What Is Kundalini Yoga Good For + Simple Practices For Beginners

Did you know that Kundalini yoga is one of the oldest and most spiritual types of yoga? Along with possessing the standard physical and mental benefits of yoga, it has the ability to enhance your spiritual awareness and transform your life. If you're looking to try a new yoga style and are wondering what is Kundalini yoga good for, this article is for you!

When discovering yoga for the first time, most people learn Hatha, Ashtanga, or Vinyasa. While these popular styles are super beneficial for your health and well-being, there is one less common yoga style that is incredibly powerful. Kundalini yoga. And this article is all about Kundalini yoga, explained!

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What is Kundalini yoga?

Kundalini yoga combines deep breathing, kriyas (cleansing techniques), mudras (sacred hand movements), mantras (words or phrases), and physical exercises (asanas). Thus, it is very different (and much more spiritual) than the popular fast-paced Vinyasa yoga classes you may have attended at a studio. Kudalini yoga is also often prescribed by yoga therapists as a part of a yoga therapy protocol as breathwork is a very integral part of yoga therapist training.

Kundalini yoga originated from the ancient Tantra yoga lineage and was introduced to the western world by the Indian guru Yogi Bhajan.

A Kundalini yoga practice is intended to awaken this energy and bring it up through all the chakras, this is known as a Kundalini awakening. It is believed that yogis who achieve a Kundalini awakening reach enlightenment and gain an enhanced awareness and the ability to move past the ego.

Kundalini is a form of divine feminine energy, also known as Shakti. Traditional tantra teachings define it as a potent life-force energy that lies dormant within the body, usually at the base of the spine by the root chakra. 

What does Kundalini mean?

The Sanskrit word Kundalini has several English translations, the most common ones being “circular,” “coiled energy,” and “snake.” Shakti and Tantra schools speak of Kundalini energy as a serpent power, and it is often represented as a coiled snake in Hindu illustrations. 

Benefits of Kundalini yoga 

So what is Kundalini yoga good for besides achieving enlightenment like they speak about in Kundalini yoga teacher training? There are tons of physical, mental, and emotional benefits you can gain from practicing Kundalini yoga, such as:

  • Reduced feelings of stress and anxiety
  • A calm, clearer mind 
  • Improved cognitive functioning
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased strength and muscle tone
  • Enhanced gratitude, and joy
  • Improved self-image and self-love
  • Increased creativity and inspiration
  • Heightened self-awareness 

All styles of yoga positively affect the nervous system. However, as Kundalini yoga emphasizes deep breathing techniques, it is incredibly calming to the nervous system and helps bring it back into balance. This leads to various benefits, such as stress reduction and lower blood pressure.

There have been several research studies on Kundalini yoga to prove the benefits listed above. For example, an 8-week long 2018 study showed that Kundalini yoga is effective at reducing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder as it helps to soothe anxious feelings like restlessness and edginess.

Moreover, a small 2017 study on women with anorexia and bulimia showed that Kundalini yoga can improve body positivity and self-acceptance. Thus, they concluded that it is an effective complementary treatment for eating disorders. 

Why is Kundalini yoga dangerous?

Practicing Kundalini yoga is not said to be dangerous, but there can be a potential danger if a practitioner experiences a Kundalini awakening before being mentally ready for it. If this happens, the practitioner may experience negative, unpleasant symptoms similar to some mental illnesses. 

The term used for this is kundalini syndrome, and the symptoms can be physical or psychological, including:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Muscle cramps or spasms
  • Feelings of electricity or lightning bolts inside the body
  • Itchy or prickly sensations on the skin
  • Intense feelings of hot and cold in the body, particularly the spine
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Pain or tension in the back or neck
  • Depression and negative emotions
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings or emotional outbursts
  • Extremes in energy levels (hyperactivity or severe fatigue)
  • Hallucinations
  • Disconnection from reality (in severe cases)

However, don’t worry, as for most people who have been practicing Kundalini yoga for a while, an awakening is a positive experience! This is because they know what to expect and are physically, mentally, and spiritually prepared for the intense rush of Kundalini energy. This is why we recommend seeking the guidance of a qualified and experienced Kundalini yoga instructor when learning this practice.

How to practice Kundalini yoga 

5 parts of kundalini yoga infographic. how to practice kundalini yoga.

There are five aspects to a Kundalini yoga practice:

  • Chanting/Mantras and singing
  • Meditation
  • Kriyas/Yoga pose
  • Mudras – sacred hand gestures
  • Breathwork

If you're trying Kundalini yoga for the first time, you can do one of the following:

Attend a Kundalini yoga session

An in-person Kundalini class will give you an excellent introduction to the practice. A traditional Kundalini yoga class will include all the aspects listed above. It will likely begin with a short chant followed by a gentle warm-up to stretch the spine, as this is where you focus your energy. You will then move into the kriyas (yoga asanas) before meditation and closing chanting or singing. 

Practice Kundalini yoga online for free

Although Kundalini yoga has become pretty popular in recent years, most Western yoga studios focus on teaching other styles like Vinyasa, Hatha, and Ashtanga. So you may not find Kundalini yoga classes at studios near you. If this is the case, you can learn online instead. 

YouTube has tons of free Kundalini yoga classes suitable for beginners. For example, world-renowned yoga teacher Brett Larkin has a range of guided Kundalini practices from 10 to 30 minutes, ideal for those without prior experience. Her 30-minute Kundalini yoga class is a great one to start with as it introduces the most common poses, pranayama, and meditation techniques. It is also even a great Kundalini yoga class for men.

What is Kundalini meditation?

Kundalini meditation is an active and energizing practice that uses mantra chanting to move energy through the seven chakras. 

While sitting in a meditative position such as the lotus pose, you chant a Sanskrit mantra such as “Sat Nam,” which means “truth is my identity.” You chant to the rhythm of your breath, so as you inhale, you chant Sat, and as you exhale, you chant Nam. This helps to keep your mind focused and directs energy to the chakras. 

Meditation in kundalini practice also involves holding mudras (hand gestures). The most common one is Gyan mudra, where you bring the thumb and index finger to touch while extending the other three fingers. This mudra symbolizes union with the universe and wisdom. Mentally, holding this mudra can increase your concentration and focus.

What is Kundalini yoga breathing? 

The breath of fire is the most commonly used breathing technique in Kundalini yoga. This pranayama is heating, energizing, and detoxifying. It involves natural inhales and quick, forceful exhales through the nostrils. 

This method creates a light and rhythmic pumping of the belly. It can be practiced independently or combined with a yoga pose to create a kriya. For a guided tutorial, check out this video.

As one of the most intense yogic breathing techniques, you may feel dizzy when practicing it for the first time. Thus, to avoid this, practice for only a few minutes initially. Once you get used to it, you can increase the practice duration – most experienced practitioners aim for 5 to 15 minutes. If you do experience dizziness, stop and return to normal breathing. 

Kundalini breath of fire benefits

This style of forced exhalation used in the breath of fire is said to have the following benefits:

  • Improves respiratory health
  • Purifies the blood
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Tones abdominal muscles
  • Stimulates digestion
  • Balances the nervous system
  • Increases concentration
  • Relieves stress

Kundalini yoga for beginners 

Kundalini yoga poses are called kriyas and are cleansing practices that combine breath, posture, and sound. Most Kundalini kriyas target the navel and spine and apply pressure on specific energy centers.

Here are three of the most commonly practiced beginner Kundalini yoga poses:

1. Seated cat/cow

Seated cat-cow movements, also known as spinal flexes in Kundalini, help stretch the spine to improve mobility and increase spinal fluid flow. Spinal health is vital in Kundalini yoga as it is said that a stiff spine prompts the aging process. 

To practice seated cat/cow:

  1. Come into a comfortable seated position and place your hands on your knees or the front of your ankles. 
  2. Close your eyes and direct your focus to your heart center. 
  3. As you inhale, press your chest forwards, arching the spine.
  4. As you exhale, round your back, pulling your navel towards your spine.
  5. Repeat these two movements for at least one minute. 

2. Cobra pose

Cobra pose is another excellent posture for spinal health. Along with stretching the spine and back, it tones the abdominal organs, helping to regulate the digestive system. Energetically, it activates four of the seven chakras: sacral chakra, solar plexus, heart chakra, and throat chakra. 

To practice cobra pose:

  1. Come into a prone position. Place your hands on the ground close to your shoulders and gently raise your upper body and torso, arching the spine. 
  2. You can keep your elbows bent or fully extend your arms. If you do the latter, the hips may also lift, but the upper thighs should remain on the floor. 
  3. Tilt your head up and gaze upwards to stimulate the throat chakra. Your eyes can be closed or open. 
  4. Hold for at least 15 seconds while breathing slowly or deeply.

3. Archer pose

Archer pose is the Kundalini warrior pose, similar to the Warrior 2 asana in Hatha yoga. It targets the solar plexus chakra and promotes feelings of courage, strength, willpower, and determination. It also helps to build physical stamina and strength.

To practice the archer pose:

  1. From standing, step your left foot back and open your hips to the side.
  2. Bring your feet into a warrior 2 position with front toes pointing forwards and back toes at a 90-degree angle. The soles of both feet should be planted firmly on the ground.
  3. Keep the back leg straight as you bend the front knee until it stacks over the ankle.
  4. Extend your right arm forwards, in line with the shoulder. At the same time, bend your left elbow and pull it back as if you are holding a bow and arrow. Curl the fingers of both hands onto the palms with thumbs pointing out.
  5. Your chest and hips should be facing the side. Keep your spine straight as you gaze at your right hand. 
  6. Hold for at least one minute. 

Takeaway what is Kundalini yoga good for

The ancient practice of Kundalini yoga has many benefits for the body and mind, and it is suggested by both yoga instructors and yoga therapists to facilitate overall health and mental wellness. Kundalini yoga promotes mental peace and clarity, has a therapeutic effect on many bodily systems and organs, and can deepen your spiritual connection. So now you know the answer to “what is Kundalini yoga good for?” and understand what the practice entails, why not give it a go and experience the benefits yourself?

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Gemma is a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher. She is passionate about sharing her expertise of yoga and wellness through words, guiding others along the path of personal and spiritual development. Aside from helping others find more peace and stillness, Gemma runs a kitten rescue project in Thailand, where she is currently residing.

The Yogatique