Note: Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise programme. Nothing here is to be construed as medical advice. The benefits of Kundalini Yoga come from the centuries-old yogic traditions & results will vary with individuals.
Some pointers- and reasons- to start practicing yoga at home.
- Daily practice is called Sadhana (pronounced sard-na). It means a daily spiritual discipline. Sadhana is allocated time for yoga, breathwork, relaxation & meditation. Traditionally it was done before the sun came up & would end just as the sun was rising in the sky. Why? On the practical level, the early hours are quiet time; whilst everybody else sleeps the yogi is awake & can practice in peace. On the esoteric level, we are told that in the two & a half hours before sun-up the sun is at a 60 degree angle to the Earth which creates a powerful energy field in which to practise. More about sadhana…
- Fit your practice around your schedule. Not everyone can (or will!) get up at 4 or 5am to do their yoga. It doesn’t matter! Find a time that suits your schedule. The idea of sadhana is an allocated time which serves as a tithe (one tenth) of your day that is dedicated to you, your spiritual development & your Higher Self.
- Why bother doing daily sadhana? “Sadhana is whatever you do consistently to clear your own consciousness so you can relate to the infinity within you. Before you face the world each day, do yourself a favor and tune up your nervous system and attune yourself to your highest inner self. To cover all your bases, it will include exercise, meditation, and prayer.” Kundalini Yoga offers an excellent ‘cover-all-bases’ approach to holistic self-maintenance: it also invites a space of deep devotion, stillness & bliss. In essence, yoga is a ritualised way of developing the tone of the vagus nerve & hence the nervous system. To reap the benefits of this it needs to be done daily.
- A yoga practice can be 3 minutes long! A practice in yoga is anything that yokes together breath, movement & awareness. Three minutes of deeply present breathing is better than an hour of mindless movement. Start small & build up your practice.
- Where do I practice my yoga? A yoga space is crucial. You may be blessed with a spare room that can be transformed into a dedicated yoga-meditation space. Lucky you! If you don’t, your yoga mat or sheepskin will be your yoga space. Wherever you roll it out will be your studio! But, wherever you practice, turn off gadgets, TVs, radios & other distractions & clear clutter from view. A simple, clear space around you will mirror the ideal inner space you are reaching for.
- People talk about altars- do I need one to do my yoga? No. What are commonly referred to as altars are actually shrines (an altar is a sacrificial table). Many people like to have a home shrine, but it is not an essential aspect of a yogic practice. A shrine may be a small table or shelf in your home, or a place in your garden where you gather symbolic items that have meaning for you. These totems are given elevated status in your home as reminders of your aspirations, your influences & so on. A home shrine may include candles, bells, images of teachers linked to a spiritual lineage that resonates with you, natural objects such as flowers & stones…some people change them seasonally, or change them as they themselves evolve. Creating a shrine can be a profound practice. It becomes a touchstone in your home for all that is sacred to you. It functions as a still-point of depth in the ever-changing shallows of life.
- What kit do I need? An uncluttered space to roll out a yoga mat, loose comfy clothing (ideally of natural fibres), & a shawl or blanket for relaxation & meditation, & a zafu or cushion for meditation to keep the hips elevated. If you want to go deeper into Kundalini Yoga tradition- we wear white as a boost to the auric field & yogis traditionally practised on animal skins to ‘dampen’ the Earth’s magnetic field beneath them so they could enhance their own energy field. Thick woollen blankets function in the same way. The head is wrapped in white cloth for similar reasons.
Structuring a Kundalini Yoga Practice
Home practice takes exactly the same shape as a Kundalini Yoga class.
Tune In: Sit with a straight spine. Be still, breath deeply 3 or 4 rounds of breath. Chant ‘ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO’ 3 times to connect to the Golden Chain of teachers, masters & rishis & to your Higher Self for guidance in your practice.
Set an intention: breathe in an intention for today’s practice. Example: I am present as I move. I am peace. I am guided in all I do today….
Warm-up the body: Choose any warm-ups that you like. Get the blood moving. Get the spine loosened up. Stretch & iron out the kinks! Some classic Kundalini Yoga warm-ups can be seen here.
Kriya: a kriya is a yoga asana (posture) sequence that has a specific effect on the body-mind. There are thousands to choose from. Your teacher can help you select one or you can google for kriyas & explore. Always check in with your yoga teacher before embarking on kriya & seek advice if you are not sure. Timings in kriya are very specific & are never extended: if you shorten the time of one posture, you shorten them all equally. Example: if you cut a posture time in half, then you must cut them all in half.
Relaxation: Lie down on the back. Keep warm. Relaxation is crucial in yoga to allow the body to absorb the energetic effects of the kriya & to re-calibrate. 5-10 minutes is sufficient unless the kriya specifies a relaxation time.
Meditation: Like the kriyas, there are thousands of meditations to choose from. Again- please check in with your teacher before embarking on a meditation.
Tune out: Chant SAT NAM three times to close your sadhana.