How to Perform Kundalini Yoga at Home
Kundalini yoga can easily be done at home.
Kundalini yoga was practiced in secret for many years, but was brought to the west in the 1960s by Yogi Bajhan, who saw in the hippie generation a genuine yearning to expand consciousness but wanted to demonstrate that there were better ways than drugs to achieve inner awareness. Kundalini yoga requires no special equipment — though a yoga mat is helpful — so there's nothing to keep you from doing it at home. While to learn it properly, you really should work with or take classes from a qualified Kundalini instructor, but there are quite a number of Kundalini actions you can easily perform on your own, especially if you have some other experience of yoga.
What is Kundalini?
Kundalini yoga practice is one of the more spiritually inclined yogic disciplines, emphasizing chanting and energizing chakras to heal the mind-body connection. The word, "Kundalini," refers to the primal energy or life force that animates living beings. However, when people talk about "awakening the Kundalini," they are referring to the dormant Kundalini energy that represents each person's ultimate spiritual potential. It resides at the base of the spine and is said to be coiled around itself like a snake. If this Kundalini is awakened too rapidly, it can cause problems such as blindness, madness and getting stuck in a trance for days at a time. However, it is unlikely that you'll experience any of these difficulties with a moderate home practice.
All Kundalini classes begin with a practice called "Tuning In," which tones your energy so it's conducive to a meditative state and bestows a feeling of womb-like shelter in which to conduct your practice. Sit with your spine straight, your legs crossed and press your hands together in prayer pose. With your eyes closed, direct your gaze to the “third eye” space between the brows. Now, chant the mantra, "Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo," which means "I bow to the Creative Wisdom, I bow to the Divine Teacher within." This is done in two parts: inhale through the nose first, and then chant Ong Namo. Let yourself feel the vibrations that that reverberate through your cranium. Repeat three times.
Start with the Breath
Because breath is essentially the Kundalini itself, breathing exercises figure big in Kundalini yoga. Start with this 3 Stroke Breath exercise, in which you consciously segment your breath into three stages, starting at the bottom — the abdominal — and feel your breath move upward through the chest to the clavicle. It relaxes, calms and purifies. Then, progress to alternate nostril breathing and onto breath of fire.
Kundalini yoga requires no special equipment and you don' have to heat your house to 105 degrees.
As with other forms of yoga, asanas (poses) are a big part of the practice. Many, if not most, may be familiar to you, such as Downward Dog and many of the seated poses or forward bends. However, you may be surprised to find that they sometimes involve much more movement, some of it freeform, in the way of spinal flexing, twisting and even flailing about on the floor as if you're in terrible pain.
Spinal rotation, for example, is a simple Kundalini asana. Just sit in Easy pose with your hands on your knees. Begin rolling your pelvis around in a swirling motion, relaxing into the movement and making it a meditation. Do 1 to 2 minutes, and then reverse directions. You can follow this up with neck rolls, which are the same thing simply done from the neck up. Conclude with with a good spinal flex, sitting back on your heels and thrusting your chest out, then collapsing into a slouching position, repeating the motion rapidly for 1 to 2 minutes.
Martin Booe is a health, fitness and wellness writer who lives in Los Angeles. He is currently collaborating on a book about digital addiction to be published in the UK this December.