The term Kundalini means “a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine”, which is usually conceptualized as a coiled-up serpent. In early eastern religion, it was believed that each individual possessed a divine energy at the base of the spine. This energy was thought to be the sacred energy of creation. We are all born with this energy and it is believed that we must make an effort to “uncoil the snake” to put us in direct contact with the divine. Therefore, Kundalini Yoga is the practice of awakening our Higher Self and turning potential energy into kinetic energy.
Kundalini Yoga is an uplifting blend of not only physical practices but also spiritual practices. It is a blend of Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Shakti Yoga. What are these three yogas? Well Bhakti Yoga is the yogic practice of devotion and chanting, such as singing mantras. Raja Yoga is the practice of meditation and Shakti Yoga is the practice of expression of power and energy. Unlike most asana-based yogas, such as Ashtanga or Hatha, Kundalini incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation and the chanting of mantras (such as Sat Nam). The goal is to build physical vitality and increase consciousness.
The exact origin of Kundalini is unknown, but historical records known as the Upanishads (a sacred Vedic collection of writings dating back to 1000 BC) has cited the science of Kundalini energy and it’s philosophies. Practices and techniques of Kundalini Yoga were passed down from teacher to a well selected student, in a very secretive way. Yogi Bhajan received these teachings first and at the young age of 16 he mastered the teachings. We have Yogi Bhajan to thank for bringing this knowledge to the west in 1968.
Yogi Bhajan introduced his own brand of Kundalini Yoga to the United States and founded his teaching organization known as “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization” (3HO). He took yoga postures and techniques, attached them to Tantric theories and Sikh mantras, developing a new form of ‘Kundalini Yoga’. This form is founded on the principles of Sikh Dharma. Since then, Yogi Bhajan’s version of Kundalini has continued to grow in popularity mostly in the Americas, Europe, South Africa, Australia and East Asia with the training of thousands of teachers.
Why wear all white?
A traditional Kundalini class supports its practitioners to wear all white. Yogi Bhajan has said that “Colors create an uncontrollable action in your subconscious mind of inspiration, productivity and expansion. Colors have an effect on consciousness. We wanted to develop a very fast, progressive, spiritual and technical method of all the colors, so we have adopted the one color of the seven colors, which is white.”
Practice of Kundalini
The practice of Kundalini yoga is supposed to arouse the energy at the base of your spine through the 6 chakras and penetrate up to the 7th Chakra known as the Crown Chakra. This energy is said to travel through the main channels (nadis) of pranic energy in the body and is sparked during yogic breathing (pranayama). The practice of kriyas and meditations are designed to raise complete body awareness to prepare the body, nervous system and mind to handle the energy of Kundalini rising. Many of the physical postures focus on navel activity, spine activity and selected body points and meridians. Breathing techniques and the bandhas help to release, direct and control the flow of Kundalini energy.
We hope you were able to learn a little bit more information about Kundalini Yoga. If this style of yoga is interesting for you, we encourage you to go to a class and try it out! Remember, to take in everything with an open mind and enjoy the journey!
Photo credit: @martina_sergi