“With countless retreats to choose from and numerous yoga styles to explore, for me nothing hits the holistic healing spot like Kundalini yoga.” Nancy Zabaneh
An accredited Kundalini yoga teacher and holistic healing devotee, Nancy Zabaneh explores this ancient practice. By combining movement, conscious breath, sound (mantra), eye focus and meditation to relieve stress, this practice increases vitality, balances the mind and uplifts the spirit, to enhance concentration and self-awareness.
#1 Nervous System Adjustment
In this hectic world, time is scarce so Yogi Bhajan, the spiritual teacher who popularised Kundalini in the West, shared the practice as the ultimate mind-body wellness tool, helping practitioners of any age and ability to stay strong no matter what.
YOU ARE AS YOUNG AS YOUR SPINE
The practice is less about executing artistically complex postures; it’s more about extending flexibility. After all, when travelling on short retreats, it is imperative that the activity of choice works quickly.
On the mat, Kundalini challenges the nervous system, whilst working the lymphatic, circulatory and glandular systems. It tests us, daring us to connect with our breath, courage and power.
By becoming aware of our reserves in this practice, we learn to access them on command. When we challenge and strengthen our inner capacities, the outside world becomes significantly easier to navigate.
In essence, Kundalini yoga provides a rapid nervous system adjustment, an ideal choice of activity when frazzled, undernourished and longing for a reset. We learn to elevate ourselves so that we can respond to the immense demands of life from a place of consciousness, grace and self-mastery.
#2 Makes Your Mind Work For You
In Kundalini Yoga we chant mantra. Mantra gives the mind something to focus on, rearranging neural mapping to feel our best. Since mantra is made up of sound codes that help break old patterns, this creates room to establish new ones. In turn, negative self-talk is transformed to transcend self-limitations. Mantra makes even silent meditations more accessible and blissful. In essence, chanting mantra can take us from low spirits to high, can be the tool that helps us clear our old, seemingly impossible patterns or can simply be a way to experience joy and bliss by letting the voice flow freely. Listening to the sound of your own voice is a big part of this:
“Chanting and listening to the chant at the same time engages the higher consciousness, the circulatory system and the nervous system. When you develop this listening power, you will be able to analyze what is good for you and what is not…” Yogi Bhajan
On retreat, when combining mantra with dynamic movement and conscious breathwork the effects are felt immediately. This unlocks inner pathways to self-realization unobstructed by the mind. Learning to make the mind our servant instead of our master is fundamental to living our best life.
#3 Conscious Breathing Heals
Kundalini yoga emphasises pranayama (breath exercises). The breath is vital to healing, metabolism, integration and relaxation. Even though breathing is the most natural reflex, conscious breathing can be tough. When altering the breath, we begin to oppose and release the habitual patterns of emotion and attention that are coded in our habits of body and mind. By commanding the breath, we foster greater ease and control when directing the mind.
Breathing correctly and deeply in daily life increases our inner energy reserves. Many of us tend to breathe small and shallow, contracting and even halting the breath in times of stress. This lack of oxygen and increased tension hinders the flow of blood, nutrients and vital energy, weakening the nervous system and fueling an environment ripe for illness. In addition, when we constrict or stop our breath, we lose touch with what is happening in the present moment and instead focus too much in the head, getting stuck in the past and the future. We lose the freedom, joy, and expansiveness that are natural when we are relaxed in our breath and connected to our body awareness. By directing our consciousness back to the breath, we can learn to let go of tension and trauma, relinquishing the body armor we build up to shield ourselves from a more natural and healthy flow of life. Breathing is regenerative and restorative, cleansing us of toxins that have built up in the body and mind.
On retreat, practitioners learn to breathe in ways that raise energy, increase clarity and invite peace of mind. As the body receives more oxygen and life force energy, it will self-regulate and regenerate, storing vital energy and accelerating the healing process. As we learn to build this energy, we automatically welcome more flow into our lives.