Kundalini yoga and meditation in central London W1 & WC2
with Ed Jones aka Charanpal
What is kundalini yoga?
Kundalini yoga is a powerful technology for promoting health and a sense of well-being, and was brought to the west by Yogi Bhajan in 1969. An ancient practice previously reserved for a privileged elite, kundalini yoga is a complete science, combining posture, breath, mantra and meditation in a potent and effective system of personal development and self-transformation.
The focus of kundalini yoga is to break through blocks in the energetic pathways of our bodies that result from our postural and emotional habits and history. When our energy flows freely and easily we feel balanced, grounded and connected to ourselves and the universe.
A regular kundalini yoga practice also strengthens the nervous system and balances the glandular system, leading to increased emotional stability and physical vitality. Negative patterns and habits drop away, and creativity flourishes.
What happens in a class?
Every kundalini yoga class is different, but all will feature some combination of posture, pranayama (breath work), mantra (chanting) and meditation. Individual classes may vary on a scale between gently meditative and extremely physical – although there is usually a proportion of both these aspects within every class, and both contribute equally towards the deeply transformative effects of a kundalini yoga practice.
The standard format of a class is a series of warm-ups followed by a kriya (a set of asanas in a prescribed order, designed to influence one or more specific aspects of our physical, emotional and spiritual selves), a period of relaxation and a meditation. Each class features a different combination of these elements.
Classes are suitable for those who are new to yoga as well as those with experience in kundalini or other kinds of yoga, and everybody is equally welcome.
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KUNDALINI YOGA FAQ
Definitely not! While some students do wear white, most wear the same yoga gear you’ll see at any other style of yoga class – leggings and a vest or t-shirt in a wide range of colours, or any other comfortable clothing that allows for freedom of movement. Kundalini yoga teachers and some students do wear white because it is believed to expand the auric radiance – and a strong aura provides a strong projection and filters any negative influences. Wearing white is also an exercise in awareness, as it takes more consciousness and care to keep white clothes clean.
You don’t need to be fit, toned or flexible to do kundalini yoga. Generally speaking, all the exercises are things that anyone can do, and the challenge is in repeating or holding a posture for a longer time than you would usually do. Everyone will find some things easy and other things more challenging, and this will be different for every person depending on where their personal energetic blocks are. Everyone is encouraged to work within the top 10% of their capacity, as this is where we can break through the blocks that have built up in our bodies and experience the transformation that kundalini yoga offers.
It’s not at all uncommon for people who are new to kundalini yoga to have moments of intense emotion during or shortly after a class, and there are often a few tears. This is a release of stored emotional tension, and most people find it an uplifting experience which leaves them with the feeling that a weight has been lifted. This emotional release is the kundalini yoga doing its work of breaking down blocks in the energetic pathways in our bodies that result from our postural and emotional habits and history.
The mantras we chant in class are an integral part of kundalini yoga. Known as Naad yoga, the use of these sounds focuses the mind and their vibrations resonate deeply within the body, helping to unblock stored emotion and facilitate the circulation of energy. Furthermore, as the mantra words are pronounced, the 84 meridian points in the upper palate are stimulated by the tongue, initiating a chain of chemical reactions in the glands and organs connected to those meridians.
Wearing a head covering makes it easier to create a meditative focus at the sixth chakra, the third eye (brow point). Turbans in particular are useful for holding energy in, and also provide a nice cranial adjustment.
A five-class pass is available here for £50, a 20% saving on the single class price of £12.50 a class. The pass can be used at both the Wednesday evening and Saturday morning classes and is valid for a year from the date of purchase. No introductory or other free classes are offered.
Neither venue has dedicated changing rooms or showers, but there are several spacious toilets suitable for changing in.
Kundalini yoga music is a specific musical genre of music, sometimes called Western Gurbani. Gurbani means ‘sacred language based on the power of the sound current’, and is the term used to refer to the words of the Sikh gurus. When Yogi Bhajan took these teachings to California in 1969, a fusion of Western-style music and Gurbani emerged, and this is what you hear in the classes. Good places to buy kundalini yoga music are Spirit Voyage and Sat Nam Versand’s Mantra Download shop. You can also find quite a lot on iTunes, once you pick up a few of the artists’ names – my page about kundalini yoga music is a good starting point for this and also has a lot more info.
Yes, the classes are suitable for everyone including complete beginners. Most of the exercises are things that anyone can do, and the challenge is usually in repeating or holding a posture for a longer time than you are used to. Everyone will find some things easy and other things more challenging, depending on where their personal energetic blocks are. No previous experience of yoga is required for you to achieve results in your very first class.
Wednesdays at Friends House, London WC2
A kundalini yoga and meditation class suitable for all levels of experience every Wednesday evening 6.30–8.00 pm at the Elizabeth Fry Room, Friends Meeting House, 8 Hop Gardens, London WC2N 4EH. Price £12.50 for a single class or £50 for 5 classes with a 5-class pass which is also valid for the Saturday morning classes at Fitzrovia Community Centre. Mats and relaxation blankets are provided. The studio is accessed via 8 Hop Gardens (between Cote Brasserie and Gymbox). Press the bell for the Elizabeth Fry Room and it’s the first room on the right. Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross tubes are within walking distance. And the studio’s central location means a considerable number of bus routes heading towards both north and south London run close by.
Saturdays at Fitzrovia Centre, London W1
A kundalini yoga and meditation class suitable for all levels of experience every Saturday morning 10.30 am–12.00 midday at Room 6, Fitzrovia Community Centre, 2 Foley Street, London W1W 6DL. Price £12.50 for a single class or £50 for 5 classes with a 5-class pass which is also valid for the Wednesday evening classes at Rada Studios. Mats and relaxation blankets are provided. Fitzrovia Community Centre is located at the heart of the West End in Foley Street, 50 metres south of BT Tower and just 5–10 minutes walk from Oxford Circus, Regent’s Park, Great Portland Street, Goodge Street, Warren Street and Tottenham Court Road tube stations. There are a number of ParkRight parking spaces directly outside the centre in Foley Street, and several Westminster zone F permit holder parking bays nearby.