Kundalini forms the very foundation of the entire science of Yoga in the manner the Lord of the Serpents is the support of the earth, with all its forests and mountains. (Hatha yoga Pradipika Ch V v1 (Ch3 v1))
Kundalini is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘kundala’ which means a ring or a coil. Kundalini is said to be divine cosmic energy which spends much of it’s time as latent energy at the base of the spine and is often depicted as a sleeping serpent, coiled 3 ½ times with it’s tail in it’s mouth.
Tantric texts state that the object of pranayama is to raise this latent power of kundalini from muladhara chakra through the sushuma nadi, piercing the intervening chakras to sahasrara chakra. As kundalini rises the student becomes closer to the divine and becomes free from attachment to the fruits of action (karma mukta) and unattached to life (jivana mukta) or in other words, ‘enlightenment’.
In ‘Light on Pranayama’, (page 37) BKS Iyengar says ‘This is an allegorical way of describing the tremendous seminal vitality which is obtained by the practise of uddiyana, mula bandhas and self-restraint…when the kundalini reaches the sahasrara the student has no feeling of his own separate identity and nothing exists for him. He has crossed the barriers of time and space, and becomes one with the universe’.
This cosmic energy is said to be released by the grace of a guru and God and represents one of the greater steps along the path of Yoga for the student of yoga, as stated in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (10 Chapters) Ch 3 v2)
There are many motivations for arousing Kundalini, however as yoga students we should not be practising Yoga in order to achieve these ends. Some of the benefits of arousing Kundalini mentioned in the Hatha yoga Pradipika include receiving supernatural powers (10 Chapters) Ch V v171, Nadi Suddhi (10 Chapters) Ch V v 183 and becoming disease free (10 Chapters) Ch V v 180.
There are several methods of arousing Kundalini mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, including Sury bheda, bhastrika, ujjayi and sitali. (10 Chapters) Ch V v 172, Ch V v 174, Ch V v 176, Ch V v 177.
BKS Iyengar, Light on Pranayama, The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2002.
Georg Feuerstein, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Inner Traditions International, 1989.
Georg Feuerstein, The Yoga Tradition, Homh Press,1998.
M.L. Gharote & Parimal Devnath, Kumkhaka Paddhati of Raghuvira, Lonavla yoga Institute, 2002.
M.L. Gharote & Parimal Devnath, Yuktabhavadeva of Bhavadeva Misra, Lonavla yoga Institute, 2002.
M.L. Gharote, Applied Yoga, Lonavla yoga Institute, 1989.
Dr M.L. Gharote & Parimal Devnath, Hathapradipika, 10 chapters, 2002.