Kundalini yoga blends elements of Bhakti yoga (a practice of love, devotion, and yogic chanting), Raja yoga (the practice of meditation and self-control), and Shakti yoga (a type of Vinyasa yoga that incorporates meditation and pranayama).
The goal of Kundalini yoga is to elevate the mind, body, and spirit to reach your fullest potential. Today it has become a viral wellness trend that appeals to anyone looking to connect with their inner self and learn techniques for managing the stress of everyday life.
The Foundations of Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga is a practice that has been taught and passed down by Sikh masters and gurus for over five hundred years, since its founding by Guru Nanak. It was first introduced in the west by Harbhajan Singh — a Sikh missionary popularly known as Yogi Bhajan by his followers.
Shortly after coming to America, Singh started accepting students and teaching them the practices of Kundalini yoga. He believed it was his destiny to pass these teachings onto others, though they were once closely held secrets. In pursuit of his vision, Singh established 3HO, an organization dedicated to helping its members become “healthy, happy, and holy.”
Subsequently, he created the Kundalini Research Institute in the year 1971, which now formally trains and certifies teachers all over the world.
What is a Kundalini Awakening?
The word Kundalini originates from the Sanskrit word kundal, which means “ring,” or “snake.” It refers to a powerful coil of energy that rests at the base of the spine. The practice of yoga can release this energy, allowing it to flow upward through the chakra system.
When the kundalini reaches the crown chakra, it is known as a “kundalini awakening.” This is also known as samadhi, or meditative trance, wherein a person feels himself to be at one with the universe.
Some people who experiment with drugs or who are new to spiritual and meditative practices occasionally get a glimpse of the power of the kundalini. This can be frightening and overwhelming, and it can even lead to a mental breakdown if the individual is unprepared or lacks spiritual guidance.
When done properly, the practice of yoga culminates in a true kundalini awakening that lasts a lifetime. This is also achieved when one perfectly balances all seven of their chakras.
How to Achieve a Kundalini Awakening
Kundalini yoga classes have a unique and important blend of breathing exercises, chants, meditation and asanas. Each session utilizes a variety of yoga techniques that combine to help release one’s divine energy.
Kriyas, or “actions”, are sets of exercises that incorporate asanas (postures), breathing techniques, and sound. Each kriya is specifically designed to produce a desired outcome, such as increasing flexibility, concentration, and overall mental health and wellbeing.
Meditation is an extremely important tool in kundalini yoga. It helps the mind to focus and to better control the movement of the body. Yogi Bahajan has described meditation as a tool to cleanse the mind, and free the subconscious of negative or angry thoughts. This allows a person to reach the necessary state of mind to achieve a kundalini awakening.
Pranayama techniques are always crucial to any successful Yoga class. Prana, or “life force,” is said to be contained in each and every breath a person takes. In a kundalini yoga class, the individual is taught how to slow their rate of breathing. This allows for greater control over the mind, makes meditation easier, and strengthens the core while completing kriyas and asanas.
Mudras are a practice of using special gestures with the hands and fingers to bring the mind and body into harmony. There are many different types of mudras that are used in different circumstances.
Mantras are short chants or phrases that have the power to positively effect one’s mood and mind. Sounds vibrate on different frequencies, and it is believed that the mantras hold specific powers in each syllable that can be channeled by the mind for different purposes.
For example, a popular chant in kundalini yoga is “Sat Nam”, literally “truth is my identity”. This mantra is chanted to strengthen the divine energy source in each person.
Bandhas, or body locks, are muscular contractions that are used to strengthen the body and allow it to properly channel energy throughout its core. Bandhas also support proper alignment of the spine and release tension in the body.
Kundalini Yoga can be an extremely beneficial practice for those looking to increase their energetic and spiritual awareness. However, whether you are a beginner or on the way to achieving a kundalini awakening, it is important to practice under the guidance of a mature yogi to ensure that the proper benefits are experienced.