Foundations and Daily Practice
Yoga: The Yoga of Awareness
By Deborah Clapp
I have been teaching kundalini yoga for over 18
years in New York City, and I still get a joyful, faster heartbeat as
I pass on the basic instructions on to my students. When I think of kundalini
yoga and its meditation techniques, and how both have helped me change,
I feel both passionately enthusiastic and deeply grateful for this transformational
gift. Passing it on to others is a way of expressing my gratitude and
sharing the wealth.
Kundalini yoga requires discipline, patience, persistence, sweat, willpower,
and a desire to change. The word kundalini literally means
the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved. This is a poetic
way of describing the flow of energy-consciousness that already exists
in each one of us. The way kundalini energy travels as it goes up and
down the spine through nerve channels is like the curl of a lock of hair
and the beloved is a metaphorical image of the divine Creator.
When the kundalini energy flows up the spine and reaches the top of the
skull, the activation of the pineal gland in the brain brings about a
major change of consciousness. When the energy returns down the spine,
the activation of all energy centers, called chakras, occurs
and a major change in the persons life comes about.
The essential daily practice of kundalini yoga is called sadhana.
It involves reciting the seed mantra Sat Nam
meaning true identity, which is chanted silently or out loud
to produce a higher vibration in ones being. Practitioners then
tune in with the Adi Mantra which links one with the Higher Self. Central
to kundalini practice is the breath of fire a relaxed, rapid,
rhythmic breathing, which keeps the body still, pumps the navel, and
the mind. Other tools in the practice involve the repetition of postures
or asanas, positions with arms or legs held at an angle, deep relaxation
to integrate all the effects of these exercises, and chanting meditations
to transform and break through physical and emotional habit patterns.
Kundalini yoga works specifically to open and balance all of the chakras.
Chakras are focal points of potential development in the human being.
Six are in the body, a seventh is just above the center top of the head,
and an eighth is in the electromagnetic field or aura of the
individual. Where the kundalini energy has access to flow and focus affects
how we are with ourselves, our lives and others in our lives. If we only
vibrate in the lower chakras we have no chance of true happiness; we remain
ruled by our appetites and habit patterns. It is only when we increase
our vibration and achieve a higher frequency by accessing the upper chakras
that we can begin to realize our spiritual identity and lifes purpose.
Only then can we feel happy, healthy, and whole.
centuries, knowledge of kundalini yoga was kept secret. However, my teacher,
Yogi Bhajan, brought the practice of kundalini yoga to America from India
in 1969. There has been much misinformation about kundalini. Moreover,
while some people have had a spontaneous experience of kundalini energy,
they have not had the preparation and understanding necessary to integrate
and apply this energy properly. Under Yogi Bhajans guidance, however,
accurate knowledge and application of working with kundalini energy to
access and balance the chakras is provided properly and naturally. Raising
the kundalini energy is relatively simple: keeping it flowing is the challenge.
Technically, kundalini is the increased energy of the glandular system
combined with that of the nervous system. This affects the perception
and interpretation of the brain, causing one to become totally and wholesomely
aware. That is why it is called the Yoga of Awareness. The
kundalini energy refers to an individuals creative potentialthe
infinite, blue light of consciousnesssome flowing through
the system and most present as a vast reservoir of untapped, dormant energy
stored under the fourth vertebra on the spinal column. Through the practice
of kundalini yoga we stimulate and release this dormant energy, allowing
it to rise and integrate to develop our fullest human potential. Practicing
kundalini yoga causes ones consciousness to literally wake
I am continuously asked what the difference is between kundalini yoga
and the other forms of yoga (hatha, astanga, Iyengar, vedanta, raja, etc.).
It is important to know that they are all from the same source and yet
can be, experientially, very different. Each person must find which type
draws him or her and inspires them to practice. Very generally, hatha
yoga concentrates on postures (asanas) and long deep breathing,
astanga offers a physically challenging flow of postures; and Iyengar
uses many physical tools to assist one in finding the correct posture.
Kundalini yoga uses breath manipulation, body locks (bhandas),
dynamic, rhythmic, coordinated breath and movement exercises, postures,
chanting meditations and mudras (hand and finger positions) to
allow one to experience deep, immediate effects on all levels of being.
Kundalini yoga appealed to me because it changed how I felt deeply and
quickly. The yoga has transformed and helped to integrate my body, mind,
emotions, and spirit.
Kundalini yoga is a true labor of love, a royal discipline, a spiritual
devotion, and a doable daily practice. It is intended for everyone living
a busy day-to-day life. Yogi Bhajan tells us that all of us are responsible
for cleansing and strengthening our bodies, healing our pasts, practicing
meditation, and coming to know, understand, and express our true essence
of identitythe soul. The practice of kundalini yoga is our opportunity
to wake up, keep up and grow up!
Deborah Clapp teaches yoga classes around New York City, including
at Kundalini Yoga East, 873 Broadway (between 18th and 19th Streets),
Suite 614 (buzzer #0037), Tel. 212-982-5959, and at New York University.
For more information contact her at Kundalini Yoga East.
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