Niguma Yoga: Mental Liberation through Mastering the Body

Niguma Yoga, once a mystical and secret yoga practiced by those only in strict three-year retreat, is now being taught to the public by the avant garde Vajrayana teacher, H.E. the 2nd Kalu Rinpoche. Showing up in his lululemon gear and muscular, fit physique, the professional yogi looks radiant and warm with his impeccable smile. Watching his demonstration is its own kind of meditation, giving us the taste of tranquility and peace.

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Not knowing what to expect, the audience in Hong Kong was surprised and even overwhelmed by the postures that Rinpoche was performing, especially the “Bep.” This is a leap into the air and then a free fall that makes a huge noise on the cushion upon impact (see his IG account to know what a “Bep” is). With patience and kindness, over the three-day event, each and every one of the 120 participants received personal adjustment and guidance from Rinpoche. The “Bep” no longer feels strange and intimidating.

It is refreshing to have a “yoga instructor” being brutally honest and non-judgmental on our body and abilities. Nowadays, many yoga classes focus on concentration, focusing on your breathing, poses, movement, and so on. Niguma yoga, however, emphasises awareness, being aware of each moment, being present, and immersing yourself in the beauty of impermanence. It is liberating to be okay if we get the steps wrong, learning how to let go, and continue rather than analyzing on the spot what we should have done. On the other hand, Rinpoche also told us not to cling on to the sense of achievement while practicing this yoga. There is no level to unlock, no asana to master or perfect.

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One of the postures requires us to tap our forehead with moderate force, enabling us to familiarize with not reacting towards sensory experience. The profundity of the yoga is dependent on the practitioner’s intention and their focus on nurturing the physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Through the various postures, it helps develop our mental attitude, giving us space between action and reaction, the clarity of fully knowing the implications, be they mundane or Dharmic. It gives us the choice of not being pushed and pulled by internal or external forces, fostering authentic equanimity.

You may wonder exactly how Niguma yoga can help us say “so long” to samsara. It is said that by bringing the wisdom air in the central channel, uma, one can see the nature of mind, the ultimate reality. Obviously, we cannot order this type of air online and deliver to the Uma with a tracking number. These exercises remove the negativities and untie the knots in the channel, giving rise to the wisdom air. In this context, negativities are defined as the absence of wisdom. Buddhists believe all kinds of suffering are rooted in ignorance. To gain wisdom, we must eradicate the concept of self, the ultimate illusion that deceives and stops us from seeing reality. Niguma yoga is bringing a new genre of meditative practice for 21st century human beings to cultivate mental clarity through our physical body.

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Even though there is no prerequisite to practice Niguma yoga, it is noticeable that those with a certain level of flexibility and strength can easily do the postures. For those who are interested in learning, it is highly recommended to open your hips and shoulder as the varja posture/lotus pose is the foundation of Niguma yoga, or indeed any meditation practice. Yoga means the union of body and mind, Niguma yoga truly brings harmony together in one practice.  

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