What’s the difference between Kundalini Yoga and other styles of yoga?
Kundalini yoga strengthens the body and increases flexibility. Alongside this, the main focus of Kundalini yoga is to strengthen the nervous system and the function of the glandular system. A well functioning nervous system ensures the body is kept in peak condition and the immune system is strong.
Kundalini yoga is an energetic practice and is mostly done with the eyes closed. This allows us to become more present to the subtleties and sensations of movement and breath and less concerned with the ‘look’ of a pose.
Here’s an overview of the anatomy of Kundalini Yoga practice:
PHYSICAL ANATOMY OF KUNDALINI YOGA
The nervous system is the communication network of the body. The nervous system is divided into two major parts – the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The Central Nervous System is located in the brain, brainstem and travels along the spinal cord. The Peripheral Nervous system is all the nerve fibres outside of the brain and spinal cord. Information is sent between these two systems that looks after the tissues and organs in the body and produces glandular secretions.
As part of the peripheral nervous system we have the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system.
- Parasympathetic nervous system controls our rest and repose.
- Sympathetic nervous system controls our response to stress.
When both are functioning well we are in balance.
SUBTLE ANATOMY OF KUNDALINI YOGA – THE NADIS
Our bodies are made up of invisible energy channels that travel throughout the body. In yoga we refer to them as Nadis. There are 72,000 nadi channels in the body. These energy channels/nadis carry energy through the body and into the organs.
Kundalini yoga stimulates and clears stagnant energy from these nadi energy channels in the body. Nadi energy channels link the mind/body. Every thought and emotion is manifested through the body via the nadi channel connections between your brain and the entire body system.
There are 3 main Nadis amongst the thousands. These are called:
Sushumna channel runs up the centre of the body and is the main spiritual energy channel. The Ida and Pingala channels run alongside this channel. Through all our yoga practice we aim to clear and hold open the sushumna channel. When this is open, we reach a state of inner peace and connect to an infinite sense of ‘oneness’.
THE BHANDAS / INTERNAL LOCKS
The bhandas are internal locks that support the spine and create a central channel of energy up the centre of the body.
Mula Bhanda (root lock)
- Applied by drawing the navel point back towards the spine and contracting the perenium (pelvic floor). This supports the pelvis by drawing the base of the spine down. This brings the base of the spine (where the dormant kundalini energy resides) into correct alignment with the rest of the spine.
Jalandar Bhanda (neck lock)
- This lock stretches the spinal cord clearing blockages in the upper spine.
- Applied by lengthening the upper spine so the sternum lifts and drawing the chin back to lengthen the back of the neck.