Sunday, February 4, 2018


     I was having a nice conversation with a woman who attends my Sunday yoga class and she mentioned she was considering incorporating a 40 day Kundalini Yoga meditation to mark and honour the Lenten season. I thought this was a lovely idea and thought I'd mention it to you too in case you find this idea appealing as well!

     As a child growing up in a Greek Orthodox family, I annually participated in a traditional Greek lenten period which meant dietary restrictions and fasting. I didn't quite get it at the time, but I am so grateful that I experienced that austere and devotional practice, clearly it had a profound effect on me and has made me the person I am today...
     While it is most common to associate Lent and fasting with Christian (especially Catholic) religions, it is interesting to note that there is a long tradition of spring purification in many faiths and traditions. The very name of Lent is synonymous with the season, for it comes from the Anglo-Saxon lenctene, meaning the time when the days lengthen. If you think about what’s going on in the natural world, these food deprivations make sense. This part of early spring is the most hazardous time of the year for people living close to the earth. The first bitter greens (so prominent a part of spring equinox feasts like Passover and Easter) are just emerging. Fresh eggs, also associated with these feasts, are not yet available; birds are just beginning to nest. The foodstuffs, particularly the salted and smoked meat, that were stored to carry the family through the winter may be giving out. The potatoes and apples left in the cellar are getting soft and of dubious quality. The deprivation of Lent may not be voluntary but a necessity imposed by nature.
     The 40 days of Lent are a significant period. Forty is a magical number which recurs throughout the Bible (Noah floated in his ark for 40 days and nights, the chosen people wandered in the desert for 40 years, Jonah led the citizens of Nineveh through 40 days of penance). But forty is also a "magical" number in the Kundalini Yoga tradtition where it is said that it takes 40 days to break a habit (or establish a new routine).
     But it’s not just the number of days that are significant but their conjunction with the season. In Chinese medicine, spring is the time of the liver, whose energy is change. The sap is rising in the trees, which are budding; the green stalks of crocuses and snowdrops are pushing through the frozen ground. There's an incredible shift happening which — in those parts of the world which are frozen — manifests in the spring thaw, the breaking up of the contraction of winter. Lent is the time for making auspicious changes.
     So, here is what I plan to do ~ for 40 days beginning on Ash Wednesday (by the way I find it interesting that this is the day when priests mark your forehead with a smudge of dark ash  ~ right on the third eye chakra, a place also marked with sacred ash in Hindu devotions!) ~ I'm going to commit to 40 days of Sadhana which means getting up at 5am before the sun rises and doing a Kundalini Yoga kriya and then about 1.5 hours of mantra. For more information on this devotional practice during the ambrosial hours check out this blog post I wrote last year. I also made a You Tube video called "Kriya for Morning Sadhana" which is a really lovely Kundalini Yoga class you may enjoy committing to doing for 40 days. I've also chosen a very special meditation which you might want to practice daily for Lent ~ it is called "The Seven Wave Sat Nam Meditation"
     If the idea of Fasting or Cleansing appeals to you, this could translate to a cleanse or yogic fast. 40 days is a long period of time, so you might choose to spend the first two or three weeks preparing your mind and body, do the fast or cleanse in the middle of Lent, and then spend the remaining period transitioning back to your regular eating habits. Participating in a fast or cleanse can be a powerful opportunity to work on the body, mind, and spirit simultaneously, and would be very appropriate for the Lenten season.  If you don’t feel ready or willing to take on a fast or cleanse, making a commitment to eat better (even once a day or once a week) will go a long way to your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. 

Whatever you choose to do as the days begin to lengthen as we spiral into spring ~ enjoy the journey!