Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Say or chant Ong namo guru dev (rhymes with “save”) namo three times. This means “I bow to the Creative Wisdom” or “I bow to the Divine Teacher within,” and is used at the beginning of every Kundalini practice to tune into the divinity and knowledge in each of us.
See also Yoga Style Profile: Kundalini Yoga
Fists of Anger
Take a comfortable seat, touch the tips of your thumbs to the pinky-finger mounds on each hand, and close your fists. Alternate swinging each arm overhead, as if doing the backstroke. Take powerful and even inhales and exhales through an O-shaped mouth. To end, stretch your arms above your head, hands interlaced and palms facing up. Inhale, imagining a white light around you, then exhale. Repeat this ending breath 3 times.
Baby Pose, with Head Up
Sit on your heels and bring your forehead toward the ground and your arms alongside your body, palms up. Keeping the hands on the floor, lift your neck to your comfort level and bring your gaze straight ahead. Hold here. Begin Kapalabhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breath or Breath of Fire), pumping the stomach as you breathe powerfully in and out through the nose. If you start to feel uneasy with any alternative-breathing practices, revert to normal breathing.
Seated on Heels, with Back on the Ground
From Baby Pose, sit up and gently ease onto your back, remaining on the heels. Place your arms next to you, turning palms up; if you can’t make it all the way down, face your palms downward for support. Close your eyes, rolling them up and in toward the center of your forehead—your “third eye”—and practice Breath of Fire. In Kundalini Yoga, this posture is said to help with blood flow to the organs and with removing waste that may slow metabolism.
Kundalini Chair Pose, with Lion’s Breath
Come to standing, feet a little more than hip-width apart and toes turned out 45 degrees. Bend forward, keeping your back parallel to the floor. Then bend your knees deeply and reach your arms between them, bringing the hands to the tops of the feet. Try to keep the hips at knee height. For Lion’s Breath, stick out your tongue and breathe in and out through your mouth. Exhale to come out.
Sukhasana (Easy Pose), with Arms Stacked
Come into Easy Pose. Bring your arms to shoulder level, bend your elbows, and stack your forearms, right over left, with your palms facing down, parallel to the ground. Close your eyes and roll them up and in toward your third eye. Breathe long and deeply, silently reciting a mantra for creation: Hari (rhymes with “buddy”) on the inhale and har (pronounced “hud”) on the exhale. (Hari means “yellow” and is used here to invoke a higher power.) Repeat as many times as possible in 3 minutes.
See also Kundalini Yoga for Better Digestion
Cat Pose and Cow Pose
Marjaryasana and Bitilasana
Come onto your hands and knees, bringing your shoulders over your wrists, and your hips over your knees. Take a deep inhale, stretching the neck up and dropping the belly for Cow Pose; on the exhale, press into the floor, bringing the head down, and pull the navel in as the spine arches up for Cat Pose. Continue this movement for 3 minutes. The movement between the two poses is said to activate cerebrospinal fluid and “wash” the brain and face, creating clarity in the mind and a natural anti-aging effect in the skin.
Begin in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). On an exhalation, descend into Plank Pose, then Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), with the body parallel to the ground and elbows bent. Inhale to push up into Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose): Arch your back, straighten your arms, and lift your head. Exhale back to Down Dog, and inhale as you hold the posture and begin the sequence again. This exercise builds strength, focus, and cardiovascular endurance.
Come back to Easy Pose. Roll your fingers into the pads of your palms, keeping the thumbs out. Bring your arms up to form a 60-degree angle, pointing the thumbs toward each other. Focus on your third-eye point. Begin Breath of Fire, breathing powerfully and evenly through the nose for almost 2 minutes. To end, inhale and hold for as long as you can. Bring your thumbs to touch over your head, spreading the fingers. Exhale your arms down.
Easy Pose, with Gyan Mudra
Remain in Easy Pose. Bring your hands to your knees with the index fingers pressing the tips of the thumbs in Gyan Mudra, which is said to bring the brain into a natural state of peaceful clarity. Breathe long and deeply, eyes closed and rolled up and in. Focus on your third-eye point, in the center of your forehead.