Kundalini Yogaby Shakta Kaur Khalsa
Kundalini comes from the Indian word kundal, which means "lock of hair from the beloved." The uncoiling of this "hair" is the awakening of the kundalini, the creative potential that already exists in every human. The yoga in this book is a sampling of the vast wealth called Kundalini Yoga. Here
The first complete and fully illustrated guide to Kundalini available!
Kundalini comes from the Indian word kundal, which means "lock of hair from the beloved." The uncoiling of this "hair" is the awakening of the kundalini, the creative potential that already exists in every human. The yoga in this book is a sampling of the vast wealth called Kundalini Yoga. Here you learn about the branch of yoga based on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, Ph.D., who brought Kundalini Yoga from India to the West in 1969. Master yoga teacher and author Shakta Kaur Khalsa demonstrates how Kundalini Yoga works for everyday life and every person. You are not required to be in perfect physical shape or share any particular belief system. Kundalini Yoga works for you if you can breathe and move your body! In this type of yoga, the most important thing is experience. Your experience goes right to your heart, your core. These ancient teachings are designed to give you a hands-on approach to experiencing your deepest emotions and highest consciousness. By approaching Kundalini Yoga with openness and respect, and by following the steps included in this book, you can change and enrich your life.
Author Biography: Shakta Kaur Khalsa began practicing yoga in 1972, and has been teaching Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan since 1976. She is an IKYTA certified Kundalini Yoga instructor, a certified Montessori educator, and a member of Yoga Alliance and Mid-Atlantic Yoga Association. Shakta is an internationally recognized teacher of yoga for both adults and children, and conducts teacher-training programs for children's yoga, as well as yoga workshops for adults.
Beside her newest title for DK Publishing, Kundalini Yoga, she has authored numerous magazine articles about healthful living and yoga, as well as several books including Fly Like A Butterfly: Yoga For Children (Sterling) and The Five Fingered Family (The Brookfield Reader). Shakta's Keep It Simple Series (KISS) Guide to Yoga will be published by DK in August.
Shakta lives in Herndon, Virginia with her husband and son.
Read an Excerpt
Your Yoga Room Choose a quiet, out-of-the-way space. Add some simple, meaningful decorations and photos on a small altar with a candle. If possible, reserve this space just for yoga and meditation. The room should have a fresh feeling and a moderate temperature. The floor should be padded with carpet; or use a comfortable, thick mat that will not slip.
Your Yoga Mat If you practice yoga on a hard surface, such as a wood floor, be sure to cushion it with a thick pad or blanket. Additionally, a mat of natural fibers such as cotton, wool, silk, or animal skin is recommended for insulation and padding. Wool and sheepskin insulate your electromagnetic field from the earth's energy field. This protects you from becoming tired or drained of energy as you meditate. A pillow placed under the buttocks will help straighten the spine for meditation
Your Yoga Shawl A light, natural fabric shawl or blanket is suggested for meditation and deep relaxation. In meditation, cover the shoulders and spine. If this feels too warm, cover the lower spine only by wrapping the shawl around the waist and lower torso. You should stay comfortably warm during meditation. The body will naturally cool off during the deep relaxation following a yoga set. Covering yourself from the neck down keeps your body temperature constant.
Clothing For yoga, it is best to wear comfortable, elastic-waisted clothing made from a natural fabric, such as cotton. If possible do not wear socks. Bare feet conduct the electromagneticenergy through the 72,000 nerve endings in the feet. Covering the head with a natural fiber cloth, preferably cotton, also strengthens the electromagnetic energy field, and enhances the meditative mind.
Wearing white is preferred, as it is the "infinite" of all colors and is psychologically uplifting.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO CONSIDER
Always begin each session by tuning in (see "Before Beginning, Tune In," on page 44).
Wait at least 1 or, preferably, 2 hours after eating to begin. Empty the bladder before doing yoga.
Start with the minimum time suggested for an exercise and increase gradually up to the maximum time, but not beyond.
After choosing a particular yoga set, or kriya, follow it in the order given.
Generally, a beginning practitioner of Kundalini Yoga will do 30 to 45 minutes of yoga, followed by a 10-minute deep relaxation and then an 11-minute meditation.
Drink water after your practice to balance and ground yourself.
Unless another mantra is given, use Sat Nam on the breath.
Unless specified otherwise, the breathing pattern to use while moving the body is to inhale during expansive, opening movements, and exhale during movements that contract the body, For example, in a forward stretch, inhale while sitting up and exhale while stretching toward your legs.
Close your eyes and breathe through your nose during yoga, unless instructed otherwise.
When music is indicated in a yoga set, for relaxation or mediation, it is recommended that you use 3HO music, which is vibrationally compatible with Kundalini Yoga. Hundreds of selections can be ordered from the organizations listed in "Resources".
For Women Only: During the heaviest part of your monthly menses and after the third month of pregnancy, avoid strenuous yoga. In particular do not do the following poses: Bow, Camel, Locust, Root Lock, Shoulder Stand, Plow, Strenuous Leg Lifts, or Breath of Fire.
A Kundalini Yoga class will always end with a special blessing song. To sing along, see the "Resources" section for information on ordering the companion CD especially designed for use with this book. Otherwise you can recite it as an ending poem or blessing. The words are:
If love surround you. And the pure light within you. Guide your way on.
An important component of Kundalini Yoga and meditation is mental focus. It deepens your awareness of the present moment. After beginning a steady practice, you may find that this becomes an invaluable tool for centering in everyday life.
FOCUS ON THE THIRD-EYE POINT
The mental focus in Kundalini Yoga, unless specified otherwise, is to fix the concentration on the "third-eye point," a point midway between the brows, one-half-inch above the eyebrows and one-half-inch beneath the skin. You can mentally locate this point by closing your eyes and turning them gently upwards and inwards. With practice, you will be able to center your awareness at the third-eye point without the aid of your eyes.
Concentrating on the third-eye point is not intended to block out all other awareness. Remain aware of your breath, your body posture, your movements, and any mantra (mind-guiding sound) you may be using as you center yourself at the third-eye point.
FOCUS WITH A MANTRA
Another aspect of Kundalini Yoga practice that is frequently unspecified is the use of mantra on the breath. Linking a sound with the breath adds to the power of the mental focus.
The mantra most commonly used is Sat Nam (rhymes with "But Mom"). Sat Nam means "truth is my identity," or "Truth-Identity." This mantra can be linked with the breath by mentally repeating Sat as you inhale, and Nam as you exhale. By doing so, you connect each thought to a positive outcome.
You will find that the use of a mantra makes it easier to keep up in the practice of any exercise that is particularly strenuous, and that it adds depth to the practice of even the simplest exercise.
Many Kundalini kriyas (yoga sets) involve rhythmical movement between two or more postures. Sometimes the pace at which you should move is not stated. As a rule, begin slowly, keeping a steady rhythm. Increase gradually, being careful not to strain. Generally, the more you practice an exercise the faster you can go. In any case, be sure that the spine has become warm and flexible before attempting rapid or strenuous movements.
CONCLUDING AN EXERCISE
Unless otherwise stated, an exercise is concluded by inhaling and holding the breath briefly, then exhaling and relaxing the posture. Keep a strong mental focus, and circulate the energy through the body and mind while holding the breath. Applying the Root Lock on the held inhale is also an option (see page 35 for a discussion of the Root Lock position). This helps to consolidate the effects of the exercise and to circulate energy to the higher centers of the body.
Beginners may hold the breath for 5 to 8 seconds at the conclusion of an exercise. More experienced practitioners may hold the breath longer. In no case, however, should the breath be held to the point of dizziness or faintness. If you begin to experience either, exhale immediately and relax the breath.
RELAXING BETWEEN EXERCISES
The relaxation following an exercise consolidates the effects of that exercise. For this reason, it is important to allow yourself at least a few relaxing breaths between exercises. Ideally, allow for 1 minute of relaxation. Longer periods of relaxation (up to 3 minutes) may be necessary for beginners or for strenuous exercises. Relax in a comfortable position. Unless specified, come into the resting position that is most natural for each exercise. Generally, Easy Pose, Rock Pose, Corpse Pose, or on your stomach (with head turned to the side) are the most common resting poses. Some poses have a natural resting pose that relaxes the body in the opposite stretch. Breathe deeply and consciously. Relax completely with the intention to continue your yoga set. Most kriyas end with a deep relaxation on the back for 10 minutes or more.
Although Kundalini Yoga does not rely on the use of props, as do some other forms of yoga, there are times when the use of props is beneficial. Props can be especially helpful for beginners and anyone who has parts of their body that have not been stretched or exercised for a long time.
Most props, with the exception of the body ball, are common items around the home: a cloth belt or rope, a bolster pillow (from a couch) or thick blankets, a wall, a metal folding chair, a stable desk. Here are some ways these items can help you do yoga.
1 When muscles are too tight or weak to hold a posture, backbend on a large ball, bolster pillows, or blankets to open the upper spine. This is especially recommended as preparation for Wheel Pose.
2 To help make sitting on the floor more comfortable, place thick blankets, a towel, or a pillow under buttocks to straighten the spine and relax the hips downward. For shoulder stand and plow pose, add a thick blanket under the shoulders and upper back to relieve pressure from the neck.
3 Increase comfort during relaxation by lying on a rug or mat and placing a rolled up towel or pillow under the knees. This will take pressure off the lower spine. A small, rolled pillow may also be inserted under the neck.
4 For lowering legs in Plow Pose, touch feet to a wall and slowly walk them down toward the floor. Some people find performing Tree Pose easier when standing either with the shoulder and supporting leg next to a wall for support, or with the backs of heels against a wall.
5 To stretch toward the feet, or to grasp arms behind the back, use a strap or rope to cover the distance past where your arms can stretch.
6 For those who cannot sit on the floor to meditate with a straight spine, a chair is an alternative. Use a sturdy, armless, firm-support chair. Place a thick, firm pad or blanket on the chair for sitting on, and a folded blanket under the feet if they are not flat on the ground. Your spine should be straight and lightly supported by the back of the chair.
7 A body ball can be used before beginning yoga. Lie on the body ball face down, then roll it from the chest slowly down to the pelvis. Hold the pose and breathe into each area being stretched and opened for a minute. Repeat the process on your back, starting with the upper chest and moving gradually to the pelvis.
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A must read for any kundalini yoga enthusiast or beginner!
Very informative with good illustrations.