Tantra is a compendium of knowledge and a comprehensive spiritual system. Within this system exist several different branches or paths, all leading to the same pinnacle of spiritual success. Sexuality is but one slice of the 8 piece pie. Kundalini Yoga is one path or branch that falls under the great system of Tantra and the tantric umbrella.
Kundalini yoga dates as far back as the 10th century. Two great and legendary gurus; Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath; founded a spiritual branch known as the Natha, tradition. The Nath is an order of Tantric Masters who asserted that the practice of Hatha Yoga and its theological philosophy was a combination of ideas stemming from Buddhism, Shaivism, and the yogic and tantric traditions of India.
A notable aspect of practice within the Nath tradition has been its use of Yoga, particularly Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga, to refine and transform one’s body into a sahaja siddha state, in which a practitioner awakens his or her self-identity with absolute reality through the rising of kundalini shakti – the fundamental force of the human being. For thousands of years, this sacred science and spirituality was veiled in secrecy, passed along only via oral tradition, from masters to chosen disciples and initiates; that is why it is very rare these days to meet a Tantric teacher who actually knows the core values of Tantra, for one doesn’t pick Tantra, rather it picks you.
Real Kundalini Yoga is the most powerful and dangerous type of Yoga. This type of yoga is the keeper of profound potential. Anything with great potency can become dangerous if handled improperly, unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening nowadays with Kundalini Yoga. Just as there are steps to learning how to play the violin, reaching the level of an accomplished athlete, or becoming a master chef, there are also stages for the safe, successful study and practice of spirituality, which includes Kundalini Yoga. In reality to to be able to properly guide the power of the Kundalini through Kundalini Yoga requires various steps of learning over years of study and practice.
Teaching Kundalini Yoga was unheard of; to serious Tantrics in the East, it still is; this is due to its dangers of not teaching and practicing it properly. To this day Tantric Masters who still zelaously protect Tantric Knowledge, carefully pick their students from all over the word; various factors take place aside from passion and the necessary discipline to learn, study, practice and assimilate the lessons into a life style.
A rebel yogi brought a diluted and polluted version to the west; this version is what most people nowadays understand for Kundalini yoga. Luckily, this neo-adapted style strayed far from the original teachings and the authentic tradition and knowledge remain rare and safeguarded, only to be shared if and when a real Tantric feels the initiate is ready and worthy; for like any good knowledge, with its knowing comes responsibility. The reality is the power of the kundalini is so intense it can drive a person mad; this aside from the fact as you start the practice, you will already feel as if you are dancing with madness every now and then. This happens because this energy forces you to face your shadow or traumas but also awakens your inner “daemon” (not to be confused with demon); a daemon is your inner genius. If the path for the Kundalini to rise hasn’t been previously cleared, the results can be more damaging than helpful.
Kundalini comes from the Sanskrit language and translates into the word “coiled” in English, as in a coiled snake or serpent. Kundalini shakti, or energy, is a cosmic potential that is located in the root chakra of every human being but lies dormant and asleep for most. It is the means for deepening our connection to our ultimate spiritual purpose and for reuniting us with the Divine Source itself, our true nature. In her contained state, kundalini shakti is a tightly coiled static power with an incredible amount of potentiality. This is where Kundalini Yoga can serve a great purpose. The techniques and practices contained within this extraordinary science can slowly awaken the latent potential of this divine spiritual power and drive it upward through the subtle channel of the spine. What happens next is nothing short of magical and mysterious and the reason why serious scientists have taken great interest in trying to decipher Kundalini yoga and its practices. Practitioners of authentic Kundalini Yoga can experience an entire remodeling of their beings – physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically – as well as spiritual illumination of great magnitude. The process is a long and arduous one; it tends to get easier once you start healing the shadow and you become more adept with the practices.
Currently people are taught the diluted version of Kundalini Yoga, which approaches this beautiful yet dangerous force as if it was something a person can turn on and off. Kundalini shakti cannot be turned off and on; although it takes time, discipline, patience and practice, once this power is turned on it remains on. This supreme power acts with a functionality more akin to a dimmer light switch, whereby the cosmic force is incrementally turned on and activated slowly to allow for harmonious integration and assimilation into the multi-structured energetic system and subtle bodies of the practitioner.
The dangers that can ensue become clearer when a premature arising occurs in a beginner practitioner. In order for kundalini to seamlessly rise through the proper energetic channels, the pathway must be clear, pure, and unobstructed. Such purity is rare to find in modern people of today due to our current life style and the fact most people are use to looking out than in. Purity to a Tantric is not restriction nor a rigid or prude attitude; to a Tantric a person with such attitude requires cleansing…in other words, that person is impure. Purity is recognizing that our bodies are beautiful and divine and if use appropriately, can help us unify body, mind, spirit and vital energy and transcend the duality of the world we live in. To try and push kundalini shakti through an impure system would be the equivalent of trying to push 10,000V of electricity through an old, faulty wire that is only designed to sustain 120V. A burnout is inevitable and negative and damaging effects can result.
Kundalini Yoga is the crème de la crème in terms of powerful techniques and practices that are both obscure and secret to non-initiates. A real Tantric could teach you basic steps to get acquainted with it, but he or she will not teach you Kundalini Yoga until you are prepared and the practitioner feels you are disciplined about it.
A genuine teacher will caution practitioners and not seduce them to stretch their practice beyond their capacity, for Kundalini Yoga can heal you or break you. The danger is due to the exponential accumulation of energy or intense pranic friction which can have destructive results at the physical, astral, and mental levels if a practitioner is not prepared. For example, there has been cases where a blood vessel has burst in the brain, a schism could arise in the personality due to not being ready to confront the shadow; even energy may not be directed as expected, such as by descending instead of rising.
It is important to once again highlight the difference between modern Kundalini Yoga and real Kundalini Yoga. What is taught in more mainstream Yoga establishments throughout the world is not reflective of the traditional Kundalini Yoga that is described in the original tantric texts. The texts themselves are written in a codified language and the practices that encompass the kundalini path are encrypted in such a way that only initiates or spiritual masters possessed the key to unlock their meaning and execution, their teachings are passed to few orally generation upon generation; in reality there are only a handful of Tantric Masters all over the world and the number of their initiated is not very large either. Modernly however, there are a handful of places in certain parts of the world where Tantra is taught faithful to its ancient practices. There is a desire to spread some of the teachings to other parts of the world but that has to be done taking everything already mentioned into account; opening new Tantric schools will take some time.
The modernized version of Kundalini Yoga being taught all over, is a blend of several practices stemming from different spiritual principles and ideologies, and therefore it does not carry the same potency and efficacy as the ancient original art. Nevertheless, many people still gain some nice and subtle effects, even from such a new-age approach.
Here are some steps to consider if you are serious about eventually learning Kundalini Yoga.
Kriya Yoga: Different from the Kriya Yoga of Yogananda’s lineage, this Kriya Yoga system is derived from the Shatkarma Kriyas, classified as a system of purification techniques that help to restore the body to a natural and healthy state and internally cleanse the mind, body, and emotions for spiritual beautification and development. Kriya Yoga is a crucial step for preparing the physical body for Kundalini Yoga.
Hatha Yoga: Ancient Hatha Yoga is not a stretching type of Yoga but rather a meditative practice that is energetically based. The yoga poses that make up this style help to purify the body while enlivening important energy channels and centers.
Pranayama: Likened to hyperventilation techniques nowadays, pranayama in fact is the act of controlling the prana, or life force energy. Once practitioners have sufficiently purified themselves through Kriya Yoga and opened their vital energy channels through Hatha Yoga, they are ready to practice pranayama. This technique is the driving force behind raising kundalini shakti along the spine.
Tantric Meditation: The mind plays an important role in awakening and raising kundalini shakti. Ultimately energy flows where the mind goes. If the mind is very dark in nature the energy will flow chaotically as well. Chaos is pure energy but it is up to the practitioner to meet it and train it. Therefore, a disciplined (not rigid) mind is essential and also of the utmost importance in preparing for awakening the Kundalini. Once a practitioner has reached this level he or she can start to awaken the Kundalini but will have enough knowledge and discipline not to go faster that the body and mind can handle.
Modern Yoga can be likened to a more physical training in which stretching and flexibility, gymnastics-like rigor, and body toning and fitness are the name of the game. Authentic Yoga the other hand, is a spiritual practice with the evolution of the soul of the human being as its goal. As you can see, these are in stark contrast and represent dramatically different pursuits.
Kundalini yoga specifically works with the kundalini energy. This energy is extremely unique and the most cherished of all, as it contains the cosmic and spiritual potential of a human being. It is the only energy that can bring a person to full integration of all aspects that make up self.
Through Kundalini Yoga all of the chakras are altered and spiritualized, this rising can lead powerful transformation of a human being; an open mind, the ability to properly discern when to be peaceful and when to take action, paranormal abilities, high states of consciousness, and – ultimately – enlightenment. Working with kundalini is the most effective and efficient way of working with energy and reaching spiritual success on the tantric path.
To choose the Tantric Path is to choose a life long path; no shortcuts. Not everyone should practice Kundalini Yoga; one needs to learn his own limitations and recognize when one is ready. In order to maintain not only secrecy but also safety, you cannot learn Kundalini Yoga from a book; anyone who tells you otherwise is lying for all serious Tantrics know better than to share the actual practice in a book. The real techniques are simply not written about or accessible in any modern literary works. There are some ancient Sanskrit texts on the subject, but they are extremely abstract and written in an enigmatic, cryptic manner that cannot be deciphered by a neophyte or amateur practitioner.
If you are serious about practicing authentic Kundalini Yoga then it is compulsory that you seriously prepare your mind, body and spirit before you even approach a serious Tantric to teach you about it; for if they know what they are talking about, if you are not prepared they will turn you down. There are no shortcuts, nor should there be, when it comes to Kundalini Yoga.
**By Sofia Falcone