Kundalini Yoga Practice Guidelines
By Mardi Rogers
Like any yoga program Kundalini Yoga has some recommendations and guidelines to get the most out of your practice. Of course it’s always about working with what you need, so whether you’re going to classes, or simply practicing at home or with a friend, here are some tips for before, during and after:
Before Your Practice
It’s best not to do yoga with a belly full of food, so you should aim to have any larger meals at least 2-3hr before your practice. A small snack an hour before is probably ok, as if you’re hungry during practice all you’ll tend to think about is food! You just don’t want to be uncomfortable while you’re doing your yoga poses.
#1 Turn off/silence your mobile phone – especially if you’re going to a class. If you’ve ever been the cause of a ringtone going off in a class you’ll know how much you just want to be swallowed up by the floor lol.
If you’re at home also be mindful of your TV, computer, radio or anything that might take you away from spending your time with you. Pets and other family members can also be distracting, so you might find it better to lock yourself (or them – if you dare lol) away, but sometimes this is easier said than done. Just do your best to find a nice quiet place where you won’t be disturbed – but prepare to be OK if you are. Life doesn’t stop when we say – so if you are distracted just make an intention to get back to it as soon as you can.
Clothes And Accessories
While the shops may advertise otherwise, there are no special clothes you ‘need’ to do yoga. You just want comfort and non restrictive. In Kundalini yoga we practice in white, preferable natural fibres, and cover our head (bandana, scarf or cap). But wear what works for you – at home my favourite yoga clothes are my pyjamas lol.
It’s also nice to have a blanket (or sheepskin) over your yoga mat and a blanket or shall to cover you during relaxation and/or meditation when your body temperature can drop. If you struggle to sit on the floor, due to tight lower back, legs or hips, get yourself a firm cushion or yoga block to sit on which helps elevate you, and roll the pelvis forward for comfort. There are also many poses/meditations you can do on a chair, so have one handy if you find it helps.
During Your Practice
ALWAYS Listen To Your Body
Kundalini yoga is the yoga of awareness – and isn’t about getting yourself stretched in the ‘perfect’ posture. It’s about becoming aware of your body, as it is, without judgement, and working with it. If this means slowing something down, lessening the range of your movement, or even having a rest – please do it. If you find you’re unable to do a posture you can also visualise yourself doing it, which will still bring benefits to your body and mind.
Challenge yourself gently. It’s about finding the ‘middle way’ where you don’t overdo, or underdo, but find a gentle challenge for you in the moment. No expectations; your body is constantly changing with different days, different previous movements and different stages of life. Let your yoga practice meet you where you’re at – and modify and adjust your postures to work for you.
The instructor is there to guide, so listen closely to the directions for safety, but if you need to alter to suit your body, you always have permission to listen first and foremost to your needs.
It’s best to refrain from talking and questioning during a class as it disrupts the energy, however if you do need clarification of postures, or anything, make sure to approach the instructor after class to answer questions. In Kundalini yoga the instructor will never move or adjust you in any way, and will not single you out but give guidance to the group as a whole, so listen out for instructions both before and during postures.
Take a close lidded water bottle to have on hand and drink a few sips between exercises as needed.
For women: depending on your monthly cycle you may find exercises like root lock (mulabandh) or breath of fire, bow pose, stretch pose, camel pose, locust pose, sat kira or any navel exercises uncomfortable. In this case please either refrain and visualise yourself doing the poses, or follow the modifications the instructor provides. If you are pregnant it’s best to attend special pregnancy classes with a qualified instructor – ALWAYS notify your instructor if you are pregnant.
After Your Practice
Drink plenty of water.
It can be nice to incorporate your practice into everyday life eg. Can you sit for a couple of minutes and do some long slow deep breathing? Can you check in on your posture and imagine yourself as a yogi while you’re typing away on your computer? Find opportunities to take your yoga off the mat.
Also, take it easy on yourself and pay attention to your physical, emotional and mental state after class. Sometimes the energy moved in practice can take a little time to ‘seep’ in or redistribute. So you may (or may not) find yourself a little more emotional than normal – this is natural and will settle. Sometimes you can feel a bit worse after class – and often this can be a good thing! Working through your ‘gunk’ isn’t always a pleasant experience, so be gentle with yourself, and allow yourself to let it flow through you. Sometimes you may feel fantastic after practice – great! And sometimes you’ll feel nothing at all and that’s great too.
Be open to your practice with no expectations, or judgments, and you’ll find a contentedness and calmness as you greet yourself on the mat.
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I wish you all the best with your practice