Kundalini Yoga: Discovering the Yoga of Awareness

Kundalini Yoga: Discovering the Yoga of Awareness

Some of the best things in life are unexpected. For me, this is particularly true with yoga. In my pursuit of learning more about the connection of the chakras to yoga, I stumbled upon Kundalini. Likely because Kundalini (I soon learned) is the energy of the consciousness. In fact, Kundalini is Sanskrit for “snake” or “serpent power,” so-called because it is believed to lie like a serpent in the root chakra at the base of the spine.

Intrigued by the connection between energy centers and yoga, I set out to practice Kundalini yoga with the inspirational Vikki Taylor at the beautiful Divinitree Yoga and Arts Studio.

Vikki started the class with powerful Prana breath. Despite not having any coffee prior to this 8:30 am class, I was suddenly wide awake! She then guided us through a dynamic Sat Nam mantra. (This translates to Truth is my identity – which was a recurring theme throughout class.)

Rather than holding static poses, we flowed through movement sequences combining powerful breathing techniques, such as awakening the Heart of Fire, bringing heat in the naval center where the 3rd chakra resides. For much of the class, our eyes were closed, which allowed us to focus on our different chakras – and how that energy was feeling in each of their respective centers.

Vicki - Kundalini

Vicki Taylor from Divinitree Yoga and Arts Studio

I really also enjoyed how Vikki so subtly brought us to a sense of connectedness, such as reaching for the energy of the sun — and harnessing that back to our heart center. I left feeling revitalized and centered. But more importantly, connected to something bigger.

Yoga Simple had the fortunate chance to talk to Vikki who not only shared more about this special practice, but how to connect to the Infinite Divine in everyday life:

Q: How did you find Kundalini? Or did it find you? 

A: It found me.  The age old saying “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” was in force.

Q: What changes in yourself (physical, mental and spiritual) have you experienced as a result of being a Kundalini practioner (and teacher)?

A: Nothing changed about me – what changed was the way I lived my life. I became alive, joyful and authentic. I became the authentic me that I always was inside that longed for complete and outward expression. We all are called to express outwardly what we feel inside is here – why we are here on this earth.  We all are unique individuals with a gift to give and express.  Until we find that gift and find a way to express it, we will always be longing for something more.  I stopped longing because I came home.  That is the beautiful thing…we don’t really need to change our essence — we just need to find expression for it.  That is what practicing Kundalini does for everyone who commits.

The best thing I can say about Kundalini yoga and especially my personal experience is that it gives us the opportunity in this little finite physical life/body to have an experience of the infinite… we don’t have to wait for a near death experience, or a burning bush, or be in an Ashram to experience this infinite quality that we all have. We can have it right here ,now in everyday life. This practice awakens all of our senses, allowing us to be present to everything life has to offer and find Divinity in every day life.

Q: As a teacher, how do you perceive the connection/relationship of Kundalini yoga and the chakras?  

Chakras are the key to balancing our energy and emotions.  Humans are energetic beings, just like every other living thing on this planet. We are profoundly affected by all other energetic beings and very sensitive to this energy residing in the physical body on a subtle level.   As a teacher, I aspire to allow my students to feel where the energy resides in the body – where/when/how it feels good, not good, stuck, flowing, etc.  So much of our suffering is because we have not yet learned awareness of these energy centers.  Once we have this awareness and are willing to experience the different aspects of the chakras, we can begin to understand and make adjustments when we are out of balance, rather than waiting until we have a major illness, accident, meltdown, etc.

For instance, the heat in the naval center (3rd chakra representing will, power and commitment -fire energy of the lower triangle) feels totally different than the energy at the heart center (4th chakra, which represents love, compassion, forgiveness, kindness). The element in the 4th chakra is air and it produces a light feeling and a higher vibration.

I enjoy allowing students to experience the feeling of the different energy centers – they are the key to knowing ourselves, accepting ourselves and making appropriate adjustments.

I had a lot of stuck, dark energy in my root chakra (security and survival) before I started this practice.  That very first class I took was chakra intensive…we began with intense work on the root chakra – I began weeping uncontrollably as I finally understood the reason behind much of my suffering and negative behavior patterns – and discovered the healthy way to release all of that negative energy.  Prior to that first Kundalini experience, I had no idea what chakras were. That knowledge allowed me to literally change my life.

Q: How do mantras play a role in Kundalini?  

A: Mantras are my favorite part of this practice and the part that had the most profound affect on me.  For the first time in my life, after surrendering to mantra, my monkey mind (the part of us that keeps us from inner peace) was quiet.  I experienced profound clarity and connection in this quiet place.

Mantra is actually quite scientific in its real explanation of why it works, but quite infinite, divine and breath taking in the experience of where mantra can take you.  It is the place we all long for – as it is our true Divine nature.  It is our unencumbered space of Grace — that space inside where we are free from fear, criticism, judgment, anxiety, guilt, shame and the illusion of separation from source.  Here is one of my favorite quotes about mantra from The Aquarian Teacher:

Think of yourself as a Divine instrument with strings. When you chant, the vibration of the strings causes all thirty trillion cells of your body to resonate, to dance – forming patterns that shape you physically, emotionally and mentally.

Q: Where does meditation fit into the practice?  

A: I personally don’t experience meditation as fitting into the practice.  I experience meditation as the practice.  To me, there is no practice without meditation.  But meditation means different things to different people and again, is a completely individual experience. It is in the quiet, still place that we find the peace that we all long for because it is our real, true, original nature.  We don’t find that peace in chaos, over stimulation, doing too much, pushing ourselves to do more.

I always remind my students that we are not named human doings, we are named human beings! And for a good reason – we are supposed to connect in the being space more than in the doing space – contrary to what today’s society tells us.

Q: Each class is different. Do you feel that is more about your teaching different sequences, mantras and mudras – or more about the individual?

A: It is definitely about the individual – where he/she is at on their journey, how open they are that day, what called or guided them to be there determines what they will receive/experience. If we follow our inner guidance, and show up with an open heart and willing spirit, we always receive 100% of the time our highest good.  I frequently tell my students that you don’t “do” Kundalini yoga… it will “do” you.

Vikki is a living testament that it’s never too late—or too early!—to peel away the layers to discover who you truly are and what you’re here to do. To learn more about Vikki and her Healing Life Yoga practice, visit her website at healinglifeyoga.com.


Kirsten is a certified yoga instructor (E-RYT 200) living in Santa Barbara, California. When she is not practicing, writing about or teaching yoga, you can likely find Kirsten on a paddleboard or on the beach with her kids doing something silly.

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