Yoga Teacher Training Diary, Practicum Edition

April 30, 2015 at 7:07 am

I’ve now completed six full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and nine of my twenty yoga classes. Our certification packages are due May 24, and we’re scheduled to graduate on June 7. So basically I will be spending all of May either in yoga classes or writing essays for our final exam questions. I seriously feel like I’m in college again, cramming at the end of a semester. Good thing I’m a writer, so essays are my thing. Deep breaths (through the nose, of course). I can do this!


The highlight of last weekend was teaching my practicum! I knew I wanted to sign up for one of the first slots, and I knew I wanted it to be early in the day. I was the third student to present, and the first person on Sunday morning. Before I go into detail about the practicum, here are some highlights from my class notes the rest of the weekend.

April 25 (Nitnem Kaur, PT)

  • “If there is anything divine in you, it’s your breath.” -Yogi Bhajan
  • Clinical research will always lag behind clinical practice.
  • “Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body. . . . We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones.” -Henry David Thoreau
  • Breath= mind/body hygiene
  • Babies are the best breathers (nasal breathing).
  • Mouth breathing sends the body an emergency response… fight or flight!
  • Panic attack… Close your mouth and breathe in and out of your nose!
  • Most people have shallow paradoxical breathing (sucking in stomach on inhale).
  • A full breath involves… abdomen, chest, and clavicular area.
  • Fill your body like a balloon. With full breath, spine extends and flexes.
  • Need to work the transverse abdominis (deepest abdominal muscles) for a strong core (post-baby belly recovery!!) and flat stomach. It’s an “internal corset.”
    • Kundalini yoga exercises are very focused on the transverse abdominis.
  • Sound moves through connective tissue… chant! Move sound through fascia.
  • Your jaw is connected to your core, transverse abdominis, knees, and tarsal sinus (in feet).
  • 90% of musculo-skeletal injuries start in the jaw!
  • 4th and 5th fingers are connected to shoulder blades. Squeeze them together to improve posture.
  • Benefits of nasal breathing…
    • Slows air escape so the lungs have more time to extract oxygen
    • Balances pH
    • Disarms body’s stress response
    • Afferent stimuli from nerves that regulate breathing in nasal passages
    • Reduces hypertension, helps asthma, decreases heart disease
    • Decreases water loss
    • Strengthens diaphragm
    • Stimulates parasympathetic nervous system (calms the mind)
    • Each nostril is innervated by 5 cranial nerves from different sides of the brain
    • Each nostril functions independently
  • Brow point is an accupressure point.
  • 62 minutes of meditation can change the gray matter of the brain.
  • Meditation increases alpha brain waves… relaxation, healing state, balanced.


April 26 (Sat Anand Kaur, DO)

Benefits of Kundalini Yoga…

  1. Decrease fight or flight
  2. Increase rest and digest
  3. Decrease cortisol
  4. Decrease oxygen consumption
  5. Improve cognition
  6. Increase alpha waves
  7. Decrease anxiety
  8. Stronger immune system
  • There have been yoga hospitals in India since 1918.
  • Medical research…
    • Increased cerebral bloodflow
    • Activation of specific areas of brain
    • Increased bloodflow to pre-frontal cortex (self-control)
    • Improvement of fibromyalgia symptoms
  • Theme: everything in the body is interconnected, and the body wants to be in balance.
  • When you breathe through your mouth, you only use the upper part of the lungs, when you don’t exhale enough CO2, the body becomes acidic.
  • The mind follows the breath… controlling the breath can alter the brain waves and thought waves.
  • Non-fat diet is bad for the lungs… Surfactant in the lungs is made of fat!
  • Bhoj Kriya… meditation for conscious food consumption. Really interesting!
  • opticnerveWhen focusing eyes on the brow point (between the eyebrows)…
    • Stimulating the hypothalamus and pituitary with the optic nerves (optic nerves cross each other directly between the hypo and pit glands).
    • Helps the glands secrete properly.
    • Pituitary releases oxytocin!
    • Anterior pituitary releases prolactin, endorphins, and sex hormones!
  • Kundalini yoga breaks the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis).
    • In case you are wondering what that means… “The HPA axis is involved in the neurobiology of mood disorders and functional illnesses, including anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, insomnia, posttraumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, ADHD, major depressive disorder, burnout, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and alcoholism. Antidepressants, which are routinely prescribed for many of these illnesses, serve to regulate HPA axis function” (Source).
  • 1/3 of your feces is bacterial waste.
  • Saturated fat makes up 50% of cell membranes and is necessary for calcium absorption.
  • Fat stores toxins and emotions.
  • Nasal breathing burns fat!
  • Chanting can decrease migraines, prevent the pineal gland from calcifying, and increase telomere length.
  • Drishti= “pure seeing” (eye focus/positions)
    • to the eyes what asanas (yoga postures) are to the body


As I drove to Yoga Phoenix Sunday morning, I turned on some mantra music to calm my nerves. First Aap Sahai Hoa (one of my favorites). And then Gobinday Mukunday, another favorite. As I drove east on the freeway, singing along, I started thinking about where I was a year ago. I realized that it was exactly one year from the 2014 AZ Whole-istic Living Conference when I started slipping into darkness last year. As I sang those words… Names of God… Gobinday, Mukunday, Udaray, Aparay… (Sustainer, Liberator, Enlightener, Infinite…) my heart filled to overflowing with my gratitude to God for my triumph over that darkness. I was overcome and overflowing with God’s love and my love for God. I praised Him for enabling me to get to that place… where I was strong enough to get in front of a group of people and lift them through sharing truth and light. Tears streamed down my face unchecked for the rest of the drive, and every cycle of the mantra filled me with even more love and bliss and gratitude and joy. I felt like angels were all around me. I felt ecstasy… Wahe Guru! (Wahe Guru is an expression of complete ecstatic awe of the Divine.)

When my teacher, Jaap Kaur, arrived, she sweetly wrapped my head in a turban. In the process, she stopped, closed her eyes, smiled and said, “Wow. I can feel your energy. So strong. It’s giving me chills!” I told her I felt it too and that I had cried the whole drive because it was so intense. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her turban pin, “I think you need this,” she said. It had battle axes on it! I turned to my husband who was sitting behind me and pointed to it… “Battle axes!” Fitting for someone whose last name is Axman, no? ;-)

With sweet Ramgeet who smiled at me from the front row throughout my practicum :-)

With sweet Ramgeet who smiled at me from the front row throughout my practicum :-)

Guys, teaching my practicum was amazing. I felt so much strength and support and peace and power flowing through me. After I finished, Jaap Kaur said, “Tell us how you feel!” I was kind of at a loss for words. One or two classmates sitting in front of me were gazing at me with blissed-out smiles and tears streaming down their faces. I also started to cry, and said, “Powerful.” Moments later, Jaap Kaur said, “She’s in this incredible state of bliss. I think a lot of others are too.” Guys, the energy in that room, the love in that room… it was incredible. I will never forget the beautiful expressions in the faces of my classmates. I take no claim for that beauty. God and Truth are to blame. And maybe the sandalwood oil I had diffusing in the room. :-) But what an honor to be a conduit for God’s love and light! I’m so excited to share that bliss with the world!

These were the Kriyas and Meditations I taught:

  1. Tune-in
  2. Sitali Pranayam
  3. Warm-ups (Cat-Cow, Frogs, Life-nerve Stretch, Butterfly)
  4. “Disease Resistance and Heart Helper” Kriya
  5. Guided visualization relaxation
  6. Master’s Touch Meditation
  7. Tune-out

My prayer after tuning out:

May you always feel your true divine nature vibrating every part of you, filling you with an awareness of your own holiness, and may your brilliance and presence and tender touches bless everyone around you to find the truth within themselves. May the love and light we feel here right now in this room expand to promote harmony throughout this valley and beyond, into the whole world. Sat nam.


I put together a short music video with clips from my practicum video. Enjoy!