“Kundalini Yoga is the science to unite the finite with Infinity, and it’s the art to experience Infinity in the finite.” ~ Yogi Bhajan, 10/27/88
Kundalini Yoga, yet another branch of yoga, but what exactly is it? I’ll be explaining how this ancient style of yoga came to the west. Focusing on cleansing the body for a higher, enlightened style of living, it is seldom talked about but has been growing over the years.
What Is Kundalini?
Kundalini was founded in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan, who formed the school 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization). It is also known as the Yoga of Awareness. Kundalini harnesses the mental, physical, and nervous energies of the body and puts them under the domain of the will, which is the instrument of the soul. It taps into the prana energy at the base of the spine and draws it up the body through the seven chakras.
He was born Harbhajan Singh Puri in 1929, in what would now be Pakistan. He received the best schooling and majored in Economics at Punjab University. Bhajan learned Kundalini Yoga with Master Sant Hazara Singh and he became a Master himself at the age of only sixteen. He loved seeking out any holy person he could find, and studied spiritual scriptures and teachings from all over the world.
In 1968 his travels brought him to Canada wherein he immediately experienced a string of bad luck. He had lost his luggage, his employer died a few days before he arrived, and he only had $35 from the Canadian government. He got a job as a bookstore clerk but was soon hired as a nerve therapist at a yoga center. Bhajan was invited to Los Angeles one weekend in January 1969. He gave a public lecture about his firm conviction that it is the birthright of every human being to be “Healthy, Happy, and Holy.”
The young people he had met during this lecture were intrigued and had wanted to meet God, but many were using drugs to reach an altered state of consciousness. Bhajan promised these students that they could “get high” without the use of drugs and side effects, and it was legal. From there his teachings caught on. In 1971, he founded the Kundalini Research Institute.
Elements of a Kundalini Practice
The practice combines breath, mudra, eye-focus, mantra, body locks, and postures to balance the glandular system, strengthen the nervous system, expand lung capacity, and purify the blood. It brings balance to the body, mind, and soul. There are kriyas to practice as well. Kriya, meaning action, is a series of specific asanas and actions to perform, much like Ashtanga. Also note that this is not a religion, it is meant for anyone who wants to uplift their spirit.
What to Expect in Class
Classes generally begin with a short chant followed by exercises to stretch and mobilize the spine, then continuing to the kriya sequences of poses and breathing focused to an area of the body. Class ends with a meditation which could include a song or the teacher playing a gong. Devotees tend to wear white, flowing robes and head wraps; don’t feel obligated to wear these though.
Is It For You?
Kundalini yoga is one of the most spiritual practices of yoga. It places a heavy emphasis on breathing, meditation, mudras, and chanting, but don’t be fooled, the physical aspect of Kundalini can be intense as well. If you are up for a mental and physical challenge than definitely try it out! Many practitioners see it as a “tune up” to their bodies or as a way to switch up their practice. If you have tried Kundalini before I’d love to hear your experiences!