Kundalini Yoga (Sanskrit kundalini-yoga), also known as laya yoga, is a school of yoga. Based on a 1935 treatise by Sivananda Saraswati, kundalini yoga was influenced by the tantra and shakta schools of Hinduism.
Kundalini yoga derives its name through a focus on awakening kundalini energy through regular practice of meditation, pranayama, chanting mantra and yoga asana.
Called by practitioners “the yoga of awareness”, it aims “to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others.”
“Kundalini Yoga” is based on the treatise Kundalini Yoga by Sivananda Saraswati, published in 1935. Swami Sivananda introduced “Kundalini yoga” as a part of Laya yoga. Together with other currents of Hindu revivalism and Neo-Hinduism, Kundalini Yoga became popular in 1960s to 1980s western counterculture.
In 1968 Kundalini Yoga was introduced to the US by Yogi Bhajan who founded the “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization” (3HO) as a teaching organization. While Yoga practice and philosophy is generally considered a part of Hindu culture, Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan is founded on the principles of Sikh Dharma.
Although it adheres to the three pillars of Patanjali’s traditional yoga system: discipline, self-awareness and self-dedication (Patanjali Yoga Sutras, II:1), Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan does not condone extremes of asceticism or renunciation. Practitioners are encouraged to marry, establish businesses, and be fully engaged in society.
Rather than worshiping God, Yogi Bhajan’s teachings encourage students to train their mind to experience God. Yogi Bhajan sometimes referred to the Sikh lifestyle as Raja Yoga, the yoga of living detached, yet fully engaged in the world.
In respect of the rigor of his teachings, Yogi Bhajan found kinship with other 20th century Sikh sadhu saints, such as Sant Baba Attar Singh, Sant Baba Nand Singh, and Bhai Randhir Singh. In the outreach of his teachings, Yogi Bhajan’s contributions are unparalleled in modern times.
In addition to inspiring the founding numerous yoga studios and centers of practice across the US. Kundalini Yoga continues to grow in influence and popularity largely in the Americas, Europe, South Africa, Togo, Australia, and East Asia.