My name is Thea Khwaja. I live near Winchester in Hampshire with my husband Darius and our two daughters. I started practicing yoga in my early twenties alongside exploring meditative healing techniques. Eventually in 2011 I was introduced to Kundalini Yoga which created the perfect collaboration to the elements I had looked at separately.
In 2012 I trained to become a Kundalini Yoga teacher with i-SKY, the International School of Kundalini Yoga in the UK. I completed Level 1 of the International Teacher Training Programme approved by Yogi Bhajan, recognised by the Yoga Alliance and which leads to membership of the International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association. I also started the 5 module Level 2 course in October 2013. This course is structured across an optional 2½ to 5 year period to provide an extensive understanding of Kundalini Yoga. In addition to both these courses I began the Kundalini Yoga Therapy course completing the first of 7 modules in October 2015. This course looks at an extensive pallet of both eastern and western approaches to healing and develops your knowledge to offer more individual therapeutic pathways.
All yoga has its place in the world but my attraction to Kundalini Yoga was its comprehensive approach to all aspects of the yogic tradition and exploration in the subtlety of energy within the human body. It can defy understanding but absolutely delivers providing a sincere platform for personal transformation. Through this it has taught me the value and true nature of discipline whilst maintaining an open heart and mind.
During our training we are taught to remember that as a teacher of Kundalini Yoga you are a vehicle for the teachings. It is to this end I hope I will always remain both humble & grateful for any opportunity to share this incredible gift.
Kundalini Yoga is a Raj Yoga, ‘the royal command and rulership of yogic virtues and values that enables you to reach the full development of identity and being.’
It is the diamond of yoga, combining all facets of the yogic tradition and awakens the potential of each individual to a disciplined union with the power of consciousness. It is known simply as the yoga of awareness; where a person uses their mind, body and soul to improve physical health and explore their inner dimensions to transform fears and insecurities into trust, balance and wellbeing. There was a time when it was not taught publicly and considered a safely guarded practice only to be shared with a certain class and group or from Master to apprentice. However in 1969 Yogi Bhajan, both Master of Kundalini Yoga and Mahan Tantric, broke with tradition and decided it was time this ancient science was shared with the world.
Kundalini Yoga is for the householder so no matter how busy the routine of your life there is a wealth of material and teachings to offer everyone the opportunity to further their personal growth and development. It is a powerful and transformative practice that often defies belief and deepens the capacity for love and compassion, allowing us to live with self-reverence and open hearts.
- Tune In with the Adi Mantra
- Pranayam is the science of breath where we practice both subtle and powerful breathing techniques.
- Warm Up to ensure the body is sufficiently ready and prepared.
- Kriya means ‘complete action’ and refers to a set of asanas (yoga postures and exercise) in combination with pranayama (breathing techniques) and occasionally mantra (chanting). Each kriya is done in a particular sequence, for a certain amount of time and has a specific intention and purpose.
- Relaxation is a vital part of the process to absorb and integrate the work achieved through the physical practice.
- Meditation if the physical kriya does not include a meditation a separate one is practiced as its own ‘complete action.’ This can be silent or include a mantra either chanted mentally or out loud.
- Tune Out with the Long Time Sun song and three long Sat Nams
Please keep the following in mind:
- Avoid eating a large meal two or three hours before class.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing; natural fibres are best as they allow your skin to breathe. In Kundalini Yoga many people like to wear white as it represents the seven colours (spectrum of the rainbow). They also wear their hair up or a head cover to contain energy in the Crown Chakra.
- I can provide yoga mats however you may prefer to bring your own (or sheepskin) to work on. Please bring your own blanket as a warm cover during relaxation.
- Bring a water bottle and drink small amounts during class, especially if it is strenuous.
- It is best to do yoga in bare feet, promoting contact with the ground and a safer, more natural practice.
Cultivate the habit of going a little beyond your limits but not to the point of injury. When you cannot continue an exercise, rest a moment and then resume. Often meditations in Kundalini Yoga involve holding a static posture and this can cause some discomfort. There is a purpose for the use of any posture or mudra (hand position) so try your best to maintain it. The pain will pass and this increases the effects, especially during meditation. Naturally if any posture is causing physical damage then do not continue with this element of the exercise or meditation.
I bow to the subtle divine wisdom, the divine teacher within
We tune in with the Adi Mantra, it is the first technology of Kundalini Yoga and the connection between your finite self and infinite aspect. The Adi Mantra centres you, calms the mind and is the link to the ‘Golden Chain,’ the energetic lineage of Teachers that have gone before us.
I bow to the primal wisdom,
I bow to the wisdom true through the ages,
I bow to the true wisdom,
I bow to the great unseen wisdom.
This mantra is commonly used in a class for guidance and protection. It clears the clouds of doubt and reminds us that we are guided by the source of all existence. Through every moment, experience and activity we are lead by our heart’s deepest truth and connected to the unseen infinity of our highest self.
The Navel Point is a pivotal centre in the body and vital to understanding the practice of Kundalini Yoga. It is often referred to in many of the techniques you come across and so it is important to be able to locate it. The Navel Point is not just a “point” it is a centre where energy transforms in the body. Although the centre is etheric we are familiar with the notion of strengthening our core muscles and these are located around the same area. The Navel Point is a few inches below the navel and in front of the lower spine. An easy way to locate it is to place the three middle fingers of one hand so the index finger rests just below the belly button, where the lowest/ring finger rests is your Navel Point.
Breath of Fire is one of the foundational breath techniques used in Kundalini Yoga. It accompanies many postures and has numerous beneficial effects. It is important to master this breath so that it is done accurately and automatically.
How to do Breath of Fire:
- Sit in Easy Pose with a nice straight back and apply Jalandhar Bhandha (Neck Lock – see bhandas).
- The practice of the breath is done through the nose.
- Close your eyes and focus at the Brow Point (Third Eye).
- Focus on the exhale pulling the Navel Point and solar plexus back towards the spine forcing the air out of the nose.
- It is a rapid, rhythmic and continuous breath, where the inhale and exhale are done in equal measure with no pause in between (approximately two cycles per second but begin slowly to be sure you are doing it right).
- If you focus on the exhale, the inhale should take care of itself and come naturally.
- The movement of the Navel Point is in and up on the exhale and down and out on the inhale.
- Keep the face soft and shoulders relaxed it should be a smooth and nearly effortless breath.
- It is not advised to do Breath of Fire if pregnant or menstruating.
To practice Jalandhar Bandha:
- Sit comfortably with a straight spine.
- Close your eyes.
- Lift the chest and sternum upward.
- Gently elongate the back of the neck by slightly pulling the chin toward the back of the neck. The stretch feels automatic as you naturally adjust your position between the chest and chin. Do not force the head forward or down that will only result in a sore neck.
- It is a subtle adjustment where the head stays level and centered in a neutral position and does not tilt forward or to either side.
- Keep the muscles of the face and the brow relaxed and those of the neck and throat remain loose so there is no strain on the cervical spine.
Jalandhar Bandha is the first, most basic and generally applied of the locks. It prevents undue changes in blood pressure and acts as a safety valve that regulates the pressure. In particular it stops a build up of pressure in the head when suspending the breath. Jalandhar is the upward pull that ‘opens the gate to the brain’s watery nectars’ and therefore the secretions of the higher glands (pituitary, pineal and hypothalamus). It also creates nerve reflexes that stimulate and balance the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
Whilst the Neck Lock seals generated energy in the upper areas of the brain stem it also allows a subtle connection of flow from the Third Eye to the Heart Centre. When the pituitary gland secretes it is referred to as ‘the turning of the lotus of the moon’ and the moon relates to the ‘emotional flow of energy, hormones and imagination.’ By applying the Neck Lock there is an increased concentration of the secretions of the higher glands and so allows a new level of interrelatedness between them. It also makes it easier to focus on internal sensations and perceptions whilst directing the flow of pranic energy (life force) along the central channel of the spine and in relation to the heart.
To practice Mulbandh:
- Sit comfortably with a straight spine.
- Close your eyes.
- First contract/squeeze the anus and feel the muscles lift upward and inward.
- Then contract the sex organs, experienced as a slight lift and rotation inward of the pubic bone; like trying to stem the flow of urine through the urethral tract.
- Then contract/pull the lower abdominal muscles and the Navel Point toward the spine.
This is the most complex of the body locks. It is like a hydraulic lock at the base of the spine. It coordinates, stimulates and balances the energies involved with the rectum, sex organs and Navel Point. It connects to the base of the spine and controls neurological systems such as digestion, elimination and glandular secretion. When mulbandh is engaged it rebalances our body chemistry, transmitting a sense of wellbeing via the endocrine and nervous system. It redirects excess sexual energy into creativity and bodily repair. If there is a lack of sexual vitality mulbandh helps correct it.
The key function is the blending of the prana (life force) and apana (eliminating force) at the Navel Chakra (centre). The mulbandh redirects the apana from its normal course downward to the First Chakra up to the navel centre. There it joins the downward flow of the pranic energy. When these meet an inner heat, or tapa, is created which then opens the entrance to the sushmuna, the central channel of energy flow up the spine. Therefore it starts the process of transformation from gross to subtle and stimulates the proper flow of spinal fluid. As it lifts it seals in energy and moves positive energy upwards towards the next chakra and flows onto the next bandha.
Please inform me if you think you are pregnant as there are restrictions to yoga whilst pregnant. Pregnant women should avoid Breath of Fire, Shoulder Stand and any exercise done on the stomach. During pregnancy all physical exercise should be calm and quiet so I would advise that you get permission from your doctor to do yoga and suggest you attend prenatal yoga classes.