Yoga Journal describes Kundalini yoga as “An uplifting blend of spiritual and physical practices”, incorporating movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation and the chanting of mantras.
What is Kundalini yoga good for? The purpose of the practice is to help support both the mind and body, specifically by targeting the nervous system. According to Kundalini teachers and practitioners, a regular practice, even if it’s just for several minutes per day, can help create greater inner peace, promote relaxation, and increase life satisfaction through meaningful relationships, work and creative outlets.
What Is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini yoga is an ancient practice that combines asanas (yoga poses), mantras, mudras, meditations and breath work. There are many different types of yoga based on various lineages over thousands of years. As the Gaia website describes it, “Kundalini Yoga is a blend of Bhakti Yoga (the yogic practice of devotion and chanting), Raja Yoga (the practice of mediation/mental and physical control) and Shakti Yoga (for the expression of power and energy).”
It’s not exactly known how Kundalini Yoga originated, but records show that Kundalini was mentioned in the Upanishads, a sacred Vedic collection of writings dating back to 1,000 B.C. The Kundalini yoga that is taught today was developed by Yogi Bhajan who based the practice on a 5,000-year-old authentic system of yoga exercises and meditation.
The word “Kundalini” literally means “the curl of the hair of the beloved.” Kundalini yoga gets its name from the Sanskrit word kundal, which means “circular.” Kundal is thought to represent a coiled snake that lives in your spine and acts like a spiritual energy or life force. Coiled energy is said to represent the creative potential of an individual. Practicing Kundalini yoga is supposed to “arouse the sleeping Kundalini Shakti from its coiled base” through six chakras, or channels of energy, that reside along the spine.
Kundalini practices/sequences are called kriyas. Kriyas and meditation have the purpose of increasing body awareness and preparing the body, nervous system and mind to handle a positive shift in energy (sometimes described as “Kundalini rising”). Kundalini yoga poses mostly focus on the navel and spine, which are focal points of energy, also called meridians. Other practices that help shift one’s energy include breath work (pranayama) and the application of yogic locks of energy (bandhas).
A “Kundalini awakening” is used to describe a breakthrough that someone can have from their practice. A Kundalini breakthrough is said to result in maximum creative potential, freedom from negative Karma (the lasting effects of past actions) and a realization of one’s life purpose. What are the symptoms of kundalini awakening?
Kundalini Yoga Benefits
1. Promotes Mental Well-Being
Many emotional benefits are associated with a regular kundalini practice according to devotees, including gaining a deeper connection to others, sensitivity to ourselves, mental clarity, enhanced productivity and effectiveness, creativity, bravery, and fulfillment.
According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, the ancient system of Kundalini yoga includes a vast array of meditation techniques and practices that have been found to be beneficial in the treatment of psychiatric disorders — including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, phobias, addictive and substance abuse disorders, major depressive disorders, dyslexia, grief, insomnia and other sleep disorders.