By Dharma Devi
The Western world was introduced to Kundalini yoga in 1969 when Harbhajan Singh Yogi, also known as Siri Singh Sahib or Yogi Bhajan, brought the practice to the U.S.
Yogi Bhajan was a Sikh from India, a spiritual Leader, and a Yoga Master since the age of 16. When he arrived in the U.S., he understood immediately the urgency of sharing the ancient teachings of Kundalini yoga with the rest of the world. He dedicated almost 40 years of his life to teach, uplift, and inspire people all over the world. Yogi Bhajan left this planet in 2004 and left behind a great lineage of teachings.
Kundalini yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, has its root in the ancient tradition of Raj yoga. For many centuries Raj yoga had been secretly practiced by only kings and warriors. It is a very powerful practice, and by including all the elements of yoga, it is one of the most complete yoga techniques known today. It is said that what you can achieve with 12 years of Hatha yoga, will only take 6 years with Kundalini yoga. The truth is that by practiciing Kundalini yoga with discipline and devotion, you can rapidly achieve great benefits for your entire being: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Kundalini is based on a very simple principle that Yogi Bhajan has defined as the “Principle of angles and triangles.” This principle is based on the concept that our magnetic field has a certain alignment, which may or may not be in harmony with the surrounding environment. Kundalini yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, works to re-create the correct allignment of the frequencise of our magnetic field by assuming specific postures of the body so that we may create harmony and balance in our lives.
What makes Kundalini yoga so special is that each class is different, and it is precisely designed to develop a specific effect. In fact, every class is focused on a specific topic that can range from the most highest spiritual goal to the most important physical pursuit. Every time we practice Kundalini yoga, our entire being benefits from it, bringing health back into our lives at all levels.
Kundalini yoga includes chants (mantra), breathing (pranayama), a combination of dynamic or still postures (asana), hand postures (mudras), and eye concentration (drishti). Often all are present in one single exercise. This is what makes Kundalini yoga different and more powerful then other types of yoga, because all of these components make it complete. Such was the ancient way of yoga.
Chants in Kundalini yoga are conducted thoughout the class, from the beginning to the end, often in Gurmukhi, the sacred language of the Sikh, although sometimes in English. It is this devotional component of a Kundalini yoga class that makes it a spiritual practice and not simply a good physical workout.
Some Kundalini yoga instructors have embraced the Sikh religion as their own religious practice; however, it is not required to be a Sikh to practice and benefit from Kundalini yoga. In fact, yoga has always been intended as a spiritual practice and not as a religious one, making it very easy for people from other belief systems to practice Kundalini yoga.
“We wear white clothes and cover our heads when we teach, to remind ourselves of the purity of the teachings and to share them with humility and respect.“
****Dharma Devi (Simona) is a long-time yoga practitioner and experienced teacher offering Kundalini yoga, group and private classes, and Rasa Healing© sessions in Malibu at the Malibu Health Club.