Kundalini is a recognized style of Hatha Yoga, brought to the West in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan
, which focuses on the controlled and systematic release of Kundalini energy which is thought to be located at the base of the spine. According to a wonderful site and holistic resource, Reiki for Holistic Health: “…in Hindu mythology, Kundalini is a serpent goddess who lies asleep at the base of the spine, coiled three and a half times around the first chakra. Kundalini is a condensed, primal force, similar to the potential energy found in water. When released, it creates a vertical connection between the chakras by opening the subtle channels known as nadi, most specifically, the central channel that moves up the spine called sushumna. If we put water through a small hose at very high pressure, the end of the hose will undulate like a snake. Similarly, the intense energy of Kundalini undulates in the body as it rises through the chakras…” And as esoteric as this style might seem, awakening kundalini energy is a good thing and something practitioners strive for.
What is the style/class like?
A kundalini class is based on kriyas (versus asanas) which are a specifically formulated set of exercises focused on specific needs and benefits such as sets to balance head and heart, for the nervous system, for the glandular system, for prosperity and abundance. There are hundreds of kriyas. A kundalini class will start with chanting then a variety of exercises utilizing repetitive motion like waving the arms around to breath work. The poses might sound silly or seem not very challenging until you do them. They take the body further than you can imagine and are very intense. Some poses may be done for and held for long periods of time. You will feel a sense of lightness yet intensity after class and sets can be done by all levels of practitioners.
Personal insight and who might benefit from this style:
Kundalini is a very personal and deep practice and I would definitely find a Kundalini teacher you feel really comfortable with as the work is quite deep. I take a Kundalini class weekly and sometimes I feel a little down and/or spacey after classes, but I’ve been assured that that is due the power of these sets. But once I get passed that, the benefits of the practice as a whole are undeniable:
increased blood flow to the body
flushes the body of toxins
calms central nervous system
supports glandular health and the endocrine system
highly meditative and enlightening practice
One of the top Kundalini studios located in New York City and Los Angeles: Golden Bridge
Official Kundalini website and headquarters: 3HO Foundation