You know the yoga drill. No food at least two hours before class. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. A hemp yoga mat would be nice, but if you’re still carting around your old recycled rubber tire one, that’s okay, too. For a Kundalini yoga class though, you also need an open mind. Using a mixture of movements, chants and breathing techniques, Kundalini rouses the energy wound coiled like a sleeping serpent around the base of your spine. This style of yoga is dynamic. Follow these tips to help you get the most out of your Kundalini experience.
Prepare to get familiar with your seven chakras during a Kundalini yoga session. If you didn’t know you had any, chakras are whirling energy centers strategically located along the path of your spine that end at the crown of your head. Your first, or root chakra, just happens to lie very close to the sleeping snake that contains all of your potential energy. So it makes sense to always start your practice with moves to bring vitality to your lower spine. The Sufist Grind is a classic Kundalini movement during which you rotate your torso in a clockwise, and then counter-clockwise fashion from a seated position.
You're All That
Often a Kundalini movement or kriya is performed while silently chanting mantras. Mantras are traditionally Sanskrit words or phrases, like "om," that are intoned to heighten your yoga experience and focus your attention. In fact, each Kundalini class, no matter where in the world you practice, begins with the chant, "Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo." It is a way to honor the path you are about to travel during your Kundalini practice and to have the wisdom to travel it well. Sat Nam, pronounced sut num and means "I am truth," is another mantra often invoked during the performance of a kriya. Use mantras often to enrich your practice.
Hang in There
As senior Kundalini yoga teacher Maya Fiennes puts it, it’s around the two - to two-and-a-half minute of a Kundalini yoga kriya where all "the juice" is. Performing a repetitive movement for up to three minutes is normal in a Kundalini class, but it sure can’t be called comfortable. If you persevere, you’ll feel enlivened and triumphant. But if you simply must lower your arms or legs to rest, take a 10-second breather, then finish the kriya with the rest of the class. Take a few seconds off each rest until you can go the distance.
Try to keep your eyes closed and rolled up to focus on your third eye, which lies between your brows during a Kundalini class. By all means open your eyes to see how a movement is performed or if your balance is a little off; but for the most part, your Kundalini yoga practice will benefit from watching through your third eye.
- Yoga Journal: Spotlight on Kundalini Yoga
- Kundalini Yoga; Gurmukh; DVD
- Kundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress; Maya Fiennes; DVD
- Allan Danahar/Photodisc/Getty Images