Kundalini is the type of yoga, which is a blended form of the Bhakti, Shakti and Raja yoga respectively; combining chanting and devotion, physical and mental control, and energy and power expression. It is ideally taught in many yoga classes across the United States; leaving participants feeling as if they just had therapy or an amazing gym workout.
The rationale of Kundalini yoga is providing a technique by which individuals are able to achieve maximum creativity, freeing themselves from the lasting impact of their past behaviors. It helps many individuals realize their lifelong purpose. With this type of yoga, the participant can experience an awakening; just like being presented with a winning secret code or finding freedom where it did not exist.
The Kundalini yoga was initially introduced in the latter 1970s by Yogi Bhajan. It comes from the Sanskrit root word, “kundal,” and is translated as ‘coiled energy.’ The concept is that all of us have energy collected at the base of the spine, but by practicing Kundalini, the energy is brought to the crown of the head through our seven chakras.
This exercise allows participants to naturally unfold their own natural instinct through a growth process. Similar to a snake that sheds its old skin, this kind of yoga helps people to become exactly who they were created to be. So, in other words, the ultimate goal is to be more self-aware by silencing the mind and removing blocks from the chakras with the intention of allowing energy to flow freely.
The Demanding Exercises
Be aware that while practicing Kundalini, you have to do some very demanding breathing exercises in combination with meditation and asanas. The exercises are repetitive and lengthy because it warrants moving energy around in different areas of the body.
For a long time, this ancient teaching was secretly kept; only being taught to nobility and royalty for thousands of years. It wasn’t until Yogi Bhajan introduced it to the western world that it became popular and opened to the public. There are several reasons why it became so popular and this had to do primarily with the benefits that it offered.
The Health Benefits
Now that we have discussed ‘what is kundalini yoga,’ let us look closely at its benefits. It has a considerable effect on your psychological and physical well being. It reduces a high level of stress, improves your mood, and speeds up your metabolism. Let’s unpack all of this below.
While practicing the exercises, it is important to hold the postures for an extended period of time. In some cases, you have to hold it for as long as five minutes. Over time, this exercise results in toned muscles. You can also strengthen your core with breathing exercises like “Breath of Fire.” One of the main reasons is that your abdominal muscles are engaged as you exhale.
If you are looking for a way to enhance your mood, the Kundalini yoga exercise will get the job done. As long as you practice these yoga exercises regularly, you should notice an improvement in your mood because it increases serotonin production in the brain.
Reduce Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
For those who suffer from high blood pressure, repetitive Kundalini yoga exercise is instrumental in decreasing the risks associated with hypertension. The deep breathing exercises help to calm the autonomic nervous system; reducing stress and thereby reducing the heart rate and blood pressure.
Research has shown that Kundalini yoga impacts one’s cognitive abilities in a positive way; boosting it so that memory, focus, and concentration are improved. In fact, this type of yoga is recommended by one Alzheimer’s Association as a way to improve memory retention.
With a combination of postures and breathing, Kundalini yoga focuses on strengthening the diaphragm and core. In turn, this improves the digestive system and speeds up to one’s metabolism. It allows the body to process energy much more efficiently.
How is it practiced? It comprises three elements; namely the opening chant while warming up the spine, a series of postures combined with breathing exercises known as ‘kriya’ or action, and at the end, a short meditation or even a song.
Each action or kriya is paired with a breathing exercise or mediation and a pose. You can choose any pose; depending on the body part that you want to place emphasis on. So, it could be the cobra pose, if you want to strengthen the spine or it could be the warrior pose if you are focusing on tightening the buttocks or legs.
Each kriya or action uses different breathing exercises. As mentioned before the Breath of Fire is one of them that consists of quick, short breathing; similar to a panting dog. This exercise starts with sealing the lips and breathing in and out of the nose; making sure it lasts for roughly two or three short breaths each second. It is necessary that you expel the air after each breath so that you can engage your abdomen.
Singing and chanting are the two key elements of Kundalini yoga. You can recite so many different songs and mantras while practicing the different poses.
However, many yoga instructors encourage “Adi Mantra.” Its meaning is “I bow down to the subtle divine wisdom and the divine teacher within me.” “Sat Nam” is also another popular chant. Its meaning is “I am the truth.”
You should expect each yoga class to be heavily focused on meditation. At the end of each pose, you will have a few minutes for relaxation and inward focus. Once the entire set has been completed, you will also get to relax and then meditate. Before the class ends, you are guided through a mantra.
Anyone can perform Kundalini yoga, but especially people seeking an improvement in their spiritual life, improving their health, and getting a good physical workout. The Kundalini yoga practice is intense, but in the end, it also has a lot of psychological benefits to the novice and advanced yogi.