Imagine you have been given a new computer: it’s a top of the range machine with incredible capacity and state-of-the-art technology. You use this computer simply to write some Word documents and to send emails: perhaps you use about 2% of the capacity of your new computer. 98% of the capacity of this computer is unused. We would see that as a waste, wouldn’t we?
This new computer is a little like a human being in yogic thought: we have an extraordinary latent potential that simply isn’t being used. How do we access this potential? We practise yoga!
Yoga is a journey that begins with the self and travels out across the self and returns to the self: it is a tool for really coming to know ourselves. It has been referred to as an ‘adventure in consciousness’ which means that we challenge ourselves to explore our mental and physical capabilities or, to use our analogy, to see the scope of what our new computer can do. At root, yoga is a physical discipline: we move the body and bring internal toning. There are many ‘branches’ of yoga and common tools are found amongst them such as: asanas (postures), pranayam (breathing techniques), mudras (hand positions), meditations and mantras (sound vibrations). The physical practice of yoga brings tone and vitality to the body, and harmony and clarity to the mind; the discipline of regular practice brings physical and mental strength. But yoga, if we so choose, can bring us so much more than physical and mental vitality; it is an ancient spiritual technology, a lifestyle and sacred pathway. We can access and benefit from yoga at any level we choose.
There are many forms of yoga: Kundalini is one of them. ‘Yoga’ means to yoke or to unite: this means that yoga is a practice that aims to unite the individual with their greatest potential, their true self. Some people may call that potential the ‘soul’; others may call it ‘God’. In essence, yoga practice enables you to establish balance between your body, your mind and your soul. Kundalini Yoga is one form within the yoga family: it differs from other forms of yoga in that it combines several aspects: pranayam (breathing techniques): asanas (body postures): mantras (sound vibrations): mudras (hand positions): bandhas (body locks): meditation (mental focus): and relaxation. These aspects bring a sense of deep well-being and peace to the mind and give strength to the immune system, vital glands, a strong nervous system and an awareness of the impact of our habits.
Kundalini Yoga can be done by anyone: it is not dependent on super-flexibility! Kundalini Yoga can be taught to both children and adults. Kundalini Yoga is beneficial to people of all levels and abilities. In terms of illness or poor health, it is not an illness-based yoga and is not designed as a system to cure anything, although it does have enormous therapeutic benefits.
Kundalini is called the yoga of self-initiation: this means that throughout your practice you are the one who is responsible for your own body.
The onus, in all yogic practice, in on the individual and how we are feeling at any given time: our yoga sensitizes us to the needs of our bodies and the stirrings of our deeper natures. It is not competitive: it teaches us to listen to the quiet language of the body; to identify and address our emotional needs; to align our lives with the things we come to see as being important to us and to let go of the things that do not serve us. In short, it helps us to take our power back.
Let us return to the analogy of our new state-of-the-art computer that we simply aren’t using fully: the same principle is at work in Kundalini Yoga. The word Kundalini comes from the stem ‘kundal’ – ‘the curl of the hair of the beloved’ or ‘coil’ and it refers to energy- Kundalini energy- that is dormant and coiled at the base of the spine. This energy source is very potent and is like the amazing technologies available on our new computer! We have it built into our system but we aren’t accessing or using it fully: we do have kundalini energy circulating in our systems already, but there is a vast reservoir of this untapped energy stored under the fourth vertebra of the spinal column. Kundalini Yoga begins to awaken this energy in a very structured and methodical way with the intention of making that vital energy available to us in our daily life, as busy people with children, homes to run, businesses and so on. Biologically speaking, the energy is drawn up the spinal column and to the top of the skull where it activates the secretion of the pineal gland, which, in turn, controls the projection of every cell in our bodies.
If we began to access and use the incredible software and technologies on our new computer, our working patterns on the computer would change. We might find faster and better ways to process our word documents; we would find new shortcuts and systems for doing old tasks; in short, we would begin to change the old habits and patterns of our computer work and replace them with new and more efficient ones. We might even stop using certain programmes altogether as they no longer serve us. The same is true as we practice Kundalini Yoga: as we journey out across ourselves, so to speak, we begin to find new ways of being; different ways of thinking; patterns that once served us are abandoned; we change and begin to strip away parts of ourselves and our lives that have become redundant. We begin to activate our latent potential and to get to the core of who we truly are.
Kundalini Yoga is a journey that begins with the self and travels out across the self and returns to the self: it is a tool for really coming to know ourselves.