What Is Kundalini Meditation?

If you need a new way to stay calm (raises hand!), the ancient practice of Kundalini meditation may help.

If you feel anxious right now, honestly, who could blame you? A worldwide pandemic, political insurrection, social isolation — the world feels like a pretty rough place right now. You're not alone if you're struggling to find ways to cope with the uncertainty. While yoga, meditation, and therapy are still great options to calm nerves and ease anxiety, it's possible you need something a little different to get you through your days currently.

I'm usually pretty good about trying to focus on the positive and controlling my anxiety, but the longer the pandemic goes on, the more I worry. After all, anxiety feeds off uncertainty, and pretty much nothing feels certain at the moment. And while I typically meditate every single day, I recently found that I was struggling to concentrate and my mind kept wandering —something I hadn't experienced much since my early days of meditation as a beginner.

Then I discovered Kundalini meditation.

What Is Kundalini Meditation?

Upon doing some research, I came across a type of meditation called Kundalini meditation, which has unknown origins but is said it be one of the oldest forms of yoga (we're talking B.C. dates). The premise of Kundalini meditation is the belief that everyone has extremely powerful coiled energy (Kundalini means 'coiled snake' in Sanskrit) at the base of the spine. Through breathwork and meditation, it's thought that you can uncoil this energy, which will help reduce stress and unlock your full potential.

"It's about creating this container of energy and helping tap into your highest self," says Erika Polsinelli, a Kundalini meditation teacher and founder of Evolve by Erika, a virtual community providing Kundalini meditation and yoga videos and private classes. "Through breathwork, Kundalini yoga poses, mantras, and active meditation, you can help shift your limited mindset and work to manifest whatever it is you desire." (

Kundalini meditation is more active than traditional meditation with an emphasis on alignment and breath, says spiritual life coach Ryan Haddon, who's been practicing Kundalini mediation and yoga for more than 16 years. "It purifies, stimulates, and strengthens by unblocking all systems of the body, opening the practitioner up to inner creative energy," she explains. Think breaths that go on for several counts, holding yoga poses, affirmations and mantras, and playing with the location of your gaze: All of these are components of Kundalini meditation and can be used interchangeably with a session or various sessions, depending on your goal.

The Benefits of Kundalini Meditation

Due to its diverse series of movements and breathwork, Kundalini meditation can be used to aid a wide variety of emotions, including sadness, stress, and fatigue. "Personally, when I started in my Kundalini meditation journey, I realized I finally felt calm for the first time in my life," says Polsinelli, who used to suffer from episodes of severe anxiety. "I felt really good on the days that I did it and realized I could work with the flow of the universe, rather than against it." (

Depending on what you want to achieve in your meditation practice, you could be focusing on healing past traumas, getting more energized, or fighting stress. Essentially, practitioners claim that Kundalini meditation has the ability to calm the mind, balance the nervous system, and improve cognitive function. "It can also have physical benefits, such increased flexibility, core strength, expanded lung capacity, and stress release," says Haddon.

While there haven't been too many scientific studies into the benefits of Kundalini meditation, 2017 research suggests that the meditation technique could reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, while another study from 2018 found that Kundalini yoga and meditation could improve the symptoms of GAD (generalized anxiety disorder).

What It's Like to Practice Kundalini Meditation

After learning about all these possibilities, I needed to see if this practice could be what I was missing in my own self-care routine. Soon, I found myself in a virtual, private Kundalini meditation with Polsinelli.

She started by asking me what I wanted to work on — which for me, was my anxiety about the future and constant stress. We started with the Kundalini Adi mantra (a quick prayer) to connect our breath to the practice and calm the nervous system. Then we began breathwork.

Polsinelli instructed me to keep my palms together in prayer and take five quick breaths in through the mouth followed by one long breath out through the mouth. Soft music played in the background as we repeated this breathing pattern for 10 minutes. I was encouraged to keep my spine straight so that I could access the "coiled" Kundalini energy, and my eyes were only partially closed so I could focus on my nose the entire time. This was totally different from my normal meditation practice, which was much more zen-like. Typically, my eyes stay closed, my hands rest easily on my knees, and although I focus on my breath, I don't purposefully try to change it. So, I have to say, staying still with my hands pressing together, elbows out wide, and back stick-straight without support actually hurt after a while. Being physically uncomfortable, I definitely started wondering how on earth this was supposed to be relaxing.

After a couple of minutes, though, something really cool happened: Since I was so intent on focusing on my breath, I couldn't actually focus on anything else. It's as if my mind was wiped clean, and I found that I could finally pay attention to the present moment…not the past nor the future. My arms felt a bit tingly, and my entire body started to feel warm, but not in an uncomfortable way. More so, it felt like I was finally in touch with myself. Even though several unsettling emotions, such as panic and anxiety, did come up while I was breathing, Polsinelli's soothing voice telling me to just breathe through it was exactly what I needed to keep going.

After the practice ended, we did some calming breaths and hand movements to anchor the body back to reality, as Polsinelli put it. Honestly, it felt like being on a cloud. I felt really rejuvenated as if I'd just came back from a run, but also very focused. It was the equivalent of a trip to the spa combines with an exhilarating workout class. More importantly, I was calmer, more focused on the present, and at ease throughout the next day. Even when something annoyed me, I responded with calm and logic rather than quickly reacting. It was such a change, but one that I felt somehow allowed me to become more in tune with my authentic self.

How to Try Kundalini Meditation At Home

Understanding the nuances behind Kundalini meditation can be daunting — not to mention, most people probably don't have spare hours to devote to the practice. Luckily, Polsinelli offers 3-minute guided sessions on her website that makes incorporating the technique into your daily routine more realistic. (

In addition, you can also find different Kundalini practices on YouTube, so you can choose the practice that resonates the most with you and your needs. Private (virtual or IRL) classes can also help add an extra bit of accountability if you find you need that.

"In my training, we've noticed that it's just about showing up," says Polsinelli. "A few conscious breaths are better than no breaths at all." Seems easy enough, right?

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles