India: Hatha Yoga, Transcendental meditation (TM), and Kundalini Yoga
My first meditation experiences: Hatha Yoga, Zen, and Tai Chi: early 1990’s.
Swami Satchidanada, a teacher of Hatha Yoga, had a Yogaville retreat center in Charlottesville Virginia with several instructors in Richmond Virginia. I used to work at his Integral Yoga health food store in Cary Town. I took Hatha yoga classes with certified instructor Ed Clapp who was also a co-worker at Grace Place Vegetarian health food restaurant and store on Grace street. There is some brief meditation techniques in the sets of Hatha yoga.
Zen was an interest and I read several books. On Grove Ave. in Cary town area, I went to the services there at a local temple Ekoji Zen center and Aquarian book store where they practiced Rinzai Zen. 20 minutes of still quiet sitting (Zazen) 15 minutes of Zen walking,, followed by another round of 20 minutes sitting, followed by sutra reading.
Wilson Pitts had a free Tai Chi in the park class and taught the Yang short form, some Ba duanjin, 6 healing sounds, and more. He taught a lot about neigong practices like dan tien breathing, microcosmic orbit, and other sacred mountain Taoist trainings privately at his home school.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) I learned in college from philosophy professor Dr. Jonathan Shear who also happened to be a teacher of Guang Ping Taijiquan directly under Kou You-Ling in San Francisco in the 1960’s. This was on advice from my Chinese Doctor Amy Tseng as she herself was a TM teacher but wanted her patients to see Jon due to her English as a second language. TM teaches by a series of lectures, then the student is given their mantra, then trained on the method in a series of tunings until the method is confirmed to be done properly and effectively. The mantra given is based on birthdate, Aryvedic astrology, personality, etc. It is a personal mantra and should never be shared. The method uses sitting back in a chair and repeating the mantra, you go into a deep state of rest, like a dreamless sleep, and you come out of it like waking up from a restful sleep. The mind is refreshed and clear. It takes approx. 20 minutes to do. Prescription is to do twice a day. This method was made popular in the 1960’s through Maharishi Mehesh who taught many celebrities. The method is valid and very useful for those not wanting complex methods like those used in Chinese Neigong or Traditional Tibetan methods. TM is effortless. You can find a school here. TM.ORG
Kundalini Yoga: there are two forms I learned one is from here 3HO and KRI and did a few retreats. It is a very aggressive form and so I did not take that road. This method may be good for those you are tired and fatigued as it is very invigorating, but proceed with caution as with any new program you introduce into your life.
The second is gently through Sahaja mahayoga. It is a very nice method to use and very similar to qigong and neigong in some ways. This method is open and to the public. the main premise is that we all have the kundalini inside of us and you cannot charge money for what is already inside of you. First they raise the kundalini, second they do a bhanda to clear energy. Then they work on the chakra or wheels of energy along the centerline of body. There is a mantra “Hum Shum” which helps balance the hemispheres of the brain and helps with depression. It is repeated silently. They also will do silent sitting for about 15 minutes after activating the kundalini. There are also paired person methods to do like reiki style massage. On yourself and on a partner you can hover the the hand over the chakras and sense the energy there if weak or overly strong.
Method below in image and sample video with 9 breathings as a warm-up: Sample video here.
Bikram yoga is something I will do periodically, mostly in winter when I want to detox and warm-up the body. It is hatha yoga in a hot room approx. between 100 to 110 degrees depending on the teacher. You have to prepare with hydration before, during, and after going. This yoga makes you sweat out some toxins and the warmth is good for the muscles. This is a style not for everyone, but certain people seem to thrive on it. Use caution when doing this method.