How Kundalini yoga transforms your life - from strengthening your willpower and creativity, to helping you make wiser decisions.
by Sandra Shama Kaur
I often tell students that you will never be the same after you practice Kundalini yoga. The very nature of what we do is to awaken the energy of consciousness. The practice brings to our awareness our self-limited beliefs and habit patterns that we inherited from the past. It invites us to process painful memories that are stored in our subconscious and to release them. It awakens our ability to become intuitive and sensitive, to understand a person or a situation even if no words are said, and to know the consequences of actions before they happen.
I love athletics and many types of rigorous yoga like Vinyassa and Ashtanga. I see these practices as adventurous and challenging. With consistency I see improvements in my speed and performance. It gives me a sense of accomplishment when I can perform handstands and headstands. Even a little pride.
My Kundalini practice is a place of transformation. The kriyas and meditations are pretty structured practice, but rather than focusing on physical alignment, the kriyas are a specific set of exercises that generate energy, organize that energy and deliver you to a specific energetic state — particularly one of greater awareness. Also within the practice are built-in moments of stillness where we sit quietly and awaken to our self. The breath work within the kriyas is so powerful that it starts to strip away the layers that veil our consciousness, and in the sweet moments between poses we can sense the fullness of who we are.
I’ve noticed over the years many subtle benefits to practicing Kundalini yoga such as:
1. Nervous System
Kundalini yoga strengthens your nervous system. So when you’re in down dog or plank pose for three whole minutes and your entire body is shaking, have no fear! Your nervous system is toning. And the stronger your nerves are, the more you will be able to act in a cool, calm and collected matter in the face of any situation, be it a car accident, big presentation or family drama.
Kundalini yoga awakens your inner willpower right at the core of your solar plexus (Third Chakra) at the navel point. What that means is that you build a strong heat in this region, which helps in digesting not only food but also past memories and self-doubt. We become much more able to process and digest events that happen and take necessary action immediately to eradicate things, people or situations that are causing us more harm than good.
3. Brain Power
Kundalini yoga clears the fogginess of the mind. When the mind becomes clouded with several thoughts, it feels a little like a cobweb of thoughts have formed and are difficult to untangle and with a few minutes of rapid breath of fire or one minute breath, the mind becomes crystal clear, we feel more alert, focused, concentrated, with a better memory and the capacity to make sound decisions.
Breathing alternately through the nostrils brings into balance left and right hemispheres of the brain. We usually act, analyze and do much more frequently than we feel, visualize and imagine. And that’s because the right side of the brain is usually understimulated. Kundalini yoga awakens our inner creativity by releasing our worries about the little things and opening us up to infinite possibilities that life has to offer.
5. All Embracing
Kundalini yoga opens the heart center (Fourth Chakra). Poses like the Tree Pose provide us with security in the root chakra so we feel like strong steady trees planted firmly to the earth, and when our needs are not met we don’t feel like it’s the end of the world. We remain open and trusting that the higher power (God) will provide us with what we need when the time is right. So the world doesn’t collapse when we don’t get that job, fail that exam or suffer from a breakup or family death. Whatever it is, we gain an attitude of acceptance. Understanding that it’s all-OK. It’s all good. We are open to whatever life has to offer.
6. Compassionate Communication
In Kundalini yoga ,poses like the Shoulder Stand open the throat center (Fifth Chakra). Add this to an open heart and we become forgiving, compassionate and nonjudgmental and our lips can bless, give gratitude and kindness to all those around us. Thus don’t be surprised when you start addressing your boss, cousins or neighbor by dear, dearest, sweetheart, my love and so on. More so, when there is something bothering you, you will find the best way to express yourself to bring you to say the absolute truth with all gentleness and tenderness. 7. Awakened Intuition
We spend so much time stuck in our minds, analyzing the pros and cons of each decision when in reality the answer is always within us. We always have a gut feeling about something but we tend to ignore it. Yoga gives us the ability to pause and listen to the message behind that gut feeling. It enables us to quiet down the mind to the point that our thoughts become still and we can feel what our heart yearns for, something that will be good for us.
8. Wise Choices
All forms of yoga make us more conscious human beings. So don’t be surprised if you start acting like a wise guy, refraining from behaviors that cause harm to you and the environment like smoking, drinking, drugs, meat and dairy products and wastage of water and electricity. Instead, you will choose to consume fresh vegetables and fruits, whole foods, to protect animals and the environment, to serve others through charitable giving and to take up activities like singing, dancing and art that will remove you from the company of people and surroundings that no longer bring the best out of you.
Kundalini yoga is not to be taken lightly. It is like an express train that shakes and wakes you up. Some kriyas will leave you feeling high and totally blissed out. Other kriyas will really provoke and confront you. What’s important is to stay present and accept pleasure and pain as part of the same journey to health and balance. Our ego naturally leans toward pleasure and comfort. It takes concerted effort and discipline to begin to release the ego’s grip on our consciousness. This effort is the work required to begin to access the truth of who we are, to create a strong connection to our soul and therefore our soul’s work on this planet. It is where we start to make great strides toward living as an enlightened being.
I sincerely encourage you to experience Kundalini yoga for yourself. It will add depth to your existing practice and to your life. We offer a number of Kundalini yoga classes at YallaYoga. Try out a class and if you find a set that resonates with you, stick to it for 40 days so you can reap the full benefits of the kriya.
Sandra Shama Kaur is a Kundalini yoga teacher and founder of Yalla Yoga.