I often say to students that you cannot stay the same when you practice Kundalini yoga. The very nature of what we do is to awaken the energy of consciousness, to practice in a way that sheds light on our self-imposed limitations, and invites us to think out of the box and develop our intuitive mind. Being able to live from our intuitive mind is one of the main goals of a Kundalini practitioner.
I practice and teach both Hatha and Kundalini yoga. I see my Hatha practice as daily maintenance — a great way to work out kinks in my body, get grounded and calm. My Kundalini practice is a place of transformation. The kriyas and meditations are much more specific than your regular flow class, much like an Iyengar practice, but rather than focusing on physical alignment, the kriyas are a specific set of exercises that generate energy, organize that energy and deliver you to a specific energetic state — particularly one of greater awareness.
Also within the practice are built-in moments of stillness where we sit quietly and awaken to our Self. The breathwork within the kriyas is so powerful that it starts to strip away the layers that veil our consciousness, and in the sweet moments between poses we can sense the fullness of who we are. The kriyas work on strengthening your nervous system, balancing your glandular system, purifying the body and calming the mind.
I have practiced kriyas that have left me blissed out, high and filled with a sense of connection and joy, and others that have provoked and confronted me to the very core of who I am, both physically and mentally. I have learned to stay present and accept pleasure and pain as part of the same journey to health and balance. Our ego naturally leans towards pleasure and comfort. It takes concerted effort and discipline to begin to release the ego’s grip on our consciousness. This effort is the work required to begin to access the truth of who we are, to create a strong connection to our Soul and therefore our Soul’s work on this planet. It is where we start to make great strides toward living as an enlightened being.
Before practicing Kundalini yoga, I had done some meditation, but it had always been elusive for me. Meditations within Kundalini yoga are multifaceted. You can do the simplest forms, such as breath awareness or simple mantra, or explore more elaborate meditations where there is a specific breath, mantra and mudra that all work together to balance different aspects of the mind and body. When practiced for 40–120 days, the result is pure magic.
Kundalini yoga is not to be taken lightly. It is like an express train that shakes and wakes you up. I sincerely encourage you to have an experience of Kundalini yoga for yourself. It will add depth to your existing practice and to your life. I have created a number of Kundalini videos on GaiamTV.com for you to try. If you find a set that resonates with you, stick to it for 40 days so you can reap the full benefits of the kriya.