Kundalini yoga has arguably been a less well-known style of yoga but has grown in popularity in recent years. Kundalini is an ancient yogic practice that focuses on breathwork, asana, meditation, chanting, and singing.
Kundalini is a blend of physical and spiritual practice with the goal to build physical vitality and increase consciousness. If you’ve heard of kundalini yoga, but are unsure of what it’s all about, keep reading.
In this post, we’re discussing the history of Kundalini Yoga, what the snake symbol means and why practitioners wear white. Kundalini 101!
Definition of Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga can is defined as, “Latent female energy believed to lie coiled at the base of the spine. A system of meditation directed towards the release of kundalini energy.”
The History of Kundalini Yoga
While the exact origin of Kundalini Yoga is unknown, it’s first known mention dates back to c. 1,000 B.C. - 500 B.C. The Upanishads, a Vedic collection of sacred writings, indicate that Kundalini was a science of energy and spiritual philosophy before the physical practice of yoga was developed.
The first Kundalini classes were the definition of “Upanishads”, which means “sitting down to hear the teachings of the master”. Masters would speak to their students about their spiritual visions. Over time, the physical practice was developed.
Originally, Kundalini Yoga was taught as an advanced education and was not open to being learned by the general public. Students were required to go through several years of initiation before they were prepared to learn the spirit-body lessons of the Kundalini masters.
To the ancients, yoga was a sacred spirit-body connection. The goal was not fitness, as it so often is today. It was a direct connection with the enlightened god spirit that resides in all of us. There were no restrictions or dogma surrounding it - just practice. Of the many yogas that developed over the past 5,000 years, Kundalini was considered the most sacred.
Kundalini Yoga was kept secret for thousands of years. The Indian yoga elite believed that the public wasn’t ready for the powerful teachings and knowledge. It wasn’t until the 1960s, when Yogi Bhajan flew to Canada, that Kundalini was introduced to the west.
Kundalini Snake Symbol: What Does It Mean?
"Kundalini" is an ancient Sanskrit word that literally means "coiled snake." Before Buddhism and Hinduism, in early Eastern religion, it was believed that each individual possessed a divine energy at the base of the spine.
This sacred energy of creation was believed to be inherent in all people and something that everyone was born with. Kundalini Yoga practices to “uncoil the snake” and therefore awakens our Higher Self. It’s believed to turn this potential energy into kinetic energy.
Wearing White For Kundalini Yoga
Yogi Bhajan believed colors have an effect on your consciousness. As a master of Kundalini Yoga, he saw white as having a unique impact on the conscious and subconscious minds due to white being a prism to balance colors.
Yogi Bhajan said, “We ask you to wear white so that you will reflect what is outside and go within yourself - that’s what white clothes can do for you.”
He taught students your auric radiance is expanded when wearing white. In his teachings, wearing white not only strengthens your electromagnetic field that is a container for your life force but also reflects any negativity.
In Kundalini Yoga it is believed that people will engage with you on a higher level when wearing white. Because white is reflective in nature, others will witness themselves as they approach you. Therefore they will have to deal with themselves before they come to you. And, they will likely engage differently with you because of your increased aura.
He also taught that wearing white is a meditation in itself. It takes care and mindfulness to keep white clothes clean. As he once stated: “The most difficult thing on this planet is to wear white from top to bottom; white, it is the greatest therapy.”
Kundalini practitioners still wear white clothing and turbans today.
Kundalini Yoga is referred to as the “yoga of awareness”. The philosophical purpose of Kundalini is to awaken your Higher Self. The God-like creative consciousness that resides within all of us is called Brahman.
Kundalini Yoga uses the methods that were developed by masters to disconnect from the ego in order to connect with Brahman.
Kundalini Yoga Poses
Kundalini kriyas are the combination of postures, movements, and breath patterns which, when all performed as a sequence, lead mind and body to a specific desired outcome.
Kundalini poses do not flow in the same way as vinyasa. They can be considered more passive as practitioners are often seated or moving through asanas slowly. The focus is on combining techniques (breathing, movement, chanting, singing) rather than increasing the heart rate.
Seated spinal flexes, or seated cat-cow, is a simple and easy yoga pose to practice. Sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor and take hold onto your knees with your hands. Gently close your eyes and relax.
On an inhale, lift your gaze and arch your back, pulling your chest forward (cow pose). Exhale and round your back, looking towards your navel for cat pose. Repeat this several times to stretch out the spine.
Closing Thoughts About Kundalini Yoga
Whether you are new to yoga or have been practicing for years, learning from various yoga styles and teaches only enriches your journey. Kundalini uses sound, mantra, energy healing, exercises, and meditation as a practice. This practice, like other forms of yoga, allows for connection and healing.
Yoga means union and ‘union’ looks different for everyone. You can find this connectivity through photography, daily rituals, breathing, and any form of yoga that works for you. The fundamental belief is any of these spiritual practices is to tap into yourself and trust to follow what works for you.
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