What is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini yoga is an ancient science of the spirit, a technology that helps us maintain spiritual, mental and physical well being. The word kundalini means “A lock of the hair of the beloved”, which translates into “awareness”. Many spiritual traditions use the word kundalini because we know that this energy needs to be released in order for us to progress spiritually. Kundalini energy lives at the base of your spine and travels up the spine as you activate it. Think of this energy as the blueprint of your soul’s journey. It’s what will give you the deep experience of your true self. Everyone has kundalini energy and it’s always there for you. All you have to do is tap into it – by coming to a kundalini yoga class for example!
Kundalini yoga has a reputation for being very fast and powerful because it teaches from all 8 limbs of yoga. A kundalini yoga class will start off usually with the teacher giving a talk or lesson before you get to the physical practice. Every class will include doing asanas (physical postures), pranayamas (breathing exercises), mudras (or hand and arms positions), mantras (chanting), and focusing on a certain eye gaze or (dhristie). Every class ends with a formal meditation practice, which is when you can experience the last four limbs of yoga.
For a long time, kundalini yoga was a secret practice accessible onto to those born into the right caste (class) system. Yogi Bhajan changed that in 1969 when he brought kundalini yoga to North America. He said that the way in which it had traditionally been taught was belonged to an old way of thinking, and that the kundalini yoga technology was about to become desperately needed in the West. He talked in great detail about about the extreme difficulties of the age we would be entering (the “Aquarian Age”) because of the vast amount of information and technology accessible to us. Many people would become addicted to fast paced lives and we would enter a time of “cold depression”. By this he meant that people would become disconnected to their souls — people becoming “doers” and not know how to feel anymore. The technology of kundalini yoga is a tool to help people reconnect to themselves and the universe. This is certainly what kundalini has done for me personally and for many women who come to my classes.
How Kundalini Yoga Changed my Life
After my husband and I had our second daughter I stopped working and did what so many mothers do. I stopped taking care of myself and became increasingly overwhelmed and isolated. I had a traumatic experience on an airplane with my husband and two children (who were 6 months and 2 1/2 years old). The back engines of the plane caught on fire and we had an terrifying emergency landing. I thought we were going to die.
When I’d booked the flight for our family vacation I received a premonition that something was going to be wrong with the plane. I just brushed it off as a “crazy” thought. As we got closer to the travel date my anxiety increased. I even remember saying to myself as we were boarding, “Why are you doing this? You know something bad is about to happen.” This was the hair that broke the camel’s back for me. I could not forgive myself for not listening to that premonition. After the fact, I was not able to focus on the fact that we were all OK but stuck in the feelings that I had put my family in danger when I could have done something to stop it.
As more time passed, I got to the point where I could not stop assessing whether what we were about to do as a family was “safe”. I was hyper-sensitive to anything that was out of the ordinary. I live in Boulder, Colorado where it is very predictable for thunderstorms to roll in sometime after midday during the summer. But the summer after the plane crash they would happen much earlier than usual. These late morning thunderstorms would have me hiding under my bed with fear. It was like I was suspended in the feeling that I was going to die and I could do nothing to get out of it. I did not share this with anyone and kept it a secret as it festered deeper and deeper and I became more and more unrecognizable to myself.
Shortly after this I started to get back to my yoga practice. It helped my anxiety and fear but I still had problems dealing with everyday stress when I was not at the studio practicing. A friend of mine told me about a kundalini yoga class that just started up in town. I went and it was the craziest class I had ever taken. Within one minute or so I was sobbing, and I had not cried in years. In that class I remembered myself again! This first kundalini yoga class was the beginning of my healing journey. During my second or third class I learned this incredible mantra that helped me get unstuck. It changed my life and it has been my saving grace since.
Beginning your Kundalini Practice
There are now many yoga studios around the world that offer kundalini yoga classes. If you like to attend one of my classes, please visit http://rajyogaboulder.com