What is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini Yoga is a form of yoga brought to the United States in 1969. Though there are different approaches to what is called Kundalini Yoga, one practiced in the United States (and worldwide) is through the organization 3HO — Healthy Happy Holy Organization.
The founder is a yogi from India named Yogi Bhajan, who passed from this world in 2004, but his teachings remain strong throughout the planet. The teachers at Sewall House Yoga Retreat studied directly with the Master and have found this technology of yoga to be truly helpful in counteracting modern-day stress and old or new trauma.
While it may sometimes be challenging to find a teacher near you, there are many Kundalini Yoga teachers around the globe.
Kundalini Yoga poses are not for everyone but for those who are open to its inner focus (mostly eyes closed) practice and the varied sets offered, it can be an amazing tool for inner growth, personal healing, and living with yourself and others. And……you do not have to be a pretzel! It is a quite accessible yoga form.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Here is what you can expect from a Kundalini Yoga class as taught by Yogi Bhajan at Sewall House Yoga Retreat:
- Tuning in with the ADI mantra Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo
- Optional sun salutations or Kundalini specific warmups to start the practice
- Breath awareness with an emphasis on yoga breathing, long deep breath through the nose, and Breath of Fire (known in Hatha Yoga as Bhastrika or Bellows Breath), a rapid rhythmic deep breath created by sniffing through the nose and sensing the power of your breath without forcing it. (Alternately it can be learned by panting like a dog to avoid hyperventilation)
- Eyes closed most of the time, focused to the third eye (6th Chakra Ajna) though sometimes we focus elsewhere like tip of the nose, chin, out the top of the head (crown – 7th chakra).
- Specific “sets” (with specific timing), of which there are said to be thousands, which can be found in the huge library of teachings. Some sets are very physical, some meditational, some a combination of these. Like life, you never know what to expect when you show up to a Kundalini Yoga class! Some sets have familiar yoga poses that correspond to other forms of yoga, some are very different and feel “weird” to those used to other forms of yoga. At Sewall House Yoga Retreat we often ask guests and students if there are things they would like to address in their evening Kundalini Yoga class here.
- Emphasis on CHAKRAS, energy centers along the spine that all forms of yoga work with but are less spoken about in the more exercise-oriented “modern” adaptations of yoga.
- Each set has a specific order of moves, or static holds; some have chants within them.
How Kundalini Yoga Works for Beginners
With its emphasis on sound, breath and body, Kundalini Yoga uses mantra as well to clear the mind. We call mantra the yoga of the mind in Kundalini Yoga. Mantras have a miraculous effect on wellbeing and healing. The chants in Kundalini Yoga are in the Gurmukhi language as opposed to the Sanskrit of other forms. Both are sacred languages from India. The popular (and simple!) Kirtan Kriya from Kundalini Yoga has been proven to deliver more blood to the brain, inducing a feeling of mental clarity and wellbeing, after only 11 minutes of practice. Its effects have been featured in many mainstream publications.
At Sewall House Yoga Retreat we offer an understanding of the mantras, which often helps with everyday issues and situations.
There are many Kundalini Yoga musical artists. Music is used to accompany the class and the chants. The music is both inspiring and healing. Vibration is a huge part of this practice. There are many more aspects than one can learn about by further study. However, the most important thing about Kundalini Yoga is the experience it gives you. Also, like life, you never know what that will be but people often report emotional releases, a feeling of gratitude, clarity, more energy and calmer. The large emphasis on breath can be a part of the reason for this.
With its emphasis on sound, breath and body, Kundalini Yoga uses mantra as well to clear the mind. We call mantra the yoga of the mind. Mantras have a miraculous effect on wellbeing and healing, The chants are in the Gurmukhi language as opposed to the Sanskrit of other forms. Both are sacred languages from India. The popular (and simple!) Kirtan Kriya has been proven to deliver more blood to the brain, inducing a feeling of mental clarity and wellbeing, after only 11 minutes of practice. Its effects have been featured in many mainstream publications. At Sewall House Yoga Retreat, we offer an understanding of the mantras, which often help with everyday issues and situations.
The classes end often with a beautiful little song called the Long Time Sun Song. There are many beautiful musical versions of this song, one favorite being by Jai Jagdeesh, which we often use at Sewall House Yoga Retreat, and other versions as well.
An interesting tidbit about Kundalini Yoga is that Yogi Bhajan started the world known Yogi Tea company. Every tea bag has one of his countless numbers of inspiring quotes on it. And yes, we serve it at Sewall House Yoga Retreat, along with the delicious original formula, a chai that Kundalini Yoga studios also often offer after class.
Frequently asked questions
Kundalini Yoga is an old practice that’s focused on releasing the kundalini energy. The term ‘Kundalini’, originated from Sanskrit, means circular. The Kundalini energy is known to reside at the base of your spine and it is aroused via practicing yoga poses. As the energy increases, you will see differences in the other chakras of your body ( like naval, heart, and throat ). With regular and disciplined practice, you can attain spiritual alignment and many other health benefits.
Kundalini yoga is known for its spiritual significance.
Unlike other yoga poses, here the focus is to revive the spiritual energy at the base of the spine. There is a relatively bigger emphasis on six parts, namely.
- Opening chants
- Basic kriya
- Closing chants
In comparison, other yoga practices focus more on physical movements.
Kundalini yoga has profound benefits for people of all ages. Some of the common Kundalini Yoga poses for beginners are
- Lotus pose
- Cobra pose
- Archer pose
Like any other yoga, we recommend you to practice caution and do it under the supervision of a trained yoga instructor.
Kundalini yoga can get intense and may demand more from you. We would like you to avoid or practice Kundalini yoga moderately if you’re suffering from
- Asthma or breathing problems
- Body pain
- Physical injury
- Mental health issues
Do consult your doctor if you have a medical history before starting yoga. Discontinue if you feel uncomfortable.