As if it was time to immerse myself, once again, into study, a friend had sent new links to yoga. Unlike what I had encountered before, these were first-hand accounts of those who had personally delved heavily into the practise… a new perspective which I would not have been able to experience myself.
Kundalini yoga… the term didn’t register then, but this time, after listening to two testimonies, I began to search deeper. Although I can’t find it now, perhaps a blessing in disguise, I had come across a clip that was supposed to teach the viewer how to awaken his/her kundalini in a short period of time. Thankfully, before he began, the speaker had given a word of caution. He clearly stated that once you went forward, there was no turning back. That was my signal to disconnect IMMEDIATELY!
http://www.kundaliniyoga.org/index.html, a site that is supposed to be “the world’s most popular site for Kundalini Yoga” opens with…
“Shakti the Serpent bids you “Sat Nam!” and welcome to Kundalini Yoga, the mother of all yogas and the most powerful yoga known. As brought to the West in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan, it produces results 16 times faster than ordinary yoga.
Its power comes from the Kundalini, an enormous reserve of untapped potential within each of us. It is normally depicted as a coiled or sleeping serpent, located in an area towards the base of the spine.
By gradually and safely awakening this serpent and employing its power, you will benefit greatly from an elevation in consciousness, promotion of physical well-being and an expansion of awareness. You will feel more relaxed and at ease with yourself. Your life will be transformed into one which is happy, healthy & harmonious.”
I’m not sure about you, but I find it eerie to be greeted by a serpent. “By gradually and safely awakening this serpent and employing its power, you will benefit greatly from an elevation in consciousness, promotion of physical well-being and an expansion of awareness.” An elevation in consciousness and expansion of awareness… Where have we heard this before? My mind immediately goes to Genesis 3 where the serpent tempts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. “But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5
Are you sensing what I’m sensing? I’m beginning to get an inkling that this isn’t going to be good…
From its site http://www.lululemon.com/education/yoga/kundalini-yoga, Lululemon summarizes kundalini yoga as such…
“Relatively new to the Western Hemisphere, Kundalini, “the yoga of awareness,” opens your heart, builds strength and releases the energy located at the base of your spine. Each teacher will bring their own experience to the practice — some much more traditional than others — but Kundalini is without a doubt one of the more spiritual styles of yoga. Kundalini yoga focuses on breath and movement and challenges its students both physically and mentally.
Kundalini is one of the oldest forms of yoga – it has been practiced by the Upanishads in India since 500 B.C. Mastering the practice at sixteen, Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini to the West in 1969. Initially, it was never taught publicly until Bhajan challenged its secrecy and taught Kundalini openly to the public and consequently established the 3HO, which stands for “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization.”
Kundalini literally means “coiled” and is represented by a metaphorical coiled snake at the base of your spine. The purpose of Kundalini practice is to uncoil your snake and release that energy within. Health, strength, fitness and overall happiness benefits are included.
good for beginners?
There might be a bit of shock factor: no doubt, Kundalini is much different than other forms of yoga. Expect to dance, jump, hold long poses, and breathe deeply and repeatedly – no two classes are the same! It is great for beginners as it has the flexibility to push past your comfort zone as well as offering the ability to go at your own pace.”
As depicted by Lululemon, there doesn’t seem to be anything harmful, although the phrase “There might be a bit of shock factor” could be regarded as a pre-cautionary warning for those who are insightful. But what about those who fail to grasp this insight?
The article “Is a Kundalini Awakening Safe?” (http://www.yogajournal.com/article/history-of-yoga/safe-awaken-snake/) reveals much more…
“According to Tantra, kundalini energy rests like a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. When this dormant energy flows freely upward through the seven chakras (energy centers) and leads to an expanded state of consciousness, it’s known as a kundalini awakening.
For some, the experience can be blissful and filled with feelings of love and a sense of the interconnectedness of all things. For others, it can feel more like a bad drug trip, or even a psychotic break, where practitioners go through altered sleep cycles, changes in identity, or depression. This discrepancy has led many Westerners to fear the coiled serpent resting in their spine, ready to strike.
Meditation teacher Sally Kempton had such an awakening in her late 20s, and while she acknowledges that the experience may be scary for those who are without an experienced teacher to guide them, she believes that awakenings are a gift from the universe. “In our tradition, we honor and respect kundalini,” she says. “Her energy is trying to awaken you, expand you, and put you in touch with your own deep energy, which is a fundamentally benign process.”
However, according to Kempton and Stuart Sovatsky, a psychotherapist specializing in spiritual work, kundalini awakenings are rare in Western students because hatha yoga is practiced in a less spontaneous way today. “People are trying to hold the poses in a certain way, as opposed to doing poses that release energy blocks specific to their body,” says Sovatsky.
Still, many teachers caution against attempts to induce an awakening through intense Pranayama or other methods. Instead, it should occur spontaneously, when the body is ready. In Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy, yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein explains why: “If you don’t first open the central channels of the nervous system, raising the serpent power along the axial pathway is not only impossible but also very dangerous to attempt, for instead of entering the central channel (sushumna nadi) it is likely to force itself in to the ida or the pingala nadi, on either side of the central channel, causing immense havoc in the body and mind.”
Kundalini reminds us that consciousness is far vaster than most of us have ever imagined, which can seem overwhelming and disorienting. But Sovatsky says that people who have a psychotic break from an awakening usually come from a troubled family background, face high levels of stress, and don’t have enough emotional support. Still, both Sovatsky and Kempton recommend that anyone who is fearful in the midst of such an awakening should seek support from a therapist (such as a transpersonal psychologist) or a teacher who has gone through it herself.”
Does Lululemon’s summary of Kundali Yoga suffice to warn its clients of its potential dangers? I don’t think so. Should a client experience a psychotic break, does the blame then go to the individual’s troubled family background, high level of stress and lack of emotional support? I shouldn’t think so, and yet what is a troubled client to do?
During the summer, as I walked towards the gathering place for our weekly Prayer Meeting, an acquaintance had approached me after attending Mass. She enquired if I knew of an exorcist here in Vancouver. An exorcist? An exorcist! She knew of one who had begun to see the devil regularly at night. I asked if the individual knew the source and the answer was plain and simple… “she thinks it was yoga.”
My cry of agony and plea to God to save and release this young one bombarded Heaven. My previous circulations warning about the dangers of yoga didn’t reach this one. The mom was on my mailing list, but the message was not received. And so, this time I write in hopes of exposing more of the dangers involved.
Wikepedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kundalini) sites the following physical and psychological effects as a result of awakening Kundalini…
“Physical effects are believed to be a sign of Kundalini awakening by some, but described as unwanted side effects pointing to a problem rather than progress by others.The following are either common signs of an awakened Kundalini or symptoms of a problem associated with an awakening Kundalini (commonly referred to as Kundalini syndrome):
- Involuntary jerks, tremors, shaking, itching, tingling, and crawling sensations, especially in the arms and legs
- Energy rushes or feelings of electricity circulating the body
- Intense heat (sweating) or cold, especially as energy is experienced passing through the chakras
- Spontaneous pranayama, asanas, mudras and bandhas
- Visions or sounds at times associated with a particular chakra
- Diminished or conversely extreme sexual desire sometimes leading to a state of constant or whole-body orgasm
- Emotional upheavals or surfacing of unwanted and repressed feelings or thoughts with certain repressed emotions becoming dominant in the conscious mind for short or long periods of time.
- Headache, migraine, or pressure inside the skull
- Increased blood pressure and irregular heartbeat
- Emotional numbness
- Antisocial tendencies
- Mood swings with periods of depression or mania
- Pains in different areas of the body, especially back and neck
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and touch
- Trance-like and altered states of consciousness
- Disrupted sleep pattern (periods of insomnia or oversleeping)
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Bliss, feelings of infinite love and universal connectivity, transcendent awareness
Reports about the Sahaja Yoga technique of Kundalini awakening state that the practice can result in a cool breeze felt on the fingertips as well as on the fontanel bone area. One study has measured a drop in temperature on the palms of the hands resulting from this technique.”