Leading Morning Sadhana
Suggested guidelines and procedures:
Leading early morning sadhana and sadhana location environmental parameters.
Leading early morning sadhana is not like teaching a class. If you know the set well, there may be no reason why you can’t do the yoga yourself while leading others. (Mostly, when teaching we are not doing the yoga). Study the set you plan to lead thoroughly. There should be no long pauses between exercises to accommodate your reading and trying to understand directions for the next exercise. Regardless of the number of years you have been teaching and practicing, describe the exercises largely as they are in the manuals, no extraneous talking, promotions, little stories, minimal tips and anything else, keeping it all to a minimum.
If you have new people joining the sadhana who may not know (it is okay to ask them if they have done Kundalini Yoga before) how to do the exercises and pranayam, then give some instructions and keep all details to the least possible. (After the sadhana, consider inviting them to attend classes for more complete instruction/information or guide them in acquiring an excellent video if there are no classes offered locally). It is ideal for those who plan to attend morning sadhana, to have taken at least a few Kundalini Yoga classes, and be prepared to serve those who have not.
If many/most people present have done sadhana for some years then minimize all talking and direction. Don’t go into great detail about how to do postures or exercises (they likely know how to do them). Less can be more for those people. It is a sensitive time of day for all. It is okay to cut down the times of a yoga set to fit into the allotted time that you have. Do so mostly proportionately, so that a powerful and balanced experience is still had by all. Generally a yoga set would be from 35-50 minutes – leaving 5-10 minutes for relaxation depending on the intensity of the set and the amount of time you have. Make sure to project your voice loudly enough so all can hear you, and keep the tone of your voice cordial. It is okay to provide some encouragement or input: Keep Up, last 30 seconds, or powerful breath of fire, etc., and don’t be excessive.
After tuning in, if the yoga set begins in a very challenging way and/or you are teaching those who are not so flexible, consider starting with several warm-ups to loosen up the spine and stretch out – approximately 1 minute each. This is not necessary if the yoga set includes a number of warm-up type of exercises. Choose yoga sets that are somewhat challenging. They need not be extremely demanding although those are okay too. This will assist in awakening the will as well as the 10 bodies, to then focus deeply for meditation. Refrain from yoga sets that have a lot of pranayam and/or meditation, as one will sit for over an hour for the Aquarian sadhana meditation chants. If you choose a pranayam series that includes breath of fire, then allow 11 minutes maximum for any meditation that is part of that set. If the pranayam series does not have breath of fire, then allow 5-7 minutes maximum for any meditation that is part of that set.
Observe that all participants are doing postures and pranayam correctly and if not, consider gently correcting them. (In large groups – only if many are not doing correctly). It can sometimes be appropriate at the end of an exercise to hold the breath longer, or apply mul bandh, or powerfully exhale and hold out, pull the locks, apply mahabandh, bring the energy to the third eye, etc. – even if these instructions are not specifically given in the manual for that set. These are enhancements that the experienced teacher can add to energize particular exercises and the sadhana.
In smaller groups if it comes to your attention that someone needs an alternative to the exercise/meditation being led, then offer one. (In large groups this may not be possible/ practical.) During the Aquarian Sadhana chants the hands can be kept in Gyan Mudra, with the exception of the 22 minutes where one is (ideally) sitting on the left heel (pillows/props are OK), hands are in Prayer Pose, and eyes are open, fixed at the tip of the nose.
If you are leading the Aquarian Sadhana chants in a group, do your best to sit up straight and chant the mantras clearly. At any point in time, do not lie down to rest, put your head down or go to sleep. If you need to rest, find a replacement who can alertly hold the space to lead. Make sure that any who are not familiar with the Aquarian Sadhana chants have access to a mantra sheet that has the transliteration and meaning of the chants. Make sure lighting is adequate for them to be able to read the mantra sheet.
Environmental Parameters and Procedures
Heat: Have the room comfortable and not too warm as too much heat will make participants sleepy. It is ok if participants fall asleep. It is not your job to wake them! If someone is snoring very loudly and it is disturbing several – then a delicate and kind wake-up is ok. If it is only disturbing you – and you are able to relocate away from the snoring, then try that. Having alertness in the space is the ideal desired end result to best allow for deep focus in meditation. Err on the side of having it a bit cool, and having a shawl or blanket to put around yourself. Be open and willing to accommodate some requesting a warmer space. If possible, have a designated person (possibly the sadhana leader) to turn up heat, turn down/off heat or air conditioning, and be able to have folks who want it warmer or cooler be able to approach that person sensitively during the sadhana to request that.
Light: There should be enough light so people can see where they are going in the space without bumping into something or tripping and falling. Additionally, there should be enough light to see the tip of one’s nose easily during the 22 minutes of the wahe guru wahe jio portion of the meditations.
Phones: If for any reason you are turning on a smartphone with an led screen that is rather bright, try dimming the light on it’s screen to its lowest setting, so as not to disturb/distract anyone around you. Make sure to mute all sound from your mobile phone.
Noise, other meditations/movement within the sadhana space:
If you must belch or ‘pass wind,’ try to make it discreet so as not to disturb others. If you wish to/need to do a different yoga set than what is being led, do it in the rear of the space when possible, without distracting noises to the others who are following the leader. If you are walking to or returning from the bathroom or leaving early, possibly while others are in deep meditation or relaxation, try to walk lightly so as not to disturb anyone. If you are choosing to do a different meditation than the Aquarian Sadhana chants within the same space as those who are chanting that, honor their effort to meditate and do not make any unnecessary noises, whether you are chanting, with your yoga/breath, with any other movements, timer, etc.
Perfumes and strongly scented oils: Generally it is appreciated if you do not use these when you attend morning group sadhana. Some have allergies or strong sensitivity to intense scents, and will endeavor to move away from you, if that is possible for them. Sometimes it may not be, so in general refrain.
Sacred Space: If possible, establish a consistent place where you practice your morning sadhana. It should be kept clean and beautified to reflect your desire for your own inner self. Consistently depositing elevated vibrations in the same space creates a sacredness in that space that will support and elevate you (and any joining you) in your efforts to merge with the One. Yogi Bhajan responded to a personal question in a letter once and said, “the Power of group sadhana is exponential,” meaning everyones effort who is present, magnifies everyone else’s.
Best practices: Allow some kind of forum or discussion group opportunity for all of the environmental elements to be talked about and agreed upon/established – when desired by several or more. Leaders and sadhana process will be well served by keeping an open mind to all suggestions, ideas and constructive criticism from participants. If you have issues with someone who is not honoring one of the aforementioned (or something else), once established, approach them respectfully and sensitively and share your concerns. If this does not feel possible then approach an elder or more experienced person for suggestions on how to proceed.
Excerpt From: ‘The Essential Element’ book
How to get the most out of Yogi Bhajan’s core teaching – Morning Sadhana
and why you won’t want to miss it!
By S.S. Jot Singh Khalsa