Yoga in its more elementary forms had been known to the West since the latter part of the Nineteenth Century. However, when Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga and Meditation to the West in 1968 he brought an ancient technology whose origins have been lost in the mists of time – a mature technology which had been honed and refined in secret, over countless generations of masters and initiates in the temples and monasteries of Northern India, Tibet and Nepal, to the level at which it is now – the most powerful and inclusive of all yogas. Yogi Bhajan believed strongly that everyone should have the opportunity to participate and to enjoy its incredible benefits.
Guru Rattana, Ph.D., an avid student of Yogi Bhajan, was encouraged by him to publish collections of his early and, many would say, greatest teachings. Working from class notes and with fellow student and gifted illustrator Ann Marie Maxwell, she produced collections of these teachings arranged by real life themes. Her books Transitions to a Heart-Centered World (now republished in a new, enlarged, second edition), Relax and Renew, Sexuality and Spirituality and Introduction to Kundalini Yoga have remained world-wide best sellers to this day. Guru Rattana continues to work on expanding and sharing, by writing and by video, what she believes to be the essence of his teachings. Guru Rattana Online is our video subscription service, suitable for total beginners as well as students at all levels of practice.
The Kundalini consists of a reservoir of untapped basic life energy or prana residing at the base of the spine, often symbolized as a coiled snake or serpent, which is dormant in most people. Through the practice of Kundalini Yoga this source can be activated and drawn up through the body, energizing each of the seven energy centers or chakras.
During this process, blocks and resistances are overcome, and your energy is raised to higher frequencies, opening your awareness to expanded realities. The goal is to create a conscious connection with the Divine – a union between physical reality and god-consciousness, universal energies and the soul, the finite and the infinite, which can be achieved when this energy reaches the crown chakra at the top of the head.
Kundalini Yoga is dynamic in its practice, vast in practical information and powerful in its experience. It incorporates the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of yoga into one cohesive and integrated system. It has a much broader emphasis on breathing, meditation, hand positions or mudras, chanting or mantra, and spirituality.
It is based on kriyas, or specially formulated sets of exercises, not just mechanical poses, and the benefits of kriyas are considerably greater than doing random postures - it is much more precise, and allows you to target specific benefits and work on exactly those aspects of yourself that need work at the current time. Some of the sequences can be very intense and physically demanding. However there are many less-demanding but equally effective exercises suitable both for beginners and for others who, by reason of physiology, age or disability may need to follow a more moderate and less intense form of practice.
It is the ideal form of yoga for people who want both an immediate feel good effect and also the long term benefits of enjoying a relaxed and uplifted consciousness. It is both safe and effective and can be practiced by almost anyone, no matter their age, fitness level, occupation and experience. Regular practice can greatly reduce the time to spiritual awakening.
Practice can be addictive – once the effects and benefits are experienced, then the student wants more, so the practice becomes largely self-sustaining. The key is to do it gradually, listen to your body, stop when it tells you, but above all, persevere. The student of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation soon becomes adept at perceiving the movement of energy within and outside of his/her body, and with this awareness, consciously begins to direct and optimize its flow.
Many new students report immediate benefits – some find they have a more comfortable back and spine – some feel more relaxed and better able to handle stress – some find they have a more positive sense of self and well being. Some report all three and more. The rewards from regular practice can be profound: mind, body, emotions and spirit are positively affected and uplifted. Kundalini Yoga is not a religion, but it provides a firm inner foundation for a spiritual life, no matter which religion, if any, you may choose to practice.