If it were the name of a TV series, it would be “The infinite lockdown” what we have been experiencing for almost a year now. The end of the pandemic it still seems far away, although the first vaccines are being administered. L’isolation it is starting to have its effects felt: panic and anxiety attacks, depressive states, fatigue, pressure drops… also made worse by the fact that the winter season does not help at all with the lack of light and the freezing cold.
In these times, made up of worries, uncertainties and fears, a hand to get back on top and move forward can come from yoga. In particular, have you ever heard of the Kundalini Yoga? Mentioned in the lyrics of the song “Shock in my town” more than twenty years ago by Maestro Franco Battiato, who has been practicing for decades, Kundalini yoga can be very useful for calming and relaxing body, mind and soul.
Russell Brand, Gisele Bündchen, Miranda Kerr: these are just some of the VIPs who have been practicing it consistently for years now. “Kundalini yoga has helped me a lot in my life and is a great tool for relieving stress,” Kerr wrote a few months ago on her Instagram profile, posting a video explaining how to practice it at home.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
This ancient practice focuses on breathing and asanas, or physical postures, together with chanting and meditation. First introduced in the Western world in the late 1970s by Yogi Bhajan, the name Kundalini comes from the Sanskrit word “Kundal”, which translates as “spiral energy”. There is a reason why the practice has only recently gained popularity: the ancient teachings of Kundalini Yoga were kept secret for a long time, taught only to royalty and nobility for thousands of years, until Bhajan took it to the West. and began teaching it publicly.
The purpose of Kundalini Yoga
The purpose of Kundalini Yoga is to awaken the energies in our body, which from the base of the spine, or from the sacrum, where the first chakra, Muladhara or root chakra, they move like a snake along the spine, intersecting the other six chakras, each corresponding to a vital function (hence the spiral). The ultimate goal is to increase self-awareness, silencing the mind and unlocking the chakras so that life energy can flow freely.
«Yoga connects us to the energy present in us, therefore to the divine – he comments Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, spiritual guru and yoga expert, on the site Hindustantimes.com – You can feel a great sense of freedom after practicing ».
“Yoga is close at hand: everyone can practice it from home, even following online lessons – continues Saraswati – It instills a sense of peace and bliss, it also awakens the immune system: it has been scientifically proven that stress has the ability to weaken it. Awakening the divine in us through positive energies can only reinforce it ».
“It helped me to eliminate all the anger that resided within me – he adds Bijay Anand, Kundalini yoga teacher – This allowed me to release all negativity, reducing anxiety and learning to be more flexible. In fact, stiffness in the brain causes stiffness in the body. Kundalini Yoga melts you deeply, giving you a certain radiance ».
But how is it different from other forms of yoga? «The other forms of yoga concern more the physicality of the body – comments Anand – While in Kundalini yoga we begin to work on the soul, healing it, from the first day. We call it purification or detoxification of the soul and aura; at the end of the lesson, you feel at peace, more radiant and even enlightened ».
What does the practice consist of?
“The practice of Kundalini yoga is full of really challenging breathing exercises coupled with asanas and meditation – explains yoga instructor Caley Alyssa – These are often practiced in repetition over a rather long period of time and move a lot of energy in the body”.
What are the health benefits of Kundalini yoga?
Strengthens the muscles
Since you hold each posture for an extended period of time (sometimes up to five minutes!), Kundalini yoga is a great way to strengthen and tone your muscles. Some of the more intense breathing techniques, such as the breath of fire, a Pranayama technique, can also strengthen the core, as you have to engage the abdominal muscles with each exhalation.
Enhance the mood
Research has found that practicing Kundalini yoga regularly increases the production of serotonin, the happiness hormone, in the brain.
Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
Studies have repeatedly shown that Kundalini yoga, especially deep breathing techniques, can reduce the risk of hypertension. Long, slow breaths calm the autonomic nervous system and reduce stress, thereby lowering both blood pressure and heart rate.
Improve memory and concentration
According to scientific research, Kundalini yoga can affect cognitive functioning by improving both concentration and memory. The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation also recommends a Kundalini kriya (a sequence of postures combined with breathing techniques) to improve memory.
Improves the functioning of the metabolism and digestive system
Through the combination of breath and postures, Kundalini yoga focuses on strengthening the core and diaphragm. This in turn improves digestion and has been shown by researchers to speed up metabolism – this means the body processes energy more efficiently.
How to practice Kundalini yoga?
A typical Kundalini Yoga class consists of three parts: an opening chant (known as “attunement”) followed by a short warm-up for the spine, a kriya and a meditation or closing chant.
Every kriya – which in Sanskrit means “action” – couples a physical pose with a breath or a meditation. These positions are asanas that go to work on a particular part of the body, for example Bhujangasana, or the position of the cobra, excellent for elasticizing the spine, or Virabhadrasana, or warrior position, ideal for toning the legs and buttocks.
While different kriyas use different breathing techniques, one of the most popular ones in Kundalini Yoga is the Breath of Fire, which consists of short, fast breaths (almost like a panting dog). To do this, close your lips and inhale and exhale through your nose at a rate of about two or three breaths per second. As you breathe, expel the air in powerful bursts to engage the core, located in the abdominal area.
Even the I sing it is a key component of Kundalini Yoga. There are endless mantras and songs that you can recite while practicing, but most of the lessons begin with the Adi Mantra, which means “I bow to the subtle divine wisdom, the divine inner teacher.” Another song that you will hear during a Kundalini Yoga class is Sat Nam, which means “I am the truth”.
In the interludes, there are also moments of meditation. Each set during Kundalini yoga has different postures involving movement, breathing techniques, mindfulness and a mantra. Between one posture and another, you will have a minute or two to relax and concentrate inwardly. After the whole series, there is a final relaxation followed by a meditation, then a mantra before the class closes.
Advice to make the practice even more effective: if you can, dress in white from the head to the feet. In fact, white removes negative energy and expands the aura. Teachers also often wear a white headdress, such as a hat, scarf, or turban, to hold the energy within the body.
Who is Kundalini Yoga recommended for?
Although anyone can practice Kundalini yoga (unless there are medical contraindications), this particular style of yoga is particularly useful for people looking for a spiritual practice coupled with real physical training. Kundalini Yoga is an intense practice, but its physical and mental benefits make it a great option for both beginners and advanced yogis.