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Trinity Yoga

What is Kundalini Yoga?

I’ve been working toward a blog for many months now, and as I finally sat down to type my first post, I was presented with the problem of what to write about first.  So, I decided, why not start at the beginning?  What is Kundalini Yoga?

I get asked this question often.  Most people know what yoga is, even if they haven’t tried it.  And many are aware of it’s myriad of benefits.  However, there are so many different types of yoga it can get pretty confusing to understand the intricacies of each one.  And then there is Kundalini Yoga.  It sounds so exotic!  How do you even pronounce it?  Koondah what?  (BTW, it is pronounced Koon-duh-lini.  Sounds like a pasta, no?)  

Describing Kundalini Yoga, and giving it the full justice that it so deserves, is not as easy as you might think.  Anyone who has tried Kundalini Yoga will tell you there is a lot going on.  In the beginning, it can seem a bit overwhelming.  But, it always leaves you feeling exhilarated and wanting more.  And each person has their own special relationship with the practice, making it even more varied in the descriptions you find on the internet and in literature.  Here, I will do my best to illustrate what Kundalini Yoga is to me.

Let’s start by reviewing what yoga is.  Yoga means union.  It is a method of living, not just a practice you do on your mat or in a studio, that allows the mind, body, and soul to unite.  When that happens, we can know our true nature and merge with that which is greater than ourselves.  This allows us to live our lives to the fullest, to know real joy and happiness, and to nourish ourselves in all ways.  Physically, mentally and spiritually.  

Today there are many styles of yoga.  Ashtanga, Hatha, Anusara, Kripalu, Bhakti, and the list goes on.  Most are considered Hatha yogas, or variations of Hatha.  Hatha is the yoga of the physical body.  It’s primary purpose is to prepare the body for extended meditation.  Bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion.  Laya yoga the yoga of sound.  Some styles of yoga are based on very ancient and traditional methods.  Others are a modern interpretation blended with ancient techniques.  The beauty of so many different methods is that there is something for everyone.  Some are more physically demanding than others, some more meditative, some focus purely on deep relaxation to release stress. 

And then, there is Kundalini Yoga.  Kundalini Yoga is sometimes referred to as the yoga of all yogas, the yoga of awareness, or the warriors’ yoga.  Kundalini Yoga combines elements from all the traditional styles of yoga.  It is a culmination of master techniques.  Because of this, most people experience profound results quickly with a Kundalini Yoga practice.  

A bit of history…In ancient times, you couldn’t just walk into a yoga studio or pick up a DVD and learn yoga.  You had to find a guru.  And then prove that you were worthy of receiving the teachings of yoga from this guru.  Then, the guru would mentor you.  It was typically a long and methodical process to bring the student to enlightenment.  To learn Kundalini Yoga, you would have to master many types of yoga before being taught it’s methods. 

Today, thanks to the great master of Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Bhajan who first openly taught Kundalini Yoga in the U.S., we can all learn these teachings and reap their benefits.  You do not have to be a master or even have tried other styles of yoga to learn Kundalini Yoga.  You do not have to be flexible, strong, or fit.  You just have to be willing to work on yourself.  Kundalini Yoga is not just about working our physical bodies, it is a method of inner transformation and self growth.

Kundalini Yoga involves physical postures (asanas), breath work (pranayama), relaxation, meditation, hand positions (mudras), words of power (mantras), and body locks (bhandas).  In short, Kundalini Yoga has it all.  It works on the mind, the body and the soul.  It works on the glands and nervous system.  It works to build strength of body and character, so that stress makes us stronger.  It builds flexibility of the body and mind, so that we can be open to new opportunities.  It allows us to live the life we were meant to live.  To be happy, healthy and whole.

So, what does a typical Kundalini Yoga class look like?  Each class begins with a mantra.  Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo.  This mantra means, "I call on my higher self to help me do my best".  In Kundalini Yoga the belief is that all the wisdom and knowledge that we need lies within.  All we need to do is learn how to “tune in” to the inner wisdom and listen to what it has to say.  This is the purpose of the mantra.  To “tune in” to our own inner greatness.  

Next, we begin with a breath exercise.  Breath exercises do many things, but primarily they unite the groups' energy and slow our minds so that we can be present for the practice ahead.  Breath work is typically followed by warm ups.  It’s important to properly warm up the spine and open the solar plexus before practicing Kundalini Yoga.  Then, we do a Kriya.  Kriya’s are sets of exercises done in a specific order to work synergistically together.  They are taught as they were taught by Yogi Bhajan.  In this way, Kundalini Yoga is a very traditional yoga and adheres tightly to ancient techniques.  However, there are so many kriyas that no two classes are alike, offering lots of variety.  Lastly, a class will conclude with a deep relaxation.  A deep relaxation is very important.  It is when balance and healing happens.  When all the work you put into your practice has a chance to work for you.  To integrate into the body and mind.  To end, typically there is a meditation.  There are literally thousands of meditations in Kundalini Yoga.  So, again, something for everyone.  Sometimes the meditations will involve singing a mantra, sometimes it’s a breath meditation, or a silent meditation.  Sometimes meditations include all of the above.

So, in short, what is Kundalini Yoga?  Kundalini Yoga is soul training!  It is a method to cultivate your very best self and shine that light every day, in everything that you do.  It will open doors for you in life.  It will change everything for the better.  

My personal experience with Kundalini Yoga is it is best known through experience.  So, if you are at all intrigued, give it a try and see for yourself just how magical Kundalini Yoga can be!  

Peace, Light & Blessings!