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The ultra-spiritual yoga celebs love

Gabby Bernstein

Gabrielle Bernstein leads her students in the “Ego Eradicator” kriya.

“I’m thinking we’ll just let the vibrations flow, and it will be okay,” a young woman in a flowing white dress and turban assures a similarly-clad counterpart, who’s seated next to a giant gong. Downstairs, two women discuss how mind-blowing the previous night’s 90-minute meditation was.

This is Golden Bridge, the unofficial New York headquarters of Kundalini yoga, a practice that’s been gaining momentum lately because of LA actors like Russell Brand, Demi Moore, and Miranda Kerr, and modern spiritual guides like Gabrielle Bernstein. (In fact, its popularity with celebs has been growing for a while—Golden Bridge’s director, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, has counted Reese Witherspoon and Cindy Crawford among her fans.)

While crowd-pleasing vinyasa is still undeniably the king of western yoga, Kundalini appeals to the city woman who is sick of competing with lithe, Lulu-clad headstands and wants to delve into a deep, less physical practice.

What is Kundalini?

A class at Golden Bridge NYC.

A class at Golden Bridge NYC.

Kundalini is a yogic term for energy that’s “coiled” at the bottom of the spine, and practicing Kundalini yoga, which was brought to the U.S. in its current form in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan, is said to bring that energy to life in the body.

In class, you won’t flow through sun salutations. Instead, you’ll alternate between chanting, breathing exercises, singing (yes, actual singing), meditation, and physical sequences called kriyas. (In my class, one kriya involved approximately one million squats, over and over. Another was rocking forward and back in Bow pose for an interminable amount of time.) Teachers sit at the front of the room throughout, wearing white to expand their auras, and with their heads covered, as they believe closing off the crown chakra helps them harness their own Kundalini energy.

Class, of course, is just the beginning. Kundalini resembles a religion in the comprehensiveness of its teachings (astrological concepts abound) and practices (from diet to serving others). God is a word you’ll hear often.

Who’s it for?

Most Kundalini devotees fall hard and fast. “Within the first ten minutes, I thought, ‘this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,’” says Gabrielle Bernstein, who’s since completed teacher training and will be teaching a workshop that blends Kundalini teachings with her own at Goldenbridge this spring.

Glowing House owner Marika Bethel, a teacher at Kundalini Yoga East had a similar experience. “I’d never felt anything like it; it was just an opening of energy and a feeling of such liberation.”

The element that seems to really draw people in is Kundalini’s emphasis on self-awareness and actualization. “I’m a different person; I’m a much better person. It has expanded me so I’m a better writer and a better speaker,” Bernstein explains. It’s a promise that appeals to creative types and celebs, but also to anyone who’s concerned with how to realize their talents and live their best life possible.

“There’s a constant opportunity for growing a little closer to your true spirit every day, so that you can be the best you,” Bethel says. Just be prepared to hold your arms above your head without moving for 11 minutes at a time. Really. —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information, visit www.goldenbridgeyoga.com and www.kundaliniyogaeast.com

15 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. March 26th, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Thank you Well and Good NYC! We love you! Come take class with us! Get ready to SHINE!

  2. March 27th, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Amazing! Kundalini is transformation at the highest level. Bliss! It has help me so much in my own personal recovery. I also teach a recovery Kundalini class and watching the way it supports and heals is true inspiration! Satnam

  3. March 27th, 2013 at 12:23 am

    This is nice, seems better to try it myself too. Thanks for sharing :) This could help me to work out with stress.

  4. March 27th, 2013 at 12:37 am

    The greatest aspect of this form of yoga is that it helps us to remember. To remember our bliss, to remember our vastness, and ultimately to remember that we are already great – even though at times we may have forgotten.

  5. March 27th, 2013 at 3:39 am

    Get ready for your life to change! I feel so incredibly blessed to have been lead to kundalini. The practice feels like a giant hug to the soul. The amount of clarity & ah-ha moments that happen in 1.5 hrs are pretty mind-blowing. We all have what we need inside-just have to break through our blocks & access it. Kundalini is a tool that has helped heal physically, mentally, & spiritually. I really cannot say enough about it!!! The family at Golden Bridge is oh so lovely. Happy adventures & expansion & kundalini-ing:)

  6. March 27th, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Kundalini is powerful! It will definitely make you shine, it just works!

  7. March 27th, 2013 at 8:41 am

    The eminent mythologist Joseph Campbell found the word kundalini world wide, in every ancient culture,as the innate power rising along the spine, bringing union (which yoga is- of mind, body and breath).

    Anyone can practice it at any age! It is not competitive in any way!
    “Kundalini Yoga teaches you the techniques and awareness to stay healthy. You gain strong immune, glandular and nervous systems. This foundation gives your energy and lets you deal with the mental and spiritual facets of life.” Yogi Bhajan

    In the 1970′s Yogi Bhajan predicted that this information age would be challenging for many and these tools will help and the teachers will help keep people “keep up” in their lives. With the explosion of yoga, Kundalini Yoga can be a great compliment to other practices, especially if they are not as inner or meditational, or practiced as the sole form of yoga to accelerate personal growth.

    Good stuff for all who resonate with it! Expanding from within.

  8. March 27th, 2013 at 9:29 am

    If you are looking for a tool kit to navigate these incredibly tumultuous times, kundalini yoga is it.

  9. March 27th, 2013 at 9:31 am

    This is FANTASTIC!! Thank you Well+Good!! We look forward to seeing you all come through our doors!! We love our community.. What a thrill to be acknowledged in this way!!

  10. March 27th, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Yoga is the best thing I’ve tried for 2012!

  11. March 28th, 2013 at 12:29 am

    Kundalini Yoga is for those who are thirsty and ready to take the express train to SELF and AWARENESS! I am so excited about the fact that the collective consciousness in the NYC Yoga Community is ready to dive deep. We all need all styles of Yoga and quite frankly Yoga is Yoga. But.. the beauty of Kundalini is we are not afraid of GOD. Through the Kriyas meditations and mantras we start to really STAND under the Yoke of Yoga. When we are practicing on that frequency we start to merge into GOD & Me Me & GOD are ONE!

  12. March 28th, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Thank You for this beautiful article and awesome platform to spread GREAT NEWS!!!!

  13. March 29th, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Why is Golden Bridge considered the unofficial hq in NY? I started practicing at Kundalini Yoga East in 1999 before I even moved to NY (whenever I could get away from my political job in DC), and since becoming a local, I have called it my yogic home. They’ve been in NY since 1971, amazing energy and deep commitment to cultivating one’s spirit.

  14. June 30th, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    I am with Robyn. There are several good studios in Manhattan Brooklyn. While it is lovely that some celebs have found this practice helpful for them, this does not make a studio or teacher great. If you want an authentic experience of this sacred science, I highly recommend Hari NYC and KY East. Sat Nam.

  15. July 24th, 2014 at 8:34 am

    I’ve recently been in New York as I’ve developed an app for Kundalini Yoga and was telling people about it there. I will allows you to practice anywhere on line and off. Check it out here http://www.sadhanaapp.com

    I went to a number of studios in New York and each has its own unique energy like each person and like each teacher. The teachings are where the true power lies.

    I love this form of yoga and like the article states I was hooked after just once class and was a teacher within 1-2 years. It truly is a very powerful spiritual yoga. I still practice other forms but Kundalini Yoga is my daily practice.

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