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What is Kundalini Yoga?

Updated: May 2, 2023

First introduced to the western world in the 70s by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini yoga is a combination of breath, movement, and sound. It derives from the Sanskirt word kundal, which translated to “coiled energy”. The idea is that we all have energy gathered at the base of our spine and through the practice of Kundalini, we bring that energy up our spine through the seven chakras, and out the crown of our head to reach full spiritual enlightenment. The ultimate goal of Kundalini is to increase your self- awareness by silencing your mind and unblocking your chakras so that your vital energy can flow freely. Unlike other popular forms of yoga, such as Hatha or Vinyasa, Kundalini yoga places more emphasis on breathwork and chanting rather than physical movements. Kundalini is more of a spiritual discipline that combines many different components which include:

- Asanas: poses or postures

- Pranayama: breathing techniques

- Mantras: chanting

- Meditation

- Kriyas: specific sequences of postures, chants, and breathing techniques

Now that we know a little bit about what Kundalini is let’s talk about what to expect during a class.

- Opening chant: Every class begins with an opening chant, also known as tuning in.

- Pranayama or warmup: You’ll do breathing exercises, called pranayama, and sometimes also

movements to stretch your spine. The goal of pranayama is to practice breath control.

- Kriya: A kriya is a sequence of postures, pranayama, mudras (hand positions), sounds, and

meditation. The length and intensity of the kriya depends on your instructor.

- Relaxation: This allows your body and mind to absorb the effects of a kriya.

- Meditation: Your instructor guides you through meditation to cultivate awareness.

- Closing chant: The class ends with a closing chant.

When the Kundalini is awakened, it is the ultimate tool for self-improvement, allowing long-term positive change. The nature of Kundalini is that it can’t be held back when the floodgates are open, there is no way to stop it. That’s why it’s a great idea to find guidance through an enlightened teacher to help you through this sometimes intense spiritual experience. Kundalini awakening can be overwhelming and terrifying, also it’s very primal and incredibly powerful. As the energy moves up your spine, like a coiled snake, the experience can be very blissful or it can be very frightening, intense, and feel awful. One thing we can be sure about is when the Kundalini is awakened, the life we know will never be the same again. One of the Kundalini awakening benefits often understood is when the energy moves up your spine, your unconscious thoughts can be brought forward as conscious thoughts. Nothing will be buried, whether you want to deal with it or not. It will be out there. That’s one of the reasons why Kundalini rising shouldn’t be carried out alone, without a teacher who can guide you through this extreme emotional process. Below we are going to go into some benefits of a regular Kundalini yoga practice.

1) Helps strengthen the nervous system:

Kundalini yoga helps to reduce stress and anxiety by calming the mind and relaxing the body. Its emphasis on breathing exercises and meditation can help to lower cortisol levels, the hormone responsible for stress.

2) Willpower:

Kundalini yoga awakens your inner willpower right at the core of your solar plexus (Third

Chakra) at the navel point. What that means is that you build a strong heat in this region, which helps in digesting not only food but also memories and self-doubt. We become much more able to process and digest events that happen and take necessary action immediately to eradicate things, people or situations that are causing us more harm than good.

3) Improved cognitive function:

Kundalini yoga clears the fogginess of the mind. When the mind becomes clouded with several thoughts, it feels a little like a cobweb of thoughts have formed and are difficult to untangle and with a few minutes of rapid breath of fire or one minute breath, the mind becomes crystal clear, we feel more alert, focused, concentrated, with a better memory and the capacity to make sound decisions.

4) Open Heart:

Kundalini yoga opens the heart center (Fourth Chakra). Poses like the Tree Pose provide us with

security in the root chakra, so we feel like strong steady trees planted firmly to the earth, and

when our needs are not met we don’t feel like it’s the end of the world. We remain open and

trusting that the higher power will provide us with what we need when the time is right. So, the

world doesn’t collapse when we don’t get that job, fail that exam or suffer from a breakup or

family death. Whatever it is, we gain an attitude of acceptance. Understanding that it’s all-OK.

It’s all good. We are open to whatever life has to offer.

5) Compassionate communication:

In Kundalini yoga, poses like the Shoulder Stand open the throat center (Fifth Chakra). Add this

to an open heart and we become forgiving, compassionate, and nonjudgmental and our lips can bless, give gratitude and kindness to all those around us. When there is something bothering you, you will find the best way to express yourself to bring you to say the absolute truth with all gentleness and tenderness.

6) Builds strength:

Because you hold each posture for an extended period of time (sometimes up to five minutes!),

Kundalini yoga is a great way to strengthen and tone your muscles. Some of the more intense

breathing techniques—like Breath of Fire—can also build core strength, as you have to engage

your abdominal muscles with each exhale.

7) Strengthened core:

Many Kundalini movements and techniques work the core or abdominal muscles. Breath of fire

works the navel center. A strong core is essential in yoga and helps to improve your posture in

daily life. The navel chakra is also associated with emotions, so strengthening your core muscles can go a long way in helping you better control your emotions and handle life’s many triggers to stress.

8) Sense of peace and joy:

Much like other forms of yoga, Kundalini improves the practitioner’s overall emotional well-

being. Meditation plays a major role in this practice, which keeps the mind grounded and

provides peace of mind. Taking time out of your day, to relax and calm your mind, will bring

forth great joy and happiness.

9) Enhances spiritual growth:

Kundalini yoga is a spiritual practice that can help individuals to connect with their inner selves

and develop a deeper understanding of the universe. Regular practice can help to awaken the

Kundalini energy and bring about spiritual growth.

10) Strengthens the immune system:

Kundalini yoga has been shown to boost the immune system by increasing the production of

white blood cells and reducing inflammation in the body.

Kundalini yoga is not to be taken lightly. It is like an express train that shakes and wakes you up. Some kriyas will leave you feeling high and totally blissed out. Other kriyas will really provoke and confront you. What’s important is to stay present and accept pleasure and pain as part of the same journey to health and balance. Our ego naturally leans toward pleasure and comfort. It takes concerted effort and discipline to begin to release the ego’s grip on our consciousness. This effort is the work required to begin to access the truth of who we are, to create a strong connection to our soul and therefore our soul’s work on this planet. It is where we start to make great strides toward living as an enlightened being. I sincerely encourage you to experience Kundalini yoga for yourself. It will add depth to your existing practice and to your life. Whether you are a beginner or an experience yogi, Kundalini yoga can

help you to improve your overall health and well-being. So why not give it a try and experience the transformative power of Kundalini yoga for yourself!

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