The following is a guide on how to practice Kundalini Yoga, Kundalini Yoga Kriyas (sets) and Yoga sessions in general.
Kundalini Yoga Attire:
- Clothing should be loose and comfortable. Unlike other schools of Yoga, in Kundalini Yoga, keep the shoulders and spine covered. This has to do with the awakening, flow and distribution of Kundalini Shakti up and down the back, especially its movement via the 3 main psychic channels (ida, pingala and shushumna) that lie in and along the spinal cord.
- Kundalini Yoga is practiced barefoot.
- A blanket can be used to cover the body after doing a Kundalini Yoga kriya during the relaxation period. Most Kriyas are followed by a period of relaxation usually done in corpse pose (shav asana) and during this time the body temperature tends to drop, so a blanket (or shawl) can be used to stay warm and comfortable. You will fall asleep at least once…we have all done it.
Kundalini Yoga Diet: Here are some highlights.
- Try not to eat at least 2-3 hours before doing your Kundalini Yoga kriyas and asanas. Given that Kundalini Yoga uses many different bandhas (body locks), pranayamas (breathing exercises), asanas and vigorous movement, you will be uncomfortable if your stomach is still full. Pack a nutrient bar for needed energy prior to your yoga set.
- Although Yoga in general recommends a Sattvic diet (foods that promote calmness and clarity), and not rajasic foods (energetic foods that promote activity) or tamasic foods (foods that promote heaviness and dull the mind), due to the physical, energetic nature of Kundalini Yoga, including some rajasic foods in your diet is not a significant issue. Still it is recommended that the bulk of your diet be sattvic. Sattvic foods are generally fresh and sweet such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey etc. Rajasic foods are generally spicy and stimulating, such as onions, garlic, eggs, fish, tea etc. Tamasic foods are fatty foods, stale food, meat, etc.
- Kundalini Yoga Kriyas are designed to force the organs, tissues, nerves and vessels to expel buried toxins out into the elimination systems of the body. After any kriya or yoga set, drink plenty of water to cleanse the body of toxins and waste that have been released.
Kundalini Yoga Breathing:
- Kunadalini Yoga relies on the Science of Pranayama/breathing exercises. Each exercise and asana is accompanied by a specific pranayama. Unless specified otherwise, all pranayama are done through the nose.
- Although Jal Neti (washing the nostrils with saline water) is recommended for cleaning the nasal passageways to help maximize the benefits of the pranayamas, keep a box of tissues handy.
Kundalini Yoga Safety:
- Some Kundalini Yoga Kriyas can be challenging so always do warm-ups first before doing these tough sets and asanas. There are several good easy kriyas and sets which work very well as warm-ups to the tough kriyas. It is especially important to do spinal warm-ups as charging the cerebrospinal fluid within the spinal cord and brain assists in the flow of awakened Kundalini Shakti.
- Don’t overdo it. Walk the middle ground between fanaticism and laziness. This goes for both, your overall practice and also for each kriya and asana you do. In other words, each exercise you do should not be too easy and not be too hard, and your overall sadhana (spiritual practice) should be equally balanced, between being ridiculously ambitious or excessively easy. With regard to your sadhana try to establish a steady, long-term daily practice, rather than doing 10 hours a day for 2 weeks and then nothing after that.
- Use common sense with regard to injuries. Use modifications that are provided for the difficult asanas and exercises and back off if you feel you are risking injury. Also, feel free to increase the relaxation time between exercises or reduce the time suggested for doing a particular exercise to suit your pace. As yoga teacher Ravi Singh says, Kundalini Yoga is all about you and you – not a competition, so listen to your body and let your inner voice guide and direct you.
- The Kundalini Yoga teachings and methodology provided here have been perfected over the centuries to not only, optimize the benefits of the kriyas, but, also to reduce any dangers and risks associated with awakening Kundalini Shakti. The general idea is not to activate the chakras by excessively using the Beej Mantas (seed sounds) associated with each chakra or other direct methods; the idea, instead, is simply to prepare the system physically, emotionally and mentally for greater and greater flow of Kundalini Shakti. The approach is to trust the Universe to awaken this energy in accordance with the level of preparation. This approach helps avoid many of the difficulties involved with the premature awakening of Kundalini that one sometimes comes across in the literature.
Kundalini Yoga Teachings:
- It is suggested to initially learn Kundalini Yoga from a teacher who can ensure that the knowledge is accurately transferred. You should try to attend a few live yoga classes to get a feel for the kriyas, asanas, and pranayamas. Keep in mind that the real Guru is within and is always available to guide you if asked.
- There is also some good literature and websites available which provide guidance and resources for practicing kundalini yoga. Look for books by Swami Satyananda Saraswati and Ravi Singh or visit their websites for more info.
When to Practice Kundalini Yoga: Kundalini Yoga should be practiced in the early morning hours. But if you can’t do your sadhana at that time, practice at other times of the day. Some kriyas, such as those that help you sleep need to be practiced at their designated times. Below are some reasons to motivate you to practice in the early morning hours. You can also ready The Secret on How to Become an Early Riser if this is something you want to accomplish.
- Early morning is called brahmamuhurta in Sanskrit. It literally means “The Divine Time.” This is the time of the day when the spiritual energy on our lovely planet is at its highest.
- The air at this time is fresh and contains the greatest amount of prana (cosmic life force).
- The mind is also fresh and unburdened with the worries of everyday life. This will help in the practice of concentration and meditation.
- This is the time of day when you are least likely to be distracted by the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
- The stomach is empty, which is necessary before practicing many of the Yoga asanas and pranayamas.
Where to Practice Kundalini Yoga: The place where you practice Kundalini Yoga needs to be spacious and clean, but more importantly it should be well ventilated. You can also use a fan to keep the air fresh, but make sure it is not pointed directly at you. Practicing outdoors is fine as well, although in direct sunlight it may become too warm due to the energetic pranamayas and exercises.
Tools for Kundalini Yoga Practice:
- Use inspirational music when doing the Kundalini Yoga kriyas and sets, but music should not be used when doing the meditations, unless specified otherwise.
- You can use a firm cushion, yoga block or folded blanket to sit on if it helps take the pressure off your knees, hips and back. You may also use a zafu, smile cushion and zabuton to practice the meditations or kriyas if you like. I have ordered my zafus and zabutons from here and have been very happy with them…zafu.net.
- Make sure you are not practicing on a slippery surface. A yoga mat or appropriate yoga rug should be used.
- To help you stretch and hold certain asanas, you can use yoga blocks or yoga straps.
- Yoga neck pillows or folded blankets are fine to use to support your neck or lower back (by placing under your knees) during relaxation periods while in shav asana and similar asana.
Medical Conditions and Kundalini Yoga Practice:
- Kundalini Yoga should never be practiced under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You are about to awaken the most potent force within yourself, so you wont need to get a high once you start this journey.
- If you are under medical supervision, check with your health care provider before starting a Kundalini Yoga Program.
- If you are pregnant you should check with your health care provider before proceeding. There are also Kundalini Yoga kriyas specifically designed for Pre-natal and Post-natal periods.
Kundalini Yoga Attitude: Be committed and trust in the Universal Forces to guide, nourish and deliver you. Kundalini Yoga is a powerful science and invaluable asset in helping you reach and surpass your maximum potential.