Yoga: The Awakening of the Self
by Shakta Kaur Khalsa
People who do yoga, or have at least some understanding of
yoga, are curious about Kundalini yoga. In the past, the Kundalini
energy has been referred to as "serpent power," and other
exotic sounding terms, but Kundalini Yoga, as taught by my
teacher, Yogi Bhajan, is much more simple and close to home
than you might think.
Kundalini comes from the root word, kundal, in Sanskrit,
which means "the lock of the hair from the beloved." The uncoiling
of this "hair" is the awakening of the kundalini, the unlimited
potential that already exists in every human.
The easiest way to understand kundalini is to acknowledge
that there is the universal spirit, sometimes referred to
as God. God uncoils him/her/itself. This uncoiling process
is known as kundalini. What is uncoiling and awakening is
you, nothing more and nothing less. It is a normal capacity
that most people simply are not utilizing. Yoga is the science
of the self, and kundalini is the awakening of the self. It
is that simple.
A unique and distinctive yoga form that encompasses elements
that are found in all other forms of yoga, Kundalini yoga
is sometimes called the "mother yoga." Here are a few of the
ways that Kundalini yoga shares paths with other traditions
1. Links movement with rhythmic breathing patterns.
2. Has an introspective quality of listening to the body and
releasing emotions, as well as drawing on inspiration, such
holding a pose with fearlessness, etc.
3. Incorporates chanting and singing as yogic technology.
4. Is directly focused on moving the energy through the chakras
(your body's energy centers)
5. Encompasses the eight limbs and all seven branches of yoga
6. Includes pranayama (breathing) techniques and uses the
bandhas (body locks).
7. In addition to yoga and meditation, Kundalini yoga incorporates
teachings for all aspects of life; for example, vegetarian
diet, serving others, and yogic life skills such as conscious
parenting and partnering.
Often people are afraid to try yoga, and no wonder. Yoga
magazines and books are filled with images of rubber-bodied
yogis in acrobatic twists, or muscular body-builders in perfect
handstands. Unfortunately this portrayal of yoga scares most
folks away, but fortunately, yoga, and especially Kundalini
yoga, is not really like the "macho yoga" image. Kundalini
yoga meets you where you are, and takes you to your potential.
In fact, I always say that if you can breathe and move your
body, you can do Kundalini yoga. Strong, rhythmic breathing
coupled with fluid movements is one of the strong foundations
of Kundalini yoga.
So what does a Kundalini yoga class look like? First we tune
in using a centering technique to call upon our inner guidance.
Then we warm up and stretch out our bodies using movement
and strong breathing. Each Kundalini yoga class is unique,
but each will contain a yoga "set" of postures and exercises
that work on specific areas of the body, mind, and spirit.
There are literally hundreds of these yoga sets to choose
from -- yoga for your back, your radiance, your mind/heart
balance, your ability to keep up through hard times, in short,
for every aspect of you as a human being.
After the yoga set, a Kundalini yoga class will culminate
with a deep relaxation, supported and uplifted by divine music,
and often times, the sound of the gong. After the restful
period, most Kundalini yoga classes end with breath or mantra
meditation -- the icing on the cake, so to speak!
Now that you know more about this ancient, yet very modern
yogic science, you are even more curious than before, and
if you're up for an "inner adventure," try some Kundalini
yoga. It delivers you to yourself, and fast!
About the Author
Shakta Kaur Khalsa has been teaching Kundalini yoga for twenty-five
years, and has been a Montessori teacher for almost as long.
She lives in Herndon, Virginia, with her husband and their
son. She also is the author of Fly Like a Butterfly: Yoga
for Children (Rudra Press) and a new book, Kundalini Yoga
(Dorling Kindersley Inc.). She teaches adults and children
at the Kundalini Yoga Center in Sterling, Virginia, as well
as teacher-trains for children’s yoga.
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