What is Kundalini Yoga and why choose this over other types of yoga?

Feb 22, 2024
Doing the Sat Kriya in our first Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training, 2013

Doing the Sat Kriya in our first Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training, 2013


Most of us are familiar with what typical yoga looks like: the downward dog, warrior, and triangle poses; the chaturanga (low plank), cobra, and savasana. We’ve seen them all on Instagram if we haven’t seen them in a yoga studio or on magazine covers. Those are some beautiful asanas. I fell in love with the flow of yoga asana, and began to connect with my body for the first time ever. Despite that I was an avid, 6-days-a-week, 2-hours-a-day gym rat before I found yoga, it was the yoga practice that made me realize how disconnected I was to my body at a deeper, subtler level. That connection awakened an information highway within me that changed my life.  

Then I found Kundalini Yoga. There was not one down dog in that first class, and there was no “flow.” The upper right part of my lip spasmed while I was in savasana. I left that class thinking I didn’t like it, it was weird. But by the time I got home, I was deeply intrigued. On the ride home, I felt a depth and lightness in myself I hadn’t felt before. Not like this anyway. The flow didn’t happen as a sequence in the yoga practice, but it absolutely happened at that moment, in my body. 


What kundalini yoga does

Kundalini Yoga is less concerned with the perfection of asana and more with keeping up. In life, we are better off dropping perfection and learning to get it good enough and then keep going. That’s Kundalini Yoga.  

It combines posture (asana) with breath (pranayam), sound (mantra), eye focus (drishti), and hand positions (mudras). You can feel like you’re being asked to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time. 

It puts you under a pressure cooker, teaching you to tap into your inner resources to keep going. Breath is one of those resources. So are trust and self-compassion, which you learn to cultivate through this practice. Tantrums come up, sometimes immediately, and you get to work through them, see what you’re made of. The tagline in Kundalini Yoga is keep up and you will be kept up. 

It’s meditation heavy, often putting you in moving meditation, or meditation in a full body mudra. There is a lot of breathwork to reconnect the body, and a lot of mantra to rewire the mind. 

It’s dubbed the householder’s yoga. A householder is a person who, as opposed to an ascetic, chooses to live in a world intertwined in finance, work, relationships, and material things. The assumption is that householders have limited time to do their daily practice so it must work fast. The goal of householder’s yoga isn’t to turn people into renunciates but to remind them of who they are as they navigate through the noise of their material surroundings and become a more illuminating light in a world filled with darkness and confusion. 

While Kundalini Yoga balances the endocrine, lymphatic, digestive, circulatory, musculo-skeletal, and reproductive systems, its signature entry point is the spine and nervous system, which governs your ability to get a good night’s sleep, get up in the morning, face life, and gain response-ability. Next, your glandular system governs emotions and metabolism amongst other important functions. Regular practice effectively delivers life force, vitality, and a relaxed-energized state. 

While the more familiar yogas can do the same, Kundalini Yoga takes you straight there, fast. Hence the name. Kundalini refers to the awakening of the vital life force that otherwise lays dormant, coiled (like a snake) at the base of your spine. When it awakens, its energy moves up and down the spine, opening and balancing your energy centers, which govern all of your senses: of security, creativity, personal power & will, compassion & right action, your voice, intuition, sense of oneness, and projection. Which is the goal of all yoga (not flexibility). It’s the householder’s yoga. The entire practice is a moving meditation where you learn to find your stillness - home to infinite intelligence - within the pressure cooker that is this practice. What you cultivate in your daily practice transfers beautifully into the pressure cooker that is life. 

The elevation and trust you sense in yourself after just one class - let alone with regular, daily practice - is a payoff well worth its investment. Here’s an excerpt from the March 2013 Well+Good article called The Ultra-Spiritual Yoga Celebs Love, which offers a quote from author and speaker Gabrielle Bernstein:

The element that seems to really draw people in is Kundalini’s emphasis on self-awareness and actualization. “I’m a different person; I’m a much better person. It has expanded me so I’m a better writer and a better speaker.” It’s a promise that appeals to creative types and celebs, but also to anyone who’s concerned with how to realize their talents and live their best life possible.


The biggest difference between Kundalini Yoga and other forms of hatha yoga

What I can personally say about the difference between Kundalini Yoga and other flavors of Hatha Yoga (I’ve tried Vinyasa, Forrest, Ashtanga, and Iyengar) is that the latter group helped me transcend life’s stressors. My stress cup overfloweth at the time, and I was blessed to have found it. Kundalini Yoga then helped me thrive. It’s the next step. It catapulted me into better versions of myself. 

Does this open up more questions for you? Find a kundalini yoga studio near you and give it a try. Or, check out HealedLovedFed where you can practice with a handful of others via Zoom and get the proper support you need as you recalibrate into your next most radiant self. 


Love, Savitree


(much like this blog post!)