Kundalini Yoga uses a series of movements and breath exercises that create mental and physical endurance, reduce stress, and build core strength. It combines traditional yoga with pilates and includes aerobic and strength exercises.
According to yoga philosophy, the Kundalini is a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine. Kundalini yoga asanas, when combined with specific breathing exercises, free energy within the body and allow it to move upward along the spine. Kundalini sequences, or Kriyas, can be fast and repetitive or relatively still, and the accompanying breaths often mirror the movements of the body.
Unlike traditional yoga, each exercise is performed for an extended period of time (1-4 minutes) to build strength and endurance. Chanting is used to center our minds and assist with breath exercises. Kundalini is a lifelong practice that has tremendous health benefits. This is great for people who like variety, need low impact exercises that still builds strength, and are looking to reduce stress. Each class is unique, focusing on different muscle groups.
Q: Why are head coverings, or turbans, sometimes worn in Kundalini yoga?
A: During Kundalini yoga, covering the head with a non-static, natural cloth (like cotton or silk) and with the hair up is recommended. The idea is to move the energy upwards and keep it in the body rather than allowing it to leave through the head, or crown center. It is not required.
Q: Why do many practitioners wear white?
A: The color white expands the aura by 18 inches, protects from negative projections, deflects negativity, helps lift depression/uplift mood, and teaches one to be more graceful in one’s environment by heightening awareness of one’s surrounding. And, says Yogi Bhajan, “All the colors are in the white light. You can absorb from the white light just the frequencies you need regardless of who you are because all the frequencies are in it.” It is recommended to wear white while practicing Kundalini to achieve better results, but it is not required.
Q: I’ve heard Kundalini yoga can be dangerous.
A: The practice of Kundalini yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, opens up one’s consciousness, or awareness. It strengthens one’s domain. Says Yogi Bhagan, ” When the spiral rises to penetrate through all the charkas, the man knows he is Divine. That’s when they say Kundalini Yoga is dangerous. It’s dangerous because it takes away from man the ability to be exploited by another man.”
Q: How is Kundalini yoga different from other forms of yoga?
A: By “other forms of yoga,” we are assuming we are talking about Hatha yoga and its various forms such as vinyasa, ashtanga, Forrest, Iyengar, “hot” (aka Bikram, etc). Hatha yoga focuses on the asana, or postures. It focuses on the angles and triangles of the body; to get the angles in correct alignment so that energy can flow freely through the pathways.
Kundalini yoga uses not just asanas. It uses mudra (hand positions that guide energy flow to the brain). It uses mantra – what we vibrate is what we attract. It uses sound to vibrate the Highest Self. It uses drishti (eye focus) to stimulate the glands, which secrete hormones. And it uses pranayama as its fundamental tool and is practiced in depth. Consider the reasons for practicing yoga: peace, stress management, clarity, self-reference, focus, joy, etc. This synergy gets you there faster, making it very practical for individuals with relationships and careers.
Q: I am not feeling as stretched out at the end of Kundalini yoga as I do after practicing Hatha yoga.
A: The real question is, “how flexible does one need to be?” And what is your reason for being here (on this site, or in this yoga studio)? Yoga is about getting the body, mind and spirit into balance. Kundalini yoga will bring flexibility, but the goal is not to become a human pretzel. And flexibility must be accompanied by strength.
Kundalini yoga simultaneously works inner flexibility as well as both physical strength and flexibility. It is, however, a good thing to do more stretching outside of class, as one feels necessary.
Q: I feel a religious overtone in Kundalini yoga. Is there a religious connection in this practice?
A: No. Yoga is not a religion. The ‘overtone’ one may feel in the use of mantras is the calling of one’s true nature. There is a spiritual element to this practice. The goal is to get connected to our higher Self, our inner wisdom; to free us from the trap of our chatter-filled mind and see beyond the illusions of our day-to-day drama. When we call upon God, we call, not upon an external God, but upon that wisdom, or infinite intelligence, that is within each of us.