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WHAT DOES KUNDALINI CLASSES INVOLVE?

During a Kundalini Yoga class, we normally breathe through the nose with our eyes closed and practice in bare feet, unless otherwise stated. It is important to practice on an empty stomach and not to have had any alcohol, drugs or stimulants, (unless on the advice of you GP), for at least 12 hours before of after the class, drink plenty of water before, after and during a class, and wear loose, comfortable clothing. If a new student has any concerns as to whether he or she should be doing Kundalini yoga, please discuss this first with your GP, and then your teacher. Please make the teacher aware of any injury, condition, pain or concern you may have. And please let the teacher know if you are pregnant. Unless you are used to the practice it is best for a pregnant woman to sit out of the physical exercise in the first trimester of her pregnancy and to maybe just stick to the relaxation, chanting some of the breath work and meditation.

Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan combines specific sequences of asana - posture, movement, pranyama -  (breath work), bandhs – (body locks), mudras – (hand positions), chanting mantra, sound vibration, meditation, and deep relaxation in one class.

Sometimes beginners find it a little strange to be chanting mantra in a foreign language, and if that is the case, it’s ok, just listen the first few times and eventually, it will all come naturally.

Some terms commonly used in these classes - explained

Long Deep Breathing
Relax the belly, inhale deeply and slowly through the nose, filling the belly first, then the abdomen, lower and upper chest. Then exhale slowly through the nose emptying the belly last, allowing the belly to contract.

Breath of Fire
This is basically long deep breathing, speeded up very fast - like sniffing.

Easy Pose
Sit in any comfortable cross legged position.

Prayer Pose
Palms together, thumbs pressed into the sternum.

Gian Mudra
Index finger is touching the thumb. All other fingers are left straight out. In meditation, the wrists are mainly resting on the knees. (In "active" gian mudra, the index fingernail is pressed into the thumb pad rather than the tips just meeting)

Mulbandh or Root Lock
This is contracting the muscles of the anus, sex organs and navel at the same time.

Venus Lock
Interlacing the fingers - women have the left thumb on top and little finger of the right hand on the bottom - for men this is reversed. When a position requires the fingers to be interlaced, always do it this way unless otherwise stated.

Neck Lock- Jalandhara bandh
Sit with straight spine, lift chest up, and stretch the back of the neck by pulling the chin in towards the back of the nack, while keeping the head straight, centred and level.

When asked to "grab the toes" - unless otherwise stated, interlace the index and middle finger between the big and second toe and press the thumb on the big toe nail.

Some points to remember
If a woman is menstruating or pregnant, breath of fire should be replaced with long deep breathing, abdominal exercises should be omitted, and inverted positions, such as shoulder stand, triangle pose, plough pose etc should be avoided.

Also those suffering from low or high blood pressure should also take care. Those with high blood pressure should avoid breath of fire or maybe slow it down a bit and be gentle and mindful during cardiovascular high impact exercises. Those with low blood pressure should avoid inverted postures or at least come up very gently and slowly, especially when bringing the head up last.

Please let me know if you have any sort of spinal injury, or any other type of injury or condition I need to be aware of.

If in any doubt, always consult your doctor before practicing any form of physical activity.

Sequence of a Kundalini Yoga Class
 
Tune in
Sit in easy pose, (or any sitting position), with a straight spine, eyes closed. Rub the palms of the hands together to stimulate energy and prana flow. Bring the hands into prayer pose. Take several long deep breaths to make yourself present and relaxed. Chant the Adi Mantra, to connect to the Golden Chain, (the Golden Chain is the frequency of the teachings- it is the link to the consciousness of all the teachers and masters who came before us), at least 3 times –

"Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo."

This means, I bow to the divine creator within.

Chant the Mangala Charan Mantra 3 times for protection and to acknowledge the presence of the Golden Chain -

"Ad Guray Nameh, Jugad Guray Nameh, Sat Guray Nameh, Siri Guru Devay Nameh."

This means "I bow to the primal Guru (inner guidence), I bow to wisdom through the ages, I bow to true Wisdom, I bow to the great, unseen wisdom"

Take a moment to relax.

Warm up Exercises
These are to get prana flowing and to warm up the body and spine for the work ahead.

The Kriya
This is the specific sequence of asana, posture, breath work- pranyama, body locks – bandha, hand positions – mudras, mantras etc, working on a particular area of the body, or for a specific effect.

Long Deep Relaxation
Laying in corpse pose - flat on the back, arms at the sides, palms facing up, feet falling apart, chin pulled slightly in, eyes closed, (if this is not possible, sit with spine straight). Melt into the floor, take a few long deep breaths and completely relax. This is one of the most important times in a class, as it allows the body to rest, rejuvenate and relax, and for all the systems to settle, and readjust and realign themselves, integrating the work the body has just done. It is the moment of mind, body and spiritual integration and transformation.
Do this for about 11 minutes. Then start to become aware of your breathing and gently bring yourself back into the room. Rotate your wrists and ankles; flex your fingers and toes. Stretch your arms above your head and point your toes. Put your left foot on your right knee and keeping both shoulders on the floor, let your right hand encourage the left knee down to the floor on the right side- stay in the that stretch for a few seconds then do the same the other side. Stretch in any other way you feel is appropriate, then bring the knees to the chest and clasp the arms around the legs and rock from left to right. Rub the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet together, and either come up by rolling on the spine a few times, or roll over on your right and gently come up that way.

Meditation
Now do the meditation which is appropriate to the kriya which has just been done.

Tune Out
Sit in easy pose, with hands in prayer pose, eyes closed, and spine straight and take a few long deep breaths.
Sing the Long Time Sun- this is The Sunshine blessing we all sing for one another – it is an old Irish folksong and it is traditional to tune out with this song in kundalini Yoga – apart from which it is a very beautiful song;
“May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you, guide your way on” - 3 times, followed by chanting Sat Nam, (truth is my identity), (long Sat and short Nam), 3 times – ending the class by filling ourselves with the vibration of the truth.

There are some beautiful kundalini Yoga Mantra songs and music, but here is a link to where you can listen to how the mantras are meant to be chanted in a class – with the correct pronounciation, rhythm, tone and projection. Just click on the link and it will take you to a website where you can listen to each mantra. (Click Here)

Here is a link to one of the versions of The Long Time Sun blessing we tune out with.
Just beautiful!

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What does a Kundalini Yoga class involve?

Please see below for an example of the type of classes taught, and the aims, effects and goals of a typical class. Although tying to keep a theme in the classes, they are not run as a course and students may join in at any point whether they are beginners or more advanced, and although a regular practice will give the most benefit, it is not imperative to attend every class every week to gain some benefit.

CLASS PROGRAM

WEEK 1 - Wednesday 4th May 2011
We begin our first week with a journey into self renewal and self discovery, of ourselves, our hopes and dreams and our true dharma, or purpose, bringing to light what will bring us true happiness, fulfillment, success and deep contentment. We will be largely working on cleansing the internal organs, the heart lungs and circulation, balancing the salt and sugar levels in the body and the glandular system as well as alignment and the flexibility of the spine. Age is measured by the flexibility of the spine - so to stay young, stay flexible and fun!

WEEK 2 - Wednesday 11th May 2011
This week we begin our journey through the chakras, and the class will be based on the root chakra - Muladhara, (please see chakra section). We will be connecting to our earth element within and around us and grounding and centring ourselves firmly into Mother Earth, working largely on the lower digestion ad elimination, and lower spine, where our Kundalini energy resides. Working on this area can help us feel stronger, more grounded, present, vital, and fearless, and can bring out our basic instincts and help us to let go of things we do not need.

WEEK 3 - Wednesday 18th May 2011
We continue with our journey through the chakras by working with our water element, and second chakra - Svandhisthana. We will be focusing this week on eliminating toxins through fluids and balancing the adrenals and kidneys to reduce stress and help bring calm and balance to our lives. When we get stressed or upset, which is a hazard of the fast modern times we live in, we produce too much adrenalin. This can make us feel snappy and tired and weaken our immune systems, which can prevent us from keeping up. Balance in this area will make us feel full of energy, be more flexible, creative, help bring more balance to all our relationships, sexual and otherwise. It will bring us more patience and calm, and will boost our immune systems.

WEEK 4 - Wednesday 25th May 2011
We continue our journey through the chakras this week by working with our powerhouse- or navel point. This is our element of fire This is where the 72.000 nadis or meridians meet and it is very important  to strengthen this area, to enable us to live productive lives on this Earth. This is the area all martial arts and Eastern systems work from. It deals with personal empowerment, and the idea is not to dissolve the ego in Kundalini yoga, we need it to survive in this world, the idea is to balance and align it so that we control the ego and not the other way round, and we may use it as a tool. Strengthening the navel point is a powerful way to do this. Working on the third chakra - Manipura, not only gets the abdominal area in shape quickly and strengthens the core which supports the spine - reducing back ache, it also, will bring out our confidence, self control, will and spirit.
It will fill us with energy and joy, giving us the strength and power to deal with everything.

Week 5 - Wednesday 1st June 2011
Week 6 - Wednesday 8th June 2011
Week 7 - Wednesday 15th June 2011
Week 8 - Wednesday 22nd June 2011

Will all be focusing on the Heart centre, and opening the heart chakra - Anahata, which means un-struck, activating it, clearing it of any negativity, balancing it and charging it with the most powerful energy in the universe known to man- this energy is known to us as LOVE.

It may not feel like it at times, but we are going through a shift or transition at the moment and we are moving into a heart centred world....

There may be many difficulties on the way, but we are moving into a new era where slowly people will begin to realise and recognise their divinity and that of  all others, and we will start to connect to our true, inner, pure self for guidance. We will learn true acceptance of all others and how to work in harmony together in spite, not despite of our differences. We will learn the true meaning of living in co operation, peace, grace and service to all. It may take some time, but better times are ahead for us all.
We have always been taught to work from the navel point, or third chakra - Manipura for effectiveness, and that is correct- the navel point is our powerhouse, and fire, and actions from this chakra will have inertia and strength behind them to succeed. But actions which actually initiate firstly from the heart centre will always be true and bring us the ultimate happiness and work for the betterment of all. If the idea comes from the heart first, and then the power of the navel point makes it happen - well we just cannot go wrong!

The three key words linked to the heart centre are  LOVE, COMPASSION and FORGIVENESS, and if all our thoughts, feelings and actions have these keywords in mind, then the produce will always be positive. If our actions always come from a balanced heart centre, with compassion, then they can never be wrong.

The three key words have to also apply to how we treat ourselves as well as others. If we cannot feel a deep love, compassion and forgiveness for ourselves, then how can we begin to feel it for others?

These sets work specifically on waking up our kundalini energy and raising the energy up to our higher centres, mainly focusing on the heart centre opening our hearts and souls to new possibilities, feeling oneness -  a deep love for ourselves, and in turn to all that exists, and radiating that outwardly and drawing it back to ourselves. These sets will fill us with peace, calm, deep contentment and happiness. We will be working with the element air, and will feel that freedom as we release all negative emotions and feelings we may have stored up and locked away from the past which may have been holding us back, leaving us feeling carefree and childlike- (not childish), with an innocent playfulness and openness to life.

We will also be working on the heart, lungs, thymus, arms, upper body and whole circulatory system, helping to promote good health in all these areas; and through the whole body through supporting good circulation and balance in white blood cell production, which helps to support the immune system.

Week 9 - Wednesday 29th June
In this class we go back to work on the lower chakras and filling our being with energising, invigorating sun energy, helping us to feel clear minded, enthusiastic and energetic. It is important to strengthen our roots and lower chakras before working on the higher ones, as like a tree, if we strengthen our roots, and basic needs, our branches, leaves and flowers on the higher levels will naturally bloom and grow.

Wednesday 27th July
This week's class will be working on the navel and heart chakras. We will be working on balancing the prana and apana energies - the energies we intake and the spent energy which needs to be eliminated. This set works on activating and strengthening the power of the third and 4th chakras, aids in digestion - physically and the digestion of our lives. It helps us to eliminate toxins and replenish our energy supplies- bringing us strength, stamina, control , calm, confidence, joy and prosperity, as well as opening our hearts to love and compassion- releasing all negativity we sometimes may hold in these areas. This set also can help as a mild anti depressant.

Wednesday 17th August 2011
This week we transcend working the physical aspect of ourselves. We have spent the last few months working on our most basic facets of being a human being. We have worked on grounding and centring ourselves, opening up our creativity, discovering our passions and pleasures, strengthening our confidence and self control, and helping to make ourselves stronger, and more solid, fearless, passionate and productive. We have then worked on our more subtle side by opening our hearts to love and compassion. This was the link between our physical and spiritual facets On this journey, we have done a lot of clearing and eliminating of blockages that may hold us back in life and of toxins which due to the environment we live in, we tend to absorb in our daily lives. We have worked on digestion - of our lives and our fuel. We have cleansed and massaged the internal organs, and worked on strengthening and toning the whole body and our immune, nervous and endocrine systems. and also we have worked on our circulation- of oxygen - again cleaning our systems, and also of prana - the life force and energy of the universe.

Through clearing blocks in our systems we can make ourselves more awake and aware of ourselves, our potential, and of everything around us- inviting our kundalini energy to awaken and rise within us, enabling us to live life to the full, and bringing us great physical health too! Like a tree, if we take care of our roots, then the upper branches, leaves and flowers will naturally bloom.

This week we will be moving to a higher level of consciousness and working on Vishuddha, 5th or throat chakra. Activating and opening this chakra helps us to overcome problems we may have with communication, speech, or being a good listener. When this centre is in balance, we can communicate clearly, creatively, honestly and wisely. We find we can be more forthright and humble, making our word gain force with others and more importantly with ourselves. Working on this centre helps to balance the thyroid and parathyroid glands, and opens the gateway for prana, (chi or ki), and kundalini energy to flow into the head and higher centres and glands.

Working on this area is especially important at the moment as we are in the middle of the second of 3 Mercury Retrogrades we will experience this year and each year. Mercury is the planet of communication, and about 3 times a year it slows right down and gives an optical illusion that it is actually going backwards!!!!!!! When this is happening, it does affect communication on the Earth- between people, and also technology is more prone to go wrong So we have to be mindful of our words and communications with others at this time as they can be easily misconstrued!!

Wednesday 24th August 2011
Now we have opened the gateway to the higher centres, we will spend this week working on opening and developing Ajna chakra- or the 6th third eye chakra, which governs vision, perception, intuition and physic ability.

Activating and developing this centre helps one to see things clearly and to know one's purpose in life. It helps one to see things and work from a neutral/ meditative mind, so that our actions may be the right ones and true. This centre develops the pituitary gland and is very strongly linked to the sacral/ sexual/ reproductive area. It is important to strengthen the lower chakras and move up to the higher ones, so that when these higher centres of consciousness are activated, it is with a strong, grounded and stable body and mind, and the ego is balanced and aligned to the soul. If these higher centres are extensively worked on and activated first before we strengthen the physical body, it can leave one feeling a bit "spacey" as one would not be acting from a grounded perspective and ego, which can make us feel a little unstable. The lower centres of consciousness need to be worked on or naturally balanced first.

N.B.  It is absolutely fine and safe for a beginner to start coming to class at this point as we will not be doing any extensive work on the higher centres and there will be a balance in these classes of working on all the centres.

Wednesday 31st August 2011
This week we work on the 7th or crown chakra, the 1000 petal lotus. When this centre is opened and kundalini is circulating through all 7 centres on consciousness, we feel an indescribable bliss and connection to all of creation and it will take us to a new and higher level of being. It will take us to a  deeper understanding and knowing of what is The pineal gland is the one connected to the crown chakra, (or halo). It is important to set a fir foundation on the Earth before activating this centre, so in this class we will be working on the pelvis and lower centres which for our base and foundation to do that before we meditate and work on clearing karmic patterns.

Wednesday 7th September 2011
Now we have done all the work and journeyed through all 7 chakras or main centres of consciousness, we are rounding it up in this class by starting with a warm up set working on each chakra, followed by a kriya to clear, balance, reconfigure and strengthen the aura- electromagnetic field or in Kundalini yoga- the 8th chakra. We attract what we radiate - so a big, healthy, balanced, strong aura, radiating positive light and energy will help us to attract back whatever we desire - love, good health, success and prosperity in whatever we do, and wherever we go we will help healing happen. People with a healthy aura attract others and make others feel good, feeding them rather than draining them, and a person with a strong aura will be protected from negative situations and people draining them. A good healthy strong aura will help one to handle pain and negativity in a much more positive way, and also to view and perceive the world and project into it in a much more positive way, creating a neutral state.

These classes are continuous and ongoing, the above are just examples of the sort of things that are covered

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