If you practice yoga or meditation, at some point you will hear the term “Kundalini.” Both feared and revered, the awakening and channeling of this powerful energy source is central to many Hindu and Indian spiritual practices.
What is Kundalini?
Kundalini means “coiled snake” in Sanskrit and refers to the divine feminine energy, Shakti, located at the base of the spine.
When Kundalini energy is awakened, it travels up the spine, passing through each of the main chakras, or energy centers, until it reaches the crown chakra at the top of the head. This energy is considered to be a sacred source of energy that can lead to enlightenment in those who experience its full awakening.
How is Kundalini awakened?
It is believed that all individuals have Kundalini energy that, for most people, lies dormant at the base of the spine. While there have been stories of Kundalini being awakened spontaneously, more often there are a specific set of practices that need to take place in order to stir Kundalini to life.
Certain yoga practices such as Kundalini yoga have as their aim the awakening and channeling of Kundalini energy. Other practices such as pranayama (yogic breathing techniques), dancing, shaking, tantra and meditation can stimulate the awakening of Kundalini energy.
However, there are some schools of thought that believe that the best and safest way to awaken Kundalini is through a master. A spiritual master who has advanced Kundalini awakening experience can awaken the Kundalini in their disciples when they feel the moment is right and the disciple is prepared.
This is an important distinction because, while a practitioner of yoga, pranayama, tantra and meditation can bring about Kundalini awakening of their own accord, this isn’t always the safest route.
Kundalini is a very powerful energy and the practitioner who awakens it should be fully prepared to handle such energy. If a practitioner isn’t prepared, they may experience some challenging and disturbing side effects, including physical illness and vomiting, dizziness, headaches, and migraines and some have even been reported to enter into states of psychosis.
On the other hand, when the practitioner is prepared to handle the awakened Kundalini energy, they can have positive experiences, such as an extraordinary surge in energy, mental clarity, psychic abilities, a sense of bliss and unity with all things.
Kundalini is, in its essence, a divine gift that is nascent in all beings, and its awakening can be either painful or blissful, depending on the conditions of the practitioner and their preparation.
As Kundalini awakens, it follows a path up the spinal column on its way toward the crown chakra. This journey may be quick and instantaneous, or it may come slowly and in stages.
The ability of Kundalini to rise and complete the journey to the crown chakra depends on how balanced the practitioner’s chakras are. If there is stuck or dense energy in some or all of the chakras, the Kundalini won’t be able to rise.
In cases where there is stuck energy in the chakras, Kundalini will be beneficial in helping to cleanse and purify the energy of that chakra, but the practitioner may feel some intense side effects from this process such as soreness in the area where the chakra is located and feeling weak or ill. Once the energy is cleansed and balanced, these feelings will pass.
How to prepare for Kundalini awakening
Ideally, you will have some guidance from an experienced spiritual teacher who has advanced knowledge of Kundalini awakening. If this isn’t your case, you can at least prepare the body and mind for Kundalini awakening by practicing the eight limbs of yoga which include:
- The yamas – set of ethical and moral precepts towards ourselves that facilitate spiritual practice
- The niyamas – set of ethical and moral precepts in relation to others that facilitate spiritual practice
- Asana – the postures of yoga which purify the body on a physical level
- Pranayama – yogic breathing which purifies the body on a physical and subtle level
- Pratyahara – turning the senses inward which purifies the body on a subtle level
- Dharana – concentration which purifies the psycho-emotional body
- Dhyana – meditation which purifies the mind
- Samadhi – unity with all things, the result of the previous stages of purification
Consistent practice of the eight limbs will greatly facilitate the rise of Kundalini and its ability to blossom in ways that are positive and uplifting.
Stages of Kundalini Awakening
If you have been practicing techniques to awaken your Kundalini and you’re curious as to whether or not it’s working, here are some common experiences you may have as the energy starts to move upward:
There is a sudden shift in the dynamics of your life
This can mean many things and can come in many forms. But, honestly, for most people, it means a lot of unexpected changes such as suddenly being informed you have to move out of your house or apartment, an abrupt ending to a relationship, the death of a loved one, including pets, cars and electronics breaking down, losing your job, etc.
While it might feel like the world is collapsing around you, this is actually Kundalini in action, making way for changes that will put you on a path that’s more aligned with your spiritual growth.
You feel a strong desire for change
Kundalini rising doesn’t have to result in a catastrophic change. It can be more subtle such as suddenly feeling like the lifestyle you’re living simply doesn’t suit you anymore. You may try to push forward, but you’ll have a nagging feeling that you need to make changes and that feeling will continue to grow until you take action.
Maybe you feel like moving to a place where you’ll be able to have a more spiritual lifestyle or you feel called to study with a specific guru or teacher or you simply feel like doing something or going somewhere without really understanding why. If you feel this intuitive pull in a new direction, that’s probably the pull of Kundalini. Take a chance and follow it.
You have increased sensitivity
This can mean a lot of things to different people. For example, you might be someone who really enjoys eating a big juicy steak, but all of the sudden, you can’t stomach the taste of meat anymore. You might feel like eating a lighter, more sattvic (balanced) diet. You may not want to drink alcohol anymore. You may not feel like going out to bars and clubs, but prefer to spend more time at home or in quiet spaces.
If you live in a city, you may become irritated by the noise and violence and feel drawn to be in the country where it’s quiet and peaceful and you can enjoy a connection with nature. You may not have the stomach for violent tv shows or loud music. You may feel like spending more time in meditation or practicing yoga or reading books that support your spiritual growth.
You may not be able to tolerate the company of friends who have challenging or aggressive personalities and you may wish to spend more time with people who are in peace and harmony with themselves and others. Take note if you are experiencing any of these sensitivities as Kundalini energy invites purification and the removal of toxic and negative diets, habits and environments in favor of those that support spiritual growth and healing.
You experience physical and emotional changes
Kundalini awakening can indeed wreak havoc on the body and mind. If you’ve been practicing Kundalini techniques and start noticing that your sleep has become disturbed or that you wake up at the same time in the middle of the night every night, that’s Kundalini awakening within you.
You might notice an intense shift in appetite, either feeling voraciously hungry or losing your appetite completely. You might suddenly be healed from a chronic pain or you might suddenly gain a chronic pain (which should pass shortly as the Kundalini rises). You might feel like your energy level is different and that exercises that used to feel a certain way are either way more difficult or way easier than they were before- yoga practitioners in particular notice this. You might experience sudden episodes of dizziness or vertigo.
These changes may be disconcerting at first, and you might feel thrown off-balance, but they are often signs of energetic cleansing of the chakras as Kundalini rises. However, if any of these conditions continue indefinitely and lead to debilitated health, see a doctor as you could have an underlying medical condition.
You feel a sudden calling
When Kundalini awakens, it can connect you with feelings of destiny, a sense that you are called to do something. You may feel called to a certain place or job all of the sudden and are unable to shake the feeling. You may not be able to explain this feeling logically, but the strength of the feeling supersedes your need to understand it on a rational level.
Many people whose Kundalini has awakened have experienced this sense that they are destined to do something whether it’s going to an ashram or doing volunteer or charity work or even just suddenly feeling they need to travel to a certain place. Don’t ignore this feeling. If Kundalini is awakening you to an important new path in life, follow it.
You feel beyond great, you feel blissful
When Kundalini is fully awakened, some individuals can even achieve enlightenment. While this is rare, it is not unheard of, and if you have received this sublime gift of Kundalini, then you only have to be thankful.
Even if you don’t attain enlightenment, but your Kundalini energy is very strong, you will likely experience a continuous and inexplicable sense of extreme well-being and bliss. Fears and anxieties will fall away, you will feel as though things will not be able to affect or harm you. You will feel full of energy and have a great sense of clarity.
These experiences are true blessings. If Kundalini’s divine energy has awakened fully within you, savor this incredible gift and enjoy every second of it.
Kundalini’s intense energy can have either negative or positive effects on the practitioner, depending on their level of preparation for it. The more purified the body, mind and energy channels, the easier it will be for Kundalini to rise and the more positive its effects will be.
Take special care with awakening Kundalini as this powerful energy can be difficult for inexperienced practitioners to control. Seek the guidance of an experienced teacher to help you with this process.
Once you have embarked on the journey of awakening your Kundalini safely, embrace the changes and processes that you will undergo as Kundalini is a spiritual force whose ultimate purpose is to guide each one of us towards enlightenment.