Geshe Michael Roach has spent 4 days teaching the Lady Niguma’s Yoga Series during his last visit to Hong Kong, which reflected the significance of these simple yet powerful asanas. What I love about The Lady Niguma’s Series is that all the poses are accessible, familiar yet effective; it is done in a logical order that opens up your energy at each chakra from bottom up while moving your energy from your side channel into your Central Channel and you can feel the buzz of energy afterwards.
The Lady Niguma Yoga Series is the oldest written yoga asanas ever discovered and the only one designed by a woman. It has recently been discovered through Geshe Michael’s Yoga Classics Input Project that is dedicated to saving ancient sacred yoga scripts that were written on banana leaves that rot and get eaten by insects in libraries across India and other parts of Asia.
Lady Niguma was born over 1000 years ago and was the wife of Naropa’s who was a prince. Naropa was spiritual and had no interest in becoming a king; he wanted to escape to a monastery and learn yoga. The only way to get out of the palace was for them to get divorced and the only basis back then was for the wife to commit adultery.
Sacrificing her reputation, Lady Niguma was falsely accused of it so that the couple could be set free. Narpoa studied yoga inside a monastery where women were not allowed, so he passed on his learning to Lady Niguma through a door. Naropa studied all over India, gained a reputation for being a great scholar, he became the head of the most important monastery in history, the Nalanda University..
Sat outside under a tree studying, Naropa was asked by an ugly old lady whether he understood the words of “Dharma”. Naropa replied yes and she burst into tears laughing and said, “You’re a great scholar but also a liar, the only one who understands the teaching is my brother, Tilopa. However, a student doesn’t ask the teacher to come, he has to go to the teacher.” Upon hearing the name, Tilopa, a great sense of devotion arose and Naropa gave up his position as a king in search of Tilopa everywhere.
However, Naropa couldn’t find him because everyone he came across was Tilopa in disguise; he made Naropa go through 12 minor hardships on his quest to find his teacher and another 12 major hardships, all of which were hidden teachings that paved his path to enlightenment before giving him four full transmission lineages and he went on to develop the Six Yogas of Naropa which he taught Lady Niguma.
Lady Niguma founded a special yoga school for women on Sosa Island in the Ganges River. Galupa from Tibet went to the school looking for Lady Niguma but found nobody there because she and her students were so good at yoga that they were all flying up in the sky.
Lady Niguma had already taught Galupa in his dreams, but he forgot, so she taught him again. As a result, Galupa returned back to Tibet and passed on the yoga series, and now it has been passed onto us.
Geshe Michael said that women nowadays work so hard, they have full-time jobs and on top of that, they also have a family and the household to look after. The Lady Niguma Series takes only about 30 minutes and it is easy and straightforward. It makes your body strong and your mind happy. Since your reality comes from your mind, when your mind shifts, so will your reality. If we practise this yoga, every aspect of your life will improve.
Have you noticed how happy you feel after yoga and meditation? That is because the energy has moved from the side channels into the central channel. The side channels that are as thick as a straw start from either side of the nostrils, and they meet the start of the Central Channel or the Sushumna that is as thick as a pen between the eyebrows where they form the first knot (third eye chakra), then they tangle up on top of the head (crown chakra)), and again at the back of the neck (throat chakra), then down either side of the spine, creating three knots at the back of the chest (heart chakra), one at the back of the navel (solar plexus)), one at the tailbone (sacral chakra) and one in between the anus and the urethra (root chakra) and they end at the tip of the genitals for men and the clitoris for women. The Sun Channel, Ha or Pingala is on the right and the Moon Channel, Tha or Ida is on the left.
What makes us mortal bodies of flesh, blood and bones instead of bodies of light then? It is because of our charkas that look like wheels when viewed from above. Chakras are formed where the knots of the channels are: they are actually energy blockages. When there is too much energy going through the side channels, the Central Channel is choked like a bent fire hose from which no water comes out but the bottom gets fatter and fatter to the point where the energy bursts, it goes sideways and turns into a wheel shape. “Chakras choke and make people get old and die; people feel unhappy because of charkas and you would feel weak and depressed if you have tight knots at your charkas,” Geshe Michael explained.
The Tibetan say that where the prana goes, the thought follow. The prana is like a horse and the thoughts are like a rider. When the prana is in the Sushumna, you are smart, creative, inspired, happy and you have love, wisdom and compassion. When your energy is in the Moon Channel, you want things or people excessively at the expense of someone else, you are selfish, greedy, needy; you grasp, crave and cling. When your energy is in the Sun Channel, you are angry and jealous. All three channels are connected under the back of the belly button and there is not enough prana to stay in all three channels. So when you are angry, you cannot find any solution to your problem because there is no prana going through the Sushumna which is the only place where inspirations, intelligence or good ideas come from. When all the energy is in the side channels, the Sushumna gets choked and we get stupid, feel no love and act out of spite.
Yoga means union and thus Hatha Yoga means the side channels (Ha and Tha) becoming the Central Channel, which is when all the prana moves into the Central Channel and the side channels disappear resulting in a light body, which is in fact our natural way of being.
Usually, there are only two occasions in your whole life when these knots are undone: when you die, your charkas open automatically; and during orgasms, all your chakras will open for about a minute and afterwards, the knots get even tighter than before.
People generally want more sex because it feels so good and that is when they start craving and all the energy goes into the Moon Channel, then when they do not get it, they get angry and their energy then goes from the Moon Channel into the Sun Channel while choking the Central Channel. “There is nothing wrong with enjoying cookies, but when you want 10 rather than just one, that is when your prana goes from the Sushumna into the Ida,” Geshe Michael said.
The Lady Niguma’a Yoga Series is done in such a logical and systematic way that it physically opens the knots at each chakra: the first asana is to untwist, then stretch, then we gather all the energy into the Sushumna and finally, distribute it.
You need to do it from the bottom chakra up and since there are three knots at the heart chakra, there are 8 asanas to open the heart. When you do yoga right, you feel as happy as a kid because yoga reverses charkas, thus the ageing process. That's why we exhale before inhaling. When you twist to the left, the Pingala is stretched and it stops anger; when you twist to the right, the Ida is stretched and it stops you from over-eating.
Before the asana, we do a Tong Len meditation that takes away the pain and suffering from a person or people of your choice. They sit in front of you and you transmute the negativity into positivity. By dedicating every breath during the yoga to them and by sending them what they need, you are mentally putting energy from your side channels into your central channels also. Research shows that the Tong Len Meditation is a powerful tool for cultivating compassion, reducing self-centeredness, and increasing happiness and well-being. By visualizing taking on the suffering of others and sending them love and compassion, we can develop a sense of interconnectedness and empathy, leading to greater happiness and inner peace.
Geshe Michael was asked to start a business eight years after being in the monastery and he did not know anything about business. His teacher simply told him to put prana into his sushumna and great ideas would come.
As a result, he recently sold his diamond business for USD 250 million to Warren Buffet 20 years later. “In order to have that wisdom to understand emptiness, to understand that the yelling boss comes from my mind, you need to first put prana into the sushumna.” Yoga, meditation and compassion seem like a logical starting point for us to reach enlightenment and the Lady Niguma’s Yoga Series might offer us a jump start towards our goal.
Vicky is a certified yoga & Pilates teacher and she has been personally trained by Geshe Michael Roach to teach Lady Niguma Yoga. Book a discovery session with her on vickyvortex.com/book-online and discuss how you can learn yoga with her.