Frequently Asked Questions
Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga (including Iyengar, Vinyasa, Jivamukti, Bikram, Anusara, etc.) share many of the same physical poses and breathing techniques. They all aim to increase flexibility and awareness, decrease stress, and move you toward the union of body, mind, and spirit.
The biggest difference from other types of yoga is that Kundalini Yoga incorporates dynamic movement, breathing exercises, mantra, meditation, music, and deep relaxation into specific series of exercises. The combination of these aspects of yoga into a series is called a kriya.
A kriya usually has a certain focus, like a mental or physical health benefit. For example, some of the mental health benefits of kriyas might include eliminating anger, finding intuition, or developing courage. Some kriyas focus more on physical health by helping to activate digestion, improve sleep, or increase energy.
If you’re looking to work on your physical self through stretching and gentle strengthening, some form of Hatha Yoga is recommended. A Kundalini Yoga class is recommended for someone looking for both physical benefits and a spiritual experience.
No. Kundalini Yoga does not follow a specific sequence for each session. Instead, the practice is organized into kriyas, each with their own particular sequence of exercises and other yogic elements. While the kriyas themselves each follow a specific pattern, a practitioner may choose any kriya to practice at any time.
As you continue with your practice, you will likely have times when you’re extremely inspired, and other moments when you wonder why you’re still doing this, or when life gets in the way and you find you’re not able to keep up nearly as consistent of a habit as you thought you would. The following tips will help you get past the bumps that come with starting anything new and find a sustainable rhythm.
Try not to overcommit yourself (and be gentle if you find you’re able to do even less than your already-reduced expectations). Starting a new habit is always hard, but it’s even harder if you give yourself very rigid rules with no room to change them. Knowing that it will be some time before you start to feel settled into your new routines, make sure you have the freedom to be flexible.
Keep in mind that it’s normal not to always feel great doing yoga. Kriyas can often bring subconscious patterns to the surface that are uncomfortable to confront. Keeping a journal through all this can help you see these ups and downs as part of a larger process and connect them to the rest of your practice journey.
Finding a class or event near you can be a great way to join in community, meet others, connect, and grow inspiration for your practice. Many people find that engaging and connecting with others is what takes their practice from mild curiosity to a consistent pillar of support in their lives.
When you’re feeling discouraged, tired, or overwhelmed, remembering why you’re doing this can help keep you going. It can also help guide your focus when you’re confronted with too many choices and aren’t sure what to practice. Knowing that your goals and priorities will shift over time, you can use them as a filter to decide where to focus your attention in a given moment.
You can practice Kundalini Yoga in any color you wish, however there is a reason you see so many Kundalini yogis in white!
The spectrum of light energy that makes up the color white contains the energies of all colors. By wearing white, all the colors are available to support and enhance your electromagnetic field, or aura, as well as the eight chakras. Dressing in white automatically expands your aura, which protects you from the impact of negative energy and increases your capacity to project positive energy out into the world.
Head coverings in Kundalini Yoga are entirely optional. Covering the head provides a sense of containment and focus while practicing yoga or while doing work that requires clarity of thought. It literally helps “keep your head together.” It also protects the sensitive Crown Chakra and enables you to command your sixth center, the Ajna Chakra, also known as the Third Eye. For these reasons, many Kundalini Yoga practitioners choose to cover the top of their heads with natural fiber while practicing. You are encouraged to try it out for yourself and see how it makes you feel.
Many yogic traditions encourage waking up to perform a daily practice during what are called the “ambrosial hours” (the two and a half hours just before sunrise, when the sun is at a sixty-degree angle to the Earth). It is said that during this time the energy you put into your sadhana gets maximum results. There is the additional benefit that the world is quieter, and it can be easier to meditate and focus inward before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.
Nevertheless, doing yoga at any time of the day or night will benefit you enormously! The important thing is to find a time and a schedule that you know works for you. You are encouraged to try getting up in the early morning to see how it feels, but truly the best time to do your yoga is whatever time you are able to consistently show up.
There are no set requirements for what constitutes a yogic lifestyle and no “minimum level” you must achieve in order to consider yourself a yogi. The lifestyle tools—such as taking cold showers, eating a yogic diet, and letting the hair grow—are all totally optional, and you are free to ignore them if you just want to do some yoga. Part of cultivating the intention of a yogic practice is developing the self-awareness to choose the path that best supports your own needs, whether or not it matches your or anyone else’s ideas of what a yogic lifestyle should look like.
Daily practice is different for different people. It can range from a few Sun Salutations to several hours of practice. It can be one 3-minute meditation every day, or a 90-minute kriya. It can be one or several Kundalini Yoga classes weekly.
It doesn’t need to be long. The important thing to focus on is consistency. Five minutes every single day will create much better long-term habits than four hours twice a year. Be realistic with yourself about what you can achieve on a regular basis so that you don’t get frustrated and give up. It is said that the difference between a long practice and a short practice is big, but the difference between a short practice and no practice is tremendous.
For morning sadhana, the ideal practice is 2 ½ hours before sunrise. But if we are to run, we must first learn to walk. An hour is an excellent beginner’s morning sadhana. As you grow in your daily practice, you will find time to extend it. If you try to climb Mt. Everest without even first climbing a foothill, failure could discourage you from all other attempts. Build slowly and constantly at a pace you can maintain.
When it comes to choosing what to practice, it’s up to you. You can practice any kriya that speaks to you. The only guideline is that each kriya should be practiced in its entirety in order to achieve the desired effect.
In Kundalini Yoga classes it is common to practice a yoga set, followed by deep relaxation, and then a meditation. You can also follow this format when practicing on your own if you like, or you can choose to practice a single yoga set or meditation on its own.
Sometimes we come across a kriya that moves us deeply. A kriya might move us to tears; it might create a profound sense of joy; it could just challenge us physically in a way that inspires us to keep working with it. In this case, a kriya might become the base of one’s sadhana practice, in which a person practices the same kriya for days or months on end.
Kundalini, which means “coil” in Sanskrit, describes the natural energy that rests coiled at the base of the spine. Everyone has this energy, but for most people, it remains dormant. One of the goals of Kundalini Yoga is to activate this creative force and simultaneously, to prepare your body for its awakening.
Kundalini energy is your creative potential. You experience it when the energy of the glandular system combines with the energy of the nervous system to create a refined sensitivity so the brain receives subtle signals and interprets them. This leads to an expanded state of consciousness where you become totally aware and your creative potential becomes available to you.
When the kundalini energy rises and penetrates through all the chakras, you wake up to the reality that was there all along—that you are One with all that is. Choosing to practice Kundalini Yoga can be part of how you move from simply living to being fully alive.
Awakening kundalini energy is one of the primary goals of most yoga and meditation practices. Kundalini Yoga is more specific in helping the body to prepare for activated kundalini energy and increased awareness.
Awakening in Kundalini Yoga is a gradual evolution of consciousness. The practice of Kundalini Yoga gradually and safely opens and prepares the individual for awakened kundalini energy. When the kundalini energy rises and penetrates through all the chakras, you wake up to the reality that was there all along—that you are One with all that is.
Some of the benefits of the gradual awakening of kundalini energy are:
- More compassion and empathy
- Increased creativity
- Increased spiritual connection
- A heightened sense of intuition
- A clear sense of purpose and destiny
- The urge to make life changes
At the core of this misunderstanding is confusion between kundalini energy and Kundalini Yoga.
Kundalini energy is a powerful life force energy that exists in every human being. Kundalini Yoga is an ancient form of yoga developed to prepare the body for activated kundalini energy.
Having a kundalini awakening experience for an unprepared body can be overwhelming, which is likely where the myth about Kundalini Yoga being dangerous arises. In fact, Kundalini Yoga is generally considered to be one of the best things you can do to prepare the body for a safe and integrated experience of kundalini energy. It is a powerful form of yoga, but if practiced correctly, it isn’t dangerous.