Mat Work

Kundalini Yoga Combines Exercise, Meditation and Chanting

Practitioners say sessions—in which participants wear white and focus on movement and breath—reduce stress and boost energy levels.

By Jessika Ward June 21, 2021

Petra Ratner.

Navigating the world as an adult can be tough, filled with daily stressors that can have a negative impact on your body. To manage, many locals are turning to kundalini yoga, a form of exercise and stress relief that includes chanting, singing, breathing exercises and repetitive poses.

Kundalini yoga is not new. This form of yoga originated thousands of years ago in India, and emerged in the United States in the late 1960s. Since then, it has steadily grown in popularity, with multiple studios in the Sarasota area now offering it.

Petra Ratner, a registered yoga teacher with the national organization Yoga Alliance and the owner of Blest Yoga, says people use kundalini yoga to manage stress, anxiety and energy levels. Ratner is the director of development and events for the Sarasota Film Festival and a visual artist. Through Blest, she teaches kundalini and also sells essential oil blends, sprays and rollers.

Ratner says she wants to encourage women to experience new things and realize their full potential.

“Our practice is here to gently remind us that we get to choose our most authentic self, full of magical life that sets our soul on fire," says Ratner. "I feel like, thanks to this yoga, people have been able to follow their dreams more freely. One woman wanted to move to Hawaii. She’s there now. This thing works. But it does need commitment."

As humans age, their mental functions decline, but emerging science suggests that people can slow that decline with lifestyle choices, like exercising more. Studies have also shown that combining physical activity with meditation can intensify the benefits of both pursuits.

Rosemary Court Yoga is located in Sarasota's Rosemary District. The studio offers all styles and levels of yoga classes and private instruction seven days a week—including kundalini.

The studio’s kundalini class is taught by Arlena Dominick. Dominick began practicing yoga more than 20 years ago after sustaining a traumatic spine injury that occurred when a car hit her while she was riding a bike. Through yoga, she found relief from daily physical pain and gained mental and emotional clarity. She began teaching yoga classes as the co-owner of a yoga studio in St. Petersburg and has trained in several traditions, but kundalini has resonated the most.

“Kundalini yoga would be a good fit for someone looking to strengthen not only their physical body but also their nervous and glandular systems and improve their emotional and spiritual strength,” Dominick says. “In kundalini yoga classes at our studio, students can expect gentle warm-ups, a yoga set of postures, movements, breathing techniques and relaxation, followed by meditation utilizing mantra, breath and, often times, the healing vibration of the gong.”

Some practitioners claim kundalini awakens their senses and even allows them to develop a strong intuition and other mental abilities, and that it helps people to stop overthinking and to start enjoying themselves in the moment.

“Yoga helps brings us into the present moment, promotes relaxation and enhances our mood," says Liana Sheintal Bryant, the director at Rosemary Court Yoga. "It helps both our body and mind be more at ease. We use tools such as focusing on the breath and the poses themselves to continually bring us back to the present moment. Overall, we just feel better after yoga. We can then take these benefits beyond the mat and out into our everyday life as well."

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