Tune In, Tune Up
She stands just over five feet tall, but when Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa enters a room, everyone notices. It isn't just her turban, her flowing all-white ensemble, or her enormous gong that make her stand out. Khalsa's presence can only be explained by the immense amount of energy she exudes, whether it's serene, joyful, or even mischievous. In Kundalini terms, she's got a very strong aura.
Khalsa, the cofounder and director of the Golden Bridge Yoga center in Los Angeles, chalks it up to doing this form of yoga for more than 30 years. Kundalini gives you energy and grit to deal with the challenges in your life," she says. "It strengthens your aura and opens you up to give and receive love." If you've never done Kundalini before, you'll notice some differences from other types of yoga. Instead of holding the poses, Kundalini classes incorporate different kinds of movement, from waving or kicking the limbs in a repetitive, structured way to dancing in an unstructured way. Khalsa often uses music during class, and each session ends with Corpse Pose to the sound of a gong. Also, each kriya, or sequence, is taught exactly as it was passed down from Kundalini masters.
Here, Khalsa shares a kriya for optimum health and well-being taught to her by her teacher Yogi Bhajan, who died in 2004. The sequence stimulates the navel chakra, which regulates strength and mental clarity.
Before You Begin
Prepare: Don't eat for at least two hours before you practice. If you need nourishment, drink some juice. Warm yourself up with a few stretches to loosen the spine, hips, and shoulders.
Chant: Chant "Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo." It translates as "I open myself to the Divine Creativity of the Universe. To the Subtle Transparent Teacher within and without, I bow." Chanting this mantra is like tuning the radio to a certain wavelength, turning on the channel to Infinity. It extends your mind from the daily earthly life to timelessness.
1. Lying on your back, bend your right knee and bring it across your body to the left side. Raise your right arm alongside your ear. Your shoulders remain on the floor. Stretch to the left side and then to the right, 21 times on each side.
2. Still lying on your back, lift your left leg to 90 degrees and lower it while lifting your right leg to 90 degrees. Continue alternate leg lifts for 1 1/2 minutes.
3. Still lying on your back, lift your arms and legs up to 90 degrees and then lower them and raise them again rapidly for 2 minutes.
4. Lying on your stomach, reach back and grab your left ankle and pull the leg down to touch the left buttock. Then release the left ankle and grab the right ankle and stretch it down to touch the right buttock. Continue, moving quickly and alternating legs for 1 minute.
5. Still lying on your stomach, grab both ankles and come up into Bow Pose. Roll on your stomach back and forth like a hobbyhorse, extend your tongue out of your mouth, and do the breath of fire for 1 1/2 minutes. (To do breath of fire, pump the breath in and out through your nose. Your navel center will move in as you exhale and out as you inhale. Start slowly and gradually increase to 60 breaths per minute. Keep your face and shoulders relaxed.)
6. Roll quickly onto your back and begin jumping your whole body all around and up and down for 2 minutes.
7. Come into Cobra Pose and begin moving up and down from Cobra Pose to lying on the floor and back up into Cobra Pose. Stick your tongue all the way out and breathe through your mouth. Do 54 Cobra lifts.
8. Lying on your back, bend your knees and hug them to your chest. Put your nose between your knees and rock forward and back on your spine for 2 minutes.
9. Lie back and, with your legs six inches off the ground, crisscross your arms and legs back and forth for 2 minutes.
10. Lying on your back, come into Half Wheel Pose by grabbing your ankles and arching your spine, resting your shoulders and head on the floor. Hold for 6 1/2 minutes. Listen to relaxing meditative music.
11. Turn onto your belly and relax for another 8 minutes.
12. Flip from your stomach onto your back in one move and relax, pretending to sleep. Listen to "Guru Ram Das Lullaby" for 11 minutes or play some other meditative music.
13. Lift your arms and legs and roll your wrists and ankles in both directions. Then do Cat Stretch by bending your right leg and placing your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Pull the knee across your body into a twist. Look over at your right arm stretched along the floor. Enjoy the stretch, then bring the right knee back to your chest and release the leg on the floor. Do the other side.
14. End your practice with this meditation: If you have it, play a recording of "Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Jio" while you meditate. Sit in Easy Pose, with your eyes closed, looking at the tip of your nose through your closed eyes for 3 1/2 minutes. Then change your focus to your crown chakra (the top of the head) for 4 minutes.
After You Finish
This song is a form of selfless service, or giving back to the world. It teaches you to send your newly expanded radiant energy to heal and console others.
Taken from Owner's Manual for the Human Body, Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. Compiled and edited by Harijot K. Khalsa. Published through the Kundalini Yoga Research Institute (KRI).