I am writing this article to hopefully clear up the misconceptions about Kundalini Yoga. As one of the few Kundalini yoga instructors in the area, I am often approached by persons with a certain amount of caution, hesitation, and questioning. “What is this style of yoga you teach?” and “I’ve heard that people can lose their minds practicing your style of yoga” and even “Are you the sex yoga instructor?” Other yoga instructors will say, “You better be careful. Are you sure that Kundalini yoga is safe?” And then there are others who have never heard of Kundalini Yoga —yet another reason for writing this article.
The following is what I have learned to be true about Kundalini Yoga: it is known as the Yoga of Awareness, it is very safe, it is incredibly healing, and it is not sex yoga, though it does make you feel really good!
I stumbled upon Kundalini yoga while experimenting with the many varied styles of yoga offered in the Tri-State Area. I found a video entitled Chakra yoga, which was based on the foundations of Kundalini yoga. This video presented a very powerful routine that was easy to follow and subsequently freed me of a chronic back pain which I had considered mine forever.
Before I knew it, I found myself at the Omega Institute in New York immersed in a weeklong intensive yoga session, a grueling program that began at 4.a.m and ended at 5 p.m. I had to frequently push myself out of my precious comfort zone (a big feat for a small town Catholic girl), not to mention my precious bed. Yoga poses, chanting and “breath of fire” (a rapid inhale/exhale breath technique) were definitely not part of my normal daily routine. At first, these practices made me feel uneasy. The program was exhausting, unfamiliar, and left me wondering what I had gotten myself into! However, by day three, I could do it all. I felt transformed. It was as if I had moved through a huge blockage and suddenly felt an increased fervor, energy. A big shift had taken place. I felt free.
Now, after teaching Kundalini yoga for six years, it continues to bring me much joy and gratitude. With each class, I transcend emotionally and spiritually to places I cannot begin to describe. The practice is remarkably humbling.
I wanted to share my story with readers because I believe that when we share our stories we begin to understand each other’s paths. I hope my ill defined course spells out that when and where we least expect it, we can find great healing and remarkable transformation. While there might always be some mystery surrounding the experience of yoga, I hope that this article is not only informative but that is also inspires a curiosity about a style of yoga that can be quite profound, and that perhaps, when you have the opportunity to take your first Kundalini class, you will do so without the fear or resistance that I initially had.
Oh, and for those of you who are wondering, yoga is not a religion. I still consider myself Catholic; I simply embrace all ways of honoring the Divine.
What is Kundalini and how is different than other styles of yoga?
(excerpt Kundalini Yoga, Kaur Khalsa, 2001)
In ancient times, Kundalini Yoga was only allowed to be taught in India in secrecy, but Yogi Bhajan, Master of Kundalini Yoga, decided to bring these teachings to the United States in 1969. Since this time, these teachings have proliferated and lives have changed. Kundalini comes from the word kundal, which mean, “lock of hair from the Beloved.” The uncoiling of this “hair’ is the awakening to the Kundalini, the creative potential that already exists in every human being.
Classical yoga includes the well- known Hatha Yoga, which generally has its emphasis on Asana or postures. The purpose of Hatha Yoga is to raise the consciousness. Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga are the same, in this respect. The difference is how long it takes to get there and what is experienced along the way. Originally Classical Yoga was intended for monks, yogis, and those who withdrew from the world for spiritual practice. Kundalini Yoga, on the other hand, was designed for the householder, those who live in the world, who have families and jobs, and who want to balance the inner and outer world. It is the yoga that fits the busy lives most of us lead. Those who practice it say they can feel changes in the body and psyche within a few minutes and deeper changes through regular practice.
How does it Work?
In the physical body, the Kundalini resides in the spine. The two nerve channels that intertwine around the central nerve of the spinal column are called the Ida (the lunar, negative energy) and the Pingala
(the solar energy). Each of them makes two and one-half turns around the central column of the spine, called the Shushmana, as they spiral upward from the base of the spine. The two channels act as main conductors of the Kundalini energy feeding the entire nervous system. Beside the Kundalini energy that is already flowing within our bodies, there is a vast reservoir of untapped Kundalini stored under the fourth vertebra of the spinal column.
Through the practice of Kundalini Yoga, this untapped energy is stimulated and allowed to rise up the central column of the spine until it reaches the top of the skull, activating the secretion of the pineal gland.
It is believed by yogis that the pineal gland is responsible for vibrating and controlling the nucleus projection of every cell of the body.
All biological consciousness is chemical in nature-it is controlled by the secretion of chemicals in the brain. When we directly raise the Kundalini, its causes the activation of these chemicals, and a major change in consciousness is experienced. It may be subtle and gradual. It may be spectacular. Through the consistent practice of Kundalini Yoga, change happens.
This is yoga for everyday life, and every person. You are not required to be in perfect physical shape or believe anything in particular. Kundalini Yoga works for you if you can breathe and move your body. The gift of Kundalini Yoga is that you experience it. No words can replace that experience. Your experience goes right to your heart, your core. These ancient teaching are designed to give you a “hands on” experience of your highest consciousness. By approaching Kundalini Yoga with openness and respect, and by following the instructions of a certified instructor, you can change your life.
Sat Nam (I am Truth)
Kundalini Yoga includes:
Yogic breathing/ Pranayama;
Mudras/ Hand Positions
Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo
(I Bow to thefinite Wisdom within Me)
by Ellyn Hutton