Mula Bandha | मूल बंध (Bandhas part 1/4)

mula bandha

The Mula Bandha and the Perineal Muscles

Sanskrit for “MULA” – मूल

In Sanskrit, Mula means “root”, foundation, origin, source, and beginning. Bandha means energy lock, binding together, or posture. Mula bandha is the root of the body, the excretion point and the bottom of the spine. This is perineal muscle group and terminates between the coccyx and tailbone.

Strengthening the perineal muscles has a variety of effects, including greater control over sexual organs through strengthening the area between your sphincter and your sex organ. It is also healthy for digestion and excretion, two very important functions within the body.

Mula Bandha assists the body in breathing, most specifically with exhaling.

The pubococcygeus muscle is the primary agonist muscle to the perineal, and activates as a part of the levator ani muscle group. This is the muscle connects to the base of the spinal cord to contain energy within the spinal cord.

Bulbospongiosus muscle is a superficial muscle of the perineum, in both males and females covering the bulb of the sex organ, or Bulbospongiosus_Femalevaginal wall and penis shaft. Then it connects to the front of the anus in two symmetrical parts. This is said to be the orgasm muscle, contributing to erection, ejaculation, and closes the vagina during intercourse. It is extremely important to the functioning of the sex organs and the muscles of excretion.

Mula Bandha – The interlocking of interlockings

Mula bandha is the primary bandha in yoga, it is said to seal energy into the spinal cord. Iyengar said that while one is working with the mula bandha, they are focused on the root of existence and creation. Ideally, you can practice this after an inhale, while you retain your breath. Squeeze your sex organs up and in while holding your breath for a few moments, then release. A 5 count can work well to start, then start working between exhale and inhale, when the breath has left the body completely, then engage the bottom of your diaphragm as the exhale completes, or essentially squeeze the exhale out. This is your Mula Bandha.

Perineal muscle activation is one of the most important and beneficial parts of a yoga practice, particularly involving inversions. Contraction of these floor muscles allow the abdomen to move in space without too much consequence, especially handstand will force it to strengthen in ways that the muscle would not normally need to.

Practice activating, then resting the mula bandha in breathing exercises with Kumbhaka (space between breaths) and during poses like warrior 2, standing splits. Find some time to experiment and strengthen the muscle during your practice.

The mula bandha is the Muladhara shakra of tantric traditions. I am not a big fan of the tantric traditions to I mostly ignore the chakras.

The Other Bandha’s interlockings, or muscle groups

Part 2: The Uddyiana Bandha

Part 3: Jalandhara Bandha

Part 4: Jihva Bandha

References for the Mula Bandha

  1. Wikipedia – Perineum

The Sciatic Nerve: A River of Energy Suppyling Human Legs

Sciatic Nerve

The Anatomy of the Sciatic Nerve

Also known as the ischiadic nerve or ischiatic nerve, the Sciatic Nerve is the largest nerve in the human body. The Sciatic Nerve runs down the leg behind the bicep femoris and powers the thigh muscles.By KDS4444 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53368293

The nerve begins in the Sacral Plexus Gray Sacral Plexus

 

 

 

 

 

 

as you can see from contrasting the above depictions of the nerve. Notice the outer thigh innervation and middle leg innervation from the upper nerves in the second photo. Contrast that to the inner thigh/back-leg innervation from the lower set of nerves. The sciatic nerve is a combination of the nervous tissue from L4 to S3 and continues down the leg to branch into the Tibial Nerve and the Common Peroneal Nerve at the popliteal fossa.

The Sacral Plexus and the Greater Sciatic Foramen

Here is a fantastic depiction of the sacral plexus and the nerve’s points of joining and separation through the Greater Sciatic Foramen which is covered by the piriformis. Here prentice-hall-sacral-plexusis a great view of the coccyx and sacral plexus which runs down the back of the leg. As the nerve travels, it is hammocked by the piriformis and then the bicep femoris before it branches. You can see a really great example of the support of the bicep femoris below

Posterior-View-of-the-Lower-Limb-Anatomical-Course-of-the-Sciatic-Nerve
Posterior-View-of-the-Lower-Limb

 

You can also see that as the nerve travels, it branches below the bicep femoris and the popliteal fossa which is also known as the knee pit. The biggest bone in the body, the femur supports and protects the sciatic nerve. We could definitely get into more detail about the branching of the nerve, but for now, let’s stick with the major components, we can get more specialized later.

 

Implications for your Yoga Practice

  1. If you haven’t started finding ways the stretch the muscles surrounding and supporting the biggest nerve in your body, its time to start. Finding ways to relax and stretch the piriformis and strengthen the sciatic nerve should be one of the primary goals of your practice. A healthy sciatic nerve will be most helpful in maintaining a pain-free leg!
  2. It is necessary to work into the layers of muscles surrounding the nerve tissue to truly release tension from it. This means that although an adjustment from a chiropractor might help in the short-term, you should be focused on re-aligning the leg muscles in your daily posture to create space for the sciatic nerve.
  3. Your hamstrings can be the primary instigator of your back pain! Quadriceps are filthy culprits as well! Find ways to stretch your legs and your back will often carry less tension as a result. And legs stretches can allow you to stretch the back in deeper ways. There are certain points inside of your hip/sacrum connection where your back and your legs are the same thing!
  4. This is a huge reason why downward dog feels so fantastic. You get to stretch the muscles around your biggest nerves! Downward can be one of the most sustainable yoga poses. It shouldn’t hurt! Just uncomfortable at first.
  5. Just to take the downward dog thing further, this is also why sun salutations are such a universal stretches in yoga and so good for relaxing the nervous system. I think sun salutations might be one of the best exercises you can do for your back.

15 Yoga Asanas for your Sciatic Nerve

  1. Hero’s Pose
  2. Downward Dog
  3. Foward Fold
  4. Sun Salutation A
  5. Low Lunge
  6. High Lunge
  7. Pyramid Pose
  8. Warrior 1
  9. Eagle Pose
  10. Triangle Pose
  11. Revolved Triangle Pose
  12. Half-moon
  13. Revolved Half-moon
  14. Half Pigeon
  15. Finishing Ashtanga Streches

References

Foot Reflexology Chart

Movement Shapes Your Body

Foot pain from your spine?

Your Foot Bone’s Connection to your spine

How can I break my Neck in my Foot

 

CLOUDS Yin Yoga Class from 8/11/2017

Clouds Yin Yoga Class

Clouds Yin Yoga Class

Clouds Yin Yoga Class was Instructed and Prepared by Elliot Telford and is sponsored by this website, Elliottelford.com

Recoding from Yin Yoga at East Wind in Auburn

Clouds Yin Yoga Class recoding from Friday night at East Wind yoga in Auburn is available below, please download the class take it with you wherever you want, and enjoy!

[purchase_link id=”69387″ style=”button” color=”green” text=”Free Download” direct=”true”]

Here is the playlist from the class as well, lots of great music in there:

The accompanying playlist begins at the 25:00 minute mark. Feel free to check out the playlists from other yoga classes here as well. Prepare for a silent meditation at the beginning, you should be able to drop right into your practice!

This yoga class was pretty smooth and hits a lot of the hard to hit areas in the hips to help the body in circulating.

Clouds Yin Yoga Class Details and notes:

I created this yin yoga class to support a deep mediation on the breath. During the class, I mentioned this article on heart health. I think that there is a lot of evidence to suggest that yoga is very healthy for your heart. In modern society there is a lack of appreciation for this, as heart health is one of the biggest issues we have to face.

Life Update: Split Between Worlds

Split Worlds

Split Worlds of Yoga, Landscaping, EDM and Art

Sometimes, I want to just focus on one thing, but I seem to live within three split worlds. I’m almost always working. Teaching yoga isn’t lucrative enough to focus on completely, landscaping isn’t really a sustainable profession outside of my 20s and 30s, nor is it very lucrative, and music actually doesn’t make me money at all yet, though someday soon I hope it does. I want to play live (and am almost ready to), which is where all of the money is!

My music is starting to get hot. Check back in soon for updates on what I’m making for y’all.

Expressing Elliot’s Art

My focus is on creating the type of art that I appreciate, love, and feel. Honestly, its not worth it if I don’t appreciate what I’m doing, the process will become unsustainable, which in work is the name of the game. I love making music and teaching yoga, and landscaping, but get torn between the three as I try to grow.

My yoga teaching has certainly improved drastically over the past couple of years. I try to bring my own style into the art as much as possible to express what I have inside of me and share. This is true of teaching yoga, writing, composing, sound design, this blog, making music videos, etc. I am trying to express myself! It is extraordinarily time consuming to do all these things in my own way because I have to literally develop the style from scratch! And I get pretty hard on myself sometimes. And then when I’m not feeling it, I have to go back to the drawing board and completely rethink what the hell I am doing! It’s crazy how much effort I am putting into this stuff!

Unique Flavors

I am constantly working to create something that no one has ever done before. It’s part of why I am making my own visual for music and why I want to DJ and teach yoga at the same time. My sounds are all my own, next to the library professional drum and synth samples that I have collected and analyzed over the last 3 years, and I am slowly collecting all of the top-of-the-line software  that I am learning to use optimally within my productions. Yoga is something that has always been very personal to me, so learning how to develop my style of teaching is also really helping me to develop my style of ddm production.

Getting Equipment

I finally have my instrument and am in the process of learning how to use it in sync with my computer to create the kind of beats that I have been making in the last 3 years.

Yoga is really cool because it doesn’t require equipment at all. If the state of California weren’t a bunch of money grubbing bastards, I could start an entire business in a public park. No wonder that state wants a piece of yoga.

Landscaping is actually a lot like music in this regard. Good equipment helps to get the job done exponentially faster and with higher quality in the finished product. Plus, power tools are so much fun to use!

No time for Wasting

Tons of my new songs are very very close to ready for release. Yesterday I spent the day getting organized and designing sounds. I’m getting close to the majority of tracks from the album. Most of them are fully structured, but the chord progressions and melodies all need work. I will release the album progressively as it helps people to digest the tracks (I honestly should re-release some of the tracks from 0, I feel like they are under-appreciated).

Yoga teaching is going phenomenally, though it always has its rough patches. I am really getting into my own flow and style and it is simply awesome to see that dream begin to form into reality. People are starting to get my message as I become more fluent in communicating it. Honestly, there are few things in this world as rewarding as communicating with and assisting other people in achieving what they want.

Landscaping is also going great, I have completely landscaped my mom’s backyard in Auburn. I am working on a multi-leveled trenching permaculture system to bring water to plants as it flows. I’ll do a post about the garden soon, once fall starts to hit. Landscaping makes decent money on the side of yoga and I get to spend time outside, so it works out great.

Conclusions of Split Worlds

Lots of the time, I wish I could just make music full time. I love contrasting melodies against basses and synthesizing sounds that I’ve never heard before and turning them into fat beats. Teaching yoga is such an important part of clearing my mind to create. I honestly couldn’t imagine one without the other. My main jobs are like the yin-yang, countering each other. Landscaping kind of sits between the two.

Anyways, here’s to the end of July! On 9/1 I am going to release my HAZE EP so get stoked. I will release the tracks progressively, as usual. I’ve also just finished a collab, and it is a very cool track. Be on the look-out from some live streams and yoga youtube tutorials, hoping to start them soon!

ttyl,

the E.T.

Teaching Yoga as an Outlet for Creativity

istockphotoyogastockphoto

Teaching with Passion

Over the past few months I have fallen into a new depth of relationship with teaching yoga. It is kind of parallel to my production of music in that I feel that my ability to express myself becomes more and more robust. All of the mediums I have at my disposal, including this website, are going to help me to connect in the world in a way that is so cool! I really enjoy being able to share all this stuff.

I’ve settled into 8 classes a week as a slight downgrade from the 9 I was teaching a couple months ago. A pace that I am glad to slow into because I need to continue my own yoga practice! It is a continual endeavor and honestly, I still like practicing my own yoga more than teaching. But that gaps gets smaller and smaller with time. I love the way that people take their time at the end of my class and the things that people say to me are so incredible sometimes. One of my students was telling my that he’s had tons of firsts in my class and that makes me stoked! It’s easy to get in your head about yoga and I try to involve the inner dialogue as little as possible. Feel that shit yo.

Evolution within communities

Anyways, I can’t believe how East Wind continues to create waves in the community and there are tons of people starting to sign up for classes and you can feel the community growing. The newer teachers are a big part of that and I’m super excited to teach alongside them. Obviously Scott, Tess, and Julie  hold down the fort, but its really nice to have some additional support to truly believe in and practice with. Ben and I have been friends for a while and I’m really supportive of him teaching yoga because the dude is a natural guru. Same with Francesca (also new to EW), I’m actually a little bit jealous about how well she connects with her squad. Anyways, both of them are going to be great teachers for me, once I get back into practicing in a studio. I just don’t want to practice anything but different ways to get into handstands right now, for some reason. Obviously that means that normal studio yoga classes aren’t quite “doin’ it” for me. It’s just me being an introvert.

Moving onto new things

Oh yeah, and Buck opened a new studio! Buck has always been a great teacher to me and I’m super excited to see how he evolves while doing his own thing. MomentOM is the name lol. I actually think that exact name was already taken by a studio in Pennsylvania ha. But shit man, he had like 60 people in that room in his Instagram post doing bicycles, it was nuts!!

Right now, I just want to be in my cave of yoga. practicing by myself, observing how the cogs of my mind reel and churn and do what they do. I need to spend the time alone, simply to post-process the amount of stuff that I am dealing with while creating all of this art. I want to stay as balanced as possible for this teaching yoga thing. Also, all that EDM music! Album on the way! (It might be called Galactic, or something like that..)

Also also, I am working on the free downloads of yoga classes. Hang in there. I might buy some software tonight to help, I want it to be working tomorrow.

Also also also, Yoga Tuesday nights at East Wind in Roseville are about to be off the chain! I’ve really tuned in my playlists lately #DJ

Well, of too spend my day off making music, first I’m gona run with a homie. Here’s to livin’ the dream!! <3

 

Adapting to the State of the Present

Life is fucking complicated out there. There are a lot of aspects of living nowadays that should NEVER have existed in the first place. Good food is expensive and bad food is subsidized and really, I think this is one of the biggest things to fix in our culture. Life for us humans is very complicated, we have to know how lots of different things work in order to operate successfully in our everyday lives. Cellphones, Cars, Computers, and all of our modern technology can be a bit insane sometimes and it catches up to us through stress an in our bodies. Thank the gods for yoga.

I find myself splitting my time between things constantly. It’s great for someone with ADD, but very difficult to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. Whether its between driving, staying connected to my body, splitting time between Auburn and Sacramento, or splitting my time between yoga, landscaping, and music, my website, landscaping writing, painting, or doing all of the other forms of art that I love to do. Recently, I found myself painting without any real reason other than the need to let go by creating something cool. But it gets tiring to be unable to focus on any one thing for an extended period of time. I try to keep a priority of yoga first, money and survival second, and music third. So far, its working out fine.

Teaching yoga is now a constant. 8 classes a week and I am getting more and more skilled at disseminating my message. I am striving to offer the best possible yoga classes to the students that attend and I think that I am doing a great job of expanding the comfort zones of the people that choose to spend time learning about yoga with me. Most people have very weird perceptions of what yoga is supposed to be.

I realize my own need to continually innovate and am actually finding the need to slow down and ground into teaching what I know. Sometimes I get distracted with the need to constantly feel like I am creating a new experience for people and I need to focus on simply creating and learning during the process.

Music is strife for me and I love every second of it. The industry is very difficult to break into. I feel that my music continues to evolve drastically, culminating in my latest release for an ill.Gates Remix Contest that you can check out below. The track is very unique, the picture links to the track. I also have about 5 other tracks that I will be releasing to my soundcloud very soon.Ill_GATES_remix_comp_theet_entry

 

 

I find it incredible how disconnected my culture is, despite all of the different ways that we try to connect, our connections have become more superficial than ever. We drive so so much. and it’s difficult to find ways to connect with newer people, especially with the amount of judgement that people just throw out randomly at strangers. But I think that I am meeting the people that I need to meet, it is just not happening as fast as I’d like it to. Big surprise, I guess.

Ultimately, I think all of the art that I am creating right now will take time to flourish, I still feel that I need a couple more years of learning in order to get to the levels of sound design, mixing, and composition that I want to be at. I feel very confident in my yoga, but ache to return to India and practice in the room full of silent Ashtangis teaching myself the second series.

The East Wind summer challenge is where I find my time going and I look forward to the yoga classes that I get to attend rather than teach. I am always working on expanding my practice and love to spend time simply enjoying my breath work and learning about the intricacies of my body. So hopefully see you around the studio!

The Anatomy of Nose Breathing

nose breathing

Why is Nose Breathing Important?

Nose breathing is the most essential part of yoga. It is also poorly understood in modern culture. Breathing through the nose is nasal_cavityphysiologically much different than breathing through the mouth; there is far more space in your nasal cavity than in your mouth to start. There is also a filtration system in the nose that doesn’t exist in the throat. You can see this on the right; the tongue takes up the vast majority of the space in the mouth and the nasal passageway is very small at certain points. The mouth actually makes for a more narrow and less effective breathing passageway, especially when you consider the benefits of the pressure system that exists in the nasal cavity. Your body craves breathing through the nose, especially while you sleep! Human breaths are more powerful through the nose.

There are studies that have shown all kinds of benefits of breathing through the nose; it is even considered the proper method for breathing by the scientific community. “[Nose breathing] increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes ” Swift, Campbell, McKown  1988 Oronasal obstruction, lung volumes, and arterial oxygenation.

Breathing through the nostrils has also been proven to improve brain function; opposite nostril breathing stimulates the opposite hemisphere of cortex and the nervous passageways in the cortex (ie left nostril nasal cavity side viewbreathing is associated with stimulating right brain activity).

There is also significant research being done on the relationship between the prefrontal cortex and the passageways to the lungs. It is being shown that there are major correlations between ADHD and sleep disorders and breathing habitually through the mouth. Information beyond the clinical applications for sleep apnea where hard to find; obviously the health need ($$) for assistance with sleep apnea is somewhat sizable, therefore there is more research done around it. However, it has been proven that alternate nostril breathing affects the brain’s physiology; there are some extremely close relationships between specific portions of the brain and the respiratory pathways, especially in the hindbrain (medulla and pons).

There is an ever-increasing body of research on the relationship between sleep apnea, asthma, and on the negative effects of breathing habitually through the mouth. Nose breathing is more protective and efficient at fueling the human body’s need for oxygen; however, the passageway is relatively easily obstructed. The mouth has been shown to be more efficient at releasing carbon dioxide quickly than the nose, although exhaling through the nose has notable benefits for the mucus membrane and cilia of the nose. Let’s explore how the nose is a powerful filtration system for the lungs.

Filtration Systems

When I was 25 I visited Beijing with some of my friends from the time that I studied abroad in Paris. While I was there, I noticed myself continually nose breathing due to the large particles in the air. I was fairly deep into my yoga practice so I was used to breathing through my nose for long periods of time, but I instinctively understood that breathing through my nose would help to filter the air and keep the large bronchitis and cancer causing particles out of my trachea and mouth.

“The nose serves as the only means of bringing warm humidified air into the lungs. It is the primary organ nose breathingfor filtering out particles in inspired air, and it also serves to provide first-line immunological defense by bringing inspired air in contact with mucous-coated membranes that contain immunoglobulin A (IgA).”

The nose assists in stimulating the immune system. The changes in pressure stimulate the physiological processes associated with the maintenance of the mucus membrane and help to retain oxygen in the lungs. It also provides humidity and heat for the air entering the lungs, as well as increased filtration from the cilia and small hairs that line the nose. In the picture above, you can see the olfactory(smell) nerves and the organization of blood vessels within the nasal cavity. Overall, it is a good idea to concentrate on breathing through the nose, whether sleeping, awake, or even during milder forms of exercise.

Why is this important for yoga?

This information helps to explain a large portion of why yoga is so beneficial for the body. Breathing intensively through the nose for one to two hours creates space for the habit of constantly breathing through the nose. This is probably the biggest reason that in clinical studies, sleep quality of subjects who practice yoga is higher. Breathing’s relationship to the functioning of the brain is also interesting; some studies have shown that yawning helps to cool the brain, but the act of yawning is probably far more complex than that simple generalization.

Questions?

How does nasal breathing affect the hippocampus and memory?

How does nose breathing affect the hypothalamus and the regulation of your emotions through the endocrine system?

What parts of the brain does yawning cool?

What portions of the cortex received the greatest benefit from breathing through the nose? How about the mouth?

These questions, at least as far as I can tell, science has yet to answer. But we do have clinical evidence that yoga positively affects mood disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and there are a lot of very positive findings between yoga and cardiovascular health, while simply nasal breathing is proven to positively affect the heart and lung tissue. It is probably just a matter of time before we discover more of the benefits of yoga and of nose breathing.

Don’t be a mouth breather! 🙂

 

References:

  1. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/874771-overview
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1111/j.1398-9995.1999.tb04402.x/asset/j.1398-9995.1999.tb04402.x.pdf;jsessionid=AECDFA5F44190494D5E7B315E7A6FEB2.f01t03?v=1&t=ilmeorkg&s=c4bc17315db2cd2d969feca8ad933515fa409e02&systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+unavailable+for+up+to+3+hours+on+Saturday+19th+March+2016+from++11%3A00-14%3A00+GMT+%2F+07%3A00-10%3A00+EDT+%2F+19%3A00-22%3A00+SGT+for+essential+maintenance.++Apologies+for+the+inconvenience.
  3. http://care.american-rhinologic.org/nasal_physiology
  4. http://medind.nic.in/iad/t05/i4/iadt05i4p251.pdf
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8063359
  6. http://journals.lww.com/neuroreport/toc/2013/12040
  7. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2005.11.711

Sikhism: The Fifth Largest Religion in the World

Sikhism symbol

Sikhism: A Tradition Striving for Unity and Truth

Sikhism guru_nanak
Guru Nanak

Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world(one of the fastest growing, too) and originated in Northern India in 1469. Sikhis (meaning disciple or learner) are monotheistic, believe in the unity and equality of all mankind, engage in selfless service, and strive for the prosperity of all life. There are over 25 millions Sikhis in the world.

Sikhism originated in a guru tradition in 1469; Guru Nanak was the first to establish what because a religious tradition over the course of centuries. Ten gurus followed in Guru Nanak’s footsteps and after the death of the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, the Guru Granth Sahib became the literal embodiment of the eternal, impersonal guru and serves as a guide for Sikhi’s.

The Ten Sikhi Gurus (each represents a divine attribute) are:

  1. Guru Nanak – Humility
  2. Guru Angad – Obedience
  3. Guru Amar Das – Equality
  4. Guru Ram Das – Service
  5. Guru Arjan – Self-sacrifice
  6. Guru Hargobind – Justice
  7. Guru Har Rai – Mercy
  8. Guru Harkrishan – Purity
  9. Guru Tegh Bahadur – Tranquility
  10. Guru Gobind Singh – Royal Courage

A couple of the Sikhi gurus are also Bhakti saints giving Hinduism an interesting relationship with the origins of the Sikh religion. The goal of the Sikhi is unison with the divine and they believe that no one tradition has a monopoly on the divine and emphasizes the “five thieves” of god’s presence: lust, rage, greed, attachment and conceit.

The Origins of Sikhism

Sikhism was created in the Punjab region, which is between India and Pakistan. In the time of the first Guru, Guru Nanak, there were two competing religions of the Muslims and Hindus. Legend says Nanak went into a river at 28, proclaimed there is no Hindu or Muslim, only god and that he continued to bring Sikhism into the world.

The 5th Guru, Arjan was a scholar and helped to build the Sikh religion by creating the first scripture. However, he was seen as a threat by the state and executed for his faith in 1606.

The 6th Guru, Hargobind eventually moved to militarize the community and the Sikhs learned to fight to preserve their faith. They became relatively peaceful until Tegh Bahadur, the 9th guru, was executed in 1675 by Aurangzeb, the Moghal Emperor. The Moghal Empire consolidated Islam in South Asia, and spread Muslim (and particularly Persian) arts and culture as well as the faith.

The 10th Guru, Gobind Singh, created the Khalsa as a military group so that they could forever defend their faith.

The Sikhs continued to rebel against Muslim oppression and eventually became a state of their own. But then they were defeated by the British. Then they became peaceful for a while, until 1919 when there was a massacre of over 400 dead and 1,000 wounded by British soldiers who fired on a crowd of protesters. A few historians signify this event as the beginning of the decline of the British Empire in India.

The Sikhi god: Ik Onkar

Ik Onkar is the Sikhi word for god and means ‘all pervading spirit’. This spirit has no gender, is beyond time and space, is without form, beyond the comprehension of humans, but not completely unknowable. The spirit is visible sikhism_ik_onkareverywhere to the spiritually awakened through the heart or “inner eye”. The religion prescribes meditation to allow for communication between god and man.

The Opening Line of the Mool Mantar:

“There is but one all-pervading spirit, and truth is its name! It exists in all creation; it does not fear; it does not hate; it is timeless and universal and self-existent, you will come to know it through seeking knowledge and learning!”

The ultimate goal of a Sikh is to be completely united with god. They achieve this state of liberation (mukti) by focusing on god rather than themselves.

Maya: the Worldly Illusion

Maya is a spiritual concept that has evolved over time and crosses over nearly every eastern religion in one way or another. Literally, Maya means delusion, extraordinary illusions of power, the veil of perception, magic, and “unreality”.

These worldly illusions are viewed as a direct opponent of realizing god in this lifetime (the goal of the Sikh is to realize god). It is believed that the object of Maya, or object of the senses, lust, desire, attachment, ego, greed, and anger which are known as the 5 thieves and are believed to take away from the individual’s relationship with god by distracting and hurting the individual.

Once god is fully realized, the individual is considered jivanmukta and liberated in this lifetime, which is a belief also shared in Hinduism. After this liberation, the individual is ceaselessly united with Brahman (the supreme truth underlying all of reality, but hidden by it). Sikhs also believe in reincarnation and karma.

The Khalsa – the Nation of Sikhs

The Khalsa is the collective body of all Sikhs. The Khalsa was initiated on March 30 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last Sikh guru. The word Khalsa means “sovereign”, “free”, or most often “pure”. Being initiated into the Khalsa is a type of baptism and males are entitled Singhs (lion) while females are titled Kaurs (princess).

The Khalsa is responsible for all executive, military, and civil authority in the Sikh society. They are considered the pinnacle of Sikhism and perform no rituals and believe in no superstitions. They only believe in god who is the master and creator of all, the only destroyer/creator.

A Sikh is defined as any human being who faithfully believes in one immortal being; ten gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, the teachings of the ten gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth guru.

Culture, Observations, and Rituals of Sikhism

Most Sikhs wake up early to meditate on the name of god. Then he/she bathes in a pool of nectar (I’m not really sure what this means, probably some type of sweet herbs and spices). Then he chants the name of the lord. All sins, misdeeds, and negativity is erased through this process. When the sun rises, the Sikh is to meditate on the name of god again. The idea of the Sikh’s existence is to worship god so that they can maintain a close relationship to god.

There are 5 K’s(panj kakaar) or articles of faith that baptized Sikhs are obligated to wear:

  1. Kesh – uncut hair, usually tied and wrapped in a Dastar (a style of turban)
  2. Kanga – a wooden comb, usually under the dastar
  3. Kachera – cotton undergarments worn by both sexes to symbolize chastity
  4. Kara – an iron bracelet, a weapon and a symbol of eternity
  5. Kirpan – an iron dagger of differing sizes. In the UK it is very small and in Punjab it can be up to three feet long.

Sikhs are also very interested in music, many instruments were supposedly created by gurus. These instruments include the Rebab, the dilruba, the taus, the jori, and the sarinda. They would often play drums or Nagaras while marching into battle.

The Modern Sikh and Sikh Statistics

There are about 27 million Sikhs worldwide and 83% live in India. 76% live in Punjab where they form Modern_Sikh2/3rds of the populace. Sikhs were some of the first to migrate to Britain from India and were used in the Indian Civil service and so were spread out over the entire British empire. Many have spread throughout Europe and Northern America.

The caste system is still very prevalent within the Sikh religion, even though their gurus denounced the system. Untouchables, or Dalits still face harsh discrimination.

The first gurdwara (place of worship) was established in the United States in Stockton, California.

Discrimination against Sikhs has risen since the 9/11 attacks. They are said to be often confused with Arabic or Muslim Middle Eastern men because of their turbans and CNN suggested an increase in hate Crimes against Sikh men after the attacks. I’ll leave it to a few clips from CNN and other news to show you what I mean by discrimination (it involves racism and persecution because of ignorance).

  • The U.S. has the highest murder rate of affluent democracies. America had an extreme homicide rate of 5.4 per 100,000 people in 2008-2009, compared with a 1.43 rate in England and Wales and a 1.3 rate in Italy. Japan has 1/10 of the murders of the US. Don’t be surprised about how often this happens.
  • [September 24th, 2013] A Columbia University professor who wrote about hate crimes against Sikhs may have become a victim of one himself when 12 to 15 people attacked him while shouting anti-Muslim slurs, police said.
    Prabhjot Singh, a Sikh and a professor of international and public affairs, said the attackers were yelling “get Osama” and “terrorist” when they swarmed him Saturday night near Central Park in New York.
    “There were about 20 of them. A few surrounded me, and started punching me,” Singh said, according to the Sikh Coalition. He suffered injuries to his face, including displaced teeth and a possible fracture in his lower jaw. CNN ARTICLE
  • [August 5th, 2012] There was a shooting of 6 people in Wisconsin in a hate crime on August 5th 2012. ‘He said members described the attacker as a bald, white man, dressed in a white T-shirt and black pants and with a 9/11 tattoo on one arm — which “implies to me that there’s some level of hate crime there”.’The gunman started shooting in the parking lot, then entered into the temple and proceeded to open fire. Most of the victims were leaders of the church, men with turbans. CNN ARTICLE
  • [September 13th, 2015] A Sikh American man says he was taunted as a “terrorist” and “bin Laden” by another driver this week, and then beaten unconscious in his car. Police in the Chicago suburb of Darien are investigating the alleged incident as a hate crime and a road rage incident that escalated into a violent attack, Chief Ernest Brown said. CNN ARTICLE
  • [January 6th, 2016] A $10,000 reward is being offered in the slaying of a 68-year-old Sikh man brutally murdered in a central Fresno convenience store on New Year’s Day. They have video of a light-skinned suspect between 16 and 18 with a red hoodie that waited outside for about 5 minutes for a man named Gill to be in the store alone. Once Gill (Sikh man without any Sikh attire on) was within about a foot, the suspect stabbed Gill repeatedly. Gill tried to push himself away, retreated and picked up a golf club. The suspect knocked Gill to the ground before returning to the cash register, which he could not open. He then took something from a shelf and walked out of the store in the same direction from which he approached. Gill died of his wounds minutes later. Sikhs were anxious about heading back out into the community because of another attack that occurred on December 26th. FRENSO BEE ARTICLE
  • [March 2nd, 2016] Balwinder Jit Singh says a passenger beat him while calling him a terrorist and a suicide bomber last year in Inglewood. YAHOO NEWS ARTICLE

So this is very real, and its happening right now. This article from THE INTERCEPT talks about how Donald Trumps campaign makes it extremely hard on Sikh’s because hatred and violence are condoned. These are Americans that are discriminated against in our own country. And in lots of cases the police turn a blind eye, refuse to investigate, or whatever nonsense racism and ignorance they can make up. But this seems to happen a lot and we, as a nation, should not allow this kind of intolerance or ignorance. This is the 5th largest religion in the world!

 

References:
  1. Institute of Sikh Studies
  2. Sikhs dot-org
  3. BBC Religion
  4. Sikh Coalition
  5. Sikh Net
  6. Maya Wikipedia
  7. Sikhism Wikipedia
  8. Religion Facts

Free Yoga Classes from Pada Yogi

pada yogi free yoga classes

Free Yoga Classes

Over the past few months I have recorded some yoga classes from the studios to create some free yoga class downloads for the readers/subscribers of Pada Yogi. All of the downloads are available below, feel free to save the files to your computer and to use them to practice yoga when you travel, or if you want to practice a led class without the yoga studio. I have a few different types of yoga classes available to you, so please enjoy!

Free Yoga Class Downloads

Yin Yoga Class from Black Friday

[purchase_link id=”60151″ style=”button” color=”gray” text=”Black Friday Yin Yoga” direct=”true”]

Yin Yoga Class from Asha Yoga

[purchase_link id=”67994″ style=”button” color=”red” text=”Asha Yin Yoga” direct=”true”]

Flow Yoga Class (1 Hour)

[purchase_link id=”68007″ style=”button” color=”green” text=”Flow Yoga Class” direct=”true”]

Flow Yoga Class (1 Hour, slightly more difficult)

[purchase_link id=”68013″ style=”button” color=”orange” text=”1 Hour Flow Yoga Class” direct=”true”]

 

Please enjoy these yoga classes brought to you by Elliot Telford and Pada Yogi. These are not beginner audio recordings. You should have a reasonable yoga(10-20 classes or sessions) practice before using this audio.

 

Please enjoy these free recordings; more are on the way!