Kundalini Yoga is one of many traditions of yoga that share common roots in ancient Indian philosophy. It is comprehensive in that it combines physical poses with breath control exercises, chanting (mantras), meditations, prayer, visualizations, and guided relaxation. It is an elaborate system focused on healing and "purifying" the mind, body, and emotions. Kundalini Yoga incorporates many aspects of other forms of yoga as well as related techniques of meditation and relaxation. It also offers teachings for all aspects of life including diet (vegetarian), serving others, and yogic life skills such as conscious parenting and partnering. However, the emphasis is more on breathing and meditation exercises, and less on challenging physical postures to build strength or flexibility, as is the emphasis in some other forms of yoga. Kundalini Yoga uses kriyas, specially formulated sets of exercises. There are traditional Indian kriyas and there are adapted Western versions.
Kundalini Yoga is advocated as a way to keep the body in good condition and train the mind to be resilient and flexible in response to stress and change. Advocates claim that it increases oxygen capacity, boosts blood flow, balances the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system, and increases self-awareness, vitality, peace of mind, concentration, and self-confidence. It is recommended for people of all ages.
The word "kundalini" stems from a Sanskrit term meaning "circular, coiled". It refers to the concept of the original creative energy of the universe, which is believed to be coiled up in a dormant state at the base of the spine in the coccyx. The practices are intended to awaken and activate this primal energy. It is believed that as kundalini awakens it uncoils and rises upward through the body, purifying the person in body, mind and spirit.
The famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was interested in Kundalini Yoga as a supplement to his psychological theories. In 1932, Jung gave a series of lectures on Kundalini Yoga in Zurich (published under the title The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga by Princeton University Press in 1966). Yogi Bhajan, founder of the 3HO Foundation, introduced Kundalini Yoga in the West in 1969 with the goal of helping ordinary people to live healthy, conscious lives.
While research in the broader field of yoga has documented benefits for stress reduction and quality of life in a variety of health conditions, including cancer, there has been little formal research in the techniques specific to Kundalini Yoga. More studies are needed to evaluate the contributions of Kundalini Yoga practices in health.
Ahamkara, asana, Ashtanga yoga, Ayurveda, bheda, Bikram yoga, brahma nadi, chakra, chanting, cleansing techniques, dhyana, gentle yoga, guided imagery, hatha yoga, hot yoga, householder yoga, Iyengar yoga, Integral yoga, Jivamukti yoga, kirtan, Kripalu yoga, kriya, laya yoga, mantra, meditation, muladhara chakra, poses, postures, potential energy, power yoga, prana, pranayama, proprioceptive physical activity, raja, relaxation, Yoya Yoga, Sahaja Yoga, shavasana, subtle body, Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY), therapeutic yoga, transcendental meditation (TM), visualization, yoga nidra, yoga therapy, yogic breathing, yui.
Not included in this review: Forms of yoga other than Kundalini Yoga. For a review of related evidence, please visit Natural Standard's Complementary Practices Database, or click on these links to selected topics: Yoga, Meditation, Relaxation therapy.