What is Kriya Yoga and what is ASCEND?

Seeing as how our readership has been steadily increasing, it feels like a good time to go through a bit of a formal introduction. I want and need to acknowledge what it is that has resulted in this project's development.

I've been feeling reflective on how not one of us needs "the self" to be understood by others. We need only to strive to better understand "the self" for "this" self.

So I've decided that I want to write this blog post as a bit of vision board.

No, a constitution?

Hahaha, I don't know what it is. But I want to communicate to myself, to you, and to anyone who is interested what the motivation, inspiration and goals have been so far at ASCEND.

1. Why hiking and wilderness tours?

There are many rationales to give here. But I suppose the first thing that comes to mind when I ask myself this questions is: because I have always answered the call of the wild. And it is time to share this.

Three years ago while I was overseeing recreation for a municipality in the province of British Columbia, the idea of intentional, multi-day backpacking tours became something that I loved to commit my free brain time to.

At that time I was living in a canvas wall hunting tent. I spent two full years -- winters and summers living this way. No running water, heat from a wood stove, wood from the trees we fell ourselves. My life was of the land and I could not escape this deep belief that the earth wants us to come to her in silence. To show ourselves how powerful when we rise up to the top of mountains!

Every time that I have spent a week or so trekking a multi-day backpacking trip, whether it was in New Zealand, Canada, Peru -- without fail, at the end of my trail, I connect with groups of women who say similar things to me.

"I wish I could do that" Not knowing that they can.

So, three years ago I began daydreaming about the bridge that could bring the beginner closer to themselves, the land and their confidence of belonging in the forest.

It has been such a gorgeous process to witness this project taking shape.

The grounding philosophy here at ASCEND is that, this has never been about "me", or the individual "I" (as the team grows). This is an offering to "you" and an offering to the earth. This, we do not get away from.

2. What is Kriya yoga?

It is funny. Never ever did I think I would begin offering teachings online. I am a freelance writer. Not a video star. I have held space in person, not through computer mediation. The intention for this project had been to share the practice of kriya combined with self reflection and mindfulness programs in the stillness of nature.

But, like the rest of the world, we are all going with the proverbial flow of this global experience.

Likely, you have heard of Kundalini Yoga.

If you have not, welcome to the age of Aquarius, baby! I suspect more of us will continue to learn about this serpent power which lies dormant in our root chakra, muladhara.

To say "Kundalini Yoga" is an understandable thing to do. People will understand that you are a student/studier of kundalini (assuming you are speaking to a circle of people who know what this is. I know my partner couldn't seem to stop calling kundalini, kantatini when we first started hanging out -- so I mean...tough to say).

The practice of studying kundalini is broken down in books such as Kundalini Tantra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, and the infamous "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda.

Ultimately, "the aim of kundalini yoga is not really to awaken the power of man, but rather to bring the power down to earth or to bring the power of the unconscious or higher consciousness to normal consciousness" Saraswati explains, "we have no need to awaken the consciousness, for it is ever awake." In this, you can maybe see how the practice of awakening kundalini, uniting Shiva and Shakti and bringing the power down to the physical plane shares much of the same inspiration that the hiking tours are based in.

Sometimes when people talk about kundalini, or want to work with kundalini, there is this seductive allure for personal power. It is taught. The study of kundalini can absolutely attract disciples who practice for personal gain.

Like the hiking tours, kundalini has never been a practice for the individual. Any time that we work with kundalini energy, we are doing the work for the collective whole. I think this is an important part of the practice to remind others and myself of regularly.

When we heal, when we rise -- we cannot help but experience this for the collective whole.

In our study of kundalini yoga we are in the practice of bringing the chakra centres (mooladhara [root] to ajna [third eye]) into operation so that higher knowledge will be gradually revealed to us.

This is why KRIYA yoga.

Kriya yoga is the practice that has been mapped out as the most gentle and gradual expression of awakening kundalini. Kriya yoga is a meditation, breath, sound and energy practice.

You do not need to be able to touch your toes or even your knees. All you need is to show up and be ready to be present.

Kriya is considered the most practical way for the modern practitioner to actively work on awakening kundalini. Kriya gives space for the modern "monkey mind" to be busy. The mind that bounces "here", remembers "this", panics about "that". Kriya gives us the space to witness the monkey mind and direct it to a powerful practice that gives it focus.

Anyway... The next post will be next Thursday. If there is anything in here that speaks to you, if you have any questions, I am happy to connect.

Additionally, I am working privately with individuals who reach out via email and social media. We are working on private introduction to prānayāma and kriyas. If you do not have funds available, I completely understand this and would still love to connect with anyone seeking the space!

So much love. Have a great day!

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