Kundalini is an energy which is in everyone. It exists as a catalyst for the natural state of grace we were born to embody. Kundalini Yoga is a technology whereby this energy can be gracefully accessed. This system helps us compensate for the stresses of life so we can be healthy, happy, and fulfilled.
Kundalini Yoga is a dynamic system combining breathing, movement, stretching meditation, the use of sound and rhythm, relaxation and meditation. Each class usually entails spine and flexibility warm-ups, a specific sequence for the energy or day at hand, and a relaxation and meditation. There are literally thousands of exercise sets and meditations in this system.
Kundalini, from the Sanskrit, meaning "coiled-up", refers to a latent force in us which is the catalyst for all forms of self-healing, higher cognition, and creative genius. Although labels differ, spiritual methodologies from many cultures recognize and revere this same energy of Spirit
In Kundalini Yoga we want to proceed with the realization that our true strength comes from within. We want to go beyond muscular strength alone, to faith in the flow of spirit. In light of this, breakthroughs become a way of life. Kundalini Yoga recognizes that a strong nervous system and healthy glandular system are required to live a life of celebration, discipline, and radiance.
The whole philosophic underpinning of Kundalini Yoga can be expressed in two little words: "Keep Up!" In the context of any exercise, when the going gets tough, and we make a conscious decision to keep up, we become more than we were and turn our life around.
In fact, each exercise in Kundalini Yoga is our life in microcosm. As a Teacher, I've seen a direct correlation between how a person relates to each exercise and how they live their lives. If we can make keeping up a habit, then the next time we have a deadline to meet at work, or our softball team is playing for the championship, we'll have the confidence of knowing we have the resources to excel.
Kundalini Yoga saw its most complete fruition in India. The great river of these teachings is the confluence of three streams:
- The Nath tradition stressed the technology of the sacred (yoga).
- The Sant tradition -focused on reverence for the guru or Teacher. (in the Kundalini Yoga tradition, the Guru is considered to be a vibratory effect, the flow of the Teachings themselves, not the transmitter.)
- The Bhakti tradition celebrated an ecstatic and fiery devotion to the Beloved, in this tradition, reverence for the Name (i.e. mantras expressing the qualities and virtues of God. "God and God's Name are the same.")
To increase one's understanding of the historic precedents of Kundalini Yoga it is important to research the tenets of Sikhism and the lives and writings of the 10 Sikh Gurus.
As mirrored by that lineage, Kundalini Yoga blends the life of the householder with the ascetic sensibility of the exclusive yogi, the discipline of the soldier with the compassion and vision of the Saint. Enlightenment is to have the humility to serve, the majesty to inspire and courage and consciousness to put one's body on the line to be Divine.
Kundalini Yoga was first taught in the West by Yogi Bhajan, Ph.D., who in 1969, recognized that the young people in America, who were experimenting with drugs and alternative lifestyles, needed something tangible to quench their inner thirst. His decision to teach Kundalini Yoga was somewhat momentous, because it had never been taught openly before.
Yogi Bhajan contends that in this time of great transition and transformation (which many are calling the onset of the Aquarian age) every person has an inherent birthright to be healthy and happy, and the means towards the realization of this is within each of us.
BASIC COMPONENTS OF KUNDALINI YOGA
In Kundalini Yoga breathing is considered to be an energy delivery system, a conveyance for prana or life force. Yogi Bhajan calls breathing the "Tender charge of the Divine." Kundalini Yoga utilizes the science of breath in an incredibly sophisticated way.
Each Kundalini Yoga exercise has a specific breath associated with it. The most commonly used breaths in this system are Long Deep Breathing, Breath of Fire , Segmented Breathing and Rhythmic Breathing in conjunction with movement.
Each of these breaths has specific benefits which deepen and accelerate the effects of each exercise. For instance some of the claims for Breath of Fire (also know as Maha Agni Pranayam) a somewhat rapid, rhythmic breath through the nose are:
- Its rhythmic aspect creates a harmonic resonance among all systems and organs which synchronizes the internal workings of the body and mind.
- It oxygenates the blood and purifies the lungs
- It remagnetizes the cells thus insulating the practitioner from the effects of electro-magnetic pollution
- It creates an optimum brain wave balance
- On the energy level it engenders benefits in one minute which would've taken up to an hour with normal breathing.
In Kundalini Yoga breathing is also used to work through holding patterns in the musculature as well as blocks in the psyche.
Breath and Movement
Kundalini Yoga often uses movement in conjunction with breathing to create a very powerful dynamic. Most exercises are done for 1 - 3 minutes but can last up to 11 minutes.
The word mudra means position or attitude .and relates to hand or body poses held during exercises or meditations. It should be understood that these particular configurations are more than symbolic. They create specific circuits in the nervous system, increase blood flow to, and stimulate certain areas of the brain, and activate energy flows.
In Kundalini Yoga we want to raise the frequency of the energy we garner, so that the self-healing process can be enhanced. We also seek to clear our minds of deep-seated stress, which lessens our effectiveness and ability to seek and find fulfillment in life. To accomplish these tasks we use what's called a mantra. Mantras are sounds or groupings of sounds with a pre-determined vibratory effect.
The Science of Sequence
In Kundalini Yoga we garner an effect greater than the sum of the parts. Any exercise or set which fulfills this requirement is called a kriya. The literal meaning of the word kriya is completed action.
Each set in Kundalini Yoga works on many levels simultaneously, and has been formulated with the recognition of the working relationship between the various energy systems that comprise us. Kundalini Yoga sees the body/mind as a holographic construct, meaning that each part contains the whole.
These are focuses of energy which correspond to nerve plexi or glands. Each chakra has a specific quality or frequency which relates to aspects of our personality and predilections. Kundalini Yoga transforms us by insuring free flow of energy through the chakras. The ideal is to match any circumstance with the most appropriate and effective action. In one sense, Kundalini Yoga equates enlightenment with a consistent standard of excellence.
THE PROCESS OF KUNDALINI
Kundalini is the energy which delivers us to our higher potential. This process is gradual and graceful. There are checks and balances built into this system. Accordingly, we never gain access to more energy than we can accommodate and integrate at any given time in our development.
Beginners may experience mild phenomena such as light-headedness, or a slight trembling in some of the postures we do. These are part of an initial cleansing and balancing, as the mental and physical toxins of the past are neutralized.
Sometimes people mistake this initial clearing for the experience of Kundalini itself. The true experience of Spirit needs no interpretation. One awakens to the true implications of his/her existence and life becomes a smorgasbord of beautiful and powerful options.
So, the ultimate purpose of Kundalini Yoga is to attain and maintain higher consciousness. This is not something you go after once and then rest easy. It's an exercise that lasts a lifetime. Accordingly we place a lot of emphasis on the importance of Sadhana which means daily discipline.
In Kundalini Yoga we encourage students to tune in to there bodies and not do more than they're ready for. By the same token, we encourage people to do more than they though they could. Thus the whole philosophic underpinning of this system can be expressed in 2 words: Keep Up!