Becoming your best self

Ever seen someone doing a handstand, headstand, or other inversion and think, “Wow, that looks so cool. They must have crazy arm strength/core strength.” They float back down effortlessly, turning themselves the right way up like the rest of us Muggles, and you feel admiration, awe, respect, envy – etc. And don’t we all in some way, desire that power and control, over our bodies, our minds, our environment?

I think that it’s more than just an admiration for the physical prowess. The shoulder girdle must be stable, then you need the core strength to get the pelvis over the hips. Yet to go upside down, to defy gravity, the one force that everything in the universe is subjected to, you also need an unshakable confidence. Great news, people – there is a Kundalini yoga kriya called Nabhi Kriya that I believe is the quickest shortcut to not only defying gravity, but also to healing heartbreak and becoming an altogether unstoppable human being.

Some years ago I was going through a break-up. It was one of those that leaves you feeling completely scraped out, like there’s a huge gaping hole right in the middle of your chest and your stomach won’t stop twisting and roiling with anger, regret – or in my case a combination of the two, plus the whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s and bag of Doritos I’d eat in one go.

I felt like there was no point in loving or caring or giving any part of myself ever again –  in fact, I felt as though had nothing left inside me to give. Then I remembered what my yoga teacher said when we were starting our teacher training. “When you teach yoga, you are sharing your light. Keep your light irresistibly strong and the world will change around you.” She made us practice nabhi kriya every morning for the entire month we were in training, to build an unstoppable fire inside with which to power our thoughts and actions, and to melt every doubt or obstacle we encountered.

Kriya simply means action. In Kundalini, a kriya is a set sequence of postures, breathing and sound or chant that work towards a specific outcome. Each kriya in Kundalini has a specific effect – for the heart, the spine, to balance the glands, to balance the chakras, etc. Nabhi refers to the Solar Plexus Chakra, or Manipura Chakra. Meaning Jewel City in Sanskrit, it is thought of as our power centre, located above the navel and slightly below the solar plexus. It’s the place of willpower, action, and home of the subconscious ego. Through our Solar Plexus Chakra we harness personal empowerment, self-esteem, inspiration, and vitality. It can also be where we harbour feelings of inferiority or superiority, anger, resentment or bitterness.

Check out the full Nabhi Kriya with pictures here. Remember to keep the breathing deep, and fully activate the navel centre (ie. engage the abdominals, keep the lower back pressed down and don’t strain into your back/shoulders/neck!). When that burn in the core starts to happen, I find it helps to imagine the bright, unquenchable orange flame glowing brightly inside. Allow that burn to spread through the body, cleansing your body and mind of negativity and doubt.

Consistency is the key to success. Start with one minute, and build up to longer. If you’re feeling slumpy, unmotivated, or like you’ve lost your sparkle, try it every day for a week – maybe keep a journal to notice the changes!

So did the practicing of Nabhi Kriya as a form of ex-exorcism work for me? Sure, when your abdominals are on fire it’s a little easier to forget about the dull emptiness in your heart. (The thought of killer abs slowly forming beneath the junk-food layers of chubs also helped.)  But I also realized that keeping your fire strong – irresistibly strong, as my yoga teacher would say – is not easy. It takes hard work, most of it pretty uncomfortable. But you need to do that work, no one else is going to do it for you. And that is the most important, empowering realization – you can.