Gong Xi Fa Cai!* Xīn Nián Kuài Lè!* February 10th marks the start of the Lunar New Year for billions of people around the world. We say “Peace Out!” to the Year of the Water Dragon and “Whassup!” the Year of the Water Snake. I’m no astrologist, but a quick search on the interwebs reveals that the Water Snake has some career shakeups in store.
I decided to celebrate the lunar New Year with a new yoga kriya. In the Kundalini yoga tradition, kriyas are specific poses, often dynamic, that we take to cleanse ourselves, internally and externally. According to The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar, kriya yoga is the yoga of action, the process by which our practice becomes more than just a physical means of building strength or flexibility, and begins to change us, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually.
Sounds good to me! Almost two months into a bone-chilling, soggy winter, I could use a little fire on the inside to change things up for me. So I checked in with Lo, a fellow yogini who writes one of my favorite yoga blogs, Y is for Yogini. She’s got a ton of great kriyas posted on her blog, chronicling her journey with various kriyas. I decided to try the Sat Kriya.
Sat Kriya is one of the most powerful poses in Kundalini, a benchmark of kriyas taught in the tradition of Yogi Bhajan. It promises a wealth of benefits, from aiding digestion to opening the legs and hips, massaging your internal organs, and strengthening your heart. I want to practice this kriya without any attachment to the results, open to the possibilities but without expectations.
(Not a very Western idea, is it? We’re all GO GO GO, NOW NOW NOW with life. The Bhagavad Gita tells us that work is its own privilege, not its fruits. “Work in the name of the Lord, abandoning selfish desires. Be not affected by success or failure.” Doing something without attachment to what happens? Well, we’ll see.)
One of the most important elements of the Sat Kriya is the chanting of Sat Naam, a mantra that means “Truth is my identity.” Isn’t that lovely? In a world full of labels and definitions, demands and judgment, it’s gorgeous to be able to take some time, breathe deeply and chant in pursuit of owning your own truth.
So you can look for all kinds of explanations on how to do Sat Kriya, but for my money, nobody puts it better than Lo. If you want to try it with me, check out her instructions. Click here for her wonderful explanation of how to do it, and here for some tips she learned halfway in. For my part, I’ll be sure to check in here about what I notice over the course of the next forty days.
*These are the traditional wishes expressed in Mandarin at the Lunar New Year. The first means Congratulations, and the second means Much Happiness in the New Year.