Week 21 of Pagan Blog Project: K is for Kundalini Yoga. Since Kundalini was actually on the list of prompts, I’m not going to talk about what it *is* exactly, I’m going to focus on my personal experiences with Kundalini Yoga. However I thought I should define my terms a bit so you know what I’m talking about. Kundalini is the coiled up feminine life-force, according to Hindu Philosophy it sits in the sacrum. Kundalini is represented by the serpent (sleeping) or the goddess in Tantra. Kundalini yoga is the yoga that focuses on awakening one’s kundalini and raising energy within the body and focusing on using that energy to bring positive changes into our lives.
There are many kinds of yoga out there, no matter who you are and what kind of shape you’re in if you want to practice yoga there will be a philosophy that meets your needs and goals. I wanted a yoga practice that would both help me lose weight, be a spiritual practice, help me focus, and as a tool for personal empowerment. That’s a lot of expectations but that’s what I found in Kundalini yoga. So, kundalini is not exactly a relaxing, quiet kind of yoga where you close your eyes, sit, and breathe. It’s more of an active practice: there are quiet moments of mediation but balanced by active, chanting, and consciousness raising exercises. While I always feel energized and refreshed after practicing, I will admit I am definitely sweating, hot, and sometimes panting (at least before the ending meditation).
Kundalini yoga is allegedly one of the oldest forms of yoga. It’s supposedly one of the more advanced kinds of yoga as far as mediation goes. For me personally, I find the more active mediation techniques in Kundalini much more easily achieved than some of the slower paced techniques. Deciding which method is more “advanced” is entirely subjective to the person practicing. That being said, I prefer some of the older practices and more “classic” styles and classes I’ve found. Through my yoga practice I’ve been able to focus on empowering myself and gaining confidence as well as learning to be present in my body. One reason I like Kundalini is for me it balances attaining my physical goals with the spiritual and mental benefits of relaxation and mediation.
I’m pretty short on time this week so I’m going to wrap up this post with some resources for anyone interested in Kundalini yoga. If you’re a beginner I would recommend taking a class at a reputable yoga studio. This is the best way to get started because having a good teacher will keep from injuring yourself and get poses correct. It’s easier to learn things the correct way the first time than correcting mistakes later down the road. On the other hand, if you have a bad teacher or someone poorly trained, you might be better off on your own. One strategy is to try classes with instructors out first. Many yoga studios have free classes once a week or so you can check out their instructors. Community classes are common in yoga studios (in urban areas at least) but if you can’t find any it doesn’t hurt to ask the studio owner if they can give you a discount to try out different classes and instructors. If you’re studio shopping this is one way to find the perfect fit for you. If you don’t want to go to a studio, you’ll have to rely on the internet, videos, and possibly books. So, these are the online and media resources I’ve found helpful.
Kundalini Yoga with Gurmukh (2004)
This one is pretty challenging, but also accessible to beginners. It goes at a slower pace than the other I think but some of the moves are very challenging. Gurmukh is pretty new-agey and very into the spiritual aspects in a more new age way so she will probably rub some the wrong way. I can take her or leave her, but the exercise is pretty good.
Kundalini Yoga for Beginners & Beyond with Ana Brett & Ravi Singh (2005)
This one I like and it seems accessible and good for all fitness and mediation levels. I prefer this one, but that’s just my preference.
Yoga Today is an excellent resource for online videos. I admit, most of my yoga practice is from this website these days unless I am going to a class (still happens sometimes). They have some Kundalini videos, though none at a beginner level (not last I checked anyway I sometimes have problems with the search function). Another awesome thing about yoga today is if you just want to give yoga a try, they offer one free streaming class a week. You can use it for free, or pay (I pay for the unlimited streaming but you can also download the classes individually). Another thing I love so much about Yoga Today is their focused series like weight loss and stress relief. While my normal practice is a more traditional Kundalini practice I have greatly benefit from the “get unstuck” video here when I was suffering some serious depression from issues with the Ex. So I can’t recommend Yoga Today enough: especially if you are getting bored with your regular practice. (and full disclosure: I pay for this service, no one asked my opinion or paid me for this review).
*Edited because I accidentally must have cut off part of my Yoga Today review: I highly recommend it. Love it even. Sorry for the confusion.