It is important to distinguish kundalini yoga from kundalini energy. Since Yogi Bhajan brought his style of yoga to the West and created a worldwide organization, the term “kundalini yoga” is heard more commonly than “kundalini energy.”


Kundalini energy is the supreme internal energy of human life with a core orientation around the spine. A transmutation process brings physical energy from the base of the spine upwards into the brain where the energy is changed to psychic and spiritual energy. There are numerous expressions of kundalini energy and several systematic ways to work with kundalini energy.


Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan is a very effective and a very disciplined approach to working with kundalini energy. Basically this yoga can be described as a physical yoga (i.e. a body oriented yoga as opposed to a mental yoga, such as raja yoga), which is similar to hatha yoga postures but with the addition of repetitive movements coordinated by breath. The repetitive movements can be done quite fast and the breath can be done very powerfully so that the effect is generally more demanding than many hatha yoga styles. The final breath for each posture is usually the very rapid “breath of fire.”


The purpose of a kundalini yoga set is to create a pyramid for the rising kundalini energy. The final posture is a sitting position in meditation. Here, the pyramid’s base is formed by the triangle of the base of the spine and the knees of crossed legs with resting hands and the pyramid’s apex is the third eye in the cranium and at the forehead. This approach creates a very controlled and easy to manage structure for the release of kundalini energy.


Yogi Bhajan came from India and first started teaching in Los Angles, but within a year or so he established his headquarters in Espanola, New Mexico in the Rio Grande Valley surrounded by the mountains of northern New Mexico. His organization—the 3HO Foundation (Holy, Healthy and Happy Organization)—developed into a worldwide establishment with ashrams in most large cities of the world. His teachings were based on the Sikh faith and his followers who lived at the ashrams were easily recognized around town by their white clothing and turbans. Nearly all of the ashrams offered kundalini yoga classes to the local community either at the ashram or at another local venue.


While I was living in the Espanola Valley in New Mexico, I studied the 3HO Foundation’s kundalini yoga nearly continuously between 1971 and 1979. When I moved to Albuquerque, I took kundalini yoga classes first at the local ashram and later at a Sikh’s yoga studio on Central Avenue, where I also took a teacher training program. While my regular attendance of Sikh kundalini yoga classes ended in 1984, I was able to participate in some 3HO yoga classes while I was living or staying in Hong Kong, Philadelphia, London and Santa Fe. Up to the present, I have used kundalini yoga in a consistent daily practice as a prelude to meditation.


I never studied Yogi Bhajan’s teachings on the Sikh religion, only his yoga. The two are really quite separate things.


The Yoga of Vital Connections is a system I have developed for community classes where students do not want to enjoin the rigors of a standard Kundalini Yoga set.