Rising Kundalini may unleash significant energy sensations. We need to prepare the vessel, our body, for power conduction (shakti chalana). The first step to this is to establish ourselves in a daily asana practice. A minimum would be to practice asanas for 60 minutes 5 days per week, but more is better, and needed for somebody in their 20s or 30s. I consider the Ashtanga Vinyasa method ideal for preparing the body for power conduction. However, I know this form of yoga is not suitable for everybody. The system that I am offering here can, of course, also be supported by a different form of asana practice. However, energetic forms of yoga will generally show effects more quickly, and in the long term, are more efficient. For more info on Ashtanga Vinyasa please refer to my two previous volumes, Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosophy and Ashtanga Yoga The Intermediate Series.
The manifold purposes of posture practice are
- Removing the physical strata of conditioning from the body
- Increasing longevity to prepare for a long practice life
- Creating an adamantine body that withstands disease better and can conduct energy surges
- Improving the pranic retention rate during kumbhakas
- Enabling the body to perform sufficiently long inversions to arrest prana in the Vishuddha-, and Ajna Chakras
- Enabling the body to sit in the cardinal meditation asanas to practice pranayama, meditation and samadhi
Once we are to a certain level established in asana, we then add pranayama practice. Before engaging in pranayama, we should not wait until we have reached some mythic proficiency level in asana. Pranayama is a significant undertaking that takes time to master, therefore, it is better after an initial period where only asana is performed, to learn and study asana and pranayama side-by-side. There are multiple layers, practices and stages to pranayama practice, and it would be reasonable to practice pranayama daily for 30 minutes for quite some time before approaching Kundalini. During Kundalini raising more may be required, depending on which avenue one exactly choses. The main goals of pranayama are:
- Slowing down the breath as much as possible which leads to a slowing and concentrating of the mind.
- Drawing prana, which is scattered beyond the boundaries of the physical body, back into the core. In psychological terms this equates to a withdrawing of projection, an end to “being out there”, and to independence from sensory stimulus.
- Through alternate nostril breathing we attain brain hemisphere synchronization, and a balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, afferent and efferent nerve currents, introversion and extraversion, catabolism and anabolism, fundamentalist and relativistic mind, and lunar and solar prana respectively.
- Through breath retentions (kumbhakas) the mind eventually is arrested, and prana is inducted into the central energy channel (Sushumna).
After being established in pranayama, the next step is to introduce ourselves to chakra-Kundalini meditation or yogic meditation as I have called it in my 2013 text Yoga Meditation – Through Mantra, Chakras and Kundalini to Spiritual Freedom. This is a demanding practice that is on its own capable of raising Kundalini, without resorting to the practices described in this present volume, i.e. Kundalini-mudras. However, if Kundalini raising is intended through chakra-Kundalini meditation, this method needs to be practised for extensive periods and such practice requires a reasonably focussed mind and a somewhat cerebral orientation. I have repeatedly seen the cerebral type of student take to this meditation with little preparation and have great success. Some students, though, struggle with this method. Those who struggle may be the more kinaesthetic, tactile and feeling types, and possibly also those with very busy lives. They may find in the present volume a more suitable approach.
If chakra-Kundalini meditation is a stand-alone method for Kundalini raising, it would need to get practised 90 (or sometimes more) minutes per day. If used simply as a preparation and support for the Kundalini mudras described in this book, a much shorter time frame, possibly as little as 10 minutes per day, is enough. The reason we cannot do without it altogether is because this meditation teaches us how to conduct prana from chakra to chakra, and that skill is irreplaceable once Kundalini rises. For when this takes place, we need to skilfully place Kundalini in the chakra needed to achieve a particular outcome. For more information on this subject and for a detailed insight into the function of the chakras, please consult my 2021 text Chakras, Drugs and Evolution – A Map of Transformative States. Chakra-Kundalini meditation, even if practised only for a short time daily, eventually enables us to conduct prana up and down the chakras similar to playing a xylophone, or any similar instrument. The type of spiritual experience we encounter depends on where prana is at the time, i.e. into which chakra prana has entered. This depends simply on which chakra we focus on. This mechanism has been explained in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which says, ‘where thought goes there goes prana and where prana goes there goes thought’ (Hatha Yoga Pradipika IV.24). In Chakras, Drugs and Evolution – A Map of Transformative States, I have outlined a nomenclature and topography of mystical states/ spiritual experiences. Such peak experiences, as Abraham Maslow called them, are classifiable depending on the chakra that powers them. Types of practitioners have certain karmic preponderances to attain particular states, and inertia often blocks them from experiencing others. With chakra-Kundalini meditation, we have a reliable tool to make all categories of mystical states attainable to all. The likelihood for that to occur depends, of course, on the intensity and sophistication with which we are conducting our sadhana (spiritual practice). Everything in life comes with a price and mystical states follow this cause-and-effect rule closely. Mystical states do not come about spontaneously but are directly proportional to the karma we are producing through our sadhana.
Besides the major yogic techniques of asana, pranayama and meditation, ancillary elements such as kriya, bhavana and sankalpa, and bhakti are also necessary. Kriyas are purification exercises such as Nauli and Kapalabhati, described in Pranayama The Breath of Yoga. Information on bhavana, cultivation of thought processes in alignment with the Divine and sankalpa, the process of resolution and affirmation, you will find in How To Find Your Life’s Divine Purpose. Bhakti, yoga of love, was also introduced in this book, but I hope to cover it in more detail in an upcoming volume.
The question when we find the time to perform all these practices I have answered in Yoga Meditation291. Succinctly answered, not all at once! The Vedic teaching of the four stages of live, ashramas, calls for the integration of yogic practices across all stages of life. This ideally means that we start with asana sometime after puberty, we add pranayama when starting our profession or family, we add yogic meditation once our main duties towards society are completed and enter samadhi practice around the time of retirement. Those with a great urge, or those who feel the calling to be spiritual teachers, can, of course, accelerate this process. What we should not start yoga with is the attitude this is a sprint that can be completed in few years. Yoga is more like the process of life. It is ongoing as long as we are alive. Rightly the Indian sage Sri Aurobindo in said in A Synthesis of Yoga, “All life is yoga”. We need to be in it for the long haul!
This is an excerpt from my book MUDRAS Seals of Yoga.
Image depicts a phase of Maha Vedha Mudra in Padmasana.