3 Reasons to Practice Kundalini Yoga
Written by Kate Rogers who lives in Costa Mesa, California. Kate is training at Seventh Chakra Yoga to become a Kundalini Yoga Level 1 Instructor. When she is not coaxing herself out of a daydream, she can be found snowboarding, hiking, or reading. She also happens to be one of the most calming, grounded, open minded, and loving souls on the West Coast!
When I first started practicing Kundalini Yoga it felt like I was putting a blindfold on before each class and taking a big, surprising bite out of self-awareness pie: each experience was shocking and I either really enjoyed what I’d learnt about myself or I found it really hard to swallow. Kundalini Yoga makes you more aware of what’s in your personal spice drawer of emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and patterns — the very ingredients that shape the way you experience life. A typical Kundalini Yoga Class includes mantras, breathing techniques (pranayamas), a series of postures (sets or kriyas), and a meditation. These elements work together to create countless effects on our beings.
Here are 3 reasons why I practice Kundalini Yoga:
1) Strengthen the Mind-Body Connection
One way our bodies talk to us is in the form of tension:
Why is my stomach in a knot? Is it because I ate something that upset it? Or, is it because I was thinking about moving next month and every thought I have about change gives me anxiety?
It doesn’t always take a lot of effort to locate and distinguish how foods or thoughts are affecting our physically beings, but body awareness can easily take a backseat once our minds kick-in to control our day.
Kundalini Yoga pairs a specific posture with a specific breath — from this partnership springs an ongoing relationship between our minds and bodies. With each breath you are inviting your mind to come to a place of stillness (away from those thoughts and daydreams) so that other intelligences — in this case, your body — get a chance to speak to you.
The work you do in class is subtle, but it may begin to show up in unsuspecting ways. I started to notice a stomach-ache arise after eating something I’ve enjoyed for years, I started craving random foods I didn’t normally eat and rejecting things I long ago deemed staples in my diet. What I thought was a radical shift in my being was really just me becoming more attuned to what’s always been there.
Cultivating a relationship between my mind and body lead me down a path of self-healing and self-discovery: What is my body telling me I need right now? Where does the healing really need to take place? Do I need to change my diet or my thought patterns? Is there a larger situation or person in my life that I need to address?
2) Balance The Nervous System
There are many ingredients of Kundalini Yoga that help balance your Nervous System, but here are three you will encounter in every class: breath, mudras (hand postures), and mantras.
Mudras are effective because touch is one way we send signals to our brain. If you’ve practiced any form of yoga then you might be familiar with Gyan Mudra: touching your pointer fingers to your thumbs while sitting in easy pose. Each mudra activates a certain nerve channel in the body and activating a nerve channel is like building a muscle at the gym: the more you use a channel, the stronger it becomes.
Breathing techniques or Mantras are combined with a mudra to stimulate your nerves while also calming your nervous system. When you take a long slow deep breath or chant a mantra with calm, loving words while at the same time tapping your fingers on different channels in your hand, you’re literally training your body to stay calm as it’s being challenged with more stimulation.
I’ve noticed my capacity to handle my stress grow along with my ability to deal with certain life events that I would have previously regarded as overwhelming. I am able to engage with the world for longer, more sustained periods of time before feeling the need to take a break from it.
3) Awareness of Habits and Behaviors
Two major ways Kundalini brings awareness to your habits and behaviors is through movement (Kriyas) and meditation.
Movement is an important factor in any yoga practice because it stirs up stagnant energy held in the body. We come to class after a day filled with social interactions, running task lists, chores, and other pressing issues. If we go into the next day without releasing, processing, or acknowledging what we experienced then we can wake up the next day still carrying everything that happened. These experiences will continue to build up and clog our system until we decide to move things up a bit. The series of postures that make up a Kriya are intentional: they work together to move energy from different parts of your body and direct it up and out of your system.
Chakra Centers are another way of looking at this process. Often times the sequence of moments starts in your lower three chakras. It’ll then slowly bring the energy through your heart center and ultimately up and into the higher three chakras. What is also stirred up in the process, however, is the stored emotions can be attached to the energy accumulated throughout our days.
Meditation always comes after the Kriya to clear your subconscious mind of all the past emotions you’ve just brought up and into you crown chakra center.
The more I practice the more it feels as if I am responding to the present moment without filters from past traumas, past memories, or from my own self-delusionment. I’ve even started to look at past actions through this clearer lens: was I reacting out of a habitual place? I found some experiences to be jarring and hard to face. But, these experiences — no matter what they continue to bring up — always present me with the opportunities to practice humility, authenticity, strength, courage, and love as forms of healing.
Ultimately, Kundalini Yoga invites you to face, heal, nurture, and grow out of any thoughts, behaviors, or bodily response patterns that are no longer serving you. It helps you cleanse your subconscious mind of past emotions that continue to discolor your current reality. What helped me along my journey was developing a relationship with my yoga teachers and fellow students. Having people to turn to who have either already walked the path I’m on or who are currently walking it with me makes all my experiences more digestible, relatable, and fun!
Where can you find Kundalini Yoga?
If you’re interested in experiencing a Kundalini Yoga class, here are a few recommended yoga studios around LA & NYC to get you started:
Ra Ma Institute Located in Venice, Los Angeles, & NYC
Seventh Chakra Yoga Huntington Beach
Yoga West Los Angeles
Go Inward Long Beach