PRANAYAMA, KRIYAS, MEDITATION & MANTRA
Kundalini Yoga is the yoga of “awareness,” and was brought to the West in the 1960’s by Yogi Bhajan who describes it as “the creative power of the human being”. Through a combination of pranayama (breathing techniques), kriyas (sets of exercises), meditation, and mantra, Kundalini yoga helps its practitioners make the full mind, body and soul connection. It is a science, a true technology, that gives us the tools to deal with the stresses of modern time. Not only does it help with physical, core strength, but it also teaches us how to remain centered, calm and allows us to create a neutral mind. It allows for the alleviation of blocks that may be holding us back from living a healthy, happy, & spiritual life. Kundalini yoga is “the fastest way to establish an aligned relationship between the mind, body, and soul.”
My classes are fun, energetic and joyful and open to people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds, and beliefs. In them, we let go of our ego and open our hearts, together.
Available for 1-1s, Group Sessions, Workshops and Retreats.
“The Beauty of Kundalini Yoga is that in one kriya you can immediately achieve a complete physical, mental and spiritual balance. It works so effectively because of its completeness, balance and energy”
― Yogi Bhajan
SET AN INTENTION AND CREATE A DAILY PRACTICE
Find a comfortable space where you can meditate quietly. Feel free to use blocks and bolsters to ensure that you can sit properly with your hips tilted forward, your back straight and shoulders relaxed. You want the chin to be tilted down slightly, lifting the crown of the head and stretching the cervical spine at the back of the neck.
Close your eyes and visualize a golden cord drawing down from the base of the spine to the center of Mother Earth. Visualize another cord drawing up form the base of the spin, through the spinal column and out the crown to the center of the universe. Feel the connection above and below.
Take a few long breaths, in through the nose, then out through the nose. On every inhale, visualize fresh, clean prana, your life force energy, filling you up – and as you exhale, release all stress and anxiety. Expand on the inhale. Ground and elongate the exhale.
Contemplate your intention for the day. It can be one word: patience, love, clarity, focus, joy or even victory. Why Victory? Because by simply taking the time to arrive on the mat, you are already victorious in your efforts to elevate your mental, physical & spiritual growth. Congratulate yourself!
“Nothing is more spiritual, and really braver, than waking up in the morning and summoning the energy to face yourself, your life and your tasks with solidarity, enjoyment & vigilance! That is what spirituality is on a daily, momentary basis, making a conscious effort to replace your insecurities and self-doubt with the victory of humanity”
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A KUNDALINI YOGA CLASS?
We begin every class by “Tuning in” with the Adi Mantra, Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo which means “I bow to the infinite wisdom, and the wisdom I hold within myself”. As there are over 8000 different Kundalini Kriyas (set of exercises), each class is unique. The focus may be on a specific body part, a chakra, on releasing tension, calming the mind, or releasing blocked energy. The options are endless and it is always a surprise, as some classes are very physical while others are more meditative. It is all about having an experience and as the “yoga of awareness”, we tune into our own bodies and adjust our own energetic input on any given day! I teach every class as a “master class” but I offer adjustments for physical restrictions and advise each student to listen to their own body, pushing themselves past blocks of the ego, but never to physical distress. Kundalini postures are accessible to all people, of all ages and abilities, and there are no balancing postures or headstands, so don’t worry! You can do this!!
After tuning in, I typically start class with a pranayama (breathing exercise) so we can connect with our breath and let go of any stress or anxiety. This allows you to “arrive in the space” and be truly present for the duration of the class. Next, we move onto warm-ups and the Kriya itself. Unique to Kundalini yoga, we practice with our eyes closed, focusing on our own bodies, and allowing the energy we create to work within us, rather than being distracted by whats going on around us. This class is about you, and giving yourself the opportunity to reconnect with your own mind, body, and soul, take advantage of it! We rarely give ourselves this chance.
Once we have completed the Kriya, you will lay down for relaxation or savasana, where I will use the gong as an additional healing and meditative tool as you integrate the effects of the work you have done. Just lay back, relax and enjoy the beautiful vibrations. We return back to “easy pose” for a final meditation which can be with our without mantra, but be prepared, I love to chant and while I know many people are shy or nervous about raising their voices, I promise you THIS is what yoga is all about. after your breath work, exercise, and integration, this is where the magic happens. Remember, the ancient sounds we make create an internal and external vibration which causes the release of chemicals in the brain which raises our consciousness, elevate the mood and aid in self-healing. They are also a useful tool for those of us who struggle to meditate silently. You don’t want to miss the experience! We close our session by sending out love and healing energy with the Long Time Sun and chanting three long Sat Nam’s (truth is my name, my true identity).
WHAT IS KUNDALINI ENERGY?
Kundalini energy resides at the base of the spine, it is primal energy or Shakti. It can be visualized as a coil at the base of the spine, spiraling in 3 1/2 circles in the root chakra. Kundal literally means “curl of the hair of the beloved”. We use combinations of panic breathing exercises, meditation, mantra, and kriyas to awaken the Kundalini energy and as it “rises” we achieve greater awareness, enlightenment, and bliss. Practicing Kundalini yoga helps us work through physical and emotional blocks which when cleared can help activate our Kundalini energy resulting in a deeper connection with our true self and the infinite.
HOW DOES KUNDALINI YOGA COMPARE TO OTHER TYPES OF YOGA?
Kundalini yoga is a universal discipline, accessible to all people, regardless of age or physical ability. Unlike other forms of yoga which focus primarily on the physical, Kundalini yoga is science which aims to interconnect mind, body, and soul by using all of the key, ancient yogic techniques. It incorporates many others forms of yoga, such as Hatha, but focuses on bringing out the greatest potential of any individual by raising their awareness using all eight of Patanjali’s limbs. With Kundalini, you get the full yogic experience, plus – the benefits can be felt immediately. It is a spiritual and devotional practice but open to all religions and faith and is the perfect combination of all facets of yoga that can not only help awaken a practitioner to their own truth but also lead them to the infinite.
Even if Kundalini yoga isn’t your primary practice, I believe you will find it a great addition to your regular yoga or physical exercise experience. Learning Kundalini pranayama techniques or mantra meditation is a great way to “bookend” your workouts or to simply give you tools for a beautiful daily mediation. In the video below, you will see what happens when you fuse a traditional strong vinyasa flow class with a Kundalini meditation. Magic!
WHAT IS PRANAYAMA?
Kundalini yoga incorporates a wide variety of pranayama or breathing exercises and techniques. We use the breath “to effect and manage different states of consciousness, relaxation and well being”. This can range from long deep breathing, the breath of fire, lions breath, alternate nostril and segmented breathing all of which can achieve different results depending on the class focus. Pranayama can be used at the start of class to cleanse practitioners of daily stresses and help them ground themselves before the kriyas or as a part of meditation to raise awareness and achieve higher levels of consciousness.
Learn more in this video from my teacher and mentor, Kathryn McCusker:
What makes Kundalini different from other forms of Yoga?
Then, see me push the negative energy away!
WHAT IS MANTRA?
The formal definition of mantra is the “creative projection of the mind, through sound.” Mantras are essentially simple formulas that alter the patterns of the mind and the chemistry of the brain, according to physical and metaphysical laws. To put this more simply, everything in the universe vibrates through light, energy, and sound. In Kundalini yoga we chant ancient mantras because of the effect it has on our minds, channeling and controlling our thoughts and emotions. In many ways, chanting is not singing, it is vibrating!
HOW DOES MANTRA WORK?
Let’s break it down. Each of us has a total of 84 meridian points on our upper palate. When these points are struck with the tongue while chanting, a sound vibration is created. In turn, these pulses are transmitted to the hypothalamus, the part of our brain that regulates the chemical messages going to the brain and body. Chanting particular sounds or combinations of sounds allows you to tune into different levels of consciousness and ultimately into achieving a state of Anahat, defined as the “infinite unstuck sound” or “unstuck melody.” Simply, naad yoga is the essence of sound and we chant mantra because the vibrations create chemical responses in our brain which help clear our consciousness, quiet the ego and awakening us to our own truth and connection to the infinite.
-Ek ong kar sat nam siri wahe guru
-Guru guru wahe guru guru ram das guru
-God and me me and god are one
Sound is one of our greatest teachers. Using ancient mantra, we are working to initiate and guide the kundalini energy to help quiet our ego and calm the subconscious mind. These mantras are for everyone and they help to activate the Nadi’s which create chemical reactions in the brain so that the kundalini energy can work to help clear the consciousness, to raise our awareness and ultimately to connect to the infinite. The ultimate state is referred to as anahat and is achieved when our nervous system vibrates the mantra effortlessly, indicating a constant state of flow with the infinite!
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE TURBAN? THE ALL WHITE CLOTHES? AND THE SHEEPSKINS?
It is all about energy! Don’t let this put you off, as these are optional for all practitioners. How you dress is a personal choice, but wearing white expands your aura and “increases your openness and neutrality”. The spectrum of light energy that makes up the color white contains the energies of all colors. By wearing white, the colors are available to support and enhance the aura and the eight chakras (3H0.org). It also protects us from negative energy. We sit on sheepskin because it offers a natural insulation from the magnetic pull of the earth and was used in ancient times for mediation. For those who aren’t comfortable using an animal skin may mat with a natural fiber or you can cover your mat with a cotton towel or blanket.
The turban? Hair is an “energy antenna” and wearing a turban helps us to stay within and connect with our own energy keeping us protected from outside influences. It is also a beautiful way to “crown yourself” before your practice.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH KUNDALINI YOGA
I spent the last 23 years as a finance executive, working as an Investment Banker in San Francisco, Zurich, and London. Six years ago, suffering from stress-related back issues, I was referred to Sen Wellness London and its founder and healer, Sam Kankanamage. Sam assured me that my back was fine, but that I needed to get on the mat, take a deep breath and establish a healthy mind, body and soul connection. Little did I know my life was about to change when I arrived for first class. The amazing thing about Kundalini is that the impact is immediate, and I knew walking out, that something magical had happened. Day by day, I found greater balance in my life and I also reconnected with my spirituality. I was more focused at work and achieved my goals with greater ease. I trained as a Kundalini teacher on the weekends, and once certified, I taught at Sam’s London clinic. In teaching, I found my true calling, and eventually realized my days as broker were finished and it was time to take these ancient practices and share them with the world. Since then, I have done a residency at the Sen Wellness Sanctuary in Sri Lanka, assisted my teacher on a beautiful retreat in Guatemala, and am now home, in South Carolina, sharing the joy of Kundalini through workshops, 1-1’s and retreats. I am proof, one class can change your life. Experience it.
“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 life.” –Kia Miller