A Brief Introduction to Kundalini Yoga

This past winter, I really leaned into the season’s coziness: long nights next to our wood stove, hot cocoa before bed, and tons of reading. I took winter walks some afternoons, but I really let myself rest. Now that the weather is changing, I am ready to move my body again and try out something new to me: Kundalini yoga.

Basic Origin and Overview of Kundalini Yoga 

Ancient Vedic texts, called the Upanishads, first referenced Kundalini around 1000 B.C. Kundalini yoga is often called the Yoga of Awareness. It works as a philosophy for spirituality and energy. 

“Kundal” means “circular” in Sanskrit, and “Kundalini” itself refers to the coiled energy at the base of the spine, almost like a snake in its latency and potency. Kundalini yoga acts as a catalyst for that energy, activating it and spreading it throughout the body and mind. There is less focus on the range of physical movement in Kundalini yoga than in other types of yoga. 

Kundalini focuses on specificity and repetition: breathing, singing, and chanting with movement.These practices balance chakras. Our bodies have seven chakras: crown chakra, third eye chakra, throat chakra, heart chakra, naval chakra (also known as solar plexus), sacral chakra, and root chakra. 

Kundalini yoga can often inspire a spiritual enlightenment or awakening. At its core, yoga is a connection to Brahman, the spirit within us, and also between the spirit and the body. This ancient practice did not emphasize fitness or exercise, as many Western practitioners have chosen to do. 

Kundalini Yoga: A Beginner’s Reflection

The global Covid-19 pandemic and consequent state of lockdown has pushed many of us to new heights of anxiety, isolation, and depression. As the weather warms, it feels okay to cautiously hope again. I am taking advantage of this hopeful feeling by introducing a new practice into my life. Kundalini yoga helps me feel centered and energized. So far, I have only begun practicing breathing. Breath of Fire has been equal parts challenging and exhilarating. I cannot wait to try more. 

A note: The yoga industry is overrun with able-bodied white women who have co-opted, simplified, and appropriated these practices for profit. Please be aware of this inequity as you start your own exploration of yoga, and let it help you allocate your attention and payment to non-White teachers who are true to the principles of yoga.