I get this question all the time.
So, I’d like to explain to you what I’ve found Kundalini Yoga to be like.
Kundalini is not your typical yoga poses with sun salutations and warrior series. Although these poses can be integrated into a Kundalini fusion set it is not what a typical practice looks like. Kundalini is very focused on spinal health. All the nerves and most important arteries run through the spine so it’s important to keep it healthy. There will be flexing, bending, twisting of the spine so to keep the energy flowing through the whole spinal column for optimal health.
My friend once called it yoga for people who don’t yoga. Others say it is a yoga practice you can do until your 90!
I suggest you try kundalini at least one time. Just come with an open mind on what your practice will be like. I’ll do my best to describe a typical Kundalini yoga set so you do have some idea what to expect.
First, we connect with our breath and “tune in” by singing the Adi mantra at least three times.
‘Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo’
It means, infinite wisdom I call on you. Divine wisdom I call on you.
You are calling in the intention to bring the wisdom of your higher self to your practice. It is said to be connected to the ‘Golden chain of teachers’ you’ve had in this life and others.
Then I also like to chant the Charn mantra of protection four times. The number four refers to pillars of boundaries of the four directions and elements. This chant offers protection on the spiritual level as we open our energy to healing.
Aad Guray Nameh
I bow to (or call upon) the primal Guru (wisdom)
Jugaad Guray Nameh
I bow (or call upon) to the Truth that has existed throughout the ages.
Sat Guray Nameh
I bow to (or call upon) True Wisdom.
Siri Guru Dayvay Nameh
I bow to (or call upon) the Great Divine Wisdom within.
Chanting is an important part of Kundalini practice because it stimulates your vagus nerve which is one of the longest nerve in the body. It connects the digestive system and the brain which is pretty important. Stimulating this nerve activates the energy of the upper Chakras. (p.s. I promise nobody cares if you can’t sing! Just allow yourself to do it.)
I’d like to add that Yoga is not a religion; it is a philosophy and physical science that we use to encourage you to just tap into your own intuition and wisdom of your unique spirit.
Then we go into a Kundalini set which is called a Kriya. These exercises are deeply incorporated with the breath. Most of the exercises we do will be matched with the breath. If we are doing a leg lift, we will inhale up, exhale down. If we are doing cat cow, we inhale cow/exhale cat.
In this way it is sort of like a hatha yoga. Very connected to the breath work. Instead of flowing from one pose to the next we do a moving posture for a specific length of time. If we do leg lifts for 2 minutes we will also do cat/cow for two minutes which continues for the rest of the kriya set for each posture.
It differs from asana yoga because during the kriya I will ask you to speed up the breath and the movements to a rapid pace. This really stirs up the prana and energy in the body.
If you’ve not heard of the breath of fire, it is a rapid pace breath that creates heat and stirs energy/prana/lifeforce in the lower Chakras pulling it up to the upper body. It can be strenuous, but the effects leave you feeling energized and lighter!
Typically, we build heat then rest, build heat then rest, until it is time for savasana. After savasana we have exercised the body which is an important step. Once the body is tired the mind is more able to come into a peaceful state while we continue into a singing meditation like the Kirtan Kriya.
The Kirtan Kriya was brought to the west by Yogi Bhajan and is one of the most popular meditations used in Kundalini.
This simple yet powerful meditation uses, pranayama/breathing, mudras/hand gestures, mantras/powerful words (specifically Sat Nam), locks/root lock, and dristi (3rd eye focus.) giving the body and the mind something to do while you sing the mantra and lift the spirit. Each mantra has a specific meaning, and the singing creates vibrations in the body that promote peace and calming feelings we desire.
The Kirtan Kriya is said to promote internal peace, it is a mantra you can use to help you release habits or behaviors you no longer desire to keep. It is good for improving memory and mental clarity by increasing your ability to focus.
In short Kundalini can be intense but in short bursts. It is also very powerful physically and spiritually lifting practice.
If you have blockages in the Chakras, a Kundalini practice could help you to heal them. Just like other types of healing physical or mental, this is not always comfortable. You may have an emotional release because you are moving those stuck energies up and out of the body. You can read more about energetic emotional release here.
I hope this clarifies any questions you have about kundalini yoga, and I hope it intrigues you enough to come and try a Kundalini class at Spirit River Yoga and Massage!
Sign up at SpiritRiverYoga.com
CEO of Spirit River Yoga and Massage