Origins of Kundalini Yoga and Yogi Bhajan

Q: ..was yogi Bahjan just a very smart charismatic man, filling a gap in our western world by introducing a yoga style that he invented and matched our needs and lifestyles very well, or did he really bring an existing type of yoga to the west that had been practiced for thousands of years in this particular way?"

A: The answer is both. In its present context, Kundalini Yoga could be considered an inner school of Sikhism in much the same way as Kabbalah is an inner school of Judaism. Many of the mantras, meditations, and breathing practices in Kundalini Yoga were practiced and taught in the lineage of the 10 Sikh Gurus of the Sikh tradition who were yogis extraordinairre. There is documented evidence in the Siri Guru Granth (the Holy book of the Sikhs) and other writings that some of the meditations in Kundalini Yoga were taught and practiced in that tradition. These techniques are verbatim or updated versions of more ancient traditions, some possibly dating back to before history as we know it.

For instance So Darshan Chakra Kriya, one of the premier meditations in Kundalini Yoga, which was practiced and written about by a Sikh Poet/Saint Jaidev, is based on an ancient Brahmin purification technique.

Yogi Bhajan said he learned Kundalini Yoga from both his grandfather, and his Teachers Virsa Singh and Sant Hazara Singh. We have found much documentation on Virsa Singh. He was quite an amazing Teacher. He passed on a couple of years ago but you can google his name to find out more about him. In the very early days of Yogi Bhajan's sojourn to the West, Yogi Bhajan used to have Virsa Singh's sandals on his altar.

One can find elements of Kundalini Yoga and vice versa, in many of the yogic traditions in India. For instance, there are some physical elements of Kundalini Yoga taught by the Bihar school of yoga, these include doing Breath of Fire (Bhastrika) in various poses and holding poses for extended periods.

There is a book called Tibetan Yoga, edited by Evans Wentz, which makes reference to Kundalini Yoga and which translates writings describing some techqniues which bear a resemblance to some of the kinds of things Yogi Bhajan taught.

With regard to Kundalini Yoga taught by Yoga Bhajan, it is a combination of yoga and meditation which Yoga Bhajan learned from his Teachers, traditional sources, as well as things that he created or updated using what he had learned as templates.

Basically, in researching Kundalini Yoga, you will see tantalizing clues in many traditions. Yogi Bhajan's pulled a lot of things together and packaged them in a way that can be practiced by regular people. We feel that Yogi Bhajan was quite a genius in many areas of yoga and spirituality but that he also had a very human side. Sometimes it's very difficult to reconcile those two poles, but if you look at any great person in history you will invariably find that same duality. That tension is often what fuels innovation.

We feel the bottom line is that Kundalini Yoga is the right thing at the right time and will make a positive difference in the lives of millions of people. Kundalini Yoga's development, we feel, is a work in progress and it is inevitable that it will continue to be utilized by many people because it works in ways that nothing else can quite so well.