What is Kundalini Yoga?

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“Kundalini Yoga consists of active and passive asana-based kriyas, pranayama, and meditations which target the whole body system (nervous system, glands, mental faculties, chakras) to develop awareness, consciousness and spiritual strength.” —Yogi Bhajan

Kundalini yoga on Monday and Friday mornings at Bodyworks in Ubud with Charlotte are my favourite yoga classes.  The sessions are a couple of hours long and my body revels in that awakened, oxygenated feeling that a truly good yoga class bestows.  It’s a marvellous way to start the day and revitalise my body.

Yoga is not so much about movement, but about the breath – oxygenating the cells and calming the mind.  Movement and stretching are like the vehicles used to stimulate energy (prana, qi, lifeforce), to flow along the highways of our body.  The highways I refer to are like power lines.  Their function is to move energy around the body, linking the Chakra’s.  These highways are termed Meridians in Chinese medicine or Nadi’s in Indian medicine.

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In order to explain Kundalini yoga, its necessary to go a little into the Chakra’s and their connection with the body, mind and Soul.  Kundalini is spiritual energy or life force and is conceptualised by a coiled up serpent at the bottom of the spine.  The practice of Kundalini yoga is for the purpose of unravelling the serpent, to travel through the 6 chakra’s and penetrate the 7th crown chakra.

Chakra’s and the endocrine system

For thousands of years, medical practitioners have claimed 7 principal energy centres (CHAKRA’S) in the body that align with the 7 endocrine glands.  Chakra in Sanskrit means wheel or circle.  Chakra’s are defined as energy centres within a spinning vortex.  The Chakra’s spin around the spine receiving, holding and dispersing information:

7.  CROWN Pineal gland – located in the middle of the brain, produces melatonin, controls sleep.

6.  3RD EYE Pituitary gland – located in the middle of the brain, regulates homeostasis (body looking after itself in the face of change).

5.  THROAT Thyroid – located in the neck, regulates metabolism and protein absorption.  Largest gland in the body.

4.  HEART Thymus – located in the chest.  Produces T cells (infection fighting cells).

3.  SOLAR PLEXUS Adrenal glands – located above the kidneys – regulate the body’s stress response.

2.  SACRAL Pancreas – located in the mid section of the body – regulates digestion and blood sugar.

1.   ROOT Reproductive – located in the ovaries, testicles – produce sperm/eggs and regulates conception.

Ok, so now you know a little about the target of Kundalini yoga, which is basically to keep all the vortexes spinning, the energetic highways open, in order for energy to flow easily through the body, keeping the endocrine and nervous systems in tip top shape.

What do you do in a Kundalini Yoga class?

A series of continuous breathing from the belly throughout a variety of stretching, bending and opening postures.  These asana’s open up the joints, extend the spine, promote flexibility and extension and good postural alignment, just like most yoga classes.  However Kundalini Yoga is characterised by:

  • Series of exercises designed for a particular effect
  • Pranayama breath or fire breath is used to energise during some postures
  • Dynamic movement as opposed to static postures
  • Focuses less on alignment and more on internal energy
  • Music is usually played throughout the session
  • Usually includes a meditation

So, Kundalini Yoga benefits me by….?

Balancing the Glandular system

Strengthening the nervous system

Expanding lung capacity

Purifying the blood

Restoring balance to mind, body and Soul

Personally,  I tend to like dynamic styles of yoga that get me breathing, sweating and give me a really good physical workout. My mind takes a bit of coaxing to surrender,  so one hour is not usually long enough.  If this sounds like your cup of tea, I’d wholeheartedly recommend a Kundalini yoga session..

My next favourite is Fly High Yoga, which actually sometimes beats out Kundalini, as I love being upside down.  It’s really very good for brain busyness.  Maybe I can introduce that to you next time.

This post is dedicated to my lovely friend and fellow tree hugger, Tina from Gizzy x

References:

Yoga for beginners: 10 things that make Kundalini yoga different

Healing from the heart

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