Chanting, Awakening, and Kundalini Yoga: Snatam Kaur

Posted on February 25th, 2013 by in Meditation

It’s a simple fact, one that I often resist. If I want my life to change for the better, then I have to change.  To expect more peace, joy, and love to enter my life without any shifts on my part is kind of like expecting that my meals are somehow going to taste different even though I’m preparing them with the same ingredients in the exact same manner every day.

But according to Snatam Kaur, a sacred chant artist and Kundalini Yoga teacher whom I recently interviewed for Kripalu Perspectives, it doesn’t take as much effort as we might think to tip the scales and bring more serenity into our lives. “Little shifts can do so much,” she says.

In that vein, I experimented with a simple meditation Snatam advocates for those of us with busy minds who want to calm down and relieve anxiety. It’s called left-nostril breathing, and as yogic practices go, it’s about as simple as it gets.

Sit up straight and close your right nostril with your right thumb. Next, inhale as deeply and for as long as you can through your left nostril.  Exhale through your left nostril, too.  Snatam suggests mentally chanting sat, which means truth in Sanskrit, on the inhale, and nam, which means “the identity of the divine within me” on the exhale.

“Do it for just three minutes,” she says, “and it can change your energy.” According to Snatam, if you can eventually do left-nostril breathing for 11 minutes or more, it can help you be “less swayed by the traumas and dramas of life.”

Yogis believe that breathing through the left nostril accesses the right hemisphere of the brain, which is associated with the cooling energy of the moon. Thus, left-nostril breathing can help to lower blood pressure and calm an overstimulated nervous system.

This morning I woke up with the realization that my to-do list was quite long. Anxious about my ability to complete all the tasks in front of me, I gave left nostril breathing a try. As I sat up in bed with my eyes closed and breathed in and out through my left nostril, my overly active mind began to slow. I could feel my muscles relax, and I experienced a few moments of grace when in the space between the inhale and exhale I had the fleeting but delicious awareness that I was not thinking at all. I was merely floating in the now—just being, not doing, just me.  Such peace is possible when we give our brains the luxury of a time-out.

I’m adding left nostril breathing to my to-do list.  I have the feeling it’s going to make all the other tasks easier to complete.


About Portland Helmich

Portland is the creator, host, and producer of the Kripalu Perspectives podcast series. She's also is the creator, host, and executive producer of What’s the Alternative?, a series of 52 half-hour talk shows about natural and alternative forms of healing the body-mind that aired on Veria Living TV, a natural health channel on DISH, FiOS, and Frontier. For more than 15 years, Portland’s been investigating natural health and healing as a host, reporter, writer, and producer. She's been an alternative medicine correspondent for Oxygen, a health reporter for The American Consumer on PBS, and was the creator, host, and executive producer of Journeys Into Healing on Wisdom Television. She produced for HealthWeek and Healing Quest on PBS, has done natural-health reporting for WGBH-TV, and was a medical producer for WCVB-TV (Boston’s ABC News affiliate). She’s also covered the subject as a freelance writer for Body + Soul, Alternative Medicine, and Spa magazines. Portland currently lives in Boston, where she produces documentaries and also works as an actor and voice-over talent.

2 Responses to “Chanting, Awakening, and Kundalini Yoga: Snatam Kaur”

  1. Knut Holt May 23, 2013 2:25 am #

    An awaken Kundalini is nothing but the free living of all the mind and body, when not curbed by the society. Every child lives free from birth, but the mind, body and feelings are more or less curbed and shut down at an early age. Every person should try to free itself physically and mentally from the chains of the society, which is the same as reawakening kundalini.

  2. Nancy Akter March 9, 2014 8:43 am #

    An unbelievably well written Kundalini Yoga eBook has changed my life. Kundalini literally means “coiled” and is represented by a metaphorical coiled snake at the base of your spine. The purpose of Kundalini practice is to uncoil your snake and release that energy within. Health, strength, fitness and overall happiness benefits are included.


    Kundalini Yoga

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