Guru Singh and Claudia Mason, 2018
I am now halfway through this wondrous journey known as Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training - KYTT200HR - and I must say, with a big smile that radiates throughout my entire face, and somehow has me as enlivened as is Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat when he gleefully says; “I like”; I have experienced many highs from these teachings during the training. Some highs result in many minutes of ecstatic bliss and reverie, from the vast visceral experiences they bring, while the effect of other highs brings about a flood of tears. These moments of sobbing are still highs, they are not lows, since they are attributed to the divine intelligence that creates life. I feel them deep within me, when my experience of a krya (a set of postures); mantra (the mind projects); and asana (posture), is so plentiful, that the resulting affection it brings cascades out of me in a river of emotional tears.
I’ve never been one to hide from my feelings, au contraire. Ever since I was a child, I have been a deeply feeling individual who, even though shy, spoke up and out to those around me as best I could. Fortunately, the shyness dissipated as I grew up. I felt more comfortable expressing my particular viewpoint of situations and events as I grew more confident in my innate wisdom, moral compass, sense of right and wrong, so that I was able to control my emotions more and more, allowing for my intention to ring loud and clear, and not get drowned out by feelings. This ability to monitor my thoughts, check in with where I’m coming from, clarify my purpose in speaking aloud etc… comes from trial and error, as do so many aspects of being human. One of the key components of being able to discern one’s innermost motives and intentions, is through a person’s availability to endure meditative states for certain amounts of time. Now, as most of us who meditate regularly know, “to endure” isn’t quite the right verb to use here, since being in a meditative state is sheer bliss for the most part. However, part of the experience is what The Buddhists refer to as, The Middle Path, and what my Kundalini Yoga teacher, the masterful Guru Singh, refers to as “boredom”. Boredom, when used in this sense, as the byproduct of the correct use of a daily spiritual routine [sadhana], is the way to liberation.
It is not boring to practice a daily ritual that allows a human being’s true nature, which is one of ease and bliss, to thrive, thus enabling them to go out into the world and operate from the best of themselves, with their specific talents to serve the world and lift up humanity as a whole. In order to get there within ourselves (and collectively as a species), we need to lay a strong inner foundation, so we are then able to disassociate from our monkey mind. We need to be of The Grisht Ashram, which is an enlightened yogi living in the practical world, not as a renunciate. Let us remember that structure equals freedom. Yoga means union. We need to play between the two polarities of steadiness/structure and ease; we need to practise both strength and flexibility, in order to fulfil the goal of yoga, which is to meet in the middle. Hence, The Middle Path, as mentioned above.
Kundalini Yoga incorporates the 9th and 10th Limbs of Yoga, to Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga found in his Yoga Sutras. These are essentially a compilation from the many ancient texts, such as The Upanishads, The Vedas, The Bhagavad Gita etc... Patanjali flourished in India during the 2nd century B.C.E. He essentially curated from all the great consciousness movements of the time, and synthesized the material into The Yoga Sutras, which are 196 threads, aphorisms, with each Sanskrit word able to be translated multiple ways, thus directing the reader to form their own thoughts.
- The 8 Limbs of Yoga outline a meditative state, as opposed to the 9th and 10 Limbs, which incorporate mantra, more asanas, and kryas with emphasis on pranayama (life force breath).
- The 9th Limb is The Shabd Guru, “the teacher that is your own sacred sound” hence the Limb associated with mantra.
- The 10th Limb is Krya, the merging of the 8 Limbs blended into a set of exercise, breath work, mantra and mudra (hand position).
What does Kundalini mean?
- It is a word comprising coil (kunda) and line (lini). Hence, kundalini is the nerve ganglia at the base of the spine, coiled three and a half times, which resides in the dantian (midpoint between navel and tailbone). It moves as an electro-optical light force, activated by the pressure, tension, stress and friction that one applies to it, through the asanas and bandhas (to lock in a muscular contraction).
- For the Kundalini rising to take effect, we must consciously, and actively, send this life force up through our Sushumna Nadi (central spinal channel through which Kundalini rises), passing though the three brains: the gut brain, the heart brain and the head brain, and travelling back down through the Vagus nerve (largest nerve in the parasympathetic nervous system through which Kundalini descends).
- As Guru Singh reminds us, “The spine from the bottom to the top presents your inspirations, innovations, epiphanies and transcendent transformations. This is the Kundalini rising and it’s the core of your higher consciousness in action.”
The ritual of a Kundalini Yoga practice -
- starts with the Adi Mantra: ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO…
ONG is used to achieve bitonal chanting.
NAMO to stimulate the gut.
GURU DEV sends energy down the throat to activate the heart.
NAMO soothes the gut again and draws energy away from our head brain.
…opens the head, heart and gut with this phrase chanted aloud three times, which enables us to tune into the Naad (the sacred harmonious sound, vibrational harmony). We continue with another Sanskrit chant, which you’ll learn once you take a class.
- We then progress through a krya, incorporating the all-important pranayam, typically breathing in and out of the nose, incorporating the various asanas using some mudras and visualization.
- We continue with another mantra, that is connected to the krya, in both message and visualization.
- We close with a specific song (yes, you’ll learn this in class too) and a long SAT NAM chanted aloud.
SAT: The truth that you are alive, inhaling and existing
NAM: I bow to that.
It really is quite powerful. The asanas are ultimately there, to get our physiology ready for the ultimate union with the divine intelligence that creates all of life. Once a Kundalini Yoga student goes through a variety of asanas in a specific krya, they are more able to access the inner teacher, the all-knowing Life Force, because they have been able to help quiet the chattering head brain through particular physical postures so that they are then more able to sit contemplatively in the silence of The Naad, and be enveloped by the Vastu Shastra [to dwell in the teaching].
For what is a spiritual practice, if not that which helps us deal with life, on life’s terms…? Thereby enabling us to realize the positive change we can make in this world. If there was ever a time for people to solidify a daily practice in their life, which will indubitably aid the planet, it is now. In an era where we are enduring a worldwide deathly pandemic; global financial instability and volatility, resulting in masses of people out of work for indefinite amounts of time; global warming coming home to roost; systemic racial inequality demanding to finally be addressed - a spiritual practice, that is deeply rooted in science such as Kundaini Yoga, is an obvious yes. Kundalini Yoga is an active yoga, reflecting a person who lives in the world, not removed from it. It is practical and it uses science, of which there is so much in Kundalini yoga, to enable an effect. The incredible technology, or Kryanology as Guru Singh calls it, of Kundalini Yoga, is intricately built using the human physical anatomy in such an awe-inspiring way.
Hopefully this blog will have sparked an interest in you to find a good Kundalini Yoga class online, until we can all safely practise together in person once again. You might then find yourself, like I did, being so inspired by this revelatory technique, that I decided to learn more from my longtime teacher by signing up for his teacher training. The knowledge from this technology adds to any vocation one might have, since it is a deeply human practice, that is indeed practical, and one which keeps evolving from the involvement of enlightened, curious minds. This enables it to keep giving us so much strength, energy and true power, which ideally brings us together, as the one race of human beings that we are.
One parting phrase to know, which we often say as Kundalini Yogis:
WAHE GURU! - the ecstasy of transforming the darkness to light!
Claudia Mason is a model, actress, speaker and author who spends a lot of time advocating for wellness and positivity as well as stroke prevention.
Author, Coach, Model, Spokesperson
Twitter + Instagram: @claudiamason1