Written by GuruJivan Goodman
Kundalini Yoga is a technology to awaken your awareness and bring you in touch with your original Self. It is a process that allows the natural unfolding of your inner-nature.
“Kundalini yoga classes are a dynamic blend of postures, pranayam, mantra, music and meditation, which teach you the art of relaxation, self-healing and elevation. Balancing body and mind enables you to experience the clarity and beauty of your soul. No previous experience in yoga is required for you to achieve results with your very first class.”
– Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher
The practice of Kundalini Yoga balances the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system and enables us to harness the energy of the mind and the emotions, so we can be in control of ourselves, rather than being controlled by our thoughts and feelings.
There is nothing more powerful than to awaken your consciousness, confront your ego and drop your fears. There is nothing more elegant than building the strength of your nervous system and character. There is nothing more effective than developing your capacity to be happy in the midst of challenges, grateful for each moment of your life. And there is nothing more profound than getting in touch with the core of your being – listening deeply and hearing the pulse of the creator in all people and all things.
The main difference between kundalini yoga and other forms is a matter of time. Kundalini yoga is yoga for householders, for people who have to cope with the daily challenges and stresses of holding jobs, raising families, managing businesses. It gives results in the shortest possible time. It does not require you to leave your home, become an ascetic or sit in a cave. Kundalini Yoga is for everyone who wants the skills to cope successfully with the challenges of living in this day and age.
Kundalini and the Breath
“The main problem in the world is stress. It is not going to decrease – it is going to increase. If through pranayam the shock can be harnessed, the entire stress and disease can be eliminated.”
– Yogi Bhajan
The breath is a fundamental tool to Kundalini yoga, it:
- Promotes health & vitality
- Opens the range and creativity of the emotions
- Develops Concentration
- Slows down the mind
- Controls moods
- Promotes a feeling of connectedness
The quantity, quality and circulation of breath creates the foundation of a vital and creative life.
Most people do not breathe correctly. When we consciously lower the frequency of breaths per minute, we encourage great benefits. Normally we find that men breathe between 16-18 breaths per minute, women generally breathe 18-20 breaths per minute.
8 Breaths per minute
If we can consciously breathe 8 breaths per minute we begin to feel more relaxed. The parasympathetic nervous system begins to be influenced and the healing processes of the body are elevated we also get relief from stress and increased mental awareness.
4 Breaths per minute
At this rate the Pituitary & Pineal glands begin to coordinate at an enhanced level thereby producing a meditative state. Positive shifts in mental function begin; we tend to experience intense feelings of awareness, increased visual clarity and sometimes heightened body sensitivity.
1 Breath per minute (Not recommended for Beginners)
Advanced yogi’s who have had a lot of practice can achieve 1 breath per minute. They experience a stronger connection between brain hemispheres, relief from anxiety and fear, increased intuition and the presence of spirit.
The Natural Breath
Many people have learned to breathe backwards, they inhale pulling the belly in, which makes the space for the breath to enter less instead of more. People who are anxious or smoke tend to breathe in this manner.
A natural breath uses the nose, which filters, warms and humidifies the air. There are many different breathing techniques used in Kundalini Yoga and many of these techniques are incorporated into the Kriya and meditations used while practicing Kundalini yoga.
Kriyas (Asana / Posture) in Kundalini
The word Kriya means complete action, in kundalini yoga it is a sequence of postures, breath and sound that are integrated together to allow the manifestation of a particular state. i.e. to remove blocks, anger or fear, eliminate disease, and create elevation just to name a few.
Postures are used to isolate specific muscles to pressurize specific points or areas in the body that act as reflex triggers to enhance the functions of the glands, organs and to re-direct, flush or increase circulation.
In the beginning you may feel awkward or uncomfortable adjusting to a posture. As you hold it, it starts to feel better. It starts to find a natural place in you. Your body adjusts, your shoulders relax, together with tense muscle groups you didn’t need to use.
You will observe, at some point, a relationship building between you and yourself. There starts to be a bridge of communication between the conscious and the unconscious. This then starts to realign the body and the mind.
Kriya is the spontaneous fulfilment of action by using posture (Asana) that links the infinite Self of you to this finite moment. It tears away at your old attachments and starts to reform you gradually. Postures make you conscious of areas in the body. As you hold the posture you find yourself self-conscious initiall, then you become conscious of Yourself. And if you really put yourself into it you become a conscious self.
There are many Kriyas in Kundalini Yoga that support just about every area of life. Kundalini yoga has many manuals available that focus on Kriyas for a specific purpose, outcome or even, time of day. These manuals contain a wealth of information about the postures sequences, breathing exercises, and types of meditation in each particular kriya.
Kundalini and Relaxation
“Total harmonious relaxation cures the body. To achieve this there must be a coordination between the three facets of ourselves: body, mind and soul.”
– Yoga Bhajan
The ability to relax is essential for physical and mental wellbeing but it something surprisingly difficult for many people to do in today’s world.
After completing a Kriya, the student’s physiological and neural is elevated. At this point, it is then important to relax and allow the physiology of awakening and awareness to begin. During this relaxation phase the following benefits may occur:
- Rejuvenation of the body and the parasympathetic nervous system
- Releasing rigid patterns in the muscles and blood flow
- Circulating glandular changes
- Letting go of stress and learning how to handle it
- Distribution of prana around the body to revitalize and heal it
Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
Corpse Pose is the best position for deep relaxation, after a Kriya, a hard day or even a stressful situation. Lie on your back, arms by your sides with the palms facing up and the legs uncrossed and relaxed. The feet normally fall to the side for most people and the arms are usually approximately at a 45 degree angle from the body.
Kundalini and Meditation
Meditation is the process of controlling and transcending the waves of the mind. Meditation creates a communion between you and your mind and between your mind and your body. It is beneficial for everyone.
Some of the benefits that you may experience while practicing meditation are:
- Well being, inner peace, stability and calmness in the mind and body
- Meditation helps to develop intuition
- Enhances the ability to focus energy therefore enhancing effectiveness and efficiency
- Resolves core issues of stress producing patterns
- Releases reactions and unconscious habits, subconscious fears and blocks
- Promotes clarity of mind, mental awareness and the ability to be present
Meditation is a personal and private experience even when you are meditating in large groups.
When you sit quietly and focus your attention inwards you become very aware of what is going on in your mind and all the thoughts that you are thinking (or even thoughts you didn’t think you were thinking!).
By not reacting to or judging the thoughts, and processing them with mantra, breath or mudra you can create a stillness and calmness that will serve you through your daily life.
There are many types of meditation in Kundalini Yoga that can help you stay focused and quiet. There are actually hundreds of these meditations – ranging from group, healing, couples or children’s mediations through to meditations that work on addictions, increasing vitality, clearing chakras or simply just trying to improve mental clarity.
The term Sadhana means daily practice; it is a practice in self – discipline that enables one to express the infinite within one’s self. It is a self – discipline by which we energise and balance the body and clear the mind and the subconscious. It is generally practiced between the hours of 4am – 7am during the Ambrosial Hours. To exercise before sunrise is important because of the angle of the sun to the earth, which makes it very conducive to meditation.
Sadhana is a test of self – grit and refines and develops the characteristics of our consciousness as human beings.
Sadhana benefits us by:
- Burning off old patterns and cleaning out the subconscious
- Lessons the impact of our egos
- Refines our awareness and caliber
- Teaches us discipline
- Gives us consistency, commitment and more stability in our day to day lives
You can choose a Sadhana that suits you or ask your teacher to choose one for you. Start small if you are just beginning or are new to yoga, even if you just do 3 minutes per day for 40 days. Commit to that, it is good a start and you can slowly increase the time as you feel you are ready.