Kundalini Yoga uses a combination of posture, breath, sound and hand mudras which form a recipe of movement, and sound called a Kriya. Kriya means action, and it is the action and process of the Kriya that leads to a manifestation of heart centred desires.
A Kriya initiates a sequence of physical and mental changes affecting the body, mind, and spirit. The following postures are some of the basics which provide benefits to body, mind and spirit, and while they are not a Kriya, you will find Easy Pose is the standard position for most meditations, and Corpse Pose is excellent any time of the day or night! Downward Dog and Cat/Cow postures are also great if you just want to move your spine and give your whole body a fantastic stretch without doing a full Kriya.
Note: It is recommended to follow a Kriya in its entirety, ensuring you tune in with the Adi Mantra "Ong namo guru dev namo" repeated three times before beginning a Kriya. Yogi Bhajan stressed the importance of keeping the teachings as given, except for reducing the timing of postures when necessary.
Cross the legs comfortably at the ankles or both feet on the floor, pressing the lower spine forward to keep the back straight. You may be more advanced and be able to access half lotus (image shown) or full lotus (which places each ankle on the opposite thigh).
Easy pose is a simple position that strengthens the back and stretches the knees and ankles while opening the hips, groin, and outer thigh muscles. Sitting upright with your spine aligned can reduce stress and anxiety.
Hands shoulder distance apart (or wider) with feet as wide as your yoga mat, keeping the weight in the legs by pressing into the base of each finger. Straighten your arms and rotate your triceps in towards each other. Your heels don't need to touch the floor, yoga a journey, not a destination. You can warm your hamstrings and calves by bending the knees and alternate pressing one heel towards the floor at a time. Relax your head and neck, and breathe long and deep into your navel point.
Downward dog aids digestion, strengthens the entire nervous system and relaxes the major muscle groups of the body.
Start on your hands and knees in a "tabletop" position with your knees directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders in alignment, perpendicular to the floor. Head is neutral, eyes are closed focused at your third eye. Exhale and round your spine toward the ceiling, keeping your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor bringing your chin to your chest. Inhale into Cow, exhale into Cat. To end the posture, come back to neutral "tabletop" position on your hands and knees.
The benefits of Cat posture is detailed below under Cow pose.
Start on your hands and knees in a "tabletop" position with your knees directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders in alignment, perpendicular to the floor. Head is neutral, eyes are closed focused at your third eye. Inhale and lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight ahead, with eyes closed, focused at Third Eye. Inhale into Cow, exhale into Cat, and continue the motion. To end the posture, come back to neutral "tabletop" position on your hands and knees.
Cat and Cow postures are used as a combined asana, which helps transform the sexual energy of the Sacral Chakra (second chakra) and the digestive energy of the Solar Plexus Chakra (third chakra) while stimulating the main nerves that are regulated through the lower cervical vertebra.
It might seem simple, but laying down and resting your entire body on the floor can be a difficult pose for some. Extend your arms out 45deg from your side palms facing upwards. Relax your legs outward from the torso evenly and symmetrically. Mentally scan your body from head to feet, releasing each body part and each muscle group, taking time to notice all the places where the body is making contact with the floor.
The Kundalini yoga description for corpse pose includes the request to relax, become weightless and float into the blue ethers. The benefits of corpse pose include relieving pressure and releasing tension. If corpse pose is difficult or uncomfortable you can use body props so you can relax, be patient, and be kind to yourself.
These basic postures and their benefits are just some of the many and varied postures you will experience when practicing a Kundalini Yoga Kriya.
We will end with a quote from Yogi Bhajan:
“There's nothing which can be more precious in you than your relationship with your own consciousness.”