What is Kundalini?

In an earlier post I asked the question: “What is Hatha Yoga?” This post will seek to build on that earlier discussion and probably make things even more confusing.

Anyone that considers the role of Kundalini in their practice of Yoga has moved away from the periodic table as their sole means of interpreting the world around them. S/he has begun to see the material world as the interplay of Prana, life force or energy. When we talk about Kundalini we invite a sense of the Mystic, Yoga is no longer looked at as simply an exercise.

One of the most enduring aspects of Yoga is its relatively unadulterated lineage of teachings, philosophy and the essence of its mythology. If we can step away from Yoga as simply “that body thing” then perhaps we can see Mythology in Yoga as a sojourn into psyche or an extension of Jungian archetypes. We then start to interpret some of this mythology as representative of the self. But why mythology?

Because the concepts being alluded to, energy, life, reality, infinity, oneness are too big to be understood in terms related to logic, order and material reality. For example, we cannot truly experience infinity, because the universe is too vast for us to really know what we mean when we say ‘infinity.’ And there’s the rub. Yoga is an attempt at a felt experience internally. We simply do not have the language, or means to communicate what exactly we mean when we talk about this.

Enter metaphor

And allegory. We use metaphors to elaborate on an idea when a simple word will not do:

He really hit the nail on the head

What is being expressed in the above statement is ‘he got his message across effectively.’ Metaphors can be used to add a descriptive value as well as an interpretational spin on something. To draw a comparison and give a degree of meaning. I love this device because it keeps the definition of something loose, open. When it comes to understanding / defining the Universe, could this be an intelligent view to take…?

It seems the ancients were on to something

As Swami Ji might say.

Representation of Chakras as energy vortices

Back to Kundalini

Kundalini is expressed as a coiled energy that lives in the base of the spine. Kundalini represents that part of ourselves that has not yet fully awakened to itself. So it sleeps. It is a loaded potentiality that when experienced has been described as elation, ecstasy, enrapture.

Kundalini energy has been represented in many ways in Vedic literature. As the serpent uncoils and travels up the spine, it pierces each chakra, opening it and releasing its energy. The snake climbs up the spine until union is complete. Another description is a representation of the human as a tree, with roots below and branches above. The trunk is the central column which connects above and below. The net result is that the practitioner no longer experiences consciousness as the duality of self and object. They merge. The trick is to stay in that state of oneness.

Other cross cultural references to the snake motif include Kaduceus, and also the snake in the garden of Eden. Super keen to get any comments of how readers interpret this.

Famous people that are said to have succeeded and experienced this are Jesus, Buddha, Rumi and Moses (remember the staff).

What is Kundalini Yoga?

Kundalini Yoga is a Kriya based system of Yoga. It is different from the other styles of postural Yoga in that Kriyas are acts or rituals. The essence of Kundalini Yoga is to awaken the sleeper within. In fact all Yoga is concerned with this in some way. But Kundalini Yoga uses a series of exercises (Kriyas) to shake up and pull this energy up the central column, or Shusumna Nadhi. The Shusumna Nadhi is not a physical thing, it is an energetic representation of our spinal column.



Until we are not fully realised Kundalini is what we are at the core. It encompasses at once our physiology and psychology.

As you may have gathered, a lot of what is being said here is interpretational. All descriptions are a deviation from the actual experience itself. So an image or a thought system around an experience like the one being described is always going to be limited. This subject is immense and the foray here doesn’t even come close to an explanation but I hope to have introduced some of the central concepts to aid your research.

If this has got you curious about Kundalini Yoga and you want to take your curiosity up a notch then drop into my Hertford Yoga classes on Wednesdays and Fridays from 7:30pm.

Thanks for reading.


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