The truth about Kundalini Yoga
The practice of yoga in India may have been around for centuries, but it wasn’t until the late 20th century that the west adopted yoga and dressed it up in lycra and Lululemons before making it our own.
What most of us call “yoga” is actually the practice of Hatha Yoga, which is the most popular form of yoga in the west. LiveStrong says the practice is derived from Tantric Yoga, which teaches that enlightenment comes through connecting with the physical self. But Hatha has become something of a catch-all phrase used to describe the physical practice of yoga, and a typical class will involve a series of breath work before participants move through different poses including Downward Dog and three Warrior poses. There are plenty of hatha yoga practices out there, from vinyasa to the now controversial Bikram or hot yoga.
While a Hatha practice stays focused on the physical, Kundalini seen as a balance between physical yoga, meditation, and the chanting of mantras designed to tap into what yogis say is the energy which can be found at the base of your spine. Kundalini as a practice is meant to release that energy so it can travel up your spine and through the body’s energy hubs, known as chakras (we have seven altogether). When that happens, Kundalini is described as an energizing and peaceful practice (via Gaia).
Is Kundalini yoga dangerous?
Even alternative lifestyle site Gaia admits that to the uninitiated, a Kundalini class might have the outward appearance of a stereotypical cult. Instead of the brightly colored yoga outfits we’re all used to seeing, everyone is dressed in white skirts, shirts, or flowing white pants, and have white turbans or head coverings. Classes then begin with a chant, and followed by a flow of Kundalini Kriyas or practices, before it ends with a meditation.
If the experience moves you, Kundalini is meant to be transformative. In her blog on Kundalini, experienced yoga instructor and author Karena Virginia reminds her readers that no one has ever “lost it” or gone crazy by doing Kundalini Yoga. But she also warns that awakening the Kundalini or energy coil can be a sensual experience, and yogis could be moved into giving up things that don’t serve them — like meat, alcohol… or relationships that might no longer serve them, but they were unable to walk away from before.
Because change can be scary and moving out of your comfort zone can be seen as a dangerous thing, adopting a Kundalini practice without reading up about it could be perceived as a dangerous experience — it may also not be the best idea for a beginner who has just discovered his or her place on the mat (via Yoga Journal).
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