What is Kundalini Yoga and how do you practice it?

The unique benefits & practice of Kundalini yogaA meditative yoga

Types of Yoga

The practice of yoga comes in many forms. The most popular types of yoga, of course, are styles that involve the movement of the body accompanied by intentional breathing, like Hatha, Vinyasa or Ashtanga style Yoga. These are yoga practices in which one moves into yoga postures (called asanas) that can improve your flexibility, strength, and balance.

There are other forms of yoga that have less physical movement. Mindfulness Meditation and Restorative Yoga, for example, are styles that heighten awareness as well as bring relief and relaxation to the mind and body. Another style of yoga that probably receives minimal attention in the yoga community is called Kundalini Yoga. Let's take a closer look at this form of yoga to see if it is a practice that might suit your needs as a yoga style.

What is Kundalini yoga?

Kundalini yoga

Kundalini Yoga combines breath work, chanting, and some upper body movement. It can be viewed as a form of meditation and energy work. The word comes from Sanskrit, the language of yoga.

La primera parte de la palabra, “kunda”, significa “energía envuelta”. La premisa es que tenemos energía envuelta que está situada en la base de la columna vertebral. En el transcurso de una clase de Kundalini Yoga, la respiración, el sonido y el movimiento se crean para desbloquear esta energía confinada y permitir que suba por la columna vertebral a través de los siete chakras. A medida que la energía se eleva, se produce la limpieza, la curación y la liberación para dar lugar a una mayor sensación de energía dirigida que se mueve a través de la coronilla.

An analogy that is commonly used to describe the Kundalini experience is the image of a sleeping snake. The snake rests soundly at the base of the spine. As one chants, sings, and practices deep breathing, it awakens the sleeping snake. The serpent uncoils from it's nest and begins to rise upward through each chakra to reach the crown. Along its path, it raises the energy of the individual; raising consciousness and awareness.

The benefits of Kundalini yoga

There are several benefits to Kundalini yoga. It improves your mood, enhances memory and focus, and can improve your heart health.

Improved mood

Breathing is one of the main exercises in Kundalini Yoga. They are specifically designed to produce positive outcomes for the individual. These can be a on physical, mental, or emotional level.

Due to the breathing practices in Kundalini, it stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain. It is a neurotransmitter that is related to regulating mood, appetitive, memory, and body temperature.

At normal levels, an individual will feel generally content and happy. At lower levels, though, one may experience sadness, decrease in energy, and perhaps symptoms of depression.

If you have lower energy, for example, the breathing in this style of yoga can increase and improve those energy levels.

Enhanced memory and focus

Research has shown that Kundalini Yoga can help with one's memory and concentration.

Kundalini, like other meditative yoga practices, stimulates the areas of the frontal lobe of the brain. It is here that executive functions like memory are performed.

With consistent yoga practices, it can raise the cognitive functionings of an individual. If you're experiencing some cognitive decline or have trouble remembering things, incorporating a Kundalini practice may improve these functions.

Puede mejorar la salud cardiaca

The deep breathing practices in Kundalini Yoga can be directly associated with blood pressure and heart rate.

When you practice long deep breaths in Kundalini or other meditation practices, it positively moderates the autonomic nervous system. This is the system of the brain that regulates stress. Slow, deep breathing calms this system and can reduce symptoms of anxiety or nervousness.

Stress, as we know, is a contributor to heart conditionslike hypertension and increases the risk of cardiac arrest.

How to practice Kundalini yoga

Anyone can practice Kundalini Yoga, even the beginner. It does take consistent practice though, to develop the breathing and chanting techniques and experience the benefits of the practice.

Often one may wear the color white when they're practice Kundalini Yoga. The symbolism is to ward away negative energy and to enhance the positive vibrations of the Kundalini practice. This, of course, is not required as a Kundalini practitioner, but something you may notice in the Kundalini community.

A Kundalini Yoga class consists of three parts: opening chant, postures accompanied with breathing, and then a closing meditation.

1. Tuning in: The opening chant

Chanting and singing are common features of the Kundalini practice. These are said to help raise the vibration of the physical body to help cleanse and heal.

Comenzar con un cántico de apertura crea el ambiente perfecto y la intención de la práctica. Un cántico común que se recita al comienzo de una clase es el Adi Mantra – “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo”. Esto significa “Me inclino ante la sutil sabiduría divina, el divino maestro interior”.

2. Kriya

Once the mind and body are prepared, the practice proceeds with a set of kriyas. These are often physical actions, like yoga postures, that are practiced with a specific breathing exercise or meditation. These actions are consistent with the intention of the yoga practice.

For example, one may practice Kundalini to clear the mind, cleanse the liver, or lift one's confidence. Whatever the intention, there are coordinating breathing exercises and movements. These movements may simply be hand and arm gestures performed during the duration of the chant or song.

An example of a yoga kriya is Kapalabhati, que significa “cráneo brillante”. Se trata de una práctica de respiración que se dice que estimula las células del cerebro para ayudar a despejar la mente. En el Kundalini Yoga se le conoce comúnmente como “Respiración de Fuego”. Es un ejercicio dinámico de respiración que puede librar al cuerpo de toxinas físicas perjudiciales y pensamientos negativos.

3. Closing meditation

After the kriyas have been performed in the practice, one completes the Kundalini class with a closing meditation. It is a way to embody the full practice and to proceed with a greater awareness of self.

It is the time for the mind and body to settle and focus inward.

Una clase de Kundalini Yoga puede terminar con un cántico común, Sat Nam, que significa “Yo soy la verdad”. Es la declaración de que te has liberado de las distracciones físicas no deseadas utilizando el cántico, el canto y la respiración para encontrar y reconocer tu verdad interior.

If you're looking for something new and different related to a yoga practice that involves mental and physical clarity, try Kundalini Yoga. You may find that it is a pathway to feeling a true connection with yourself, others, and the Divine.

With these Kundalini exercises, the yoga practitioner treads that path toward a wholesome and healthy life.


John is a certified yoga teacher (E-RYT 500, 1000 hours), personal trainer and sports nutritionist. Currently, he teaches yoga in the Salt Lake City area.. Actualmente, imparte clases de yoga en el área de Salt Lake City.

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