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Kundalini Yoga and safety

New to Kundalini Yoga or been doing it for years and have questions, ideas, comments?

Kundalini Yoga and safety

Postby Ron » Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:50 am

I have read two books on Kundalini Yoga and looked at this site, but have not found the information regarding safety I have been looking for. There seem to be sadhana exercises and kriyas that involve circular movements of the spine, as well as seated postures (among others) that call for the spine to be bent forward for extended amounts of time. As far as I know, such things are bad for the spine. Is safety not a concern in Kundalini Yoga, or is there something else going on?

On page 104 of http://kundaliniyoga.net/Kundalini/wp-c ... urBack.pdf , it is stated that "we like to do static stretching in Kundalini Yoga. No bouncing." Based on experience and reading, I am confident that static stretching is not very effective for increasing flexibility. Also, static stretching seems to be harsher on the body than some other forms of stretching. So, why is static stretching encouraged?

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Re: Kundalini Yoga and safety

Postby amarpreet » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:08 am

Hello, and YES these are great questions! Allow me to research the topic and get back (pardon the pun) to you with a more thorough answer, but I'll start out by saying that I get a little miffed when I see people literally diving into ANY yoga or exercise program without asking about spine safety! ALWAYS be mindful of your individual limitations, do consulte a doctor before performing any positions that appear sketchy to you, and never do an exercise that prompts acute pain in a specific part of the body (especially the spine and neck). There is a difference between discomfort caused by fatigue and acute pain by the way, and it is up to each individual to come to their own conclusions about how this applies to them.

Thanks again for asking these very important questions! I encourage others to come forward with their personal and professional opinions about this.

Sat Nam,

Amarpreet

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Re: Kundalini Yoga and safety

Postby amarpreet » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:28 am

From Aftab Yogi:

"Safety in practicing yoga is relative to one's skill and method of application.  There is less risk of permanent injury from 'static' stretching than from 'bouncing'  With 'static' stretching, one would sense (through gradually increasing pain) when one is approaching one's limit, and could then choose to ease off.  The tension is more evenly distributed between the muscle mass, and the points of origin and insertion.  With 'bouncing’, the tension is not so evenly distributed.  The origin and insertion points are stressed more, and the pain is not as gradual, so by the time you feel it, it may be too late to ease off.  'Bouncing' is probably better suited for sports like bodybuilding and taekwondo (taut bulky muscles).  Yet, there are  some kriyas that involve some 'bouncing'  Generally though, yogis, gymnasts, and dancers, like smooth, long muscles, so choose 'static' stretching."

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Re: Kundalini Yoga and safety

Postby Ron » Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:47 am

Thank you for the replies.

"Safety in practicing yoga is relative to one's skill and method of
application."

What skills and methods of application are required to safely move one's spine in a circular manner and/or keep it bent forward for extended amounts of time? Such information seems to be missing from the materials on Kundalini Yoga I have read. What book and/or link has the information?

I have injured myself from static stretching, and the injury has lasted for years. Aftab Yogi's claim regarding pain and static stretching is false; it is not always so easy to distinguish between the feeling of a muscle being stretched statically and tendons being damaged, but the location of the feeling can be very important. I have found, and Pavel Tsatsouline has written, that for safety stretches should not be felt within about a fist's width of a joint. However, it seems to be more complicated when muscles near shoulders and hips are involved.

I have also injured myself by bouncing during dynamic stretching, but the bouncing-related injury lasted only a week or two. I still practice dynamic stretching (some, but not all, of it with bouncing) but refuse to do static stretching.

This might be off-topic, but why does Aftab Yogi assume taekwondo practitioners have taut bulky muscles, and that bodybuilders have taught muscles? I think it is possible for both types of people to relax their muscles. I am neither a bodybuilder nor a taekwondo practitioner, but I have been around many people who have been involved with taekwondo, and I do not recall *any* of them being bulky.

I like healthy muscles (and tendons and ligaments) so I will continue to avoid static stretching. I also want to be flexible and see no reason to waste time on static stretching when I can use safer, more effective methods.

Again, why is static stretching encouraged in Kundalini Yoga?

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Re: Kundalini Yoga and safety

Postby amarpreet » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:30 am

Dear Ron,

Thank you for your interest in back/spine safety - this is a subject that is near and dear to me because I've personally had numerous injuries, back pain, neck pain, stiffness, etc. If you are looking for an all-emcompassing answer that applies to everyone, you won't find it because everyone's body is different. Therefore, when we respond to your questions, all we can speak to is generalities. The majority of professional research in the area of stretching safely that I've ever read in my 43 years of existence suggests that static stretching is safer because you aren't torquing your body and gravity against the joint. My personal experience is that nothing is safer than a very very very slow, methodical, mindful stretch; then held while deeply, mindfully breathing before slowly - very slowly - releasing with a long, slow exhale. This is just my experience, though, and you may find something different works better for you.

As far as your question about Kundalini yoga, there are static stretches and stretches with movement. Sat Kriya incorporates a static stretch of the hands, arms, and shoulders upward; the kriya involves a combination of stretching, posture, breathing, and diaphragm contractions that balance the entire kriya. I've never had a problem with Sat Kriya, and I practiced it daily for almost a year; other people can't stand it because it causes them an incredible amount of discomfort.

Life Nerve stretch in Kundalini Yoga is an example of a stretch/pose/asana with movement that is contracdictory to everything that I had learned previously about back safety in stretching. If you look up the directions to this exercise, it involves a very slight movement of the chest towards the toes while holding the big toe with either hand. Keep in mind that the back is supposed to be kept straight. I've seen people moving what I deem as an unsafe amount of bounce during this exercise; I personally would advise against anything but the most careful, mindful movement, but again - everyone's back and body is different, so everyone should adjust accordingly to suit their abilities. I have been doing Life Nerve Stretch twice a day for the last couple of years, and I haven't experienced any problems, but my movement is ever-so-slight.

Those are just two examples that I could think of off the top of my head, but I'm sure that there are more. I'll let you know if I think of more.

Sat Nam,

Amarpreet.

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Re: Kundalini Yoga and safety

Postby Ron » Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:11 pm

Dear Amarpreet,

Thank you again for the reply.

I also have numerous injuries, but so far my spine is healthy and I want to keep it that way.

Only generalities? I thought it was pretty well accepted that circular movements of the spine, and keeping the spine bent forward for extended amounts of time are not healthy. Maybe those are "received opinions" that are wrong? Pavel wrote in _Beyond Bodybuilding_ (and perhaps other books) that the spine should only move in one plane of motion at a time. In _Relax into Stretch_ Pavel warned against keeping the spine bent forward for extended amounts of time. What sources claim otherwise? I would very much like to find out which source(s) Aftab Yogi had in mind regarding the cryptic comment I quoted previously about skill and method of application. Oh, and Pavel recommends bouncing while stretching (_Relax into Stretch_).

What research have you read regarding static stretching being safer? I have not seen it. I have seen books written decades ago from a Western perspective that might encourage static stretching, but they tend to lack explanations. I think Thomas Kurz, in _Stretching Scientifically_, claims that static stretching damages muscle tissue. Jim Wharton might have a similar view, and he seems to disagree with the effectiveness of static stretching as well.

I am not sure if I understand the comment about "torquing your body and gravity against the joint". It seems like it might be relevant for certain stretches/postures, not methods of stretching.

My experience is that static stretching is not very effective and tends to be harsh for connective tissues. For example, last year I developed pain in my knees from doing the leg portion of the eagle posture ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garu%E1%B8%8D%C4%81sana ) in a static manner. This spring I have been doing the eagle posture dynamically. Even though I had not been stretching my iliotibial bands or glutes, in a few weeks I had more flexibility in that stretch than I ever did during the several months I did it statically -- and the dynamic approach to that stretch is much easier on my body as well. I did three sets of ten repetitions of it today without pain and with much greater ease than static stretching ever delivered.

Sincerely,
Ron

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Re: Kundalini Yoga and safety

Postby amarpreet » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:52 pm

Sorry bro, but you either did not read my last message, or you did not understand it when I said that everyone's body is different, and the only reliable research is your own personal experience. If you are looking for a 100% answer that fits everyone, then you will never find it, and if you are looking for ways to disagree, you will always find that. If static stretching and certain movements feel bad or injure you, then DON'T DO IT. My attitude is do what feels right for me and disregard the rest. Good luck Ji!

Amarpreet

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Re: Kundalini Yoga and safety

Postby Ron » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:26 am

Dear Amarpreet,

You evidently refuse to clarify the bit about "torquing your body and gravity against the joint". That makes it seem as if you do not want to be understood, and yet you also seem to complain about not being understood. Which is it man, dawg, boy, boi, homie, g, dude, bro, or whatever? And I am not your bro. Will using slang get you to actually answer questions? Not using it has not been very effective.

Here are more of your words (which I have indeed read), "This is just my experience, though, and you may find something different works better for you." and "Sorry bro, but you either did not read my last message, or you did not understand it when I said that everyone's body is different, and the only reliable research is your own personal experience."

The implication is that anything goes if it works for the individual, and that is supported by your repeated refusals to give sources for your claims. If anything goes, and there is so much variation between individuals that research done on one person is not valid for others, then what validity can Kundalini Yoga or other systems have? In that case there is little or no reason for people to waste their time and money on Kundalini Yoga. Why are you wasting your time with it? Why do you make claims about what works for you if you really think that the experience of one person will not be valid for another?

After repeatedly not reading and/or not understanding me and refusing to answer my questions, you seem annoyed with me. I took the bait and engaged in dialogue with you in hopes of getting my questions answered when you evidently had no intention of answering them. How many times did I ask for sources? You have given zero sources.

Sincerely,
Ron

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Re: Kundalini Yoga and safety

Postby gurumeetkaur » Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:50 pm

Dear Gurumeet Kaur Khalsa:

I am intrigued by Kundalini Yoga, but am reluctant to put much time or effort into it when certain aspects of it that I think I have an understanding of seem dangerous and ineffective.

I have been trying for the past week or two to get information from the websites,

http://kundaliniyoga.net/Kundalini/wp-c ... YourBack.p

but the results have been disappointing. If you should doubt that, please read the nonsense I have been subjected to by Amarpreet and Aftab Yogi at viewtopic.php?f=5&t=3782 . Aftab Yogi seems to be giving me a run-around, perhaps deliberately insulting my intelligence.
Amarpreet evidently refuses to give relevant answers to questions and also denies that research can be valid. Are those the sort of people who should be representing Kundalini Yoga? Are they representative of the people who are involved with Kundalini Yoga? Should legitimate questions from would-be students be dismissed, sometimes contemptuously?

Sincerely,
Aleister

http://www.ikyta.org/search/teachers


Greetings, Aleister,
God bless you and thank you for writing. What are you seeking to achieve in learning about yoga? What would you like to gain in your life from practicing yoga? Do you have any specific concerns or injuries you are addressing?

I am happy to share with you from my personal experience some ideas I was taught about safety and which I incorporate into my classes. The more scientific documentation you are seeking may be best provided by a Kundalini Yoga Teacher who is also a medical doctor or a doctor of chiropractic, those who have in depth knowledge and understanding of the workings of the spine, as well as knowledge and experience of the practices and teachings of Kundalini Yoga. If you are interested in reaching out to someone like this, please let me know and I will be happy to introduce you.

I am 65 years old and have been practicing and teaching Kundalini Yoga for more than 40 years. One of my favorite Kriyas, probably my very favorite, is Bound Lotus Kriya, which does involve stretching the spine forward for 31 minutes. What I experience in myself is a very gentle stretching and opening of the muscles and discs in my spine and the flow of energy through the central nervous system, which feels wonderful, so even as I am now aging, I retain health, vigor, flexibility, balance, resilience.

I do not teach Bound Lotus Kriya to beginning students, but I will share with you what I do teach in all of my classes on the topic of safety. I encourage students to stretch gently into every posture, while BREATHING deeply. I share a motto that there are two ways to do every posture: the right way and the hard way. Do not make it hurt. Breathe deeply to assist the body to stretch gently to its point of resistance and hold there, breathing into the resistance or any tension. The more we oxygenate our blood while stretching, the better the body is able to respond.

The teachings of Kundalini Yoga are rooted in the concept that each individual has the greatest knowing about yourself and your capabilities and limitations and that Kundalini Yoga is a vehicle to assist you to live to your potential. Your own awareness and intuitive mind is the greatest safety net. Kundalini Yoga Kriyas and meditations increase an individual's self knowing and awareness to anticipate the response and consequence of every action. Technology to access our own intuitive mind gives us the experience to know that accidents and injury are preventable by our awareness.

I anticipate that I may be further irritating you with my words, and for that I apologize, if it is true. I recognize I may not be speaking from a scientific point of view. I am a great proponent of experience.

Wishing you the greatest good fortune in your endeavors and if I can assist you in any way do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you.

Sat Nam (I honor the truth in you)

S.S. Gurumeet Kaur Khalsa
Create Inner Peace
http://www.createinnerpeace.com
http://www.youtube.com/createinnerpeace

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