Kundalini is something that I have been looking into but has always seemed mysterious or strange to me. I took a yoga class that incorporated kundalini yoga in it, all as part of a yoga challenge that I am a part of, and have challenged myself to practice yoga every day in January.
Kundalini Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline for developing strength, awareness, character, and consciousness. Practitioners call Kundalini Yoga the yoga of awareness because it focuses on the expansion of sensory awareness and intuition in order to raise individual consciousness and merge it with the Infinite consciousness of God. As a form of yoga and meditation, Kundalini’s purpose is to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others. 1
The yoga studio I attend offers a sadana kundalini yoga class every Saturday, it begins at 4:30 a.m. and concludes at 7:30 a.m. This is something I have always wanted to explore, and this Saturday I actually did. My alarm clock went off at 4 and despite the fact that my wife told me I was crazy, I felt she was right, but I climbed out of bed and drove to the studio. I felt i was going to do something special, esoterical, even mystical. I wore my Lululemon yoga pants and shirt, both which were grey and great to run in and practice yoga in. The first thing I noticed was that I was wearing the wrong color, everyone there, was wearing white, so I stood out as the novice. Despite that, I was welcomed by the teacher whom I met at the class I mentioned above, ad was told to set up, get comfortable, and meditate. When I asked the teacher about the white outfit, he simply told me it helps a positive Ora – not required but has to do with energy and how it travels through and up he body.
According to yogic philosophy, kundalini is a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine. It is conceptualized as a coiled up serpent. Literally, kundalini or kundala is that which is coiled (Sanskrit kund, to burn; kunda, to coil or to spiral). It is believed that Kundalini yoga is that which arouses the sleeping Kundalini Shakti from its coiled base through the 6 chakras, and penetrate the 7th chakra, or crown. This energy is said to travel along the ida (left), pingala (right) and central, or sushumna nadi – the main channels of pranic energy in the body. 2
The first part of class included 30 minutes of mantra meditation, and although I was nervous, because it seemed very foreign to me, I adapted. Next was an hour of physical kundalini yoga practice, which focused on fire breath and on activating the spine. As the point is to unravel the coil within the spine, the exercises and breathing definitely sent energy up my spine and through my body. This is something I have never experienced before, it was extremely energizing.
The practice of kriyas and meditations in Kundalini Yoga are designed to raise complete body awareness to prepare the body, nervous system, and mind to handle the energy of Kundalini rising. The majority of the physical postures focus on navel activity, activity of the spine, and selective pressurization of body points and meridians. Breath work and the application of bhandas (3 yogic locks) aid to release, direct and control the flow of Kundalini energy from the lower centers to the higher energetic centers. 3
Next was a savasana – or corpse pose that lasted for about 45 minutes or so.while I laid on my mat, eyes closed, my palms facing up, I took in the vibration of the gong and other percussion instruments played. The energy kept flowing from my feet through my spine and beyond my head. I am simply recounting my experience, if you do not believe me, I would suggest trying it.
Following savasana was chanting mantas and songs of peace and meditation. By the time 7:30 came around, the energy flow was evident. I felt a complete flow of energy. It has changed my outlook this week and has given me the power to discern important from nonsensical aspects of my life. I really mean that, I have focused on what matters – my family, my health and well being.
Yoga in general has changed my outlook on life, but uncoiling the energy up my spine was an experience I will not forget, and waking up at 4 am on a Saturday is worth it. I will do it again, maybe Saturday.
P.s. the practice is done prior to the rising of the sun and celebrates light over darkness.
1. Swami Sivananda Radha, Kundalini Yoga for the West, timeless, 2004, pages 13, 15
2. Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga, The Divine Life Society, 2007, page 12
3. Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007, page 177