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Are you ready to discover your life’s purpose and activate your fullest potential? Kundalini Yoga is an ancient practice that helps you channel powerful energy and transform your life. And now there is an accessible, easy way to learn how to incorporate these practices into your practice and life. Yoga Journal’s 6-week online course, Kundalini 101: Create the Life You Want, offers you mantras, mudras, meditations, and kriyas that you’ll want to practice every day. Sign up now!
It takes creativity and fearlessness to adventure into our heart’s deepest desires, and this Kundalini Yoga practice passed down by Yogi Bhajan, the master of Kundalini Yoga, can help you find both. Through energetic movements that activate and strengthen the lower nerve plexus—the area below the navel that houses our digestive organs, including the “gut” we’re so often told to follow—we can move vital energy up into the heart, making us feel stabler. This is particularly helpful as we face challenges and fears around stepping into the unknown. What’s more, the meditation at the end of this practice can help you rediscover who you truly are, and support you in pursuing your deepest, most heartfelt desires. It can also prompt you to fine-tune the goals you already have, enabling you to see where tweaks are needed and helping you stay the course when distractions inevitably arise.
Say or chant Ong namo guru dev (rhymes with “save”) namo three times. This means “I bow to the teacher within” and is used at the beginning of every Kundalini practice to tune in to the divinity and knowledge in each of us.
1. Do the poses in order, trying not to skip any. You can, however, modify any posture to accommodate injuries or your present level of strength and flexibility.
2. Start slowly, taking rests when needed and gradually building up to the time given for each pose. Between poses, pause for at least 30 to 60 seconds of rest.
Run in Place
Start standing with your upper arms pulled back, forearms parallel to the ground and hands in fists facing each other. Alternating sides, lift each knee as high as possible while you punch the opposite arm forward, so that your arm reaches straight out. Move your arms forcefully forward and back. Repeat for 2 minutes.
Sit cross-legged and apply Jalandhara Bandha (Neck or Chin Lock). To engage the lock, lift your chest and lengthen the back of your neck so that the chin naturally drops toward the front of the neck. Curl your fingertips onto the pads of the palms, with the thumbs stretched back and aimed at each other above the head. Begin Breath of Fire: This is a rhythmic, continuous breath through the nostrils in which on each exhale you pull the navel point back and upward; breathe at roughly 40 to 60 breaths per minute to start, gradually increasing the speed as you feel ready. To end, take a big inhale; as you suspend the breath, touch your thumbs together above your head. Exhale to release your arms down and touch your fingertips to the ground.
Come onto your hands and knees, with the hands shoulder-width apart and knees directly under the hips. For Cow, inhale as you tilt your pelvis forward, extending your spine downward and head and neck upward. For Cat, exhale as you reverse the pelvic tilt, flexing your spine up and pressing the chin to the chest. In both poses, keep the arms and legs still. Continue rhythmically alternating between both poses with powerful breathing. Repeat for 2 minutes. To end, inhale into Cow, hold, and pull your energy up the spine with Mula Bandha (Root Lock) engaged. To engage Root Lock, gently contract your anal sphincter and lower body to access the lift of the pelvic floor. Exhale and relax on your heels. Sit quietly, feeling the energy circulate throughout your body.
The Great Seat of Yoga
Maha Mudra Kriya
Sit with your left heel under your buttocks and your right leg extended forward. (To modify, touch the sole of your left foot against your right inner thigh.) Bend forward and grasp your right toes with both hands. Straighten your spine and look at your toes. Stay still, with smooth, even breaths. Apply a light Root Lock. Continue for 2 minutes, then inhale deeply and pull the toes back. Exhale, pull the toes back more, and apply a strong Root Lock. Repeat this strong Root Lock–breath cycle 2 more times, and then relax.
Kundalini Lotus Pose
Balance on the sacrum and grasp the big toes. Holding onto the big toes, raise the legs to a 60-degree angle from the floor and spread them wide, without bending the knees. (Modification: Hold your thighs or shins.) Engage the navel for balance. Keep the spine straight. Apply a constant Root Lock. Hold for 2 minutes, breathing deeply. Then inhale deeply, exhale, and apply a strong Root Lock. Repeat the strong Root Lock– breath cycle 2 more times. Relax.
Seated Forward Bend
Extend both legs straight and reach forward, holding onto your big toes. Pull your spine up straight by pulling back on your toes, and engage Chin Lock. Take long, deep breaths for 2 minutes. To finish, apply a strong Root Lock on the exhale; repeat this Root Lock 2 more times.
Back Platform Pose
Sit with your legs extended and hands on the ground behind you, with your heels on the ground and fingertips facing your toes. Lift your chest, abdomen, and hips until your body is straight, with only the palms and heels on the ground. Bring your chin to your chest and press your toes forward. Hold the position, with long, deep breaths, for 2 minutes. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, apply Root Lock. Repeat the breath with Root Lock 2 more times, then relax.
Front Platform Pose
Lie on your stomach. Put the palms of your hands on the ground under your shoulders and push up off the ground by straightening your elbows until your body is on a plane, with only the hands and tops of the feet on the ground. (Modification: Place your knees on the ground.) Exhale as you slowly lower to the floor. Inhale as you slowly rise up. Do not apply Root Lock. Continue with deep, slow breaths for 2 minutes. To finish, inhale deeply; as you exhale, apply Root Lock and hold the platform position. Repeat this concluding breath 2 more times.
Elbows-Back Platform Pose
Lie on your back and place your elbows close to your sides, with the forearms at or close to a 90-degree angle to the ground. Lift the chest, abdomen, and hips until your body is straight, with only your elbows and heels on the ground. (To modify, place padding under your elbows and keep your hips on the ground.) Bring your chin to your chest and press your toes forward. Hold the pose with long, deep breaths. Continue for 2 minutes. Then, exhale completely and apply Root Lock, hold, and release.
Kundalini Yoga Fish Pose
Kneel on your shins with your buttocks on your heels. Slowly lean back until your head (and possibly the shoulders) is on the ground and your arms are relaxed on the ground beside your legs. (Modification: Cross the legs and lie on your back.) Keep a light, constant Root Lock. Begin long, deep breaths and continue for 2 minutes. Then, exhale completely and apply a strong Root Lock; inhale. Repeat the complete exhale and Root Lock 2 more times, then relax.
Squat with knees wide and toes on the ground, heels together off the floor, and fingertips on the ground between the knees. Keep your back straight and face forward. Inhale; staying on your toes and fingertips, raise your hips as your head descends and your knees straighten. Exhale and return to your original squatting position. Continue for 2 minutes, keeping the movements quick and vigorous.
Alternating Leg Lifts
Lie on your back with your arms relaxed along the sides of your body, palms down. As you inhale, lift one leg up to 90 degrees, applying a slight Root Lock. As you exhale, let that leg down smoothly to the ground. Switch legs on every breath and continue for 2 minutes.
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Sit in a comfortable meditation posture. Pull in the navel point and apply Root Lock. Mentally scan your body, noticing where you encounter a limited definition of who you are, and then ridding yourself of it completely. The goal is to remember your true essence. Stay here for 3 or more minutes.
Lie on your back with your legs extended in front of you; let your palms turn up and your arms and legs relax deeply. This pose allows you to release, rejuvenate, and fully integrate the energy of the practice, and reset the nervous system. Stay here for 5 to 7 minutes.
ABOUT OUR PRO
LA–based teacher and model Kiyomi Takahashi is certified in the alignment-based vinyasa tradition, as well as in Kundalini Yoga. A student of Annie Carpenter, Guru Singh, and numerous others, Takahashi combines the essence of different traditions to encourage her students to take the lessons of yoga off the mat. She teaches at YogaWorks, Golden Bridge, and other studios in LA and leads teacher trainings, workshops, and an online meditation course. Learn more at kiyomiyoga.com.