Both Art Therapy and Kundalini Yoga share the powerful healing effect of integrating
the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Typically the left side of the brain rules the
orderly, statistical, mathematical, logical, practical, rational way of thinking, seeing
things in straight lines. The right side of the brain represents passion, experience of taste
and feelings, creativity, free spirit, imagination, yearning, sensuality, movement, vivid
colours and the senses.
Without activities that stimulate integration within each side of the brain, it is difficult for
one side to make sense of how the other sees things. You cannot put feelings and
expressions into boxes as the left hemisphere would require, they will become restricted;
they must be felt to truly be experienced. Subsequently, the right brain also has difficulty
making sense of how the left-brain sees things. As a society, we tend to be mostly leftbrain
dominant and this causes an imbalance that can create a great disruption in the
natural flow of everyday living. This is why it is so important to create integration and
balance within both sides of the brain.
Observing and especially drawing or creating art allows for this integration in the most
therapeutic way. As does meditation, mindfulness and the many yogic postures within
Kundalini Yoga. Kundalini Yoga is a prime example of creating space for this
occurrence. Whenever we do anything that requires logical and creative thought
simultaneously, we are integrating the hemispheres of the brain.
Another powerful way both Kundalini Yoga and Art Therapy work to change the brain is
by rerouting neurotransmitters. Neuropsychologist Donald Hebb first used the phrase,
“Neurons that fire together, wire together” in 1949 to describe how pathways in the
brain are formed and reinforced through repetition. What this means is we develop habits
and ways of being in the world (that may not always serve our highest purpose). Both Art
Therapy and Kundalini offer an opportunity to explore life in new ways using mindful
awareness of our emotions, messages from within the body and tactile sensory expression
through art making.
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to
improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well being of individuals of all
ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self expression
helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage
behavior, reduce stress, increase self esteem and self awareness, and achieve insight.
Art therapy uses the creation of art as a primary mode of expression and communication
(American Art Therapy Association, 2013). It integrates psychotherapeutic techniques
with the creative process to improve mental health and wellbeing. Sometimes referred to
as creative arts therapy or expressive arts therapy, it encourages people to express and
understand emotions through artistic expression and the creative process.
By making art in a spontaneous way, one is able to bring unconscious feelings to
consciousness. Art Therapy can help a person give expression to their feelings and
hidden inner conflicts that they may not have words for. As one creates, they are able to
uncover aspects of self that may be locked in the body. When people are then able to
associate feelings verbally to the artwork created, the therapy speeds up recovery.
The idea of using art in psychotherapy has been around since the early days of Carl
Jung. This modality of healing has continued to grow and expand showing people how
the benefits of making art in a safe, secure setting can be. It is through the making of art
that feelings trapped inside the body can be moved and expanded on, bringing an
awareness to ourselves that was before uncovered.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini Yoga is described as the Yoga of Awareness or Householders’ Yoga,
accessible to all. It is a powerful science that rewires neurotransmitters in the brain
working on not only the physical body but also the nervous, endocrine and glandular
A large focus within the practice, for instance, is the drishti or eye-gaze during
meditations and postures (asanas). When the eye gaze is focused behind closed lids
between the eyebrows (third eye), a pressure builds in this region activating the pituitary
and pineal master glands. This works to regulate the whole body and increases serotonin
and other neurotransmitter levels to bring a calming, happy, peace to the mind. Through
regulating hormones and the glandular system, Kundalini yoga strengthens, heals and
changes the brain, body and the way we respond to stresses in our lives.
Another fascinating component of Kundalini yoga is its ability to remove emotional
blocks within the body. As life goes on, traumatic and stressful moments we experience
become lodged within our bodies. Without opportunities for safe and healthy release,
these memories and ways we develop to cope in the world slowly become a part of our
personality. Although we may have needed these coping mechanisms at one or more
times in our life, often they become a source of pain, as they no longer serve the purpose
they once did. For instance, maybe you were bullied as a child and now find yourself on
guard and ready to attack when provoked, when in reality the threat is no longer with
you. Perhaps as a child you were scolded or even physical reprimanded by your parents
for being “too loud” or “acting out” and this has created a deep-seated fear within you to
speak up for your self in the world. Maybe this stifling of your voice and spirit has even
created a thyroid condition or goiter? These emotions in the body are real and will
eventually manifest into physical ailments. By bringing mindful awareness to the body
and facilitating release through postures, mantra and meditation, we are invited to let go
of these parts that no longer serve us and hold us back from living life to our fullest
potential. In this way, Kundalini Yoga can bring about strong releases of emotion that
help to clear the subtle bodies that sustain and support our soul’s path.
By combining Art Therapy approaches and Kundalini Yoga, I invite you to experience
the profound healing that both modalities offer. No artistic expertise is needed and there
is never any pressure to fold like a pretzel or push yourself beyond what is safe for your
own body. Honouring and listening to your body and allowing space for feelings and
messages to arise is all that is required for you to step into a new way of being in the
world. I look forward to crossing paths with you soon.
May all beings be Blessed,
Livdeep Kaur (Charmaine Husum)
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Charmaine Husum runs a private Art Therapy practice online and in Calgary Alberta. She is also an Artist, Kundalini Yoga teacher and trained in the somatic approach of Integrative Body Psychotherapy, Reiki and Mystical Integration. Her current research enthusiasms are in neuroplasticity, neuroscience, epigenetics, mystical integration and intergenerational trauma; on which she is currently writing a book and creating online courses. She specializes in working with trauma and symptoms of PTSD and C-PTSD as well as Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Addiction and other mental health symptoms.