Kundalini Yoga: 13 Poses To Help You Break Bad Habits
by Tommy Rosen and Kia Miller: You have the willpower and strength to kick bad habits for good. Find them with Kundalini Yoga…
One of the most powerful Kundalini kriyas, or sequences, for finding the strength to break bad habits is a series of 13 poses called the Advanced Abdominal Strengthening Kriya. In part, this combination of movements and breathwork gives you an exceptional core workout. On a deeper level, it activates the third chakra, the energy center at your navel that is the source of willpower, where transformation and empowerment start. When this energy vortex is active and balanced, you feel grounded; the need to reach outside yourself to feel better is quieted.
Try this practice every day for the next 40 days—the amount of time it takes to encode a new pattern of behavior, according to Kundalini theory. Mornings are best, before you get pulled into the drama of the day. Make this kriya your new habit and you will see negative thinking, self-doubt, procrastination, and resentment—the feelings often underlying addictive behavior—slowly melt away and become replaced by contentment, fulfilment, freedom, and the strength to follow through on whatever resolutions or changes you want to make and keep in the new year.
Begin by chanting the Kundalini Adi mantra three times: Ong namo guru dev namo (“I bow
to the divine creative consciousness within, I bow to the teacher within”). Start slow, taking rests when you need to and gradually building up to the times given for each pose. Keep the eyes closed and focus on the third eye—the chakra or energy center between your eyebrows. Deepen your focus by mentally repeating Sat (truth) as you inhale, Nam (identity) as you exhale. Make sure to pause for at least 30 to 60 seconds after each pose.
Alternate Leg Lifts
Come to your back. Inhale slowly as you pull the low belly in and lift your left leg to 90 degrees, toes pointed toward the ceiling. Exhale slowly as you lower
it down. Place your hands under your hips if you need extra support for your lower back. Alternate left and right legs, and continue for 3 minutes. This pose begins to spark energy at the navel point.
Stay lying down, with your legs out in front of you and your arms by your sides. Inhale and bend your left knee into your chest as you bring your right arm up over your head. Exhale and straighten your left knee, lowering the leg and right arm back to the floor. Switch sides and continue to alternate, using long, deep breaths, for 3 minutes. Concentrating your awareness at your navel point helps to build energy around your third chakra.
Adho Mukha Svanasana, variation
Downward-Facing Dog Pose, variation
Come into a variation of Downward-Facing Dog Pose with your thumbs touching and fingers angled slightly out (place your hands shoulder-distance apart
if you have a shoulder
injury). Keep your feet hip-distance apart. Engage the core to draw the hips up and back and lift weight out of the shoulders. Take long, deep breaths for 3 minutes. This pose, essentially an
inversion, allows energy
to flow toward the brain.
Come to lying on your belly. Place your hands under your shoulders, fingers spread wide; grounding down through your pelvis and the tops of your feet, firm your legs and reach your tailbone toward your heels. Inhale and lift the chest, keeping a slight bend in the elbows, the chest open, and the shoulders relaxed. Hold for 2 minutes, taking deep breaths. This pose draws energy toward the spine and opens the chest.
Come onto your back, bend your knees, and place your feet on the floor hip-distance apart. Interlace your hands behind your head with the elbows wide. Exhale and count to 6 as you come into a crunch, pulling the low belly in. Inhale to the count of 6 as you slowly lower back down. Repeat for 2 minutes. This pose continues to build energy around the third chakra, the seat of willpower.
Extend your legs in front of you, arms resting by your sides. Lengthen the back of your neck. Lift your upper chest, head, and arms off the ground and draw your chin in. Direct your fingers and gaze at your toes. Keep your lower back flat against the floor as you lift the legs 6 inches off the floor, toes pointed. (If your lower back bothers you, keep the heels lightly resting on the ground
or place your hands underneath your sacrum or sitting bones.) Hold for 2 minutes while doingBreath of Fire: First inhale by relaxing the upper abdominal muscles, allowing air to fill the lungs. Then exhale by quickly drawing the navel point and solar plexus
in and up toward the spine as you force the breath out. Take even inhales and exhales and build to 2 to 3 cycles per second. (Do not do Breath of Fire if you are pregnant or menstruating.) Stretch Pose with Breath of Fire can be calming and rejuvenating. By working on the third chakra, it boosts resolve and self-esteem.
Piston the Legs
Stay on your back and bring both knees
toward your chest. Arms are alongside your torso, with the palms facing down. (Place
the hands underneath the sacrum or sitting bones if you need to support your lower back.) On an inhalation, thrust the left leg out until it’s a few inches off the floor. Exhaling, bring the knee back into the chest. Continue switching legs in a pistonlike movement for
2 minutes. This pose balances the energy
of the navel and lower chakras.
Come back onto your stomach, arms alongside your torso. Bend your knees and reach for your ankles or the tops of your feet.
Inhale and kick your shins back, lifting your thighs and chest off the ground. Keep the back of your neck long and hold for 2 minutes. Exhale and release. This pose draws energy into the spine and improves digestion by stimulating energy at the navel point. Rest on your stomach, arms alongside your torso and head turned to one side. Relax and breathe for 1 minute.
Come up so you are standing on your knees and shins, torso upright. Place your hands on your hips. Draw your abdomen in to support your lower back. Relax your shoulder blades down and press them gently into your back. Inhale and lift your chest. Keep your hands on your hips or release them back to your heels. If it’s comfortable for your neck, release your head back. Hold for 1 to 2 minutes. This pose lifts the energy we have been
cultivating toward the heart center, allowing
a feeling of expansion
Press back into Child’s Pose (Balasana) with your knees together, your hips on your heels, and your forehead on the ground.
Extend and rest your arms in front of you with hands shoulder-distance apart. Relax here for 1 minute, returning to your
natural rhythm with your breath.
Then, bring your arms alongside your body. Relax here for 1 minute, letting your breath return to normal.
Lie on your back with your legs extended in front of you for Savasana, or deep relaxation. Let your palms turn up and your arms and legs relax. This pose allows you to fully integrate the energy of the practice and reset the nervous system. It’s like hitting “save” when we have written an important document! Stay here for 5 to 7 minutes.
Author and model Tommy Rosen is a yoga teacher and addiction-recovery expert.
He holds certifications in both Hatha and Kundalini Yoga and has been in 23 years of continuous recovery from drug addiction.
His new book, Recovery 2.0: Move Beyond Addiction and Upgrade Your Life, was released last October by Hay House, Inc.
His partner, author and model
Kia Miller, is certified in the Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow tradition, as well as Kundalini Yoga.
Her own style of yoga, called Radiant Body Yoga, is a potent combination of breathing, movement, stretching, meditation, chanting, and relaxation. (Kriya by Yogi Bhajan as documented in The Art, Science & Application of Kundalini Yoga, by
Nirvair Singh Khalsa.)