Kundalini Yoga Training
© 2003 - Guru Rattana, Ph.D.
diet, weight loss, eating disorders, and other addictive substances
and behaviors-whatever our specific issue, everyday we are all
confronted with what to put in our mouths and how the decisions
we make affect our well-being. My approach is to use our addictive
tendencies as a path to empowerment. In the process we can claim
"the gifts from the garbage."
and making and breaking Habits
ability to make and break habits is associated with the navel center
or third chakra. When our navel center is strong we have the will
to make decisions and to keep them. There are many navel exercises
and sets. Many of these can be found in my manual Transitions
to a Heart-Centered World. Breath of fire is a great navel breath
as is 4 part energizing breath. You will find the instructions for
the 4-part breath on the Yoga Technology website - 4/4 Energizing Breath
Do this 3-5 minute exercise 3 or more times a day, especially at
moments when you are being pulled to a compulsive, addictive behavior.
the navel center is slightly below the navel, approximately
1-2" below the navel itself, where many nerve centers converge.
You can identify it by a pulse which gets stronger after navel
exercises like the 4-part breath, leg lifts and stretch pose.)
especially smoking, drugs and alcohol are related to the fire
element. Navel breathing, especially breath of fire and 4 part
breath, give us the fire energy we crave. As the energy we create
begins to satisfy us, we are released from the hold of the addiction.
A strong navel
center is a requirement for being able to commit and keep your
commitments to yourself. Daily practice to strengthen the navel
center is the first commitment we need to make to ourselves.
and 3rd Chakras:
and Power Center
are MANY things going on in our body that we can connect with
if we tune into and are present to our energy. The second chakra,
which is located in the lower abdominal area, is where much of
our additive and "food" issues reside. Whereas the third
chakra can be identified by a pulse at a specific point, the second
chakra is a space which generates rhythmic movement.
abdominal area is our power center. Women especially learn to
hold in their stomachs. The result is a constant tension and
of our internal source of power. This is the area where our digestion
and elimination is regulated. When we create stress by holding
in our stomachs and have a negative attitude toward this part
of our body, we interfere with our normal biological functioning.
the belly is relaxed, digestion and elimination can occur in a
natural and peaceful matter. Imagine you were a large or small
intestine and that you had to carry out your job under the adverse
circumstances that we create by holding in our bellies, blocking
the energy flow and cutting off the breath. You wouldn't get the
job done properly, so matter how hard you tried.
EXERCISE--One way to cultivate a relaxed abdominal area is
to practice long deep abdominal breathing. Lie on your back, place
your hands on your belly, let your inhale push your hands up and
exhale relax the hands back down. Many women in classes I have
taught have experienced dramatic increases of energy with this
simple breathing exercise.
Our goal is to
befriend our bellies and to consciously allow our energy to flow.
Overtime our peaceful relationship with our energy and our body
will supercede any programming of how our bodies should look.
As we make friends with our bodies, HOW OUR BODIES FEEL BECOMES
OUR COMMANDING TOUCHSTONE.
is our Greatest Asset
on an energetic level is our goal. For self-love to be real, we
have to enjoy being in our bodies. This is of course a process
that takes time. We have to be willing to feel uncomfortable and
to experience our emotions. If we are willing, we will over time
experience inner power and peace.
Yogi Bhajan taught
us years ago that "A woman's greatest security is herself."
This summer he reminded us again that a woman's greatest asset
is her own security. And in fact, a woman can not really function
as woman, i.e. use all her innate gifts, until she feels secure
within herself. Can you feel the power of those statements? Just
writing those words again
makes me sit
up straighter and breathe deeper. I think the same is true for
men. For both men and women, it is our inner connection that is
our source of true power.
Maybe the core
issue is not food or addictions. Maybe the core issue is our own
security, our own self-love, and our dedicated commitment to living
our own lives.
practice of long deep abdominal breathing as described above can
be used to cultivate a feeling of security in your body and love
of your physical form. Allow yourself to experience that the energy
you bring in with the breath is feeding your body (because it
is). This can produce a very satisfying feeling that replaces
the addictive cravings. Another variation is to initiate the breath
at the navel center. The focus on the navel center will help you
consciously create the flame and the fire in your "lower
furnace". The fire energetically builds your will power on
a very organic level.
most powerful driving force is to feel good. Almost everything
I do is in one way or another related to the fact that I want
to feel good all the time. This does not mean that I do, but it
does mean that I do the best I can to cultivate a state of well
being. Admittedly, it is a continual, lifetime task. I must be
vigilant at all times. But feeling good is so important to me
that it is worth all the time and effort. I do yoga everyday to
feel good. And what I eat is mostly (not all) determined by how
I will feel after I eat.
I remember several
years ago I attended a class with about 40 women on habits, diet
and eating. The teacher asked us, "Who considers how they
will feel 3 hours later before they eat?" Only 3 women raised
their hands. Wow.I was shocked. These were all spiritually committed
women. So don't feel bad if you wouldn't have raised your hand.
But do consider that making it a priority to feel good is something
to consider. It could change your life and be a key to dealing
with eating disorders and weight.
Actually, I believe
that everyone is driven by the desire to feel good. We just need
to make this desire conscious and learn habits and behaviors that
make total well-being possible.
1st Chakra: Identifying Needs
and getting them Met
solutions to all our human challenges is actually a question of
identifying our needs and figuring out how to get them met. Security
and satisfying needs are first chakra issues. Some of some our
basic needs that relate to food and addictions include the following-
- To feel
a sense of well being
- To feel
- To be nourished
add to the list.
operate from the premise that we all have needs and that our lives
are organized around how to get them met. We may sabotage ourselves
by doing things that don't really get our needs met or are harmful.
But we are still internally driven to attempt to satisfy our basic
needs. In fact, I believe that eating disorders, drug, alcohol
and tobacco addictions are unsuccessful attempts to get our needs
In dealing with
any challenge, the first step is to identify the need. The second
step is to embrace it, NOT deny it or try to suppress it. The
third step is to figure how we can satisfy these needs, without
hurting ourselves, but instead by promoting our health and happiness.
is often used an inadequate substitute for the above and other
needs. Something is missing in our lives so we try to placate
our craving with food.
The problem with
bad food is that none of our needs are satisfied including the
one for food. In fact we just crave more food. This is a serious
problem even for those of us who try to eat a healthy diet.
that does not have its natural, complete vitamin-mineral content
not only does not satisfy our bodies, it also creates cravings.
This is because the body needs the complete vitamin-mineral structure
to properly digest its food. If something is missing, the body
will try to find it by depleting the rest of the body of those
particular vitamins or
by sending out "hunger" signals demanding what it needs.
The problem today
is that most of our foods are severely deficient in vitamin-mineral
content. Genetically engineered foods are even worse because the
natural crystalline structures of plants are simplified. As a
result the cells cannot absorb what is left of the nutrients from
is the same for the water we drink. Pollution, purification, chemical
additives and processing of water has debilitated our water to
the extent that it cannot be fully absorbed by our cells. We are
born with 98% water content in our bodies. Our cells are dehydrated
down to about 75% by the time we are 40 or 50. And no matter how
much water we drink, if it does not come from the few vital sources
left on the Planet, our body's thirst for water is not totally
Now all this
is rather depressing except for the fact that we do have some
very effective vitamin and mineral supplements available to us
that can satisfy our bodies. And recently there have been some
major discoveries that help us revitalize the water we drink.
there is a lot that we can do immediately by choosing healthier
foods. We can eliminate processed sugar, processed foods, fried
foods, red meat and caffeine from our diet. The trick is substitution.
Depravation does not work.
bodies need natural sugar and foods of the Earth element. Fruits
contain natural sugar. And there are many "health food junk
foods" that are sweetened with honey and natural sugar from
fruit. Although these are not as nutritious as a piece of fruit
or carrot juice, they are not harmful like refined sugar and flour.
I say minimize the damage and do your best to keep your body at
peace without ingesting the known addictive foods-refined sugar
being on the top of the list.
is addictive because of what I explained above. The natural nutrients
have been extracted and the body craves more in an attempt to
get the minerals and vitamins it needs to carry out its digestive
and eliminative functions. Caffeine from coffee, coke, chocolate
also dehydrates the body.
Since sugar is
addictive, any amount of it generally provokes the craving and
reestablishes the addiction. This is why it is recommended to
eliminate it completely. If you have the guts to do this, I suggest
having a good supply of substitutes on hand. Remember the need
must be satisfied. Deprivation does not work. As the body gets
accustomed to more complete foods, the sugar craving will subside.
The need for natural sugars will remain because the body needs
some of this food. Over time (and it may be a while) more natural
sugars will be the only ones that satisfy you.
When I was young
my mother made the most outrageous refined sugar-flour based desserts
imaginable. It took me several years to eliminate my desire for
refined sugar. The dessert habit, however, is still in my genes.
Now I am satisfied with a couple of bites of Golden Temple Ginger
To help break
my refined sugar addition, I ate millet almost everyday for several
years. Millet is one of the few grains that is an Earth food.
All sugars are Earth foods. By eating millet, my body was able
to have its need for Earth foods satisfied. I eat millet once
in a while now. Amazingly I still like it.
I am not saying
it was easy. But I am sharing that it was possible and it was
worth it. I feel so much better without refined sugar. And as
I said, feeling good is a priority for me.
support each other. A stop smoking course recommended giving up
coffee, teas with caffeine and alcohol at the same time. Each
one increased the craving for the others. They recommended substituting
vitamin C, dried and fresh fruit. The vitamin C helps replace
the nutrients lost and rebuild the substance in the body that
is replaced by nicotine.
best day to begin any regime or Sadhana to break or make new habits
is the New Moon. I have personally experienced that it is much
easier to keep up and actually succeed when I start a fast on
the New Moon. Yogically, forty days is the amount of time it takes
to break a habit.
because of the cholesterol scare, we have gotten the message that
oil is bad. Refined, fried oils are not easily digested by the
body. Natural oils are needed by the body for optimum functioning.
Olive or almond oil (not canola) in your salad dressing or added
to your grains after they are cooked can satisfy these needs.
It is very important
that women do not eliminate oil from their diets. No oil speeds
up the aging process and makes menopause more difficult.
shared with me the idea that I now call the box technique. This
is one way to deal with the psychology of what we eat and don't
eat. We all actually use this technique all the time. There are
things that we do not do and do not eat. We have them classified
in a box. We do not eat food out of a trash bin. We don't eat
rotten food. We wouldn't even think about it. We can choose to
expand our box and put other foods in that box. This works if
we keep the item in the box. And it circumvents a lot of mental
anguish of trying to decide "to eat or not to eat."
Over time the sides of the box will grow stronger and we won't
even question our initial decision.
When I was young,
I often ate much more than I needed. I was of course uncomfortable
after I stuffed myself. I worried about getting fat, which did
not happen, but I did waste a lot of mental energy and made myself
uptight. One day, after college, I decided that I did not want
to live like that. I made the decision to eat only until I was
full and then I would stop. It took me about 2 months to get into
the habit and integrate the strategy into my psyche. I am so much
more comfortable mentally and physically that to do any differently
is not even an option. I have gotten better over the years too.
I look at my food, appreciate what I am eating while I am eating,
even try to chew more. It all helps.
We have built
in survival strategies. The trick is to discover your own version
and use them to your advantage. As Yogi Bhajan taught us, the
Universe is set up for us to win. Life on Planet Earth is to discover
how to win our own game of life. We were all born with the innate
wisdom to succeed and be happy.
weight and food problems are not really about food and weight.
Maybe the issue is self-love. Maybe we should start out by loving
our bodies as they are. After all everyone is different and therefore
special. Maybe addictions are about taking back our power from
those forces and "authorities" who we have let manipulate
us. Maybe every issue we face is a spiritual
issue between me and myself and me and the Divine.
hypothesis is that we all have addictive personalities. We just
have different addictions. Actually the addictive power is a spiritual
necessity and gift. I believe we were given this quality to be
able to hold on to our experience of God.
I propose getting
high on Kundalini Yoga and using this addictive power to hold
on to the experience. This sounds easy, but this reorientation
is a challenge too. Holding on to the feeling can be as challenging
as breaking an addiction. What we are doing is breaking an old
habit and creating a new one. We are training our mind to reorient
our focus. We are reversing an energy pattern that has been in
place for a long time. We are challenging an old belief system
and creating a new one. The trick is to patiently train yourself
and to keep up until you are addicted to God.
You can cultivate
an addiction to God with any Kundalini yoga set, breathing exercise
or meditation. The important point is to do something to change
your energy and then to focus on the feeling and satisfaction
that you have created. Have fun feeling good and please share
your results with us.
and Sat Nam,
Guru Rattana, Ph.D.
comments or questions to
© 2003 - Guru Rattana, Ph.D.