“In Kundalini Yoga the most important thing is your experience. It goes right to your heart. No words can replace your experience. Your mind may accept the words or it may not, but your consciousness will not accept just words.” ~ Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher Training manual, p. 20
Kundalini Yoga is a universal style directed towards refining and expanding our awareness. By tapping into the nervous system it activates the energy centers, which clears self-doubts, increases stillness, and limits inner duality. The potency of Kundalini yoga can only be witnessed and not expressed in words.
The origin of this yogic study is still unclear, however, the Upanishads speak about it with great flair. Kundalini is a form of primal energy said to be located at the base of the spine; coiled up like a serpent it lies dormant and unnoticed within all of us.
Only when its awakened, can we experience its presence and potency. Kundalini Yoga is the medium to awaken that energy within us, using Tantra visualization techniques, pranayamas, bandhas, asana, etc., meditation practices from Laya yoga, and Kriyas from Patanjali Kriya yoga philosophy.
Breath of Fire
Before we get into any posture or Kriya in Kundalini yoga, we will look at the foundational breathing technique used in Kundalini yoga. Breath of fire is the rapid, rhythmic pattern with equal emphasis on the inhale and exhale.
Be seated in a comfortable, meditative pose, and keep the eyelids open 9/10th. Relax the diaphragm muscles, and inhale like the breath is coming in a relaxed fashion and not in a pressurized way. To exhale, blow the air out powerfully from your nose (keep the mouth closed), the abdomen muscles are pressed inside like they are touching the spine.
Keep the chest relaxed and facing forward and complete approximately 2-3 cycles in a minute. Beginners might find it nauseating due to its intense, detoxifying nature, but pause for a minute or two and the feeling will pass off.
Benefits: Breath of fire is powered from the solar plexus hence it strengthen this chakra. It can detox the body, balance the nervous systems, massage the internal organs, increase oxygen capacity in the body and boosts immune system.
Kundalini Yoga Kriyas for everyday use
Archer Pose Kriya
Method: Imagine you are holding a bow and arrow. Stand with the feet 2 to 3 feet apart, keeping the right foot facing forward and the left foot is placed at 45 degrees.
Both the heels are in line with each other. The left leg is straight and the right leg is bent at the knee, where the right thigh becomes almost parallel to the floor. The pelvic is facing forward and the belly is tucked in.
The right hand is extended in the front, parallel to the ground while the left hand is bent at the elbow and in line with the right hand, whereas the elbow is pressed in.
The fingers of both the hands are curled with thumbs pulled back. Stay here for at least 3 minutes each or you can take a break and come up. Repeat this movement for 3 minutes and gradually build up strength.
Benefits: Similar to Warrior pose, the Archer’s Pose instills a sense of bravery and confidence in the practitioner. This pose allows the practitioner to overcome his ego like its being shot with the bow to bring balance and harmony in life. This pose opens the third eye chakra, tones and strengthens the entire lower body, especially the knees. It grounds the energies, instills confidence, increases intuition, removes mental reflux, and eases the body.
Ego Eradicator Kriya
Method: Be seated in an easy pose or cross legged and focus on your breath. After several breaths, inhale and raise your arms to 60 degrees.
For example, if you imagine your heart at the center, then the arms are placed at 10’0 clock and 2’0 clock. Curl the fingertips on to the pads of the palms at the base of the fingers. Thumbs are stretched back, pointing towards each other above the head.
Close your eyes and begin the breath of fire. While practicing this, keep the arms in the air. Take a deep breath and touch the tips of the thumb over your head, exhale and bring your arms down. Keep going for 3 minutes.
Benefits: Ego Eradicator works on the solar plexus, which is the center of the ego. When the solar plexus chakra is empowered, fear and lack of clarity in thinking, which fumes the ego, is destroyed. It removes negativity from your aura field, and prepares us for any challenging situation.
Method: Be seated in Thunderbolt Pose or Vajrasana and start with a few deep breaths. Lift the arms above the head with upper arms touching the ears. Keep the elbows straight, and fingers interlocked and the index fingers are straight and pointing upwards.
Close your eyes and roll them up to the third eye chakra. Stay here and start chanting ‘Sat’ on the inhale, squeeze the belly in and try to touch the belly to the spine and on the exhale, chant, ‘Nam’ and relax your belly. Keep the squeeze-release motion active for a minute and gradually increase the pace by 3,7,11,21,31 minutes, over the course of time.
To finish, inhale deeply and apply both root and neck lock. B.K.S. Iyengar defined the root lock, or Mula Bandha, as “a posture where the body from the anus to the navel is contracted and lifted up and towards the spine.” While entering and exiting the lock, the breath is slow and steady. Neck lock is performed by lifting the chest and the sternum so that the back muscles of the neck are elongated and pull the chin toward the back of the neck.
Draw the energy up your spine to the top of your head. Hold for a few seconds and then release everything.
Benefits: Apart from being a fundamental kriya in Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Bhajan emphasized that its the most complete action as the whole Kundalini Kriya is summarized in this one process. It engages the first, second, and the third chakra and balances the most basic survival, raw, and sexual instincts in the body.
The root chakra, especially holds memories related to birth, infancy, and impact of traumas from our early life. This kriya is helpful in removing childhood wounds and traumas. Furthermore, it balances and grounds the negative energy in the body and balances the solar plexus chakra through the squeeze-release motion.
Method: Stand straight with body in line from head to toes, gather your breath and draw your awareness inwards.
Come in squat position, place the hips on the heels with the heels touching each other. Leave some gap between the knees and place the hands on the ground. Look forward. This is your starting position.
Inhale, stand up and the hands are still placed down, the buttocks are lifted and gaze at the knees. Now, exhale strongly and come back to the starting position, i.e. the hips on heels, hands on the floor, and the gaze is fixated forward. On exhale, chant Sa- Ta- Na- Ma. This exercise can be repeated from one to three minutes and the mantra will be chanted rhythmically.
Benefits: Frog pose works on the flexibility of the body and is effective to increase lower body strength. It tones the thighs, knees, calves and hips, and also benefits the respiratory system. The bending and sitting option works magnificently to open the heart chakra.
All these four kriyas can be practiced in the morning or when you are feeling low on energy, although avoid consuming food 2-3 hours before practice. Practicing at specific time of the day is advised. Also, Kundalini Yoga kriyas are subtle, therefore women in their moon cycles can still practice all of them, but not root locks and inverted postures. People suffering from other medical conditions should also consult a doctor and practice under supervision.
Sadhguru said that all of us are unknowingly trying to raise our Kundalini by desiring to experience life more intensely. However, we lack focus, direction, and structure. When we start performing the same acts in a structured format, we can connect with the source of our creation.