Kundalini Yoga vs. Vinyasa Yoga

You may be just starting your yoga practice, or you may be a more advanced yogi who is looking to expand your practice. Either way, it’s a great idea to explore Kundalini yoga vs. Vinyasa yoga to get a sense of what style of yoga is right for you.

The focus of Kundalini yoga is more similar to a spiritual practice or meditation practice and includes yoga postures, chanting, breathing exercises, and meditation. On the other hand, Vinyasa yoga practice focuses on doing a series of poses in quick succession with synchronized breathing.

Your yoga journey may involve exploring several types of yoga and yoga styles, which will allow you to find what is suitable for you at this moment in time. Read everything you need to know about Vinyasa yoga vs. Kundalini yoga.

What is Kundalini Yoga?

According to the Kundalini Research Institute, Kundalini is “the practice of awakening our Higher Self and turning potential energy into kinetic energy.”

Kundalini yoga focuses on connecting with your most authentic self and developing an awareness of your ego through a series of yoga postures, meditations, chants, and breathing exercises sometimes known as Kriya yoga.

The ultimate goal of Kundalini yoga is to awaken kundalini energy, which is visualized as a coiled source of energy at the base of the spine in the root chakra, and to allow that energy to move up through all of your energy chakras. Kundalini means “coiled snake” in Sanskrit. This movement of energy is known as a kundalini awakening.

The practice of kundalini yoga itself is very structured–the Kriyas have developed years ago and follow a particular format. 

What is the History of Kundalini Yoga?

Kundalini yoga is thought to descend from the Raj Yoga lineage, an ancient practice in sacred Vedic texts (the Upanishads). Raj yoga has been practiced in India since around 500 BCE. 

Kundalini also incorporates Sikh elements, and many meditations are derived from the Sikh traditions. 

For hundreds of years, Kundalini yoga was taught in secret, accessible only to those students who had gone through years of thorough preparation to receive the Kundalini principles. 

However, in its current form, Kundalini was introduced to the West by Yogi Bhajan, a Sikh from Pakistan who began teaching Kundalini principles to a broader audience. In 1969 established a non-profit organization dedicated to disseminating the practice and principles of Kundalini yoga. 

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

Vinyasa flow is a form of yoga practice that involves moving through yoga asanas rapidly, synchronizing the breath with the flow of movement. Vinyasa flow can include yoga asanas, including Surya Namaskar (sun salutations), warrior poses, standing poses, seated postures, balancing poses, forward folds, and core work.

Typically a Vinyasa yoga class will begin slowly and work up to more advanced poses. Vinyasa doesn’t follow a strict structure like Kundalini yoga (or other forms of yoga practice like ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga, or hatha yoga).

Vinyasa is excellent for building physical strength, balance, and stamina.

How Do I Practice Kundalini Yoga?

A typical kundalini yoga class begins with some sort of opening, welcome chant, or mantra. Traditionally, a class will open with the Adi mantra: “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo,” which means, “I bow to the subtle divine wisdom, the divine teacher within.” The opening mantra is intended to get everyone tuned in and focus the mind.

The opening mantra may be followed by breathing exercises, or pranayama, which may include “breath of fire,” which requires short bursts of breath through the nose at the rate of around two to three per second to cleanse and energize the body. Students may also practice partitioned breathing, where inhale and exhale are counted into sections. 

You may also practice alternate nostril breathing, which requires inhaling and exhaling through one nostril while blocking the other in an alternating fashion.

Some teachers may go through a few warm-up stretches to get the spine straight and limber to aid the free movement of energy before the start of Kriya. Many of these stretches will be similar to those in a Hatha class to loosen the spine and legs. 

What is Kriya in Kundalini Yoga?

Kriya is a series of set poses repeated several times, synchronized to the breath. For example, a series of squats on the exhale, followed by a forwarding fold on the inhale (frog pose). Some of these exercises can be vigorous, so don’t assume Kundalini is calm like yin or restorative yoga

Between poses, there will be time for meditation. The primary focus of the class is to help you notice how you react to the practice and raise your spiritual awareness.

At the end of the series of poses, a student will lie in a corpse pose (similar to other yoga styles) to allow the body to realign and incorporate the benefits of the practice.

The class ends with a closing meditation, mudras (hand positions held with intention), and a blessing.

You may recognize the yoga asanas from other forms of yoga. For example, Kundalini includes cobra poses and warrior poses, just like other yoga styles. Each pose will be combined with breath meditation and repeated several times.

Your yoga teacher will guide you through each Kriya and ensure you are ready for any energy release. They should also be able to help you through any strong emotions or triggers that may come up during an intense Kundalini practice.

You may also use a mantra to focus throughout the class. A common Kundalini mantra is “Sat Nam,” which translates to “I am truth.” Or you could try the mantra “Sa Ta Na Ma, which means “Infinity, Life, Death, and Rebirth.”

What are the Benefits of Kundalini Yoga Practice?

Many studies indicate that yoga with breathing exercises such as pranayama has significant health benefits, including stress relief, reduced anxiety, increased energy, and improved cognitive function and memory. 

Yoga practitioners also report that kundalini yoga helps develop a greater sense of self, detachment from ego, and greater compassion and communication. Some yogis report greater body positivity and a higher degree of self-acceptance. 

What are the Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga Practice?

Vinyasa yoga is a flow style yoga that primarily affects the physical body. Since it involves physical poses in conjunction with the breath, it leads to physical benefits such as improved strength and balance and cardiovascular health.

Studies have also shown increased muscle and joint flexibility as a benefit of flow yoga and improved core strength.

Even though it is a more physically demanding style of yoga, Vinyasa has been reported to reduce stress and anxiety, similar to a slower style of yoga, such as kundalini, yin yoga, or restorative yoga. In addition, it may reduce the incidence of depression.

Is Kundalini Yoga Safe?

As with any yoga practice, start slowly and go at your own pace. Yoga is never a race! If you are unsure of whether yoga is right for you, check with your doctor first (this is especially true for prenatal yoga or hot yoga/Bikram class).

That being said, any beginner level is welcome in the kundalini yoga style. If you are going to classes, find a yoga teacher to help you find appropriate limits. Kundalini is not as physically challenging as power or hot yoga, but it awakens energy systems that may be dormant in many of us, which can be a shock.

As a beginner, you may notice resistance to doing Kundalini yoga since it is meant to challenge you to see parts of yourself you may not have seen before. For some yogis, awakening Kundalini can be triggering. With regular practice, however, you will become aware of your habits and reactions and let go of whatever isn’t working for you.

Is Vinyasa Yoga Safe?

Just like with any new physical practice, you will need to know your limits and stick to them, even within a yoga class that may include a variety of skill levels. If you have any injuries, tell your yoga instructor and avoid anything that causes sharp pain.

Vinyasa yoga can be intense because it moves so fast. If you need to take a break, make sure you do so.

That said, practicing yoga can be one of the best ways to keep physically, emotionally, and spiritually in shape.

What is the Difference Between Vinyasa and Kundalini Yoga?

Kundalini yoga includes chanting, singing, meditation, physical poses, and breath work.

If you are at a point where you want to deepen your spiritual practice, or you feel that you may benefit from the quiet focus and mindfulness of meditation, kundalini yoga might be suitable for you. It requires repetition and precision in movement and action to clear blocked energy from your energy chakras so your kundalini energy can move freely.

Kundalini may be a more spiritual practice than Vinyasa, though Vinyasa also helps yogis with focus by linking breath to physical exercises. Vinyasa moves through physical exercises quickly and can include standing, sitting, or floor poses. It improves flexibility, physical strength, balance, and cardiovascular health.

Vinyasa flow can be found in various formats, such as Ashtanga classes or Bikram yoga, whereas Kundalini yoga follows a more set series of practices.

A regular Vinyasa class can be tailored to the class’s needs and gives the yoga teacher more flexibility to design his or her series of movements. If you like doing a different class daily, Vinyasa might be more for you.

How Do I Choose Between Kundalini Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga?

Try them out! You may be able to find a local yoga studio that offers classes in both vinyasa flow and kundalini yoga. All you need for either practice is a yoga mat, so why not drop in and try a class of each?

If you aren’t practicing at a yoga studio, classes in each form of yoga are offered online, make sure you know your limits and start easy. If there are physical postures you don’t feel comfortable doing without supervision, skip those.

All forms of yoga serve your spiritual energy, though the practice of kundalini yoga focuses on the meditative act of awakening kundalini energy. Those who have practiced kundalini yoga for many years report a more profound awakening of consciousness and experience of the present moment.

Can My Practice Include Kundalini Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga?

Your yoga practice is for no one else, and you know what is best for you. It’s essential to choose a practice that you enjoy doing. If the idea of chanting, singing, meditating, and doing breath work appeals to you, definitely try kundalini.

If you want to use your yoga practice to balance all aspects of your being, including the physical and the spiritual, you can explore whether doing both yoga works for you.

You will have to get in touch with what you want from your yoga practice. Suppose you are looking for greater physical strength and flexibility. In that case, you may want to do Vinyasa a few days a week with a kundalini class weekly to develop your spiritual practice.

Or the reverse might be true, and you need to go inward with kundalini as a regular practice, but do a vinyasa flow once or twice a week for physical stamina.

Your yoga practice may change as life changes, and that’s as it should be. You may have to try out several classes to find a balance that works for you.

Some instructors offer classes combining kundalini principles, such as breathing techniques, mudras, and chants, along with a vinyasa flow. If that sounds interesting to you, why not try it?

What Are Some Beginner Kundalini Poses?

Half Lotus Pose

Sit on the floor with your spine straight. Bend your legs toward you, similar to a cross-legged position, but place one foot on top of the opposite thigh. You can place your hands on your knees with palms facing up. Hold for several breaths, then switch feet, so the other foot is on top of the opposite thigh. 

Cobra Pose

Lie face down on the ground with legs together, tops of the feet touching the floor. Put your hands on the floor directly below your shoulders, palms facing forward. On your inhale, press your upper body up with your arms until your arms are straight and your chest is lifted. Hold for 30 seconds, breathing deeply. Then release back down to the floor. Repeat. 

Archer Pose

Start standing up straight with your feet together. Rotate one foot at around 45 degrees, then step back into a lunge position. Make sure your front knee is bent, but do not let your front knee move past your front foot. 

Extend your arms at the shoulder, curling your hands into fists and putting your thumbs up. Bend your backhand toward your armpit (as though pulling back a bow) while keeping the front arm extended. Arms should be parallel to the legs. 

Look forward, and breathe deeply. Try to hold for 2 to 3 minutes, then switch sides. 

What Are Some Beginner Vinyasa Poses?

Keep in mind that in Vinyasa practice, you will cycle through each pose quickly, only holding for a few seconds to a few breaths. So make sure you focus on inhaling and exhaling along with the movement. 

Mountain Pose

Stand with feet together, arms at your sides. Inhale and raise your arms above your head, palms together, then exhale, bringing your palms down toward your heart. You can repeat this exercise several times. 

Forward Fold

Start from a mountain pose with arms above your head, then fold toward the floor on the exhale, making sure your back stays extended and straight. Then, starting with your hands on the floor (or as close as possible), keep your back straight and lift halfway up until your back is parallel with the floor on the inhale. You can keep your hands on your legs if that is easiest. 

Exhale and release your hands back to the floor. 

High Lunge

Step one foot back from the forward fold position until you are in a lunge position with your hands on the floor. You can release your rear knee if you like. 

To test your balance, try to lift your arms above your head from the lunge position on the inhale and exhale on the way back down. 

Don’t forget to alternate which foot is forward on each round. 

Plank/Chaturanga Dandasana 

From the low lunge, step your front foot back to meet your rear foot, and hold your body parallel to the ground in plank. 

Upward Facing Dog

From the plank, bend your elbows toward the ground so your body hovers closer. Then, inhale and arch your back upward, keeping your arms and legs straight and your thighs off the mat. 

Downward Facing Dog

From an upward-facing dog, exhale and hinge your hips toward the ceiling, straightening your arms and letting your chest fall toward the floor. From here, step forward into a forward fold and then lift into a mountain pose to start again.  

Do I Have to Wear White When Doing Kundalini Yoga?

While many Kundalini teachers wear white clothing when practicing, including a white turban or head covering, it is generally not required of students. This is because in the Kundalini tradition, the color white is considered to be cleansing and protects the aura from negative energy. 

Dress color is voluntary at many yoga studios. However, you will have to check the guidelines of the studio where you plan to practice to see if there are any guidelines or requirements regarding yoga attire


While kundalini and vinyasa yoga share some aspects of yogic philosophy and poses, they differ significantly in focus. Only you can figure out which is suitable for you at this moment.


Is Kundalini Yoga the Same as Hatha yoga?

Hatha yoga is more similar to Vinyasa, which focuses on the physical asanas (poses) of yoga, rather than the meditative or spiritual practice of yoga, which is the focus of kundalini. Kundalini yoga includes similar poses such as the warrior pose or cobra pose, but it also includes practices such as chanting, singing, meditating, alternate nostril breathing, and fire breathing.

Is Kundalini the Same as Ashtanga Yoga?

Ashtanga yoga is a form of Vinyasa, which follows a series of poses with synchronous breath. Ashtanga follows six series of movements, with a set sequence of postures. Other forms of vinyasa follow different orders of postures or allow teachers to design their sequences.

Like Hatha yoga, Ashtanga can be an intense physical workout geared toward intermediate or advanced yoga practitioners.

Why is Kundalini Yoga So Powerful?

Those who have practiced kundalini yoga report that as life force energy is unleashed, they experience a deeper awareness of their consciousness and a stronger, more relaxed nervous system.

Is Kundalini Yoga Hard?

Kundalini requires long periods of repetition, whether of movements, breathing techniques, or chants. This repetition requires tremendous focus, which can be challenging to maintain. Noticing the reactions of your mind is part of the experience, however, and practitioners report that struggling through repetition helps build mindfulness and awareness.

Kundalini practice may lead to an emotional and spiritual awakening that is very intense. For those unaccustomed to experiencing energy release, such as a kundalini awakening, the feeling of energy can be unpleasant at first.

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