Mikäli kundaliini ja kundaliinijooga kiinnostavat, niin Simona Rich on julkaissut mielenkiintoisen kirjoituksen "21 Kundalini Awakening Symptoms":



Toisessa kirjoituksessaan "Kundalini Energy" hän valoittaa myös tarkemmin, mistä kundalinissa on kysymys ja kertoo oman kokemuksensa kundaliinin heräämisestä:



Mikäli aihe kiinnostaa vielä enemmänkin, niin Kurt Keutzer on kerännyt myös kattavan tietopaketin kundaliinista ja vastaa mm. kysymykseen onko kundaliinin herääminen vaarallista?




21 Kundalini Awakening Symptoms

October 12, 2013 By Simona Rich


Awakening symptoms


I was pleasantly surprised to have read about kundalini awakening symptoms in a book written by Sri Swami Sivananda called “Kundalini Yoga”. The reason I was surprised was because he explained kundalini awakening symptoms so accurately that I couldn’t have said it better! So for the benefit of all, in this post I described the symptoms found in the book “Kundalini Yoga”.


Here they are – kundalini awakening symptoms:


1. You know that kundalini has awakened in your body when, during meditation, you experience something other-worldly. That could be divine visions, smells you never smelled before, a blissful taste or hearing sounds you never heard before.

2. When you feel sensations in your root chakra or when your body hairs are involuntarily raised, this again shows that your kundalini energy has been awakened.

3.  When you want to do yogic body locks naturally, even though you never did them before, this is one of the kundalini awakening symptoms. Such involuntary body locks could be sucking out the air of your stomach, raising the air up the root chakra or resting the chin on the chest.

4. The breath stops without any effort in people whose kundalini shakti is awake.

5. When you feel currents of energy rising up in your body and they feel pleasant, know this is due to the kundalini energy.

6. When you experience bliss and the mantra “om” (or “aum”) chant comes naturally to you, these are the kundalini awakening symptoms.

7. When you get blank mind (without any thoughts), this is again caused by the awakened kundalini shakti.

8. When, during meditation, your eyes naturally focus in the third eye chakra, that’s a kundalini awakening sign.

9. When you feel vibrations of energy in different parts of your body and you get involuntary jerks that feel like electricity shocks, know that kundalini is awake in you.

10. When, during meditation, your body loses importance until you don’t feel it at all, this is caused by kundalini energy.

11. One of the kundalini awakening symptoms is not being able to open eyes after meditation, according to the author (this, however, I’ve never experienced, although at times I was unwilling to open my eyes because it’s so pleasant to meditate).

12. When electric currents flow up and down in your body, it’s the sign of an awakened kundalini energy.

13. If you get inspiration and insight as a result of meditation, this happens due to the active kundalini shakti in your body.

14. When the nature shows you her secrets and your doubts disappear, it’s a sign of awakened kundalini.

15. When you understand the meaning of spiritual texts that’s a sure symptom of awakened kundalini.

16. When you feel as though your body is light like air and you possess inexhaustible energy, that’s because of the kundalini that’s active.

17. A sure symptom of awakened kundalini is your ability to remain calm when catastrophic/negative conditions present themselves.

18. When you experience divine bliss, the bliss that can’t be explained in words, this is due to the kundalini that’s awake in you.

19. When you get the power of public speaking, that’s because the kundalini shakti has risen up your chakras.

20. When you perform yogic postures naturally, without the least pain and without getting tired, that’s because the kundalini is awakened.

21. When you start composing beautiful poems without any effort (as though it’s coming not from you), this is one of the kundalini awakening symptoms.



Kundalini Energy

October 3, 2010 By Simona Rich


Kundalini energy is the energy of your being which sits at the base of your spine, in the root chakra. It wakes up when you start meditating, visualizing or doing other spiritual activities. Right before this energy is activated, people usually dream of serpents or goddesses which are the signs of this energy.


Seven chakras


Some people don’t dream about such symbols but they see them in their everyday lives; for example, they come across the pictures of serpents. When activated, kundalini energy starts going up your chakras till it reaches the crown chakra and when it goes through the crown chakra the person becomes enlightened. This energy can either be awakened unnaturally by gurus and meditation experts or it naturally awakens when the person develops spiritually. When the awakening of this energy is rushed it can cause serious problems (I mention those in the dangers of kundalini energy section down below).


Before You Decide To Awaken Kundalini Energy…

If you’re emotionally weak and you still have fear inside you, it can be really dangerous to awaken this energy. So if this is the case, you should strengthen your nervous system and gain better understanding of your self before awakening your kundalini energy.

It’s advisable that if you decide to awaken this energy, you should do so together with a spiritual leader or a meditation expert. Such people know the dangers of this energy and they know how to control it. They will pace your development and advise if you need to slow down or progress quicker.


Why People Choose To Awaken Kundalini Energy

It’s said that the awakening of this energy is the only way to become enlightened and experience bliss. When this energy goes through your crown chakra, you become aware of your connection with the entire universe and therefore understand the truth. You attain the divine wisdom and your consciousness expands infinitely.

When the kundalini energy is released into the universe, you completely understand yourself and your purpose. You become filled with joy, limitless knowledge and unconditional love of the whole universe.


The Symptoms of Kundalini Awakening

It’s easy to feel kundalini energy because it’s a forceful and concentrated energy that quickly moves through chakras. People usually feel the burning sensation in the part of the body where the energy resides.

There are other signs indicating that this energy has awakened in you, such as visions of non-physical beings, serpents and gods.

You also have a strange feeling in your muscles and you may experience involuntary body movements when this energy is active in you.


A quite usual symptom of kundalini awakening is an extreme feeling of plenty of energy (when you feel very active). You can also feel headaches or pressures in your head (usually on the temples, the back or top of the head).

Your emotions might quickly change throughout the day and you may react to people and circumstances in a more extreme manner than usual. It’s also usual to experience higher levels of awareness so you’ll sometimes feel blissful and sometimes you may see unusual visions.

You may experience different kinds of psychic activities such as extrasensory awareness, OBE (Out of Body Experience), memories of your past lives and seeing auras.

You also feel energy rushes throughout your entire body and sometimes in one part of the body only. Some energy rushes are quick and forceful, some make you feel dizzy (energy rushes in your head) or frightened.

Sometimes you can feel as though something crawls on you or some part of your body becomes itchy. You may start feeling very hot or cold not depending on your environment.

When the kundalini energy awakens, you may start changing your sleeping or eating patterns. You may sleep longer or shorter and during different times. Your eating habits might completely change; for example, you might stop eating meat.


The Dangers of Kundalini Energy

If you quicken the awakening of this energy and you’re not ready, you may experience very negative consequences. Some people become mentally ill because they cannot handle too much spiritual development and expanding awareness. If you’re not spiritually developed, you’ll get scared of the changes that happen in your mind.

For example, you might start seeing entities that are not physical. This would scare most of the people, however spiritually advanced people wouldn’t find such entities scary. So if you would find such entities scary, it indicates that you’re not ready to awaken this energy.


Here’s What Happens When Kundalini Energy Is Awakened Too Early:

Kundalini energy keeps moving very fast through your chakras trying to escape through your crown chakra. You experience strong pain in different parts of your body, you feel burning in some parts of your body, you hear sounds and see visions of different entities being with you.

Some people lose control over their conscious minds. This happens to people who haven’t experienced much spiritual development.

Your fears manifest into some scary beings which you have to fight with love and faith for them to disappear. This happens if you’re on a low vibration (vibration of fear, anger, hatred and so on). This all happens in your mind, of course, but you see them as real and physical.

Finally, when kundalini energy reaches your crown chakra, your consciousness goes out of your body. No, you don’t die, you just involuntarily astral project. Because of your OBE (Out of Body Experience), you’re able to see your physical body, go through walls and do many other things that non-physical entities do. However it’s very unlikely that you would engage in such activities because you would be too scared and you’ll want to go back to your body.


What To Do If Kundalini Energy Awakens Too Fast/Rises Too Quickly

There are a couple of things that will redistribute the energy in your body and stop or slow down the awakening of kundalini. These are:

Do some grounding activities. Simply do the things that most people do: watch TV, go for a walk, read a book, talk to other people, play a game with others, eat something heavy (avoid eating too much raw food because it’s a spiritual food), sing – you name it.

Remain calm. Stay calm so that you wouldn’t experience any mental disturbances. Know that what you see and what you experience is a natural process of spiritual development. If you see visions, know that they’re in your head and not in this reality. They cannot hurt you, they’re mental.

Get advice from experienced people.  Nothing replaces the guidance of a person with a first-hand experience. If you cannot find such people or they’re unavailable in your area, at least talk to them on the phone or read a book (the very least you can do).

Delay/stop your spiritual development.  Depending whether you want to continue the awakening of this energy or not, you can either stop your spiritual development or delay it. That means you should stop meditating or reading psychic material, you should stop asking psychic/spiritual questions (what you ask is always answered) and you should delay/discontinue other spiritual activities.

Do spinal breathing. Deeply breathe in and out whilst holding your breath after you breathe in. This helps you feel your body and stay connected to the reality. Do this a couple of minutes a day until you no longer feel the forceful energy inside your body.


My kundalini energy story

I was meditating for around two months when I got into the readings of psychic phenomena. I always wanted to find out if what psychics tell really exists . So after reading one article about the spirit guides I started meditating and kept asking to see my spirit guide.

After 10 minutes of continuous asking, a black and white picture appeared in front of me. I saw a 37-40 year old man. He moved in the picture, so it was more like a black and white movie.

I straight away knew that he was my spirit guide. It was a very strange experience, I tell you. You just know that this entity is your guide. It’s like when you see your mother and you know that she’s your mother, that’s how I felt as soon as I saw him. He felt so close to me, like I knew him all the time.

So I was very excited and happy that I actually do have a spirit guide. After that I have also done some automatic writing to find out his name. I basically let him write through me about him. His name was Simon. Wow!

I could really feel him expressing himself through me. The writing wasn’t mine, and I drawn some circles on the paper and then I researched that this is usual when you communicate with non-physical entities.

Although I thought that would be scary, it wasn’t scary at all. In fact, it was exciting and I felt blissful. Although I was at home only with my cat, I felt like I’m surrounded with loving friends. Update: I don’t encourage you to start automatic writing as I haven’t researched it fully and some people claim that it’s one of the easiest ways for negative entities to posses a person attempting such a practice. 

Everything changed when I went to sleep. I suddenly started feeling increasing pressure on my temples, then I heard all kinds of sounds in my head. After two hours I managed to fall asleep only to be awakened by a sudden involuntary shaking of my body. It was the strongest shaking I’ve ever experienced. I thought “Okay, no need to panic, this is just in my mind”.

I slept maybe for 3 hours that night. In the morning I straight away researched what has happened to me. It was then that I found out that I was experiencing kundalini energy awakening and that this happened because I was progressing too fast in my spiritual development.

So I found out that to stop it I’ll need to do some spinal breathing (which I’m doing every day since then) and do some grounding activities, like eating heavy food or going for a walk.

I did everything that was instructed and now I don’t feel kundalini energy in me any more. So it means that I have redistributed my energy equally throughout my body. Phew!

After this experience I had no scary experiences. There was only one strange dream that I got after a couple of days of seeing my spirit guide.

I was resting after meditation and I had a lucid dream. I was questioning my higher self about souls and if they think and what they do between the spaces of thoughts. These were strange questions to ask as they were entirely not what I would ask.

I saw a dark figure of a lady standing in the doorway. She was completely dark but I could see that she had long hair. The background was very blurry, mixed colors of white, orange and gray.

When I asked these questions someone said: “That’s the right question!”

And I jumped out of bed completely awake. I was sitting for a while just wondering what that supposed to mean.

Since then nothing of that nature happened to me.



Kundalini energy awakening is a natural process which usually starts when you start engaging in spiritual activities. If it’s not rushed, you can only slightly feel this powerful energy and you can easily tolerate the changes that you go through.

However, if you rush the awakening of this energy, it can cause serious problems which are likely to scare you and even make you mentally ill. Therefore you should only awaken this energy when you’re spiritually strong and you feel that you’re ready to experience the expansion of your awareness.



What is kundalini?

"Kundalini" literally means coiling, like a snake. In the classical literature of hatha yoga kundalini is described as a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. The image of coiling, like a spring, conveys the sense of untapped potential energy. Perhaps more meaningfully kundalini can be described as a great reservoir of creative energy at the base of the spine. It's not useful to sit with our consciousness fixed in our head and think of kundalini as a foreign force running up and down our spine. Unfortunately the serpent image may serve to accentuate this alien nature of the image. It's more useful to think of kundalini energy as the very foundation of our consciousness so when kundalini moves through the sushumna and through our cakras our consciousness necessarily changes with it.

The concept of kundalini can also be examined from a strictly psychological perspective. From this perspective kundalini can be thought of as a rich source of psychic or libidinous energy in our unconscious.

In the classical literature of Kashmir Shaivism kundalini is described in three different manifestions. The first of these is as the universal energy or para-kundalini. The second of these is as the energizing function of the body-mind complex or prana-kundalini. The third of these is as consciousness or shakti-kundalini which simultaneously subsumes and intermediates between these two. Ultimately these three forms are the same but understanding these three different forms will help to understand the differerent manifestations of kundalini.

What does kundalini have to do with spiritual enlightenment?

First we need a few concepts: In yogic anatomy the sushumna is the central channel and conduit for the kundalini energy that runs along our spine and up to the crown of our head. Along this channel are placed additional channel networks called cakras. These cakras are associated with major aspects of our anatomy - for example our throat, heart, solar plexus, and in turn these aspects of our anatomy are related to aspects of our human nature. According to the literature of kundalini yoga our experience of these centers is limited due to knots which restrict the flow of energy into these centers. Three knots are particuarly important. The knot of Brahma which restricts the center at the base of the spine. The knot of Vishnu which restricts the heart center and the knot of Rudra which restricts the center between the eyebrows. These knots form an important framework in yogic thinking and the stages toward enlightenment are articulated in terms of breaking through these knots in the yogic classic the Hatha Yoga Pradipika as well as in some of the yoga upanishads. Specifically, four stages of progress are described:
arambha, ghata, parichaya and  nishpatti.

Arambha is associated with breaking the knot of Brahma and the awakening of kundalini. Ghata is associated with breaking the knot of Vishnu and and with internal absorption. Parichaya the absorption deepens and in nishpatti the knot of Rudra is pierced and the kundalini may ascend to the center at the crown of the head. In this state transcendence is integrated and, according to the yogic liteature, the yogi has nothing more to attain.

Putting these elaborate physiological decriptions aside, the goal of kundalini yoga is the same as the goal of any legimitate spiritual practice: To be liberated from the limited bounds of the self-centered and alienated ego. In kundalini yoga this is associated with internal manifestations of the kundalini but the external manifestations should be similar to any other legitiimate spiritual practice.

So how do I awaken kundalini?

Indirectly kundalini can be awakened by devotion, by selfless service, or by intellectual enquiry. Broadly speaking there are two radically different direct approaches to awakening kundalini. One approach requires initiation by a guru and relies upon a technique called shaktipat, or ``descent of shakti.'' It is variously called: Siddha Mahayoga, Kundalini Mahayoga or Sahaja Yoga (Spontaneous Yoga). These approaches are treated in the Siddha Mahayoga FAQ. The other approach uses intentional yogic techniques . The styles using intentional techniques include Mantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga or Kriya Yoga. These approaches are treated in this FAQ.

Fundamentally the approach of Siddha Mahayoga and the Kundalini Yogas are different. In Siddha Mahayoga the guru awakens the kundalini and after that the core of the practice is the inactive and non-willful surrender to kundalini. In Kundalini Yogas the will is used to awaken the kundalini and to guide its progress. Clearly these are different approaches. Nevertheless, elements of the each approach occur in the practices of the other. Siddha Mahayogins may use asanas, pranayamas and other hatha yoga practices. On the other hand gurus in Kundalini Yoga may give infusions of shakti to their students to help them at particular points in their practice.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using effort, in kundalini yogas, as opposed to the grace of the guru, in siddha mahayoga, to awaken kundalini?

Since every practitioner brings his own unique inclinations and obstacles to the practice of yoga it is very hard to generalize on this point. In terms of actually awakening kundalini gurus of Siddha Mahayoga claim that the kundalini is more easily and reliably awakened by the grace of the guru than by individual effort. In my limited experience I would agree. with this assertion. While not every long-term student of either practice necessarily shows signs of kundalini awakening it is amazing how many people have had instant awakenings of kundalini through initiation from siddha gurus.

In terms of encountering difficulties along the path the siddha gurus would also claim that fewer problems due to kundalini awakening, such as mental imbalance, are encountered by students of Siddha Mahayoga. Here I think the results are mixed. It seems to me that the guidance of the teacher in either Siddha Mahayoga or Kundalini Yoga is more a determining factor than which style of kundalini practice is employed.

Generally speaking each style of practice has its strengths and weakness. The strength of Siddha Mahayoga is the ease with which it awakens the kundalini. The weakness is that because the kundalini is so easily awakened by the guru students of Siddha Mahayoga often have completely undisciplined personal meditation practices. Time is spent instead to trying to recreate some of their initial experiences by following the guru around hoping for his or her grace. Some people spend 20 or more years in this manner without ever developing an inner core of practice or experience.

The strength of the family of Kundalini Yogas is that the progress is at least apparently more under the control of the student of the yoga. These students seem more likely to have disciplined personal practices and more of an understanding of how the practice relates to their own experience. Unfortunately for some students this leads to a fairly egotistical approach to their practice and ultimately the kundalini energy is used to bolster the ego rather than to merge the ego in bliss.

How is kundalini awakened through mantra yoga?

In mantra yoga the student is initiated by means of a mantra. If the kundalini is to be awakened by means of this yoga then it is essential that the guru gives consciousness or ``chaitanya'' to the mantra. This consciousness can be viewed as the cit-shakti-kundalini. Through repetition of the mantra the  cit-shakti-kundalini of the mantra resonates with the  cit-shakti-kundalini of the student and in this way the student's kundalini is awakened. The reader may have noticed that there doesn't seem to be a great deal of effort applied in this approach. This is true and in many ways this approach is more akin to Siddha Mahayoga in which the guru can use sound or ``shabda'' as the instrument of initiation.

How is kundalini awakened through hatha, laya and kriya yogas?

The practices of hatha, laya and kriya yoga employee literally hundreds of individual techniques to purify the channels and awaken kundalini. Despite this tremendous divesity of approaches to the awakening of kundalini there are only a few underlying models of how kundalini may be awakened with effort in these practrices. The following description draws from the classical texts on kundalini yoga the Nath and Tantric Buddhist lineages as well as on contemporary instruction by American, Indian and Tibetan masters of kundalini yoga. For each model of the process of kundalini yoga a little additional yogic terminology will be required.

The description of kundalini given earlier suffices for general purposes; however, if one wishes to practice the kundalini yogas a more detailed description is necessary. In fact there are a number of highly related yogic concepts which must be understood. Kundalini is often associated with a fierce hot energy. In the hatha yogic terminology of the Nath tradition this energy is known as rajas and also as surya. In the tantric Buddhist tradition this energy is known as red bodhicitta and also as candali in the Sanskrit language or as gTummo in Tibetan. The word gTummo literally means ``the fierce woman.'' The association between kundalini and a fiery energy runs so deep that this fiery energy is often considered to be synonymous with kundalini. Strictly speaking these two energies are separate; however, whenever the fiery surya energy is activated then kundalini stirs and and often when kundalini stirs the fiery energy is also activated. So while these energies are not equivalent, from a practical standpoint the activation of one energy will most often result in the activation of the other.

The most universal description is that kundalini is awakened by the uniting of the ``winds'' or ``energies'' of prana and apana. Prana is the life-giving energy associated with inspiration. It is associated with feelings of expansion and its center is in the heart. Apana is the downward-voiding energy associated with defecation. It is associated with feelings of contraction and its center is in the anus. The uniting of these two very different forces creates a ``spark'' which awakens the kundalini from its slumber.

Another description is that kundalini is awakened through the uniting of the energies of the two channels of ida and pingala. The ida and pingala are two side channels which run parallel to central channel, the sushumna, on its left and right sides respectively. The ida channel is associated with a cool energy that descends from the crown of the head. The pingala channel is associated with a hot energy that ascends to the crown. From the yogic viewpoint ordinary waking consciousness our winds or energies run in these two side channels and as a result our minds are unsteady and prone to anger, greed and delusion. The kundalini yogin aims to cause the energies to move out of the ida and pingala and into the sushumna. When this occurs the knots which hold the kundalini energy in place are loosened and the kundalini is able to rise.

A similar description is that kundalini is awakened through the uniting of the two bindus of rajas and retas. First of all bindu, or literally ``drop'', means a constituent of the subtle body. The bindu rajas is associated with the egg (or sometimes menstrual blood) of woman but it more fundamentally refers to a subtle constituent of both the male and female body. In some texts it says that this constituent resides at the navel. In other texts it says that it resides near the perineum. The Tantric Buddhists call this constituent ``red bodhicitta'' or literally the ``red mind-of-enlightenment.'' Whatever it is called, this constituent is associated with a fiery red energy that rises. It is also associated with the sun. One may also find other associations such as the ``red lion'' of alchemical traditions.

The complement to rajas is retas or shukra. The bindu retas is associated with the sperm of man but like rajas it more fundamentally refers to a constituent present in both men and women. Classical texts are in agreement that this resides in the subtle body at the crown of the head. The Tantric Buddhists call this constituent ``white bodhicitta'' or literally the ``white mind-of-enlightenment.'' Whatever it is called this constituent is associated with a cooling white energy and is associated with the cooling rays of the moon. One may also see associations with the ``white eagle'' of alchemical traditions.

In summary, the fundamental approaches to awakening kundalini are through the uniting of the prana and apana, or through the uniting of the rajas and retas.

What are the techniques to unite prana and apana?

In the rich yogic literature extending over at least one thousand years two techniques for uniting prana and apana stand out. These are the vase breath and the bandha traya or three bandhas. These two will be briefly described below. A few things are important to note first. These descriptions are only detailed enough so that the techniques can be unambiguously identified. They are not instructions for practice. As will be discussed later there are inherent dangers in awakening the kundalini and there are also dangers in mis-practicing techniques which aim at awakening kundalini. Anyone who wishes to awaken kundalini should find a qualified teacher. The descriptions below are only to give the seeker a little orientation as to the nature of the path.

The vase breath (Sanskrit: kumbhaka, Tibetan: rlung bumpa can) is a technique in which the the apana wind is first drawn up from the perineum region to a point about two inches below the navel. The apana wind is drawn up using a technique called mula-bandha or literally ``root-lock.'' There are a variety of descriptions of this technique. The prana wind is then inspired and drawn down to the the same area as well. The student then swallows and then slightly tenses the navel region to create the pot-like posture from which the technique draws its name. In the yogic literature it is often noted that one should never use much force in retaining the breath and should only gradually increase the duration of retention. To gain success in the vase breath it is valuable, if not essential, to become very familiar with the prana and apana winds or energies. If the nature of these do not become very clear then this technique will only be another mechanical exercise. If one does gain facility and moving these energies then without a doubt kundalini can be awakened from her long slumber.

Another fundamental technique for uniting prana and apana is through the application of bandha traya or three bandhas or locks. The first lock applied is the mula-bandha used to drive upward the apana wind as described above. The second lock is uddiyana. Some writers give the etymology of this term as ``flying up.'' It is not fully clear but the name of this may be derived from the ancient land of Odiyan which was a haven for Buddhist and Hindu Tantrics. In uddiyana bandha the breath is expelled and the abdomen is brought backward. In this way the energies in the navel area are drawn in and up. Photographs often show yogins who appear to have squashed their entire abdominal region. This is not necessary. The goal is simply to subtly draw the winds together. The third of lock is Jalandhara bandha. The name of this lock may come from an Indian Mahasiddha who was revered by both Hindu Yogins and Buddhist Tantrics or alternatively from the city, associated with kundalini yogic practiced, that is located at the border of the Punjab. In Jalandhara bandha the head is brought back a bit and then the chin is brought down on the chest. This lock keeps the prana locked below the throat.

In summary, the goal of the vase breath pranayama and the bandha traya is the same: the uniting of the prana and apana. In the vase breath exercise this is done by using phases of inspiration and retention and adding muscular control to cup the winds in a vase or pot below the navel. In bandha traya this is accomplished by phases of expiration and retention and adding muscular control to force the winds together in the abdominal region. Intuitively there also seems to be something of a vacuum effect in bandha traya which is aiming to create a vacuum in which a suction force will be used to arouse the kundalini.

Some will be drawn to try to practice these techniques but I believe that to do so the guidance of a teacher is necessary. If a teacher is unavailable one might simply try to become more aware of the prana and apana winds. To become aware of the prana wind just pay attention to the inspiration phase of an ordinary breath. The Tibetan word for prana translates as ``life-holding wind.'' Try to become sensitive to the life sustaining properties of this wind. Sensitivity to the apana wind can be developed by paying attention to the muscles and their sensations during evacuation. If you were raised in Western culture this itself may prove plenty of challenge!

What are the techniques for uniting rajas and retas?

To unite rajas and retas inside the body requires causing the winds or energies to enter the central channel. Ultimately this achieves the same end as the process of uniting prana and apana but the emphasis is a little different. To cause the winds to enter the central channel there are a continuum of approaches ranging from very gentle to very forceful.

In the very gentle approaches one attempts to bring the winds into the central channel by imagination or concentration alone. One visualizes an image, such as a deity or a seed-syllable in the central channel and lets mind become absorbed in that. It is a common tenet of yogic lore that where the mind goes the winds will follow. So if the mind can be kept steadily focussed on inside of the central channel then the winds will enter there. When the winds enter there the knots holding the rajas and retas loosen and the two are allowed to flow together. It is worth noting that it was Gopi Krishna's practice of a very simliar method that led to his tremendous difficulties with kundalini. So even very gentle methods can lead to imbalances. In the more forceful practices the visualizations described above are complemented by breathing practices such as the vase-breath practice described earlier.

If upon reading these descriptions one would like to try to practice them then a teacher is necessary. If one lacks a teacher but has a surplus of curiousity one might simply try to become familiar with the central channel. Take an ordinary breath. How does the spine feel when inhaling? How does the spine feel upon exhaling? Success in these yogic practices will require a great sensitivity to the central channel and much of this sensitivity can be obtained by simply improving one's awareness of that area.

Are these really all the techniques for awakening kundalini by effort?

Of course life couldn't possible be this simple. There are a wide variety of techniques that serve to awaken kundalini through either uniting prana and apana or uniting rajas and retas. Most of these bear some similarity to those described above. There are a few radically different methods. Some of these are extremely forceful. Some yogins, take literally the meaning of rajas and retas and seek a literal uniting of these constituents. Others take the slumber of the kundalini very literally and attempt to very forcefully wake her up by dropping on the floor while seated in the lotus position.

At the other extreme, in many other approaches no attempt whatsoever is made to awaken the kundalini directly. In these practices all of the effort is placed on purifying the nerve channels through physical, mental and breathing exercises. In the practice of Kriya yoga as taught by Baba-ji and Lahiri Mahasaya the kundalini is ``magnetized.'' Apparently in this practice energy is circulated around the central channel without forcing it into the central channel. In this way it is expected that the kundalini will be drawn into the central channel.

Is forcefully awakening kundalini dangerous?

If we take the psychological perspective and view kundalini as the power latent in our unconscious then it is easy to understand that awakening this force is going to bring a greater amount of unconscious material into our consciousness. Even in the best of circumstances this is likely to be uncomfortable and if an individual is barely coping with his unconscious even under normal circumstances then awakening kundalini may push the individual over into psychosis. This phenomenon has been documented many times.

Forceful methods of awakening kundalini pose additional dangers. As has been mentioned, the breath or prana is strongly interdependent on the mind. If one begins to actively control the breath then the mind will be affected. Many kundalini yogas rely on this connection. Unfortunately, with incorrect practice rather than bringing the mind to a greater state of equanimity the breath control practices can also create even greater imbalances in the mind. Typical signs of this are extreme agitation and anxiety. In the panorama of human suffering there is probably no greater suffering than that of a mentally unbalanced individual and no sadder example of this than someone who has actually brought a state of mental imbalance onto himself through improper practice of kundalini yoga.

As an example an individual named Gopi Krishna awakened his kundalini by doing unguided meditation on his crown cakra. His life after awakening was both blessed by ecstatic bliss and tormented by physical and mental discomfort. Eventually his experience stabilized. He wrote down his experiences in a recently re-released autbiography entitled ``Living with Kundalini.'' Gopi Krishna's autobiography appears to be an honest representation of his experiences but it is only one extreme datapoint in the panorama of experience on kundalini yoga. It represents dangers in forceful unguided practice but it is not representative of a typical practicioner's experience. Some gurus and students of kundalini yoga seem to feel that such warnings regarding kundalini practice are overblown, but there is simply no doubt that improper application of breath control practices can lead to mental imbalance. Breath control practices which typically do not use breath retention are much safer. Kriya yoga practices which do not focus on purifying or ``magnetizing'' the central channel without directly attempting to awaken the kundalini are also much safer. Finally, the role of a fully qualified guru cannot be estimated here. It is not just that the guru has traversed the path but a fully qualified guru of kundalini yoga has the ability to intervene in the mind and body of the student to correct imbalances.

But even if kundalini is dangerous, isn't it a faster way to enlighenment?

First of all it may be useful to observe that there is no technique currently known on earth that appears to be rapidly catapulting large number of individuals toward enlightenment. Because kundalini yogas deal so directly with a powerful enlightening force it seems natural that they would be ``faster'', but there appears to be alot of tortoise and hare phenomena at work with newbie kundalini yogins. Many people begin kundalini yogas, have strong initial experiences and then become frightened. Many who perservere through this initial phase become distracted by the energy and focus on temporal and phenomenal applications of the energy.

What are the origins of the kundalini yogas?

Hatha, laya and kriya yoga all trace their origins back to the era of the Indian Mahasiddhas. This era spanned the 8th and 12th centuries in Northern India, Nepal and Tibet. The key figures in this era included the Mahasiddhas Matsyenranath and his student Gorakshanath as well as Jalandhara and Jalandhara's student Krishnacarya. Gorakshanath and Matsyendranath are venerated as the originators of the Natha lineage. Jalandhara is commemorated in the practice of the Jalandhara mudra but he and his student Krishnacarya are also deeply venerated for their roles in the early years of Tantric Buddhism. In fact each of these great yogins is venerated both in Hindu Tantric and in Buddhist Tantric schools. Of these individuals there are several works attributed to Jalandhara and Krishanacarya in the canon of Indian Buddhist Tantric literature which has survived in Tibetan translation.

What is the classical literature of kundalini yoga?

The classical works of hatha, kriya and laya yoga include: Gorakshashatakam, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Gherandha Samhita, Shiva Samhita, and a group of about twenty works known as the Yoga Upanishads. References to translations of these works will be given in the answer to the question. Each of these works is very brief, typically less than 500 verses and yet the entire literature of hatha, kriya and laya yoga is drawn from these works. Anyone interested in kundalini yoga can benefit from taking the time to read these classical works but to actually practice the techniques described in these works a teacher is required. This is reiterated within the text of these works themselves.

What is the precise role of the teacher in kundalini yoga? Can I learn kundalini yoga through books?

The teacher is highly revered in kundalini yoga, just as in other schools of yoga. A recurrent theme in the texts of kundalini yoga is that if one needs a teacher to learn everyday skills such as reading and writing how much more one needs a teacher to master the practice of kundalini yoga.

The first role of the teacher in kundalini yoga is as an instructor in the practices of kundalini yoga. The classical works of kundalini yoga repeat again and again that only those practices learnt from the guru will bear fruit and all other attempts to practice will only bring misery. This may seem a bit melodramatic but the point is that these practices are sufficiently subtle that they can only be properly conveyed through personal instruction by an individual who has himself been properly instructed.

The second role of a teacher in kundalini yoga is in monitoring the progress of the student. A tremendous variety of positive and negative experiences can manifest on the path of kundalini yoga. A true kundalini teacher will not only have encountered a wide range of these experiences but will have a subtle sensitivity to the students nervous system and will be able to intuit when practice is leading to imbalance.

Ultimately, whether following the path of effort or the path of grace, the true guru is the guru-tattva or guru-principle - this is the kundalini-shakti herself.For those individuals that have not been able to find a teacher there are a few published materials that are apparently intended for beginning self study. There are a number of manuals available from Yogi Bhajan and his students. These are referred to in the section immediately below. Swami Chetanananda has a guided meditation that serves as an introduction to the practice of kundalini yoga. It is available from Rudra Press.