Kundalini yoga is an ancient form of yoga that has only been practiced in the west relatively recently. In 1969, Yogi Bhajan founded 3HO (the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) to introduce Kundalini to a broader population. Although Kundalini had not previously been taught to the public, Yogi Bhajan felt that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy its benefits.
The Kundalini is untapped energy (prana) at the base of the spine that can be drawn up through the body awakening each of the seven chakras. Full enlightenment occurs when this energy reaches the Crown Chakra. Kundalini energy is often represented as a snake coiled at the base of the spine.
Each Kundalini Yoga asana series is done in conjunction with a specific breath that intensifies the effects of the poses with the purpose of freeing energy in the lower body and allowing it to move upwards. Kundalini sequences (called kriyas) may consist of rapid, repetitive movements done with breath or holding a pose while breathing in a particular way.
A Kundalini class begins with a short chant followed by a warm-up to stretch the spine and improve flexibility. The main work of the class is called a kriya, which is a proscribed sequence of poses and pranayama that focuses on a specific area of the body. The teacher typically does not make manual adjustments. The class ends with a meditation, which may be accompanied by the teacher playing a large gong, and a closing song.