Frequently Asked Questions
We have seen over the years that people have questions about Yoga and Kundalini Yoga in particular. We hope these answers to FAQs are helpful. We look forward to seeing you in class.
Spirit Rising Foundation
Spirit Rising Yoga Center is operated by Spirit Rising Foundation, a not-for-profit service based Aquarian business model that has as its mission: to share with all, the teachings of Kundalini yoga and yogic lifestyle, appropriate for all, to allow a person to live in the world, be active in society and to experience the ecstasy of consciousness. Spirit Rising Foundation offers to all the tools and opportunities for experienced happiness, our birthright:
- International KRI Level 1 & 2 Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training Certification Courses
- A robust schedule of Kundalini Yoga classes designed for practitioners at all levels
- The Kenny Velez/Guru Kar Singh Memorial Teacher Training Scholarship Fund
- Specialized workshops, concerts and Kundalini Yoga and Yogic Lifestyle events
- Regular Community Group Aquarian Morning Sadhana
- Hosting other community events with an emphasis on service and building a broader spiritual community.
- Providing opportunities and access for those with limited income, limited abilities and limited mobility through no-cost classes, activities and volunteer service.
Healthy Happy Holy Organization - 3HO Foundation "On the fifth of January, when I gave a lecture, they asked me, 'What have you brought for us?' I said, 'I gave you a Healthy, Happy, Holy way of life.' I have not come here to collect students; I will create teachers, and teachers so created in this 3HO, shall teach the world a way of life with style. That's what we have said, that's what we are doing, that's what we are." -Yogi Bhajan, 1/5/93
Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the West from India in the late 1960’s. However, he did not simply share yoga exercises and meditations. His teachings include a comprehensive lifestyle that allows the radiance of the soul to shine in every facet of life.
How to eat. How to dress. How to communicate. How to have relationships. How to raise children. How to do business. Yogi Bhajan infused every aspect of life with the beauty and grace of the Kundalini. When you raise your Kundalini and change your consciousness, every aspect of life gets transformed. The lifestyle teachings of 3HO are designed to support you through that transformation. In this way, you can live healthy, happy and holy; bountiful, blissful and beautiful; as a whole, healed and sovereign human being.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
For more than 40 years, Kundalini Yoga has been on the leading edge of therapeutic yoga. Kundalini Yoga is one of the most comprehensive, effective, safe, and healthiest forms of yoga. Kundalini Yoga can produce immediate results as you travel on your path to consciousness. It balances the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system, expands the lung capacity, and purifies the bloodstream. It brings balance to the body, mind and soul. It trains your mind to think positively and be in control of your thoughts and attitudes. It builds your inner strength and self awareness to its maximum, assisting you in reaching your highest potential.
Yoga literally means “union.” In this sense, it serves as a vehicle to unite your soul and your Creator. With Kundalini Yoga, you uncoil yourself; you reveal your true identity. Kundalini is the creative potential of human beings. As explained by Yogi Bhajan, “Kundalini Yoga is the science to unite the finite with Infinity and it’s the art to experience Infinity in the finite It is straight. It is simple. It creates no complications.”
Kundalini Yoga is said to be the most powerful of the twenty-‐two schools of yoga. What separates Kundalini Yoga from all other types of yoga is its diverse capacity to include all elements of the ancient teachings of yoga: by combining the use of sound currents (Mantras), breathing techniques (Pranayama), Body Postures (Asanas), Hand Positions (Mudras) and Meditation.
Kundalini Yoga is ideal for today’s society since it is designed for the active, everyday person with normal responsibilities of work, family and school. Kundalini Yoga can be practiced by anyone if it is done gradually and according to the instructions. When you tune in to the opening Mantra, Adi Mantra, (described below) you connect with your inner Teacher and the Golden Chain of all Kundalini Yoga teachers and you will be protected.
As our society becomes increasingly more dependent on technology, our world becomes more intimately connected and influenced by its numerous cultures. The pace of change is on the rise and the stress on our body’s nervous system is increasing. The science of Kundalini Yoga allows us to tap into a system, that is an ancient technology, to help us cope with this escalating demand. The inner science of the mind is the tool that will enable us to cope with the pressure of these changes. It is the mind that interprets our outer and inner worlds and it is the mind that we must train to guide us through the flow of change.
Kundalini Yoga is called the Yoga of Awareness. Awareness is a finite relationship with infinity. We all have dormant energy sleeping within us, waiting to be awoken. Kundalini Yoga gives you the experience of being truly you.
Unfortunately, amid today’s hectic schedule, many of us have forgotten who we are and why we are here. There is only so much wisdom you can get out of a book, but wisdom cannot sustain you. Wisdom only becomes knowledge once you have experienced it. Kundalini Yoga will give you the experience that we are “spiritual beings having a human experience not humans beings trying to have a spiritual experience”; and then you can experience the infinite joy, health, and happiness, which is our birthright.
If you are a beginning student you should go at a pace that suits your flexibility and endurance. As you feel more comfortable with the exercises, begin to practice as often as you can. If you can practice at the same time each day, you will find that you will improve rapidly. There is no pressure in Kundalini Yoga to push the body too far; there should be no pain or discomfort. To begin with, you should stick to the minimum time limits, and gradually build up to the maximum. Remember: do what you can; that will be perfect.
Question: Who is Yogi Bhajan?
Yogi Bhajan is also known as Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi Ji. As a youth of 8 years he started his study of yogic practices. He mastered Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga as teenager and later became the Mahan Tantric, the Master of White Tantric Yoga. He came to North America in 1969 and began teaching.. Eventually he realized there was a need and a fertile ground for the teachings of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation in the youth of this nation and many were released from the grip of drugs and confusion. Over the next 36 years he taught thousands, created 3HO Foundation and generated natural foods businesses based on sustainable and organic agriculture internationally as well as other so-called "family businesses" to provide careers and job opportunities in which people could maintain a conscious lifestyle. He passed away in 2006 leaving a community structure with many trained teachers to carry on the the teachings for generations to come.
Question: What is Kundalini?
Kundalini is the described as a dormant power of Infinity in a human, a healthy natural quality, our own spiritual energy that takes away duality. When the Kundalini is active only in the lower chakras we have only a finite experience. Like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, we only live for survival. When it is distributed through all the chakras, the entire subtle nervous system we can experience pure consciousness, the unbroken flow of Pure Consciousness of Infinity. According to the Bhagavata-purana II.10.6, "Liberation is simply the spiritual self dwelling in its own nature".
When, once in a while a little kundalini "seeps" into the higher centers we have everyday experiences of joy, calmness, peace of mind, oneness or the bliss at the sight of our newborn's smile. Otherwise we feel lonely and separate, we suffer in life; it is dull, drab and lackluster.
Question: What is the difference between KY and other forms of yoga?
The goal of all Yoga practices is to "know the unknown and see the unseen", and have an exalted experience that we can use to serve others.
Students typically point out the following about the Kundalini Yoga experience: it emphasizes and incorporates the awareness and mastery of the breath, Pranayama, and introduces Breath of Fire (Breath of Fire is a rapid complete diaphragmatic breath which has many benefits including massaging the heart, cleansing the circulatory and respiratory systems and energizing the body). The practice of Sound and Mantra, the sound current, including the use of the Gong, are typically key components of Kundalini Yoga classes.
There is no initiation, everyone is "self-initiated". Its roots are in the Sikh mystical tradition which emphasizes a householder’s path and the teaching to all without exclusion. Each session of Kundalini Yoga begins with tuning in using Adi Mantra, the chant that links us with our higher self and the Golden Chain and complete the practice with an affirmation/personal prayer called the "Long Time Sunshine Song".
Kundalini Yoga uses sophisticated movements and exercises not commonly practiced in other yoga traditions to achieve specific body-mind-spirit goals. One can be in various ranges of physical fitness to experience benefits from a Kundalini Yoga Class. Creating Community and Group Consciousness is valued and encouraged as well as community selfless service called seva.
Question: Why are we encouraged to cover our heads during a class?
Yogi Bhajan taught us that the hair is alive and has an energy function. We are training ourselves to be aware of and master our subtle energies and so he has all teachers cover our head and hair with a cotton cloth or wrapped turban. Any natural fiber head covering is functional, however he has provided an entire system he calls "turban therapy". The practical reason for wearing a head covering can be summed up as follows: Your head is a very sensitive part of the body:
The skull is made up of tiny bones that are constantly moving even if only by micro millimeters and the degree to which they move impacts levels of calmness or anxiety. Covering the head provides a sense of containment and focus while practicing yoga or while doing work that requires clarity of thought. It literally helps "keep your head together".
The forehead consists of porous bone which allows light to pass through it and stimulate the light sensitive pituitary gland. The pituitary is the master gland which regulates all other glands. If it is not stimulated by enough light, a lack of glandular secretion can result including the "feel-goods" dopamine, serotonin and melatonin. Therefore keeping this area of the forehead clear (having the hair up or not wearing bangs) can help with these hormone levels. The hairs on all parts of our body is an extension of our sensitive field, an antenna.
And speaking of hair: The hairs conduct electricity and wherever they are on the body, they balance the electromagnetic charge at that part of the body. (eye brows, armpits, sexual area, chest, head, etc.) When the hair is uncut it stabilizes the body's electromagnetic field. Also imagine that if your hair is like a coil of electricity, that by coiling it all together at the top of the head -it will draw more electricity/energy towards it like a big electromagnet. This has the effect of pulling up the energy residing at the base of the spine (lower chakras) to the higher centers. If the hair is altered on any part of the body it will have an effect on the electromagnetic field and the physical body as well.
• Yogis know that when the hair on the legs is cut it can result in back problems.
• The pituitary gland and the growth of the eyebrows are related. When the eyebrows are "plucked" or altered it affects the pituitary/Arc Line balance.
• Allowing chin hair (beards) to grow helps balance the moon center at the chin and is said to stabilize the emotions.
• Shaving interferes with the water in the body and causes swelling.
Question: Where did yoga come from?
The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit "yug", to yoke or to unite. In the practice of yoga we join our finite selves to our infinite selves. In popular terms, we unite body, mind and soul to act together as a balanced whole. This technology uses the body's natural movements and rhythms, breath, energy pathways and sounds to purify and strengthen the facets of the physical body so that the mind may be used to serve our life's mission.
One who practices yoga is called a yogi: someone who is not affected by the pair of opposites i.e. like and dislike. The goal is to be who you really are through practice of awareness and learning to act not react to the events that surround you. A Yogi s someone who helps others recognize what is real, while a bhogi (yes, bogus comes from that word) is someone who leads you to what is not real.
Yogi Ji often said Yoga originally came from the part of Africa what is now Ethiopia.
Question: Is Yoga a religion?
Yoga predates religion and is a means of fulfilling the urge to merge that exists within each of us. The essence of Kundalini Yoga is rooted in the experience of Expanded Consciousness. Most faith traditions arose from the expanded consciousness of a person who attempted to share their awakening. Over the years we see practitioners gain deeper understanding of their own faith traditions.
Question: Will practicing Kundalini Yoga conflict with my current spiritual beliefs?
Any one can practice Kundalini Yoga without limiting or changing their faith tradition. Kundalini Yoga has been known to enhance your own beliefs. People of all faith traditions are practicing and teaching Kundalini Yoga.
Question: I am resuming Kundalini Yoga practice after putting on considerable weight and am limited in my ability to do the postures. Will I receive the same benefits?
Any effort that is placed into sincere practice will aid the whole self: physical, mental and spiritual, as all three are intimately connected. many people with limited flexibility for various reasons find the practices of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation varied more than enough to offer them the kind of experience they are seeking. We both offer adjustments to much of what we do and welcome all to make a sincere effort. We have been teaching Chair Yoga in local senior centers for three years with many many regular students.
Question: What does happen when the Kundalini is awakens?
Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan creates a safe and balanced environment for transformation and personal growth.. Yogic anatomy identifies 72,000 energy meridians, nadis in the body. The primary three are the ida, pingala and shushumna nadis, located along the spine. When through consistent practice the ida and pingala are balanced, referred to as "balancing the breath on both sides of the body", the sushumana or central channel will be clear.
We are simply clearing the blocks which allow our natural, everyday energy of consciousness and awareness to be fully realized. It is the experience of our complete selves. The Kundalini Shakti, the Nerve of the Soul, flows unencumbered, awakening the Self, so we may realize our omnipresent Infinite Self and experience Samadhi. Consider the chakras as transformers, which allow our human bodies to use the energy of the Universe, much like we use the electrical energy from enormous high-tension power lines to turn on a little light bulb. On the day to day level, this translates into heightened awareness, clarity of thought and increased tolerance and patience.
Question: Why is Kundalini represented in books by a snake?
Answer: In the East, the snake is a positive and royal image considered auspicious and it is often a mandatory component in the lives of Gods and saints. The word 'kundal' with the female ending "ini" means the 'coil in the hair of the beloved', a reference to the long hair of the adepts, coiled on top of the head in a "bun". In the Tantric Yoga Scriptures Kundalini Shakti is described in a positive manner as entering the shushumna as a "snake enters a hole", silently and smoothly.