I’ve been practicing yoga for about 10 years now. For the first 8 years, you can say that I was pretty much obsessed with the power Vinyasa style. More recently however, I’ve begun to dabble in various different styles of yoga including, but not limited to Iyengar, Sivananda Hatha Yoga, Jivamukti, Vini Yoga, Yin Yoga and Anusara. Some may say that being involved in the different styles and different philosophies waters down my commitment to each, but I disagree. Students come to my classes from different backgrounds and practices. I want to understand where they come from and what they practice. I love incorporating aspects of the different philosophies into my teachings because I believe there’s truth in all of them. That’s why, when Yuri approached me last week to ask whether he could teach a Kundalini Yoga class, I jumped at the opportunity to again expand my knowledge and understanding of yet another yoga perspective.
Of all the yoga styles and philosophies that I’ve encountered, Kundalini Yoga has always peaked my curiosity. It’s quite different from the Hatha and Ashtanga yoga lineage. I’ve also heard the claim that one Kundalini class is something like ten times more effective than other forms of yoga in stimulating change in a person’s life. So yesterday morning, I went to find out for myself.
Before I get into the specifics of the practice, I’d like to clear up one minor detail – one that tends to confuse people. As the goal of all yoga practices is the union of the Shiva and Shakti aspects, representing consciousness and creation, which is triggered by the awakening of Kundalini energy, a dormant potential force that lies at the base of the spine, all yoga is essentially Kundalini yoga. However, in this case, I’m referring to the “Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan,” who brought the practice to the west in the late 1960s.
Now, to the practice. We began with a short meditation while repeating the mantra “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” to open the heart and empower us through our practice. Then began a series of short repetitive movements accompanied by the “breath of fire,” which is a little bit like controlled hyperventilation. I found the movements to be similar to some of the Vini Yoga movements that I’ve practiced before, but much faster. A simple example of one of these movements is taking your fingers to the shoulders with the elbows lifted to shoulder height. Inhale as you turn the entire torso, head and neck to the left. Exhale as you turn to the right. Now repeat this fast while using the breath of fire for about a minute and a half. Try it. It’s a lot harder than it seems, but somewhere between the burning shoulders, the focus on the area of the third eye and the breath of fire, I felt energy being released inside my body.
Okay, maybe it was the light-headedness that resulted from the hyperventilation, but through the movements and breathing and focus, I experienced a complete release of all the tension that I’d been holding on to all week. I shrugged it out through my shoulders, chopped down my obstacles with an invisible sword, released my fears through my breath and let all the worries escape by focusing on the light between my eyes. When it was all done, I laid down in Savasana and let the emptiness sweep over me.
I won’t vouch that everyone who attended class yesterday morning felt like this, although I’ll bet there are at least a couple of sore shoulders out there. Do I think I’ll be enlightened ten times faster? I’m not sure, but I do know that this certainly will not be my last Kundalini Yoga class. I’d like to thank Yuri for teaching such a great class!
Blog post by Julie (juliehana.com)