something that isn’t fun in the first place! while they slept. They monitored their brain waves so they
Consider that in a survey of how accurately people assessed could tell when they were going in to which stage of
the caloric content of their foods, it was found that the inac- sleep. We go through five stages of sleep: REM sleep and
curacy rate of the food labels themselves was 85% locally, 25% four stages of NREM sleep. Paramount to the regenerative
regionally and 2% nationally. So even with our best efforts, we effect of sleep is the deep sleep stage—stage four. This is
won’t know the actual calories we’re consuming. the stage Yogi Bhajan says is essential. We sometimes
This is just one more argument for lifestyle changes over spend lots of our sleep cycle in other stages yet never
“dieting.” How much we move, how we engage in our rela- enter or sustain this stage in order to fully rejuvenate.
tionships, how we approach eating, and how we deal with our Many of our kriyas and meditations improve this stage of
feelings is a more successful approach than the focused
attempt to diet. Dr. Brian Wansink concluded, after years of
The researchers noticed that when subjects entered deep
study, that the best diet is one that you do not know you are
sleep, it was characterized by large slow waves; so they
on, one that works in the background, in the seamless con- began to play sounds just loud enough to interrupt the
nection of all your habits (Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More deeper, slow wave sleep but not enough to fully awaken
Than We Think). His research shows that implementing a few them. After each such trial they gave a physiological chal-
small changes within the eating environment can help us lose lenge to the subjects with a small amount of glucose to
up to two pounds a month, without even trying. A few of his see how well the subject could adapt to the rise in sugar
recommendations: smaller plates (6’’ plates are best); smaller, levels and metabolize it. In 80% of subjects their blood
multiple bowls at a party over one or two large bowls of chips; sugar went 25% higher than it should have. This large
fewer food choices per meal (three at the most). spike in blood sugar can contribute to developing
Habits that seem unrelated to eating and food nonetheless Metabolic X Syndrome, Diabetes Type II and obesity. It
effect how our body handles energy. And energy is the name also took much longer for subjects to return to normal
of the game—energy, survival and intention. For example, now blood sugar levels because the body also produced less
insulin, which serves to manage the deposition of sugar
we know that how we sleep can be critical to our weight and
out of the blood. This is a double whammy, contributing
metabolism. A recent study showed how powerful the habit
to poorer sleep, increased weight, especially around the
of sleep is—both for its positive effects on memory and its
abdomen, and even sleep apnea as weight increases. So
negative physiological effects when you don’t get enough. depending on your lifestyle, you may need to increase
your high quality sleep to help balance your weight.
Obesity and Genes
When we look at obesity in relationship to genes and the envi-
ronment, both weigh in strongly. The heritability of obesity is though this is still a large number.
about 85% and diabetes is about 60%. Hormone deficiency is Let’s look at another example, a well-known group—the
one example of genetic heritability. Dr. Friedman saw a young Pima Indians, the fattest population group in the United
boy, age 4, who was 90 pounds with 57% body fat. He deter- States. In that population, diabetes is almost universal and
mined that the boy had a leptin hormone deficiency. When health costs are staggering. Less well known is a branch of the
this was replaced, by age 6 he was 72 pounds with 35% body same tribe—the Sierra Madre Pimas—who broke away from the
fat, a dramatic change. But most people do not have this main tribe long ago. They have the same gene pool but almost
genetic deficiency, only about 5% would be strongly affected— no obesity or diabetes! Lifestyle is the key: The Sierra Madre


Pimas eat traditional food, whole grains, homemade, lots of Those who never had a weight problem noted no unusual
vegetables and smaller amounts. The main tribe eats a gains. The other thing to note is that 15 pounds up or down
Western diet with little physical exercise and traditional work is well within the normal biological buffer for energy storage.
has been affected by increasing funds from gambling and But, once you have gained a lot of weight, say 40 to 100 lbs,
other enterprises. The Sierra Madre Pimas have businesses, but it becomes very hard to take it off and to keep it off. The body
farming is still done within the community and the average seems to try to restore the weight to within the range that it
tribe member does at least 35 hours a week of hard physical was before you began to lose. The same is true for too little
labor and walking. Because the genes predispose our bodies weight. So once you are overweight or extremely underweight
to use energy in certain ways, we are well designed for one the normal responses of change do not work well. Essentially
environment and not another. the body is deregulated and has an enduring metabolic distur-
We are all tribal by instinct. It is only very recently that we bance. People who have developed this imbalance may work
have tried to individualize a “lifestyle.” It is hard to change harder, exercise more and have greater discipline than others
your environment or your lifestyle on your own. An intention- who have no weight problem and still remain heavy. Even
al community to support those changes is always more suc- those who have undergone radical surgery like gastric bypass
cessful. Genes, environment and attitude all have equal lever- and live on 700-900 calories still have an average BMI of 31,
age on us; so it is important to recognize our personality which means they are thinner (they weigh less) but they’re
traits, temperament, gunas, and predispositions (genetic his- still obese. So the best approach is to not gain the weight to
tory). Conscious effort makes up about 15% of our actions, begin with.
and the subconscious feelings and habits about 85%. The good news and the bad news is that it is not just one
Accepting our wonderful design and optimizing how we use simple thing—we can influence the entire network from many
it through our choices, habits, environments, activities and different angles but intention or exercise alone will not make
associations helps make the subconscious conscious and sup- the difference. This is why lifestyle is such a good approach.
ports our intention to grow and change. Assess your emotions and their relationship to stress, cultivate
The statistics that concern health providers are the ones a positive feeling about your body, pick an optimistic approach
that show a widespread increase past the threshold that marks to whatever lifestyle change you want to implement, choose
increased illness, lowered stress resistance and the rise of your environment, what’s surrounding you, and then simply
metabolic syndrome. This map from the CDC (Center for begin. If a stressful emotion leads you to increase or decrease
Disease Control in the USA) shows the increase in obesity in eating behavior, identify it and process it in meditation or
just one decade where a BMI greater than 30 is the threshold through dialogue with a friend. Your senses are powerful allies.
for obese:

Figure 4.1 Increase in Obesity in the United States Figure 4.2 BMI Index


Assess how you assess yourself. How do you recognize how

energetic, tired, hungry or satisfied you are? What is your
intention for your environments, body and activities? Does
what you are doing right now match your intentions? How do
your actions today shape your mind and your actions in the
future? All these questions are part of crafting an effective
lifestyle as a person, teacher and yogi.

Small Group Discussion 4 If you have a pattern of coping with stress that includes
60 minutes poor eating or little to no exercise, when do you notice its
effect? What has helped you to break that trance and try
Most of us have had some struggle with our own weight or something new?
known people who have. Stress pushes weight to the
extremes. We are all under a lot of stress and our environ- Do you subconsciously react to a student that is too thin
ments and culture gives us way too many opportunities to or too fat? What assumptions do you make about them?
respond to that stress with food. What would happen to their experience if you projected
acceptance and love? Share your own stories about transfor-
Discuss these topics and share your personal experiences and mation and healing when love was applied with intuition and
observations with each other. The goal is look at what it takes intelligence.
to shape a lifestyle of positive nutrition and exercise; assess
yourself in that effort; and share what has helped and what How was food and stress connected in your family? Did
hasn’t so that we can better serve our students in dealing with you learn useful ways of coping or ineffective ways?
stress and the body issues that often accompany it.
4 Do you have favorite stress foods? Are they healthy? Do
4 After looking at the materials in this nutrition and herb sec- you go for fats or sugars or both? What would be a way to
tion, what approaches do you find useful? Which ones are create better choices? If it’s not just willpower, then what
you willing to commit to trying? works?

If you have tried many of these techniques already, what Come up with three short adages or slogans that elevate
has been the most potent for you and how did you incorpo- our food and eating habits into a powerful tool to counter
rate it and similar changes in your lifestyle? stress.

4 What is your pattern of eating in response to stress? Is it

supportive and nurturing? Is it not-so-good for you, but effec-
tive in the short term? What are your habits? What are the
long-term consequences of your strategy?


Ayurvedic Anatomy and Nutritional Balance

Ayurvedic physiology is based on centuries of patient obser- Ama

vation and endless experimentation in practical, clinical envi- This idea is one of the key concepts in Ayurveda. When you
ronments. The concepts of Ayurvedic anatomy are energetic take substances into your body, primarily through food, and
and they give an accurate story of what happens in the real they don’t get processed completely, the unprocessed particles
world with real people. don’t get metabolized or eliminated properly. Ayurveda calls
There are 72,000 separate channels of energy flow (srotas) this accumulated waste ama. This very general concept of
in the body. Some of these channels are physical. Think of the ama covers just about any substance or energy that originates
intestines, lymphatic system, arteries and veins, capillaries, from improperly digested or metabolized particles. It’s very
and genito-urinary tract. Others are nonphysical channels similar to the Western natural healing idea of “toxicity.” These
(nadis) through which your energy (prana) flows. (Nadi improperly digested toxic byproducts clog the channels (sro-
means river or stream.) Roughly, we can say that the nadis tas) in your body, which affects our ability to absorb the vita-
manifest in the physical plane as the nervous system. As ener- mins and minerals present in our foods. Ama, or toxicity,
gy is taken in and broken down, it is transported through tends to accumulate wherever there is a weakness already
these channels. present in the body, which results in disease. Low digestive
The individual soul is signified by fire. This spiritual fire is agni, or fire, will create ama, because your foods cannot be
called Agni, which means inner guide. The ultimate goal of all completely digested. Low tissue agni) will retard formation of
Yoga and Ayurveda practices is to develop the inner agni to that particular tissue, so ama is produced. Also, when excre-
its full glory. The fire of agni, the very spark of life, manifests tion becomes insufficient, normal metabolic by-products and
in many forms in the human body. Fire in the stomach particles accumulate in the body and become transformed
(jatharagni) begins the breakdown of food. Fire in the liver into the toxic substance, ama.
(bhutagni) extracts the energy of the elements from the food. Characteristics of ama:
At each stage, the appropriate agni (metabolic tissue process) 4 Always incompletely digested substance, so non-homoge-
acts to form a tissue, and then to pass on the metabolic prod- nous
ucts to the next tissue. The process grows progressively more 4 Very bad or foul odor (experienced only when ama com-
refined as the metabolic actions persist. Ultimately, the most bined with excretions- sweat, urine, and feces- or in sputum
refined essence of prana in the body is involved in forming or vomit
the reproductive secretions. 4 Very sticky

Tissue English Function

Rasa Plasma Menstruation and lactation
Rakta Blood Tendons and blood vessels
Mamsa Muscle Muscle and skin
Meda Adipose Fat and sweat
Asthi Bone Teeth, nails and hair
Majja Bone Marrow & Nerves Tears
Shukra Reproductive tissue & semen Sexual organs

Table 4.1 The Seven Tissues Types (Dhatus)


Symptoms of ama accumulation include: Vitality Strategy:

4 Coating on the tongue, especially upon awakening Start with Optimal Digestive Health
4 Frequent fatigue, lethargy
4 Obstruction—stagnation and disturbance in transport As polite topics of conversation go, constipation, gas, diarrhea
in any size srota, even at the cellular level and irritable bowel syndrome probably don’t make your list.
4 Fuzzy thinking Most of us are too busy thinking about our face or our waist-
4 Aches and pains line to take time out and reflect on our colon. But Ayurveda
4 Bloating and gas says you had better start thinking about your digestion; it’s the
4 Skin blemishes, most important system in your body and the starting place for
4 Stickiness of body liquids good health or a lifetime prone to illness and disease.
4 Bad breath Fortunately, you can perfect your digestion (“panchan”)
4 Sinking stool and elimination by following a few basic lifestyle rules. And if
4 Mucus in stool you do have a few troubles along the way, some straightfor-
4 Cloudy urine ward and effective Ayurvedic remedies can put you back into
4 Lack of appetite balance.
4 Lack of taste or sticky/sweet taste in the mouth Twisting its way through the body to link your mouth and
4 Copious phlegm your rectum, is your digestive tract, a 15-foot-long tube with
4 High cholesterol or triglycerides a pretty simple job: Food goes in one end, the nutrients are
4 Hyperglycemia absorbed into the bloodstream, and remnants get eliminated
4 Intestinal yeast at the far end. Ayurvedic herbalists are as interested in what
4 Weakness or reduced function in any organ comes out of the human body as what goes in. If food does
not get properly digested, or the waste products of digestion
A great deal of the therapeutic focus in Ayurveda is on proce- can’t get out, it hardly matters what you put in your mouth.
dures to cleanse the body of ama. Of course, it’s best to pre-
vent it from forming in the first place for when ama becomes Heat Up with Agni, the Digestive Fire
mixed with unbalanced body energies, disease is not far Agni is the fire energy of metabolism and digestion. Every
behind. organ, and for that matter, every cell, has agni. In normal dis-
cussion, the term is used to describe the collected energies of
the digestive tract, which are responsible for breaking down
and absorbing food during the process of digestion. The agni
in the stomach is jatharagni, the gross digestive fire. This agni
works on the nutrients in the stomach and small intestine to
assure that food is thoroughly digested and assimilated.
All energy from the outside of the organism must be trans-
formed to be usable on the inside. That is the job of agni, in
all its forms and subdivisions. Just about every quality of good
health and vitality is a function of agni, the heat of life. Agni
is said to regulate, in addition to digestion, vision, body tem-
perature, complexion, bravery and anger. Since all bodily func-
tions depend on metabolism, agni is paramount in health and
homeostasis. Fundamentally, all pathology is due to impair-
ment of agni in some manner.


Triphala, aloe, licorice, cayenne, ghee, ginger, pipali and Regularity is the interval between bowel movements.
rock salt, as well as something bitter before your meals, like Depending on whom you ask, the gamut of recommendations
dandelion or gentian root, all promote healthy agni. In addi- runs from “two or three bowel movements a week is plenty”
tion, carminative spices—fennel, cardamom, dill, cumin and to “a bowel movement every day is essential.” Mammals are
caraway seeds— warm up the digestive tract, speed up and designed so that each meal stimulates fecal movement and ini-
increase the thoroughness of digestion and reduce gas. Ginger tiates a bowel movement. Most natural healing practitioners
reduces spasm, absorbs and neutralizes toxins in the gastroin- insist on at least one bowel movement per day, or up to one
testinal tract and increases the secretion of digestive juices, per meal.
including bile and saliva. Ginger contains ingredients that Psyllium seed, a bulk fiber laxative form Ayurveda, has
soothe the gut and aid digestion by increasing peristalsis. become popular around the world. It balances bowel function
Warming cinnamon bark is another mild but useful remedy for and relieves pain in irritable bowels. An English study revealed
sluggish digestion. that constipation significantly improved in patients taking
psyllium. Eighty-two percent of the subjects had irritable
Taming the Wily Bowel bowel symptom relief. A study to determine the optimum
It’s time to talk about that holiest of holy grails—the ideal dose recommended 20 grams per day.
bowel movement. The proper stool is like a peeled, fully Proper moisture content is critical for good elimination.
ripened banana, in size, shape and color. And it floats. If your Including what we drink and digestive secretions, about 5 gal-
stool is sinking, you’re sinking! Regular, bulky, soft and com- lons of fluid is dumped into the large intestine every day. Most
fortable bowel movements are vital to good health. So, some- of this has to be reabsorbed, or we would quickly become
thing must be seriously wrong, because four and a half mil- dehydrated. Ayurvedic examples of herbs that coat and soothe
lion Americans say they are constipated most or all of the the gut wall and keep the stool moist so that it exits smooth-
time. Constipation is medically defined as passing stools less ly are shatavari root and bala root; marshmallow root is a com-
than 3 times a week. mon Western herb with similar functions.
As you might expect, like most everything else in the Probiotics, the friendly bacteria in our gut, are key to main-
health field, there are big disagreements as to how you should taining or restoring a healthy intestinal tract environment.
maintain bowel function. Conventional medicine generally rec- Ayurveda has been recommending homemade yogurt for cen-
ommends nothing beyond increasing fluids, a high-fiber diet, turies. Eating living culture yogurt or taking high-quality pro-
and more exercise. Complementary methods provide much biotic supplements fortifies the colony of good bugs in the
more in the way of diagnosis and preventive habits to incor- colon, preventing constipation and also contributes to key
porate in order to have that ideal bowel movement. nutrients like vitamins K and B12 as well as a few amino acids.
A healthy bowel includes two key concepts: transit time When the food nutrients enter the body tissues, each one
and regularity. The time it takes for a meal to go from your processes the nutrients necessary for its own functions.
mouth to exit from the other end is referred to as “transit Nutrients feed each dhatu, or tissue, in sequential fashion.
time”. For a person who eats a healthy diet, free of refined, First, rasa dhatu takes what it needs. Then, rakta dhatu
processed foods, 30 hours is an average transit time. Ayurveda extracts its required nutrients and passes it along to mamsa
says that the ideal transit time is 18 to 24 hours. In our con- dhatu. This process continues through the seven dhatus, end-
stipation-prone society, 48 hours, or considerably more, is ing with the production of ojas, the key stress-fighting com-
commonplace. The problem with lengthy transit times is that ponent in the body.
the longer the end products of digestion stay in our system,
the more chance they have of decomposing into unhealthy
compounds. Slower transit times also lead to harder, smaller
stools and constipation.


Stress, Endurance & a Long & Healthy Life

According to yoga philosophy, the goal of life is to experience culties are related to a shortage of “juice”, joint fluids,
and master four complementary areas, which, taken together, endocrine hormones, and vaginal dryness, respectively.
make up the totality of fulfillment: Dharma, or the path of Ayurvedic rasayana practices are directed toward strength-
righteousness, is the complete collection of virtuous, religious ening, purifying and nourishing tissues to bring back the glow
works and practices. Artha is the accumulation and enjoy- of youth—supplementing that “juiciness.” Rasayana is intend-
ment of material possessions and earthly well-being. Moksha ed to improve overall health, generate high quality tissues,
is spiritual liberation. Kama is romantic and sexual love and eradicate senility and diseases of aging, lengthen life, boost
all its associated sense pleasures. memory and improve intelligence, youth, skin luster, voice
All of these aspects should be of equal importance, with- quality, strength of body and senses, and beauty. Rasayana
out any single one taking precedence over the others. Neglect regimes act to augment tissue mass, digestive capacity, hor-
of any one of these spheres leads to diminished stability and mone function, elimination systems, brain function, immuni-
imbalance in men. Practicing dharma, artha and kama makes ty and homeostasis.
it possible to lead a meaningful and joyous life in this world Modern science tells us that calorie restriction and the
and to move on to spiritual freedom, moksha. reduction of body temperature will extend life span, at least in
For a “householder,” sexuality and the erotic life are impor- experimental animals. Ayurveda teaches that the body ages
tant, integrated elements of the human life—some would say and dries out in proportion to the metabolic rate. Any prac-
as important as eating. This includes awakening the senses tice that will slow down the metabolism and calm the body
and sensory pleasures, which increase the joy of life and and mind will retard age-related degeneration and reduce the
maintain psychological balance, actually aiding further mental loss of plumpness and lubrication. The loss of juice is close-
and spiritual development. Yoga and Ayurveda identify three ly related to increased air tattva, which is also associated with
key areas considered to be the foundation of a healthy the dosha, vata. The air tattva and the vata dosha both
lifestyle: balanced diet, balanced sleep and balanced sexual increase naturally with age. Ayurvedic anti-aging remedies are
life. Avoiding excess or deficiency in food, sleep or sex goes essentially a fight to control the catabolic actions of air for as
a long way toward keeping the tattvas balanced. long as possible.
Rejuvenation in Ayurveda comes in two forms: lifestyle
Rasayana and Vajikarana Practices and medicine. “Hot” activities, such as passion and anger, age
The companion sciences of Ayurveda—rejuvenation the body more rapidly, so calming behavior is suggested. To
(rasayana) and vitalizers (vajikarana)—are well researched, live longer and have better sex, speak the truth, avoid becom-
practical areas of health maintenance that anyone can use to ing angry, practice meditation, avoid internal conflict, and
stay healthy, vital and sexy throughout a long life. (“Vaji” steer away from drugs and alcohol. Rasayana medicines are
means stallion; well, you get the idea.) Ayurveda places spe- classified as to their function. Kamya rasayanas promote nor-
cial emphasis on maintaining excellent, vibrant health well mal health—vitality, intelligence and complexion. Naimittika
into elderhood. Over time, practitioners have developed excel- rasayana medicines treat specific diseases. Rasayana medi-
lent therapies for keeping the mind and body young and, of cines include a large array of herbs and foods. The sweet
course, sex is an important part of that. Literally translated as taste, contained in carbohydrates and good quality fats, is the
“the path of juice,” this branch of Ayurveda aims to nourish, most rejuvenating; so sweet food, including milk, ghee, and
restore and balance the body functions taxed by the wear and especially honey, is recommended to rebuild body tissues and
tear of daily life. Signs of aging are all marks of deficiency, or restore sexual juices.
lack of “juice”—from arthritis, to fatigue, to menopausal diffi-


Increasing Virility atmosphere should include sweet music, sweet fragrance and
Closely related to rasayana are the vajikarana practices which flowers. Wait a while after eating—several hours in fact. An
increase virility, using sexual rebuilding tonics to support sex- absolutely satisfying sexual union confers health and vitality
ual pleasure, fertility, and performance. Sexual fluids, includ- upon you and your partner; but it is essential that both part-
ing semen, are the most important concentrated essence of all ners are satisfied. Optimal sexual function can increase mem-
the body’s tissues. Ayurveda recommends retaining some of it ory, physical stamina, intelligence, health and longevity.
to use in the rest of the body for renewing the body and the Deviant or unsatisfying sex that simply chases intensity,
mind. Because sex can deplete the body’s juices, vajikarana ignores natural rhythms or has no sensitivity to your partner
also focuses on replacing tissue nutrients and fluids. can create adverse effects on mental and physical health. It
Vajikarana practices not only improve sexual activity, but aggravates the tattvas and reduces immunity.
also help direct sexual energy inward for renewal. Visualize the After sexual activity, urinate to balance the energy in the
body as a tree, with the reproductive system as the roots. pelvis, and relax, perhaps with a warm bath. Finish with a spe-
Vajikarana therapies start at the roots, but continue to feed cial drink of hot milk or almond milk with ghee and honey or
the entire body with tonic energy over time. Producing more dates and saffron. Both partners, after enjoying sexual activi-
and better quality seminal fluid and active sperm in men, and ty, should take a cool bath, and drink cool water, milk or juice,
retaining it to a certain extent, regenerates the mind and the or eat food containing natural sugars. Although we can
immune system. Vajikarana deals not only with increasing engage healthy sex any time, in Ayurveda, the ideal time for
sexual vigor, but also psychosomatic disorders. Vajikarana is intimacy is in the evening, during the water tattva, at least
valuable for all around health. The influence of the mind is the two and a half hours after dinner.
origin and momentum of sexual desire, so virilization must
consider mental health. Vajikarana therapies can be utilized
for treating mental disorders, including depression; but are pri- Ojas
marily recommended for well-balanced, sexually active people Central to the Ayurvedic idea of vitality and rejuvenation is the
between 18 and 70. concept of ojas, which is the most concentrated essence of
Overall, vajikarana therapies promote happiness, daily nutritional substances in the body, roughly comparable to
stamina, fertility and improved erectile function. Sex is an inte- semen and/or cerebrospinal fluid. Ojas is conceptualized as a
gral part of our daily habits and should be given as much very fine biological substance that comprises the most con-
attention as diet or exercise. Yoga says that human sexuality centrated essence of nutrients and energy in the body. It is the
is not simply physical mating but is the union of two bodies, fundamental essence of all the tissue types and the physical
minds and souls, therefore it can be a transformative and heal- expression of consciousness in the body. The basic biological
ing experience if practitioners are mindful and aware. strength of the body’s tissues depends on it. It is strongly cor-
Yogi Bhajan taught about this extensively in his annual related with vitality and our immunity.
women’s camp gatherings. He covered the ways and means to Ayurveda maintains that food, once consumed, is progres-
good sex, the effect of the mind in sexuality, the impact of sively concentrated into ever more distilled categories of tissue
fear and neurosis in sexuality, and many formulas for sexual building nutrients. It is said that one hundred bites of food
potency and optimal functioning in men and women. He will produce one drop of blood, and that one hundred drops
objected to the narrow view of sexuality as purely physical or of blood will produce one drop of ojas. There is no scientif-
impulsive. It is a natural expression of our desire for union and ic equivalent for ojas, although there has been some specula-
our capacity for merger. Its highest expression is in an authen- tion associating it with the blood protein albumin or some
tic, committed relationship where there is no subconscious essential fatty acids. The yogis suggest that ojas is especially
conflict or duality. concentrated in the heart (a total quantity of 8 drops worth),
In the yogic and ayurvedic approach, the actual sex act is but it pervades the entire body, as the essence of honey is
important in maintaining sexual pleasure and potency. The present in a flower. What do we “take home” from this?


Starting with good quality food is essential to maintaining Rejuvenating Ojas Drink
good health and vitality. (especially after sex)
The clinical observations of early practitioners suggests
that deficient ojas increases a collection of clinical signs, 8-10 oz. milk
including fear, physical and mental weakness, discomfort in 1-3 tsp. grated fresh ginger root
sense organs, impaired mental function, dryness and abnor- 1-3 tsp. black sesame seed (or white sesame seed)
mal complexion. Precious ojas can be destroyed by pretty 1-3 tsp. ghee
much any negative factors, including trauma, negative emo- Cinnamon and clove to taste.
tions (anger, grief), mental stress, excess physical work and Honey to taste if desired.
The diet that promotes ojas and rejuvenation is a highly Warm milk to comfortable drinking temperature. Blend ingre-
nutritive program, emphasizing whole grains like wheat and dients in blender. Drink after sex, especially men, or daily as
rice, seeds, nuts, milk products, and natural sugars, such as a restorative for sexual function.
honey. Cooked, moist foods (soups) help, too. The diet
should be balanced to contain a broad range of tastes: sweet,
sour, salty, spicy, bitter, astringent. Generally, use food that is
sweet, oily, cold, light and easily digestible. Use less dry or
raw food, and include a good quality raw vegetable oil
(almond, sesame) and ghee.
Ojas is stored in muscles, fat and organs throughout the
body. Most of it is made at night during restorative sleep. The
production of ojas follows the production of sexual fluids
(shukra). Thus depletion of shukra channels the body’s
resources toward shukra production and ojas production is
curtailed. Ojas is used for immunity and procreation, so it is
easily depleted by either. With a thorough and disciplined pro-
gram, it takes 30 days to replenish the ojas reserves in the
body. Sexual abstinence during this time will help ojas accu-


Chronic Stress

The British government says that stress is responsible for 6.5 As we touched on earlier in this course, there are strong con-
million lost working days per year in England alone. One in 5 nections between stress and a host of physical ailments:
workers is affected. A study in the Journal of Applied 4 Adult-onset diabetes. People who have weathered at least
Psychology monitored interpersonal work stress in 109 women three life-changing events were 60 percent more likely to
with and without arthritis. The result? Just what you’d expect: develop Type II Diabetes.
“Workplace stress made arthritis worse.” A study by the 4 Memory impairment. Researchers gave people pills to raise
Health Enhancement Research Organization indicated that their stress-response hormone, cortisol; they did worse on
smoking, stress, exercise and body weight, taken together memory tests.
make up 20% of a company’s medical costs. 4 Flu. Men and women between the ages of 53 and 89 under
stress because of their roles as caregivers to dementia patients
Desk Rage were only half as likely to receive quick protection from flu
We don’t really know when the physical and psychological shots.
toll of chronic overwork outweighs gains in productivity, but 4 Wound healing. Research found lower concentrations of
somewhere between 5% and 20% percent of shift workers suf- beneficial immune-system chemicals in the wounds of women
fer from Shift Maladaption Syndrome. Thousands of American under stress. In another study, scientists measured immune-
workers suffer from what experts sometimes call “desk rage.” system chemicals in 36 women who were deliberately given
Desk rage includes acting out (yelling, swearing, throwing small blisters on their arms. Women who were caring for rel-
things, slamming doors), unconnected anger (angrily blaming atives with Alzheimer's scored high on standard stress tests
others for one’s own mistakes) and strange anger (getting andtheir wounds took about 9 days longer to heal.
angry about delusional events). Don’t take workplace anger
lightly, say experts. Desk rage can bring about workplace vio- Chronic stress appears to be on the rise. People don't have
lence. A recent survey of more than 1,300 workers found that enough time or control over their lives. Too many people are
42% experienced yelling and verbal abuse at work, 29% yelled demanding too many things from you, and at the same time
at co-workers and 14% claimed that disturbances, gastroin- there has been a breakdown of normal stress buffers, such as
testinal problems, depression, personality changes, and strong family support. Hence we must pay attention to each
decreased interpersonal skills. Plus, they are more likely to technique that will help: nutrition, herbs, meditation, exercise
abuse alcohol or drugs. and relationships.

Information Overload
Energy Levels
Another contributor to daily stress is information overload. For
and Stress
too many of us, it has become a way of life. A 2002 study in
the journal, Behavior Research and Therapy found that people
An Ayurvedic Tidbit:
who had post traumatic stress disorder from stressful informa-
To neutralize stress, make a tea of equal proportions
tion overload were more likely to expect danger in life situa-
chamomile, valerian and brahmi (gotu kola).
tions (“intrusion-based reasoning”) than less stressed people.
Brew 1 tsp. in a cup of water and drink 2-3 cups per
More new information has been generated within the past 30
day. You may also find a pre-prepared combination that
years than in the previous 5,000. More than 9,000 magazines
includes kava root in your local health store.
are published in the US each year. Around the globe, almost
1,000 books are printed daily.


Fatigue bohydrates digest quickly and enter the bloodstream quickly,

Are you having one of those days? You woke up totally tired— causing a rapid rise in blood sugar levels accompanied by a
all you want is to go back to sleep. It’s 11 o’clock in the morn- feeling of energy and elevated mood.
ing and you’re already halfway through your third cup of cof- Complex carbohydrates are commonly known as “starch-
fee. Fatigue and persistent tiredness are the most common es,” made up of chains of glucose molecules. Whole grains
symptom of stress. .Maybe you can’t define energy, but you (wheat, oats, rice) and some vegetables (potatoes, corn, and
know when you have it and when you don’t. If energy is the green peas) are high in starch. The digestive system slowly
legal tender of life, many of us are overdrawn. We’ve dipped breaks down a complex carbohydrate into its component glu-
into our reserve so repeatedly and stressed ourselves so much cose molecules so that the glucose can enter your blood-
that we’re energy depleted. We are a nation of tired people. stream. Complex carbohydrates release glucose into the blood-
When surveyed, 24% of people complain of fatigue that lasts stream about 15 times slower than simple carbohydrates,
longer than two weeks. Tiredness is included in the top five allowing for a much more consistent blood sugar level.
reasons for going to the doctor. Anything that would help our Simple sugars require little digestion, so when someone,
stamina would be welcome. say a child, eats a sugary food like a candy bar or a can of
soda, the blood glucose level rises rapidly. The pancreas, in
Balanced Use of Carbohydrates response, secretes insulin to keep blood glucose levels within
Carbohydrates are a group of organic compounds that the normal range. This large insulin surge in turn tends to
includes sugars, starches, celluloses, and gums. These com- make the blood sugar fall to abnormally low levels 3 to 5
pounds contain only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen and serve hours later. The lowered glucose level may then lead to an
as the major energy source in the diet. adrenaline surge, which in turn can cause nervousness and
The simplest carbohydrates are the simple sugars, or irritability.
monosaccharides. The most important is glucose, the sugar Eating complex carbohydrates prevents the roller-coaster
our bodies run on. Two monosaccharide molecules joined ride of glucose and hormone levels because the digestion and
together form a disaccharide, of which the most important are absorption processes are much slower and allow the body to
sucrose (ordinary cane sugar), lactose (found in milk), and maintain a balanced equilibrium.
maltose (abundant in plants). Larger chains of sugar molecules
are called polysaccharides. Polysaccharides can be enormous Grains
molecules, made up of one type or several types of monosac- All carbohydrates eventually break down into blood sugar
charide units—about 10 in glycogen (the sugar our bodies use (glucose), the moment-to-moment fuel for our cells. As glu-
to store energy); 25 in starch; and 100 to 200 in cellulose (the cose is oxidized by the cells for fuel, acids are produced.
structural support element in plants.) That’s just the fact. So all grains eventually contribute to the
In foods, carbohydrates can roughly be divided into two body’s acid load, regardless of the form in which we consume
categories: simple and complex. Simple sugars taste sweet to them. Of course, so do all other macronutrients, including
the tongue. The simplest carbohydrate is glucose, also called protein and fat. So we cannot avoid acids forming in the body;
“blood sugar”. This basic fuel is made available through the it’s just that we want to complement these acid forming
bloodstream to every cell in your body, where it is then con- macronutrients with other vitamin and mineral rich sources,
verted into energy. From glucose, the body creates ATP including vegetables and fruits.
(adenosine triphosphate), the compound that powers most of Refined grains are the “white” foods: white flour, white
the machinery in any human cell. rice. These are digested rapidly and metabolized quickly into
Other simple sugars include fructose (the main sugar in glucose. This rapid assimilation creates a “spike” of acid that
fruit), lactose, galactose and maltose. Table sugar, sucrose, is stresses the body. So, the bones release alkaline rich minerals
a disaccharide formed from glucose and fructose. Simple car- to buffer the acid byproducts of carbohydrate metabolism.


Unfortunately, just like your checkbook, it is easier for the Western metabolic diseases. The average American eats over
body to withdraw from the mineral bank account than it is to 20% more sugar (about 25 more pounds per person per year)
cover the loan with a deposit later. Oops—overdrawn! than he did in 1986. According to the Center for Science in
During the past century, people began to eat large the Public Interest, the current estimates for the average
amounts of convenience foods: refined grains, such as white American's consumption of caloric sweeteners (sugar, corn
bread instead of whole wheat bread, and enormous amounts syrup, and the like) per year is around 152 pounds. These
of white sugar and salt. In fact, almost all grain products con- refined sweeteners are “empty” calories that contain no nutri-
sumed in the United States are refined. Yet eating whole grains ents and take the dietary place of nutrient-rich whole foods.
has many advantages. In addition to slowing down the They promote excess insulin release, increasing the risk for
acid/sugar spike , we also benefit from the fiber and nutrients dysglycemia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
that are present in a whole grain: the alkaline minerals, espe- What is the right amount of sugar and caloric sweeteners for
cially magnesium, vitamins and essential fatty acids. a person who wants to stay healthy? None. Of course, this is
Substituting whole grains for other foods in your diet actu- easier said than done. People with glandular imbalances often
ally allows you to feel full but eat less total calories. Whole crave sugar. For those with fatigue, it is an easily digestible
grains, on the average, have fewer calories than the foods they source of energy. From the Ayurvedic point of view, those with
would typically replace, and the fiber content makes you feel an excess of air tattva, by nature, tend to be attracted to sweet
more satisfied. This difference can be substantial. A recent taste, and refined sugar in particular.
study found that people with high whole grain carbohydrate Eating sugar may also promote calcium depletion.
diets actually consumed about 300 less calories per day than Numerous studies over the years have shown that a high sugar
the average person! diet causes urinary calcium to increase. A recent European
In addition, whole grains in the diet may reduce the risk paper showed that a single chocolate bar, containing 55 grams
of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Research from the of sucrose, produced a striking increase in blood triglycerides
Framingham Offspring Study has shown that increasing the and urine calcium. When 100 grams of sugar was given to
intake of whole grain foods may suppress Type II Diabetes and people with a history of calcium oxalate kidney stones, or to
cardiovascular disease. Previous epidemiological research also their relatives, they excreted even more calcium. In the body,
indicated that diets rich in whole grains (dark bread, popcorn, 99% of the stored calcium is in the skeleton, so the increase
oatmeal, brown rice) may ward off these conditions.A study in calcium excretion caused by sugar probably means that it is
of 2,941 subjects in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition leaching from bone. Furthermore, a 1987 study investigated
found that people who ate more whole grains had lower body the idea that eating sugar, known to increase blood insulin,
fat readings, LDL cholesterol, and fasting insulin. The would inhibit uptake of calcium through the kidney. In other
researchers concluded that the benefits had mainly to do with words, the calcium would be excreted in the urine—along with
the magnesium and fiber content of the whole grains. zinc and sodium, two other alkaline minerals.
Wheat, in particular, can be problematic. Many authorities In 2002, an important study came out in The American
say it is more acid forming than other grains, and recommend Journal of Clinical Nutrition that again gave support to this
that you substitute with a variety of other grains, including connection. In the Framingham Osteoporosis Study, scientists
millet and buckwheat. Wheat is widely considered one of the with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition
top three allergen foods in Americans. Research Center on Aging, at Tufts University in Boston, stud-
ied 907 older Americans to determine dietary factors connect-
Sugar ed with bone mineral density (BMD). They concluded, “High
Nutrition authorities are unanimous in their condemnation of candy consumption was associated with low BMD in both
refined carbohydrates, especially white sugar. We’ve already men and women.” In fact, candy consumption was the most
seen how they increase acidity and they also contribute to the substantial predictor of low BMD in the study.


Refined sugar consumption may be one of the contributing antisocial behavior by 21%, suicides by a 100%, assault by
factors in kidney stone development. Apparently, people with 25% and the need to use restraints by 75% when compared
kidney stones, or even a family history, are especially suscep- with the study controls. The results of all this research has led
tible to the unfavorable effects of sugar. Other whole sweet- even the mainstream, ultra-conservative American Council on
eners—maple syrup, molasses, barley malt syrup, rice bran Science and Health (ACSH) to conclude that a whole foods
syrup—are considered to be far less acid producing, because diet is the best way to eat.
they contain less total sugar and they come with an assort-
ment of alkaline-rich minerals built in. But even with these, Beat the Sweet
there is a limit. Be moderate in your use of sweeteners. The Sugar, in and of itself, is not the problem. After all, we are
best approach is to consider them treats, not necessary on a sugar-fueled organisms. It’s the excess of refined sugar and the
daily basis. roller coaster ride associated with it. Carbohydrate craving is a
common complaint, especially among women. These urges
Blood Sugar Cycle can be stimulated by a complex brew of physical and mental
The body is designed to maintain a fairly constant blood sugar factors, but the bottom line is that the body is out of balance
level. Rapidly absorbed sweeteners cause blood sugar levels to and the allostatic load has grown too heavy.
climb, stimulating the pancreas to secrete insulin. Excessive Sugar is everywhere; it’s one of the reasons that it’s so
use of refined carbohydrates is the culprit in what some seductive. But white-knuckling it doesn’t work for most peo-
authorities call “sugar shock.” As the body turns foods such ple. The craving is just too overpowering and the relief just too
as cookies and toast into simple sugars, we get that all too readily available. Gradually though, with diligent effort and
familiar sugar “buzz.” proper food and behavioral replacements, the cravings will
Insulin in turn depresses blood sugar, excessively in certain subside, and living sugar free will become second nature. After
people, sometimes producing a “let down” feeling. After the the initial withdrawal period, it is probably best to “just say
inevitable crash, the body again craves a quick “pick me up” no” to sugar for a while. Any amount is likely to start the
snack to boost energy, resulting in an unhealthy spiral. downward spiral again. But after a few months of abstinance,
Munching simple sugars between meals tends to produce a many people can resume the occasional snack as a treat with-
“boom/bust” cycle in susceptible people. out much consequence. But be cautious; it’s all too easy to
Low blood sugar levels cause the adrenal glands to secrete hop back on on the “sugar buzz” cycle.
cortisol and the pituitary to secrete adrenocorticotropic hor-
mone, both of which stimulate the liver to release stored glyco-
gen. In healthy people, this system works beautifully. But Carbohydrates, Mood and Sleep
when the body is already out of balance, these swings can cre- Deficiency of complex carbohydrates has been linked to low
ate problems. Too much or too little of either hormone stress- levels of serotonin. This calming, “feel-good” neuro-hormone
es the body and creates mood swings and energy fluctuations. appears to be connected in numerous ways to how well we
Eating sugars at the end of a meal or in combination with fats sleep, eat, relax and handle stress. Low serotonin levels are
and proteins allows them to be absorbed more slowly. associated with depression. They are also associated with
When the adrenals overreact to falling blood sugar by pro- cravings for carbohydrates (which predictable if one is either
ducing excessive amounts of adrenaline and cortisol, hypo- consistently deprived of carbohydrates through dieting or
glycemia symptoms (anxiety, hyperactivity, panic attacks, locked into a craving cycle due to “hapless eating”).
shakiness, and excessive or unexplained sweating) can devel- Carbohydrate foods trigger the release of serotonin, so starv-
op. A double-blind study looked at the effects of reducing the ing the body of carbohydrates could certainly reduce levels of
consumption of refined, sugary foods in 3,000 incarcerated serotonin. This can contribute to depression directly, and addi-
juvenile delinquents. Eliminating these food triggers reduced tionally can set up a vicious cycle of sugar craving that aggra-


vates the condition. For people who are depressed, this is just What to Do About Stress and Food
one more good reason to emphasize whole grains, fruits, veg- So the question then becomes, is it more stressful to prepare
etables and legumes. ‘slow food’ (whole grains and vegetables) or is it more stress-
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, ful to consume ready-to-eat convenience foods? The answer is
which appears to decrease as people age. A University of clear; yet how do we incorporate slow food into our routines
Massachusetts Medical Center study showed that women who so that they don’t add to our already overburdened stress
meditated had significantly higher levels of melatonin than load? Using a natural foods diet to stabilize blood sugar and
those who didn’t. Melatonin is now being sold and heralded hormone levels works. For the best bets in healthy eating,
as a sleep aid, but there are ways to get your body to increase reduce total sugar consumption by reading labels and choos-
its supply naturally. In fact, the consensus of leading mela- ing packaged foods low in sugars. Better yet, concentrate on
tonin experts is that lifestyle habits play the biggest role in preparing whole foods with little refined sugar. Select sweet-
supporting melatonin production and preserving the function eners high in maltose or fructose to avoid blood sugar ups and
of the pineal gland, which is also a key goal of Kundalini Yoga downs. Experiment with alternatives, including natural prod-
Any high-carbohydrate food will help your body to produce ucts sweetened with malted barley syrup, brown rice syrup
more melatonin, since the insulin that is produced when you and whole molasses. Use canned beans and sprouted grain
eat them removes substances from the blood that compete breads when you know you don’t have the time to prepare
with tryptophan, an amino acid the brain uses to make mela- foods from scratch. What other ideas have worked for you?
tonin. The other amino acids that will be present in the blood What behaviors need to change? What habits need to be
after eating protein will compete with tryptophan for entry incorporated? How does your own daily, weekly, and month-
into the brain. B vitamins, calcium and magnesium can all ly planning need to shift?
contribute to increased melatonin production.


Herbal Secrets for Vitality

Ghee trans fats. Ghee in actual diets also produced less heart dis-
According to Ayurveda, ghee is the best of all oily foodstuffs ease than trans fat containing diets. When all is said and
and is used to cure disturbances in nerve function and inflam- done, though, ghee is fat, and only a certain amount of total
matory conditions. Ghee and butter have essentially the same fat is necessary in the diet. If you would like to switch to
healing properties, but ghee is more digestible because all the ghee, make sure you reduce your total fat intake proportion-
impurities (saturated fat, milk solids) have been removed. ately.
Where ghee is light, butter is said to be heavy. The Susruta
Samhita, an Ayurvedic classic, claims that ghee is good for all Magnesium
parts of the body and considers it the ultimate overall remedy By some accounts, magnesium deficiency is the most com-
for inflammatory problems. It is also the medium of choice for mon nutritional deficiency in America. Magnesium is abun-
carrying medicines for these conditions. dant in our soils, yet it is now scarce in our food supply.
Specifically, ghee is said to promote memory, intelligence, Research shows that people with chronic pain are usually very
quantity and quality of semen, and digestion, enhancing ojas low in magnesium, which is one of the most crucial nutrients
and liver health. While ghee is a fat, according to Ayurveda it for the production of ATP, the source of energy in the muscle
is unique in that it supports the liver rather than stressing it. tissue. Low tissue magnesium apparently turns up the pain
Ghee is an important rasayana for the brain and intellect, bone signal volume. In 1999, a study looked at calcium and mag-
marrow, and reproductive tissue. We know from modern sci- nesium levels in fibromyalgia through hair analysis, and con-
ence that ghee is rich in phenolic antioxidants, associated cluded that they were abnormal, and that calcium and mag-
with anti-aging, reduced cardiovascular disease and overall nesium supplements may be indicated as an adjunctive treat-
vitality. ment of fibromyalgia.
Ghee’s benefits increase with its age. Aged ghee (up to a Magnesium is known to relax muscles. Because magne-
hundred years) treats alcoholism, epilepsy, fever, and vaginal sium is required for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate
pain. Ghee is used for sexual vitality and for building nerve (ATP), which is needed for cells to produce raw energy,
and brain tissue. Long a favorite of yoga practitioners, it lubri- researchers suggests that chronically stressed and fatigued
cates the connective tissues and promotes flexibility. patients may be deficient in magnesium, increasing anaerobic
Medicated ghee (ghrita), clarified butter in which herbs have glycolysis and lactic acid formation in the muscles (causing
been dissolved, is a famous preparation method for treating pain) and causing a reduction in lung capacity (causing
inflammatory conditions. For example, the well-known Brahmi fatigue and shortness of breath).
Ghrita contains the popular herb gotu kola, and is used for a Good sources of magnesium include legumes, tofu, seeds,
broad variety of brain conditions in a dose of 1 Tbs. per day. nuts, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.
Ghee is also used externally. It is used as a massage base to
benefit sensitive skin. Ayurveda recommends ghee, sometimes Vitamin D
mixed with honey, as an application for wounds, inflamma- Vitamin D deficiency is occurring in epidemic proportions in
tion, and blisters. A special preparation, hundred-times- America and other temperate climates, according to sources
washed-ghee, is applied topically for wound healing and to that include The Mayo Clinic.
calm the fire tattva. Many chronic conditions respond to vitamin D supple-
Ayurveda suggests that natural milk products are superior mentation, including fibromyalgia, in which it generally bene-
to margarine. A 1991 study by the Medical Research Council fits achiness. A study of 150 residents of Minneapolis, MN,
showed that eating butter created half the heart disease risk, who were experiencing persistent, nonspecific musculoskele-
compared to polyunsaturated margarine, which contains risky tal pain, 93% were found to have either marginally (65%) or


severely (28%) deficient blood concentrations of vitamin D. D deficiency in healthy postmenopausal women is extremely
The design of the study did not allow for establishing a cause- high, according to a study published in the Journal of Bone
effect relationship between their symptoms and vitamin D and Mineral Research.
deficiency. Nevertheless, the results of this study are certainly Risk factors for developing vitamin D deficiency include
a very strong indication that vitamin D deficiency may be a lack of sunlight exposure, avoidance of vitamin D-containing
common cause of vague musculoskeletal complaints, particu- foods (e.g., milk, liver, and fish), and diseases that cause mal-
larly in those living in the northern U.S. and Canada. absorption. Vitamin D levels can be determined with a simple
As recently as 2000, five patients were reported with blood test. According to noted holistic physician Alan Gaby,
severe muscle pain associated with vitamin D deficiency. Each M.D., the minimal supplementation amount should be 400
of these persons had been confined to a wheelchair due to I.U. per day for adults. He says that some studies have shown
severe weakness and immobility. Treatment with high-dose that a dose of 800 IU per day is more effective for maintain-
vitamin D for four to six weeks resulted in a resolution of body ing bone density. Nutritionists have long believed that doses
aches and pains and a return of normal muscle strength in all higher than 1,000 IU per day are potentially toxic. But more
five patients. In no case had vitamin D deficiency been sus- recent evidence indicates that doses up to 4,000 IU per day
pected initially. The authors mentioned that they have seen are safe, according to Gaby. For individuals with fibromyalgia,
milder cases of vitamin D deficiency that had been originally fatigue, or depression, the initial dose may be as high as 2,000
thought to be fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or IU per day, tapering to 1,000 IU per day after a month, he
depression. says.
Based on this new awareness of vitamin D concerns, it is Otherwise, getting out into the sun is the way to promote
entirely plausible that a significant portion of chronic pain vitamin D production. Yoga technology says that well cared for
cases are actually cases of vitamin D deficiency! hair, covered by a thin layer of cloth, through which sunlight
Startling information in two studies from 2004 suggests can penetrate, is ideal for vitamin D absorption.
that vitamin D may help prevent multiple sclerosis and
rheumatoid arthritis. The results may help explain why the Potassium and Celery
two diseases are more common in northern climes, where Alkaline-rich diets support the body’s systems by reducing
sunlight is often scarce, the researchers claimed. One hypoth- inflammation and generally lessening the acidic and stress-
esis has been that sunlight exposure and high levels of vita- related factors in the blood. Vegetables, as a whole, are very
min D may reduce the risk of MS. In the study, the participat- rich in potassium, a very important mineral (alkaline).
ing nurses with the highest intake of vitamin D from supple- Increasing your vegetable intake to two servings with lunch
ments, 400 IU or more a day, were 40 percent less likely to and dinner will easily fulfill your quota.
develop MS than those who used no supplements. Those Potato peels make a great potassium food. Peel potatoes
who only got vitamin D from food, such as fortified milk, did thickly and simmer the peels. Add other alkalinizing vegeta-
not lower their risk of MS. bles, like celery, for flavor, if you like. Historically, this is a for-
Vitamin D is produced in the skin upon exposure to sun- mula for arthritis. Celery is widely considered to be the most
light. Some foods, including fish, liver, and fortified milk con- cooling food available. Yogi Bhajan lauded its praises for years.
tain it. In many countries, including the U.S., fortified milk is It is very rich in alkaline organic sodium (not sodium chlo-
probably the main dietary source of vitamin D. Sunlight is pre- ride). It is powerfully anti-inflammatory and relaxing and
sumably the main source of this vitamin for women in warmer because it is very fibrous, it is hard to munch down very much
climes. In the United States and other countries, where vita- at one time. Steam it as a cooked vegetable, or better yet, juice
min D is added to milk, the prevalence of vitamin D deficien- it. Eight to 16 ounces will put you right to sleep. It is so cool-
cy is still present in up to 12.6% of elderly women living in ing that a 10 ounce glass will abort a hay fever attack.
the community and in more than half of patients hospitalized
on a general medical ward. In fact, the occurrence of vitamin


Herbal balancers for Stress:

Ayurvedic Tool Kit

The following collection of herbal approaches to stress is a expanding, so they combat mental dullness. Chamomile and
very complete and quick survey of the many approaches we gotu kola are good examples and easy to find. Sweet taste,
can use, a little at a time, to assist the body to heal itself composed of earth and water tattvas, is grounding and calm-
under stress. Respect the powers of each herb and take into ing. Sweet herbs for the mind include ashwaganda and
account your own constitution and qualities. In any serious licorice.
long-term use of herbs, be sure to consult with a profession- Traditionally, Ayurveda uses many herbs to help us
al to help you individualize their combinations and arrive at become more accepting of ourselves and others, and to open
the correct dosages for you. Generally people add too many the heart, manage anger and enhance communication. Mints,
herbs at once. Each has its own effect and must be used grad- such as spearmint, contain large amounts of ether tattva,
ually over time as a lifestyle addition for best results. which is mentally soothing and clarifying.
To increase endurance and vitality, we need to strengthen Tulsi is probably the most sacred plant in India, because it
and regulate body processes, prevent infections and build opens the heart and mind, and encourages devotion. Seen
healthy muscle tissue. Herbs called adaptogens do just that. cultivated near temples and private homes, it is believed to
By increasing our resistance to stress, these remedies stop the purify the air and to sanctify the environs, thus it bears the
negative impact of disease and fatigue on our stamina and name holy basil. Using tulsi as an herbal supplement supports
strength, as well as promoting hormones that help muscle the energy of attachment, the energy that draws prosperity
development and repair. Often called “tonic” herbs, adapto- near and keeps it in our lives. Energetically, tulsi also clears the
gens, are now defined by scientists as innocuous and cause aura and stimulates the immune system. Hibiscus flower is a
minimal disorders in the physiological functions of an organ- sweet cooling herb that purifies the heart and the blood, both
ism, must have a nonspecific action, and usually has a nor- physically and spiritually. Rose flower is also cooling and
malizing action irrespective of the direction of the pathologi- opens the heart and the mind. Use rose water as a refreshing
cal state. Adaptogens demonstrate a general improvement in drink. It combines well with hibiscus. Saffron promotes love,
the body’s resistance to stress. The modern herbal under- devotion and compassion in those who use this rare and valu-
standing is that adaptogenic herbs are nontoxic, safe plants able medicine.
that exert a generalized, normalizing, balancing influence on Valerian is a relaxant herb that has a calming effect on the
the body; they help the body to cope with stress and enhance autonomic nervous system. It is a good short-term relaxant
immunity and on the whole, increase muscular strength and that works quickly, offering a healthy, nontoxic alternative.
endurance. Ashwaganda root, a sattvic herb, is one of the best herbs for
Ashwaganda is an Ayurvedic example. Along with bala, the mind and consciousness. A calming and “grounding”
gokshura and licorice, these slow acting Ayurvedic tonic herbs herb, it promotes balanced sleep. Chrysanthemum flower
treat fatigue and strengthen vitality. Ayurveda uses herbs as makes a delicious tea that is very cooling to the body and
very powerful tools to heal the mind and emotions. More mind. Ayurveda says that it helps to surrender the egoistic will
powerful than food, yet they are safer than allopathic drugs. and soothe anger.
Yogis have classified certain herbs that have a particularly pos-
itive effect on the mind. Bitter taste, for example, is composed Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
of air and ether tattvas, the same elements that predominate Licorice root is probably the most widely used herb for chron-
in the mind. Herbs with bitter taste generally open the mind, ic fatigue conditions. Licorice is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral,
increase sensitivity and awareness, and improve mental func- protects the liver, and supports the immune system. Fatigued
tion. Bitter tasting herbs are cooling, calming and mind people often show a deficiency of glucocorticoid hormones,


produced in the adrenal glands, which improves with licorice Called “Indian ginseng”, ashwaganda is a nightshade plant, a
root. relative of tomatoes and potatoes. Though unrelated to the
Rich in both saponins and flavonoids, licorice root is anti- true ginsengs, it appears to share their many properties and
inflammatory. The shape of the saponins actually resembles actions. This long-term building herb is a rasayana, a partic-
adrenal hormones. This herb also enhances the immune sys- ularly powerful rejuvenative that is regarded as a premier sex-
tem functioning. Additionally, licorice is a potent liver herb, ual tonic. The name ashwaganda means, “smelling like a
assisting in balancing hormones. horse.” It is said to have the distinct odor of horse pee
Licorice (“yashtimadhu,” the sweet stick) is used in (sounds appealing doesn’t it?) But perhaps a better metaphor
Ayurveda to improve eyesight, strength, sexual potency, and would be “like a horse,” connoting its tonifying effects on the
libido. Licorice is considered to enhance the effects of other sexual organs.
herbs in a formula, so it is widely used. The recommended And the sexual enhancement is not just a folk tale. A
dosage for fatigue would be to try 2 to 3 grams of licorice root study from 2001 showed that extracts of ashwaganda
twice daily for 4 to 8 weeks. A maintenance dose is about 500 increased production of sex hormones and sperm, presumably
mg per day. Licorice can cause hypertension in susceptible by exerting a testosterone-like effect. In another double blind
people, so it is appropriate to regularly check your blood pres- clinical trial, ashwaganda (3 g/day for 1 year) was tested on
sure when administering these doses of licorice root. the process of aging in 101 healthy male adults (50-59 years
of age.) Significant improvements in hemoglobin, red blood
Amla Fruit (Emblica officinalis) cells, hair pigment and seated stature were observed. Serum
This famous Ayurvedic herb is one of the most useful medi- cholesterol decreased, nail calcium was preserved and 71.4%
cines in the Indian pharmacopoeia, and is considered to be of those who received the herb reported improvement in sex-
one of the strongest rejuvenatives. It is an exceptionally rich ual performance.
source of vitamin C. Amla is the frontline anti-inflammatory In spite of its sexual notoriety, modern clinicians are more
herb and is used for a wide variety of inflammatory condi- likely to employ it for chronic fatigue, anxiety, insomnia and
tions, including hemorrhoids, gastritis, and colitis. Scientists chronic heart and vascular disorders, where it is often com-
recently confirmed the potent anti-inflammatory action of bined with the famous arjuna bark (Terminalia arjuna).
amla. It is considered to be the prime general herb for the eyes Ashwaganda is one of the most promising herbs for building
and is said to treat premature gray hair. Amla is the basis for overall health. Science is only beginning to confirm the
the famous Ayurvedic rejuvenative jam, “chyavanprash.” As a encouraging signs for this valuable Ayurvedic herb. A scientif-
long-term, slow-acting remedy for chronic inflammation, use ic article published in 2000 by Los Angeles researchers review
1-2 grams per day in capsules. a host of confirmed benefits: anti-inflammatory, antitumor,
antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic and
Ashwaganda Root (Withania somnifera) rejuvenating properties. The scientists say that it also appears
This ancient herb is showing promise in round after round of to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopul-
modern scientific investigations. This grounding herb, some- monary, and central nervous systems. Study after study con-
times named “winter cherry”, is the main tonic, especially for tinues to confirm the stress tolerance, performance and
men, in the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia, holding a role similar endurance enhancing benefits of this herb. A 2001 study indi-
to that of ginseng in Chinese medicine. In fact, recent studies cated that the herb reduced brain damage caused by stress by
show ashwaganda to be superior to ginseng as an antistress 80%.
adaptogen for treating general debility and exhaustion, emaci- Tests of the pharmacological and metabolic effects of ash-
ation, memory loss, nerve diseases, cough, anemia, and waganda performed in 2000 showed that it increased the
insomnia.” swimming time in a physical capacity tests and also increased
the size of the heart and the content of blood sugar in the
heart and liver.


Tested against chronic unpredictable stress behavior, depres- In India, it is given with pungent, heating herbs (ginger,
sion, glucose metabolism, suppressed male sexual behavior, pepper, etc.) to increase its tonic effects. For general rejuvena-
suppressed immune function and cognitive dysfunction as tion, this is a good combination:
well as stomach ulcer, adrenal gland atrophy, vitamin C and 10 parts Ashwaganda
levels of stress hormones surprisingly, the herb benefited them 1 part Pipali
all. 5 parts Ghee
Ayurveda considers it a “grounding” herb—one that nour- 10 parts Honey
ishes and regulates metabolic processes and stabilizes mood.
A study done in 2000 indicates these uses are correct. The
researchers concluded, “The investigations support the use of Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus, “Hundred Husbands”)
Withania somnifera as a mood stabilizer in clinical conditions This herb is the primary general tonic herb for women in
of anxiety and depression in Ayurveda.” Ayurveda. This relative of the vegetable asparagus is thought
As well as being a slow-acting tonic herb, ashwaganda is to be particularly rejuvenating to the female reproductive tract
a superb herb for treating chronic anxiety. A study done in and the blood. Shatavari is used to strengthen the immune
2000 indicates that “The investigations support the use of system, increase milk and sexual secretions, and as an aphro-
Withania somnifera as a mood stabilizer in clinical conditions disiac. Shatavari means “hundred husbands”. You get the
of anxiety and depression in Ayurveda.” It takes about a week idea.
to work up to the proper dose, and about another week for Shatavari increases intellect, digestion, and physical
the herb to reach maximum effectiveness. Since ashwaganda strength. A recent study found that a combination containing
is a slow-acting herb, you may take your daily dose at any shatavari reduced stress effects substantially. Taken for a wide
time during the day. Used this way, ashwaganda prevents the variety of acute female hormone complaints, including dys-
onset of an anxiety episode. menorrheal, this herb balances female hormones, making it
As the scientific name indicates (somnifera), ashwaganda valuable in treating menopausal complaints, such as vaginal
aids sleep. Ayurvedic herbalists use the herb to reestablish atrophy, and increases fertility. It contains phytoestrogens,
long-term sleep rhythms. Rather than making you sleepy when triterpene, saponins, including shatavarin. To treat a wide vari-
you take the herb, this remedy seems to regulate sleep cycles ety of female hormonal symptoms (PMS, menstrual cramps,
over time, facilitating more refreshing sleep. Ashwaganda also mood changes, menopausal hot flushes, etc.), higher doses
increases memory and maze test performance. Ashwaganda can be used. Work up gradually to effective dose,about 7000
acts as an antioxidant in the brain, which may explain, at mg per day. As a long-term female tonic herb, it is used in
least in part, a host of its effects, including the reported anti- doses of 1000 mg per day, in capsules.
stress, immunomodulatory, cognition-facilitating, anti-inflam- This herb is used as an effective moisturizer for the mem-
matory and anti-aging benefits. Recent studies show ashwa- branes of the lungs, digestive tract, and, like other asparagus
ganda to have immune enhancing action. New scientific dis- species, the kidneys and urinary tract. The fresh root juice is
coveries also show that ashwaganda has substantial anti- used with honey for indigestion. The tubers are candied and
tumor effects, as well as enhancing the effect of radiation used as snacks. A 1990 study revealed that shatavari is at least
therapy in cancer, while protecting healthy cells. as effective as metoclopramide, a commonly used drug, for
A typical dose of ashwaganda is about a gram per day, indigestion. Take it cooked in milk, combined with ghee, raw
taken over long periods, up to many years, as a rejuvenator. sugar, and honey. Shatavari infused oil or ghee is used for
However, ashwaganda is also very safe in larger quantities, massage for nerve, joint and urinary disorders.
which are often used in Ayurveda for short term—1-10 grams
per day—acute conditions


Tulsi (“Holy Basil”) acids, total cholesterol, triglyceride, phospholipids and total
This unassuming little garden plant plays a central role in the lipids. In the liver, total cholesterol, triglycerides and total
folk medicine of South Asia. It is one of the three most sacred lipids were significantly lowered. Total lipids were significant-
herbs of India, along with soma and lotus. This mild medic- ly reduced in the kidney. In the heart, a significant fall in total
inal herb is cultivated near temples and private homes, where cholesterol and phospholipids was observed.” In another sig-
it is believed to purify the air and to sanctify the environs. The nificant, placebo controlled, crossover study, tulsi was shown
common name (“holy basil”) comes from the reverence with to reduce blood sugar by 17.6%, which led the scientists to
which it is regarded in Indian culture. Tulsi is a considered to conclude that tulsi was valuable in mild to moderate diabetes.
be a Goddess herself, and to serve humanity daily by her pres- A double blind, placebo controlled study on stress-related
ence on the planet. Tulsi is considered to expand and sharp- arterial hypertension found that, in two weeks, tulsi powder
en awareness, aid meditation, and promote compassion when dropped blood pressure in 25 patients an average of 26 mm
taken as a medicine. Tulsi strengthens all the agnis at every Hg. For an excellent general heart tonic, combine it with the
level. cooler arjuna bark.
Although a member of the basil genus (Ocimum), this par- Tulsi is anti-inflammatory. It is now presumed to have
ticular type of basil hardly resembles the culinary variety we adaptogenic benefits. Traditionally, tulsi was thought to pro-
are used to seeing in pesto. Much more pungent, the plant tect against damage from stress. Modern research now con-
has a bitter taste, and larger leaves. Though the seeds and root firms it. As a tonic, it compares to ginseng and maca.
are used in medicine, the leaves are the main therapeutic part In Ayurvedic herbalism, tulsi is used as an expectorant and
of the plant. In India, three main varieties of tulsi are available. anti-mucus herb, for respiratory diseases like cold and flu. It
Rama tulsi (“Svet”, or “Shukla”—white) is actually deep green, is quite warming to the body, so it will make you sweat (a
and used more for digestion. It grows to three feet with stems diaphoretic), a characteristic that also lends itself to fever and
about a half inch thick. flu treatment. Diaphoretics are commonly taken internally for
Krishna tulsi (“Shyama”—black) is deep magenta, close to skin diseases and itching in all systems of herbal medicine,
purple, and is used for its detoxifying action; it’s also hotter. and tulsi is no exception. A hot infusion of dried leaves is an
It can grow to over six feet tall and five feet across with stems excellent carrier for other treatments. For mucus coughs, use
over two inches thick; it is essentially a small tree.For the most fresh Krishna tulsi (or substitute regular basil) juice with
part, though, these two varieties can be used interchangeably; honey. (A wheat grass juicer works well for this.)
although the chemotypes of the two can vary substantially, Tulsi’s ability to bring down fever is a prabhava, or special
depending on where they grow. action of this herb. Tulsi’s fever-reducing property works
Vana (“grove”) tulsi is Ocimum gratissimum. It has many through a process that impacts the core dynamics of the body,
of the same properties as Rama and Krishna tulsi. For regular and so can affect deep, old, mysterious and periodic fevers, for
use, de Jager recommends a blend of Rama, Krishna and which it is sometimes used with black pepper. A folk fever
Vana, 2:2:1. remedy includes cooking onion and tulsi in coconut oil and
Tulsi is an excellent tonic for many of the stress-related applying the infused oil to the head.
conditions we’ve been discussing. Quite recently, tulsi has As a warming digestive aid, it is given for indigestion from
been getting serious attention in the scientific literature for its overeating. For this use, its gentle tridoshic nature is so mild
exciting and potential uses in several important chronic con- that most everyone tolerates it. Holy basil is also a muscle
ditions: diabetes, normalizing blood sugar and blood fats, relaxant, and kills intestinal parasites. Rice pudding is prepared
including cholesterol and triglycerides, which contribute to with the soaked seeds to treat serious diarrhea.
not only diabetes but also cardiovascular diseases. A recent The herb seems to prevent cancer and to protect against
study concluded that, “The results indicated a significant radiation damage, at least in laboratory animals. A study pub-
reduction in fasting blood sugar, uronic acid, total amino lished in 1999, from Madras, demonstrated that subjects were


protected from developing cancer of the mouth by taking holy Though it has yet to become a star here, that is about to
basil. Subjects survived radiation exposure when they had change. With over 61 studies in the scientific literature, it has
been administered the herb. built up a solid base of scientific support for its many func-
Its benefits seem to be endless. Here are some of its oth- tions. This powerhouse herb also does double duty as a nerve
ers properties: Tulsi helps shortness of breath and bron- tissue builder, diuretic, sedative and tonic for the heart. And if
chiospasm in asthma. It has been historically combined with that’s not enough, in India, brahmi is also employed in asth-
ginger and black pepper for asthma, or combined with honey ma, hoarseness, anxiety, epilepsy, neurasthenia, emotional
for bronchitis for cough. Holy basil kills microbes, including stress, bronchitis, cough, water retention and joint pain.
bacteria and fungi. It has now been shown to stimulate the The active constituents of brahmi are steroidal saponins,
immune system, confirming the historical use. This versatile including mainly the bacosides. These active compounds
herb also benefits ulcer. It has been shown to reduce acid pro- enhance nerve impulse transmission, strengthening memory
duction in the stomach and increase protective mucus secre- and general cognition. The diuretic, sedative and cardiotonic
tion. Finally, research reveals that tulsi is an antioxidant- not effects are due to the presence of hersaponin, one of four
surprising, considering its high flavonoid content, and its clin- saponins isolated from the plant.
ical effects. Tulsi treats gray hair (palita), a fire excess condi- In support of the traditional use for enhancing memory,
tion. The same special property that allows warming tulsi to Australian researchers recently gave Bacopa to 76 adults, aged
reduce fever is at play here. Oils with tulsi are available for 40 to 65 years, in a double-blind randomized, placebo control
scalp application, or nasya, or drink tulsi tea. The essential oil study in which various memory functions and anxiety levels
is inserted in the ear for ear infections. Make a tulsi ear oil by were tested and measured. Numerous memory tests before
cooking tulsi leaf in mustard oil and adding fresh garlic juice. and after taking the brahmi showed that the herb significant-
Traditionally, tulsi is given as a tea, in a dose of 3 tsp. of dry ly improved the retention of new information.
herb, brewed into water, per day. Tulsi is a very mild and safe Scientific literature is pointing to some pretty significant
herb, however, and some people have more success with high- uses for brahmi in the treatment of cognitive and behavioral
er doses. Gradually increase the amount of tea until you get disorders. In 1980, Indian researchers ran an open trial of
the results you are looking for, or until you have any digestive Bacopa with 35 adults suffering from anxiety and neurosis.
distress, which is very unlikely. You may also drink the fresh The dose was 12 g per day of the dried plant in syrup form,
juice, taking about one-half ounce three times a day. for four weeks. Concentration and immediate memory span
Tulsi opens the heart and mind, and encourages devotion. were both upped significantly. On-the-job mental fatigue also
Using tulsi herbally supports the energy of attachment, which was improved. Other major problems improved significantly,
draws prosperity near and keeps it in our lives. Energetically, including nervousness, palpitation, insomnia, headache,
tulsi also clears the aura. tremors, and irritability. Some who had been disabled by their
anxiety overcame it and were able to return to normal life. The
Brahmi (Bacopa monniera, or “Water Hyssop”) mean total anxiety level was significantly decreased.
Stress can play havoc with memory. Brahmi has been a part Brahmi is safe and effective for children. Indian school-
of traditional Ayurvedic medicine since at least the sixth cen- children take it at home. In 1987, Indian scientists gave brah-
tury A.C.E. An indication of the respect for this herb is in its mi to 40 schoolchildren aged 6-8 in a single-blind trial. Maze
name: “brahmi” means “god-like”. Used in Asia for stress learning, immediate memory and perception as well as their
effects, nerve diseases, mental exhaustion and to improve reaction and performance times all improved. The dose was 1
memory, it’s a powerful brain food. Meditators use it to gram per day for three months of the dried plant extracted into
increase comprehension, concentration and recollection. a syrup form. No side-effects were recorded. Children with
Because it increases the ability to solve problems effectively, it ADHD also get benefit from Bacopa. In a double-blind, place-
is often found in Ayurvedic formulas to prevent stress. Recent bo-controlled, randomized trial, Bacopa improved virtually
investigations are proving its anti-stress benefits. every measure of children’s ADHD symptoms.


Recent research is revealing that brahmi is a potent anti-oxi- Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)
dant. Scientific discoveries show that it has powerful free rad- Thinking about thinking? Feel like you’re about to max out
ical scavenging capacity. This antioxidant capacity may your personal hard drive? Here’s an herb for you! Not to be
explain, at least in part, the reported antistress, immunomod- confused with kola nut (Cola nitida), gotu kola is a jungle
ulatory, cognition enhancing, anti-inflammatory and antiaging creeper that grows in hot moist climates. It is the food of the
effects. elephants, and we all know about their memories! Fresh, it’s
a delicious salad vegetable. The juice of the fresh leaves is
Shankpushpi (Evolvulus alsinoides) available at some juice bars. With a long history of brain
When we become stressed and feel the need for mental peace building, g otu kola is a mainstay of herbal medicine in
and sleep, we may call upon shankhapushi to help restore the Ayurveda. This herb has also been around the fringes of
mind to equanimity and relaxation. Its flowers resemble the European herbalism for many years. In fact, it was used in
shankha or conch shell, hence the name. This herb is an out- France in the 1880s. Widely considered a superior herb for the
standing rejuvenating tonic for the mind and nerve tissue. The nervous system, gotu kola has a host of benefits.
plant is said to have profound mystical properties, with an In India, gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is used interchange-
affinity for the heart, throat, third eye and crown chakras. ably with Bacopa. Both are called “brahmi”, referencing their
Especially effective for mental disorders like anxiety and anti-aging properties and the respect given to each for their
fear, shankpushpi is often taken with or prepared in ghee, and healing properties. It balances all the tattvas. It has a bitter
promotes tranquility without dulling the mind. In depression, taste and is cooling to the body. An excellent nerve nutrient,
it uplifts. In mania it is calming. Students can use it for exam it is the main herb in Ayurveda for the nervous system, used
phobia. For attention deficit disorders, it combines well with in the repair of nerve tissues from crushing trauma, including
brahmi, jatamamsi, calamus and licorice. spinal injury, neuromuscular disorders, and to increase gener-
For sleep, use about six grams at bedtime of shankpushpi. al brain function, memory, concentration, and mental acuity.
These qualities also support gotu kola as the most used herb
Gokshura Fruit, or Caltrops (Tribulus terrestris) in enhancing meditation.
This well-known herb is, in fact, an Ayurvedic standout for Ayurveda claims that gotu kola strengthens memory, con-
sexual building. Gokshura is an exceptional remedy in urogen- centration and intelligence, promotes longevity, strengthens
ital conditions. It promotes urine flow and soothes the mem- the voice, physical stamina and the complexion. It is used to
branes. This herb is sometimes combined with guggul, tripha- promote circulation, especially to the blood vessels of the skin
la and trikatu in a traditional Ayurvedic tridoshic compound and mucous membranes, and is a rejuvenator for the nerves
formula called Gokshuradi Fuggul, used to support the proper and brain. This medicine is used to treat diseases as diverse
function of the genitourinary tract. as epilepsy, senility, hair loss and psoriasis.
Gokshura promotes mental clarity and has exceptional One study showed an impressive improvement in memo-
clinical effect in depression. This herb contains harmine alka- ry, increasing the retention of learned behavior by 3 to 60
loids, which may explain its sedative properties. It may be times. More recently, a new study out of Korea shows that
taken with ashwaganda as a tonic nervine in nervous disor- components in gotu kola show potential for treating
ders. Alzheimer’s disease, a very promising conclusion.
Because gotu kola is basically a mild salad vegetable, the
dose can be very high. Try one to four teaspoonfuls of fresh
juice every morning. Many people use a modest dose of 1
gram per day in capsules for daily rejuvenation or simply try a
cup of gotu kola tea with honey before meditation.


Special Preparations to Counter Stress

Sulfur stiffness, better walking ability, and decreased inflammation,

Sulfur is an essential nutrient in the human body. We actual- swelling, and pain in joints. German studies show the benefits
ly use a considerable amount of sulfur just in our daily activi- of sulfur baths in oxidative stress and arthritis. Previously it has
ties. In fact, about 0.25% of our body weight is sulfur. been shown that drinking mineral waters with sulfur can
Generally, sulfur performs a detoxifying function. In plant med- improve the antioxidant defense system and lower the perox-
icines and foods, sulfur is the active ingredient in onions, gar- ide levels of patients with chronic degenerative osteoarthritis.
lic and cabbage, and what gives them their characteristic smell. A randomized study of sulfur baths looked at these same
Ayurveda uses many forms of sulfur as medicine. measures in people with chronic degenerative osteoarthritis.
Sulfur is part of the chemical structure of a number of nec- The results of the study suggest that a regime of sulfur bath
essary nutrients in the diet. We all eat a small amount of sul- therapy could cause a reduction in oxidative stress, alterations
fur in our food every day. Sulfur is abundant in keratin, a pro- of free radical activities, and a tendency toward improvement
tein that strengthens hair, nails, and skin. Sulfur also plays a of lipid levels.
role in the production of collagen, a protein that helps keep An Israeli study, directed by Israeli fibromyalgia pioneer
connective tissue elastic and healthy. Dan Buskila looked at Dead Sea bath therapy for fibromyalgia.
Yogi Bhajan gave the combination of sulfur, cloves and Forty-eight people with fibromyalgia were randomly assigned
honey as a blood cleanser and this formula has been used in to a treatment group receiving sulfur baths in addition to the
scores of cases to treat inflammatory skin conditions, such as control group. All participants stayed for 10 days at a Dead Sea
acne, in teenagers or adults. The regime includes powdered spa. (Now that was a tough assignment!) Physical functioning
mineral sulfur (sulfur flour) in a capsule (it tastes terrible). and tenderness improved somewhat in both groups. The
Taken internally, mineral sulfur loosens stool and creates strong improvement was especially notable in the treatment group
smelling intestinal gas. Carminative herbs, such as cumin, gin- and it continued even after 3 months. Numerous other Israeli
ger and turmeric, can be taken concurrently to reduce the gas. studies show similar results.
Sulfur is a naturally occurring mineral, found mainly near The bottom line is that sulfur baths, which people have
hot springs and volcanic craters. The sulfur in sulfur mineral used and enjoyed for centuries, are beneficial for a number of
baths has a “rotten egg” smell that is caused by sulfur dioxide conditions. Research so far is preliminary, but positive. A nice
gas in the air. Due to possible anti-inflammatory effects, sulfur soak in a spa might be just what the doctor ordered.
baths are widely used for the treatment of rheumatic diseases.
Sulfur-containing mud baths help in the treatment of skin dis- Bhasma
orders and arthritis. Balneotherapy is an ancient form of ther- Bhasmas are preparations in which metals and other mineral
apy for pain relief for those with arthritis and other pain con- substances, after purifications, are reduced to their oxide or
ditions. Some claim that sulfur baths are useful for allergies sulfide form. Pishti is a preparation in which they are treated
and respiratory disorders. Taking sulfur baths increases the with rose water washes, called Bhawnas, and dried.
body’s blood level of sulfur, allowing it to act as a nutrient. A Rasa Shastra (rasa, mercury, shastra, literature) is the science
number of studies have suggested that soaking in a hot min- of metals, minerals, gemstones and their processing. Metallic
eral spring can lessen the pain of arthritis. medicines have several advantages over herbs. The doses are
Well-designed studies, primarily from Israel, suggest that smaller, and there is no bad taste, so compliance is good. They
sulfur baths, with or without mud packs, or soaks in the Dead assimilate very rapidly. They penetrate deeply into all the tis-
Sea can help treat several different kinds of arthritis sues. They last a long time, because never spoil, and in fact,
(osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis). become more potent as they age and have no expiration date,
Subjects experienced improved strength, decreased morning nor seasonal harvest issues.


Table 4.2 Mineral Bhasma Formulas


Abhrak Bhasma Mica & juices of Several Tonic & hematinic, Used in chronic asthma, 250 mg
indigenous herbs old age debility, gives strength

Diamond bhasma Diamond ash Strength, tissue firmness, aphrodisiac, eyesight, 50 mg

chronic debilitating diseases (cancer, diabetes)

Gandhak Rasayana Sulfur bhasma prepared with cow’s Blood purifier. Gout, skin disease, dental abscess, 500 mg
milk, cardamom, cinnamon, guduchi. arthritis, diabetes, hemorrhoids
Triphala, dry ginger, Bringraj,
fresh ginger Used to treat mercury poisoning

Lauh Bhasma Iron Restorative, hematinic & astringent. Indicated in anemic 125 mg
conditions, disorders of liver & spleen, jaundice, edema with honey
and general debility. Increase hemoglobin content of blood.
Anaemia, seminal weakness, leucorrhoea, obesity, leprosy,
abdominal and air tattva diseases

Manikya Bhasma Ruby Nervine & heart tonic. Used in nervous & general debility 65 to 130 mg
with honey

Mayur Chandrika Bhasma Mayur pankha (peacock feather) Antispasmodic & antiemetic. Useful in urinary disorders, 250 mg
female disorders and general debility. with honey

Moti Bhasma Pearl and aloe Antacid, nervine, sedative & alterative. Used in 65 to 130 mg
hyperacidity, asthma, cough & nervous excitement, with honey
growing children & pregnant women.

Prawal Bhasma Coral Antacid, used in cough, scrofulous affections, 125 to 750 mg
spermatorrhea, pulmonary hemorrhage & calcium deficiency with honey

Raupya Bhasma Purified silver Cool, sour. 65 to 130 mgs

Cools mind and emotions. Nervine sedative & aphrodisiac. with honey
Used in mental diseases, general debility, uterine diseases
& irritability of uterus.

Shankh Bhasma Conch shell Carminative & analgesic. Used in colic, flatulence 250 to 750 mgs
with honey

Swarna Bhasma Pure gold Sweet, bitter, hot, oily, heavy 32 to 125 mgs
Nervine tonic, aphrodisiac, emmenagogue & increase sexual with honey
power, stimulates activity of stomach, skin and kidney causing diaphoresis.
Intelligence and memory. A very potent medicine. Can revive a dying patient.
Indicated in tuberculosis, chronic fever, general weakness and impotence.

Yasad Bhasma Zinc Alterative, diuretic and hypoglycemic & astringent. 125 to 250 mgs
Internal hemorrhage, diabetes, urinary disorders and night with honey
sweats in tuberculosis. The remedy of leucorrhoea, cough,
gonorrhea, diarrhea, semenuria, chronic fever, anemia, dyspnea,
scrofula, goiter, tuberculosis and edema.


Aromatherapy & essential oils for

stress, mood & Cognition

Yoga therapy has a long history of using herbal oils for a wide To ease muscle and joint pain, you can try a variety of dif-
variety of uses—stress, relaxation, mood elevation, and sleep ferent remedies: Basil, black pepper, elemi, eucalyptus, myrrh,
issues being primary applications. In 2003, British researchers peppermint, and pine work well in bath water. Also, juniper oil
tested the effects of inhaling rosemary and lavender oils on or rosemary oil works well in a bath. Rub tea tree oil every-
mood and cognition. Using 148 healthy participants, they con- where it hurts at least once daily; muscle pain takes about six
cluded that lavender reduced memory and reaction time—in weeks to disappear. Or massage painful areas with juniper oil.
other words, it was relaxing. By contrast, rosemary stimulated To reduce stress, you can try elemi, frankincense, geranium,
alertness, memory speed and memory performance. jasmine, lavender, myrrh, and neroli. For a steam inhalation,
Aromatherapy could help elderly patients struggling with boil 2 cups of water. Add 2-5 drops of essential oil. Inhale the
dementia, researchers, writing in The British Medical Journal, steamy vapors for 5-10 minutes. Use a towel over your head
said. In an editorial, Alistair Burns, a professor of psychiatry at and the bowl to increase concentration. Use the inhalation 2-
the University of Manchester, England, and colleagues pointed 3 times a day for respiratory disorders. Be careful—steam is hot;
out that three studies done in 2002 have shown the benefit of don’t burn yourself.
aromatherapy, particularly the use of lemon balm and lavender Mouthwashes made with essential oils are good for canker
oil for dementia patients. British researchers applied essential sores, bad breath, and sore throats. Put 1-2 drops of essential
oil of lemon balm to the faces and arms of people with severe oil in a cup of water. Add some apple cider vinegar if you like.
dementia in a controlled study. These patients experienced a Gargle. Use 2-3 times a day as needed.
35% overall reduction in agitation. Their quality of life meas-
ures also improved significantly.
Essential oils are often incorporated into personal care Essential Oil Profiles
items like body creams and bath gels. They have become
increasingly popular as part of massage or spa treatments. The Lavender balancing, calming, insomnia
skin care uses are somewhat more researched and, over the topical: wounds, burns
years, have sneaked into mainstream medicine a bit more. Use
Eucalyptus invigorating and cooling
essential oil therapies for dermatitis, eczema, acne, dry skin
inhaled: relieves respiratory congestion
and bacterial infection. Essential oils are concentrated, so they
topical: relieves muscle soreness
should never be applied to the skin undiluted. Pure vegetable
Peppermint refreshing and cooling
oils or hand lotions are used to dilute the essential oils and
“carry” them to the skin. Evidence of their growing popularity, topical: relieve headache
there are about 300 commercially available essential oils on the internal: irritable bowel syndrome, gas, indigestion
market in America. Sandalwood cooling, relaxing
Using essential oils in massage can be very successful. topical: main Ayurvedic treatment for acne
From soothing with scent to invigorating with a warming oil, Geranium balancing and normalizing
these blends have a host of uses. Depending on the oil, use Clove bud topical: very warming, for muscle stiffness
10-20 drops of essential oil per ounce of massage oil or lotion. Ylang Ylang relaxing antidepressant
Sometimes less is more. Start conservatively. Essential oil baths Rosemary mentally stimulating
can have profound effects for skin disorders, muscular aches topical: muscle aches
and pains, respiratory congestion and stress. They can also Clary Sage topical: relieves pain
increase blood and lymph circulation. Start with 5-10 drops in
a full body bath. Table 4.3 Essential Oil Profiles


Using food to rebuild from chronic stress

There is no official “stress diet” that works for everyone, so He suggests that pain from cold is hard and motionless, like
consider a balanced, nutritional plan. One of the most impor- ice. To remedy this with diet, he suggests warming foods,
tant things to do in severe stress is to clean up your diet. A including ginger, cinnamon, cloves, oats, spelt, sesame seed,
diet of whole, real, natural foods, tailored to your individual walnut, fennel, parsnip, mustard greens and cabbage.
biochemistry is best. By simple observation and experience, News reports abound with the importance of a healthy
identify all factors, including foods that exacerbate your symp- diet. First of all, eat your fruit and veggies. Your heart will
toms and eliminate them. thank you for it. At least, that’s the indication of a study in
Vegetarian diets have been studied in chronic stress disor- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Women who ate
ders, to good effect in general. A Norwegian study tested the between 4 and 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
effects of a three-week vegetarian diet for people with chronic reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by between 20-
pain and fatigue. Serum peroxide, plasma fibrinogen, total cho- 30%. Women without any cardiovascular risk factors, such as
lesterol and high density lipoprotein cholesterol all reduced. diabetes or hypertension, fared even better.
Several such programs use an alkaline-rich diet, high in leafy The data came from a study of almost 40,000 women
green vegetables and free of animal products to promote well- health professionals, all with no known history of cardiovascu-
ness; meat, like stress, is acidifying. lar disease, who took part in the Women's Health Study. They
But what about protein—I’m sure you’ve heard this cry recorded total servings of 28 vegetables and 16 fruits per day,
from either your own lips or a friend’s. Beans, peas and other and were monitored for an average of 5 years for incidence of
legumes, including lentils, are an excellent source of protein. If heart attack, stroke, coronary angioplasty, coronary bypass or
you include these in your diet, and also eat whole grains such death due to cardiovascular disease.
as whole wheat, oats, corn, barley, millet, buckwheat and, rice, Scientists maintain that a diet high in vegetable and fruit con-
these two food groups together will provide the entire assort- sumption is probably part of this whole picture we've been
ment of essential amino acids you need for protein. Legumes seeing concerning plant food and the health benefits for heart
are high in the alkaline minerals calcium, magnesium, potassi- disease. It's probable that, in addition to the antioxidants, vita-
um, iron, copper, zinc and vitamin B-complex, all nutrients mins, minerals and plant hormones found in food plants, other
that benefit strong bones. As an added benefit, legumes are enzymes and hormones, which both protect the plant from
high in soluble fiber, the kind that lowers cholesterol. fungus or help to pollinate it, may help prevent disease in
Soy has become motionless, like ice. To remedy this with humans.
diet, he suggests warming foods, including ginger, cinnamon,
cloves, oats, spelt, sesame seed, walnut, fennel, parsnip, mus- Foods for Basic Rejuvenation
tard greens and cabbage. another popular source of protein. Rice is a very basic, yet very effective rejuvenating food. Easily
Still, we need to be cautious about over consuming soy. There digestible, it increases ojas, moisturizing the tissues. Basmati
is a link between over consumption of soy and autoimmune (literally “queen of fragrance”) is the premier variety. An aro-
disorders. Also, from the energetic point of view, soy is heavy, matic, nutty flavored rice, basmati has a scent that has been
cold, and relatively hard to digest—just the opposite of what compared with jasmine mixed with walnut. This rice is used in
works for chronic pain and fatigue. You can moderate soy’s Ayurveda as a cleanser and healer for all types of people.
cold, dense properties to a certain extent by cooking it (say Ayurvedic physicians also promote honey to rejuvenate
tofu with warming, digestive spices and serving it warm. your body. Honey is made from pollen, the sperm of plants.
Chronic stress is associated with cold energy in the body. Plant reproductive tissue (“shukra”) increases human repro-
An authority on Asian natural medicine and healing foods, ductive function, according to the Ayurvedic principle of “like
Paul Pitchford wrote the excellent Healing with Whole Foods. increases like.” Honey is innately rejuvenating, with its sweet


Science Box: The Oligoantigenic Diet found that over 70% of migraine patients exhibited at least one reac-
Chronic stress is clearly associated with allergies. Sensitivities of var- tion triggered by food. Many found relief from their symptoms on a
ious kinds are part of the syndrome. True food allergies, by defini- special diet. The researchers advised that food allergy testing be used
tion, occur when the immune system reacts to a protein (the aller- to determine those patients most likely to benefit from diet therapy.
gen) from a particular food. The allergen causes antibodies to attack A much reported study, by that same researcher, Egger, looked at the
it as a foreign substance. Food allergy reactions can occur within diet for epilepsy and migraine in children. Foods initiating symptoms
minutes after the food is eaten, or may take up to a few hours (some were identified by systematic reintroduction of foods, one by one.
say up to 72 hours) and lead to various symptoms—hives, swelling The symptoms recurred with 42 foods, seizures recurred with 31, and
around the mouth, asthma, diarrhea, vomiting, eczema or even ana- most children reacted to several foods. In double-blind, placebo-con-
phylaxis (severe, adverse, and potentially fatal reaction involving the trolled provocation studies, 15 of 16 children had a recurrence of
major body systems). symptoms, including seizures, and none recurred when placebo was
An Oligoantigenic Diet, also called the “elemental diet”, is aimed given. One German study concluded that the diet had measurable
at reducing food sensitivities and food allergies. Patients use an benefit in some children with hyperactivity. Another showed bene-
“elimination and challenge” approach to identify the foods that may fit for the diet in children with atopic dermatitis.
be negatively affecting their health. A two stage process: Initially, Chronic stress involves several associated conditions involving food
suspect foods are eliminated from the diet for a two-week period. sensitivities, including cystitis and IBS. The elimination diet can be a rea-
Then, one of the suspect foods is reintroduced into the diet every sonable way to identify and avoid foods that cause problems in these
three days. The patient is carefully monitored for any health changes. conditions. In fact, the Interstitial Cystitis Network’s IC Patient
Once foods that cause negative reactions have been identified, they Handbook suggests using elimination diets as a way to find food trig-
are avoided. Many people have reactions to hundreds of foods. gers and uncover offending foods. The Oligoantigenic Diet receives an
Obviously, this causes major changes in their eating patterns, and overall patient rating score of 7.8 out of 10 for overall benefit and 8 out
tends to limit choices, further restricting nutrients if they are not of 10 for benefit for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis treatment.
careful. Once a dozen or so safe foods have been identified, people A variation of the basic theme is called the rotation diet. Once
tend to concentrate on them. But because they tend to be general- the offending foods have been identified, the idea is to rotate con-
ly sensitive, new reactions to previously safe foods often develop. sumption of specific foods so that any given food is not eaten any
Food intolerances, or sensitivities, as opposed to food allergies more often than every few days. Some versions use a three-day rota-
per se, do not necessarily involve the immune system. Food intoler- tion, whiles others use seven days. This prevents recruiting new sen-
ances may be much less severe, but they can produce chronic health sitivities from overexposure to individual foods on the newly restrict-
problems over time. The 10 most common food intolerances basical- ed diet. Obviously, this approach requires incredible diligence and
ly correspond with the 10 most commonly consumed foods. Wheat consistency and compliance tends to degrade over time. But overall,
and cow’s milk top the list. many people feel much better on this diet. Most people reach an
Although this diet is popular among certain clinicians, it has lit- accommodation where they cheat, but just enough so that they
tle research behind it. But in one double-blind controlled trial of the maintain the positive effects of the overall program.
oligoantigenic diet, Egger reported the recovery of 93% of 88 chil- Skye Weintraub, N.D., suggests a slightly less rigorous version
dren who suffered from severe frequent migraine. The diet consisted of this basic scheme, which is called the “Elimination-Then-
of one meat (lamb or chicken), one carbohydrate (rice or potato), Challenge” diet. In the book, Minding Your Body, it is described.
one fruit (banana or apple), one vegetable (brassica), water and vita- Certain foods typically cause the majority of the symptoms.
min supplements. After 3 or 4 weeks, patients who had only one, Eliminating those foods for 7 to 14 days will give a pretty good meas-
or no, headaches during the last 2 weeks of the diet were reintro- ure of the results. The worst offenders to be eliminated include milk,
duced to excluded foods one at a time (double-blind) to verify that wheat, eggs, corn, peanuts, bananas, beef, cheese, potatoes, orange
the foods were causing the migraine. Seventy percent of patients juice, sugar, chocolate, alcohol and soy. (Of course, these are just
experienced migraine challenges to the reintroduction of provocative the foods that make up most of the American daily diet. Consult the
foods. On another note, in most of the patients in whom migraine book for further details.)
was provoked by other triggers (flashing lights, etc.), the migraine Right now, there is very little specific information on elimination
phenomenon no longer occurred while they were on the diet. Also, diets and chronic stress. But we know that reducing the allostatic
associated symptoms (abdominal pain, behavior disorder, asthma, load can’t hurt and many of these diets have proven they reduce the
eczema) improved in most patients. Allergy and adverse food reac- inflammatory responses in the body and increase the overall func-
tions can provoke headaches of various types. Mansfield and others tion of the organ systems.


taste, and is considered predigested, allowing it to nourish all and ginger powder is cooling and rejuvenative for stress disor-
parts of the body with ease. For these reasons, honey is con- ders.
sidered to be the best enhancer, or “vehicle” for all Ayurvedic Kicharee is the most famous nutritive and convalescent
rejuvenating medicines. Mixing raw, unfiltered honey into food of Ayurveda. It is a gruel, cooked to butter-soft consisten-
herbal tea allows the honey to act as a vehicle for the active cy, made from a grain (almost always rice) and a small, easily
principles of the herbs. digested legume. Lentils are often used, but it may also con-
Other foods that promote reproductive tissues and fluids in tain split peas, urid dal or mung beans. The stew is considered
the body are asparagus, broccoli, milk, dates, mango and rice. pre-digested and is usually very mildly spiced. It will contain,
(The latter three are often blended in milk or made into milk perhaps, a little pepper, and a little cumin. This one pot meal
pudding.) Ajwain seed, cumin (thought to purify the male gen- is the primary convalescent food of Ayurveda. When folks are
itourinary tract), turmeric and black cumin (kala jeera) are also hospitalized, it is not uncommon to eat nothing but kicharee
beneficial. Onion and garlic increase sexual energy, libido, and for the duration of the hospital stay. Frequently this hospital
sexual secretions. They are good aphrodisiacs, but because kicharee is nothing but lentils, rice and a little salt and pepper.
they promote sexual desire, they may lead to excessive sexual Usually it is a thinner gruel consistency, using perhaps 10 parts
activity, which may offset the gains of rejuvenation. water to 1 part grains. In fact, recovery from chronic stress is
The air tattva is dry, cold, light and unstable, therefore, we treated with nothing more than a kicharee diet for up to sever-
want to practice remedies that do the opposite; they include al weeks. Kicharee fills the bill for amino acid balance with
moderate lifestyle habits, including regular meals and elimina- beans and grains. It is regularly recommended for a deep
tion, and sound sleep. Keep your digestion working well and cleansing diet and it makes a good base for medicines. Cook
regularly massage yourself, including oiling your feet, scalp, in or stir in the desired herbal foods for a convenient way to
and face daily. Bring positive emotions (love, compassion) into ingest large quantities of nutritional medicine.
your life. Meditate. Mild spices often include all the six tastes to balance the
recipe. For example, coriander and cumin seeds have warm,
spicy energy and benefit the lungs and spleen for better assim-
ilation and transformation of food into energy. Turmeric, with
Special Recipes and Fasting for Stress its bitter and pungent tastes, is well known for its liver detox-
The foods you eat in the next few decades are probably the ifying and blood and energy circulating properties that help to
most important factor affecting your health not only today, but prevent stagnation and relieve pain. There are many simple
for the rest of your life. recipes for kicharee. Some simple ones appear on the next
Mung Beans and Kicharee
Mung beans are small, cylindrical beans with a dark green skin.
They are used whole or split and hulled. This food is a real star
of the yogic diet. They are compatible for pretty much anyone,
and very easy to digest, especially as compared to larger beans.
They have astringent and sweet qualities, a cooling energy and
are a good source of vegetarian protein. They detoxify the
blood and neutralize toxins. By neutralizing toxins throughout
the body, they are able to calm the mind, relieve hypertension,
clear the accumulation of excess cholesterol and other lipids
from the veins and arteries of the body, and promote the heal-
ing of all diseases. The combination of dates, mung beans, rice


Rejuvenating Stew (Kicharee) Kanji

1/2 cup basmati rice Kanji is a very thin gruel. It is given in cases of very low diges-
1/2 cup lentils or mung beans tive fire, when a lighter diet is needed, such as during a cold.
6 cups water Kanji water may be made from split mung beans, cracked bar-
2 Tbs. ginger root, peeled and grated ley or rice. The usual dose is one or two quarts per day. Kanji
3 cloves garlic, chopped is usually made by cooking one part grain in 14 parts water
1/4 cup onion, chopped until the soup is very thin. Ginger, cumin and salt may be
1/2 tsp. coriander seed, powder added for taste. Strain the gruel if desired.
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder Kanji can be a digestible, low fat dish for the third trimester
1/8 tsp. fennel seed of pregnancy. It can be a vehicle for medicine, or a base for
1/8 tsp. cumin seed herbal medicines. The water can be substituted with herb
1 cup assorted vegetables (carrot, zucchini, broccoli, etc.), broth. Chinese medicine uses essentially the same gruel, where
chopped. it is called “congee”. Use a monodiet of kanji for several days
1 Tbs. ghee to recover digestive functions after a period of severe stress.
Salt to taste, if desired.
Monodiets for Vitality and Stress Reduction
Place rice, lentils or pre-soaked mung beans, water, and spices Anti-stress monodiets give us the chance to focus on rejuve-
in soup pot. Bring to boil. Cook covered on medium heat. nating foods and get maximum nutritional benefit from the
After 30 minutes, add vegetables. When very soft and mushy, diet for a few days. Here are a few rejuvenative recipes that can
stir in ghee and serve. be used as special monodiets in recovering from stress.

Orange Peel Digestive Kicharee Ajwain Seed Immune Pancakes

Here is another somewhat unusual bean and rice dish. Orange Ajwain seed is commonly used from northern India to
peel is an excellent sour digestive remedy. Sautéed or steamed, Afghanistan. Its essential oil is rich in antimicrobial thymol. Eat
it can be added to foods to enhance agni and facilitate diges- these pancakes during the cold and flu season. They are a
tion. Yogi Bhajan described this recipe as balancing metals and savory dish, not a sweet breakfast cake. They can be a little
vitamins in the body. spicy, so start with lesser amounts of the herbs, and work up
to taste.
1 cup Rice
2 cups Water 1-2 Tbs Fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 Onion, medium, coarsely chopped 2-3 Tbs Cauliflower, finely chopped
1 Peel from medium orange (include white strings inside), 1-2 Tbs Ajwain seeds, whole or ground, or to taste
finely chopped Red chilies, crushed, to taste
1 cup previously boiled chick peas Black pepper to taste
1 Tbs Red chili, crushed, or to taste Soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1 cup assorted green vegetables, coarsely chopped (a condiment similar to soy sauce)
2 Tbs Sesame oil Equal parts Bran and whole wheat flour, approximately one
half cup each (Substitute besan, garbanzo flour, for some of
the flour, as desired for more cohesive consistency)
1 Jalapeno pepper, finely chopped, per pancake, if desired

In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Drop batter onto

griddle sprayed with vegetable spray or coated with lecithin to
prevent sticking. Cook on low heat, flipping once, for about 15
minutes on each side.


Endurance Pancakes Trinity Rice

(Inspired by Yogi Bhajan) Especially good for convalescence. Builds stamina.
This detoxifying recipe warms the body, cleans out ama and
supports the immune system. Yogi Bhajan says that mustard 2 onions, chopped
oil “kills everything that kills the body. Straightforward, right 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
on.” 1 inch ginger root, peeled and grated
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup Millet 1/2-3/4 cup ghee
One half cup corn flour or grits, optional, to taste 1 tomato, peeled
1 Tbs Ajwain seed 4-5 cups assorted chopped vegetables
1 Tbs Black cumin seed
1 tsp Black pepper, ground Rinse basmati rice thoroughly. Sauté spices in ghee until gold-
Cayenne, to taste en brown. Add onion, garlic and ginger ("trinity roots") and
1 Tbs Mustard oil stir slowly until onions begin falling apart. Then add tomato,
assorted vegetables and rice, along with 4 cups of water. Cover
In saucepan, boil millet, corn grits and spices until it forms a
and let simmer on a low heat, checking frequently. Add water
batter consistency. In skillet, heat mustard oil. Cook batter in
as necessary. Cook until vegetables are soft and rice is done.
mustard oil to form pancakes, turning once. Adjust spices to
Serves 4.

Cauliflower Parantha for Men

(Inspired by Yogi Bhajan)
This stuffed flatbread is a sexual revitalizer for men. (Women
will enjoy it, too.) Nutmeg is for premature ejaculation. The
warming spices control the air tattva. Bamboo manna balances
the liver. Poppy is for anxiety.

1 Tbs Nutmeg, ground

2 Tbs Cinnamon, ground
1 Tbs Cardamom, ground
8 Tbs Fennel seed, ground
15 cloves, ground
1 Tbs Poppy seed
1 Tbs Bamboo manna, optional
1 Tbs Cardamom seed, ground
1 Tbs Black pepper, ground

Mix spices to taste with steamed cauliflower. Stuff a chapatti.

Warm on hot grill with ghee.



massage and stress

One of the first techniques that Yogi Bhajan shared to count- therapy can be a pillar in any effective holistic management
er stress, improve health and promote relaxation was massage. program. According to the Arthritis Foundation, massage
He handed out foot reflexology charts and had everyone mas- improves function, relieves stress, moderates the immune sys-
sage their own feet—and others. This was a wonderful habit tem and benefits pain, stiffness, fatigue, anxiety and depres-
and a cultural indicator for 3HO. You could arrive at anyone’s sion. They suggest that “massage brings warmth and relax-
house after a long journey or a short jaunt and expect to be ation to the painful area.”
received with “Sat Nam!” and a smile, a cup of yogi tea and All Ayurvedic therapies revolve around the behavior of the
a foot massage. In 1969, when he promoted this simple tech- tattvas. Our goal is to find the offending tattva—the one that
nique, it was unusual; the ‘spa culture’ had yet to blossom. He has become overactive—and balance it by offsetting the ener-
explained that the body is a system of macrocosm and micro- gies. For example, if water is the culprit, the symptoms will
cosm, which flows and interconnects its many parts and its involve cold, slow, wet, heavy conditions (obesity, chest con-
trillions of cells into a sentient network of systems. A little rub gestion, diabetes, etc.). Our massage strategy then would be
here creates a powerful response somewhere else. He said that to offset this energy with warming, active, rough, dry tech-
we could affect the entire body through the embedded maps niques. Ayurveda uses massage therapy as a foundation treat-
in the hands, feet, ears and face. He would often identify spe- ment for virtually all conditions, not just musculoskeletal dis-
cific reflex areas in the body as we exercised, for example, the orders. Depending on the specifics of the treatment, such as
muscles of the upper arm would help digestion and elimina- the precise oil, often with infused medicinal herbs, the temper-
tion. Over the years he gave us many percussive massage tech- ature of the treatment room, the depth and intensity of the
niques—within kriyas and also more formal instruction for treatment, the body region worked and the length of the ses-
healing and rejuvenation to his growing network of chiroprac- sion, Ayurvedic massage can treat just about any tissue imbal-
tors, healers, and students. ance or dysfunction.
When he taught professionals, he gave them the experi- Oil massage in Ayurveda is called abhyanga and is per-
ence of “seeing”; he guided them to be sensitive and to pre- formed with much larger quantities of oil than Western styles
pare the body, not just jump on it like a cat and its prey. He of massage. This oil is very important aspect of the medicinal
would often have the client come and have tea, then a yoga therapy. In abhyanga, the oil is food and must nourish the tis-
class, then a gradual thorough massage, then a chiropractic sues properly. The oil also acts as a carrier for the medicine,
adjustment and acupuncture, then a deep relaxing meditation usually an herbal infusion. The goal is to get as much of the
in a pleasant environment. He guided the healers to treat peo- medicated oil penetrated into the tissues as possible to pacify
ple over time, a few times a month, and use the massage tech- the tattva being treated. Yogi Bhajan said that the skin should
niques to work through the entire body. Some massages be thought of as a third lung. It breathes and exchanges ener-
worked on the nervous system, others targeted the glands, and gy and materials with our environment. It is not a barrier but
still others were for cleansing and emotional release. In most a living porous membrane with its own intelligence. It is an
yoga classes a little self-massage was often included in a set. entire ecology: chemistry, flora and microscopic fauna. To
He left full-body massage techniques to practitioners dedicat- make his point, he had students massage a little garlic oil into
ed to the art. But everyone could do massage of some kind, a spot on the bottom of the feet. A few minutes later you
especially foot massage. could smell the distinctive garlic odor on the breath of your
Ayurveda has a long history of using massage techniques partner. Suddenly we knew that herbs, infusions and various
as an integral part of its total healing system. Massage is used types of oils could affect the surface of the skin, our tattva bal-
in Ayurveda for even the most serious conditions. Massage ance and our internal system as well.


Ideally, Ayurveda recommends a massage with oil before exer- mitted to was the value of kindness and sharing in a culture
cising in order to increase lubrication in the tissues before the of consciousness. He asked us to be graceful and welcoming
initiation of strenuous movement. After exercise, when you are as we greeted each other. Although you may have a relation-
cooling down, you could have another massage with a dry, ship with an excellent healer, it is important that you think
powdered medium, such as powdered herbs, to absorb the about your lifestyle and find ways to incorporate some of this
wastes on the skin and stimulate the tissues. You would fol- basic massage maintenance into your daily routine.
low the dry massage with a shower to remove the excess herbs
and sweat. Anti-Stress Yogic Massage
Traditionally, Ayurvedic healers observed that the tattvas Most of you are familiar with basic foot massage and have the
vary in their predominance depending on the time of the day. foot charts from the Level One Foundations course. Today we
To best control water, have a massage between 6:00 and will practice a massage he gave specifically for stress. He gave
10:00am or 6:00 and 10:00pm. For fire tattva conditions, use us this particular technique so that we could experience what
massage during the hottest part of the day, from 10:00am to it is like to be stress free. He said it would take 10 to 15 treat-
2:00pm. To aid in controlling excess air tattva with massage, ments to restore the normally stressed person and move them
schedule the therapy in the afternoon, from 2:00 to 6:00pm. toward complete rejuvenation and the stress-free zone.
Combine the timing with the appropriate composed oils and Find a partner: Partner A will massage Partner B. Then after
you have a powerful system to encourage healing. a 10 minute relaxation, Partner B will massage Partner A to
complete the cycle. As with any technique that involves touch-
Cold Water Shower Massage ing another person, be respectful and listen to your partner.
Massage is an integral part of our lifestyle and a first line of Ask permission and be a divine healer, letting Guru Ram Das
defense against stress. He had all of us cultivate the habit of flow through you. Let your presence heal as well as the specif-
massaging our entire body with almond oil and then rub vig- ic technique we will master today.
orously under a cold shower first thing in the morning. It pre- If your partner does not want to participate for any reason,
pared our tattvas and mind to do sadhana. It woke us up. It feel free to find another partner or ask a facilitator to assist you.
encouraged the body’s natural systems to cleanse and it devel- If you choose not to receive or to give this massage technique,
oped our nervous strength. you can simply relax, observe and let the healing aura of the
Because massage, as a profession, has expanded greatly group heal you as well.
since these humble beginnings, some people think of it as only
a professional treatment. In fact, you can now pay anywhere
from $50-150 for a foot massage. That’s fine; it is a valued
technique. But one of the things Yogi Bhajan was clearly com-

Small Group Discussion

After giving sharing the Anti-Stress Yogic Massage, discuss
your experience of the massage and give feedback.


Yogi Bhajan •October 18, 1986

Yogi Bhajan gave the following anti-stress massage technique to the 1

Khalsa Chiropractic Association in 1986. There are 12 nerve points
to be massaged in sequence, and each point is to be treated for 3
minutes by rubbing in a circular motion. Techniques 1 through 5
have the patient face up, and techniques 6 through 12 have the
patient face down.

Be sure to use a clock so that no single point is stimulated for more 2 3

than 3 minutes. Class members can pair up so that person A com-
pletes the massage on person B, then they switch roles so that per-
son B can complete the massage on person A.

1. Have the patient lie down face up. The healer sits above the
patient’s head. With a small rapid circular motion, massage the skull
at a posterior dimple point behind each ear; that is, two-thirds the
way up from the bottom of the ear. You should be able to find a slight
depression in the skull where your finger fits to do the massage.

2. Stand over the patient and with a rapid circular motion, massage
the lower portion of the rib cage on the sides of the patient’s body.
3. Gently but firmly, start on the left side of the chest and press
underneath the bottom edge of the rib cage where the abdominal
muscles connect to the lower ribs. Use the little finger edge of your
left hand to press in under the bottom of the rib cage. Be gentle as
some people have very tight muscles in this area. Hold the pressure
a while and allow the patient to relax. Now using the little finger
edge of your right hand, gently but firmly press underneath the bot- 5
tom edge of the rib cage on the right side of the patient’s body.
Alternate from side to side. Take your time, go slowly and don’t
switch abruptly from one side to the other.

4. Massage the patient’s abdomen rapidly and lightly using your fin-
gertips of each hand on either side of the patient’s center line with-
in the triangular area formed by the hipbones and the pubic bone.

5. Place the flat of your palms over the patient’s kneecaps and mas-
sage lightly and rapidly in circular motion, moving out from the cen-
ter line of the patient’s body.

ON THE BACK. The patient lies face down.

6. Rub and massage the Achilles tendons of both feet from the foot
upward several inches to where the calf muscles meet the tendon.


7. Place the flat of your palms on the back of the legs behind 7
the patient’s knees and massage lightly and rapidly in circular
motion, moving out from the center line of the patient’s body.

8. Massage both legs rapidly and lightly using your fingertips at

the point where the legs and buttocks meet.

9. Massage the muscles on either side of the spine just above

the top edge of the sacrum. This is the junction of the sacrum 8
(vertebrae S1) and the lowest lumbar (vertebrae L5).

10. Stand over the patient. Using the fleshy sides of your fists,
walk up the muscles on either side of the spine from the base
of the spine to the neck.

11. Rapidly and lightly massage the mid-trapezius muscles (mid-

point top of shoulder) on both sides.

12. Sit above the patient’s head. Massage the sides and back of
the neck, moving upwards from the nape of the neck to the
base of the skull where the spine meets the skull.

If there is sufficient time, allow the patient to relax for another

5-15 minutes. Otherwise, the partners can switch roles after a
short break and administer the massage to the other partner.

COMMENTS: Yogi Bhajan said it would take 10 to 15 treatments

of this massage for a normal person to be restored and become
free of stress. This massage can help you experience what it is
like to be stress free.

11 12


Yoga Nidra:
The Art of Rejuvenation in Sleep

Temperature and Sleep but to infuse our body with the energy and oxygen to support
Having trouble falling to sleep? Or do you wake up in the mid- our gross and subtle functions. So what can we say about
dle of the night unable to go back to sleep? Or maybe you find sleep? That is an intriguing question that has proven a bit elu-
yourself in a heavy, deep sleep when the alarm goes off in the sive.
morning and you struggle to wake up. If any of these sound If you go to the poets and bards of old, sleep sounds good:
all too familiar, you’re in good company. More than 85 million it “knits up the raveled sleeve of care” (Shakespeare); it is “the
Americans suffer from sleep problems. Globally it is a major balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nour-
health problem. Sleep irregularities—too much or too little— isher in life’s feast”; it is “the food that cures all hunger, the
cause major short- and long-term health problems. But even if water that quenches all thirst . . . the balancing weight that
restful sleep seems like a dream, Kundalini Yoga and herbs can levels the shepherd with the King and the simple with the
help. wise” (Cervantes). It is a common curative and a universal
Sleeping too little and sleeping too much both have detri- state that king and pauper both experience. Some find it the
mental effects. Sleep loss causes increases in stress hormone royal road to self-knowledge through dreams that reveal the
levels and blood pressure, glucose intolerance, and variations patterns of the mind’s play, freed from the pretensions and
in heart rate. Women who average 5 hours or less of sleep a deceptions of the day. Yogi Bhajan praised the healing quality
night are 39 percent more likely to develop heart disease than of good sleep and warned against dreaming too much because
women who sleep 8 hours. Those who sleep 6 hours a night it can create stress and distort our daily life. Classically, sleep
have an 18% higher risk of developing blocked arteries than is understood to be not a single state but a succession of sleep
those who sleep 8 hours. Changing sleep patterns in midlife states with particular qualities and tasks.
could be costing men as much as 75% of their growth hor- In the West, as late at the 1950s, many thought of sleep
mone, which is known to prevent aging. A shortage of this as the absence of brain activity. But really, but science went on
essential hormone, which is secreted during deep sleep, is to show us that so much is going on. It is not a passive state.
associated with increased obesity, loss of muscle mass and Nathaniel Kleitman and others put this ‘passive presumption’
reduced exercise capacity. Although total sleep times remain to rest with experiments that showed sleep’s many stages and
the same as men move into midlife, the proportion of time their very distinct types of brain activities. They especially
spent in deep sleep diminishes from 20% for men under 25 to studied the characteristic rapid Eye Movements (REM) that
less than 5% for those over 35. occur in sleep. That sleep is essential seems clear. Rats
One in three Americans gets less than six and one-half deprived of sleep die in 10 to 20 days, much more quickly than
hours of sleep a night, placing them at risk for serious illness. if they had been deprived of food but allowed to sleep.
The ideal amount seems to be about seven hours or a bit Without sleep they also lose weight, even though they eat
more. As yogis we embrace balance and the intelligent use of more; this is a mystery that hints toward temperature and body
the polarity, our natural design. We need sleep to be awake. heat as part of the puzzle. In humans there is a rare condition
We need to be fully active and alert in order to go into deep called fatal familial insomnia that leads to death as well, with-
sleep. Sleep respects the polarities in life and in our nervous in in several months. More relevant to most of us, and equal-
system. ly telling, is that we become groggy and intermittently sleepy
But what is sleep for? Before we fix it, balance it or refine with even a small reduction in our habitual sleep times.
it, let’s find out what it really does for us. We know why we All mammals sleep. They vary between an active, REM
eat. It is not to avoid hunger, but to ingest the nutrients we phase, and a quiet sleep. But the amount of sleep they require
need. We know why we breathe. It is not to avoid suffocation is hugely varied. That variability does not depend on the relat-


edness of the species nor the evolutionary position it holds. scious with emotions that our body cannot distinguish from
The only correlation is size! An opossum sleeps 18 hours a day reality. It is highly stressful and programs the mind to react. As
and elephants only 3-4 hours. Rats and cats both sleep a lot, yogis, we prefer to process our subconscious consciously and
larger primates and humans do not. Science correlates the keep a relationship to the Self.
higher amounts of sleep with the level of metabolism, which Today, science has made great progress in watching indi-
is also much higher in small animals. Metabolism generates vidual nerve cells and characterizing the activity of these dif-
heat; that heat generates waste and free radicals that need to ferent stages of sleep. Even though that information may not
be expelled and tissues repaired. During non-REM sleep, body answer why we sleep, those patterns tell us a lot about brain
temperature decreases, enzyme activity increases and repairs activity in sleep and how it acts to mediate instinct and intel-
proceed more rapidly. ligence. When we are awake, most neurons are at their maxi-
So to answer our initial query, perhaps sleep is a function mum levels of activity and voltage, changing and interacting
of deep repair, balancing the effect of metabolism. This seems with the environment as groups of neurons or independently.
to hold true for deep, non-REM sleep. Recently rats that were When we are asleep, the patterns of activity vary greatly in the
deprived of deep sleep showed gradual increases in brain dam- different sleep stages. During non-REM sleep, most cells in the
age. It seems to lead to a loss of repair and a loss of synchro- brain stem reduce or stop firing. One group of about 100,000
nization in many bodily functions. Basically you clog up, break neurons (a small team) are at minimum activity during non-
down and lose your timing. Deep sleep starts to sound pretty REM sleep and are called “sleep-on” neurons because they
good. Perhaps this is why Yogi Bahajn used to say that you suppress other activity and induce non-REM sleep. Instead it is
only need 31 minutes of perfect deep sleep. But that perfectly neurons in the forebrain that are active. During that stage there
deep sleep is elusive; much of sleeping is dreaming or other are few if any dreams, no REM activity, and the neurons tend
functions and although the deepest essential repair functions to fire together in smoother, larger waves.
do not take long—getting in and out takes a while. The yogic During REM sleep the story is very different. The brain
goal is not sleeplessness, but to have perfect deep sleep when waves are at a lower voltage, the neurons fire more individual-
you need it, on a regular basis, no matter what stress is going ly (as in the waking state), and the main activity is in the brain
on. stem, the oldest part of the brain. Special cells in the brain
REM sleep is a different matter. It is a physiological riddle stem called “REM-on sleep cells” seem to orchestrate the
and a psychological mystery. In yoga we understand it to be a changes. The activity is varied and results in the eye move-
time when the mind dumps its memoires and organizes or ments that characterize this state. Heart rate and breathing
cleans the subconscious. It prepares you to wake up. One rea- change similar to the waking state, so you can become breath-
son we prefer to be up in the early morning, the amrit vela less even in sleep if you are running from someone in a dream.
hours, is because that’s when the REM functions are highest. Vivid dreams are the rule. Fortunately, there are neurotransmit-
They have already done their positive job and if you don’t ters that suppress motoneurons or we would be acting out the
break the cycle by waking, they begin to flood the subcon- dream, moving and talking and walking. Instead, only the eyes

Figure 4.3 How Much Sleep Do You Need?


stay active. Notable exceptions to this lead to the phenome- Figure 4.4 shows us that the impact is cut in half with good
non we know as sleep walking, sleep eating, and others. sleep. Imagine how different the normal pains and negative
Another key function of good sleep is mood regulation. emotions of daily life feel to someone who sleeps well, has an
You’ve heard the phrase “He must have gotten up on the effective sadhana and practices good nutrition versus someone
wrong side of the bed”? We know people can be irritable, sad who doesn’t.
or aggressive if they do not get enough REM sleep. We can Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Director of Research for KRI, has
even track some of these changes now. In addition to those pioneered the research on sleep syndromes and the use of
neurotransmitters that disable body movement and responsive- Kundalini Yoga and mindfulness to improve sleep dysfunc-
ness to the environment, it now appears that REM sleep also tions. He has made a difference all around the world in improv-
turns off a number of “monoamines,” such as serotonin, nor- ing people’s lives and in raising awareness about this technol-
epinephrine and histamine, whose function is to regulate ogy for living. His research shows consistent results for various
mood and activity across synapses. Normally secreted when- forms of insomnia and PTSD. There is no doubt that our
ever we are awake and active, if that release does not get a rest, approach to entering sleep, repairing ourselves and entering
receptors gradually become insensitive—like an over stretched deep sleep is a welcome relief for many people.
spring. The turn off during REM sleep is a vacation for your
mood enhancing monoamines enabling them to be more effec- Tips for Good Sleep
tive and come back renewed. Here are some of the tips we use to cultivate a great sleep
One more function of REM sleep may be its contribution experience and counter stress.
to our nervous system at birth. How ready are we to take on 4 Attitude: Welcome sleep and enjoy it
the environments, apply our instincts and learn? Somehow the 4 Approach: Honor sleep with regular sleep rituals and
REM stage prepares us (and other mammals) to act in the habits
world and survive more quickly. Under stress this key function 4 Aids: Effectively use herbal support for great sleep and to
is frequently disturbed. It is a common symptom of PTSD and decrease stress
acute stressful incidents. In PTSD, nightmares are almost uni-
versal as is sleepiness, early awakening from REM sleep, more Take Naps
dense spikes of REM activity, longer times to enter sleep and Yogi Bhajan was a great proponent of naps. He could take a
inefficient sleep. On the other side of the coin are increasing 10-15 minute nap almost anywhere. But it wasn’t a nap to just
studies that show that good sleep lowers negative moods and relax or dream. He went immediately into deep sleep, showing
the reaction to and experience of pain. This study showed that us that it is possible to train ourselves to go through the sleep
good sleep significantly lowered the impact of stress: stages into a deep rejuvenating sleep. Though there are bene-
fits associated with each stage of sleep, the one we miss the
most is deep sleep. A study in the Journal of Sleep Research
looked at the effect of taking a 20-minute nap during a 12-hour
night shift. Those who napped significantly improved the
speed of their response on a vigilance task measured at the end
of the shift. Taking a quick nap during a break is a powerful
yoga technique to refresh and renew.

Establish a Rhythm and a Ritual

Sleep is the time when the body is able to repair and heal
itself. Deep sleep is what we need in order to rejuvenate—most
of that deep restorative sleep is experienced in the first three
hours. After four-and-one-half hours in bed, we alternately
Figure 4.4


wake up or dream. Most of us can learn to function well with off all your rhythms—as badly as jet lag! Eat your main protein
six to seven-and-a half hours of sleep, if we train ourselves to of the day at lunch and avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar,
get deep rest that is. fried foods and strong spices. For many people, the best plan
Start with a few basics: go to bed and wake up at the same is to begin winding down the day by eight o’clock. That means
time each day (even on the weekends) and get regular exercise turning down the lights, the TV and the computer and relax-
during the course of the day. Create an inviting sleep atmos- ing in silence or with music or gentle conversation with a
phere (using your bedroom only for sleep and sex); keep your friend, or prayer and meditation.
room at a comfortable temperature (not too hot or too cold);
and do something relaxing, play soothing music, or meditate, Falling Asleep
before bed. If you can’t get there, you can’t stay there. Sometimes you lie
The primary cause of insomnia is excessive thinking and awake and your mind races with thoughts, plans and worries
sensory stimulation, which ultimately disrupt our inner clock. and you can’t fall asleep. Try this exercise for a few minutes,
People who live outdoors find their rhythms closely entrained and you should be able to drop right off to sleep.
by the rising and setting of the sun. But most of us live cut off
[See How to Fall Asleep from Sleep Tips on opposite page.]
from the natural world. Sunrise and sunset mean very little, if
not nothing to us. Inside our offices and homes we are sur- The other thing to do is to check your nostrils. Left nostril
rounded by artificial stimulation; in fact, we are bombarded by works best for going to sleep. It is calming and let’s your think-
it—lights, TVs, computers—all day long. ing mind go. It also helps lower your temperature and call on
Too many people go to bed and work or watch TV. Going sleep. Lie on your right side to open that nostril automatically.
to bed is entering a temple of healing, paying homage to your
design, and acceding to your Creator. So put aside other things Sleep Substitute
and engage it. That is why it is called the “little death.” Sometimes you don’t have time to sleep, but need to catch
Whatever else you were doing stops and you sleep by letting some rest quickly. Besides a nap what can you do with yoga?
go. You do not try to sleep, for if you do, you will never find Fifteen minutes of Shoulder Stand is equivalent to 2 hours of
it. Sleep will find you, if you invite it. Pay attention to your sleep for the relaxation it gives you. Shoulder Stand is not a
body’s signals. As you sense the heaviness that calls you to replacement for regular sleep, but can be a good substitute
sleep and as all those neurochemicals station themselves to when your schedule does not allow for the sleep you need: 15-
serve you, respond. Invite the guidance of your teachers and 30 minutes is the equivalent of up to 4 hours of deep relax-
the healing light of Guru Ram Das and go to bed. ation and sleep.
If you have a history of insomnia or sleep disorders, start
[See Sleep Substitute from Sleep Tips on opposite page.]
with basics. Get your life regulated: establish times to wake up,
go to sleep, eat, exercise, and enjoy quiet relaxation. Exercise,
along with light, initiates the active cycle of the day, so it’s Gotu Kola and Amla
important. If you exercise at night be sure to allow time to Yoga recommends a combination of gotu kola and amla for
relax or meditate afterwards before going to sleep. Most peo- long-term help with stress affected sleep. Use 3 teaspoons of
ple do well with the conventional breakfast, lunch and dinner; a powdered combination of both herbs in warm milk or water
but finish eating by eight o’clock, or even better, earlier. (The during the day to regulate sleep patterns.
suggestion from Yogi Bhajan was to not eat after four o’clock,
which is the norm for many spiritual adepts and yogis.) The Ashwaganda
rule of thumb is to finish a final light meal four to four and a The phenomenal Ayurvedic herb, ashwaganda, also aids sleep.
half hours before bed. This simple timing reduces insomnia Ayurvedic herbalists use it to reestablish long-term sleep
caused by digestive problems, cuts reflux problems and lessens rhythms. Rather than making you sleepy when you take the
unnecessary dreams. A heavy meal just before bed can throw herb, this remedy seems to regulate sleep cycles over time,



Shoulder Stand: Sometimes you don’t have time to sleep, but need to
catch some rest quickly. Fifteen minutes of Shoulder Stand is equiv-
alent to 2 hours of sleep for the relaxation it gives you. Shoulder
Stand is not a replacement for regular sleep, but can be a good sub-
stitute when your schedule does not allow for the sleep you need:
15-30 minutes is the equivalent of up to 4 hours of deep relaxation
and sleep.

Lying on the back, bring the spine and legs up to as nearly vertical
position as you can; support the buttocks with your arms. Your
weight is supported by the elbows and shoulders. Relax in this posi-
tion and breathe long and deep through the nose.


Sometimes you lie awake and your mind races with thoughts and
worries, and you can’t fall asleep. Try this exercise for a few minutes,
and you should be able to drop right off to sleep.

Lying on your back and keeping your heels on the bed, breathe long
and deep through the nose. On the inhale, stretch the toes toward
your head while mentally chanting Sat. On the exhale, point the toes
away from your head while mentally chanting Naam. Continue for 3
to 5 minutes, then just relax and go to sleep.


facilitating more refreshing sleep. A typical dose of ashwagan- foundly rejuvenating sleep and awaken refreshed. Allow ade-
da is about a gram per day, taken over long periods, years even, quate time for the sleep effects; many will still feel sedated if
as a rejuvenator and sleep stabilizer. awakened before the full duration of action (8 hours). A typi-
cal dose for insomnia, given as one unit in the evening, is 3
Valerian (Tagara) grams.
Valerian (Tagara) is a relaxant herb that has a calming effect on Many sources recommend taking small doses of nutmeg
the autonomic nervous system. It is a good short-term seda- upon retiring, but this is problematic. The medicine will not
tive that works quickly, offering a healthy, nontoxic alternative take effect for 4 hours, so it is not appropriate for sleep onset
to strong prescription drugs. insomnia when taken at bedtime. Since the duration is a solid
For insomnia, tagara is taken right at bedtime to help 8 hours, you will be sedated upon arising if taken at bedtime.
induce sleep quickly. It is best for insomniacs who have trou- Instead, poppy seed is a warming sleep remedy that acts
ble falling asleep, because it decreases the amount of time it immediately and so can be taken at bedtime. Brew 4 Tbs as a
takes to fall asleep, but doesn’t necessarily work on the dura- decoction. Drink the tea one half hour before bed. The effect
tion or depth of sleep. Because this is a mild herb, you may typically lasts for about 4 hours. Administering nutmeg at bed-
need five to ten capsules to get the desired result; valerian can- time with poppy seeds will produce 12 hours of sound sleep.
not be thought of like a “sleeping pill” which is generally much Poppy takes effect immediately, so the patient is already asleep
stronger and only requires one or two tablets. One or two hours later when the nutmeg takes effect. This can be of great
valerian capsules or tablets may work simply for calming benefit in convalescence.
nerves, but more may be required as a sleep aid. Start with a
lower number and work up till you get the desired result. A Lettuce Soup
typical dose of valerian root, powdered in capsules, would be Another useful remedy is lettuce soup. Yogi Bhajan called this
1,000–3,000 mg, as necessary, several times per day, for anxi- natural opium. You cook the lettuce into a soup and eat it. It
ety, or 5,000 mg or more, as necessary, as a one-time dose, is great to counter stress when nothing else can revive you.
before bed, to relax for sleep. Jatamansi is a related plant and Light and pre-digested, it is perfect for relaxing you and help-
a possible alternative to tagara. Use it essentially the same way. ing you get a better night’s sleep.
Shankpushpi is a cooling sleep herb whose use and doses are
comparable to tagara as well.

Nutmeg is appropriate for getting to sleep or sustained insom-
nia. The sedating action of nutmeg begins after a predictable
delay of 3-1/2 to 5 hours, depending on the person, and results
in a prolonged somnolence of a predictable 8 hours. For insom-
nia, begin with a dose of one capsule at six o’clock. The next
night, increase the dose to two capsules. Continue increasing
incrementally. Adjust the time of administration slightly to pro-
mote proper timing. You should feel profoundly drowsy at bed-
time. Adjust the dose for the desired depth of sleep.
Insomniacs tend to under dose because they often have not
experienced truly deep sleep, and so tend to be satisfied with
a less restful sleep experience. When the dose is increased
incrementally to a higher amount, they often experience a pro-


Small Group Discussion SHABD KRIYA

How Do You Sleep? Time for Some Profound Sleep
Yogi Bhajan gave several powerful and specific techniques for
In your small groups share your experiences of good sleep, stress-free sleep. In addition to the gentle techniques of mas-
poor sleep, stress and sleep and the effect of yoga on sleep. sage and pranayam, he gave exercises that lead into deep sleep
You are the best source of information on this topic. Here are as well as a few meditations.
some themes you might consider: When Yogi Bhajan shared Shabd Kriya with us, he was pre-
senting a series on earthly impulses and the infinite pulse. He
4 What sleep rituals have worked best for you? asked us why we didn’t respond to our innate desire for death-
lessness and showed us that the only way to do that was to
4 What were your worst sleep habits? How did you decide let go of Earth as our security. When we seek security on
to change them? Earth, we always want something. If we get that, then we want
something else. It is a vicious spiral that limits our horizons
4 What are three reasons you give yourself to ignore proper and burdens us with expectation and desire. He told many
sleep habits? When do you implement them? Does that tim- sacred stories that showed us how the relationship of security
ing or circumstance have anything to do with stress or your and desire led to this downward spiritual cycle. He said some-
stress personality? thing interesting; he said the first real sign of love is patience—
unlimited patience. You relate to God and know that God is
4 Have you tried any of these herbs or recipes? What was the doer. So, you are patient, because you are not responsible
your experience? for the Creation or the outcome or the timing. You relate to the
infinite pulse and are secure through the act of grace we call
4 As a teacher, do you allow enough time and attention to guruprasad.
deep relaxation and sleep/naps as an integral part of many This alignment of impulse and infinite pulse creates the
kriyas? deepest relaxation. He often said he experienced this profound
relaxation. It was in fact what enabled him to act: in that state
4 What is your experience of eating habits, stress and sleep? of mind the patient saint will respond back to someone who
Have you ever eaten yourself to sleep? What was the effect offends them in kind. It is done directly but without attach-
the next day? ment or need for approval or insecurity. It is a kindness to
respond and balance the score sheet. One who instead stays
4 Were you ever a “morning” person or a “night owl”? Did silent, fails to act or is indirect, leaves the consequences to be
that change? How and why? delivered by the infinite, then the person cannot escape and
must pay a much higher cost.
4 In a world where the pace only grows faster, how do you He often said that perhaps we couldn’t act ‘saintly’—or
make time for sleep or rest and not trap yourself in feelings even as humans—because we have weaker nervous systems
of laziness, wasting time or missing out? What are the atti- and are slaves to our habits. Otherwise we would choose to
tudes our culture engenders about sleep? be wise, saintly and patient. To help us attain this relaxation
beyond the stress of our insecurities and emotional habits he
4 Why not just take a pill? gave us Shabd Kriya. It is a technology of rhythm, a “link of
the spiritas, the spirit with the spirituality of the creative uni-
verse in the reciprocal effect of the consciousness in which the
magnetic field of the individual transforms itself to the infinity


of its own existence, and thus the increase of the voltage

brings the light of the Sun within itself, which is beyond meas-
urement.” This lovely phenomenological flow expresses the
most subtle dance in the kriya. The breath—the spiritas—is
linked to the flow of consciousness and energy in the entire
formless universe. By your steady increase of auric radiance
you entwine that state of the Infinite into your royalty,
patience and longing, and are answered with a flow of energy
in your spirit that is always responsive and beyond measure. It
is a mystery that completes itself; an answer to its own ques-
On a more practical note, he said it can put you in a state
that if measured would be just like slow wave deep sleep in its
power to regenerate you. “The best time to practice this kriya
is every night before bed. If it is practiced regularly, sleep will
be deep and relaxed and the nerves will regenerate. After a few
months, the rhythm of your breath as you sleep will be sub-
consciously regulated to this same rhythm! You will think bet-
ter, work better, share better, love better and exercise better.
This rhythmic mantra will eventually progress so that even in
daily activities you will automatically hear the mantra and take
on the breath rhythm.”

Immediately after completing 31 minutes of Shabd Kriya, do
the Kriya for Self-Care and mastering Yoga Nidra, the deep
sleep of a yogi. Yoga Nidra also implies quietude of the ele-
ments, gunas and an awakened state of turiya. Physical sleep.
Mental relaxation. Spiritual stillness. God and you sleep togeth-
er and dream up infinite universes.


Yogi Bhajan • April 1, 1974

Sit in any comfortable posture with the spine straight.

MUDRA: Place the hands on the lap, palms up with the right hand over
the left. The thumbs are together and point forward.

EYES: Focus the eyes on the tip of the nose, 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.

TIME: Continue for 15 to 62 minutes.

COMMENTS: The best time to practice this Kriya is every night before bed. If it is practiced regularly, sleep will
be deep and relaxed and the nerves will regenerate. After a few months, the rhythm of your breath as you sleep
will be subconsciously regulated in the same rhythm! You will think better, work better, share better, love better
and exercise better. This rhythmic mantra will eventually progress so that even in daily activities you will automat-
ically hear the mantra and take on the breath rhythm.

Mystically the effect is understood in numerology. The number 11 is the number of infinity in the material world
and it is the conqueror of the physical realm. The number 22 is the infinite number of longing and mastery in the
mental realm. The breath is regulated in 22 beats and gives the mind the power to stretch to the infinite.

There cannot be enough praise of this meditation and its growth promoting effect on the personality. It gives radi-
ance and that radiance gives patience which is the first condition of real Love. In Love, you give without attention
to all the mistakes of another as the sun gives light and warmth to all people. Incorporating this universality with-
in the personality comes with the disciplined practice of Shabd Kriya.


Yogi Bhajan • June 30, 1986

When Yogi Bhajan originally taught this set he had the women start 1
with a quick warm up: Two rounds of the Har Aerobic Kriya.

1. Standing up. Arms are wrapped around the chest crossing in the
front. Hands are hugging the back, just under the rib cage. Hold
the rib cage as tight as you can. Begin jumping slightly as legs are
lifted alternately in front of the body, as if dancing and kicking the 2
legs forward. It is called walking the miracle mile. 3 1/2 minutes.

2. Same basic exercise as above but after kicking first one leg and
then the other you will bend forward and touch your toes. Then pop
back up and kick your legs forward again. Continue alternating both
movements. 2 minutes.

3. Sitting on your heels, clasp your hands together and rest them
on the top of your head. Rotate your torso around in a circle, mov-
ing from the waist. This will release toxins from your cells that can
eventually block your blood flow. 1 minute. 3

4. Still sitting on your heels, press the palms of your hands just
under the cheekbones and lift. It will be the Venus Mound of your
palm pressing up under the cheekbones and should be enough pres-
sure to prevent any speech. Inhale through pursed lips, take deep
drinks of air and exhale powerfully through the nose. 2 minutes.

5. Sitting in Easy Pose and using the same breath pattern as in

Exercise 4, place your hands on the knees and bend at the waist
from side to side. Inhale deeply on one side and exhale deeply on
the other side. 2 minutes.

6. Lie down flat on your back, with your arms by your side and go
to sleep for one hour. Play the music of Rakhe Rakhanhar. Relax
and let yourself go. 1 hour.
This music has 8 beats like your heartbeat. You must be able to hyp-
notize yourself into going to sleep.

COMMENTS: “A yogi must be in control of their sleep and should

be able to turn on the sleep button at any time. It is called self-hyp-