About kundalini yoga

Brought to the west by Yogi Bhajan in 1969 (the photograph above shows a class he taught in New Mexico that year), kundalini yoga employs simple techniques that can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of age or physical ability. An ancient practice which was previously reserved for a privileged elite, it is a complete science, combining posture, breath, mantra and meditation in a potent and effective system of self-transformation and personal development.

The primary goal of kundalini yoga is to allow us to reach our full potential and to expand our awareness of our unlimited self. One of the ways it achieves this is by breaking through blocks in the energetic pathways 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.

Kundalini yoga classes

The standard format of a class is a series of warm-ups followed by a kriya, a period of relaxation and a meditation. Each class features a different kriya and a different meditation.

A kundalini yoga kriya is a predetermined sequence of movements, mantras, mudras and breath work that influences the nervous and glandular systems and promotes the flow of energy through the chakras and meridians to guide the body and mind to a specific result or change of consciousness. There are thousands of different kriyas, each with its own particular focus and unique syntax.

Developing a personal practice

A habit is a subconscious chain reaction between the mind, the glandular system and the nervous system. Our habits define us to ourselves and to other people – and through our habits we live in peace and happiness or create misery and pain. When we change our habits, everything around us can change. By repeating a kriya or meditation every day for 40 days, 90 days, 120 days or 1,000 days we can rewire these chain reactions and develop new, deeply ingrained habits that serve our highest destiny.

Practicing a kriya or meditation every day for a continuous span of 40 days will break any negative habits that block the expansion the kriya or meditation is designed to promote.

Practicing every day for 90 days will establish a new habit in the conscious and subconscious minds based on the effect of the kriya or meditation. It will bring very deep change.

Practicing every day for 120 days will confirm the new habit of consciousness the kriya or meditation creates. The positive benefits will become integrated permanently into the psyche.

Practicing every day for 1,000 days will bring mastery of the new habit of consciousness. No matter what the challenge, you will be able to call on this new habit to serve you.

Going deeper: the Level 1 training

The Level 1 Aquarian Teacher Training programme is intended for anyone who would like to deepen their personal experience and understanding of kundalini yoga, not just those who intend to go on to teach. The course covers the following topics:

  • The dynamics of kundalini yoga
  • The history and philosophy of yoga
  • Oriental physiology
  • The mind and meditation
  • Karma and health
  • Yogic lifestyle (humanology)
  • Kriyas and asanas
  • The five tattvas
  • The spiritual path

The Level 1 training at Amrit Nam Sarovar international kundalini yoga school takes place at nearly 30 centres worldwide. The London-based training is led by Har Nal Kaur, and full details can be found on her website. The training usually consists of several weekend modules at a local centre and a week at the school’s ashram HQ in the French alps, but there are also a few more intensive residential trainings including one at the school’s ashram HQ, one in Devon in the UK, and one at Nuweiba on the Sinai peninsula in Egypt.

Happiness is your birthright
— Yogi Bhajan

Every kundalini yoga class opens with two mantras and closes with a third, each chanted three times. This performs several functions. It calls upon the divine guru to guide and protect us, connects us to the golden chain of wisdom and creates a safe space for the practice. It allows us to set our intentions for the practice, and prepares body and mind for the practice on both a conscious and deeply subconscious level. For these reasons tuning in and out should also be part of a personal practice – even just a three-minute meditation.

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo
(‘I call upon the divine wisdom’)

Aad guray nameh
Jugad guray nameh
Sat guray nameh
Siri guru dev ay nameh
(‘I bow to the primal guru
I bow to wisdom through the ages
I bow to true wisdom
I bow to the great unseen wisdom’)

Sat Nam
(‘Truth is my identity’)

Anyone doing a 40-day, 90-day, 120-day or 1,000-day kundalini yoga kriya and/or meditation practice needs a way of timing themselves during the practice and keeping count of how many days they’ve completed.

For iPod/iPhone/iPad users there are some great free apps for these purposes. For counting the minutes Simplest Timer is an easy-to-use timer with supersized numbers and three modes: watch, stopwatch and timer. And for keeping track of how many days you’ve completed there’s Tallywag, a multipurpose tally counter.

The Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association has a class locator to help you find a class near where you live or work. You can find it here.