The goal of all Kundalini yoga is to awaken the kundalini: a dormant energy that resides within each of us. This energy is traditionally represented as a coiled serpent seated at the base of the spine. When it uncoils, it rises up a subtle channel within the spinal cord and passes through the chakras. Once it reaches the seventh chakra, sahasrara, one attains yoga’s ultimate goal of spiritual enlightenment. This awakening results in the complete evolution of one’s body, mind, and soul.
Also known as the Yoga of Awareness, Kundalini yoga cultivates a spirit without boundaries and discrimination. The universal, nondenominational nature of this practice has intersected with the lineage of many yoga masters for hundreds of years.
Most Kundalini yoga taught in the U.S. belongs to the lineage of Yogi Bhajan. Classes involve mantra, pranayama, kriya, relaxation, and meditation. They can be vigorous and even strenuous, challenging the nervous and endocrine systems and testing the limitations of the ego. While we all have the potential for a kundalini awakening, Kundalini yoga aims to speed up this process.
Kundalini yoga is considered the most comprehensive of yoga traditions. A typical class will include six major components:
Kundalini energy was first mentioned in the Upanishads, which date back to at least 500 B.C. Kundalini yoga is thought to have been passed down guru to student for hundreds, or even thousands, of years.
Its popularity in the West can be credited to the Indian Yogi Bhajan. Proclaimed a master of Kundalini yoga at the age of 16, Yogi Bhajan brought the lineage to the West in 1968. He was the first to openly teach Kundalini yoga and began to train teachers in its methods.
Most Kundalini yoga in the West today is associated with Yogi Bhajan’s teachings. Bhajan would challenge his students: “Don’t love me, love my teachings. Become ten times greater than me.” His goal was not to “gather students, but to train teachers.” Because of this goal, the International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association (IKYTA) and the Kundalini Research Institute (KRI) provide yoga teacher-training courses throughout the world.
Most Kundalini yoga certification courses in the U.S. are also associated with Yogi Bhajan. The Kundalini Research Institute officially promotes Yogi Bhajan’s teachings, offering YTTCs in 52 countries.
There are several levels of teacher training. The first is the Level 1 KRI Aquarian Teacher-Training program, a 220-hour course that satisfies Yoga Alliance’s RYT 200 requirement. Level 2 Practitioner and Level 3 Teacher courses are also offered.
When uncovering our unlimited Self, we must first ensure that there is nothing competing with our refined awareness. Kundalini yoga can create the power to deeply listen, the composure to be still, and the passion to deliver to the world excellence.