Dharana mudras aid or bring about the raising of Kundalini. Most other mudras are only influencing your own life, that is they make your asana, pranayama, meditation or samadhi, respectively, more efficient. The Kundalini raising mudras (another name for Dharana mudras) are different. Depending on the proficiency developed by the individual, powers can be harnessed that influence the life of the community around us. Kundalini is the divine creative force. While it is usually associated with enhanced creativity, love for one’s fellow beings, and spiritual revelation all the way to cosmic consciousness, it can also be harnessed for the dark arts. So pointed out Gopi Krishna that also the phenomenon of the evil genius was powered by Kundalini. The reason characters like Hitler and Stalin could cause the damage they did was that they achieved access to extraordinary energy resources. They only used them for the wrong purpose. Even if we initially have no intention to attain such far-flung goals like world dominance, it is not a safe approach to simply try out these Kundalini mudras and then deal with the energy once we have it. By then, it might be too late to control them. With Goethe’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice we may then say, “The spirits I summoned, I can’t get rid of them”. This could express itself in trivial abuses of powers, such as using one’s charisma to manipulate people to supply sexual favours, something that has frequently occurred in yoga. But it also could lead to much worse. To prevent this, we need to first firmly establish ourselves in ethics and an attitude of service.

The first form of ethical practice we need to consider is shaucha, often translated as cleanliness, but more comprehensively defined as physical, emotional and mental purity, or abstaining from physical, emotional and mental toxins. Shaucha is one of the yogic niyamas (observances) listed in the Yoga Sutra, stanza I.32. Any desire to manipulate others or to self-aggrandize is based on fear and not realizing that all beings share the same atman (self, consciousness). We need to abstain from negative thoughts and emotions of ambition, competition, greed and anger. Our life needs to be devoted to the good of all and not just spent acting for our own advantage. This always starts on the emotional and thought level. A regular forgiveness practice also is helpful. If approaching Kundalini while harbouring toxic thoughts and emotions against others, we will experience shipwreck. Physical purity and abstaining from physical toxins also imply that we abstain from animal products and adhere to a plant-based diet. Sugar and salt also need to be reduced to a minimum. And psychedelics, marijuana, alcohol and coffee must be shunned when attempting to raise Kundalini, lest we intend to undermine our mental sanity. While stimulants such as these may be seen as fun, once approaching Kundalini, kindergarten time is over. If we abuse Kundalini for means of personal aggrandisement or for the satisfaction of our egotism we may fly high for some time, and for that time, we may even convince ourselves of our own greatness and entitlement. However, the karmic boomerang always comes back. We need to place ourselves right from the beginning into the service of the Divine, or fulfil our life’s divine purpose. This practice in yoga is called ishvara pranidhana. This phrase is listed in the Yoga Sutra four times, and I have described it in great detail in my previous textbook, How To Find Your Life’s Divine Purpose. It is an important and life-changing step to consecrate oneself to a higher intelligence.

This is an excerpt from my 2022 text MUDRAS Seals of Yoga.

(Image features Maha Bandha Mudra with internal kumbhaka)