Most of the yoga styles that we know in the western world can be summarized under the umbrella term of Hatha Yoga, in which the physical exercises (asanas) are required. In Kundalini Yoga, asanas are also practiced, but in a different way and with a different focus.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini Yoga was brought to the west by Yogi Bhajan from northern India in the late 1960s. In this yoga style, the focus is on awakening our energy, through which we gain access to deep meditation, love and a higher consciousness. The goal of Kundalini Yoga is to transcend our self-created limits and to experience unity with the divine.
To achieve this goal, we need regular spiritual practice. Kundalini Yoga gives us the techniques for this practice in the form of exercises to purify and strengthen the entire body-mind system. In doing so, we learn to awaken our energy and direct it in a targeted manner.
What does Kundalini Yoga actually mean
Literally, Kundalini means 'the rolled up'. This means a sleeping snake that is curled up in 3½ coils at the lower end of the spine. It symbolizes our energy slumbering there and the creative power in people that is waiting to be awakened to lead us on the way to enlightenment.
What are the characteristics of Kundalini Yoga?
While in Hatha Yoga different exercises (asanas) are repeatedly combined into creative sequences, Kundalini Yoga is characterized by fixed series of exercises (Kriyas).
The special thing about Kundalini exercises is that they are usually performed dynamically for several minutes each. The intense physical experience creates a strong energetic effect that cannot be compared with any other yoga style.
Another characteristic is that Kundalini Yoga practitioners mostly wear white clothes and often also a white turban. The turban should prevent the energy from escaping through the crown of the head.
What are the components of Kundalini Yoga?
The Kundalini Kriyas, which are also known as purification exercises, always consist of three elements:
- Physical exercises (asanas),
- Breathing exercises (pranayama)
- Meditation (Dhyana)
These are often combined with special hand postures (mudras), strengthening repetitions of words (mantras) and directing energy (bandhas). One focus is always on the cleansing of the energy centers (chakras) of the body.
What are the benefits of Kundalini Yoga?
The special combination of breath, movement and meditation awakens and lifts our energy. At the same time, there is a deep inner calm and a feeling of lively equilibrium. Often, practitioners experience an intense sense of connectedness with themselves and all that exists.
Is there a difference between Kundalini Yoga and classical yoga?
Kundalini Yoga is related to other forms of yoga such as Hatha Yoga, but in many exercises it is more dynamic because it focuses strongly on feeling one's own life energy. The breath plays a particularly central role and is not only consciously guided throughout the practice, but also used specifically to direct the energy in the body. This turns the practice into a dynamic meditation at the same time. In addition, each series of exercises contains deepening mindfulness exercises that focus on inner movements of the mind and the energy in the body.
The activating effect of Kundalini Yoga
The systematically structured exercises first activate the energy in the body in order to make it flow. Through this flow, prana (life energy) reaches all energy centers (chakras) and flows through all energy channels (nadis). These are cleared of blockages and strengthened by the supply of fresh energy.
How does Kundalini Yoga affect the body & mind?
From a solid point of view, our body is freed from tension and toxins through the exercises. From a subtle point of view, our energy body becomes purer and clearer, which frees access to higher levels of consciousness.
The kriyas also serve the mental and physical preparation for new states of consciousness, as these can develop a great power.
In order to really understand the special effects of Kundalini Yoga, it has to be experienced practically. While you can probably feel the effect on the solid body from the first time, the cleansing effect on the chakras and nadis will only show through regular practice.
Kundalini Yoga affects all seven chakras , which line up from the lowest point in the pelvis to the crown of the head. Thus, the spine is a central area that is addressed in many exercises - especially through dynamic rotations, forward and backward bends.
The exercises also have a stimulating, massage-like effect on the internal organs. This stimulates our metabolism, digestion and detoxification.
What effects does Kundalini Yoga have on health?
- Refined body awareness
- Increased ability to concentrate
- Greater sensitivity for your own well-being, which enables a better perception of your own capacities and limits
- Activation and strengthening of all body systems (heart, circulatory, nervous, immune, lymphatic and glandular systems)
- Promotion of stamina, flexibility and willpower
- Resilience and balance for a more relaxed approach to everyday challenges
For whom are Kundalini yoga exercises suitable?
In principle, Kundalini Yoga is suitable for all people. Depending on the physical and mental requirements, the exercises should be individually adapted. Pregnant women, for example, should omit breathing exercises such as fire breathing and holding their breath.
Which Kundalini yoga exercises are particularly suitable for beginners and advanced practitioners?
Intensive stretches and complex exercises such as the headstand do not occur in Kundalini Yoga. Rather, the intensity is increased by the duration of the exercises and the active involvement of the breath. Thus, the same kriyas can be practiced by beginners as well as advanced. The duration and type of execution can vary, but the order should not be changed.
Can a beginner practice Kundalini Yoga at home?
In order to learn the series of exercises and how to do them correctly, beginners should practice under the supervision and guidance of an experienced teacher at the beginning. As soon as we feel confident enough in the exercises, it is highly recommended to do the practice at home in addition to the class.
Every exercise should be started calmly and slowly, with the support of strong breathing. Over time, the movements can become faster and more dynamic in order to increase the energetic effect of the exercise series. Practitioners should always pay close attention to their circulation and reduce the pace in good time if it is no longer good for them
Kundalini Yoga: These exercises stimulate the body & Spirit
In Kundalini Yoga there are around 50 basic exercises, from which countless other movements are derived.
What are the popular series of exercises (Kriyas) in Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini Yoga offers us an abundance of series of exercises called kriyas. Many of them are hundreds of years old and have been put together by particularly experienced yogis to produce very specific healing and cleansing effects. The effect is always aimed at the energy that, depending on the Kriya, should be awakened, experienced, stimulated, purified and balanced.
Popular kriyas are for example:
- Awakening to your ten bodies
- Experiencing the original you
- Purifying the Self
- Stimulate your Chakra system and feel wonderful
- Balancing the aura
Some of the most important yoga exercises that are part of many kriyas:
One of the most basic exercises that should be done every day for at least 3 minutes.
Execution: Sitting on the heel stretch out your arms upwards and cross your hands except for your index fingers. Practice the fire breath for three minutes or longer.
Effect: This gives the abdominal organs a rhythmic massage, causing waves of energy to circulate through the body.
Execution: While sitting, stretch your arms upwards. The fingertips press on the balls of the fingers, only the thumbs are stretched towards the sky. Fire breathing with your eyes closed for 1-3 minutes.
Effect: Concentration by directing the mental focus on the point above the crown of the head.
Execution: In the supine position, lift your head and heels briefly above the floor and hold them. Focus on the toes that you are sticking away from you. Extend your arms along the sides of your body. Depending on the level, fire breathing for 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
Effect: Activates the Manipura Chakra, strengthens the abdominal muscles and self-confidence
Execution: In a long lunge, align the front foot forward and the back foot across it. Bend your front leg while keeping your back straight. Extend your front arm forward while you bend your back arm at the same height as if you were drawing a bow. Look purposefully over the front hand. Hold for 2-11 minutes, then switch sides.
Effect: Strengthening the leg muscles, developing courage and willpower (Manipura Chakra)
Execution: While sitting, stretch your legs forward and bend your upper body forward. Hold the position for 2-11 minutes.
Effect: Release tension on the back of the body, energetic balance and refreshment.
Execution: While sitting cross-legged, raise your arms bent in front of your body. The thumb and forefinger of your hands touch each other (Gyan Mudra). Close your eyes to 9/10. Rotate your hands up and down as fast as you can, as if in a circular orbit. After 11 minutes, stretch your arms over your head and breathe deeply for 1 minute.
Effect: Activating stimulant in the morning.
Execution: While sitting, circle your shoulders to the rhythm of your breath. With the inhalation forwards and upwards, with the exhalation backwards and downwards.
Effect: Lightness and joy by releasing physical and emotional tension in the area of the shoulders.
Kundalini Yoga Meditation: Developing Inner Powers
Meditation plays a central role in Kundalini Yoga. Through the exercises we not only strengthen the body, but also the mind at the same time and develop an ever finer awareness of their connection. So we realize that our mind can only come to rest when we can relax ourselves and our body.
What types of meditation are popular in Kundalini Yoga?
There are very helpful techniques for relaxing the mind, some of which are very commonly used in Kundalini Yoga. These techniques are always about giving the mind focus or an object of concentration. These can be words (mantra meditation), hand positions (mudra meditation) or the breath (breath meditation). Often the focus is also directed to certain points in the body where our energy centers (chakras) are located, e.g. B. the lowest point of the pelvis (Muladhara Chakra), the point in the middle of the chest (Anahata Chakra) or the point between the eyebrows (Ajna Chakra).
What are popular meditation exercises?
Probably the most common Kundalini meditation is the concentration on the mantra "Sat Nam". This is repeated continuously during the Kriya in the rhythm of the breath: Sat on the inhalation and Nam on the exhalation. The mantra can be spoken aloud, whispered or repeated silently in the mind. The words come from au, the holy Indian “holy” language Gurmukhi and mean true identity (“Sat” = truth; “Nam” = identity). The mantra is supposed to remind us of who we really are.
Pranayama in Kundalini Yoga
"Prana" means energy and "Ayama" means "control". We absorb the life energy Prana through the breath and give off old, used energy again. If we guide the breath in a certain way, we can consciously control this exchange.
Through breathing exercises we not only learn to consciously perceive our breath again, but also to get our life energy to flow and to direct it to the places in the body where we need it most.
What does pranayama have to do with Kundalini Yoga?
How we breathe has a direct effect on our energy level and thus also on our mood. Since the main goal of Kundalini Yoga is to activate our energy, breathing exercises play a much larger role here than in other yoga styles. We can feel the effect of the breathing exercises immediately.
What are popular Pranayama breathing exercises? (e.g. the fire breath)
The two most important breathing techniques in Kundalini Yoga are the long, deep breath and the fire breath. The long, deep breath is very relaxing and gives us a feeling of inner peace. We try to let the breath flow as long and deeply as possible.
The fire breath has a stimulating and cleansing effect in the body and gives a lot of energy. Through the intermittent exhalation, the abdominal organs experience an intensive massage, which supports detoxification processes.
How does the fire breath work?
In the fire breath (Kapalabhati) one breathes out in bursts, whereby the abdominal wall is actively drawn inwards each time. Inhalation takes place passively in the brief moment when we let go of the abdominal wall and it arches forward in a relaxed manner. In this way, the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm are addressed. The fire breath can be practiced slowly and calmly or very quickly. The faster the rhythm, the more intense the activating effect.
Kundalini Yoga is a unique form of yoga with its dynamic and meditative exercises. The energetic effect on our body and mind is always more important than improving mobility and strength.
Especially people who are open to spirituality will find Kundalini Yoga a powerful method for self-awareness. Through regular practice, we can develop a very fine feel for our body and our energy