Kundalini yoga is believed to be the pathway to enlightenment through accessing the energy (prana) from the sacrum or lower spinal area. By clearing the way for this energy through the asanas (postures), breathing techniques (pranayama), finger positions (mudras), chanting (mantras) and body locks (bandhas), the student of kundalini yoga can access this chakra, envisioned as a sleeping, coiled-up serpent, which allows for a greater consciousness and increased perception of the everyday world. Indeed, this serpent chakra has been called the primal life force that ultimately connects the individual to the universal.
Through kundalini yoga, the blockages in the way of accessing this energy are removed through kriyas. Kriyas can take the form of long, sounded-out chants that make the body vibrate while performing the asanas. Controlled and sustained breathing comes into play when performing the mantras. Accessing this energy, through kundalini yoga, also involves working with bandhas, some of which resemble kegel exercises that regulate urinary flow. The mudras, or finger positions, allow the student to sustain poses longer by holding onto the extremities, such as the toes, or lifting the body from the floor with the palms.
Kundalini yoga has many advanced mudras and bandhas that are combined and should only be practiced by experienced students under the advice and guidance of a yoga master. Yogi Bhajan introduced this mystical form of yoga to Westerners in 1969 at a time when young people were looking for alternative ways to develop consciousness; since then, kundalini yoga has become a lifestyle for people throughout the world. Kundalini yoga considers the entire person and their choices, from the type of clothing worn (white is preferred as it combines all colors of the eight chakras), to advocating a lacto-vegetarian diet for more energy and improved sleep. Kundalini yoga followers also believe in the importance of seva (self-less service) to show compassion and caring to others, which leads to emotional well-being and good karma.