I was feeling bright that morning, despite a couple of weeks of overstretching myself. I started my walk with a lot of enthusiasm. A cat spotted me along the way and our eyes met. I blinked my eyes slowly and softly at her. The next thing I knew, she was on the ground showing me her underbelly. I caressed her, rubbed her soft neck and stroked her head gently. It seemed like she just could not have enough. After a while of being immersed in the joy of being so completely trusted, I decided to feed my new found friend. Much to her dismay, I carried her home. My over enthusiasm and restlessness was something she had to deal with. Seeing her discomfort, I took her and the food down. Ignoring the food she glared as she left, which negated all the joy I felt before.

What an ungrateful cat, I thought, I only meant well! Yet when I stayed with her look I knew that I was the one who traumatized her. I had lost the trust I had gained so easily by trying to push it. I prayed and asked her to forgive me as I did what I did in unawareness. I definitely do not want someone whom I trust to push me into spaces I don’t want to, how much ever they feel it will benefit me. I pray for awareness to not push or allow myself to be pushed. In life the pushing is definitely going to be there but the more we grow in awareness the less harsh the pushes will be.

In yoga, we never push to a point where we break or where it hurts. “No pain, no gain” is not a yogic dictum. Consistency is the key. If only I had consistently met my dear cat, she may have trusted me enough to come home. I wanted all of it, all at once. That is the problem with most of us. We don’t have the patience to wait for trust to develop. The body needs to start trusting the mind. It needs to feel that it is not yet another whim that it has to cater to. The body needs to feel that the mind will be planning long-term growth and not just short-term associations with people, foods or techniques. What truly nourishes the body is anything given with care and gentleness on a regular basis.

Importance is given to allowing the body and the mind to unfold. Not force it open. We need to refrain from forcing things down someone’s throat. It is a great ahimsa or violence. Like the little cat we need to learn to ease off and enjoy our body. Stretch, move, crawl, roll and feel pampered. This is what the ancient yogis learn from the big cats or the tigers. They picked up various qualities from various beings and incorporated that movement or posture so that we may develop the same quality. The vyaghrah pranayama is one such movement that facilitates a gentle yet effective stretch to the entire back muscles and vertebral column in the most enjoyable fashion.

The vyaghrah pranayama is safe and non-intrusive. It increases suppleness and improves breath capacity. When we observe the big cats, we can see the flexibility ,agility and grace that they posses.

CHATUS PADA KRIYA – Four – footed movement

Crawl around on your four feet. This is extremely good for back problems, pregnant women, corrects prolapsed organs as well as strengthens knees and wrists. One may use pads for the knees if there is some difficulty. Crawling rejuvenates muscles and bones. Excellent for those suffering from arthritis. Breaks up cellulite in the thighs.


In the chatus pada asana, check to see if your fingers are together, arms shoulder distance apart and feet relaxed. Breathe in slowly and work from your lower back, push mid back down and stretch the neck up. Breathe out and arch the back, shoulder and neck without moving or bending the arms. The back is lifted up as high as possible and head is in between the arms. Do 6 repetitions.

Then stretch back and then come onto all fours. Do three repetitions of the stretches and then relax in vajrasana.

The vyaghrah pranayama works on all the back muscles as well as the vertebrae. Hence it is an excellent practice to avoid back problems. It also facilitates full-chest breathing. This means that the three lobes of the lungs are stretched out and the air moves into them. It especially works on the lower and mid portion of the lungs. The great cats are able to move quickly but silently. They can pounce and leap great distances due to their elastic muscles. This same elasticity is brought into the human body and mind.


Yogic Awareness: When we are scared the lungs get compacted and breathing is affected. When we wait for a situation to unfold in a horror film we hold the breath in fear and negative anticipation. Similarly in abusive situations also our breath is affected. This is different when we hold the breath in awareness during certain pranayamas. This version of the manmatha kriya can be easily practiced at office. When love is lost and you feel abused or hurt practicing the Kriya helps release the pain. The more we hold onto hurt the more we hurt.

The technique: Sit in vajrasana or on the chair. Hug yourself in the mid- chest area firmly. Breathe in to the count of 6 (or less if not possible) as though you are forcing free from any lower attachments. Relax and let the breath out for 6 counts and allow the higher ideals of love to flow into your life. Love and accept yourself for who you are. Repeat 6 times. Take a break shaking out your arms and then repeat 3-9 rounds.

Yogic Concept: Manmadha is our own Indian counterpart to “cupid” the god of love. Love can be binding when we get locked into unconscious patterns of behavior. This hurts and can also be frightening. Giving yourself space physically and emotionally helps in the healing. We open up the breathing in the Manmadha Kriya and thereby the vision of love. In yoga we usually don’t force but sometimes forcing the breath is necessary to shake us out of those patterns. We aspire to shake ourselves out of downward spiraling, suffocating love and open up to a more encompassing love. This creates more pathways for positive energy to flow in and the mind also interprets situations with a lot more compassion.


Yogic Awareness: Our sub-conscious mind is like a computer program that can get into a loop of thinking and enacting the same things. This definitely has its uses as tasks do not have to be re-learned and can be performed automatically. However it can be the cause of energy loss if it loops into worry and negativity. We can substitute positive vibrations for the negative ones that are going on again and again. When you tell the mind to not think of a particular thing it plays truant and thinks of the very same thing. Thus by substitution we are better able to let go of the negative. This practice will help clarify the mind through using a sound vibration.

The Technique: Sit on a chair or on the ground in vajrasana. Keep your vertebral column straight and firm. Take a deep breath for 4-6 counts thinking the sound “mmm”. Now chant the sound “mmm” as you breathe out. Do 3-6 rounds. Then relax and be with the stillness.

Yogic Concept: The brahmari is the female bee. The queen bee controls all the worker bees. Hence the sound “mmm” that resembles the sound of the bee controls all negativity and worry that recurs in our mind. Constant worry will wear the system down. The queen bee gives direction to the worker bees that would waste their energy if not properly guided. The mind is a powerful tool that can be used to create harmony so all work together. All of us have dis-functions in our lower mind that can get exaggerated in disharmonious environments. Practice this pranayama so that the intellect that brings in the sense of higher purpose can be activated.


Yogic Awareness:
Little irritations when bottled up turn to anger and then rage. Release little irritations then and there. When anything that stains spills on your shirt the sensible thing to do would be to wash it off then and there rather than wait for a couple of days. By then the staining agent would have seeped in deeper. Hence remember to be aware of things that bother you and release them then and there as much as possible. Do a regular spring-cleaning of your emotional baggage.

Yogic technique:
The Cleansing Breath: Sit in vajrasana or on the chair. See to it that the back neck and shoulders are in line and straight. Breathe in for the count of 6 and breathe out through the mouth for the count of six with a whoosh noise. Whoosh out irritations and pain. This can be practiced any time you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Take two-minute breaks in office and practice. This can also be practiced as you are involved in any activity. Constantly bring your awareness to your breathing.

Yogic concept:
The breath is related to emotions. The natural way for the body to release pent up stress is through a long sigh. This natural body reaction was observed by the “rishis” or researchers of those days and systematized as a technique. Long exhalations are a good way to release pent up emotions. Most hold in worries, pain or disappointments. The cleansing breath helps to release them.