What is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini yoga is an ancient yoga practice that combines movement, breath (pranayama), meditation, and chanting. It is a spiritual practice as much as it is a physical workout.
The ultimate goal of Kundalini yoga is to increase one’s self-awareness by silencing the mind and allowing one’s inner energy to flow freely. This ancient healing practice is meant to awaken and connect people to the divine energy within. In Sanskrit, kundalini means “coiled snake.” Kundalini yoga works to “uncoil the snake” within and release one’s inner energy.
This ancient yoga practice is meant to activate the spiritual energy that’s said to be located at the base of the spine. Kundalini yoga is supposed to awaken and “uncoil” this energy, enhancing inner awareness. As a result, Kundalini yoga is sometimes referred to as the “yoga of awareness.”
The typical Kundalini class is usually made up of three main parts: an opening chant, a series of kriyas—or physical postures paired with breathing techniques and mantras—and a closing meditation or sound healing. Each set during Kundalini yoga has different physical poses that involve a specific movement, breathing technique, and mantra.
In Sanskrit, kriya means “action.” In Kundalini yoga, a kriya is a sequence of physical actions that work toward the same outcome of releasing inner energy. Each kriya is composed of a physical pose, breathing technique, and sound. On a physical level, a kriya works to open joints, increase flexibility, and build strength. On a mental level, a kriya improves concentration and focus that creates a meditative consciousness. Kriyas work on all levels of the mind, body, and spirit to create a healthy, energetic life.
Different kriyas use different breathing techniques. Every meditation and kriya has a specific breathing technique and posture to help generate or release a specific energy. One of the most common breathing techniques is Long Deep Breathing. In Long Deep Breathing, you breathe slow and deep, expanding the stomach on each inhale and contracting the stomach on each exhale. Another popular Kundalini breathing technique is Breath of Fire, which consists of short, quick breaths that are almost like pants. Expelling the air in powerful, quick bursts helps engage the core.
Meditation & Chants
Chanting and meditation are also key aspects of Kundalini yoga. The instructor will typically guide students through various mantras and chants to set an energetic vibration for the class. Chanting mantras in Kundalini yoga is a way to assist the energy “coiled” at the bottom of the spine to “uncoil” and rise through the body. These mantras act as a tool to harness the mind and channel your inner being. It is thought that individuals can connect to their highest level of consciousness through the repetition of mantras.
What are the Benefits of Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini yoga offers many benefits, both physically and mentally. Firstly, Kundalini yoga builds core strength and tones muscles, helping people keep a wide range of motion. In addition, the long, slow breathing calms the nervous system and reduces stress, which as a result, lowers blood pressure.
Kundalini also increases the production of serotonin, the happy hormone in the brain, improving your mood and decreasing anxiety. Kundalini yoga has also been found to boost positive self-perception and boost self-appreciation. According to research, Kundalini yoga can also positively impact cognitive function, boosting concentration and memory. The Alzheimer Research and Prevention Institute even recommends Kundalini yoga for improved memory retention.
Ready to try Kundalini yoga? The Life Enrichment Center offers gentle Kundalini Chair Yoga in person and on Zoom.