Kundalini is thought to be one of the most comprehensive types of yoga taught today. It focuses not only on asanas and breathe; it also focuses on chanting, meditation and self awareness. Like most types of yoga, many Kundalini yoga poses are meant to be done in a sequence to work toward a desired goal. Kundalini yoga poses may be identical to some other forms of yoga, or there may be slight variations, depending upon the pose.
Kundalini Yoga Poses and Asanas
If you’ve ever taken a course in yoga, you’re probably familiar with many of these poses already. Kundalini yoga focuses a great deal on using yoga for meditation, so often times the sequence of the poses may be just as important as the poses themselves.
Bow pose is a backbend that is performed on the floor. It may be done by itself, or it may be used as a warm up for poses such as half-wheel and wheel. To perform bow pose:
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Extend your arms down by your sides and walk your feet in toward your bum until you can brush your heels with your finger tips.
- Push your feet firmly down into the floor as you lift your pelvis up toward the sky, keeping your head and neck relaxed and your shoulders flat on the floor. You should be looking at your stomach and chest.
- Walk your shoulders beneath you and clasp your hands together on the floor under you.
- To release the pose, roll down slowly from your shoulders to your bum.
- Get into bow pose, but do not walk your shoulders and arms beneath you.
- Arch your back up higher and walk your feet in until you are resting on the tops of your shoulders with head and neck relaxed.
- Reach down with your hands and grasp both ankles.
- To release the pose, let go of your ankles, step your feet out slightly, and roll down from your shoulders.
Wheel is an advanced backbend that should only be performed after you have warmed up your spine with other bends and twists first. It frequently follows either Bow pose or Camel pose. To perform Wheel:
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Walk your feet in toward your bum until you can brush your heels with your fingertips.
- Bend your arms and place your hands flat on the floor on either side of your head with your fingers pointing away from your body.
- Take a deep breath, and as you exhale push down on the floor with your hands and feet, lifting your body up off of the ground until you are in a deep backbend supported by only your hands and feet and you are looking backwards away from your body.
- To release, gently lower yourself to the ground and round your spine to the floor.
- Get into a tall kneeling position with your knees and feet together. Your feet can either be flexed or relaxed depending on your flexibility and comfort level.
- Straighten your spine and push your chest toward the ceiling as you let your head fall back and bend backwards reaching for your heels or ankles with your hands. Keep pushing your thighs forward to avoid sitting back on your feet.
- Come into a deep squat or Frog position with your feet out wide on either side of your mat.
- Place your hands down on the mat in front of you with your fingers facing the front of the mat.
- Tip forward, placing your weight on your hands as you rest your knees on the backs of your arms.
- Look forward as you lift your feet up off of the floor and touch your toes together.
Frog pose in Kundalini yoga is different than the frog pose done in several other versions, such as in Yin Yoga. While other versions work on opening the hips by having you lie on your belly and bring your hips out the sides, Kundalini yoga works the pose in a deep squat. This is often the second pose in the sequence to clear the chakras. To perform Frog:
- Place your feet out on either side of your mat and come into a deep squat position.
- Place your hands together in yoga mudra and push your elbows out into your thighs to help open the hips.
The forward fold is another stretch in the sequence to clear the chakras and is an important Kundalini yoga pose. This pose stretches out the hamstrings and helps to release the lower back. It can be used as a counter pose to some backbends. To perform the forward fold:
- Stand with your feet approximately hip distance apart.
- Bend at the waist and relax the upper body, letting the head and neck dangle toward the floor.
- Reach for the floor in front of you with your fingertips.
Cobra is a small backbend that can be used in preparation of deeper backbends, and is also one of the poses in the sequence to clear the chakras. This is also a good variation for those that have difficulty with deeper bends like Upward Facing Dog. To perform Cobra:
- Lay on your stomach with your legs out behind you.
- Place your hands and forearms on the mat just to the front of you and on either side.
- Press your hands and forearms into the mat to lift your chest up and forward, resulting in a small, gentle backbend.
Cat and Cow
(Cat Pose) (Cow Pose)
Cat and cow are counter poses to one another that help to loosen and stretch the spine. Sometimes the cat stretch portion of the pose is used by itself with a sequence of other poses, other times the two are used together in a flowing pose that links movement and breathe together. To perform these poses:
- Get into a position on your hands knees where your hands are directly beneath your shoulders, your knees beneath your hips, and your spine neutral.
- Drop your heat and pull your belly button in as you arch your back and round your spine beginning at the shoulders and moving up to the hips.
- Roll your hips downward, dropping your belly toward the floor and lifting your head and chest. Repeat.
- Sit comfortably on the mat and cross your legs in front of you, bending your knees and bringing your feet in toward your bum.
- Release your sit bones and straighten your spine, rolling your shoulders back and keeping your head level.
Like Easy pose, Lotus pose is often used for meditation, chanting, or breathing exercises. This is a more advanced version of the Easy pose; many people may start in Easy pose as they get warmed up before moving on to Lotus. To do this pose:
- Sit comfortably in Easy pose.
- Lift up the foot that is closest to your body and place it on top of the opposite leg.
- Repeat with the other foot.
- Get into a tall kneeling position on your mat.
- Separate your knees and feet with your feet farther apart from one another than your knees are.
- Sink your bum down between your feet until it touches the mat.
Like Hero pose, Rock pose is a kneeling posture that is sometimes used for meditation and chanting. To do Rock pose:
- Get into a tall kneeling position with your knees and feet together.
- Keep your spine tall while you lower yourself down to sit on your feet.
Try It for Yourself
Practicing Kundalini yoga poses is a great way to focus on self awareness while strengthening and stretching the entire body. As you’ll find many of these same poses in other yoga styles, it’s acceptable to move from Kundalini into another form, or to start with a yoga class for beginners and then move into the Kundalini sequences. No matter which way you decide to do it, yoga can be a wonderful addition to your lifestyle.