I am so excited that Mahan Rishi will be teaching at Sat Nam Fest Berkshires. I’ve only had a chance to take class with him a few times, but he left an indelible impression on me. Part of it is how remarkably kind and present he is. When he came as a guest teacher to my teacher training many years ago and exuded his compassion, I thought, “That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.”
But, it’s not just his gentle kindness and connection. He is also powerful and leads his students through some fiercely transformative practices. In fact, when I think of Mahan Rishi, I think of Sat Kriya, the single most powerful exercise you can do in Kundalini Yoga. In my teacher training, he led us through 31 minutes of Sat Kriya. So far, that’s the only time in 20 years of practice that I’ve been asked to do 31 minutes. It stuck with me.
Mahan Rishi shared with us that when he studied with Yogi Bhajan, he used to think his teacher had no mercy (because of challenges like 31 minutes of Sat Kriya, I presume). But, then he realized that Yogi Bhajan was the most merciful teacher. In my memory and my interpretation, this is because in pushing his students to their physical and mental limits and beyond, he held the space for the blossoming of their grace. That is mercy.
Whatever Mahan Rishi has in store for us in the Berkshires, I know it will be memorable and guided by mercy.
Now to be clear, you don’t have to do Sat Kriya for 31 minutes to experience the benefits. You can begin with 3 minutes, and the benefits are numerous. Sat Kriya balances the prana and apana (incoming and outgoing energy) at the navel center, helps with digestive issues, engages the lower triangle (first, second, and third chakras), targets the Kundalini energy, tunes up the nervous system, improves overall health, and even works on overcoming fears.
Yogi Bhajan proclaimed, “Sat Kriya is to purify your being. Disease, ailment, weakness, impotency, laziness, and negativity — all improper things will leave you.”
Here’s how to do Sat Kriya:
- If possible, sit on your heels in rock pose. If this is not comfortable for the knees, you can place a blanket or two under the hips to make the bend in the knees less severe. If it’s not comfortable for the ankles, you can put a rolled blanket between the bend at the ankles and the mat. If propping doesn’t work, then it is fine to do Sat Kriya in easy pose.
- Interlace the hands, all but the pointer fingers. Steeple the pointer fingers. Women cross the left thumb over the right and men cross the right thumb over the left. Raise your straight arms above your head.
- In this position, begin chanting aloud the bij mantra Sat Nam (Truth is my identity). As you chant “sat,” pull the navel in so the sound is powerful and emphatic. As you chant “nam,” release the navel so the sound is shorter and softer. Continue at a rhythmic pace (about eight times per 10 seconds) for three minutes.
- To finish, inhale, hold the breath and the arm position, and squeeze the energy from the base of the spine up. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Then, exhale and relax.
- It’s recommended that you relax for at least the same amount of time that you practice.
Sat Kriya is called a gem, and its effects will make you shine. See you this August in the Berkshires!