Contributed by Dhanpal-Donna Quesada
Kundalini Yoga is the science of awakening the life force within us for the purpose of fulfilling ourselves as humans. The practice is centered around the Kriya. From the ancient Sanskrit, meaning “action,” a kriya may be composed of a single, stand-alone posture or a combination movements, done together with the key components of this comprehensive technology. Chief among these is the breath work that anchors and guides the motion of the kriya. It is the breath that regulates the energy of life, the quality of our emotions, and the ability to direct the mind—the underlying point and purpose of the practice.
Other vital tools used in Kundalini Yoga include mantras (sacred sounds), mudras (hand positions), bandhas (body locks), as well as eye focus, all of which work in harmony to direct and contain the flow of this spiritual energy within. When mobilized through the actions and the angular positions of the asanas (postures) and synchronized properly with the breath, each kriya is a self-contained, multifunctional vehicle that facilitates energetic flow.
Because Kundalini Yoga has thousands of kriyas—each one intended to generate a specified and predictable result—a class may focus on a particular theme, for example, on intuition, disease resistance, or stress. But there are certain components that are part and parcel to all Kundalini Yoga classes. You’ll first tune in with the mantra, Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo, before continuing with spinal warm-ups or breath work—these prepare the body and quiet the mind for the main kriya. Following the kriya, the class will enjoy a selected meditation, either with or without mantra, along with a period of deep relaxation, which is often accompanied by the sacred sound of the gong, to facilitate the release of tension and stimulate healing. Finally, each class will conclude with the Long Time Sun song—an honored part of our tradition—and an extended sat nam—the seed mantra of Kundalini Yoga.
The Fast Track to Awakening
Because Kundalini Yoga was held as a guarded secret for so many years, it remained pure and undiluted. This is one of the reasons it works so quickly and efficiently. When Yogi Bhajan brought these teachings to the west in 1969, he defied tradition by teaching it openly for the first time. Yoga was traditionally passed on only to those who would give up worldly ambitions to live as a hermit or a wandering recluse. But our teacher and founder came with the intention that it be accessible to all. It is therefore, a practice that is suitable for the regular working person, whose day is busy and whose time is limited.
The Kriyas work to increase awareness on all levels of our being, enabling us to witness and experience our physical body as an instrument for our own spiritual transformation. The work done through Kundalini Yoga functions on the level of the subtle neural channels, adjusting our glandular system, strengthening our nervous system and correcting imbalances in the sacred spinal centers, known as chakras. As these energetic vortexes, which run from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, each correspond with a vibrational frequency and level of consciousness, the adjustments that come about through consistent practice of this technology afford us better command of our moods and overall frame of mind.
From the perspective of Yogic science, the chakras are part of the energetic system that govern the entirety of our human experience. Like the strings on a guitar, each resonates at a different frequency and corresponds to a different tone and mood. And just as those strings need consistent tuning to play in optimum form, we also need to carry out regular system maintenance in order to stay on top of our game.
Each chakra corresponds with a different aspect of our consciousness and emotional tendencies. When one becomes dysfunctional, it affects the others, which work together in sympathetic vibration—like those strings on the guitar. When this happens, the result is imbalance and tension. Often, we can identify which chakra needs special attention in order to bring the whole system back into balance, so that the Kundalini can ascend through the spinal channels without obstacles, enabling us to enjoy a heightened state of awareness and inner peace.
After the Kriya
Kundalini Yoga is a fast-track to our own spiritual evolution. Because it is both comprehensive and powerful, it facilitates noticeable transformation quickly. With dedicated and consistent practice, it restores our spirit and repairs our nervous system, enabling us to manage the challenges of everyday life more effectively. It is a methodology aimed at rising above obstacles, fears and limitations. Because it is so effective, it also facilitates the release of many long-buried emotional issues. So, it is not uncommon to shed a few tears or even a few laughs along the way, as our emotions clear away. Ultimately, as we become more balanced, our mind and body both become more flexible, enabling a heightened ability to govern our mental energy and a corresponding capacity to supersede old patterns, rather than be controlled by them.
The Ten Bodies
The positive mind makes an enthusiastic decision and the negative mind says, what if it fails? The neutral mind creates a solution. They each have their part to play in the wholeness that is You!
First Body—Corresponding to Guru Nanak, this is your Soul Body. This is your true Self. The soul is that which you really are, but haven’t realized that you are! A soul realized person is one that has recognized that she is the soul. The soul has no form and no color. It is just pure energy. Three words in the ancient yoga tradition which are used to define the soul are Sat Chit Anand; Sat is truth that which never changes, Chit is consciousness, and Anand is bliss. Guru Nanak defines it in Japji: “Sat Suhan Sadaman Chao, meaning, the soul is truth Consciousness and bliss. There is only one soul! For example:
There is only one soul. What people think the soul to be is actually the subtle body. The soul is formless. It is just an energy, a consciousness, a light. And there is only one light reflecting from within everyone. To realize this oneness is to relate to yourself as infinity. (The gong, the universal, is actually going on all the time in the universe)
Second Body—Corresponding to Guru Angad, this is your Negative Mind. This is the part of you that checks for possible dangers. It is the voice of concern. It asks, what if something bad happens. It is your inner worrywart. It is an important voice though, since without it, you might run into genuine problems or proceed heedlessly into a precarious situation. It is an asset when balanced.
Third Body—Corresponding to Guru Amar Das, this is your Positive Mind. This is the part of you that dives right in to everything. It loves to have fun and is the great optimist in every situation. When balanced, it gives you the courage and the drive to overcome your doubts.
Fourth Body—Corresponding to Guru Ram Das, this is your Neutral Mind. This is your voice of compassion. It is the part of you that see all sides and understands it all. When this body is strong, you always have inner guidance.
Fifth body—Corresponding to Guru Arjan, this is your Physical Body. This is the body in which all the other bodies exist and do their work. It is the teacher in you and like all teachers, it is your capacity to sacrifice for the well-being of others.
Sixth body—Corresponding to Guru Hargobind, this is your Arcline. This is your link to the cosmic realm. It is where all your stories are stored and where your actions are imprinted. It is also the link to your intuitive awareness—your third eye, which when strong, will not only protect you, but will magnify your projection. Woman have two because they are sensitive. The arcline runs from shoulder to shoulder, or from ear to ear, while for women, the second arcline runs across the chest.
Seventh body—Corresponding to Guru Har Rai, this is your Aura. This is the electric magnetic field that surrounds you and contains your physical body. It extends 3 1/2 meters, but if you are wearing all white it extends to 9 feet. Your auric body will betray what ever disease you have in your physical body. The aura will respond to various forms of energy healing, such as Reiki, by way of the thousands of energetic channels that run through the body and especially, along the spine. Healing the aura in this way is thought to prevent disease from entering the physical body. The auric field is your security, your gate-keeper, your protection. It contains your life-force. A strong aura gives you strength and makes you feel equal to any task.
Eighth body—Corresponding to Guru Har Krishan, this is your Pranic Body. This is the means by which all the chakras, the nadis, the organs and all the bio-systems of the body gather their energy to do their jobs. Your deep, conscious breathing is what feeds the Pranic Body and makes you feel totally alive and capable to rise to the challenges of life. This is your own inner strength. When this body is strong, you don’t have to look toward external sources. After the death of your Physical Body, it takes 10 -17 days for the Pranic Body to dissolve, whereas the mental bodies die three days after the physical death. The energy stays where the individual is attracted, so the energy field of an enlightened master stays for a very long time—they do not burn the masters; they keep them in Samadhi.
Ninth body—Corresponding to Guru Teg Bahadur, this is your Subtle Body. This is what gives you insight into the magical realms. It enables you to see beyond what’s said. The Subtle Body takes you through the ethers, like a space ship which helps the soul transcend.
Tenth body—Corresponding to Guru Gobind Singh, this is your Radiant Body. This is the fuel that runs all the other bodies, that which connects all the bodies together. With a strong Radiant Body, there is no stopping you. Your magnetism shines forth and carries you through your mission in life. It is the thread, which, when weak, leaves you feeling as if you have no control over your life, no grounding…but when strong, as if you have the will to act with dignity and grace.
Snatam Kaur: By Thy Grace
Tami Simon speaks with Snatam Kaur, one of the most recognized voices in the world of devotional chant. Snatam is an American artist who was raised in the kundalini yoga tradition and schooled in kirtan meditation and Gurmukhi, the Sanskrit-based language of Sikh scriptures in northern India. She is the lead singer for the Celebrate Peace tours and has released eight records. In this episode, Tami Simon speaks with Snatam about her bottom line in terms of daily meditation practice, what has been her go-to mantra in life, and how motherhood keeps her ego in check. She also shares three excerpts from The Essential Snatam Kaur, her Sounds True compilation of her favorite sacred chants for healing. (76 minutes)
See Snatam Kaur live in August 2013. Visit WakeUpFestival.com for more information.