If all you know about Kundalini yoga is that it involves wearing white clothing… well, you still know more than the average aspiring yogi. So we asked our resident expert, yoga practitioner and healer Tara Good, to give us a crash course.
What does the word “kundalini” mean? What are the basic tenets of the practice?
Kundalini literally translates to “curled hair of the beloved” and refers to the energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine. The practice of Kundalini yoga is to raise this energy up your central energy channel, sushumna, to the 10th gate, or the crown of the head, passing each energy centre along the way. Kundalini yoga is known as the yoga of awakening, or the yoga of awareness, as it awakens and rises the energy from the base of the spine. The practice keeps this energy up, giving you a greater experience of your self and all of your potential.
How is kundalini different from other forms of yoga?
Kundalini yoga incorporates many different styles of yoga, and includes a combination of breath work, exercise sets called kriyas, meditation and chanting. Each breath work series, kriya, and meditation is designed to bring about a very specific result. The kriyas are taught exactly as they were given by Yogi Bhajan, the man who brought Kundalini Yoga to the west.
It is said that one year of Kundalini Yoga will achieve the same results as 20 years of Hatha yoga. It works, and it works fast. If there is something you need in your life, there is a Kundalini set for it.
Where did the tradition of wearing all white originate?
The tradition of wearing white is really only required for the teacher. The teachers wear white because this colour expands your radiant body and extends your aura by one foot in each direction. The colour white does not absorb energy, so you project the radiance of your inner light. Students are not required to wear white when practicing, but many find over time that they just naturally want to as it helps in making them feel lighter.
Why do you think Kundalini is gaining in popularity?
There are so many reasons, but one is that most individuals are searching for meaning and purpose in life. Kundalini Yoga brings you back to the self like no other healing modality I have ever experienced. We are in a rapid period of ascension on this planet, and Kundalini is meant to assist us.
Yogi Bhajan actually called Kundalini Yoga a technology, and it was given to us specifically for the period of time we are in right now, the Age of Aquarius. It’s a time where we are shifting from external forms of power to our own internal power, which is much different from the definition of power we are used to. It’s a time where we have access to so much information, but are also coming to the realization that all we are seeking is within.
Kundalini Yoga clears your karma and any blocks that are preventing you from living as an awakened, aware, and fully conscious individual. It raises your vibration and keeps you lifted in times of rapid change and uncertainty. And it does so fast. There is a need for authentic connection, and Kundalini yoga provides a powerful remedy for that.
Kundalini is unique in that it is said to create a greater sense of peace and relaxation, as well as have an impact on the nervous system, even if practice for only a few minutes a day. Does this resonate with you?
It has so many profound effects. The impact on the nervous system is huge as many of the Kriyas are designed to regulate any imbalances that are wreaking havoc on your system. It’s known that just three minutes of meditation will change your electromagnetic field, which will shift your energetic state, but with Kundalini Yoga it can be a challenge to only practice for a few minutes a day.
There are a few different ways to practice, but a full class typically takes an hour to an hour and a half. This is because of the nature of kriyas (they are series of exercises that you perform in a specific order to achieve a specific result), and the kriyas can never be modified or changed. That being said, if you use some of the breath work techniques or meditations from the Kundalini Yoga tradition, then absolutely, a few minutes (as few as three) will have a profound effect on your current state.
As a yoga teacher, meditation teacher and reiki master, why was adding Kundalini to your repertoire important to you?
Kundalini Yoga was a game changer for me. Because it incorporates so many different elements of a yoga practice, as well as the deep spiritual teachings and level of awareness of your own energetics and those of the world, it felt like a one stop shop for me. If I’m feeling too stuck in my head, I’ll do the Kriya to Know Through Intuition, and boom, my sense of intuitive guidance is back with a level of strength and awareness I didn’t even know I had.
There are kriyas to release fear, to heal a broken heart, to strengthen your aura. Anything you are experiencing, there is a kriya for that. There are over 8,000 to choose from. I still regularly receive reiki and do my own yoga and meditation practices outside of Kundalini as I believe in the benefit of well-rounded self care, but Kundalini Yoga is my daily practice as it leaves me feeling more me than anything I have ever experienced.
How can we start to incorporate Kundalini into our daily routines? Can you give us one practice to start using?
If you are looking to add Kundalini to your life, I would start by going to a group class in person. There are so many elements to it that if you are not familiar with the practice, it’s not really something you can just pick up and do bits and pieces here and there. There is a process of tuning in at the beginning, and as kriyas need to be practiced exactly as they were given. If you aren’t familiar with the movement patterns, breath work, and mantras, it may be confusing or intimidating to start. If you have a teacher with you, they can guide you the whole way.
My recommendation would be Lotus Yoga Centre, as they are a studio fully dedicated to Kundalini Yoga. There are also wonderful online classes that you can do, and my favourite are through Guru Jagat’s Rama TV.
I will be offering Introduction to Kundalini Workshops in the new year at 889 Yoga, so if you are looking for a place to start, feel free to follow me on Instagram at @tara_good for updates on this as well. Once you have some foundational knowledge of tuning in, and closing the practice, it will be easier from there to do your own meditations and practices at home.