Kundalini Yoga The Style

Kundalini yoga draws on time-honored practices to prepare and encourage the kundalini energy to rise. It is believed that heat contributes to the arousal of the kundalini. Some of the techniques that are used in kundalini yoga are aimed specifically to increase the heat in the body. Thus, relatively active physical movements can be used. These can include traditional asanas that are performed with more vigor and motion than typical hatha yoga practices. For instance, the Sun Salutation series (see page 114 ) might be performed with jumps included. The Bridge Pose (see Fig. YPS.11 on page 131) might be made more active by the practitioner alternately bending and straightening the arms to raise and lower the back, torso, and core of the body up and down in a rhythmic pumping motion. In addition, physical movements that involve twisting and moving the spine vigorously can help activate the energy in the spine. The application of locks and seals (for instance, contracting the area of the anal sphincter or planting the tongue against the roof of the mouth) can be used to seal in as much energy as possible so that it remains contained and is not dissipated. The use of specific yogic breathing techniques can be used to build up additional internal heat. The recitation of special sacred mantras and meditation on such objects as the chakras can further add to the building up of heat and energy in the body.

All of these techniques taken together create what might be likened to a combustion chamber in which kundalini energy is ignited and released. The techniques that are used in kundalini yoga are designed not only to foster the release of kundalini-shakti, but also to strengthen and stabilize the body so that it will be prepared for the powerful onslaught of kundalini energy when it is eventually released. Aside from the preparation for handling the release of kundalini energy, these practices have overall positive effects, such as strengthening the body and mind, promoting harmony and balance, and purifying the body of toxins, including not only physical waste products, but also emotional and mental debris.

Kundalini yoga holds special appeal for any man trying to explore the psychospiritual aspect of himself. The practice of kundalini yoga participates in age-old rites designed to raise the individual's level of energy to merge with the primordial feminine creative urge that gave rise to the creation of the universe. When kundalini energy is released in this way, a man can attain the ultimate goal of yoga: the ecstatic bliss of oneness with all being.

Kundalini yoga can also be distinctively fun. All yoga postures can be performed with a playful spontaneity. Kundalini yoga, in particular, however, often employs rolling, rocking, and twisting movements that can be especially physically enjoyable to do. This particular style of yoga reminds us that yoga developed initially as a vibrant, lived experience. The physical asanas were discovered naturally and spontaneously by intuitive seekers who were in tune with their own bodies and incorporated natural movements into the practice of yoga. It is only over time that yoga has become compartmentalized and subdivided into all the various branches and systems that tend to emphasize specific aspects of it.

Kundalini yoga attempts to raise a very powerful force of energy. The rush of energy that can be involved in kundalini could be overwhelming and disorienting to someone who is not adequately prepared for it. For this reason, the practice of kundalini yoga is best pursued under the guidance of a teacher who has great depth of experience, and who can help you develop adequate physical, mental, and emotional stability in your practice.

In individuals who are not adequately prepared for the uprising of kundalini energy, or who are psychologically unstable, the accidental rising of kundalini could lead to nervous disorders, including psychotic episodes. A number of associations and support networks have been established to help individuals in crisis from a kundalini experience cope with the effects of spontaneous, premature, or unprepared episodes of kundalini uprisings (see page 82). A number of psychiatrists and experts in the field of spiritual development, notably Dr. Stanislav Grof, M.D., and his wife Christina, have observed that in some cases, individuals who are in the process of spiritual "emergency" (that is, for whom spirit is emerging) are diagnosed as being mentally ill. The Suggested Further Reading section at the end of this chapter contains titles of books that are of particular interest in this regard.

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