Kundalini Yoga – The Yoga Of Awareness
We invited fellow writer and yogi, Michelle Lipper, to explain once and for all to us: what the hell is Kundalini Yoga anyway?
Let me start of by saying that if you have never heard of Kundalini Yoga, you are not alone. And if you have recently started hearing about it more and more, well you are not alone either.
Kundalini Yoga it is gaining popularity and notoriety at a rapid rate- thanks in large part to teachers like Guru Jaget whose new book is on the NYT Bestseller list and has been featured in more magazines and celeb Instagrams than I can count. I am extra fortunate to count her as one of my teachers and mentors.
But for most of us outside of Los Angeles or New York, Kundalini remains a bit of mystery. Even now when I am asked what exactly it is, I find it challenging to put the experience into words…and I am writer.
My first experience with Kundalini was over 10 years ago. While living in Bali doing my Vinyasa Yoga teacher training I attended the Bali Sprit Yoga Festival. At the Spirit Fest my eyes (especially the third) were blown open by techniques and teachers from all over the world. One afternoon I accidentally wandered into something so foreign to me- people were dressed in white, they were smiling and singing and moving all around, arms in the air, lots of breathe of fire…faster then you could say “chatarunga” I ran out of there. I was so closed off from myself at the time that my nervous system could not even handle being close to that kind of energy.
Years later , I was teaching Vedic Meditation; my yoga practice had evolved from the physical more towards the spiritual. While visiting a friend in Los Angeles I was taken to a class in Hollywood where I was told there would be lots of singing and meditation, famous actors and a generally cool and transcendent experience. Allowing myself to be open to it this time, I went to class and experienced something that affected me in such a profound way I could barely speak. I went back every day and in a short time Kundalini became my primary practice.
What Is Kundalini Yoga?
In the words of my teacher Harijiwan Kundalini Yoga “is a scientific technology for happiness”.
What the heck does that mean, you ask?
Simply, if one commits to the practices of Kundalini yoga, one will ultimately achieve the energy and clarity to navigate through ones life, ease pain and suffering, balance the body and nervous systems, increase health and vitality, communicate more clearly and achieve abundance and prosperity in all facets of life…or in short, people who practice Kundalini Yoga on a regular basis are generally happier.
Now I know this sounds like a lofty promise, and believe you me no one was a bigger skeptic than I was. I have sat at the feet of many a teacher and guru and after a while the magic always wore off. The difference in Kundalini is we begin to understand that the power is within us. All we need to do learn to harness that power and project it. Kundalini gives us the ability to move through self-imposed limitations and blocks, to break negative thought patterns and shake off habits and behaviors the no longer serve us. This in turn leaves room for things that are more in your true alignment to come in. This includes everything from relationships, jobs, money and most importantly how we feel about ourselves. We are strengthening not only our physical body, but our radiant body and our aura- that which is unseen but that we project out into the world wherever we go and what the world picks up and responds to. A strong radiant body means no one can fuck with you. A strong auric projection mean no one can fuck with anyone within 16 feet of you. Learn to harness and project that energy, and well, you can pretty much have the whole world in your hands.
Sounds great Michelle, but what IS Kundalini yoga exactly?
Kundalini yoga is often comprised of 3 parts: Movement, Breathe and Meditation. Usually in that order. When these 3 things are strung together they form what is called a “Kriya”. There are thousands of different kriyas, of different lengths and purposes. Sometimes the 3 parts can be done separately and alone, and sometimes they can be combined in different ways.
To achieve any transformation from a meditation we do it for at least 40 days, but 100 if you really want to blow the doors off!
There are a few basics to practicing, all of which can be found online on youtube or through my LA-based studio Rama TV, where you can practice every day through classes that are live-streamed, or pay per view for the workshops and trainings. Of course it is always easier and often more powerful to find a good teacher and class to attend, but that isn’t always available.
Here are a few simple exercises you can try every day at home without needing to do anything:
3 minutes of cat/cow: inhaling and exhaling powerfully through the nose, pushing from the navel, and increasing speed and power as you warm up. This is great for waking your system up, and for immediately shutting down an anxiety or panic attack.
3-31 minutes breath of fire: again, powerful breath in and out of the nose, pumping from the navel. This increases the pranic flow through the body, improves digestion, health, strengthens the navel and respiratory system, calms the nerves and the mind. Start with 3 minutes and work your way up.
Here is a simple sadhana practice to try for 40 days:
3 minutes of cat/cow followed by the 3 minute mediation to end addiction. Very simple, very powerful. Commit to yourself for 6 minutes a day and see what changes.
To learn more about Michelle Lipper, click no further than here.