Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 3: Kirtan Kriya

Kirtan Kriya

Your cognitive health has a dramatic impact on your entire life. With proper brain function, you can be more equipped to live the happy and healthy life that you desire. In this series, we have discussed the importance of nutrition for your cognitive health as well as the impact that lifestyle has on your overall wellbeing.

Today we are jumping into one of our favorite topics that has wonderful benefits for your cognitive health, Kirtan Kriya, a singing meditation.  Rooted from the teachings of Kundalini Yoga.

What is Kirtan Kriya?

Kirtan Kriya (pronounced KEER-tun KREE-a) is a way of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition. In Sanskrit, kirtan is a song and kriya is used to express a certain set of movements. This technique has been used for thousands of years to help bring the mind, body, and emotions in balance. This helps to support the healing process and to promote cognitive health.

How does it work?

This is a meditation, but sometimes it is known as a singing exercise. You complete it by singing the sounds, Saa Taa Naa Maa. In addition, repetitive finger movements, or mudras, can be used in conjunction. This is not a religious practice, but it is beneficial for all types of people from all walks of life. Specifically, when practiced for just 12 minutes a day, it has been scientifically proven to decrease stress levels. Furthermore, this meditation actually promotes activity in areas of the brain that are essential for memory.

Is there any science to prove it?

Yes. Not only has it been practiced for thousands of years with profound benefits, but there are also multiple studies publishing the many benefits of Kirtan Kriya. For example, there was a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in April of 2016 stating that the Kirtan Kriya increased brain function. It went on to describe that cognitive health through the use of Kirtan Kriya increases brain connectivity (which improves memory) and it also decreases mood aberration.

“The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation believes that the various parts of Kirtan Kriya are each vital to the whole, and recommends practicing it in the traditional way to fully reap the benefits of the exercise. That said, other methods of reducing stress, like deep breathing, listening to music and other types of meditation may be beneficial to your health.”

How do you practice Kirtan Kriya?

  1. Repeat the Saa Taa Naa Maa sounds (or mantra) while sitting with your spine straight. 
  2. For 2 minutes, sing in your normal voice.
  3. For the next 2 minutes, sing in a whisper.
  4. For the next 4 minutes, say the sound silently to yourself.
  5. Then reverse the order, whispering for 2 minutes, and then out loud for 2 minutes, for a total of 12 minutes.
  6. To come out of the exercise, inhale very deeply, stretch your hands above your head, and then bring them down slowly in a sweeping motion as you exhale.

The mudras, or finger positions, are very important in this kriya (see illustration below).

  • On Saa, touch the index fingers of each hand to your thumbs.
  • On Taa, touch your middle fingers to your thumbs.
  • On Naa, touch your ring fingers to your thumbs.
  • On Maa, touch your little fingers to your thumbs.

Can I do it by myself at home?

Certainly! I designed this simple handout for you so you can start practicing at home today. Please click here to download your copy.  We recommend following along with this video here to use as a beautiful guide: Kirtan Kriya Video.  Here’s an explanation video.

In Summary

We hope you find this a powerful and enjoyable exercise and we hope that this information is useful for you on your journey for the best cognitive health. If you’d like personal support in this process please click here to learn more about our Happy Health Brain Longevity Program. Also, be sure to check out our entire series on cognitive health by clicking the links below:

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 1: Nutrition

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 2:  Lifestyle Tips

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 3: Kirtan Kriya

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 4: The Ketogenic Diet

Guide To Boosting Your Cognitive Health Part 5: Is your blood sugar affecting your brain?

PS: You are invited to click here to sign up for our free 14 Days to Health Video Series and to join our Facebook group for personal support: The Happy Health Community. 


Please view our resources listed below: 

Kirtan Kriya Yoga Singing Exercise

Journal Articles

Arizona Geriatrics Society Journal
Title: Kirtan Kriya Yoga Meditation: A New Dimension in Alzheimer’s Prevention
Khalsa, DS.
Arizona Geriatrics Society Journal. 2013; 18(2):12-16
Published October 2013

Complementary Therapies in Medicine
Title: A randomized controlled trial of two simple mind-body programs,
Kirtan Kriya meditation and music listening, for adults with subjective
cognitive decline: Feasibility and acceptability
Available online 5 March 2016
Kim E. Innes, Terry Kit Selfe, Dharma Singh Khalsa, Sahiti Kandati. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 26 (2016) 98–107
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2016.03.002

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prime-your-gray-cells/201606/yoga-and-kirtan-kriya-meditation-bolster-brain-functioning

>> For more journal articles, please click here.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Today, I have a great yogic technique that I want to share with you. It’s breath work that yogis use to control their moods and energies.

When we are distressed, we take quick, shallow breaths.

When we are relaxed, we take deep, full breaths.

When we practice regulating our breathing patterns, we improve our mental and physical state.

This technique is called Alternate Nostril Breathing.

The nerves going out from the two brain hemispheres cross at the level of the eyebrows. The left hemisphere connects to the right side of the body and right nostril, and the right hemisphere to the left side of the body and left nostril.

Right nostril breathing (Coffee Replacer).
It activates qualities of left brain: the Sun energy—warming, projective, concentrative, alert, and action oriented.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-9-08-51-pm

  1. Have the left hand in Gyan mudra (touch thumb with index finger) relax on lap
  2. Raise your right hand, use the index finger  to close your left nostril
  3. Slowly inhale through the right nostril
  4. Eyes can be closed or 1/10 open looking at tip of nose
  5. Long deep breaths for 3 minutes
  6. To end you take a deep breath in with both nostrils, hold the breath, for a count of 10, then release.

Left nostril breathing (Calm Inducer). 
It activates right brain qualities: the Moon energy, calmness, receptive, cooling. Best to use before bed or anxiety.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-9-08-56-pm

  1. Use the thumb on your right hand to cover your right nostril
  2. Breathe slowly through your left nostril
  3. Eyes can be closed or 1/10 open looking at tip of nose
  4. Long deep breathing for 3 minutes

Try RIGHT in the morning, and LEFT one before bed, and enjoy the powerful effects of this breath.

Happy Breathing!!

My Not-So-Secret Weapon to Rewire Our Chronic Stress Response

Every time I pick up to write, at first, I always imagined talking about the Adrenal-cortisol pathway, or Leaky gut syndrome,  like many of my peers, in order to educate my readers about these common themes that I see daily in my practice.  Instead, I want to go straight to offering you these effective, precious tools that were taught for thousands of years, and shared by my teacher Yogi Bhajan.  They are so simple in addressing the ultimate underlying root cause – our burnt out Nervous System, our Autonomic Response that are stuck in FLIGHT or FIGHT mode, and unable to trigger the RELAXATION response at will.

Kundalini Yoga sets are designed to reprogram our nervous system using breath, movements, sound currents and mental vibrations in short amounts of time.

This is the no.1 set I share with my patients who have fatigue and low mood.  Do it 1st thing in the morning, for 40 days, starting at the shortest time (1 minute each) and work up to full length.

A Yoga Set to Build and Stabilize your Energy – Surya Kriya

General Kundalini Yoga Rules:

  • Always tune into this practice with reciting the mantra “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” 3 times. A traditional practice for you to tune in deeply to the consciousness of this ancient practice.
  • If necessary, you can sit in Easy Pose (simple cross-legged position), instead of Rock Pose.  But feel free to use pillows and socks to prop and support your ankles and hip.
  • You can always cut down the times specified proportionately, but not make longer.  E.g.  3 mins  –> 1 min  (1/3)  or —> 1.5 min (1/2) for rest of the exercises.

1. Right Nostril Breath.

Come sitting up in easy pose with lower back tucked in, the chest high and the chin parallel to the
ground and slightly tucked in.  Raise the left hand and block off the left nostril with your thumb.  Take long slow deep breathing through your right nostril.  (3 minutes)

2. Sat Kriya.

Sit in Rock Pose.  or easy pose if need to.  Arms held up overhead with the upper arms hugging your ears.  Fingers clasped together with index fingers pointing straight up and palms touching.  Chant the word ‘Saat’ (sounds like Yacht) as you pull your Navel Point in and up.  Chant the word ‘Naam’ as you relax your Navel Point.  Let the breath regulate itself.  Eyes closed and focused at the center of your brows.  (3 minutes)

Then inhale with your nose, hold your breath, squeeze your pelvic muscles and navel point up. Then Relax.

3. Rest.

Remain in Rock Pose, or easy pose.  Rest with eyes closed and focused at Brow Point.  Breathe normally.  (1 minute)

4. Sat Kriya.

Repeat exercise 2 for 2 minutes.

5. Rest.

Remain in Rock Pose, or easy pose.  Rest with eyes closed and focused at Brow Point.  Breathe normally.  (1 minute)

6. Spinal Flex.

Hold your shins with your hands firmly.  Inhale through your nose as you lift your chest high, and tilt your pelvis forward.  Then, exhale through your nose as you collapse your chest down, and tilt your pelvis gently the opposite way.  Continue this fluid movement, and keep your chin level without bobbing it up and down. Like riding a horse.  (3 minutes)

7. Frog Pose.

  1. Come standing up slowly and place your feet close together with heels touching, and feet pointing out at an angle.  Squat down on tiptoes with fingertips touching the ground in between the legs. Knees apart, and heels remain touching.  Head is up.
  2. Inhale with nose, and straighten your legs, keep fingertips touching the group.  Bring the chin to the chest.
  3. Exhale and move to a. position again.
  4. Repeat 26 times.

8. Head Turns.

Come into Rock Pose.  Rest a moment.  Fold your hands on your lap and turn your head to the Left as you inhale with your nose slowly.  Then, turn your head to the Right and Exhale with your nose slowly.  Low Slow Deep Breathing.  (3 minutes)

9.  Side Bends.

Remain in Rock pose.  Bring your hands to your shoulders, and thumbs in back, fingers in front. Without twisting, inhale as you bend to the left and exhale as your bend to the right. Like a pendulum.  Slow Deep Breathing.

10. Slow Meditative Breath.

Sit now in Easy Pose.  Hands on your knees in Gyan Mudra – touching your thumb with index finger.Keep a firm concentration at your Brow Point.  Apply a light Root Lock, pulling your pelvic floor muscles and navel point muscles in and up. Begin Slow Deep Breathing. (6 minutes)

11. Deep Relaxation.

Come lying flat on your back, and your arms by the sides with palms facing up.  Your eyes gently closed, and breath soft and normal. (7 minutes)



 

Set taken from Master’s Touch Teacher training manual.

Meditation for Balancing Nervous Energies

This meditation teaches you to become aware of your breath.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-3-59-59-pm

When you are paying attention to your breath and practicing control of your breath, whether you are holding it in, or holding it out, you bring your nervous system into balance.  When you have control over your breath, you have control over your emotions, hair trigger reactions, addictions and apprehensions.  

Practice this every day for 3 minutes.  Build it up to 5. Do it first thing when you wake up, or right before you go to bed, or both.  Try doing it for 40 days, and see what effects you feel.

Posture:   Sit in a chair with a straight spine and both feet touching the ground, or sit in easy pose, a simple cross-legged position on the floor.  Place the palm of your right hand against the back of the left hand.  Press the thumb tips together.

Raise your hands up until they are a few inches in front of the heart. Hold the hands, forearms and elbows in a horizontal line, parallel to the ground.

Eye focus: The eyes are nine-tenths closed.

Breath: Inhale deeply through the nose. Calmly, hold the breath IN for 15-20 seconds.

Exhale deeply through the nose. Then calmly, hold the breath OUT for 15-20 seconds. Concentrate on the breath.

Time: Continue for 3 minutes.  
This meditation “Balancing the Nervous Energies” is taken from from The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan.  For more information about Yogi Bhajan and his teachings, check out www.3HO.org.

Fist of Anger: Meditation for Releasing Anger

Have you ever felt so overcame with emotions and anger that you just can’t stop turning and turning inside.  This is a great tool for just that.  It channels this uncontrollable and disturbing energy through your breath, and release it. Try it for as little as 1 minute and build up to 3 minutes.  

You body position:

Sit in Easy Pose (sitting on floor with legs crossed) or in chair, with a light neck lock (tilt your chin gently down and lengthen your neck upwards). Eyes are closed.

Your hand position:

Touch each thumb to the base of the pinky fingers. Close the rest of the fingers over the thumbs to form fists. Raising the arms, begin a backstroke type movement over the head, alternating each side (right/left) as you swing up, over and back around again.

Your breath:

Make an O-shaped mouth and breathe through it with a strong, rhythmic inhale/exhale that is in sync with your arm movements.

Begin the backstroke movement and the coordinated breath with a strong and continuous movement. Intentionally think about anything and everything that makes you angry. Continue this laser focus on bringing up the anger throughout the meditation, increasing the movement and breath.

To End:

Interlock the fingers, stretch the arms up over head, palms facing up, deep inhale through the O mouth- picture yourself surrounded in white, healing light- exhale out the O mouth.

Repeat 3 times.                      Time: 3 minutes.


IMG_0621IMG_0622

fist of angerfist of anger 2

This meditation is learned from Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan©.  For more infomation visit the Kundalini Research Institute.