“Sat Nam” is used in Kundalini Yoga like the usual 'Om' and means 'True Self'. And this is exactly what Kundalini-Yoga is all about - the recognition of the true core behind all the conditioning, emotions and coloured thought processes.
Kundalini Yoga is an ancient experiential science from Northern India. For thousands of years it was guarded like a precious treasure by the monastics there. The Yoga tradition was only accessible to very selected students and was passed on secretly from guru to student.
In 1969, a strictly religious Sikh named Yogi Bhajan decided to reveal this well-protected secret.
He foresaw that the world was about to change; that the flood of information would increase and the world would become increasingly unbalanced.
For this challenging time, people would need tools to counter the external pressures. With the intention of passing on the sacred teaching to as many people as possible, he traveled to California and began teaching.
Many of his first students were hippies who quickly realized that this type of yoga made them feel as good as they had ever felt using drugs. To this day, Kundalini Yoga is known in the context of addictions, for example as a form of therapy to overcome drugs and depression.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini Yoga awakens a very specific source of power that lies dormant in all of us: the Kundalini energy. One could also call it the original, universal life force. If you awaken this energy in you, you can bring about rapid and profound changes.
Your energy level will then rise from zero to one hundred, realigning your entire system so that you become more alert, more conscious, more perceptive and more intuitive. You gain a new quality of perception and learn to trust your inner compass more and more.
Purely technically, Kundalini Yoga opens your seven power centers, the chakras. You can imagine them as small energy vortices that are located at certain distances along the spine. Each vortex vibrates at a certain frequency, which either promotes or restricts our well-being.
By opening and balancing the chakras, you can connect to a higher creative energy source.
Activating this energy is achieved through a sequence of breathing exercises, a fixed set of exercises on a specific theme, meditation and mantra chanting.
Many Kundalini Yoga exercises and meditations are very powerful in themselves. Therefore you can integrate Kundalini-Yoga into your daily life by doing for example a single Kriya (exercise or series of exercises) or meditation every morning.
If you practice Kundalini Yoga regularly, you will gain more and more consciousness. It is as if you are discarding more and more layers of ego, of pain, of the past and finally getting to know your true self, your Sat Nam. And because this can happen quite fast, Yogi Bhajan often called this experiential science the "highway" among the different yoga techniques.
What you can expect from a Kundalini class
Unlike Hatha Yoga and the styles derived from it such as Anusara Yoga or Jivamukti Yoga, Kundalini practices fixed exercise sets. Instead of flowing sun salutations, you may have to hold an exercise for up to eleven minutes. The sequence of the sets usually makes no sense for your logic brain unless you have studied the profound science of the lymph glands, the nervous system and the energetic interaction of the two.
Therefore, Kundalini Yoga can be very amusing, for example when your teacher asks you to snore or stand like a dog. The beauty of it is that after a short time you have to give up your own ideas of yoga and devote yourself to the practice. Otherwise it becomes an ordeal for your ego.
The thanks are experiences and states that give you a deep sense of happiness. For me this yoga path is therefore the most effective way to get out of your head and into your feeling.
So that you don't get scared in your first Kundalini Yoga lesson, here are a few peculiarities:
You will probably see many people dressed in white with turban sitting on a sheepskin. Kundali Yoga is traditionally practiced in white because it has a positive effect on the individual and collective energy field. I find that you can actually feel this and therefore I like to wear white or cream-coloured clothes. But this is not a must. Dress the way you feel comfortable!
The turban is a tradition in Kundalini Yoga. It is a relic from the Sikh religion where all men wear turban. Yogi Bhajan said that it helps to keep the energy with you and stimulates certain acupuncture points. If you are very sensitive and quickly pick up moods from others, you can tie a cotton cloth around your head or wear a hat without synthetic fibres. Otherwise you don't need to wear a turban just because others do.
In Kundalini Yoga there are many sitting exercises. That's why yogis have always put a sheepskin underneath their skin to get the necessary warmth. Of course it doesn't have to be animal fur and in a well heated yoga studio a blanket is sufficient. If you want to practice Kundalini Yoga regularly, there are beautiful warming virgin wool mats available for this purpose.
Each Kundalini class is dedicated to a specific topic, for example overcoming fear, stimulating digestion, sharpening intuition, opening the heart, etc. For this purpose there are fixed Kriyas (exercise sets) written down by Yogi Bhajan, which are tuned to the perfect energetic effect and are not changed.
Before the Kriya there is usually a breathing exercise (Pranayama) to open oneself to the experience. Depending on the Kriya, warm-up exercises are done in advance. The physical effort is followed by a meditation. Each Kundalini class concludes with at least eight minutes of deep relaxation, which is included either before or after the meditation.
Who is Kundalini Yoga right for?
This type of Yoga is for you if your interest in the spiritual experience is greater than your desire for a defined body. The exercises can be physically very challenging, but the focus of this yoga type is on the energetic changes.
Kundalini Yoga is often recommended for depression and addiction, because it is supposed to strengthen the nervous system and balance the hormonal system.
Kundalini Yoga can help you a lot when dark clouds are gathering in mind and you lose your inner compass. Just one hour brings a strong energetic change and refreshes with alertness and clarity.
Read about the classic Hatha yoga style here or watch the videos and follow Hatha yoga classes.
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