Why I like Kundalini yoga so much
by Este Grobler
First of all, I like the yang aspect of this type of yoga. That is the strong, active part of the class. We hold our arms in the air for a long time when we work on the heart or the lungs. We hold a plank with breath of fire for a few minutes to work on the navel point. Or we do frogs which are a variation of full body squats. Everyone just works to their maximum but that way we are all building muscle. We don’t do the same postures every time and often do unusual movements. This means my body has to keep on learning. To do this my brain has to make new neural connections and that keeps my brain young!
The yang aspect is balanced with the yin aspect in each class. This is the slower, introspective parts of the class. We sometimes hold relaxing postures for a long time or even just watch sensations in our hands or around the navel point. We pause between postures to connect with our breath and observe our current experiences. Slowing down is good for my nervous system and builds my capacity to cope with daily stress.
We always synchronise breathing with our movement but we also spend time doing breathing exercises, called Pranayam. I’ve come to appreciate Pranayam so much that I always start my day with that. By relating to my breath first thing in the morning I am more able to stay in touch with how I’m breathing during the rest of the day and adjust it as needed.
We also chant mantras. It took me a few years of practising Kundalini yoga before I could really appreciate the chanting. It’s a very subtle part of the practice. There is the movement of the mouth, tongue and vocal cords and if you listen closely you might also start to notice how the sounds seemed to vibrate or resonate in different areas of the body. We chant the mantras in the original language, Gurmukhi. The mantras are chosen for their specific sounds, where the tongue hits the roof of the mouth, and where they vibrate in the body. Some sounds like ong for example vibrates in the nasal passages. The sound kaar resonates a bit lower in the chest area, and to chant har you need to engage the navel. Being with the subtlety of all of this takes me to a lovely quiet space inside.
In a class we usually start off more active and then work our way to relaxation and the subtlety of meditating on either the breath or mantra. I love that we have this continuum of experiences in Kundalini yoga and the alchemy it creates. I always feel different at the end of a set. The sets we do today have been carried forward over many generations. I keep on marvelling at how relevant they seem today.
I’ll be teaching a Kundalini yoga course for women in November. The focus will be on the glandular system so we’ll do sets for different glands that support our hormonal processes. The course will run on Mondays from 12 – 1:30 pm on 2, 9, 16, and 23 November. You can book the course here: http://rhyoga.uk/1Q7NM0T