Move over cacao ceremonies and gong baths, and make way for an awakening via Kundalini yoga – the latest holistic lifestyle pursuit stealing the limelight.
The practice blends movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation and the chanting of mantras, such as “Sat Nam”, which means “truth is my identity”. It’s said to stir dormant energy that sits like a coiled serpent at the spine’s base and swirl it up through the seven chakras, or energy centres, of the body. Achieving an expanded state of consciousness that triggers feelings of bliss, love and connection with all things is the alluring end game.
“The ‘mystery moment’ occurs when you have mastered the art of deep intense breathing and pulling in all the muscles slowly, starting with the root chakra, through the diaphragm and then the neck, and holding for as long as possible until you feel the ‘pop’, and then exhaling and repeating. It is intense, beautiful and opens your heart to the Divine within,” says London-based practitioner Nici Malamoglou.
While an ancient practice, Kundalini yoga is no longer the reserve of turbaned mystics enrobed in white. Far from it. Today’s young urban professionals are leaning towards the practice as a way to reduce anxiety, boost relationships and pump up performance in the workplace.
New York urbanites are flocking to RA MA, a studio founded in October 2017 by Guru Jagat, a celebrity Kundalini yogi who hosts sell-out workshops globally and authored bestseller Invincible Living. Poised to propel the esoteric practice into the mainstream, the studio combines classes with a Culture Club, or “incubator for self-expression and spiritual depth” where artists, entrepreneurs and families can congregate to co-create.
“There’s a rise in these practices because people are feeling extremely stressed and are looking for ways to minimise it. What was once considered ‘kooky’ or ‘new-age’ is now taken much more seriously as a means to support wellness and overall good health,” says Ora Nadrich – life coach, author and host of a monthly group called ‘Sacred Sundays’ at Mystic Journey, a crystal gallery, meditation, and yoga studio in Venice.
Science validates this, with recent studies proving the benefits of mindfulness meditation and Kundalini yoga for reducing anxiety and stress. Just eight weeks of a daily mindfulness practice lowers anxiety biomarkers such as stress hormones by around 15%, according to a January 2017 study from Georgetown University Medical Center.
Alongside slaying stress, Kundalini yoga amplifies mental clarity, sharpens concentration, and enhances non-judgment and self-acceptance. “When you are in the present moment with total awareness, you are much more cognisant of your behavior and therefore more mindful of how you are in your relationships – whether personal or in the workplace. It also boosts creativity by not allowing distractions to take you out of the moment and interfere with the creative process,” Nadrich explains.
Proceed with caution though. The sensation of experiencing a “kundalini awakening” can be overwhelming. Some practitioners warn that it may disrupt sleep, trigger personality changes or even feel like a ‘bad trip’.
“Like anything we do that stimulates and ignites our energy or vibration, we must be mindful of how we do it and clear about what our expectations are. If you’re new to Kundalini meditation, it’s best to work with someone who is either familiar with it, or a professional practitioner who can help guide you through the proper steps, or transitions, of the meditation,” advises Nadrich.
Writer : Kate Johnson