Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan® is considered the most comprehensive of yoga traditions, combining meditation, mantra, physical exercises and breathing techniques; it is a Raj Yog, encompassing the eight limbs of yoga into a singular practice of excellence and ecstasy. "Kundalini" literally means "the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved." This poetic metaphor alludes to the flow of energy and consciousness that exists within each of us, and enables us to merge with – or "yoke" – the universal Self. Fusing individual and universal consciousness creates a divine union, called "yoga." The Upanishads, dating back to the fifth century B.C., describe the kundalini, although the oral tradition reaches back even further into history. For thousands of years, this sacred science and technology was veiled in secrecy, passed along verbally from master to chosen disciple. Read more about this article here.
Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan® is also known as the Yoga of Awareness; its focus is on self-awareness and delivering an experience of your highest consciousness. The technology of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan® is a science of the mind and body, to elevate the spirit, which has no boundaries, no discrimination. Therefore it is for everyone, universal and nondenominational.
In the ancient tradition that is yoga, Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan® is a householder path; that is, it has always been practiced by those with families and jobs as opposed to a renunciate's path of celibacy and removal from society, which was the usual path of a yogi.
Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan® is probably the most formalized style of yoga currently taught throughout the world. In any class, anywhere in the world, you can expect it to include six major components: 1) tuning-in with the Adi Mantra, 2) pranayam or warm-up, 3) kriya, 4) relaxation, 5) meditation and 6) close with the blessing song, "May the Long Time Sun Shine Upon You".
Kriyas are complete sets of exercises that are performed in the sequences given by the Master, Yogi Bhajan. They can be simple short sequences or they may involve vigorous, even strenuous exercises, and strong breath techniques such as Breath of Fire, which challenge and strengthen the nervous and endocrine systems and test the will of the practitioner beyond the limitations of their ego.
The typical class is 60-90 minutes: 5-10 minute warm-up, 30-45 minute kriya, 5-15 minute layout, 11-31 minutes of meditation.
ON WEARING WHITE IN KUNDALINI CLASS.
A traditional Kundalini yoga class, if photographed from above, would look like a sea of albino ants swarming a hill. It looks like your typical stereotype of a cult, but actually it’s the opposite. Kundalini Yoga supports its practitioners wearing all white, so people come to classes in white head coverings, skirts, shirts and flowing white pants. As Yogi Bhajan said "Colors create an uncontrollable action in your subconscious mind of inspiration, productivity and expansion. Colors have an effect on consciousness. We wanted to develop a very fast, progressive, spiritual and technical method of all the colors, so we have adopted the one color of the seven colors, which is white."
Born Harbhajan Singh Khalsa, in Kot Harkan, India, to a Sikh medical doctor father, and a Catholic educated Hindu mother, his fairly wealthy family owned much of the property in their village, and served as landlords. At that time, and the centuries prior, the practices and techniques of Kundalini Yoga were passed down in a very secretive, elitist way from teacher to well selected student. Yogi Bhajan received these teachings firsthand and mastered them by the age of 16 ½.
The exact origin of Kundalini Yoga is unknown, but historical records, referred to as the Upanishads, a sacred Vedic collection of writings dating back to 1,000 B. C., cited the science of Kundalini energy and spiritual philosophies. The expression of these was developed over time as a body science, now referred to as kriyas or actions. In other types of yogic practices, these may be referred to as asanas. The word Upanishads has a literal translation similar to that of the word asana: sitting down to hear the teachings of the master. The root of the word asana literally means to sit close to (the teacher).
In the late 1940s, the violent upheaval of India forced Harbhajan Singh Khalsa’s family to flee Punjab (what is now Pakistan) to New Delhi, and in the next number of years, he joined the Indian Civil Service, and began working for the government. Yogi Bhajan was offered a position as a new yoga studies department at University of Toronto in Canada where he emigrated in 1968.