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Using chanting, meditation, poses, and breath work, a Kundalini yoga practice helps you channel your energy from the bottom of your spine to your whole being’s energy centres, or chakras.

Labelled the “yoga of awareness” by many, Kundalini captures the elevation of the spirit. As the energy flows within you, rising from your lower chakras to the higher ones, the delivery of enlightenment and the highest consciousness is achieved.

Kundalini stems from the Sanskrit word, kundala, meaning coiled, or kundalini, which has been translated as “the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved.” Though early references date as far back as 1,400 and 1,000 B.C., Kundalini yoga was believed to be shrouded in secrecy, shared with only chosen devotees, and did not become mainstream in the West until the late 1960s, thanks to Yogi Bhajan.

Bhajan’s particular teaching of Kundalini yoga takes a Raja Yoga-approach. Kundalini yoga provides a more spiritual experience than most other yoga types. Be prepared for a variety of breathing techniques of different intensities, mudras, chanting, meditations and kriya, an orchestrated sequence of movements and poses, all of which are designed to help you tune into and become fully “aware” of body and mind in preparation for the awakening of the seven chakras.

You’ll engage in poses that target elements such as the navel and spine, coupled with breathwork and bandhas that release and lead the energy flow from the lower chakras all the way to the seventh chakra at the crown of the head. The start of a Kundalini class often begins with a quick chant, followed by pranayama or a stretching warm-up, and concludes with a closing meditation.

Some classes end with a song or even the ringing of a gong to heighten the meditative, relaxed state, depending on the yoga studio. As well, your Kundalini yoga teacher may don an all-white ensemble, complete with a white cap or turban.

Kundalini yoga is appropriate for all levels, from the beginner to the experienced devotee; however, be aware that some of the kriyas and breathing techniques are meant to be physically and mentally vigorous, so you should choose your class accordingly.