Guest Author - Terri Johansen
Here is a yoga practice that involves breathing exercises, restful movements, meditation, and for some, a spiritual aspect. This type of yoga is called Kum Nye (Koom Nyay), also known as Tibetan Yoga, Tibetan Relaxation, and Kum Nye Relaxation. Kum Nye brings many wonderful benefits such as rest from mental and emotional stress; counteraction of stiffness and rigidity while providing muscle tone; increased circulation of the blood; and the ultimate benefit of total relaxation.
Kum Nye is an ancient practice using breath and gentle movement to integrate the energies within the body. It is believed that Kum Nye predated Buddhism by 17,000 years. It was used as a healing practice, following the yogic belief that all sickness comes from blockages of energy within us, both on a mental and physical level. Kum Nye was introduced to the United States in 1969 by Tarthang Tulku who later (1973) founded the Nyingma Institute in Berkeley, California.
The Kum Nye practice has three levels of gentle movements requiring a deeper concentration with each level. The levels provide a smooth transition reaching a culmination of deep relaxation and the realization that our own energies are a part of all energy.
If we were to follow a pattern of a Kum Nye practice we would begin in Sitting Posture (sitting with legs crossed). In this pose we follow the Seven Gestures. Each gesture is a small movement, adjusting the body into a relaxing and aligned foundation on which to start.
There are several different breathing exercises within the Kum Nye practice. Your choice of breathing technique should be based on you and what are you feeling at that moment. If you are familiar with Yoga you will recognize the breathing exercises. The breathing practice is done for 20-30 minutes; afterward repeating the Seven Gestures. By repeating the Seven Gestures between each pose we keep our bodies in soft alignment for the entire practice.
Next would begin the self-massage techniques. These can all be done in one practice and if so the entire body is massaged. However if you are short on time you can do a few of the massages from several different parts of the body. Massage is used to ready for the Level one series called Gentle Movements, a flowing calming practice. The purpose of these poses is to begin the process of communication between body and mind moving deeper towards total relaxation.
Level two series of movement is based on Balancing and Integration. Balance refers to a natural flowing condition between the two energies of body and mind. Bringing together our awareness of breath and senses with our bodies and mind gives us a foundation of balance which allows us to experience total relaxation integrating body and mind.
Level three series of movements are designed to open awareness of the subtle energies within the body and mind. This level is called Stimulation and Transformation. By applying intense concentration we begin to recognize our energy and the subtle energies within ourselves. When we work through blockages and negative energy the transformation of a neutral energy begins. In the neutral aspect we become aware of our space in all wholeness; a sense of oneness with all energy.
Kum Nye is not well known as a practice and meditation. It is often compared to yoga; however they are different practices. A Kum Nye teacher may be difficult to find. If you choose to develop your own practice in Kum Nye, take a look at the links provided below to use as a guide. Of course, nothing ever replaces a good teacher
“When we learn to open our senses and touch our feelings directly, our bodies and minds make full contact with one another, and all our experiences become richer, healthier, and more fulfilling.”
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“Kum Nye Relaxation; Part 2” by Tarthang Tulku; and “Tibetan Relaxation” by Tarthang Tulku, are good books to use as your guide. You can also visit the website: www.nyingmainstitute.com for further information.