The Healing Benefits of Kundalini Yoga: Mind, Body, & Spirit

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The ancient techniques of Kundalini Yoga, with its unique combination of movement, breath work, mantra, and meditation, can help quiet an overstimulated nervous system, improve overall well-being, and lead to a sense of peace and ease.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has been the collective experience of fear, separation, limitation, and isolation. In addition, job loss, compromised education, economic instability, and unexpected loss of loved ones has created a psychological environment prime for chronic anxiety and depression for people in all stages of life, from young children to the elderly. Oftentimes, during the darkest hour of desperation, one is more inclined to consider applying somewhat unconventional methods to seek safe, sustainable relief.

To many of us who practice yoga regularly, it makes sense to seek relief from mental health challenges through yoga. However, in a culture that often turns toward pills, quick fixes, and celebrity-endorsed gimmicks, it seems unlikely to consider that something as simple as adding yoga into your routine can help you rise above depression, anxiety, disease, and health challenges. It seems too good to be true that yoga can make such a profound impact upon one’s health and quality of life.

Elevated Perspective

I have been practicing yoga for many years. I began my journey practicing Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga, through which many shifts unfolded in my life. By improving my flexibility and creating a deeper connection to my breath, I felt greater relief from stress and anxiety.

A few years into my practice, I was introduced to Kundalini Yoga and it was a complete game changer. When I connected with people who had a regular practice of Kundalini Yoga, it was evident to me that they had uncovered something unique within themselves from participating in the practice. Each person had an aura of peace and contentment about themselves. I sensed they were tapped into something that allowed them the ability to see and experience life from an elevated perspective.

The practice of Kundalini Yoga works to enhance our experience of living as human beings through applying some foundational elements of the practice: kriya (movement), breath, sound, and meditation. The combination of these elements serves to bring us into a balanced and harmonious state of being. They enhance physical health by clearing the energy channels of the body, oxygenating the blood, purifying the organs, activating the glandular system, reestablishing balance, and removing impurities from the body.

This process also has a profound effect on the experience and quality of the mind and emotional well-being. A consistent Kundalini Yoga practice brings us to a state of optimum health and serves as a preventative process to maintain health of mind, body, and spirit through the course of one’s lifetime.

The Nervous System

The unique combination of repetitive movements followed by periods of stillness in Kundalini Yoga serves to re-educate the nervous system. At a foundational level, it is believed that much of the physical and mental disease in our lives is rooted in chronic stress. Chronic stress is evidence of an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system, which is composed of two parts: the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest).

In our modern world, we are overstimulated and the nervous system is chronically activated in a state of “fight or flight”. This heightened state becomes habituated within the nervous system, glandular system, and the mind itself. We find ourselves unable to relax, stressed, anxious, and exhausted.

When we are unable to relax, the balance of the nervous system is lost and the body becomes addicted to adrenaline, the hormone that facilitates the fight or flight response. Digestion, healing, and sexual functions, which are related to the rest and digest process, are consistently compromised and disabled. Breathing is chronically shallow and disease soon sets in when we are in a habitually activated state. If these issues go unaddressed at their foundational level, the tendency toward mental dysfunction, sleep disturbance, depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, digestive issues, and chronic disease increases.

In addition to the profound benefits brought to the nervous system as a result of a regular Kundalini Yoga practice, the practice has also been touted to bring relief to symptoms of: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), addiction, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), insomnia, chronic fatigue, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and anxiety.

Reeducating Our Being

Kundalini Yoga serves as a reeducation process for the nervous system and brings relief to the aforementioned issues. The practice of Kundalini Yoga reestablishes a stability and resilience in the nervous system and promotes a balanced expression of glandular secretions in the body, not just the ones that support the stress response, but also those that support relaxation, connection, digestion, sexual functions, sleep cycles, and overall well-being.

When this level of rebalancing the life force is revitalized, the blood is oxygenated, the organs are refreshed and purified, the muscles and tissues are able to heal and renew at a quicker rate, the mind is more balanced, the emotions are stabilized, harmony is reestablished, and the whole manner of our being is renewed and upgraded. We can then begin to thrive.

Kirtan Kriya

One of the most widely recognized studies that exemplifies the power and benefits of Kundalini Yoga is detailed in a study conducted on one of the most popular Kundalini Yoga meditation techniques called Kirtan Kriya. UCLA, U Penn, and the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Organization (ARPF) have all conducted studies on the profound healing and preventative neural benefits of practicing the Kirtan Kriya. Practicing Kirtan Kriya meditation for 11 minutes a day for 11 weeks resulted in: improved memory, reduced stress and anxiety, enhanced blood flow to the brain, down-regulation of genes that cause disease, as well as up-regulation of genes that promote immunity, improved sleep, and improved sense of clarity and spiritual well-being.

On the Horizon

To this day, the impact of practicing Kundalini Yoga still amazes me. One of the most mysterious and unexplainable outcomes of Kundalini Yoga is we can reclaim balance and health at the foundational level so we can open up spiritually. When we bring balance into the nervous system, glandular system, and physical body, we awaken the heart and spirit. Through the maintenance of our health and employing self-care through mindfulness and yogic practices, we can begin to understand what it truly is to be spiritual beings having a human experience.

Join me for Season 3 of Kundalini Rising on Yoga Anytime for Kirtan Kriya and seven other classes focused on mental health and reclaiming balance and stability in our being.

Kara Looney
About the Author

Kara Looney

Kara Looney is an enthusiastic and curious teacher, always endeavoring to unveil the interplay between the practical science of the material world and the expansive infinity of divine consciousness. A yoga teacher and former martial arts instructor and long distance runner, Kara guides students and clients to strengthening the nervous system, cultivating a clear sense of present awareness, and developing spiritual sovereignty. You can practice with Kara in her show Sacred Kundalini and in Season 3 of Kundalini Rising, on Yoga Anytime.


Comments

Diane C
2 people like this.
Thank you Kara for sharing your wisdom and passion for Kundalini Yoga. I am forever grateful and am a loyal follower of your yoga sessions. I have felt a sense of peace, as well as many other benefits, as I practiced with you online during the pandemic. Countless thanks. Sat nam.
Kara L
1 person likes this.
Diane C apologies for the delayed response - I’ve only just now seen your beautiful and heartwarming message. I’m so happy my classes help bring you deeper into your authentic self.  It’s been a pleasure to stay in contact with you during these past few months! I look forward to more wonderful interactions 🙏

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