yoga novice: kundalini
While there are still a few people who raise their eyebrows at the chanting and the poses – remember the first time you heard of downward dog? – yoga has become mainstream. Touted for it’s physical, mental and anti-aging benefits, it’s the perfect exercise. And with the dawning of 2013 and my resolution to incorporate fitness — and anti-aging — into my lifestyle, I’ve decided that, starting now, yoga is for me.
The only problem? Yoga isn’t just yoga. They are a slew of practices; some so different they don’t even utilize the same poses. Having done a basic class here and there, I decided to forgo “open” or basic yoga, and try each of the major disciplines, hoping that by the end of this fitness journey I’ll have found a type of yoga that suites my mind, body and soul, and that I can touch my toes for longer than 5 seconds.
First up, Kundalini.
Sometimes referred to by other yogis as Kundaloonie for it’s naked spirituality, the practice has a handful of celeb fans like Russell Brand, Miranda Kerr, Orlando Bloom and Jennifer Aniston, and is deeply rooted in meditation. While all yoga combines breathe and movement, Kundalini works on a foundation of thinking, moving, and breathing at the same time — it’s a lot harder than you think!
The Kundalini manta is “sat nam” – meaning true name, or identity. Our instructor asked us to say “sat” in our heads while inhaling, then “nam” during exhale throughout the entire class. It seems simple enough, until we began the “breath of fire,” a rapid panting breath done through the nose. Suddenly the only thing I could think was “stam” and that I might pop a blood vessel. In fact one of characteristics of Kundalini is the vigorous nature of the moment and breath; at one point we had to lie on our backs and execute some kind of Kundalini karate chop over and over again. I like the quickness, quirkiness, and even though it didn’t seem strenuous, the fact that the class was very core focused – my abs killed the next day.
The take away: Fast paced and steeped with philosophy. Even if you don’t dig the spiritual aspect, you’ll benefit from the meditative nature of the practice of Kundalini yoga. While it may not be the best practice for first timers, it will definitely give your core, and concentration, a work out.
Next week I try Bikram yoga, so stay tuned and flexible, tartelettes!