Last week I went to my first ever Kundalini class, taught by a fellow student. I had no idea what to expect, and was open to whatever happened. In the beginning I was informed that Kundalini is NOT a Hatha yoga. OK. The practice involved several exercises in which we laid on our backs and held our arms and feet in the air, while practicing the breath of fire. The breath of fire consists of rapid forced exhalations with relaxed but fast inhalations. The exhalations may be through the nose or mouth, depending.
It occurred to me that this exercise was all about returning the blood and lymph to the core, and then hastening venous return using the diaphragmatic pump. A wonderful exercise for anyone, it exercises core strength while also helping to maintain a strong cardiovascular system. I believe it fulfills very much the same function as "the one hundred" in pilates.
Another exercise, or meditation, or asana....I don't know what to call it...involved sitting in a easy crosslegged position with the hands over the heart and the eyes focussed on the tip of the nose. The eyes were supposed to be mostly closed, just open enough that one could see the tip of the nose. It was supposed to be a heart opening exercise, but I was so busy trying to keep my eyes crossed and focussed and drooping that I couldn't feel my heart at all. It was only when I allowed my eyes to close all the way that the song of my heart came through.
For me, my dominant eye easily turned in and focussed on my nose, but my less dominant eye, because I do not usually look through it up that close, would tune out the nose, loose focus, loose direction, and drift straight again. It took a continuous act of will to keep it focussed and directed to my nose. After the practice, when I went to lecture, my eye felt tired, though it worked fine all day. I determined that I need to add this, the crossing of one's eyes under dropping eyelids, to my repertory. My eyes are unequal and can be trained and strengthened. Perhaps with mastery of my eyes, I will be able to perform this simple exercise and also feel my open heart.
It occurs to me that the poses and exercises that are the most difficult are always the ones that yield the greatest reward when practiced. I have learned so much from pigeon pose, which was impassable territory when first introduced.