There is an energy storehouse at the base of the spine, coiled, like a snake.
Kundalini yoga seeks to awaken that snake, lift it through the body’s energy centers and enlist that power to expand your individual gifts and potential.
“But it isn’t necessary to take that snake so literally,” suggested Kundalini yoga teacher Ravi Singh. Singh and his wife Ana Brett, two internationally renowned teachers, recently appeared at BijaYoga, Naples.
The premise behind a Kundalini practice is to access the tremendous energy that lies dormant within us so we can all manifest our unique “inner greatness,” Singh said.
Having the strength to change our lives isn’t just about plans and action. “Self-improvement is about spirit,” he said.
A healthy and aligned spine is your lifeline. Along that corridor, the sushumna is a pathway that carries energy unfettered through the chakras. A Kundalini practice works from the ground up, kicking that energy loose and pushing it to the crown.
Freeing the energy isn’t a one-shot deal. Singh and Brett suggest a daily 20-minute practice to keep the energy flowing.
The physical postures are accessible for anyone, and they are combined with dynamic breathwork and mantras. For some, awakening the Kundalini is a serene and enlightening experience. For others, it is an amusement park high striker, a heavy sledgehammer drop that clangs the bell.
A Taste of Kundalini
Courtesy of Ana Brett and Ravi Singh
1. When you wake, sit on the floor either on your heels or in a comfortable cross-legged position with your spine straight. If this is difficult, sit on the corner of your bed with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
Shrug your shoulders up to your ears on the inhale, and, on the exhale, drop them completely. Repeat. Work your way up to 20 shrugs or more. As you inhale, mentally repeat “sat.” As you exhale, say “nam.” The mantra “sat nam” loosely means “My name is truth.” Then, sit with your eyes closed. Take chin mudra, index fingers to thumbs.
2. Now twist. In the same seated position, hold your arms wide like goalposts, your upper arms parallel to the floor. Twist left and right from the belly, inhaling and exhaling, working your way up to 20 twists or more, using “sat nam” mantra. Sit with chin mudra.
3. Work Breath of Fire. While seated, exhale with a sharp inward snap of the belly. When the belly relaxes, the inhale will automatically happen. Repeat the inhaling snaps around 20 times, keeping the breath rhythmic and smooth to avoid the feeling of hyperventilation.
Afterward, sit in silence, ride the snake, and notice how you feel.
For more information and instructional materials, visit www.raviana.com.
Nancy B. Loughlin is a Florida writer and yogi. Visit her website www.NamasteNancy.com or follow her on Twitter @NancyLoughlin. Her book, “Running Is Yoga,” will be available in spring 2015.