What is Kundalini Yoga?

Etymologically the term- ‘Kundalini’ means coiled. In Tantra tradition Kundalini stands for latent, hidden or coiled psycho-spiritual potential. Kundalini Yoga is practical branch of Tantra philosophy which provides us with tools and techniques to harness latent psycho-spiritual potentials within us. Aim of Kundalini Yoga is to awaken this dormant potential through advanced esoteric techniques of traditional Hatha Yoga and Tantra.

Kundalini yoga is a part of the tantric tradition. Since ancient times, the ancients have realized that mental faculties can be refined and expanded and that mental experiences do not necessarily depend on an object. Tantra says that the range of mental experience can be broadened. With the help of the senses, mind can have an experience based on an object. This object based experience is subject to the limitation of time, space and corresponding object. On the other hand there can also be an experience beyond the framework of time, space and object. The second form of experience can happen when the present mind expands beyond its given definitions, borders and limitations and when this experience occurs, energy is released from yourself.

Kundalini Yoga is the process of realizing this transcendental experience which is beyond the limitations of the mind and its faculties. This process of expansion of awareness and mental experiences happen through awakening and liberation of Kundalini Shakti (energy) within us.

Process of Kundalini Yoga

Process of traditional kundalini sadhana entails Bhuta Shuddhi or Tattva Shuddi (purification of elements). But before that it is highly important that the aspirant has trained his body and mind to a sufficient degree through practices of Hatha Yoga and meditations. Kundalini is cosmic prana (life force) embodied within us in dormant state. Before awakening the Kundalini one requires to go through intense purification of body mind system. Tools of Hatha Yoga such as Shatkriya (six cleansing practices), Asana (traditional Hatha Yoga poses) and Pranayama (Hatha Yogic breath-work); help to purify the body and mind from gross to subtle levels. Purpose of all these techniques in Kundalini Yoga Classes or training is to purify the pranic system consisting of Nadis (psychic or pranic channels), Chakras (pranic or energy centers) and Tattvas (elements).

All the Chakras located in the body are the centers of Tattvas (elements). The lower five chakras Muladhara chakra (root), Swadhisthana Chakra (sacral), Manipura Chakra (Navel), Anahata Chakra (heart) and Vishuddhi Chakra (throat), are the centers of Tattvik activities. The other higher chakras are the centers of subtle elements experienced at higher dimension of awareness. These are those vital spots in the body where energy exchange or concentration is at intense level. Our body is electro magnetic bio-chemical entity. In other words the reality we live is based on energy transmission and exchange. Each information which flows in or out is based on energy exchange. These chakras are the centers of these energy flows. These energy centers are very vital also because there are energy lines emanating from there. On the physical plane these correspond to nerve plexus.

Aspects of Teaching in Kundalini Yoga Training

The first and the foremost goal of the Kundalini Yoga classes or training is to reset these chakras from blockages and malfunctioning. And this is the most challenging and arduous task to begin with. As one begin to work on the chakras through asanas, pranayama, mudra (pyscho-physical gestures) and bandhas (energy or psychic locks) lots of emotions and intensity of energy are felt. These upheavals experienced in classes of Kundalini Sadhana are the result of the upsurge of energy resulted due to chakra resetting and toning.  As these chakras act like the subtle switches of specific centers in the brain and therefore also correspond to the specific instinct centers in the brain.

Various Kundalini and Chakra oriented pratyahara (mind withdrawal techniques) and dharana (intensive focusing) meditation techniques equip the practitioners to channel the released or awakened energies in the pranic system. Kundalini yoga tradition is the process of transmuting the existing psycho-spiritual energies. As the energies within the body is refined and awakened, as a consequence  state of consciousness is altered. Meditative awareness dawns upon the aspirant as a result of nadi cleansing and chakra activation. Tantra looks at matter-energy-consciousness in one continuum. And it believes that energy of matter can be transmuted. Therefore once bodily energies are mobilized through Hatha Yoga techniques, it begins to awaken a very refined awareness within the practitioner.

In Kundalini Yoga training some of the techniques used like Tattva Shuddhi (purification of five elements), Chakra Shuddhi (Chakra cleansing), Chakra Dharana (intense visualization of chakras), kundalini kriyas and traditional Hatha practices are highly effective in creating a life transforming experiences in the person. Ideally in Kundalini Yoga Classes or training, there has to a perfect blend of activating and purifying practices like Shatkriya, Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha and internalizing techniques from stages of Pratyahara and Dharana.

A proper combination of these elements in Kundalini Yoga Classes yield a very uplifting results. Apart from these techniques mentioned above there are range of meditation techniques involving different Yantras (visual primordial geometrical symbols) and Mantras (psychic sound vibrations). Each chakra has its corresponding sound vibration (mantra) and a specific psychic symbol. Some of the stages of dharana meditation on chakras, awareness of the aspirants is internalized deeply. Chakra Dharana technique is one of those practices which channel the awareness to such an extent so that a practitioner can visualize each symbol of the chakra with intense focus and awareness.


About author
Sushant Pandey

Sushant is Meditation & Philosophy Teacher and Academic Director at Rishikesh Yogis. Sushant carries long years of experience teaching practical as well as philosophical aspects of Kundalini yoga, Kriya yoga, Hatha Yoga and Tantra philosophy.