Love yoga, full moon rituals, mantras, and well, all new age spirituality practices? Then it’s time to uplevel your standard vinyasa practice and explores kundalini yoga, the latest yoga style making a comeback in the wellness space. With new age spirituality guru, Gabrielle Bernstein and model Miranda Kerr avid devotees of the practice, kundalini—originally made big in the 60s is now making waves in modern yoga circles again thanks to its ability to energize, invigorate and empower both body and mind. But before we get all ‘woo woo’ on you, let’s talk through the basics of what it is exactly, what makes it different from other yoga styles (think no sun salutations), and how to incorporate it as a morning or evening wellnessritual in times of need.
What Is Kundalini Yoga?
“‘Kundalini’ refers to an energy coiled at the base of the spine, and the exercises practiced in-class work to awaken it, which in turn, activate the mind, body and spirit,” according to holistic yoga site, Alo Yoga. “In place of Sun Salutations and Warrior II’s, there’s chanting, pranayama breathing, and repetitive movements, all designed to help you access a higher level of consciousness.” Said to date back as early as 1000 B.C, it was brought into the modern mainstream by Yogi Bhajan in 1969 and is considered a deeply spiritual practice that’s often referred to as the ‘yoga of awareness’ combining elements of Bhakti Yoga (yoga of devotion and chanting), with Raja Yoga (the practice of meditation/mental and physical control) with Shakti Yoga (expression of power and energy). Also unlike other styles, kundalini yogis wear all white (often long sleeves and pants), which is said to not only brighten their aura but is symbolic of reflecting on the outside what is desired on the inside.
What Does A Typical Kundalini Practise Look Like?
Unlike a vinyasa class that weaves a series of sun salutations (or flows) with standing poses, stretches, inversions and backbends, in kundalini the focus isn’t on moving or contorting the body but is more finely attuned to practicing the little things to instill a deeper awareness. As explained by LA-based Kundalini teacher for Alo Yoga Hari Simrah Khalsa, “kundalini consciously combines breath, mudra (hand postures), eye-focus, mantra, body locks and postures to balance the glandular system, strengthen the nervous system, expand the lung capacity and purify the blood.” The combined practice is then called a ‘kriya’ (think similar to a ‘sequence’). “A kriya will include postures, breathing techniques, mantras, meditations and deep relaxation all put together strategically to achieve a specific result, such as—balancing digestion and healing emotional fears.”
What Are The Benefits Of Kundalini Yoga?
According to Hari, you can expect all the soothing and calming benefits of yoga, and then some. “What makes Kundalini so dynamic and diverse is that it will give you a profound deep experience every time you practice it. Kundalini works quickly to reset the nervous system, which is key for a healthy mind and body and being able to handle the pressures of modern living.” “Physically it works to strengthen the nervous system, expand lung capacity and purify the blood too.”
4 Modern Ways to Incorporate Kundalini Rituals Into Everyday Life
1. When you’re low in energy…
Try: A kundalini-inspired ‘Pure Energy’ at-home workout with Caley Alyssa available on Alo Moves.
Try The ‘Gyan Mudra’ (seal of wisdom). Bring the index finger to touch the thumb while leaving the other three fingers straight. Gyan mudra stimulates knowledge, wisdom, receptivity, and memory.
3. When you’re struggling to sleep…
Try Shabad Kriya – Yogi Bhajan’s number one sleep aid. Lie back in bed, place your hands in your lap, right hand resting on left palm, thumb tips touching, palms facing up. Inhale through the nose for four counts, mentally saying ‘Sa-Ta-Na-Ma,’ then hold the breath – repeating the mantra for 16 beats. Exhale then through the nose for two counts, saying ‘Wahe Guru.’ Then repeat until you fall asleep.
4. When you’re anxious or fearful…
Try This calming meditation practice. Sitting in easy pose (sukhasana), bring left hand under the right armpit and left hand under the right armpit. Curve the fingers right around the body so you can feel you are holding your body with loving care. Allow this mudra to be at the heart center, resting against your chest to allow you to soften into a sense of security and peace.