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Basic Spinal Energy Series

(The Aquarian Teacher, Level One Yoga Manual, Yogi Bhajan, Ph.D., p. 339 and website.

  1. Basic Spine Flex. Sit in Easy Pose. Grab the ankles with both hands and deeply inhale. Flex the spine forward and lift the chest up. On the exhale, flex the spine backward. Keep the head level so it does not “flip-flop.” Repeat 108 times. Then inhale, hold the breath for 5-10 seconds and then relax the breath. Rest one minute. Basic spinal flex strengthens and stretches the lower back in a way that aids sitting for long periods of time in meditations. Changes brain wave patterns after three minutes to make you calm.

  2. Spine Flex on the Heels. Sit on the knees and heels in Rock Pose. Place the hands flat on the thighs. Flex the spine forward with the inhale, backward with the exhale. Mentally recite “Sat” on the inhale and “Nam” on the exhale. Repeat 108 times. Rest 2 minutes. Sitting on the knees and heels works on a little higher part of the spine than sitting cross-legged. 

  3. Spinal Twist (Washing Machine). In Easy Pose, grasp the shoulders with the fingers in front, thumbs in back. Inhale and twist to the left, exhale and twist to the right. Breathing is long and deep. Continue 26 times and inhale facing forward to end, hold 5-10 seconds and then relax the breath. Relax 30 seconds. Loosens the waist and torso. Opens up the nerve channels on either side of the spine.

  4. Bear Grip at the Heart Center. Lock the fingers in Bear Grip at the heart center. Move the elbows in a see-saw motion, breathing long and deep with the motion. Inhale, bring the right elbow up, exhale, bring the left elbow up and continue for 26 times. Inhale and hold for 5-10 seconds, exhale, pull Bear Grip and relax for 30 seconds. Good for upper back and shoulders. Opens the heart center. 

  5. Upper Spinal Flex. Sitting in Easy Pose, grasp the knees firmly, keeping the elbows straight. Begin to flex the upper spine, inhaling forward and exhaling backward. Repeat 108 times. Inhale, hold for 5-10 seconds, exhale and relax the breath. Then rest 1 minute. Works on thoracic vertebrae, located in mid-portion of the spine. Also good for opening the heart center and upper back and shoulders. 

  6. Shoulder Shrugs. Still in Easy Pose. Shrug both shoulders up on the inhale, down on the exhale. Do this for less than 2 minutes. Inhale and hold for 15 seconds with the shoulders pressed up to the ears. Relax the shoulders. Releases tension in the shoulders. Opens upper spine, energizes heart and throat centers. 

  7. Neck Rolls. Still in Easy Pose. Slowly bring the right ear to the right shoulder, roll the head back, bring the left ear to the left shoulder, you’re the head forward. Do this 5 times. Then switch sides. To end, inhale, bringing the head upright, hold the breath for 5-10 seconds, exhale and relax. Relaxes the neck, shoulders and back of the head. Opens up the higher glands (thyroid, pituitary and pineal).

  8. Bear Grip at the Throat Center. Still in Easy Pose, lock the hands in Bear Grip at the throat level. Inhale, apply Mulbandh (Root Lock). Exhale, apply Mulbandh. Then raise the hands above the top of the head. Inhale, apply Mulbandh. Repeat the cycle two more times.

  9. Sat Kriya. Sit on the heels with the arms overhead and palms together. Interlace the fingers except for the index fingers, which point straight up. Men cross the right thumb over the left thumb. Women cross the left thumb over the right thumb. Chant “Sat” and pull the navel point in; chant “Nam” and relax it. Continue powerfully with a steady rhythm for at least 3 minutes. Then inhale, apply Root Lock and squeeze the energy from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Exhale and apply Root Lock again. Relax. Root lock (Mulbhandh) tones the sexual system (pelvic floor / prostate).

  10. Deep Relaxation. Come slowly out of position and rest on your back. Lie down flat, have the arms by the sides, palms facing up, with the eyes gently closed and the breath soft and normal. Have the knees up slightly for comfort, if needed. 15 minutes. Allows the body to be rebalance and the mind to refresh itself. This is the position at the end of every series of exercises (or kriya).

Comments: Age is measured by the flexibility of the spine. To stay young, stay flexible. This series works systematically from the base of the spine to the top. All 26 vertebrae receive stimulation and all thechakras receive a burst of energy. This makes it a good series to do before meditation. Many people report greater mental clarity after regular practice of this kriya. A contributing factor is the increased circulation of the spinal fluid, which is crucially linked to having good memory.

A study done by Neil Goodman, Ph.D., December 19, 1973 at the University of California at Davis, showed that spinal flex exercises created large changes in EEG activity during and after exercise. Spinal flexes have a “multi-stage reaction pattern” that greatly alters the proportions and strengths of alpha, theta and delta brain waves. More research is being conducted.

For beginners, each exercise that lists 108 repetitions can be done 26 times. The rest periods can also be extended for beginners from 1 to 2 minutes.

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