Q&A with Yogini Kaliji
Q A student today felt nauseous and dizzy after class. She ran ten miles before the class and experienced position vertigo. (She gets dizzy in certain positions after long runs.) Any thoughts on how to work with any long distance runners?
Kaliji We work with long distance runners similar to everyone else, except they will need additional stretches for the areas in the body that tend to become stiffer through running.
Several people can have the same symptoms, yet it means something different for each one. So the answer given below is just a general answer. If the symptoms persist, then she could check with her doctor to determine what specifically is causing it.
Each experience for the runner is unique depending on the average length of time the runner performs, the type of surface the runner uses, and the previous health condition of the runner.
Usually runners’ muscles are tighter, especially the back of the thighs. The tighter muscles contain lactic acid build up. Drinking additional fluid will help to release toxins from the muscles. Those with tighter muscles need to take in more liquids due to the fact that the body consumes more liquid in dealing with excess tension held in the muscles. Fluids help in releasing the toxins from the tight muscles. When muscles hold excess tension, it restricts the blood flow which can be a cause for dizziness as a result of poor circulation.
I have witnessed runners being flexible as yogis; however, they have to work harder at it due to the contraction that running causes. Naturally, running has its good side; running on the beach in the sand with fresh air can feel great for the body/mind. Still the runner will need additional hamstring and thigh stretches to balance the strength and flexibility between the front thigh muscles and the back leg muscles. It is important to keep a healthy working relationship between all the muscles groups.
Q I am so busy that my own practice is suffering. Can you advise me regarding this?
Kaliji I understand your question regarding a busy life. Life by its very nature keeps us busy. With the duties of life such as sleeping, preparation and eating of food, cleaning, and livelihood, we often feel we have little time left over at the end of the day for other higher pursuits. However, we need to have a balance between these necessary duties, as well as time for our relationships and sadhana (spiritual practice). To achieve this balance, we need to clarify our priorities.
First, discover how much time is needed for the personal sadhana. This should include the flows, pranayama, meditation, and additional time for gaining knowledge. Also needed is time for creative expression such as music, art, dancing, gardening, or whatever it might be.
Each individual needs to make a list of their duties, their creative expression, and their spiritual practice. Begin first with allotting time to your spiritual practice. From this, all else will naturally fall into place. Remember, the clarity that comes from a regular spiritual practice brings clarity to all of life. With this awareness, we will find we have extra time which can be used for further self-development and service.
Q Boy, it’s hard to sit in meditation when you are uncomfortable sitting with yourself!
Kaliji Meditation is a mirror to let one know how they are really doing in life. When one is flowing in life, doing what they are meant to be doing, then when one sits for meditation . . . Ah, it is all so peaceful.
Q I was thinking about repeating mantra during meditation. Can you say something about mantra?
Kaliji Mantra comes in many forms . . .
Mantra is a Sanskrit word which means “to protect.”
A positive mind is the greatest mantra as it gives protection from unwanted thoughts and feelings. Some may feel inclined toward repeating one or more pure sound vibrations to still the wandering mind. Many languages contain sacred sounds, mantras. The yogis use Sanskrit mantras as the Sanskrit language emphasizes the science of sound vibration. For thousands of years, yogis have developed mantra yoga.
A simple and effective mantra to begin with is OM SVAHA.
This affirms “I surrender to the Universal Flow, the Divine Self.”
On the inhalation repeat OM; on the exhalation repeat SVAHA.
When uniting mantra and breath, the mantra is repeated mentally using the slow natural breath, or one can listen to a mantra tape to focus on the sound.
During mantra repetition, remain aware of witnessing the process. If the mind begins to wander, re-focus on the mantra. Eventually, the mind will stay focused due to the inner calm that comes from one-pointed concentration.
In deep levels of concentration, the mantra will begin to repeat spontaneously inside. This is called ajapa. Whereas, when we repeat the mantra it is called japa.
As the mind continues to be absorbed in the sound, a profound bliss is the result due to the focused mind.
This blissful state will be accompanied with higher knowledge. When the lower mind is controlled, the inner knowledge, which is inherent in us all, is revealed according to the need.
This blissful knowledge begins to guide us in daily life.
Ah, the reason for mantra.
Q I note that in your practice, and it seems in a majority of teaching styles, asanas that are performed on both sides are performed on the right side first. My Integral-influenced training taught us that beginning on the right side was a more left-brain approach, that is, more yang, linear, and assertive, whereas, beginning on the left side was a more right-brain, yin, intuitive, meditative approach. I have followed their example of beginning with the left side but am interested in why the Iyengar and Astanga schools, as well as your own, begin on the right. Please share your valued opinion with me.
Kaliji I can only answer why TriYoga Flows begin with the right side. I do not know why other systems of yoga practice the way they do.
In TriYoga, yes, it is true that beginning the postures on the right side activates the left brain which is a more linear, logical mind approach, and postures performed on the left side activate the right brain which is a more feeling, intuitive approach. Therefore, we begin on the right side as the body is learning the posture with the logical mind. Once practiced, the body performs it on the left side through feeling. This is how most learn yoga, from the outside – in. However, this is only used in our first stage of systematic approach. When one enters the second and third stages of TriYoga Flows, the intuitive and prana-inspired flows, the side we begin on, no longer matters.
Q Are there any exercises to help the heart and spirit become more in touch and open to the flow?
Kaliji The TriYoga Flows are systematized in such a way that the prana becomes balanced and strong. Due to this, the prana will automatically begin to move to the heart chakra. There is a natural bliss associated with the heart chakra. Feeling this bliss is one of the attributes of being in the flow.
The TriYoga pranayama and meditation sequences also give the energy necessary to be more in touch with the spirit. Pranayama and meditation calm the mind, allowing the spirit to radiate through.
The additional practices of TriYoga, such as chanting, service work, honoring one’s dharma (life’s purpose), and keeping good company all serve to bring one in touch with the flow. When one is in the flow, the heart opens and the spirit shines.
Q The more yoga and related activities I practice, the more uncontrollable energy I have. I feel hyperactive, almost manic. The energy level is wonderful, but how does one focus and corral this tremendous energy?
Kaliji It may be wise to check with the health and medical field to see if anything is physically wrong.
At the same time, we also check ourselves out. If one is feeling like they have too much energy, then one should do inquiry into their actions and spiritual practice. See if there is anything that is creating the restless energy.
Question your diet, exercise, and sleep patterns; your body/mind actions; your relationships; and your focus to discover what could be causing this. Then make the necessary changes.
Continue with the practices of TriYoga. The systematic approach of TriYoga will balance the energy. The first stage releases the energy blocks. The second stage increases the energy flow. The third stage directs the energy flow. Then one truly enters the flow . . .
At times, one will experience a lot of energy when first starting the practice. This can be a good sign that the energy is moving and changes are taking place. This is a stage that will pass; the energies will balance with the practice and until then, we do the best we can and trust in the flow.
Q I am feeling betrayed by my yoga mentor. My personal practice includes several styles of yoga (with TriYoga being what my body most requests). However, I live in a state without any certified Tri Yoga teachers. My introduction to yoga was Asthanga Vinyasa yoga. I have experienced three years of intense, loyal, fulfilling yoga practice. Now, my yoga teacher/mentor has decided that Ashtanga no longer suits his body or his needs and is discontinuing the teaching/assisting of Ashtanga at the only studio near my home. I am feeling quite betrayed by my teacher for allowing me (and other students) to make this style of yoga such an integral part of our lives and then to phase it out without any thought for those us who still feel passionate about it. I am finding that I don’t want to attend his other classes due to this betrayal. Is this feeling normal, or am I cutting off my nose to spite my face?
Kaliji When someone finds a practice they truly enjoy, it is very special indeed. After three years of practice, you probably know the series well enough to practice on your own or with the students who also enjoy this method.
If you enjoy the teacher you’ve been studying with, then it might be good to experience his new method of teaching to see how well it feels. You won’t know until you try it.
There are many methods of hatha yoga. If you enjoyed Ashtanga Yoga, then perhaps you’ll also enjoy the method he is now teaching or another method.
If not, then continue to practice what you’ve learned from him privately or with friends. But by all means, continue the practice of yoga.
In regards to preferring TriYoga, I can understand:)
I’m presently living in southern California, spending the days writing the teachings of TriYoga, and soon will begin filming videos for those students who wish to learn at home.
Enjoy the flow,
Q Could you please speak on the place wine or any alcohol has in TriYoga or the Spiritual Path?
Kaliji For TriYogis ~ it is recommended to practice daily….developing more and more of a yoga lifestyle.
The sadhana will guide one inside what they need or don’t need.
There isn’t a dogma or set of rules one must adhere to.
Naturally it is wise to progress on the path of yama and niyama.
The first step is ahimsa ~ non-violence
Thus, if there were to be rules ~ let us begin with
the ahimsa trinity: animal rights, human health ecology.
The releasing of attachments, desires, habits, or whatever ~ should be based on the individual’s timing~
wine is not recommended nor told not to do.
As long as there is no harm to others …then one should decide for themselves.
~ We could easily make a list of things ‘not recommended and in fact not advised at all’
shall we begin? 🙂
and the list goes on ~
We are fortunate with TRIYOGA ~
just do the practice and the flow will guide ~
PS according to guna theory, wine is considered tamasic.
one on yoga path focuses more on the sattvic energies.
Q I am wondering if you ever feel a humming vibration in any of your cakras?
Kaliji The cakras are energy centers. Energy vibrates. Each cakra vibrates differently based on thoughts ~ the prana increases and decreases in the cakras based on thoughts, actions, habits. One sensitive to this can feel like the cakras are vibrating. The humming sensation is a result of sound vibration. Subtle Anatomy states that each petal is represented by one of the Sanskrit letters. Also, each cakra has a beeja mantra. Due to sound vibration, the humming can be felt.
Q Does it make any difference what side to start on when practicing the flows? We usually start with the right leg when we do Swan or Runner. Is it principle what side to start on? Or it is better to start with the left leg, if the left hip is worse than the right one? Also, should I do the equal number of cycles for the both legs, or I can do more of them for the left leg?
Kaliji For a practical reason, starting on right side each time helps one to remember which side should be next. The right side represents the external. Thus, we start with the external, then move toward the internal with the left side. The right side of the body is ruled by the right nostil, which also represents the physical side. After the physical, logical side then we do the left side, the intuitive, mental side. One begins in the external when first learning alignments. Then one feels the movement. The same thing happens by starting on the right side, followed by the left side.
Q Sutra II.49 says that pranayama is not to be practiced until asana is mastered. Can you comment on this?
Kaliji What is ‘asana’ ? Patanjali didn’t speak about the various movements, postures, but rather about an asana being defined as that which is relaxed and steady, while one meditates upon the infinite. One can sit, or recline if necessary, while focusing on the breath and the body will become more relaxed, steady.In this way breath awareness, helps to create the relaxation of posture. With regular practice, the relaxed asana can now can be sustained which is great support for deeper pranayama. As the energy begins to move, the posture needs to be steady and relaxed to accommodate the movement of prana. For this reason, pranayama is said to follow posture…it is due to the movement of energy caused of pranayama that one needs a steady pose. But this doesn’t mean one can’t begin with corrrect breathing and breathing kriyas to prepare for pranayama, which implies breath retention is added. TriYoga systematically presents the breathing practices. As long as one is able to sit comfortably or even recline for the basics, breath awareness should be added. The breath is the essence to yogasana practice. In all the 8 limbs of Patanjali, one soon realizes all 8 happen spontanously! Many great saints only practiced pranyama…..and not the various postures, but they could sit effortlessly~
Q TriYoga is advertised as a unique method. What is this uniqueness?
Kaliji TriYoga is a complete method that includes the full range of traditional yoga practices. It is unique in that its origin and continuing development arise from kriyavati siddhi. On January 5, 1980, kriyavati siddhi awakened within, manifesting as the flow of asana, pranayama, and mudra. Kriyavati (a siddhi, or yogic accomplishment, in which a hatha yoga method is revealed spontaneously by the awakened kundalini while the yogi is in deep meditation or samadhi) has continued to guide the evolution of TriYoga. Through this intuitive knowledge, TriYoga Prasaara has been systematized into levels from Basics to Level 7. TriYoga Prasaara is the Art and Science of Yogaflow. TriYoga’s kundalini-inspired flowing sequences unite pranayama and mudra with dynamic and sustained asana to create greater flow of prana. To maintain the harmonious flow between body, breath and mind specific guidelines are incorporated. First, the wavelike spinal movement that moves up and down the spine is inherent to the flow. When flowing between a backward bend and a forward bend, the spine rolls vertebra by vertebra, either ascending or descending, while following the natural wave of the spine. To maintain the flow, a backward bend (extension of the spine) is entered through a forward bend (flexion of the spine) and a forward bend is entered through a backward bend. The core spinal alignment has four curves. The lumbar and cervical spine curve inward (lordosis), while the sacrum and thoracic spine curve outward (kyphosis). In addition to this natural alignment when the back appears straight, the spine has four primary directional movements within its range of motion: flexion (forward bend), extension (backward bend), rotation, and sideward bending (lateral flexion). To maintain the flow from one posture to another, the spine moves from one of these four directional movements or remains in its core alignment. In addition to the spinal wave, the whole body flows. To sustain the flow, one maintains relaxation-in-action, economy of motion, and common alignments between postures. One connects, flows and dissolves each posture into the next, moving only what needs to move in order to conserve energy. To give the feeling of equilibrium, or to feel the flow of energy, one extends equally in four directions: north, south, east and west. Precise alignments support the natural alignment of the skeletal system. With this strong foundation, the body relaxes within the flow. When one enters the flow, prana increases and the inner flow naturally awakens.
Q On the one hand this uniqueness on the other hand with reference to the tradition. Why do You refer to the tradition?
Kaliji The Vedas, the traditional philosophy of yoga, were realized by yogis through meditation. In the same way, ancient hatha yogis when in deep meditation would be guided through yogasana, pranayama, and mudra. This spontaneous movement was the result of awakened kundalini. TriYoga is in this tradition of the ancient yoga in that it is guided by the direct experience and intuitive knowledge that arise from the inner flow of kundalini, or universal life-energy.
Q Is TriYoga a religion ? Why do You worship to gods and goddesses of the Indian mythology for example during chanting?
Kaliji TriYoga is based on universal teachings. TriYoga isn?t a religion; yet, all are welcome from the various religions to practice TriYoga. Religion comes from the Latin word ?religio? which means to bring together. In Sanskrit, yoga comes from the word to Yok, to bring together. So we could say that uniting or bringing together the body, mind and spirit is a spiritual path but not necessarily a religious path. It does not consist of dogma. There are practices that allow one to discover truths for themselves. In chant sessions, it is stated that the visuals used are like mirrors to see the divine attributes within. One needs to understand the symbols of mythology to use them in this way. In TriYoga chant sessions visual presentations are projected on a screen. Deity pictures may symbolically represent the mantra, and chant lyrics or a quotation on nada yoga may be shown. There is no reference to worship. However, devotion spontaneously emerges due to the power of mantra.
Q What is the renewal (novelty) of Your method?
Kaliji It is inspired and guided by the grace of Devi, kundalini on the plane of hatha yoga.
Q You mention devotion that spontaneously emerges due to the power of mantra. What exactly is devotion?
Kaliji Devotion is love for the divine. Bhakti is the Sanskrit word for devotion. Thus, bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion. Bhakti yoga can be expressed through hatha yoga discipline, through service or through chanting, recitation of mantra. In a particular expression of devotion, one chants a mantra that corresponds to their Ishta (chosen form). By repeating the mantra or holy name while contemplating the attributes of the beloved, the mind takes the form of this energy and devotion is heightened. Ultimately only the mantra or sacred sound will remain. This awakens the energy that flows to the heart cakra. Great devotion is felt and the inspiration to continue spiritual sadhana is increased. Surrendering to the divine is the ultimate state of bhakti.
Q Why is devotion important?
Kaliji Devotion fuels the desire to progress on the spiritual path.
Q What is a mantra? Is it a prayer?
Kaliji Mantra is a Sanskrit term. One meaning of the word mantra is protection of the mind from unnecessary thoughts. Mantra is a Sanskrit sound that is repeated either aloud or silently. When used in meditation, it serves as a replacement for unwanted thoughts. This calms the mind allowing consciousness to expand. A prayer is often made to ask for support or help; whereas, a mantra is not requesting something, but rather surrendering. However, a prayer that is in praise of the divine is like a mantra in its effect.
Q People devote their lives to family, money, and jobs. Is this also yoga?
Kaliji To be successful in yoga, one must accept one’s karma and dharma. Each person has specific duties (dharma) to fulfill based on their previous actions (karma). It is a sadhana, that is a yoga discipline, to live in the world and maintain a state of peace. Everything can be fruitful to the yoga practice once one awakens to the fuller meaning of yoga.
Q To see the divine attributes within is it necessary to refer to the symbols of Indian mythology? If so, why?
Kaliji There are many ways to realize the divine attributes. The most important is to embody them. Indian mythology is one way to focus on the attributes. For example, in Deity Yoga there is the image of Sri Lakshmi seated on a lotus. From this image, one can realize that even though one has traveled through the muddy waters of the mind, they can rise above this. Just like a lotus rises toward the light, untouched by the mud, one can transcend the lower desires of the mind and realize peace.
Q Some of the breathing techniques for beginners that TriYoga includes also occur in other yoga traditions but with different names. Do different yoga methods have different names?
Kaliji Sanskrit is the richest language on the planet. This is the language from which all other Indian languages emerge. India recognizes over 50 languages and over a hundred dialects. Thus, there will always be more than one name for the same object or form. In this case, the technique is called by other names in different parts of India. Each of the breathing techniques taught in this article contain only Sanskrit names that are used in India. For example, the practice of Alternate Nostril Breathing is called Nadi Sodhana in the north; in the south it is often called Surya Chandra or SunMoon Breath. There are other terms too for this practice. Kapalabhati is similiar everywhere in India: Shining Skull, Skull Shining or for short Shining Breath. In the article Shining Skull can be used. Bhati means shining, Kapala means head or skull. In the PRANA VIDYA manual both names are given as well as a coined term by modern lineages which call it Breath of Fire or Fire Breath. In TriYoga we use only the traditional names for traditional techniques. Presently one of the main sources for terms that hatha yoga students recognize is from a modern day lineage. There is a richness in India yet to be realized.
Q What age did seeking begin for you? Did you have a guru as a child?
Kaliji Since early childhood, as most children do, I started to ask, ‘where did I come from?’ – This continued for me and never ceased. Then between ages 3 and 6 the deceased mother of our close family babysitter appeared to me. This allowed me to realize from such an early age that the soul is immortal. At age 7, when I asked the question to myself again, sitting on the hill behind my home ‘where was I before arriving here’ … the answer was felt, like a glimpse of bliss. This question and silent answer was a subtle guiding force in my childhood as each time I asked this, bliss was the only answer. Starting around 10 years old, I began to lead group meditation circles that met after school. Naturally from my childhood experiences it focused on ‘tuning in to the other side’. At age 20, during a near death experience… I was surrendering to the experience when suddenly the familiar blissful feeling arose but more prominently. Then within minutes a man threw the magic rope that saved my life. However, in more ways than one, my life was saved. The man was a teacher of eathern philosophy. At that perfect moment the ageless teachings were presented…. ah, the language for my deepest feelings. The three months that followed this is when I experienced my first kundalini sakti that flowed for over 12 hours during meditation immersion. From that profound experience, my guru was revealed as the universal truth that resides within us all. We give it many names but it is the same Guru. For me, the Name is Devi ~ cosmic power also recognized as the Divine Mother is what I refer to as Guru.
Q Each moment of practice TriYoga holds my attention in my body by controlling each point of movements… That’s quite something else from our habitual practice…But I have some doubts about TriYoga. I heard that the progress of TriYoga pupil is strictly reglamented with TriYoga levels. That is if my teacher gives me first level I can not use some elements (asanas, breathing and so on) from higher levels. For example if I do lotus and headstand well I can’t use it because TriYoga flows for 1st, 2nd levels doesn’t contain these asanas. This reason stopped me some time ago from TriYoga because I thought that it will be boringly to do simple elements day-by-day when my body is ready for more struggling asanas.
Kaliji First one must realize TriYoga is about the ‘flow’…from the body movement to the flow of consciousness. Second, TY is a systematic method to open the physical and subtle body energies for the highest results. Third, TriYoga is flexible:-) Each level is like notes of a musical scale. Once one understands and feels the ‘flow’ they can flow between the levels enjoying the postures as their body / mind are prepared for it. If you were studying from TY teachers that have trained in the advanced levels then you would be able to enjoy more postures. Until you are able to learn TY’s multiple levels, then add the postures you feel fit the sequencing so it is safe and adds to the balanced flow of prana. Later when you can systematically learn TY it will be a wiser and more beneficial flow series.
Q What is criteria on which the teacher decides to move up the pupil to higher level in Triyoga?
Kaliji When one has a good understanding of the alignment and flow of each posture in the level.
Q I have some questions about differences I see in TriYoga practice: Ayurveda says, that external breath retention (bhaya kumbhaka?) held for more than 9seconds can be very dangerous for the lungs when you’re not accompanied by a good teacher. It could cause pulmonary phibrosis. Practice of pranayama they tell should also be accompanied by drinking milk. I’m wondering what you’re knowledge is about danger practicing external breath retention and if there is a special vegan plant that substitutes the ingredients that seem to be important for pranayama practice?
JAYA GURU DEVI
Each person will gravitate to their own path / teacher. If this person’s teaching resonates with you then follow.
For me this doesn’t resonate at all. I will never accept that having to steal milk from a calf—from an artificially induced pregnant cow—will support my increasing life energy, prana. Some people create endless fear based on false rules. Most commercial milk has pus among other ingredients—it is mucus inducing, besides.
Some who are attached to milk from a cow will create any rule to support their addiction. Others simply pass wrong knowledge innocently, not knowing. A discriminating mind on the path is most essential.
Holding the breath comfortably in or out exercises the lungs while cleaning and increasing prana. This is sattvic… causes no harm.
If the lungs were that fragile we’d all be dead says Nandi:))
I would be more concerned with having a short breath with a lack of prana causing me not to be able to sustain the breath. 🙂
Jai to TY, the Sattvic path.
And btw, if you like Sanskrit chanting, our lineage is one of the finest in the world.