Inside every living body, at the base of the spine, lies a latent ball of energy, coiled like a serpent. This is life energy, the energy that animates all the world, the plants and trees, you and me. It’s the heart of the universe lying inside of us, ready to heal and uplift once activated.
There’s a special type of yoga that’s designed to activate this energy so it rises up through the chakras, healing everything along the way and inducing enlightenment.
This is kundalini yoga.
But even without enlightenment, kundalini yoga is profoundly healing, forcing hidden emotions out from hiding places deep in body tissue so they can be processed. This clears space in the body so light can enter.
Kundalini yoga unlocks deep healing.
I first found kundalini yoga when healing from breast cancer surgery. The emotional pain during this time was overwhelming. Anger and sadness filled me up and drove me mad. I’d scream into pillows, punching them or hitting them against the wall until I was exhausted. Still, the anger lived on.
I’m not sure how I found kundalini yoga DVDs, but I eventually started ordering many of Ana and Ravi’s practices, one by one. These DVDs range from fun — like Dance the Chakras — to more basic Kundalini kriyas, Kundalini Yoga for Beginners and Beyond. (These are affiliate links and if you purchase through using them, I receive a small percentage of the sale. Thank you for your support!)
How is Kundalini different from Vinyasa, Hatha or other types of yoga?
While Vinyasa and Hatha bring the mind into the physical body, Kundalini better helps bring the mind’s focus to the spiritual body. Vinyasa and Hatha are both very spiritual, depending on the type of class you’re doing, but Kundalini is more powerful.
For example, in many Kundalini classes, you sit and meditate for a moment in between exercises. You can literally feel all the cells in the body buzzing with energy. In times of great emotion, the sets of exercises, called kriyas, wring the emotions from your body, releasing them like water falls from a twisted towel.
For me, this proof came from those days after surgery, as I practiced with a weak body and a raw heart. Many days, the exercises left me feeling light and free. Some days, the exercises would activate such heavy anger or sadness that continuing the DVD seemed ridiculous and I got up and walked away.
As the years wore on and I healed the pain from cancer, other, earlier emotional scars healed. Strength returned, I moved for a time into a solely vinyasa-based practice, but so missed the profound beauty of kundalini that it’s again become a big part of my practice.
Physically speaking, kundalini doesn’t typically involve warrior poses or sun salutations. Instead, you might sit seated with your arms stretched out, parallel to the ground while twisting, breathing and repeating a mantra.
Sounds simple, and kundalini yoga is simple. Deceptively simple. You’ll feel the energy move through your body immediately after the first exercise.
Looking for a challenge? Try a 40-day kriya.
40-day kriyas involve doing the same set of exercises every day, for 40 days. Kundalini yoga philosophy says that our habits define us. Practicing the same kriya for 40 days straight is supposed to help create new habits. (I now offer The Big Shift, which is an online course featuring a 40-day yoga practice complete with meditation tutorials, sacred reading and deep-dive journaling prompts.)
In July 2014, I committed to the 40 days. The practice — combined with reading The Power of Now — was like a super cleanse for my soul. I went from feeling lost and mildly depressed to feeling much more in tune with the universe. I also now feel much clearer about my life’s path and purpose.
EDIT: It’s now 2017, and my life has completely transformed from the 40-day practice. I feel alive, confident, happy and utterly peaceful. I know my life purpose and am excitedly working on building my dreams every day.
The journey is never-ending, but this was the start of everything.
Is kundalini yoga for you?
When you first start looking into kundalini yoga, you might wonder what the heck is going on. Teachers often wear white outfits, and the kriyas can seem downright weird. (But they work!)
Kundalini is definitely not a cult, and no one will make you drink Kool-Aid. Many people who practice Kundalini are deeply spiritual, and yes, it’s very different from a basic Vinyasa or Hatha class.
But you can definitely wear black leggings — or even printed ones if you’d like! — and still be welcomed with open arms. Of course, home practice through DVDs or online (Yogaglo offers Kundalini classes) is also a wonderful option.
Anyone who has emotions they’d like to heal or is simply a seeker searching for a deeper connection with the divine will find that kundalini yoga offers powerful tools to help.
More information: 3HO, the official kundalini yoga organization.
Have you ever tried Kundalini yoga? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Illustrated Guide: Yoga poses to release emotions like anger and sadness
Download a six-page guide with a collection of yoga poses to release and heal repressed emotions so you can feel more peace and happiness.