Updated: Mar 23, 2021
I recently put myself up to an exciting dare: trying Kundalini Yoga for the first time in my life, and practice it rigorously every morning over a period of 2 weeks.
I normally practice Dynamic (hot) Vinyasa Yoga, combined with Yin Yoga and meditation but I must admit that I have always been curious about Kundalini Yoga. Without really knowing what it entails, I had heard lots of vague things about it and was eager to try it for myself, to see what it was really all about.
As this is happening during the COVID-19 lockdown here in South London, my Kundalini challenge had to be done from home and so on Monday 30th March 2020, I went on www.gaia.com to find a series for beginners with Guru Jagat ; Here we go... to the mat!
What is Kundalini Yoga?
Personally, I've always felt drawn to it as it just seems to go a bit more in depth spiritually than other physical yoga styles. Some people have described it as life changing, having quick positive results and benefits: success in business, fulfilling love life, end of bad habits, weight loss, and spiritual awakening just to name a few.
I have heard people talk about their first Kundalini Awakening. It is usually experienced as an intense energy felt throughout the body, starting from our first chakra Muladhara (located near the coccyx at the base of our spine) all the way up to our Crown chakra (at the top of the head)... allowing your inner self and the universe to unfold before you, showing you the magic and the unity of it all. I find this particularly interesting and can only hope to get a glimpse of it one day, perhaps after years of meditation, mantras and physical practice.
However there seems to be a dark side to Kundalini Yoga that has always spooked me out a little and perhaps is the reason why I haven't tried it until now ... some say that one needs to be cautious of the coiled serpent (Kundalini Awakening), for it can be dangerous and needs to be guided - especially if the individual experiencing it isn't mature enough and is feeling more than they can handle... I also know that some people don't take Kundalini Yoga seriously and quite frankly stay away from it as they associate it with a secte (probably because they follow a Guru). There have also been some serious accusations made recently towards the founder of Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Bhajan (Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage)
My Experience of Kundalini Yoga:
What I discovered through my own daily practice with Guru Jagat’s instructions, as well as numerous documentaries and articles I dived into during those 15 days, is quite interesting.
"KUNDA" in Sanskrit, literally means to be confined (coiled) and could be understood as someone feeling all tight inside and unhappy.
"LINI" means to blossom, like a flower opening up. This could be a metaphor for one who has managed to awaken and untie the inner self, layer by layer, and access his full potential.
From my understanding, the main purpose of a Kundalini Practice, through the repetition of holding specific postures, mantras, and breathing techniques is to activate that FULL VITAL ENERGY we all have inside of us, unfortunately usually dormant throughout our whole adult lives.
5 Top Highlights I Took From My Practice:
1) VIBRATING SOUNDS - from the first class until the very last one, we sang opening mantras, seed mantras during the exercises, but also closing mantras/blessings at the end of the practice. SO MANY MANTRAS! At first it seemed a little strange, mainly because it was new to me and also because the mantras weren't always translated from Gurmukhi (sacred language of the Sikhs/Punjabi which means "from the mouth of the Guru"). The words felt powerful because of their sound and the frequency they resonated throughout my whole body. They didn't quite need a definition, but rather to be repeated. I definitely got to love it and remain curious about the long-term effects of meditating on specific mantras. I had not experienced this amount of chanting in any other yoga class and will certainly incorporate this in my routine going forward. I also discovered the Kirtan music genre, which lead me to great singers such as Krishna Das and Ajeet Kaur, have a listen, it’s quite marvelous.
2) CLARITY - results do come fast in Kundalini Yoga. Even just after the first exercises, I can say that I started to see clearer and breath better, like a whole new quality of energy had been brought to me. I noticed that I instantly felt lighter and incredibly grateful to be alive. I would describe it as the “brain fog” being removed from my mind. I suppose this is because a lot of the poses are meant to work on the nervous system and so it felt like my body was being wired up properly. This is a totally different experience from what I have felt in any previous yoga or meditation practice, for sure. Some of the sequences, even short, literally bring life into you and give you a solid focus.
3) BREAKING MENTAL BARRIERS - challenging, is one way to describe Kundalini Yoga. Some of the “simple” exercises and poses these guys were holding, forever by the way, felt really hard to keep up with at times. Let me tell you that when I had to try to hold my arms straight over my head with my thumbs up in the air for full on 3 minutes, without lowering them, it started to get interesting. Eventually I got to discover that it was really just my mind getting in the way, my arms were fine. We’re so used to giving up easily when something doesn’t feel comfortable, it’s almost automatic. The breath-work and mantras really helped me to hold strong, and after a while, what seemed horrible at first started to feel great eventually. This just goes to show that we are capable of SO MUCH more than we give ourselves credit for. That is such a beautiful experience within self-discovery. Kundalini Yoga was a great reminder of that and empowered me.
4) BUILDING UP INNER FIRE – the funny thing about Kundalini Yoga is that without even leaving your seated or lying position, you are going to FEEL - THAT - HEAT streaming through your body. MASSIVE ENERGY DOSE. From the “breath of fire” to the yogi-sit-ups and the “frog jumps”, I got my blood flowing alright. Kundalini Yoga clearly seems to be a strong and powerful spiritual practice, focusing on building up heat and energy in the body. This is great for rejuvenation and higher vibrations: I often felt extremely creative, happy, confident and energised after a session. What's great is that gradually this "fire feeling" became part of my routine, I would take this with me and make it my own during other activities as well such as running or Vinyasa Yoga... I believe this is something I will always keep with me from now on.
5) ALIGNING THE CHAKRAS – throughout every move, breath and sound, I could literally feel how we were working the spine towards the activation of all the 7 chakras (KUNDALINI AWAKENING!!!) Most of the poses we did were done on the mat: sitting or lying on the back, with lots of circular movements (long and fast paced cat-cows for example), hands up in the air sending the heat to the crown of the head. What I really liked is the fact that there were plenty of explanation and visualisations given from Guru Jagat on this, which definitely helped me to get a better sense of my own energy and somewhat locate it in different parts of my body. To my pleasant surprise I can honestly say that I did start to feel some new sensations towards the end of the second week, very mild, but sensations still. I'll keep digging!
Last words ♡
I will end this by saying that there are many types of yoga out there, but ultimately, it’s all just about taking the time to connect with yourself, the universe, others, and the divine. Yoga is so much more than a physical practice. I invite you to document yourself on its origin, history and purpose ; it is fascinating. Yoga truly is a way of being your most authentic self, all the while living in unity with the world and interacting kindly with others. It has love written all over it!
Whatever it is folks, It’s always BEAUTIFUL to take time to dive into a flow state: should it be a yoga session, an outdoors activity with a friend, or a quiet moment at home with a cosy cup of tea and a book. We are human beings, not human doings - it’s important to leave responsibilities to the side time to time and actually feel the life inside of you.
If you make it a priority to explore yourself, you will quickly see that your body, mind and spirit are extraordinary - if you give them the right fuel, they will shine and dance a thousand times for you.
Sat Nam truth is my identity ☼