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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Kundalini Yoga: Awakening the Energy Within

Apr 01, 2024 06:00AM ● By David Penn
Kundalini yoga is an ancient form of yoga with a focus on awakening the dormant spiritual energy within the body known as kundalini. This powerful practice combines breathwork, physical movement, meditation and chanting to activate and balance the chakras, or energy centers, and can lead to heightened awareness, overall well-being and spiritual enlightenment.

Origins of Kundalini Yoga

Boasting a rich and enigmatic heritage, this secretive practice stretches back thousands of years. Its roots lie deep within the ancient philosophies and practices of tantra, a vast spiritual system that emerged in India around the eighth century. Tantra emphasized the interconnectedness of the physical and spiritual realms, and kundalini yoga served as a powerful tool for yogis and seekers on their path to enlightenment.

For centuries, knowledge was meticulously passed down through oral tradition from teacher to student, ensuring a deep understanding and commitment from those chosen to receive the potent practice. These lineages, often familial or based on teacher-student relationships, carefully guarded the practice and its secrets, believing it to be too powerful for indiscriminate use. Initiates underwent rigorous training and preparation before embarking on the transformative journey kundalini yoga offered.

The emphasis on secrecy and selective transmission shrouded the practice in an aura of mystique. It was seen as a powerful tool for awakening the potent kundalini energy, a dormant spiritual force that resides at the base of the spine. By awakening and directing the kundalini energy upward through the chakras, practitioners aimed to achieve profound spiritual experiences, heightened consciousness and, ultimately, union with the Divine.

Kriya: Stimulation and Balance

Delving deeper into the kundalini practice is the experience of kriya, a set of techniques and/or practices within a yoga discipline meant to achieve a specific result.

Ann Ritter (Photo: Margaret Graff)

Ann (Hari Kaur) Ritter, Ph.D., a yoga teacher for more than 24 years, teaches at Vista Yoga in Decatur. “Kriyas are designed to address a particular area of concern or issue. Kriya means a completed action. Examples might be a spinal energy kriya for a healthy, flexible spine or a kriya for disease resistance to help strengthen the immune system,” she explains. “The kriya might be followed directly by deep relaxation followed by a group meditation.”

Recently, influential spiritual leader Sadhguru has professed the power the practice holds. Sadhguru is the founder of the Isha Foundation, a worldwide non-profit organization offering yoga programs and promoting human well-being through spiritual practices and social initiatives. Founded in India in 1992, Isha now has more than 300 centers worldwide, including a large, popular satellite campus in McMinnville, Tennessee. A renowned yogi and mystic, Sadhguru has dedicated his life to spreading the knowledge and practices of yoga.
Sadhguru acknowledges the significance of kundalini yoga. He often speaks about the awakening of kundalini energy and emphasizes the importance of activating the dormant potential within. He has said, “If kundalini rises, it unleashes a flood that wipes away your petty creations and leaves you as the Creator intended you to be.” While Sadhguru’s teachings encompass a wide range of yogic practices, kundalini yoga remains an integral part of his teachings and offerings.

Kundalini Yoga in the United States:

Kundalini yoga has experienced a surge in popularity in the United States in recent years. There are several reasons for its growing appeal among yogis and spiritual seekers.

Spiritual awakening: Many are drawn to an emphasis on spiritual awakening and inner transformation. Kundalini yoga offers a unique combination of physical movement, meditation and energetic practices that can help people connect with their true essence and experience higher states of consciousness.

Energetic healing: The practice is known for its ability to activate and balance the chakras. By working with specific kriyas, mantra chanting, and breathwork techniques, practitioners can release energetic blockages and promote healing on physical, mental and emotional levels.

Emphasis on self-expression: Individuals can express themselves authentically and embrace their true selves. The practice often incorporates chanting, singing and movement, providing a creative outlet for practitioners to connect with their inner voice and express their emotions.

Stress relief and emotional well-being: The dynamic movements, conscious breathing techniques and meditation practices are effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Individuals cultivate a sense of inner calm, balance their emotions and develop resilience in the face of life’s challenges.

Mukta Khalsa: A Reflection on 50 Years of Teaching in Atlanta

Mukta Khalsa 

(Photo: Gurudarshan Khalsa)

Mukta Khalsa, who has been a kundalini yoga instructor in Atlanta since the 1970s, teaches at GRD Yoga and Meditation Center in Dunwoody. She speaks fondly of an extraordinary odyssey. “As I reflect on sharing my journey with kundalini yoga, it feels like unraveling the layers of an infinite, luminous spiral, each turn revealing deeper insights and more profound transformations. For over 50 years, I have been both a student and a teacher of this remarkable practice, a journey that has not only shaped my physical existence but has also guided my spiritual awakening and my understanding of the universe and interconnectedness.”

In addition to sharing the virtues the practice has on the individual, Khalsa points out the importance of the community and the support and connection students receive within the practice. “Kundalini yoga fosters a strong sense of community among practitioners, often referred to as ‘sangat.’ This supportive environment encourages the sharing of experiences, mutual growth and collective uplifting,” he says. “The practice teaches that through connection with others, one can find a greater sense of connection to the self and the universe, reinforcing the idea that we are all interconnected and can help each other achieve our highest potential.” 

Cheryl Crawford (Photo: Loyal Hart)

Cheryl Crawford, E-RYT 500, is a yoga instructor at Highland Yoga in Atlanta and has been teaching adults and children since 2007. When asked to describe a typical kundalini class, she says, “There’s nothing typical about kundalini yoga! But for each class, we engage mantra, breath and mudra [hand postures designed to elicit a specific response]. We do yogic sequences designed to align energy. Expect the unexpected. Expect to shift and lift and get high on your own supply. Bring an openness of mind.”

Kundalini yoga’s emphasis on spiritual awakening, energetic healing, self-expression and well-being has resonated with practitioners seeking a holistic approach to personal growth and transformation. As more individuals recognize its power, its influence continues to expand, inspiring countless souls along the path of self-discovery and enlightenment. ❧

David Penn, E-RYT 200, founded Sun Dragon Yoga studio in 2015. He offers private instruction at homes and businesses throughout metro Atlanta and offers classes online. Contact him at 313-303-0096.
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