Kundalini….You said what?!?!

February 1, 2011 2:47 pm Published by

Now the idea of this website/post call it what you will was to document my experiences of yoga, with some extras thrown in for good measure.

I first started to hear the word ‘Kundalini’ when I really started reading into yoga and ended up doing my first class in December last year, always open to all forms of yoga and yoga fusion classes and it was an experience!

 Kundalini yoga is an ancient form of yoga that has only been practiced in the west relatively recently. In 1969, Yogi Bhajan founded 3HO (the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) to introduce Kundalini to a broader population. Bhajan believed that it was a form of yoga that could be experienced and practised by all ages and it is commonly known as the ‘holistic yoga’ encompassing true spirituality, with the mind, body and breath and goes beyond just the physical performance of each asana with meditation, mudras an chanting.

I entered the studio and felt an immediate calm and spirituality, (it would not have surprised me if incense was burning, infact it would have been quite nice until the point we were all instructed to do the  ‘breath of fire’!) with the teacher sat crossed legged on a sheepskin rug, in white robes, hair binded up in a white turban like style and with not what I would call a ‘pretzel like yoga body’ – It was different but re-assuring and un-intimidating.

The Kundalini is untapped energy (prana) at the base of the spine that can be drawn up through the body awakening each of the seven chakras in a serpent like motion. Full balance and benefits of this style of yoga occurs when the energy reaches your Crown Chakra. Kundalini energy is often represented as a snake coiled at the base of the spine.

We spent the majority of the class seated on our mats, but do not be fooled, I ached in places I didn’t think possible the next day! Each Kundalini Yoga asana series is done in conjunction with a specific breath that intensifies the effects and benefits of the poses with the purpose of freeing energy and awakening your chakras. The breath like with most yoga is Ujjayi breath, a diaphragmatic breath through the nose keeping the mouth closed. Kundalini sequences (called kriyas) may consist of rapid, repetitive movements done with breath or holding a pose while breathing in a particular way. I couldn’t help but feel a bit like an Indian devotee , of the variety that choose to hold one of there arms up above there head in sacrifice to their god and to reach out closer to him! OK so it wasn’t that intense but rest assured holding your arms out in front of you, or to the side for a period of time is definitely a mind over matter (slightly burning) experience. 

A Kundalini class begins with a short chant in unison, followed by a warm-up to stretch of the spine and to improve flexibility. Each asana series is meticulously timed and focuses on opening and liberating a particular part of the body.  The class ended with a short meditation session, which was followed by a song about sunshine!! and some chanting of the mantra ONG NA MO GURU DEV NA MO to channel the mind from thoughts about what to cook for dinner or how much washing you have to do when you get home! I have to admit the monotonous nature of chanting is something I didn’t think I would buy into but it is a really good way of diverting your focus inwards and definitely gave me a feeling of groundedness, I think its something I would like to explore more, and I know that in itself is an art form that needs to be perfected.

The meaning of the mantra
– the active, creative aspect of the universe
NA MO – to call upon
GURU DEV – divine wisdom

I woke up the next morning with a pretty sore neck (as well as arms) and this could have had something to do with the throat opening chakra asana’s we did. Apparently we hold a lot of tension in our throats and it can be the first place we feel emotion before it moves down to our chest and heart, that choking feeling. The ‘breath of fire’  (Agni-Prasana) that I mentioned earlier is a slightly strange (to begin with) breathing technique performed in a Kundalini class, although I was a little light headed during, this cleansing and energising breath powered by the diaphragm has a rhythmic quality to it and regenerates all the oxygen in your body, so who am I to say its not worth looking and sounding a little silly for.

So anyway all in all for a style of yoga that I had to admit was not my absolute favourite it still got me talking about it, didn’t it! I think to appreciate any form of practise is to experience it first and give it a chance to show you what it can do and how it can make you feel. I know I may not be first in the queue for another Kundalini yoga class but hopefully I can draw on some of the fundaments of Kundalini and bring them into my regular practise.

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This post was written by Laura Avery