Kundalini Yoga for Beginners
For a while now we've been working with Freediving World Champion Sara Campbell in support of her wonderful new series introducing Yoga for Freediving. The latest module, "Manage Your Mind" released today, draws strongly on her expertise in Kundalini yoga to highlight some of the mental difficulties, and solutions to them, which we can encounter through the practise of Kundalini. For many of us new to Kundalini yoga, all that heavy breathing, chanting and meditation can be a little bit mysterious but as a Kundalini Yoga instructor and world-class freediver, Sara is ideally placed to show us the way. She's helped us put together a bite-sized introducion to this beautiful and useful discipline. Sat Nam, and enjoy!
1. What is Kundalini Yoga?
It’s known as the yoga of latent spiritual awareness, which is a bit title to live up to. Basically is means that Kundalini yoga is the best way to get in touch with ourselves. This means that it not only gives us those moments of ‘Aha – I was meant to be a freediving instructor, not stuck in an office for the rest of my life!’, it also gives us the power and the courage to step outside of our comfort zone to take ourselves where we really are meant to be going. Be prepared for some pretty drastic lifestyle changes once you start practicing (I was a PR girl in London 12 years ago!). They can come thick and fast!
2. I thought yoga was all about bending and stretching, what’s going on here?
Well, because we’re working on connecting to who we really are, it doesn’t matter if we can touch our toes or do a perfect headstand. What matters is whether we are willing to confront the thoughts and beliefs that hold us back in life, in order to start living in line with our destiny. It sounds big, and it is!
3. Can I get the same benefit just by hyperventilating?
The powerful pranayama (hyperventilation) in Kundalini yoga is designed to be used with the different postures, mantras, visualisations etc. Hyperventilation on its own will help to rapidly cleanse and re-energise the blood and therefore the whole body, but hyperventilation on its own misses out the sacred link to the spirit, where we get the opportunity to see ourselves far more clearly in the altered state of consciousness that we create.
4. Can you summarise the ideas of the positive, negative and neutral minds?
The common mistake is to presume that the ‘positive’ is the good, the ‘negative’ is the bad, and the neutral is just a bit boring. All three aspects are given to us to help us function in some way; the positive, or expansive, mind to motivate and inspire us; the negative to keep us safe; and the neutral to find peace and balance. They each can get out of balance though, either becoming too strong or too weak. If the positive gets too strong we become over-ambitious and set crazy targets which are way out of reach (and can be dangerous), if it’s too weak we lack motivation to do anything and would rather stay at home and watch Netflix. If the negative gets too strong, we are overly fearful and cautious, worry about things which will never even happen and so keep ourselves wrapped up in cotton wool, and if it’s too weak, we become reckless and take massive risks irrespective of what might happen. The neutral mind is where these two find their balance – we can observe and assess the risks and rewards in a given situation and make a conscious decision on how to act accordingly. In the case of freediving, finding our balance in the neutral mind is where we dive conservatively but without letting fears get the better of us, so that we progress steadily and without injury.
5. I’m a spearfisher, what use is Kundalini to me?
As a spearo I guess your aim is to dive longer, deeper and to catch more, or larger, more challenging fish. If we take the fish out of the equation, the challenge is the same as for all freedivers – to expand our capacity in the water, and remain safe.
Kundalini helps us all to expand our potential in any direction we choose – so when spearos work on the mind, face their fears, weigh up the risks, increase their strength, flexibility, energy (prana), and breathhold capacity, all of which Kundalini helps us to do, they will find that they are better able to achieve their targets, safely.
Also, this may not be a goal of many spearos right now, but practicing yoga (of any kind) also increases our awareness of the interconnectivity of life. I would personally therefore hope to see spearos hunting for sustenance, rather than hunting for the thrill of the kill – take what they genuinely need and respect Nature and Life and leave the rest of the fish to swim another day ☺
Photo by Embah Safari