What Is Kundalini Yoga and Kundalini Energy?

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Kundalini Yoga is a popular form of yoga that’s taught in studios all over the world. It’s a little different to the asana practice you might be used to in, say, a vinyasa class, with some challenging posture holds and breathwork, as well as meditation, chanting, and singing. Instead, in this form of yoga, the focus is on the movement and manipulation of energy – specifically Kundalini energy. Teachers and practitioners of Kundalini Yoga find it a powerful practice that can bring about transcendental experiences – both within the practice and as the lasting effects of awakening the Kundalini within. Some of the meditations floating around the internet even come with a warning about unleashing this potent force. So what exactly is “Kundalini” energy?

The coiled snake

Kundalini energy is a concept that originally appeared in ancient yoga philosophy. It is understood metaphorically in the form of a coiled snake that sits at the base of the spine – inside the pelvis with the root chakra. The word “kundalini” translates from Sanskrit as “coiled serpent”. It is a form of Shakti, the sacred feminine energy that exists within all life and animates all beings, according to Hinduism. Kundalini refers to the potential of this energy as it sits dormant at the base of the trunk, but also the activation of this energy rising up the spine, snaking its way through the rest of the chakras as it moves up to the crown of the head. Kundalini is sometimes misunderstood as sexual energy – which in a certain sense it is, but only in the way that it all comes down to the life-force energy of creation and vitality. The activation or awakening of Kundalini energy can be intensely physical and spiritual.

Awakening Kundalini

Kundalini Yoga is a practice dedicated to activating this energy and unblocking the chakras so that it can flow freely – enlivening the vital body. The ultimate goal is what’s known as “Kundalini awakening”, which is a state of spiritual enlightenment. Drawing out and utilizing this energy leads to deeper states of connection and peace through higher states of consciousness, according to practitioners. Studies have found that, just as with other types of yoga and meditation, Kundalini practices can help reduce stress and improve mental and physical wellbeing. Kundalini Yoga is also about managing and channeling this powerful energy in useful ways, and in order to prevent overwhelming the nervous system, since Kundalini awakening can have strong physical effects that can be alarming (hence the warning that comes with some Kundalini meditations you might find online).

Practicing Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga is both relaxing and invigorating, and each class or meditation practice will have its own focus. There will be kriyas, or actions, each of which has a specific purpose, such as inviting prosperity or aiding digestion. These could be repetitive movements, breathwork, long posture holds, or chanted mantras that in themselves can create a transcendentally meditative state. The modern framework of the yoga practice – which Kundalini Yoga organization 3HO describes as a holistic technology that “builds physical strength and stamina and enhances cognitive function, emotional fitness, and spiritual connection” – was developed by Yogi Bhajan. He created what is now globally recognized as “Kundalini Yoga” from several core tenets of yoga philosophy, and began teaching it in the United States in the 1960s. Bhajan died in disrepute in 2004, but the practice remains beneficial to an increasing number of yogis who, according to 3HO, “describe the experience as exhilarating, euphoric, and powerful.” Kundalini Yoga is, however, just one framework for activating Kundalini energy. If you are interested in tuning into your own Kundalini, you can find out more from a trusted yoga or meditation teacher of any discipline, or a reputable meditation platform that specializes in this type of energy and meditation.

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All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals that influenced this article: Longitudinal And Immediate Effect Of Kundalini Yoga On Salivary Levels Of Cortisol And Activity Of Alpha-Amylase And Its Effect On Perceived Stress; Kundalini Awakening, Kundalini Awareness.

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