Welcome to the world of Kundalini Yoga, where a harmonious blend of physical and spiritual practices can unlock your true potential. In this transformative article, we look at the powerful benefits of Kundalini Yoga and how it can help you achieve holistic well-being.
Explore the range of techniques and practices that make Kundalini a catalyst for self-transformation, helping you to face life’s challenges with greater ease.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini is the most spiritual yoga style, combining movement, breathing, meditation, chanting, and mantras.
The goal is to make the body stronger and more energetic and, more importantly, to increase self-awareness and consciousness.
Compared to most other types of yoga, Kundalini focuses on energy rather than the body.
The name comes from the Sanskrit word kundal, which means “coiled energy.” In this process, the kundalini energy, which rests at the base of the spine, is said to be awakened and rises through the energy channels in the body.
Kundalini is often depicted as a snake traveling up the spine to the crown of the head, activating the seven chakras (energy centers).
Once the energy is activated and rises to the highest chakra (crown chakra), it is said to lead to enlightenment or other heightened states of consciousness. Therefore, Kundalini should be practiced with experienced teachers.
In its beginnings, Kundalini was a study of energy science and spiritual philosophy. It is a very ancient and perhaps the first yoga practice, but it only gained notoriety in the Western world in the late 1970s through Yogi Bhajan.
The ancient teachings of Kundalini yoga were kept secret for a long time and were reserved only for kings and nobles for thousands of years.
Is Kundalini Yoga dangerous?
Many people respect practicing Kundalini yoga because it can lead to an intense awakening. Due to the amount of energy released, it may awaken repressed emotions and feelings.
How this awakening is experienced is very individual and depends on past experiences and current life circumstances. For some, the experience can be blissful and filled with love and deep connection. For others, it can feel like a bad trip, with practitioners experiencing anxiety, insomnia, or depression.
However, these effects usually pass and can be reduced under the guidance of an experienced Kundalini yoga teacher.
Hatha vs. Kundalini Yoga
While Kundalini is more spiritual, Hatha yoga focuses on body exercises and conscious breathing.
Kundalini differs from body-based forms of yoga and places energy at the center of the practice.
It includes Hatha yoga postures but goes beyond them by incorporating breathing exercises, meditation, and chanting to direct energy.
Vinyasa vs. Kundalini Yoga
Vinyasa yoga is dynamic and body-based. You flow through the different postures in sync with your breath.
In Kundalini yoga, the exercises are more precise and repetitive. It combines movement with breathing exercises, meditation, and chanting, repeating in specific patterns to activate Kundalini energy systematically.
Kundalini Yoga vs. Kriya Yoga
While Kundalini-Yoga focuses on awakening the Kundalini energy, Kriya-Yoga focuses on purifying the body and mind by activating prana (primal energy).
Kriya means “action.” A specific sequence of actions, such as conscious breathing, postures, and self-awareness, harmonizes body, mind, and spirit.
Kriya yoga aims at spiritual growth, finding oneself, and achieving unity consciousness.
In Kundalini Yoga, specific exercises (Kriyas) are practiced to purify the body and mind to awaken the Kundalini energy.
Kundalini Yoga Techniques
- Postures (asanas)
- Hand movements to direct energy (mudras)
- Word repetitions and affirmations (mantras)
- Breathing exercises to control and direct energy (pranayama)
- Closures (bandhas) to hold and direct energy in the body
- Focus on energy centers (chakra cleansing)
Is Kundalini Yoga Suitable for Beginners?
Kundalini-Yoga is suitable for beginners, especially for people open to a spiritual experience.
It does not require any special knowledge or skills, but you should have curiosity and interest in meditation, breathing exercises, and mantras.
What Can I Expect From a Class?
A typical Kundalini Yoga class usually lasts 90 minutes and consists of four parts:
- An opening chant or mantra
- Followed by a short warm-up to mobilize the spine
- A kriya (sequence of postures combined with breathing techniques)
- And a closing meditation or song
Chanting and singing are essential components of Kundalini practice. A familiar chant in a Kundalini class is Sat Nam, which means “I am Truth.”
Each kriya (Sanskrit for “action”) combines a yoga posture with a breathing technique, mindfulness, a mantra or meditation. Between poses, you have a minute or two to relax and turn your focus inward.
When you come to a Kundalini Yoga class, it is common to see mostly white clothing. White is said to ward off negative energy and expand one’s aura. Teachers sometimes wear turbans or white head coverings to direct energy to the third eye or ajna chakra. It gives a sense of calm and symbolizes dedication to the practice.
However, you do not necessarily have to be dressed in white from head to toe.
Benefits of Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini yoga has numerous scientifically proven benefits. It improves cognitive ability, reduces anxiety, and increases mood and self-awareness.
It has even been proven that the techniques activate specific parts of the brain that increase consciousness and act on the nervous system.
Thus, Kundalini yoga strengthens the body and fosters heightened consciousness levels that can lead to spiritual enlightenment.
1. Boosts Cognitive Function
Researchers studied 81 subjects with mild cognitive impairment.
Those people who completed a 12-week Kundalini program were able to improve concentration and memory.
They generally increased logical thinking, problem-solving, and cognitive flexibility.
As a result, the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation recommends kundalini kriya to improve memory (Eyre et al. 20171).
2. Increases Flexibility
Kundalini yoga has been shown to help increase flexibility. A study of 60 female students who participated found that both the asanas and practices of the simplified Kundalini program significantly improved flexibility.
Flexibility was measured using a sit and reach box, with the unit of measurement given in inches (Rajam et al. 20172).
3. Helps With Diabetes
Several recent genomic studies in dementia patients and healthy adults suggest that meditative yoga practices in particular, such as Kundalini yoga, may have the following benefits:
- Slower cellular aging
- Epigenetic changes in metabolic pathways
- Reduction of inflammation
- Improvement of energy metabolism
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Other positive mitochondrial functions
These changes help improve stress response, blood glucose, blood pressure, mood, and sleep, which may help manage type 2 diabetes (Innes et al. 20163).
4. Reduces Anxiety
In a controlled study, researchers studied women aged 24 to 75 with generalized anxiety disorder.
The 8-week Kundalini intervention resulted in lower anxiety levels than treatment in the usual condition.
The researchers concluded that Kundalini yoga may be a promising method for treating anxiety disorders (Gabriel et al. 20184).
5. Boosts Mood
In a clinical study, practicing Kundalini yoga for 3-6 months increased the release of serotonin and melatonin.
While melatonin is instrumental for a healthy sleep-wake cycle, the happiness hormone serotonin boosts mood.
Similarly, significant stress hormone cortisol, resting heart rate, and blood pressure reductions were found in participants after completing the Kundalini program (Devi et al. 19865).
6. Reduces Stress
Stress is an organism imbalance in response to a perceived demand from the environment.
Yoga can help reduce stress and associated anxiety.
With Kundalini yoga, researchers have found an immediate effect on salivary cortisol levels and feelings of stress after three months of practice (Garcia-Sesnich et al. 20176).
7. Enhances Self-Awareness
Kundalini yoga can improve body awareness and self-acceptance, according to a study of nine women who struggled with bulimia and anorexia.
The researchers stated that this yoga practice can help treat eating disorders by increasing awareness and self-esteem (Concha Mirauda et al. 20177).
Kundalini Yoga Poses for Beginners
These postures are designed to help activate kundalini energy and are well-suited for beginners. Generally, they are not difficult to practice but become more challenging if the poses are long.
This exercise is predominantly practiced in Kundalini yoga and focuses on your core:
- Get into a supine position with your arms close to your body.
- With an inhalation, pull your left knee toward your chest. At the same time, bring your right arm back over your head.
- As you exhale, return your leg and arm to an extended position and repeat the exercise on the other side: pull your right knee to your chest and bring your left arm back over your head.
- Alternate sides for up to 3 minutes in rhythm with your breath.
- Focus on the solar plexus (navel chakra) to further fuel the energy.
The cobra pose or Bhujangasana is among the backbends. It involves stretching and opening the front of the body, especially the chest, and strengthening the back of the body:
- Get into the prone position, stretch your legs and toes back, and actively push the backs of your feet to the floor.
- Place your hands under your shoulders, close to your chest. Fingers point forward. Bend the elbows to point straight back and are above the wrists. Pull the shoulders back and down as you do this.
- With an inhalation, lift the chest off the mat, drawing the collarbone long and the shoulder blades back together.
- Make sure that the power of the movement comes from the back. The arms can support the process slightly but not bear any weight. Keep your elbows close to your torso at all times.
- Raise your head last. Traditionally, your gaze goes upward when you do this. However, avoid hyperextending your head in this posture if you have a sensitive neck. The look can be straight ahead or slightly forward on the floor.
- Hold the cobra for up to 30 seconds, breathing deeply.
- Return to the starting position.
Archer should give you the feeling of confidence and fearlessness, like a warrior:
- Stand up straight so that your feet touch. Then, turn your right foot out about 45 degrees.
- Take a big step back with your right foot and straighten your leg. Bend your left knee, but make sure it doesn’t go past your left ankle.
- Extend your arms forward to shoulder height. Clench both hands into fists and point the thumbs upward.
- Turn the upper body to the left. At the same time, bend your right elbow and bring your right fist to your right armpit as if you were making a bow.
- Look forward over your left thumb and breathe deeply while holding this position for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Repeat the posture on the other side.
- To make the exercise even more powerful, combine it with Fire Breath.
A popular breathing exercise in Kundalini yoga is the fire breath, Kapalabhati.
This breathing can boost metabolism, warm you from within, bring you into the present moment, and prepare you for meditation. In addition, this breathing technique activates the solar plexus chakra, which helps you persevere through challenging situations.
Here’s how Fire Breath works:
- Exhale forcefully with your nose, pulling your belly toward your spine.
- Focus purely on the exhalation, so the inhalation happens only briefly and almost passively.
- Repeat the exercise for 30 breaths.
Kundalini yoga is a very spiritual practice. While other styles are more body-based, Kundalini combines chanting, meditation, movements, and breathing in specific patterns.
The practice focuses on kundalini energy, which is said to be awakened in the process and lead to enlightenment or other higher states of consciousness.
There are several scientifically proven benefits of Kundalini. According to research, it can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve cognitive abilities, and increase self-awareness and self-esteem.
Kundalini yoga is something you have to experience for yourself. If you are interested in spiritual development, you should try it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What to expect from Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini practice combines postures with breathing techniques, meditation, mantras, mudras, and chanting. Compared to most other types of yoga, Kundalini focuses not on the body but on awakening and directing energy.
Why is Kundalini Yoga so powerful?
Kundalini is a very spiritual practice that aims to increase self-awareness and consciousness. It involves awakening the Kundalini energy, which rests at the base of the spine, and allowing it to rise through the energy channels in the body.
Who is Kundalini Yoga suitable for?
Kundalini-Yoga is suitable for beginners and advanced practitioners interested in deepening or expanding their spiritual practice.
Why does one wear white clothes in Kundalini Yoga?
In Kundalini, white is said to block negative energy, symbolize devotion to the practice, project positive energy into the world, and expand one’s aura.
What does Kundalini yoga feel like?
Kundalini feels equally activating, warming, and inwardly calming. Practitioners often perceive a deep connection to themselves and their outer world.
Why was Kundalini yoga kept a secret?
Kundalini yoga was kept secret until the late 1970s because these ancient teachings were reserved only for kings and nobles for thousands of years.
What are the three types of Kundalini?
The three aspects of Kundalini are Para Kundalini, Chit Kundalini, and Prana Kundalini.
What are the stages of Kundalini awakening?
The five Kundalini awakening stages are stepping onto the path, activation, purification, transformation, and harmony.
1Eyre, H. A., Siddarth, P., Acevedo, B., Dyk, K. V., Paholpak, P., Ercoli, L., Cyr, N. S., Yang, H., Khalsa, D. S., & Lavretsky, H. (2017). A randomized controlled trial of Kundalini yoga in mild cognitive impairment. International Psychogeriatrics, 29(4), 557-567. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1041610216002155
2Rajam, A., Saradha, M., & Nagarasan, K. (2017). Influence Of Asana And Simplified Kundalini Yoga On Flexibility On College Woman Students.
3Innes, K. E., & Selfe, T. K. (2016). Yoga for Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review of Controlled Trials. Journal of Diabetes Research, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/6979370
4Gabriel, M. G., Curtiss, J., Hofmann, S. G., & Khalsa, S. B. S. (2018). Kundalini Yoga for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: An Exploration of Treatment Efficacy and Possible Mechanisms. International journal of yoga therapy, 28(1), 97–105. https://doi.org/10.17761/2018-00003
5Devi, S. K., N. Chansauria, J. P., & Udupa, K. N. (1986). MENTAL DEPRESSION AND KUNDALINI YOGA. Ancient Science of Life, 6(2), 112-118. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3331403/
6García-Sesnich, J. N., Flores, M. G., Ríos, M. H., & Aravena, J. G. (2017). Longitudinal and Immediate Effect of Kundalini Yoga on Salivary Levels of Cortisol and Activity of Alpha-Amylase and Its Effect on Perceived Stress. International Journal of Yoga, 10(2), 73-80. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_45_16
7Concha Mirauda, D., Cruzat-Mandich, C., Moore, C., Ugarte, M. L., & Díaz-Castrillón, F. (2016). Kundalini yoga in women with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: A qualitative research. Revista Mexicana de Trastornos Alimentarios, 8(1), 82-94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rmta.2017.01.005
Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.
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