By this point, nearly everyone has heard of yoga and likely seen it practiced. Many who have not entered the yoga room have preconceived notions of contorted bodies and strange sounds coming out of those who take up the ancient art. Plenty of people who have even been practicing for years still hold the notion that for them, yoga is just an exercise routine that keeps them healthy. Though these conclusions are true for a large majority of people, more and more individuals are beginning to discover the true power for inner transformation that exists within the art of yoga. Even more so, the deep impact possible in one’s life through practicing the science of Kundalini yoga.
What is Kundalini yoga? There is more than one answer to this question, though many would swear this technique was owned by one certain Indian yogi by the name of Yogi Bhajan. Though it is true, that Yogi Bhajan has largely dominated the scene when it comes to the art and science of Kundalini Yoga, even the one who has made it famous in the west, he is not the only one, nor the originator of the art.
Kundalini was mentioned in ancient yogic texts and refers to the energy stored in the spine, which can be aroused into action, affecting the consciousness of one’s being. Dr. Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati MB, BS describes it as:
The uniting, creative force out of which all individuality came into existence. Just as in the physical body there is one force which permeates all the cells and unites them into a cohesive, integrated whole called the body, so kundalini unites every planet, star and galaxy in the universe. It is an impersonal force, which is not conditioned or subject to the barriers or limits of society, culture, race, creed, religion or philosophy. It will continue when all philosophy has vanished and all intellectual speculation and writing has ceased.
Yogi Bhajan, on his website describes Kundalini, which he first translate, as “the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved.” He explains how this poetic metaphor “alludes to the flow of energy and consciousness that exists within each of us, and enables us to merge with – or ‘yoke’ – the universal Self. Fusing individual and universal consciousness creates a divine union, called ‘yoga.’”
Without prompting, the kundalini is said to arise naturally in a person around the age of 40, during what is often referred to as the “mid-life crisis.” A mid-life crisis is characterized by the fact that a person begins to see life differently, wishes to experience themselves anew, and experiences a new-found energy that seemed to be previously devoid and non-existent.
Others might experience an earlier “awakening” of the kundalini either spontaneously, through practicing various techniques, by the grace of a “master” or sometimes by the use of certain substances. When this occurs, the individual may feel uncertain as to what has just happened. If not informed about the qualities and associations of a kundalini-awakening, one may become frightened and even feel as though they are “going mad.”
Kundalini affects the perception of a person. It is the energy of life, believed by ancient ones to direct one’s consciousness and the actions taken by someone. Originally, in each person, the kundalini is thought to rest at the base of the spine and be “asleep.” In this state, the person goes on about their lives with a fairly simple viewpoint on reality, not really conscious of anything beyond the ego-self and “normal” ideas of survival, sex and satisfaction. These are thought to be base-root emotions and perceptions.
When a person has, what is termed a “kundalini awakening,” suddenly what is important in life changes, values shift and one becomes more aware of their own healing capacity, creativity, unconditional love and higher insights. As kundalini “rises up the spine” it is thought to awaken various spinal centers the yogis call chakras. These spinal centers determine the consciousness with which one functions. At first, there is an opening and a cleansing that takes place in the once dormant centers. When this happens, an unloading of unhelpful beliefs and subliminal programs comes out of a person. For the aware soul, this is seen as a great relief and a process of unburdening. But, to someone who is unaware of what is going on, it can be likened unto walking through hell, as old patterns, experiences and beliefs surface on their way out of the body.
The biggest mistake someone can make during a kundalini awakening is to identify themselves with the patterns coming up for release. By doing this, the chance one has to re-experience these things and make them part of their new reality being created is there.
Those who teach the ancient science of Kundalini yoga warn practitioners of the possible pit-falls in awakening these subtle energy centers too soon or incorrectly. There is a formula for awakening, a process and a path by which one can experience a pain-less transformation. If aligned with the correct method, anyone can awaken their kundalini energy without detriment. In order to do this, the most important awareness to have is that of awakening the third-eye center first.
Yogi Bhajan and various other kundalini yoga instructors offer specific techniques for clarifying the mind and awakening each center in a specific order, so as to reduce negative effects. If you are newly embarking on the adventure of kundalini yoga, be sure to have a qualified guide, teacher or instructor to assist you on your path. More than anything else, concentrate several minutes per day on the center of the forehead, known as the third-eye center. This one-pointed awareness will cultivate an attitude known as drashta, or “the witness.” Most important in awakening, one must be able to witness the cleansing process which is sure to take place when opening the other centers, with complete detachment – so as to not re-engage the issues waiting to be released.
The third-eye allows one to see things “as they really are” without attachment and without taking them personally. A person with an awakened third-eye can tell when something is simply coming up for release and not confuse the event or feeling for a new one.
There is so much more that could be addressed about the deep impact the science of Kundalini yoga can have on a person. More than anything, it is the energy which activates a deeper knowing and a release of what some might call the “little self.” In this release, ones life transforms from that of separation consciousness to one of unity and the connection between all human-life is realized. From this point forward, the treasures that are uncovered become more valuable than any worldly knowledge or possessions and the person finds that they are truly free. For more information, see sources below.
Written by: Stasia Bliss