Recently, a woman I met 18 months ago, & whom I really like & respect, asked me what I got out of doing Kundalini yoga, what got me up in the morning to practice. You see, in addition to taking classes, I do practice on my own, with the help of a book I bought. So I’ve been thinking about that a lot.
Part of it is the physical exercise, of course. & this type of yoga is perfect for me in that it’s quite active. Those of you familiar with other types of yoga know that they mostly involve fairly static asanas (aka poses). In Kundalini yoga, on the other hand, you are often moving throughout the exercise. The other thing that’s different is that the asana, whether static or active, is held longer, sometimes for as long as five minutes! Of course, during that time, if you need to, you can come out of the pose, rest, & then go back into it. I have been excited to find I can now do poses that I couldn’t a year ago; my body is definitely becoming stronger & more limber. Flexibility has always been an issue for me, so this is gratifying.
One of the hardest things for me when first doing Kundalini is that many of the asanas are done in what’s called “easy seated pose.” This is sitting in what is now called pretzel style (the non-PC term of my childhood was Indian style). I recently apologized to my teacher for giving her grief about that term “easy” in one of my early classes – even as a young child, sitting like that was never comfortable for me! With the help of a pillow (& another sign of progress: I recently had to buy a lower one) I can now sit like this quite comfortably & for quite some time, but it was really difficult at first.
Most other yoga styles in the West really focus on the asanas, the physical piece of the practice. In truth there are other aspects of yoga that are also very powerful. Prana, or breath work, is one aspect of yoga that Kundalini includes, & that I love. Often during an asana, we do what’s called Breath of Fire. It is a panting breath, through the nose, and you really draw in your tummy muscles as you powerfully exhale. It’s highly detoxifying and intensifies the effect of a pose. Alternate nostril breathing, where you close off one nostril on the inhale & the other on the exhale, is another example of prana that is used in Kundalini yoga.
And of course, the mantra/meditation piece of Kundalini yoga is what first brought me to this practice. Chanting on a regular basis has brought me so much! So much peace, so much joy, so much ease. I feel like I don’t have to struggle any longer with life. It truly is amazing. I have a sense of flow, something I’ve witnessed & wondered at in a few friends over the years, but which I’ve never felt before. This is quite recent, within the last 3-4 months, I’d say… new enough that I’m still wondering if it will last. More & more, I’m settling into this fresh sense of well-being, learning to trust the universe at a level more profound than ever before. What a blessing!
The goal of Kundalini yoga is the free flow of energy through the body’s chakra system. All the asanas, breath work, chanting, and other activities are put together in such a way as to put you on a fast track to achieve this goal. In my experience, it works!