What is Kundalini yoga?

With so many people now seeking a yoga class, or even attending as a beginner, it can be helpful to have a description of Kundalini yoga. The following is an excerpt from the 3HO website (3HO stands for Happy, Healthy and Holy):

Kundalini Yoga: A Sacred Technology

“The Power of Kundalini Yoga lies in the actual experience. It goes right into your heart and extends your consciousness so you may have a wider horizon of grace and knowing the truth.” ~ Yogi Bhajan


Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan® is designed to give you “hands on” experience of your highest consciousness. It teaches a method by which you can achieve the sacred purpose of your life. It is universal and nondenominational.

Kundalini Yoga is not a religion. Kundalini Yoga is a Sacred Science. It is sacred because it deals with G.O.D.: G = that which Generates, O = that which Organizes, D = that which Delivers or Destroys. It is scientific because it provides a technology, a method by which anyone who practices it can experience that process of G.O.D., that divine identity within. The way you choose – and if you choose – to worship is your religion.

Kundalini Yoga is much more than just a system of physical exercises. It is a dynamic, powerful tool for expanding awareness.


Virtually every aspect of human existence has an enlightened, efficient, and effective way to do it. Yogis have been custodians of the detailed information on the care and feeding, maintenance, and preservation of a human being.

For thousands of years yogic knowledge was carefully handed down by oral tradition from Master to disciple. The Master spoke, the student memorized and practiced. Yogi Bhajan spent many years in India learning, mastering, and perfecting the habits and practices of Kundalini Yoga.

Kundalini Yoga was always kept very secret until 1969 when Yogi Bhajan challenged the ages-old tradition of secrecy. His motive? Compassion. He saw the reality of our inner beauty, power, and potential and he wanted us to discover it for ourselves. The legacy of technical and spiritual knowledge that Yogi Bhajan studied and mastered in India is the gift he brought to the West.

To fully appreciate the value of this great gift, we need to understand why, for thousands of years, the Yogis kept it secret. They were selective and guarded because knowledge gives power, and power can corrupt. Traditionally, only after the student demonstrated humility, self-discipline, and obedience would the Teacher reveal the secret kriyas.


“In Kundalini Yoga the most important thing is your experience. It goes right to your heart. No words can replace your experience. Your mind may accept the words or it may not, but your consciousness will not accept just words.” ~ Yogi Bhajan

The practice of Kundalini Yoga balances the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system, and enables us to harness the energy of the mind and the emotions, so we can be in control of ourselves, rather than being controlled by our thoughts and feelings. This technology combines breath, mudra, eye-focus, mantra, body locks, and postures in a precise, conscious manner to affect body, mind, and soul.

Kundalini Yoga is a yoga for householders, for people who have to cope with the daily challenges and stresses of holding jobs, raising families, and managing businesses. Kundalini Yoga is for everyone who wants the skills to cope successfully with the challenges of living in this day and age.

The list of very real benefits from regularly practicing Kundalini Yoga is very long. But, really, what matters most to you is your experience. Look to this webpage and other resources for contextual information and practical suggestions – to acquire a real understanding of Kundalini Yoga, do it!

* Summarized from Khalsa, Shakti Parwha Kaur. Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group, 1996.

Stretch Yourself in Stretch Pose

This article is from the 3HO website

By Dan Charnas
One posture unique to Kundalini Yoga and used frequently is Stretch Pose. Although it can be challenging, when done correctly it has a tremendous effect on the entire body. Stretch Pose activates the third chakra. By working on the navel point, stretch pose resets the entire nervous system and strengthens the abdominal area. In conjunction with Breath of Fire, it is calming, rejuvenating, and it purifies the blood. By working on the third chakra, it boosts resolve and self-esteem.

  • Lie on your back.
  • Raise your head and heels 6 inches off the ground.
  • Focus the eyes on the toes and stretch the toes so they point away from you.
  • Place your arms either above your thighs with the palms facing down but not touching the legs, or along side your legs with the palms facing your body but not touching.
  • Begin Breath of Fire.

In many sets, this posture is held for 1-3 minutes. Most people can muscle through the first 30 seconds or so, then the body may start to shake and the face may go into contortions, and then—collapse. Beginners are not expected to hold up for the full time.
Here are some techniques to master the posture without too much effort. First, understand that even though this posture takes some physical strength, it isn’t physical strength that keeps you up. It’s the navel center and the breath that gets you through. If you engage proper technique it takes less, not more, effort to go the distance.

To create better stability in the posture, press your lower back into the floor as you raise the legs and apply a slight root lock. This action draws the navel center in and keeps the lower back in constant contact with the floor. It also brings the focus of the exercise to the navel center and provides the necessary base for the posture. Keep your toes pointed and feel the stretch from the navel center all the way down to your feet.

To raise your chest and head, first lengthen the back of your neck and bring the chest and head off the ground at the same time, then pull the chin into the throat into neck lock. This brings the heart center off the floor and creates a counter stretch from the navel center to the top of the head. If your head comes up too far, you put pressure on the heart and make it harder to keep your lower back on the floor. Mindfully lengthening your neck will help counter this tendency. Your upper body is stretching toward the top of your head and your lower body is stretching toward your feet. The navel center becomes the balance point or fulcrum of your body.

Your breath doesn’t need to be overly rapid; it should remain at a steady pace throughout the exercise. You may have noticed that breathing faster doesn’t make the time go by faster. Maintain a rate of 2 to 3 breaths per second and mentally chant the mantra Sat Nam. If you can focus on the breath and the mantra, and relax the muscles that aren’t needed, the time will fly by!
As you get more proficient in the posture, investigate different areas of your body and discover the muscles you don’t need to use to maintain the posture and relax them. For example, the muscles in your face are not holding up your legs, so try relaxing them; try a little smile. The energy released from the face can be used by the muscles that are actually needed to maintain the pose. As in all postures, you should be relaxed yet focused.

Stretch Pose Tips

For beginners, 3 minutes of Stretch Pose is close to impossible. Here are some simple techniques to gain confidence:

  1. Place your hands underneath your buttocks, this gives support to the low back and makes it easier to keep the legs up.
  2. Raise one leg at a time, and then switch after a minute or so. Or try bending your knees slightly.
  3. You may want to start with alternating 10 seconds in Stretch Pose and 10 seconds resting. Build up your time slowly and rest for 1-3 minutes when you finish. As you feel yourself getting stronger, increase the hold time and decrease the rest time.

Allow your body to work into the posture, experimenting with these suggestions until you have built up the necessary strength of body and mind. Before too long, you will breeze your way through 3 minutes of Stretch Pose.

Benefits of Stretch Pose
  • Adjusts and strengthens the navel point, your power center
  • Tunes-up your nervous and digestive systems
  • Strengthens the reproduction organs and glands
Contraindications for Women

Do not practice Stretch Pose in the following circumstances because it puts extra pressure on the female reproductive organs:

  • After the first 120 days of pregnancy
  • If there are any pregnancy complications
  • During the first few days of a woman’s moon cycle

Previously published in Aquarian Times, Spring 2004

40 day blog from LA

So this blog is a repost of another blog… I thought those of you who are doing our new 40 day kriya (and those of you thinking about it!) would find this interesting.

“The Power of Kundalini Yoga

I had one of those very real dreams last night. When I woke up I had to check the date to see if it was indeed New Year’s Day today…In the dream I was with a group of people heading to a New Year’s Eve party. I decided to get out of the car alone and go into a house. I walked through a door and onto a mountaintop. Looking into a big bright sky, I stood contemplating what my intentions were for the New Year. Then I woke up. I’m feeling pretty strongly that the dream had something to do with the effects of the 40-day yoga challenge I’m doing at L.A.’s Golden Bridge Yoga right now. I don’t know what day I am on out of the forty, but I am past the halfway point at least. I stopped keeping track after about day three.

Golden Bridge’s teachings focus on Kundalini Yoga. I’ve been practicing Kundalini with them inconsistently for about 12 years. When people ask me what the difference is from other types of yoga, I always say, for me, it is a much more spiritual experience and I feel the very strong power of my mind over my body. I have only tried other types of yoga elsewhere a few times. I didn’t find much difference from those boot camp-style training classes I do at my gym. In Kundalini we are so often reminded that we are all on our own personal journey. We are not to try to keep up with others, but to continue to expand further at our own pace; where we are in the moment…in our own moment.
When I got the email announcing the 40-day challenge I thought, “Oh, good for those people!” and “I can’t/won’t make time/a commitment to that”. I deleted the email. A few days after the official challenge start-date I went to a class. The theme of the meditation was about making the decision to do something. I hadn’t even given myself a chance to decide. I just said “Nope” without even considering that I could do it, even though I knew it would be a really good thing for me. Deciding to do something is the first step in doing it. Wow. As simple as that. Feeling as amazing at the end of the class as I always do, I made the decision that I could and must do it. I needed it. I could do it because I decided to. I felt so liberated.

Within the first few days I had a fascinating experience during the final meditation in one of the classes. Lying down with my eyes closed I saw the sky above me. There were big, heavy, rusted chains separating me from the sky until—very slowly and gently—they fell down toward me, dissolving as they reached closer to my body. When I got home I started getting rid of things that had no meaning in my current life, like objects given to me by people from my past. I began to feel so much clarity in my mind about what was going on in a few of my current relationships…deciding to let go of what needed to be let go, deciding to rework what needed to be reworked.
Each day I continue to feel clearer in my mind. The top of my head feels wide open, as does my chest, rib cage and heart. My eyes feel huge. I am so alert—which may have prompted a good friend of mine to say, “You are so focused. So much less…blonde.” I have new muscle definition in my arms and stomach. My waist is smaller and my legs stronger. What I love is that all this is happening without even breaking a sweat, yet I feel my heart pound. And no one is yelling over me that I am not keeping up. I’m feeling very, very electric…very, very human.

I know now that I am going to continue on after this 40-day commitment. I am looking forward to what I will decide to do then, when I am standing on that mountaintop. As for the New Year’s resolution in my dream: I have definitely decided that I’m going to cancel my gym membership.”

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Neely Shearer is a clothing designer/consultant in the fashion industry. She lived in Japan for 7 years before moving to L.A. Her cat Max decided to adopt a kitty during this 40-day yoga challenge.