I did Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa’s KUNDALINI YOGA tape last night. An old favorite of mine was her CHAKRA YOGA video, and I ended up being very influenced by Gurmukh and Kundalini in my yoga teaching, although I was trained at Kripalu in hatha yoga. Kundalini yoga differs from most hatha yoga offered in the United States in its focused attempt on bringing energy upward. Kundalini is the practice of bringing the Shakti energy at the base of the spine, (the root chakra) coiled like a serpent, up to the higher Shiva energy at the crown chakra at the top of the head. A Kundalini awakening can lead to self-realization.
To support the rising of energy, poses are performed dynamically, quickly with vigorous breathing, which I understand scientists have observed alters the brain chemistry. I went through the practice with my beginning-runners mind rather than my old-yoga-teacher’s mind.
When I run I go through a lot of mental resistance. “It’s cold!” “I’m tired already, I can’t do 3 more miles!” “This is pointless. I give up!” Jeff Galloway would say that this is the left brain, and he offers many tips on tricking the right brain to take over during the endurance run. He and many others abduct the spiritual practice of ‘mantra’ for running, so why not look at other spiritual practices which strengthen the whole being, body, and soul? I think Kundalini yoga can really train the brain and nervous system for the resilience needed in the long distance run. It is designed to, in a sense, challenge the brain. It’s use of vigorous breathing immediately places the body in a state that is reminiscent of the vigor of a run. I felt I was ‘rehearsing’, something Galloway advocates mentally.
I am going to try to incorporate more Kundalini yoga into my weekly schedule, and see how this shows up in my running life. And my spiritual life.