Before we begin discussing Kundalini we should first talk about bodies, subtle energies, chakras and nadis. We have 3 bodies, the Physical body of flesh and bone, the Astral body of subtle energies and the Causal body which exists within the Physical and Astral bodies and carries the seed state of an individual from one reincarnation to the next.
Subtle energy, which exists within the Astral body, is a form of energy that cannot be measured within the electromagnetic spectrum and is more closely aligned with the theories of quantum physics than that of traditional Newtonian concepts. Examples of subtle energy include; chi, ki, prana, love, kundalini, and so on.
A Chakra is an energy centre, derived from the word wheel, and can be visualised as discs spinning in a horizontal plane with the spine as the axis. Although they coincide with the junctions of major arteries, veins and nerves, chakras are also part of the Astral body and are instead the junctions of subtle energy channels, called nadis.
The seven main chakras are:
- Muladhara (coccyx)
- Svadhistana (genital area)
- Manipura (navel area)
- Anahata (heart area)
- Vishuddha (throat)
- Ajna (third eye)
- Sahasrara (crown of the head)
There are in fact very many chakras in the body as they form wherever nadis converge. It is believed that there are around 72,000 nadis in the body but, much like with chakras, there are only a few main nadis.
The three main nadis are:
The Ida nadi, which runs down the left hand side of the spine, is associated with the left hemisphere of the brain and with passivity, cold, the moon and apana (passive). Opposite, on the right hand side of the spine, is the Pingala nadi which is conversely associated with the right hemisphere of the brain and with activity, heat, the sun and prana (active). The Sushumna nadi runs down the centre of the spine between the other two and it is through this that Kundalini rises. These associations tie in with the use of pranayama techniques to cool or heat the body such as Nadi Shodana.
Kundalini, derived from the word kunda for a bowl, is a dormant potential force within humans or a form of energy that lies coiled, like a serpent, at the base of the spine and is released up the spine to the Sahasrara chakra producing an extremely profound mystical experience. It is also said to occur rarely and spontaneously as the result of physical or psychological trauma.
In yoga there are two phases to this; the first and longest is that of purification through regular Pranayama, Asana and Kriya practise. The second is the awakening phase which is achieved through the use of bandhas and advanced pranayama.
As Kundalini is awakened and it rises up through the lower chakras, siddis or yogic powers will develop and the individual must have mastered the first two limbs of Ashtanga, Yama’s and Niyama’s, to ensure those powers are not abused.
Kundalini is serious stuff and should be done under the guidance of a suitably experienced guru as there have been reported instances of undesirable effects of premature awakening resulting in individuals experiencing mental breakdowns, anxiety and even requiring hospitalisation.
Jean-Paul Lassale (200hr Jan-May 2014)