Ever feel stressed out? Ever get anxious, worried, depressed, or upset?
There’s nothing more crucial than to have control of your breath when you are in a place of uncertainty, fear or even panic. When you routinely engage in a patterned in a breathing. Be it 5 minutes to 11 minutes to 31 minutes a day. Your body will be trained to know how to handle distress when situations arise.
Try this for 5 mins every day before you start your day. Or while driving or commuting or waiting in line in the store. Learn to use your breathing to regulate your nervous system and release it from reacting to every situation that arise.
Posture: Sit in any comfortable meditative posture with a straight spine, chin in, chest lifted.
Eyes: Close your eyes.
Breath: Concentrate on your breath. Inhale through the nose in eight equal strokes. Exhale through the nose in one deep and powerful stroke.
Time: Continue for 11 minutes.
To Finish: Inhale deeply, hold the breath 5-10 seconds, and exhale. Inhale deeply, hold the breath 15-20 seconds and roll your shoulders. Exhale powerfully. Inhale deeply, hold the breath 15-20 seconds, and this time roll your shoulders as fast as you can. Exhale and relax.
So when your coworkers are being difficult, breathe in for the count of 8 strokes and breathe out in 1. If you kids are fighting in the back of the car nonstop. Breathe in 8 breathe out 1. If you are feeling that nothing is working out in your favor that day. Breathe in 8 breathe out 1. Breath is one tool that won’t go away no matter what. Our lives truly depend on our breath. Train it. Befriend it.
“The eight strokes will make you watch and count the breath and that will force you to relate to your breath. Best procedure is that you do this exercise every evening. Eleven minutes a day of eight-stroke breathing can give you enough energy to balance your (daily) consumption of (pranic) life and take you out of stress. Is it possible? Do you have eleven minutes?” -Yogi Bhajan
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?
Repeat the Saa Taa Naa Maa sounds (or mantra) while sitting with your spine straight.
For 2 minutes, sing in your normal voice.
For the next 2 minutes, sing in a whisper.
For the next 4 minutes, say the sound silently to yourself.
Then reverse the order, whispering for 2 minutes, and then out loud for 2 minutes, for a total of 12 minutes.
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.
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:
Arizona Geriatrics Society Journal
Title: Kirtan Kriya Yoga Meditation: A New Dimension in Alzheimer’s Prevention
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
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.
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.
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.