One reason I love yoga is because of the many styles of asana (the physical postures) practices to try. Each studio, teacher and type of asana is different, which keeps the experiences fresh and fun. Recently I took my first Kundalini class. Prior to this class all I knew about this practice was that it stimulates energy in your body. Wow, it sure does! What an experience! It was completely different than any other asana class I’ve taken before. I felt a little intimated when I first entered the room because not only was the teacher dressed in all white, so were the students! I definitely felt a little out of place. The teacher was not as warm and welcoming as most teachers I come across, but she did help me with the poses as she could tell I was new to Kundalini---I’m sure the fact that I was the only one wearing colorful yoga clothes tipped her off.
The physical reaction I experienced
As the class began I quickly noticed one the main differences from a typical flow class is the breathing technique. Instead of the typical ujjayi breathing (“victorious breath”), the breathing was mostly fast and vigorous. They called this breath the “breath of fire.” The name is very fitting as the intense breathing energizes you. The warm up consisted of movements linked to breath, but must faster than I’m used to. About 10 minutes into the class I began to feel a strong vibration in my throat and the sides of my torso. Then my arms and legs were tingling almost like they had fallen asleep. I even started feeling a little light headed, but I kept going. I was very thankful when she instructed us to lie flat on our backs---whew, I had a chance to settle down a bit. The sensations I felt begin to subside a bit and I was able to finish class. This was a wonderful new experience for me that I wasn’t expecting.
What is Kundalini?
After class I explained to the teacher what I had experienced and she said that was “prana” (breath/life force) doing its thing. I didn’t feel comfortable asking her more questions, so as soon as I got home I researched about it on the web. Kundalini, pronounced Kuhn-da-LIN-ee, is a set of breathing techniques, mantras and kriyas----a specific set of exercises that generate energy that is intended to lead you greater awareness. One yoga teacher explained Kundalini “is like an express train that shakes and wakes you up.” Yep, she was right!
What the experience meant to me
I then reached out to a friend who is a Kundalini teacher in Kauai. She explained that Kundalini yoga is specifically for energy work and that certain movements are intended to direct the breath and blood flow to certain areas of the body. The tingling I felt was the movement of “life force energy.” She suggested that the tingling in my throat was movement of stagnant energy in that area and that this could free me from certain emotional blockages I might have such as expressing my feelings more freely or how I talk to myself internally. The one that resonated with me was how I talk to myself internally. I have always struggled with the negative self-talk and I’m excited about the potential release of this through Kundalini yoga.
What is next?
While I realize one class will not change my thinking, I am excited to explore this practice more to see improvement in this area of my life, as well as the other amazing benefits that may come from this yoga practice. I encourage you to try a new class too! Be open, curious and enjoy what benefits you may experience.
Written by OM Matters Founder, Tambra Wayne