Long deep breathing.
This is done in a range of poses, most particularly with Corpse pose at the end of your yoga session. It can be a 1 to 1 pattern of 16 counts for the inhale or the exhale, or the 2 to 1 exhale pattern if you wish.
Now that you have mastered sitting postures and three of the main forms of breathing, it is time to look at the 4 locks in Kundalini yoga.
The 4 Locks (Bandhas) In Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini yoga is unlike other types of yoga because it uses 4 locks, or bandhas, to focus the energy at a certain chakra in order to drive it upwards through the central channel. All of these locks should be done with a straight back and no slouching if you wish to gain the full energetic effect. The 4 locks are:
- Root-squeezing the muscles around your anus and perineum. Women would be familiar with these as Kegel exercises, often done after childbirth. Pretend you are holding a piece of paper between your buttocks in the locked pose.
- Solar plexus or diaphragm lock. Breathe in as if you are drawing the front of your body towards your back. The easiest way to do this is to pretend you are sitting in a chair. Stick your butt out, bend your knees, and put your hands on the tops of your thighs. This will put tension on the area. Once you are familiar with the sensation, you should be able to apply this lock sitting down or standing upright as well.
- Neck lock. Tuck your chin in to align the head and make the neck straighter and less curved. You can gently push your chin into alignment with your fingers to remind yourself not to let your chin or neck sag when you are doing Kundalini yoga.
- Mahabandha. This translates as the great lock, and is comprised of doing all 3 of the other locks at the same time, root, solar plexus and neck. Certain kriyas will use mahabandha to keep the body aligned in order to keep the energy moving.
Now that you know about the 4 locks in Kundalini yoga, it is time to look at a few of the main mantras.
Mantras And Chanting In Kundalini Yoga
There are a number of mantras and chants in Kundalini yoga. Depending on your tastes, you might find them weird, or fun. In many cases, they have also been set to music by various artists associated with Kundalini yoga, to make it more interesting and rhythmical.
Om is the most common mantra (pictured above). The M sound can be quite nasal in Sanskrit, so in Kundalini yoga it is chanted as ONG. Some of the chants are in other Indian languages. Your teacher can do their best to translate for you if you wish to learn more.
As we have mentioned, most Kundalini yoga classes start with a tune in of ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO.
Some classes will also start with:
Aad Guray Nameh (pronounced NAM-AAY)
Chugaad Guray Nameh
Sat Guray Nameh
Siri Guru Devay Nameh
It is a protection mantra that means you are bowing to the infinite wisdom of the universe. It is a bit like asking for all your efforts to be blessed and all your goals to be achieved.
An essential one in Kundalini yoga is SAT NAM=I am truth. This is the main chant of the powerful Sat kriya, which you will learn in a moment. Sat kriya is one of the best ways to align the chakras to harness the power within.
Some mantras have mudras or hand movements that go with them. Let’s look at Kundalini yoga mudras in the next chapter.
Mudras (Hand Movements) In Kundalini Yoga
Most people who know anything about yoga are aware of three things, the lotus position, the mantra OM, and the hand gesture or mudra that goes with it. The hand is open to the sky apart from the index finger, the first joint of which is being pressed under the curled thumb to form an O-like shape. Gyan mudra is often used when chanting OM or meditating in order to improve mental focus and clarity.
Mudras are also thought to move energy along certain pathways in the body know as meridians. They are also a good way to focus. One of the best ways to focus energy in the body, such as in relation to the chakras, is to touch the area.
For example, OM is the mantra of the Third Eye Chakra, said to control wisdom and intuition. When you are doing alternate nostril breathing, you are stimulating the chakra by placing the tips of your middle finger and index finger there.
Put your hands together in the center of the chest as if praying. Bend the thumbs and press them into the center of your breastbone at the level of your heart. This can be done standing, sitting or lying down. Some people are even flexible enough to be able to do it behind their own back at the level of their heart chakra.
There are many other mudras in Kundalini yoga that you will learn as you go along, but these are the main ones to help you get started.
Now that you have learned about the breathing, locks, mantras and mudras that are particular to Kundalini yoga, it is time to look at some kriyas or sets for specific purposes.