Writer: Usha Uppal
Why do people practice kundalini yoga? In this article, we look at five significant benefits that kundalini yoga can have on our lives. These vary from experiencing a rich spiritual life, a healthy mental state of mind, physical health and strength, and a healthy lifestyle to experiencing peace and tranquility.
We hope that by reading this article, you will be inspired and motivated to pursue your kundalini journey further or to start this exciting journey!
1 Experience a rich spiritual life
Looking at various yoga styles, we can conclude that kundalini yoga is amongst the more 'spiritual' and meditative styles. The practice of kundalini yoga involves chanting and meditation and the opening and flowing of the chakras. These enable the kundalini (life force) to rise, expanding our consciousness. This spiritual growth manifests itself in various ways in our lives.
One of the effects of kundalini yoga is deepening our relationship with ourselves. The more you practice kundalini yoga and make yourself at home with the art of meditation, the more you feel anchored in that sacred space within the Self. One starts to realize how infinite we are and that we are so much more than our feelings and thoughts.
Kundalini yoga is about building that house on a rock instead of fleeting thoughts and emotions, like building a home on sand. Building a house on a rock takes dedication, commitment, and time. Only then will the house be solid and stand the test of time.
Kundalini yoga is about finding one's own truth: the mantra 'Sat nam' means: I am truth. This mantra is often sung or played in a kundalini yoga class. By chanting or listening to this mantra often, you will come to a greater understanding of truth and profound truths.
2 Peace and tranquility
In Western society, much emphasis is placed on action and doing, the yang side of life, and the masculine side of life. However, humans thrive when there is balance, and by allowing the yin side of our lives, we make our lives whole. The yin side of life enables us to receive and go within. In kundalini yoga, we embrace both sides of life, making us feel balanced and whole.
We all know that stress is detrimental to our health, yet many of us suffer from it. High stress levels weaken our immune system, make us feel unstable, and lessen our quality of life. If we maintain high levels of stress for too long, we even risk having a burn-out.
When we practice kundalini yoga, we enable ourselves to experience our true Selves. We also tap into our life force and rest our minds. All of this prevents us from depleting our energy.
Kundalini yoga also teaches us to find safety and stability within ourselves. Finding this means breaking through blockages in the chakras, addressing fears, letting go of emotions, and changing our minds. This process is not easy, yet the rewards are worth it; after overcoming our inner obstacles, we can experience tranquility and peace. The structure of a kundalini yoga class and the kriyas, in particular, guide us in this process. The teacher is there to assist, encourage and support us.
The more we practice kundalini, the more we take back control over our lives. We take control of our time and do not let it slip away. We take the time to practice kundalini yoga and become more aware during our daily routine in life. Thoughts and feelings become more clear and less fleeting and chaotic.
It must be said that we do not have to renounce the world with its worldly affairs. In kundalini yoga, the physical has its importance too. It is about prospering, materially as well as spiritually. It is also about taking action when required. We do not negate the yang side of life; kundalini yoga is about embracing a balanced life. It is a way of life, not a dogma.
When starting with practicing kundalini, finding the time or motivation to sit down and do the kriyas can be difficult. However, if you manage to pull through this initial stage of resistance, you will find that you start to crave those sessions.
During a kundalini session, we do breathing exercises ('pranayama'). This way, our bodies are filled with much more oxygen and release stress. Each technique has its effect: some techniques energize us, and others bring our minds to rest. Some breathing techniques can trigger an emotional response: this is only natural, and feeling and letting go of emotions is also a part of the practice of kundalini yoga. We do not condemn; we accept.
Often, we breathe from the chest with short, superficial breaths, not exhaling fully. By practicing kundalini yoga, we become more aware of our breath, and it will, in time, become deeper, from the belly, inhaling and exhaling.
Through the pranayama aspect of kundalini yoga, we can expand our consciousness. We move beyond everyday consciousness, beyond repetitive thoughts and feelings. We encounter our eternal consciousness and feel 'atma' (soul), which we can access through 'prana' (breath).
3 Physical health
We all know that in order to thrive, we need to feel healthy and take care of our temple: our physical body. Practicing kundalini means taking care of our health: we elongate and strengthen our muscles and place great importance on posture and the spine. Most of us have gotten used to a 'lazy' posture, slumped on a couch or a chair, working behind the computer. When we practice kundalini yoga, we feel energized and become more flexible and vital. Physical complaints, such as backache, can diminish or even go away by practicing kundalini yoga.
Physical complaints, such as having low energy levels, feeling down, feeling foggy, or suffering from hormonal changes, can be healed by practicing kundalini yoga. The only thing you need is commitment.
If the body has been correcting itself because of an imbalance, it can be painful to correct the disbalance. After the initial stage of restoring the disbalance, the body can start benefiting from the correction and continue the healing process. Sometimes, physical ailments worsen after the start of a healing process.
You may feel tired because your body is working hard to cleanse itself. Ailments of the digestive system, and headaches, for example, can temporarily worsen since toxins will leave the body. This initial phase may take some time, and you may sometimes feel uncomfortable. After this phase, you start feeling clear and light, just like fasting.
4 Mental health
In our Western society, we tend to emphasize the mental aspect of life: our thoughts, intellect, and cognitive abilities. Eastern philosophy, however, embraces the no-mind: great emphasis is placed on wisdom, on knowing. In the East, one tries to transcend the mind for truth to speak to us ('satnam').
We are so used to identifying with our thoughts, opinions, and beliefs that letting go can be challenging. In kundalini yoga, we experience that we are not our thoughts. Ofcourse thoughts come up during meditation: we just let them be and observe them. It is all about awareness, not about judging our thoughts.
Sometimes we fail at meditation: we can not concentrate or are distracted. Maybe we can not hold the pose or fail to sit it out. Failure, or perceived failure, is all part of the journey, and the kundalini teacher understands the process. It can be difficult to 'fail,' not to be able to do it the way we want. We are used to living in a competitive society, with a lot of emphasis on achievements and success.
Sitting on our mats with our legs crossed, chanting sat nam, and closing our eyes; we may be at a loss: what is there to do 'best'? What is there to 'do'? And what if we can not sit on our heels or with our legs crossed? It may take a while to sink in that kundalini yoga is not about achievement but expanding our awareness and committing to that. And this is what will enhance the quality of our lives.
5 A healthy lifestyle
You will find that your lifestyle has become increasingly healthy when you have been practicing kundalini yoga for a while. The more beneficial habits you develop, the less bad habits have space to grow.
You might get up earlier, or you do not switch on the television as often as you used to. Maybe you notice that your phone is not in your hand all the time anymore. The quality of your life increases as your relationship with time changes and you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
When you have reached the state in which you have integrated kundalini into your daily life, you have developed your 'practice.' Congratulations! Having your practice means that there is a time of the day or week in which you practice kundalini yoga. For example, you might have a morning practice, in which you practice kundalini yoga for half an hour after you get up.
In time, you will start to enjoy the benefits of this practice: you will feel increasingly healthy, energized, and strong, and your relationship with others will have a higher quality. Your life may change: your work, circle of friends, and financial situation.
Even your physical needs may change: you might prefer a cup of herbal tea after kundalini yoga class instead of coffee with milk and sugar. Or you no longer feel like eating meat and want to eat small portions of food throughout the day instead of three big meals a day.
Nutrition is all about wellbeing: do we feed our body healthy fresh, pure foods, or do we burden our body by eating foods that are difficult to process and detrimental to our organs?
The more you expand your consciousness, the more you will find that you want to take care of your bodily needs. You may also feel more sensitive, to the feelings of others, to certain scents and fabrics. All of these changes are part of the expansion of your consciousness.
You may have gone through a change, but your outer world - the manifestation of your inner world - has not yet kept up with the change. This discrepancy between your inner and outer world can sometimes be a little confusing. People around you may not understand the change that you have gone through. Sometimes it may take a while for a balance to settle in. Take your time, rest, and let your practice guide you through this process.
We hope that this article has inspired you, and that you will enjoy the benefits of your kundalini practice.