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Kundalini Yoga

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Updated April 09, 2014

What is It?

Kundalini yoga has only been practiced in the west relatively recently. In 1969, Yogi Bhajan founded 3HO (the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) to introduce this yoga practice to a broader population. Although Kundalini had not previously been taught to the public, Yogi Bhajan felt that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy its benefits.

What is Does Kundalini Mean?

The Kundalini is untapped energy (prana) at the base of the spine that can be drawn up through the body awakening each of the seven chakras. Full enlightenment occurs when this energy reaches the crown chakra at the top of the head. Kundalini energy is often represented as a snake coiled at the bottom of the spine.

Focus on Breath and Movement

Each Kundalini Yoga asana series is done with a specific breathing technique that intensifies the effects of the poses with the purpose of freeing energy in the lower body and allowing it to move upwards. Kundalini sequences (called kriyas) may consist of rapid, repetitive movements done with in conjunction with a designated breathing method or holding a pose while breathing in a particular way.

What to Expect in a Kundalini Class

A Kundalini class begins with a short chant followed by a warm-up to stretch the spine and improve flexibility. The main work of the class is called a kriya, which is a proscribed sequence of poses and pranayama that focuses on a precise area of the body. The teacher typically does not make manual adjustments. The class ends with a meditation, which may be accompanied by the teacher playing a large gong, and a closing song. Kundalini devotees often wear flowing white robes and head wraps, but don't feel obligated to adopt this style of dress when you take class.

Is Kundalini for You?

Kundalini is one of the more spiritual types of yoga. It goes beyond the physical performance of poses with its emphasis on breathing, meditation, mudras and chanting. However, the Kundalini sequences can be very physically intense. This type of yoga appeals to those who are up for both mental and physical challenges.

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