Kundalini Yoga 101: Everything You Wanted To Know
The meteoric rise of Kundalini yoga has sparked one of the most potent viral wellness trends. What was once, when I first started teaching 15 years ago, a lineage mostly practiced by die-hards and supermodels has burst into the mainstream like Britney Spears in the early days. Now everyone interested in a better life, from your city bus driver to Gisele Bündchen, wants to know, "What is Kundalini yoga?"
Kundalini yoga as a wellness tool in the technological age.
The pressures of this technological age increasingly consume more of our fading attention spans and vitality. The pressure is causing many of us to look deeper. We want so much more than a life based on personal investment statistics, what we look like, or one’s professional status. We want to be connected to deeper clarity, effectiveness, creativity, bravery, and fulfillment.
Though the technological age has created some new challenges for the human psyche, we are also watching one of the most incredibly advancing times on the planet. From cryptocurrencies to VR bodysuits and robots with citizenship, technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. Wellness advances like bionics and neutropics are examples of how we are using technology to amplify personal health and positivity. As the demands we face increase daily, we not only want something to help us to navigate this increasingly complex earth—we need something. The power in Kundalini yoga is its technological way of working on the glands and the nervous system to create almost instant love, creative trajectory, vision, prosperity, productivity, and a sensitivity to ourselves, one another, and our interconnectedness as a planet, galaxy, and star system.
Kundalini yoga is like wellness "on command."
As our personal, professional, and social demands skyrocket, we need a wellness system that works and doesn’t take a lot of time. What’s special about Kundalini yoga is it’s a simple and instant way to release the pressure and leave you with effects more long-lasting than a cocktail. Even a small practice of Kundalini yoga (three minutes a day) will create greater peace, relaxation, and a deep satisfaction with relationships, work, and creativity. Kundalini yoga is like wellness "on command."
How Kundalini helps the nervous system.
Most humans track toward fulfillment—or at least would like to track in that direction. We all have dreams, desires, and goals. And though we face challenges, obstacles, and setbacks (sometimes that discourage trying again for years), there is always a glimmer of desire in the heart of every person.
We often speak of nervous system strength in relationship to stress management. We do live in a world of nearly constant media onslaught, communication, and societal pressure. Being able to withstand and process the intensity of the world right now is a critical application of yoga and meditation. However, lesser known is that the amount of happiness and fulfillment you can experience is also directly related to the strength of your nervous system.
What’s most critical to understand about the nervous system is that it runs on electricity, which means it conducts wattage. Just like you can’t run 200 volts of electricity through a 20-volt cable without frying the wires, if your nervous system isn’t strong, not only will you not be able to handle huge stress waves without shutting down, you also won't be able to handle huge prosperity waves—which are showing up as money, new relationships, promotions, and expansions of all kinds. You won't be able to experience the greatness of your character through increased challenges or experience greater blessings.
That’s why so many more people hit a glass ceiling in their success in progress. The nervous system is primed to handle only so much prosperity or love. And when it looks like a person might receive more (of anything: love, money, attention, recognition), that person will short-circuit. It’s just electrical mechanics. And considering that "person" is all of us, it’s worth having some kind of technology that strengthens the nervous network and allows for more beauty and wonder in life.
Kundalini yoga practices for the nervous system.
Kundalini yoga has thousands of practices to fortify the nervous system, but I’ve become partial to the simplicity and quick results of the Kundalini Breath of Fire and Cold Shower technology.
For nervous system repair: Breath of fire
Breath of Fire is a foundational breathwork practice in Kundalini yoga. It releases toxins, cleans the blood, increases vitality, boosts brain function, and repairs tears in the nervous system. A daily three-minute practice will set you up for major success; however, with deep rhythmic command, a 31-minute practice is even doable and will give incredible results.
Posture: Sit in an easy pose with your hands resting on your knees in gyan mudra (with the tips of your index finger and thumb touching).
Eyes: Keep your eyes closed, gently focusing up and in at the brow point.
Breath: Begin an even inhale and even exhale through the nose. The breath should be strong and rapid but even. Do not overemphasize the exhale or put too much emphasis on the navel point. Even inhale, even exhale.
Time: 3 to 7 minutes
To end: Inhale deeply, stretch your body up, exhale, and relax.
One of the other great nervous system repair technologies in Kundalini yoga is the cold shower. It is said that three minutes in a cold shower is equal to the magnetic, glandular, and nervous system effects of 31 minutes of meditation. Cold showers not only give you a fearless outlook and nerves of steel, the practice also delivers immaculate skin, erases wrinkles, fends off depression, boosts immunity, an even increases the neuron velocity in the brain (aka makes you smarter). Just rinsing your body under cold water first thing in the morning will have an immense effect. However, here is the classical technique:
For nervous system strength: Cold shower hydrotherapy
1. Dry brush your body in short strokes toward the heart from the base of your feet all the way up. The skin should become pink. If you dry brush the skin of your face, which you can, do so gently and stroke upward.
2. Massage almond oil or coconut oil all over your body, including your face.
3. Turn on the cold water in your shower and get in.
4. Facing the water, begin massaging different parts of your body, starting with the soles of your feet and continuing with the tops of your feet and your hands.
5. To treat the back of the body, turn around and let the cold water run down your spine. Rub your shoulders, armpits, upper arms, forearms, and wrists on both sides. Rub your kidneys and lower back. Strike the buttocks lightly. Massage the back of your calves with the tops of your feet, and then turn around again.
6. Massage your face. Let the water hit your chest and massage your heart center and breasts. Massage your stomach. Then lightly strike the tops of your thighs with loose fists.
Time: 30 seconds to 15 minutes, or until you are warm
To end: Get out of the shower; towel yourself off till you are totally dry. Look in the mirror; admire your glow!
Kundalini yoga to feel empowered and invigorated.
Let's face it: We all want to find more success and relaxation. But we also want to look good, feel good, and do good in the world. This is the realm of the glands, aka the endocrine system.
The glands are responsible for our health, youth, and conditioned vibrancy. Great skin comes from this glandular conditioning—working to have your glands balanced! And if you want to feel positive and do positive things in the world, this is also a function of the glands.
Unknown to most people is how our emotions and feelings are a product of our endocrine output. Your glands work together with the nervous system to give you "experiences." When your glands release a distinct hormonal code, it is read as anger. If you are feeling depressed, that’s another separate hormonal code. It’s the same with happiness, love, bliss, and euphoria. And the more refined a name we have for a feeling, the more specific the coded hormonal mixture. This is the physiological base of your emotions. When the endocrine system is secreting properly, it is actually very difficult—I would say impossible—to feel bad. When the endocrine system is in balance, you are in balance. You feel good. You have a connection to your infinite reality. And when you feel better, you think better and you do better!
Imagine the ways you behave when you feel emotionally stable, secure, and integrated. You act kindly and generously don’t you? Imagine a world populated by endocrinely balanced human beings. Everything, including our economic systems, families, and societal norms would upgrade in the light of a new human dignity. Yogis have known for millennia that if your glands are totally in the right balance for you and your body chemistry, there is no way you can be depressed. Which is important personally and socially, as your feelings affect how you engage with the outside world. So it makes practical sense to have this baseline understanding of your endocrine system and the yogic tools to balance it at a moment’s notice! Luckily, this is so easy.
The cold shower practice I gave earlier is by far one of the most effective for a glandular detox, balance, and rejuvenation. But if arctic temperatures before six in the morning don't strike your fancy, you can also reset your glandular system with a simple cup of tea and a breath worthy of your Netflix binge.
Kundalini yoga for your glandular system.
Yogi Tea, a recipe in the Kundalini yoga archives, is one of my favorite medicinal recipes; it is a true tonic to the whole system. It adjusts and stabilizes hormonal secretions; clears lingering viruses, bacteria, pathogens and illnesses; and increases a glow in the total body. The benefits of yogi tea could fill pages. Here’s how it’s made:
Yogi Tea for Glandular Regulation
Makes 1 cup
- 10 ounces water (about 1⅓ cups)
- 3 whole green cardamom pods, cracked
- 4 whole black peppercorns
- ½ cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon black tea
- 2 slices fresh ginger root
- Bring water to a boil and add spices.
- Cover and boil 15 to 20 minutes, then add black tea.
- Strain and serve with milk or honey if desired.
For resetting your granular system: Four-stroke breath for balance
You can also reset your glandular system with the four-stroke breath for balance. The four-stroke breath balances the pituitary gland, known in yogic science as the master gland because the entire endocrine system (from the hypothalamus to the thyroid to the ovaries and testicles) all change based on the pituitary secretion. You can completely alter your total experience of life by adjusting this one tiny gland with this one simple meditation. Here’s how it works:
Posture: Sit in an easy pose. Alternatively, you can do this at your desk, on the train or subway, in the car (but not while driving), or wherever you are.
Eyes: Keep your eyes closed, gently focusing up and in at the brow point (or open and relaxed if you are in a Netflix-and-chill vibe).
Breath: Inhale in four equal strokes through the nose. Exhale in four equal strokes through the nose. Continue.
Time: 3 to 11 minutes
To end: Inhale, hold the breath. Exhale and relax.
Kundalini yoga invites a life unleashed, simply.
Your most unleashed life is possible. That means unleashed health, happiness, love, and success. Yoga is a set of tools developed over thousands of years to maximize the body systems to create positive results. Kundalini yoga is a pure, unbroken stream of these yogic practices and I believe is the quickest, most direct way to activate your own path.
What is so fresh and modern about Kundalini yoga, and why it’s popularity keeps rising, is that literally anyone can practice, almost anywhere and at any time and activate in themselves power, creativity, energy, and connectedness.
There are no prerequisites for you to gain the benefits of Kundalini yoga. It is easy enough for the injured and ill and powerful enough to challenge even the most robust athlete. In my own classes, I’ve taught professional athletes, students in wheelchairs due to paralysis, octogenarians, teenagers, and toddlers. These students come back—not to try out another posture but to increase the positive momentum of their lives.
You have the power to channel, clean up, heal, and have a fruitful existence. The building blocks of a positive life are easy (nerves and glands), and the techniques are simple.
Being a human means that you are a hue (light) and you are now. You are the light of now. You are not only a collection of bones, organs, ligaments, and muscles or hopes, fears, desires, trauma, and jealousy. You are made of light, sound, prana, and energy. Making this understanding a practical reality takes only a little bit of breath and a nominal amount of concentration. I encourage you to try the practices in this article and in the mbg Kundalini 101 course. Just a little bit of yoga and meditation can go such a long way and give you the energy to have a truly happy life—and we need happy people on the planet right now.