Kundalini Yoga is considered to be the mother of all yogas. It integrates the whole repertoire of yogic teaching all at once into the first class in such a way that a novice can easily follow along and benefit while an advanced practitioner goes deeper at the same time. One way of thinking about the yogic teachings is to relate to them as a tree. From this view, there are eight primary limbs to the tree (Patanjali's sutras).
- Samadhi: awakening and absorption in spirit. Ecstasy rising into silence and the absorption thereof: the compensation which cancels it.
- Dhyana: deep meditation. Union of the ego and the non-ego, and a loss of the sense of time and space and causality.
- Dharana: one-pointed concentration
- Pratyhara: synchronization of senses and thoughts
- Pranayama: control of life force, particularly through breath.
- Asana: postures for health and meditation
- Niyama: five disciplines
- Shauca: purity
- Santosha: contentment
- Tapas: purification and zeal
- Svadhyaya: study
- Ishvara pranidhana: devotion and surrender
- Yama: five restraints - avoiding that which distracts the mind during meditation. These are general guidelines that must be made specific to the individual.
- Ahimsa: no hurting
- Satya: no lying
- Asteya: no stealing
- Brahmacharya: sensory control
- Aparigraha: no possessiveness and nor greediness
Most forms of yoga offered in the West focus on the asanas or physical postures. Some include instruction on Pranayama or breathing techniques. The rest of the limbs are ignored. With Kundalini Yoga there is at least the attempt to integrate and teaching all of these inclusive as a whole.
Another interesting differentiation with Kundalini Yoga and other forms is that Kundalini Yoga is intended for people who live in the world, have families and businesses. It maximizes time to get the greatest impact in the least amount of time. It is grounding in its sound current frequencies such that your worldly possessions don't have a tendency leave you or break. It emphasizes eating foods that stimulate sexual energy and putting it to good use as oppose to avoiding them so as not to have to deal with sexual energy.
In terms of relating to other forms of yoga and how there are taught, some simple statements can be made about Kundalini Yoga classes. There is a strong focus on breathing techniques and how to breathe properly in general. Movement and breath are often integrated. While Kundalini Yoga can be taught in a physically rigorous manner, it is often pretty low impact physically using postures that rarely if ever cause injury or require great flexibility. However, if you want to know what it can be like the other way and you have the opportunity to attend one of Gurmukh's classes, she will kick your ass.
Kundalini Yoga is also thought of as the yoga of awareness. When some of the finer qualities of the teachings are put to use, the practitioner develops a sense of body awareness that eventually expands to greater and greater external territory. Or another way of putting it is that as Kundalini, the creative potential of a human being awakens, the energy of the glandular system combines with the nervous system to create such a sensitivity that the brain in its totality receives signals and integrates them. A new clarity accompanies perception, thought and intuition. This allows for a greater understanding of effect and impact at the beginning of a sequence of action and reaction. The opportunity for choice to take action or not based on intuition becomes stronger. In this way, a person becomes totally aware.