Raise Your Highest Level of Capacity for Living
Whether you are a seasoned yogi, dabbling in it occasionally or finding it for the first time, what becomes apparent quite quickly we sit up from savasana, is that beyond the physical experience, something deep is touched upon. Those feelings of calmness, vibrancy or the senses of capability, clarity or heightened awareness are all symptoms of raising our creative potential and opening up our experience of living.
Whether it is conscious or not, this is the stoking of the potential that lies dormant within us - kundalini.
कुण्डलिनी; kuṇḍalinī; coiled one
Kundalini energy is the potential form of prana or life force, lying dormant in our bodies. From many ancient texts and practices, it is conceptualised as a coiled up serpent lying dormant at the base of our spine, waiting for a moment when things are in balance and there is a clear pathway for it to spring to action. Or in other words, for creative potential to be released.
The aim of the yoga - any yoga - is then to rouse this serpent, lift her head, and bring her up a subtle nerve or channel of the spine to the so-called “thousand-petaled lotus” at the crown of the head. She, rising from the lowest to the highest lotus centre, will pass through and wake the five between, and with each waking the psychology and personality of the practitioner will be altogether and fundamentally transformed. This rising energy refers not to a physical awakening, but a much deeper awakening of the mind and the spirit, to a experience of living that is not good/bad, right/wrong or a success/failure. Rather, a way of living that transcends that to really be able to thrive in all aspects of our living and to tap in to our limitless potential.
Raising kundalini energy has the capacity to ‘wash’ away our deepest tensions, eliminate our misunderstandings (lessons and beliefs) about our true nature, and to expand the flow of creative energy and consciousness within us.
How does it work?
The subtle body has its own anatomy, in which the prana or life force in the body is dispersed. The natural flow, or tendency of energy is to move upward. So it is through yoga - the breath, movement and quality focus, our dormant potential is released from the seat of the body and enabled to flow from the root to the crown.
Prana - Life Force or Life Energy
Nadi - Sacred stream or channel for carrying life force or prana
Chakra - Wheels or vortices of energy, representing psycho-somatic centres in the body
Shakti - The creative, moving energy of the Universe
Shiva - Pure consciousness. Steady all-knowing awareness and understanding
Bandhas - Locks or seals to keep prana within.
Shakti and Shiva, the divine feminine and masculine energies of the universe. Just as physical sciences refer to polarity (two poles at opposing ends of a body, each of which have opposing natures) each opposing force or element has certain ‘conditions’ which are attracted to each other. When they meet and are in balance, we have union or samadhi (bliss consciousness) and separation dissipates.
The mythology and theory is that through the splitting of the primordial principle at the advent of creation, the duality within our lives came into being, together with a strong force that is constantly striving to re-unite with the other part.
Only when Shiva and Shakti combine can action, movement and creation arise. Until energy is impregnated with consciousness it is ignorant, disordered, aimless and “blind”. Energy alone can produce nothing; consciousness bestows upon it content, form and direction.
In the energy body, Shakti is represented in Muladhara Chakra (root chakra) and Shiva is Sahasara Chakra (crown chakra). When the two meet and everything is balanced, the energy centre is in Anahata Chakra (heart chakra). This is the work of Yoga, Tantra and Kundalini.
A union in the heart.
Yoga in Practice for Kundalini Energy
Start with a mantra
In the kundalini yoga of Yogi Bhajan, The Adi Mantra opens up the practice. For tuning in and beginning the practice of Kundalini, sung 3 times.
ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO
I bow to the Infinite. I bow to the Divine Wisdom within myself
An invocation to the union of masculine and feminine energies, of this world we live in and the higher realm of consciousness that we abide in.
OM HRIM NAMAH SHIVAYA TASMAI SRI GURAVÉ NAMAHA
I bow to that Supreme Consciousness (Siva) As the Universal Divine resonance (OM) That vibrates within my heart as hrim (Sakti) -To that (Consciousness), Who is my beloved teacher, I bow.
There are two main practices of breath work used in kundalini yoga to drive the energy upwards.
Ujaii Pranayama or Long Deep Breathing Deep conscious inhales and exhales feeling the expansion into the belly and the whole chest cavity. Passing the breath through throat, inhale and the belly moves outward and on the exhale the navel is drawn in.
Imagine breathing with an open mouth to fog a window and the depth of that exhale. Then close the mouth and breathe through the nostrils but still feeling the friction in the throat on both inhale and exhale. This Pranayam works to create internal heat and raise the conscious awareness from within. It can be followed up and down the spine following the chakra centres.
Kapalbhati Pranayama or Breath of Fire A rapid, rhythmic, and continuous. It is equal on the inhale and the exhale, with no pause between them. (Approximately 2-3 cycles per second.) It is always practiced through the nostrils with mouth closed, unless stated otherwise.
The inhale comes in as part of relaxation rather than through effort; the upper abdominal muscles relax, the diaphragm extends down, and the breath naturally comes in to fill the vacuum it creates. The chest stays relaxed and slightly lifted throughout the breathing cycle and when done correctly, there should be no rigidity in the hands, feet, face, or abdomen.
Kriya or Asana Kriya means action. Asana means seat. This is the physical component of balancing the body and its systems in order to encourage the energy to rise upwards.
The Basic Spinal Series of Kundalini Yoga by Yogi Bhajan will encourage the energy in the spine to wake up and start the process of balancing the nervous system, the glandular system and the circulatory system. Working up to 108 repetitions builds heat, stamina and sensitivity.
- Spine Flex
- Shoulder Shrugs
- Neck Rolls
- Bear Grip
- Sat Kriya
- Deep Relaxation
Surya Namaskar and many Hatha Yoga Postures will also be key in the awakening of kundalini. A really important aspect of this will be repetition of postures and giving time in each one to feel the breath and energy becoming more vibrant. An example Sequence may be:
- Cat Cow (Bidilasana)
- Surya Namaskar A x 5
- Surya Namaskar B x 5
- Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
- Extended Side Angle Pose (Uttitha Parsvokanasana)
- Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
- Wheel Pose (Urdhva Danurasana)
- Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyandrasana)
To finish, come to a seat for short meditation, perhaps with a mudra to really nourish the experience of your subtle body. Reflect on any sense of a heightened capacity to experience your world around you and within you. Stay close to that and enjoy your day.