Fundamentals of Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga is an ancient art and science dealing with the transformation and expansion of consciousness, the awakening and raising of Kundalini Energy up the spine through energy centers called Chakras. The activation and balancing of the chakras is accomplished by the mixing and uniting of Prana (cosmic energy) with Apana (eliminating energy) which generates pressure to force Kundalini to rise, by means of Pranayama (breathing exercises), Bhandas (body locks), in Kriyas (exercise sets), using Asanas (postures), Mudras (gestures), and Mantras (sacred sounds).
Kundalini Yoga sets also use Visualization, Projection and Focused Attention to attain specific effects.
Through the practice of Kundalini Yoga, an individual can unite his/her consciousness with Cosmic Consciousness on a regular basis by carefully performing the exercises and meditations in specific sequence and combination. A student soon becomes adept at perceiving the movement of energy within and outside of his/her body, and consciously begins to direct its flow to stimulate and awaken the chakras, for healing himself/herself and others, and becomes a co-creator with universal energies.
(taken from Transitions to a Heart Centered World - Guru Rattana, Ph.D.)
An incredibly powerful storehouse of psychic energy, sometimes called Shakti, symbolized as a coiled, sleeping serpent, lies dormant at the base of the spine (Kundal means curl). Once awakened it uncoils and ascends through the central channel in the spinal column (Sushumana) to the Crown Chakra (Sahasrara) at the top of the head, triggering an awakening of consciousness and a transcendent spiritual state.
Prana is the basic life force in the air we breathe and the food we eat, and the practice of Kundalini Yoga enhances its abrorption. Apana is the energy or power to eliminate or give back. When the forces of both prana and apana are strong enough to unite and create tappa or heat at the navel center, the heat generated descends to the first chakra and awakens the Kundalini.
A series of one or more exercises or postures in combination with pranayama, locks, chanting, visualization, projection, etc., in specific sequence designed to produce specific effects. Kundalini Yoga kriyas are centuries old. The total effect of a kriya is greater than the sum of its parts. 'Kriya' literally means 'work' or 'action'.
Poses or postures designed to stimulate glands, organs or body awareness, and to quiet the mind for meditation. Asanas often apply pressure on nerves or accupressure points, reflexing to the brain and body for certain effects.
A gesture or position, usually of the hands, that locks and guides energy flow and reflexes to the brain. By curling, crossing, stretching and touching the fingers and hands, we can talk to the body and mind, as each area of the hand reflexes to a certain part of the mind or body.
Body locks or muscular contractions applied for the retention and channeling of energy (prana, apana and Kundalini).
Centers of exchange between the physical and non-physical energetic dimensions of our being. Like transformers, they change subtle prana into physical energy flowing through a system of 'nadis' (psychic channels) and the meridian system. Chakras are energy vortexes perceived as spinning discs of light ('chakra' means wheel) situated along the spine.
A mantra is a syllable, word or phrase in one of the sacred languages (like Sanskrit & Gurmukhi) or sometimes in English, which elevates or modifies consciousness through its meaning, the sound itself, rhythm, tone, and even the reflexology or the tongue on the palate. Mantra is "The Yoga of the Mind".
Breathing techniques to channel and direct the flow of prana and alter consciousness.
The stilling of the rational, reasoning, dualistic egotistical mind to allow the neutral mind to focus awareness on inner reality beyond intellectual concepts, and on outer reality beyond physical, earthly objects. Meditation uses many techniques to achieve this purpose, and produces a calm, sensitiveless emotional, alert, intuitive, effective, efficient and self-controlled personality, and an enhanced sense of being and consciousness. Consistent meditation promotes inner peace, happiness and life in higher consciousness.
We may be asked to gaze at the nose, focus on the spine, a chakra, the breath, a mantra, physical functions or on something outside of the body. Focus gives us the ability to hold several things in the mind at once and to concentrate and contain our energy for creation, health, and healing.