Kundalini seems to be one of the schools of yoga around which there is an air of mystery and mysticism. Some might even say there is a hint of danger in it. Kundalini is different than some of the more popular and mainstream types of yoga most commonly practiced in the United States, but I’m not sure how it has earned the reputation it has, for being a more eccentric yoga practice.
Some of the information that you can find on the internet about Kundalini yoga enhances its mystical reputation, with prominent references to coiling snakes, even large pictures of cobras on the front page of the website. I think Yogi Bhajan, the man responsible for bringing Kundalini yoga to the United States, would be disappointed to see this lovely form of yoga characterized in this way.
Kundalini just happened to be the first type of yoga I practiced. It just happened to be the class that was most convenient. For months, Kundalini was the only yoga I knew, and I loved it. I loved the connection of the breath to the movement, and the repetitive motions, like moving mediations. I loved that my teacher set an intention for each class for a certain spiritual goal, or the opening of a certain chakra, and all of the poses and motions throughout the class were meant to work toward that goal. This yoga was unlike any other exercise I had done before, but afterwards, I felt physically tired and spiritually uplifted and opened in a way I had never experienced before.
It wasn’t until I began attending other classes that I realized how different Kundalini was from other types of yoga. While some poses and practices were similar, the other yoga classes I tried lacked the explicit connection between the physical work of the body during the practice and the mental and spiritual work associated with it. I have tried many styles of yoga over the years, and enjoy many of them, but Kundalini is still a favorite.
When Yogi Bhajan gave his first public lecture in the US in 1969, he explained that it is everyone’s birthright to be happy, healthy and holy and that Kundalini Yoga was a powerful way to claim that birthright. Kundalini was created as the “householder’s” yoga, the yoga for the common man. While other forms of yoga required endless hours of practice and a withdrawal from society, Kundalini was designed to offer the same benefits in a fraction of the time. The working man’s yoga, Kundalini provided a path to enlightenment for people with families to take care of and work to do.
Far from spooky or kooky, in my experience, Kundalini is a challenging and rewarding practice that leaves me feeling both invigorated and nurtured. Though I have found few teachers over the years, I refer often to the first book I purchased, “Kundalini Yoga for Body, Mind and Beyond” by Ravi Singh and I enjoy the many Kundalini Yoga DVDs by Ravi Singh and Ana Brett. Kundalini Yoga may not be for everyone, but if you’re willing to open your mind and try this empowering form of yoga, you just might enjoy the results.