Breathe. It’s a simple and universally understood concept but not something we consciously think about. Yet sometimes it is just what we need to shift our energy and help us better focus.
Kundalini brings a different mindset to the mat and asks us to concentrate on the most important part of awareness, one with which we can so easily forget to connect – ourselves.
Although it is true that all yoga aims to further connect the mind and body, kundalini is a much deeper practice that is centered on bringing you to focus on your true soul. Translated literally, kundalini means “the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved.” The Kundalini Research Institute translates this into the “flow of energy and consciousness that exists within each of us, and enables us to merge with the universal Self.”
By combining different breathing techniques throughout a class, you will focus on self-awareness through meditation and mantras in a physical sense. It can be a very beneficial practice, as you put emphasis on your own individual challenges, not competing to hit a certain pose for a specified period of time.
Typical classes last 60-90 minutes and include a warm up, kriyas (or sets of exercises), a relaxation period and meditation. The most important aspect will be the timing of the breathing pattern, said Kari Djuve, a Columbus-area instructor.
Relaxation periods follow each posture to allow your body to completely absorb the feeling of each before moving onto a new posture. Typical meditations involve movements, or mantras, followed by a hand position and asana, or posture.
Each set of exercises is part of a particular bodily or philosophical system, also known as a chakra, which are considered the centers of our consciousness. In the kundalini practice you will be opening up the body to experience that energy that will bring awareness to your needs in life.
Kundalini focuses on the chakra system composed of three areas of the body. The Lower Triangle focuses on elimination, the Upper Triangle focuses on accumulation, and they meet at the heart chakra, which is the center point.
Classes vary depending on what area requires healing.
“One of the things that’s unique is the focus on eyes closed or diffused gaze compared to the open eyes in other types of yoga so that one can really focus inward,” Djuve said. “It’s not important to be in perfect alignment in kundalini yoga, since it’s not the focus.”
Many studios offer traditional forms of kundalini, but there are modern versions that incorporate more physical strength into a class.
Since a variety of studios offer kundalini-based practices, finding out which style fits your needs will give you the most out of your time on the mat. •
Breathing Space Yoga
Center for Wholeness
In Good Standing
L-Yoga Flow – EnLighten, based on kundalini yoga
Yoga on High