Starting the year with Kundalini yoga is a good way to cultivate positive energy. But what is kundalini yoga and its benefits?
What is Kundalini Yoga?
Derived from the Sanskrit word “kundal,” which means “coiled energy,” Kundalini yoga is a deeply spiritual practice. It combines asana, pranayama, and meditation with chanting and singing. More importantly, it helps unlock the energy in the base of the spine and through the seven chakras.
Kundalini yoga is an ancient practice, but the great Yogi Bhajan introduced it to the West in the late 70s. Each Kundalini class includes an opening chant, a warm-up for your spine, a kriya, and a closing meditation or song. A kriya is a sequence of postures, and each posture is paired with a breathing technique.
While it is largely spiritual, expect each class to still be physically challenging. In Kundalini yoga, each posture is typically practice in repetition for several minutes at a time—this helps harness your energy.
Finally, a common chant used in Kundalini is “Sat Nam,” which means “I am truth.”
What are the benefits of Kundalini Yoga?
Apart from the general physical benefits of yoga, practicing Kundalini yoga has a plethora of mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits. Check them out below.
1. It helps clear energetic blockages.
The chakras are wheels of energy located in the body. Each person has seven main chakras, and each one corresponds to a different emotions and levels of consciousness. The root chakra, for example, is associated with feelings of grounding, safety, and security.
Your chakras can end up blocked or imbalanced, and this can affect your overall health and being. Kundalini yoga helps reawaken and rebalance your chakras, with the help of asana, meditation, and sound.
According to Yoga Journal, “Kundalini energy rests like a coiled serpent at the base of your spine.” When this energy travels up the spine, it helps stimulate the chakras. You may feel positive, abundant, and refreshed after each Kundalini practice. This is known as a Kundalini awakening.
2. It helps connect you with the divine.
Because each posture is accompanied by a breathing technique, practicing Kundalini helps clear mental fog. In general, pranayama helps you feel a lot calmer and focused. And this way, you can help develop a stronger, more intuitive consciousness.
With an awakened consciousness and an activated Crown chakra, you can look forward to connecting with the divine.
Whether this means connecting with the divine in a religious context, or simply with the divine within, the practice of Kundalini yoga reminds you that you can believe in something beyond yourself.
3. It helps you become more intuitive.
What is intuition, really? By definition, intuition helps you understand something without the need for logic or reasoning. This does not mean abandoning logic, but it simply means learning how to trust yourself.
Developing your intuition has a whole lot of benefits. You can learn to listen to your body more—exercising when your body craves for movement, resting when your body needs rest, and eating when you’re hungry.
Most importantly, harnessing your intuition helps you identify your purpose and follow your heart. It helps you become an overall happier person, free from anything holding you back!
3 Kundalini Yoga Poses You Can Do
It’s helpful to learn about Kundalini yoga and its benefits, but you can gain a better appreciation of the practice if you learn a bit about its signature postures.
1. Spinal Flexes
Kundalini yoga emphasizes the energy located at the base of the spine. This exercise brings your spine into flexion and extension, helping rehydrate your vertebral column and stimulate your nervous system.
Sit down in Sukhasana. Rest your hands on top of your knees, or just in front of your ankles. Then, inhale and push your heart forward. Spread the collarbones. Feel the slight arch in your low back.
Next, exhale and round your spine. Draw the belly in and feel your mid-upper back dome up. Bring the chin to the chest. These spinal flexes are very similar to your Cat and Cow Pose, both in sensation and benefits.
2. Sufi Grind Pose
Still in Sukhasana, start to make circles with your torso. You can do this by drawing the belly in, then moving your ribcage in a clockwise motion.
Inhale, bring the chest forward. Exhale, bring the chest over to the right side and back on top of the hips. Do this a few times, before switching directions.
Your Sufi Grind helps improve mobility across the spine, and also helps massage the abdominal muscles and internal organs.
3. Ego Eradicator
According to yoga teacher Joanne Moules, this pose “plugs us into higher realms” and “[balances] the two hemispheres of the brain.” Ego Eradicator promotes mental clarity and calms the mind.
Sit down in Sukhasana. Breathe in deeply, and breathe out completely. Raise your arms slightly above the shoulders. Bring the fingers in, leaving the thumbs pointing up to the sky.
Close your eyes, and focus on your Third Eye chakra. Remember that Kundalini yoga is typically practiced with breathing exercises and meditation. You can accompany this pose with Breath of Fire.