Yoga is a wellness trend that is sweeping the globe, and understandably so! Yoga not only provides a great workout, it helps focus and calm the mind. It’s likely that you’ve passed by several yoga studios during your daily routine, and even more likely that you’ve heard about various different types of yoga – Ashtanga, hatha, Bikram, Iyengar – and not fully understood the difference. Kundalini yoga is based around the concept of releasing the Kundalini – energy stored in the spine – through various poses and movements.
What is Kundalini?
Kundalini is energy stored in the base of the spine. In Kundalini yoga, it is believed that this energy coils around the spine like a snake, passing through each of the seven chakras before reaching the crown, where it is released. Kundalini is moved through the chakras with breath work, or pranayama, which is key to the practice.
All yoga has its benefits, but Kundalini yoga is an excellent way to connect to your spiritual energy. All breaths, movements, and postures aim to coax the snake of Kundalini energy up the spine to release it into the world.
How to Practice Kundalini at Home
Step One: Prepare yourself and your practice space.
Though it is believed that white clothing expands your aura and allows for deeper practice, anything comfortable is good. This practice is about your inner spirit, not your outward appearance! Set your mat and props in a quiet, spacious location so you can focus on your breath and movements without interruption. If you’d like, you could also play soft music in the background. Choose something that won’t pull your focus away from your practice.
Step Two: Find a class online or plan your own practice.
The internet has made it easier than ever to practice yoga at home. A simple search will yield thousands of results for Kundalini classes, many of which can be viewed on Youtube. If you’d prefer, you can even take a few minutes to plan a sequence yourself! Write it in a notebook and keep it near your mat to refer to throughout your practice.
Step Three: Connect with your Kundalini.
Yoga classes typically start with pranayama, which helps set a rhythm for your practice. During this time, it is wise to set an intention for your practice, like being purposeful in every movement, or wishing well upon a loved one. This helps in the practice of mindfulness, which in turn helps your Kundalini travel with purpose! With every inhalation, imagine the air travelling through each chakra on its way to the base of your spine. There, it should churn the stored energy, awakening it and preparing it to elevate. With each exhalation, the Kundalini rises higher and higher until it reaches your crown!
Step Four: Settle in and follow along.
One of the great things about yoga is that every action is prompted, but you aren’t required to follow every instruction if something doesn’t suit your needs. If you find the opening pranayama to be particularly good, continue it until you feel ready to move on. If you have trouble with a sequence, take the time to practice it again, or just skip it altogether.
Step Five: Close your practice.
After a spin class, people typically thank the instructor, and some might even applaud after a particularly good class. After yoga, it is customary to take a moment of silence in a comfortable position before saying “Namaste” to your instructor and classmates. The gesture means “the light in me respects and appreciates the light in you” and functions as a greeting, thank you, and goodbye. Even in your own living room, it’s important to recognize yourself, your practice, and the person who provided guidance (even if it was online!).
Step Six: Plan to come back to your mat.
As with anything, the more you practice, the more benefits you will experience. Every time you practice Kundalini yoga, you are learning to access a part of yourself that usually lies dormant. That part of you is powerful and useful and should be used often to stay in shape, just like your muscles and mind. As you clear away your props and roll up your mat, make a conscious decision about when you’ll practice next. Better yet, write it in your calendar or set a reminder on your phone! Make it a daily habit and you’ll soon find you can’t stand to miss it.