How to Begin your practice
The practice of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan always begins by tuning-in. This simple practice of chanting the Adi Mantra - 'Ong Namo Guroo Dayv Namo' 3-5 times aligns your mind, your spirit and your body to become alert and assert your will so that your practice will fulfill its intention. It's a simple bowing to your Higher Self and an alignment with the teacher within. The mantra may be simple but it links you to a Golden Chain of teachers, an entire body of consciousness that guides and protects your practice: Ong Namo Guroo Dayv Namo, which means, I bow to the Infinite, I bow to the Teacher within.
How to End your practice
Another tradition within Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan is a simple blessing known as The Long Time Sun Shine song. Sung or simply recited at the end of your practice, it allows you to dedicate your practice to all those who've preserved and delivered these teachings so that you might have the experience of your Self. It is a simple prayer to bless yourself and others. It completes the practice and allows your entire discipline to become a prayer, in service to the good of all.
'May the long time sun shine upon you, All love surround you,
And the pure light within you, Guide your way on'. 1-3 times.
Followed by, Sat Nam (long Sat and short Nam 7:1 ratio) 1-3 times.
Other Tips for a Successful Experience
Prepare for your practice by lining up all the elements that will elevate your experience: natural fiber clothing and head covering covering (cotton or linen), preferably white to increase your auric body; natural fiber mat, either cotton or wool; traditionally a sheep skin or other animal skin is used. If you have to use a rubber or petroleum-based mat, cover the surface with a cotton or wool blanket to protect and support your electromagnetic field. Clean air and fresh water also helps support your practice. Practice in Community Studying the science of Kundalini Yoga with a certified teacher will enhance your experience and deepen your understanding of kriya, mantra, breath and posture.
Breath & Bandhas
Kundalini Yoga incorporates profound praanayams throughout its practice. Understanding and mastering the breath is an important part of successfully practicing any Kundalini Yoga kriya.
Descriptions of three of the most basic praanayams in the practice of Kundalini Yoga but as you begin practicing any meditation or kriyas please read the instructions for the breath carefully.
Long Deep Breath
To take a full yogic breath, inhale by first relaxing the abdomen and allow it to expand. Next expand the chest and finally the collarbones. As you exhale, let the collar bones and chest relax first, then pull the abdomen in completely. The diaphragm drops down to expand the lungs on the inhale and contracts up to expel the air on the exhale. As you inhale feel the back area of the lower ribs relax and expand. On the exhale be sure to keep the spine erect and steady.
Breath of Fire
This breath is used consistently throughout Kundalini Yoga kriyas. It is very important that Breath of Fire be practiced and mastered. In Breath of Fire, the focus of the energy is at the solar plexus and navel point. The breath is fairly rapid (approximately 2 breaths per second), continuous and powerful with no pause between the inhale and exhale. This is a very balanced breath with no emphasis on either the exhale or the inhale, but rather equal power given to both. Breath of Fire is a cleansing breath, renewing the blood and releasing old toxins from the lungs, mucous lining, blood vessels, and cells. It is a powerful way to adjust your autonomic nervous system and get rid of stress.
Regular practice expands the lungs quickly.
This breath is a powerful continuous and equal inhalation and exhalation through the mouth, similar to Breath of Fire, but through rounded lips instead of through the nose. Very cleansing, this breath is invigorating, energizing and rejuvenating. To consolidate the energy at the end of a kriya, many will call for a Cannon Fire exhale, which means we suspend the breath on the inhale and then use a single strong exhale through the mouth like a Cannon.
Bandhas or locks
These are used frequently in Kundalini Yoga. Combinations of muscle contractions, each lock has the function of changing blood circulation, nerve pressure, and the flow of cerebral spinal fluid. They also direct the flow of psychic energy, praana into the main energy channels that relate to raising the Kundalini energy. They concentrate the body's energy for use in consciousness and self-healing. There are three important locks: jalandhar bandh, uddiyana bandh, and mulbandh. When all three locks are applied simultaneously, it is called maahaabandh, the Great Lock.
Jalandhar Bandh or Neck Lock
The most basic lock used in Kundalini Yoga is jalandhar bandh, the neck lock. This lock practiced by gently stretching the back of the neck straight and pulling the chin toward the back of the neck. Lift the chest and sternum and keep the muscles of the neck and throat and face relaxed.
Uddiyana Bandh or Diaphragm Lock
Applied by lifting the diaphragm up high into the thorax and pulling the upper abdominal muscles back toward the spine, uddiyana bandh gently massages the intestines and the heart muscle. The spine should be straight and it is most often applied on the exhale. Applied forcefully on the inhale, it can create pressure in the eyes and the heart.
Mulbandh or Root Lock
This is the most commonly applied lock but also the most complex. It coordinates and combines the energy of the rectum, sex organs, and navel point. Mul is the root, base, or source. The first part of the mulbandh is to contract the anal sphincter and draw it in and up. Then draw up the sex organ so the urethral tract is contracted. Finally, pull in the navel point by drawing back the lower abdomen towards the spine so the rectum and sex organs are drawn up toward the navel point.
Pronunciation Guide for Mantra
This simple guide to the vowel sounds in transliteration is for your convenience. Gurbani is a very sophisticated sound system, and there are many other guidelines regarding consonant sounds and other rules of the language that are best conveyed through a direct student-teacher relationship.
a - as in hut
aa - as in mom
u - as in put, or soot
oo - as in pool
i - as in fin
ee - as in feet
ay - as in hay, or rain
r - flick tongue on upper palate