Kundalini Yoga is a Raaj Yoga (the yoga of living detached, yet fully engaged in the world) that creates vitality and balance in the mind, body, and spirit.
The focus of this yoga is on true self-awareness and delivering an experience of your highest divine consciousness.
The true meaning of Kundalini comes from the word “kundal” or coiled energy, i.e. the creative potential of an individual. “Kundalini” literally means “the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved.”
This suggests the free flow of energy and the divine consciousness that exists within each of us that enables us to merge with the universal self so that the soul can flourish.
How beautiful is that?
And a core part of this practice that facilitates that energy flow is chanting the mantra Sat Nam.
In this post, I’ll go over the meaning and use of Sat Nam chanting in Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, a living master of Kundalini yoga.
The Meaning of Sat Nam in Kundalini Yoga
As taught by Yogi Bhajan, the emphasis of Kundalini Yoga is on one’s private experience and consciousness through the practice of kriya and meditation, including mantra chanting.
So how do we do it, then?
With kriyas, or practices.
In Kundalini Yoga, “Kriya” is an ordered sequence of gestures, sound, pranayam, mudras, concentration, and meditation that guides the energies and vibration of the body and mind to a particular outcome or change of consciousness automatically.
That’s why you’ll see some Kundalini Yoga classes with people twisting back and forth rapidly (like this Kundalini yoga class for ab strength on my YouTube channel).
They may be simple short sequences or they may involve vigorous, even strenuous exercises that challenge and strengthen the nervous and endocrine systems and test the practitioner’s will beyond their ego’s limitations. (See my 60-min Morning Sadhana practice with a Kundalini kriya for energy.)
One aspect of these kriyas is mantra chanting.
Sat Nam Meditation is a Kundalini Kirtan Kriya, or a chanting meditation. In fact, Sat Nam is the most commonly used mantra in Kundalini Yoga.
So where does it come from?
Sat Nam is the main word that appears in the Sikh sacred scripture, called the Guru Granth Sahib. The two words Sat Nam comes from Sanskrit words Sat, which means truth/honest/right and Nam, which means name.
Together, these two words translate into: “I am the truth,” or “My essence is truth.”
Sikhs describe God in various ways, including Sat Nam – True Name. This is the seed syllable (Bij) mantra, and all the knowledge of the fully grown tree is included within this seed.
Kundalini Kirtan Kriya
Kundalini Kirtan Kriya is utilized for the meditation component of the class. This meditation is believed to bring “mental balance to the individual psyche”. Sitting in easy pose, eyes closed focused inward on the middle of the brow, with a straight spine while wrists are resting comfortably on the knees, each finger is gently pressed against the thumb while chanting Sa Ta Na Ma. The mudra and mantra utilized in Kirtan Kriya include:
· Sa=Gyan mudra (index touching the thumb);
· Ta=Shuni mudra (middle finger touching the thumb);
· Na=Surya mudra (ring finger touching the thumb);
· Ma=Buddhi mudra (pinky touching the thumb) in rhythm with the chanting.
Together with the mudras, the mantra or chant is said to create a powerful circuit that reflects the cycle of each part of ourselves from a finite cell to a higher cosmic infinite level.
Each mudra represents the totality and cycle of life.
The purpose of using this meditation is to integrate and connect all aspects of the self in the most finite and infinite manner. In this way, everything could be merged into one, a union, which is yoga, from the largest glands and organs to the most delicate energetic elements of the self.
How to Use Sat Nam In Your Daily Yoga Practice
Kundalini yoga’s primary objective is to awaken each person’s full capacity of human consciousness, that is, to recognize our true identity, to refine that awareness, and to extend that awareness to our infinite self. It helps to clear all inner duality, build the capacity to listen profoundly, cultivate inner stillness, and in all that we do, flourish, and deliver excellence.
To help get to this place, each Kundalini Yoga class consists of six major components.
The 6 Major Components of A Kundalini Yoga Class
- Tuning-in with the Adi Mantra,
- pranayam or warmup
- meditation and
- close with the blessing song.
The typical class is about 60–90 min long, with 5–10 min warm up, 30–45 min kriya, 5–15 min layout, and 11–31 min of meditation. Sat Nam is used as a mantra that is chanted during meditation and kriyas.
To Use Sat Nam In Your Daily Practice
- Step 1: Sit either in a chair or on the floor.
- Step 2: Straighten the spine and make sure the first six lower vertebrae are locked forward. This suggests that the lower back is pulled forward.
- Step 3: Make fists with both hands and extend the thumbs straight. On the temples, put the thumbs and find the groove where the thumbs just fit. This is the frontal bone’s lower anterior part over the temporal-sphenoidal suture. Typically, this position is sensitive to touch, so do not apply heavy pressure.
- Step 4: Lock together the back molars and keep the lips closed. Vibrate the jaw muscles by alternating the pressure on the molars. A muscle will move in rhythm under the thumbs. Feel it massage the thumbs and apply a very light pressure with the hands.
- Step 5: Keep the eyes closed and look toward the center of the eyes at the brow point—the “third eye”—the point where the top of the nose meets the forehead.
- Step 6: Silently vibrate the five primal sounds Sa Ta Na Ma at the brow point (the fifth sound here is the sound “ah” that is basic to the other four sounds).
A powerful technique is to mentally link Sa Ta to every inhale and Na Ma to every exhale.
The Effects Of The Mantra
The sound Sa gives the mind the ability to expand to the infinite; the sound Ta gives the mind the ability to experience the totality of life; the sound Na gives the mind the ability to conquer death, and the sound Ma gives the mind the ability to resurrect under all circumstances—so it puts your consciousness through the cycle of—infinity, life, death, and rebirth.
This mantra cleanses and restructures the subconscious mind to help live in a conscious state that is merged with the infinite.
Continue 5 to 7 minutes. With practice, the time can be increased to 31 minutes maximum.