Kundalini is the word. Kundalini. It’s been said that it’s the mother of all yogas and you’ll notice as you are practicing it that it does feel very holistic because we use posture, stretching, and some of the Asanas that you do will be familiar. We also work a lot with breath and breath is not a separate Prana exercise, but in conjunction with the exercises. We also work a lot with sound and mantra and meditation and relaxation. So it really works on all the different parts of yourself. So it is not just an exercise class. It is not just a meditation class but it’s kind of everything all together.
Kundalini yoga is one of those things that the upper caste system guarded very jealously. So you could only learn Kundalini yoga if you were on the Brahman caste. And you were chosen to have a teacher, be initiated into that path. Nobody else could learn it. What was developed for kind of everybody else was Hatha yoga, which, like Kundalini yoga, works on moving the energy from the base of the spine where a creative potential is held and gets it circulating through the chakras so we have access to it. The only difference is that it takes a lot longer.
It’s said that practicing Kundalini yoga for 90 days is equal to practicing a Hatha yoga for 20 years. So it’s for those people that just like to work fast, that’s great. And it is very effective and all the forms of yoga are very wonderful. It is just kind of finding where you resonate with; but that is just a little bit of history of Kundalini yoga. So you may be wondering after I said all that after being secret, you have to be somebody really special to practice Kundalini. How is it that we are practicing it here?
My teacher Yogi Budgen was one of those privilege people. He grew up in India. He belonged to a very wealthy family and they just kind of saw his potential at a young age and sent him to study with a teacher. Then when he was sixteen, his teacher said to him, “You are the master now.” So he proceeded to very much develop himself as a yogi and also had a pretty normal life. He got married, had children. He worked for the Indian government and then he was approached by the Russian government in ’60s.
During the whole time he was known for his yogic powers that he had. The Russian government was interested in having him work in para-psychology programs. He didn’t feel like it was going to be used for benevolent purposes, so he said, “I don’t think this is a good idea.” He had a friend who worked in the Canadian government and he said, “You know, why don’t you come and work over here.” He also had a vision that he was going to be teaching Kundalini yoga to Westerners. Although he thought maybe it would be some westerners who would be staying in the airport or something [laughs].
He didn’t know he’d be coming here. So he ended up in the west, Actually ended up in UCLA teaching, and this was in 1969. Some of you may be old enough to remember 1969–I do. He was looking around at the young people around in 1969 and he was like “Ay-yai-yai”. He said, “These kids are really searching for something, and they are intelligent, and they have a lot going on, and they’re stoned out of their minds. I don’t think they’ve had bath in a week,” and he said, “I think they really need to know Kundalini yoga.”
And he started teaching it publicly for the first time ever. He got a lot of flack for that actually, but he felt that in the times that we live in, it’s just no longer appropriate to have like, secret societies and secret initiations. The tools to be healthy and happy should be always available for whoever wants to learn them.