practicing yoga By Bhavan Kumar

Practicing yoga is a process and an evolution of mind, body, and soul. Many ardent spiritual aspirants may wonder about practicing Yoga before receiving Shaktipat. Shaktipat is the transmission of divine spiritual energy from a meditation master to a student. In Yogic philosophy, the dormant spiritual energy that exists in seed form in every human being lies coiled like a snake three and a half times at the base of the spine. When an enlightened meditation master awakens this energy by channeling divine grace from God to the devotee, the devotee’s spiritual energy is awakened. This awakened energy will help to enliven and guide the student’s quest for health, well-being and divine realization.

Receiving the gift of Shaktipat from a realized master is incredibly helpful in energizing and illuminating the depth and meaning of spiritual practices and teachings. However, awakening the Kundalini energy through Shaktipat is not absolutely necessary before beginning a strong practice of Yoga asanas, pranayama exercises and meditation techniques. These ancient and time-tested Yogic practices offer great benefits to a Yogi or Yogini with or without the gift of Shaktipat. In ancient India, Yogic practices were often practiced for many years in preparation for the experience of the awakening of the Kundalini energy.

Practicing yoga asanas or postures and breathing exercises prepare a student for Shaktipat initiation by strengthening and balancing all of the muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues in the body. The physical postures also increase flexibility and the ability to sit comfortably for extended meditation sessions. Additionally, Practicing yoga asanas in conjunction with pranayama exercises help to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which allows the student to be in a state of alert calmness and witness-consciousness, thereby alleviating a sense of preoccupation, anxiety and depression. The physical postures also cleanse and invigorate all of the internal organs and the energy body that is comprised of thousands of pathways referred to in Yoga as “nadis.”

All of these physical benefits are energizing and life-sustaining for a Yoga student. Yoga asanas and breathing exercises will help to keep a student’s body and mind healthy, strong, balanced and relaxed. These benefits are life-enhancing prior to or after receiving Shaktipat. The meditation techniques espoused by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras are also wonderful tools that can help to prepare a Yoga student for the awakening of the Kundalini energy and/or support a Yoga student in optimizing good mental health and a sense of optimism. Both the physical and mental/emotional benefits of a regular practice of Yoga are incredibly important to maintaining a Yoga student’s balance and well-being in today’s fast-paced world.

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