This guest post has been written by Fred Haas, a recovery coach from Texas. His post presents information about the use of Kundalini yoga as a resource for recovery from addiction.
Kundalini yoga can be part of the core strategy in a recovery plan or it can be an added tool to supplement and enhance 12-step recovery. The first part (this post) provides some background information on Kundalini, Kundalini yoga, and Kundalini teachings of Yogi Bhajan. The second part of the blog (next week) provides information on Kundalini yoga and addiction recovery, Kundalini yoga meditation, Kundalini yoga kriyas and additional resources for further exploration of the topic.
The earliest known written mention of Kundalini Yoga is in the Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad. Some have estimated that the composition of this text dates back between 1,400 and 1,000 BC. The origins of Kundalini Yoga come from the Kashmir region of India. During the thousands of years Kundalini Yoga existed in India its teachings were restricted and maintained as a secret oral tradition to protect the techniques from being abused.
Kundalini yoga is the yoga of awareness. It incorporates physical, mental and spiritual aspects of yoga into a cohesive and integrated system. It is considered an advanced form of yoga that consists of active and passive asana (yoga posture) based Kriyas (protocols for different issues), pranayama (breath control), mantra (sound) and meditations that target the whole body system (nervous system, glands, mental faculties, chakras). The asanas focus on naval activity, activity of the spine, and selective pressurization of body points and meridians. Pranayama and the application of Bhandas (3 yogic locks) aid to release, direct and control the flow of Kundalini energy from the lower centers to the higher energetic centers. This practice raises the complete body awareness and thereby prepares the whole body system to handle the energy of the Kundalini rising.
Kundalini yoga develops awareness, consciousness and spiritual strength. The purpose of Kundalini yoga is for humans to achieve their total creative potential. It cultivates the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others.
Kundalini Activation and Effects
Kundalini energy or spiritual energy is a psycho-spiritual energy of the consciousness that lies at the base of the spine in a latent form, a sleeping, dormant, potential force. Kundalini is described as a great reservoir of creative energy. It is useful to think of Kundalini energy as the very foundation of our consciousness so that when Kundalini moves through our body, our conscious body naturally changes with it. Kundalini energy is an innate and essential part of spiritual advancement, unfoldment, or realization. Kundalini energy is aroused either through spiritual discipline or spontaneously, to bring new states of consciousness, including mystical illumination.
The arousal of Kundalini energy takes place in the subtle body. The subtle body consists of nadis (energy channels), chakras (psychic centers), prana (subtle energy), and bindu (drops of essence). In yogic anatomy, awakened Kundalini rises up through the central energy channel (or nadi) called the sushumna. The sushumna is the central energy channel or conduit for the Kundalini energy to run inside or alongside the spine, up to the crown of the head. There are seven major chakras (psychic centers) located along this central energy channel. These chakras are associated with aspects of our anatomy. They are the root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown chakras. In essence, these chakras are psychic centers that, when activated by Kundalini energy, connect us to spiritual energies, and ultimately to the divine.
To summarize the chakras briefly, the first chakra (root) is associated with the color red and with basic root power, pure potential energy. The second chakra (sacral) is associated with the color orange, and with sexual and creative energy. The third chakra (solar plexus) is associated with the color yellow and with emotions, feelings and intuition. The fourth chakra (heart) is associated with the color green and with feelings of love, unity and balance, as it is the midway point between the upper and lower chakras. The fifth chakra (throat) is associated with the color light blue and with the voice and personal expression. The sixth chakra (third eye) is associated with the color indigo, or a deep blue, and with the eyes and with spiritual sight and visions. The seventh chakra (crown) is associated with the color purple and with oneness and enlightenment, and a connection to the rest of the universe. The progress of Kundalini through the different chakras leads to different levels of awakening and mystical experience. When the Kundalini reaches the top of the head, the crown chakra, it produces an extremely profound mystical experience.
Kundalini can be awakened by an indirect or direct path. Indirectly Kundalini can be awakened by devotion, by selfless service, or by intellectual inquiry. Sometimes we experience blocks to the awakening of the Kundalini experience. It is through these indirect paths the blocks to the awakening of Kundalini are slowly removed. Direct paths to Kundalini awakening are initiated by a guru showing a person how to surrender to Kundalini or by using intentional yogic techniques that use the will to awaken the Kundalini and to guide its progress. These intentional yogic techniques include Mantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga or Kriya Yoga.
All of Yoga actually leads to the activation of Kundalini. The ultimate outcome of Kundalini is the union of Will, Knowledge and Action (The Absolute).
Kundalini awakening takes different forms for different people. The differences can range from experiences of pure bliss to extreme inner challenges. It can result in a wide array of sensations. The more pleasant experiences associated with a Kundalini awakening may include waves of bliss, periods of elation, and glimpses of transcendental consciousness. The less pleasant experiences associated with a Kundalini awakening may include trembling, sharp aches in areas associated with the chakras, periods of irrational anxiety, and sudden flashes of heat.
Kundalini energy is like a power wash that cleanses the chakras of any blockages or disturbances, and brings them back to their full, vibrating potential. Once the power wash is switched on it cannot simply be turned off so this intense cleansing continues until the body adjusts. Once the energy is gushing forth, rising up the chakra system, it comes into contact with each of the chakras. If it is met with resistance in the form of blockages from psychological debris and unconscious material then the Kundalini energy will wash away the debris and unconscious material and expose the raw unprocessed intimate core of the matter. As a result, even in the best of circumstances, the joy associated with the awakening of Kundalini is likely to be attended with a certain amount of anxiety as Kundalini wrests control from the ego and unconscious contents spill over into consciousness.
There are things that improve the Kundalini Yoga experience. First a knowledgeable teacher or yogi, makes a difference. A supportive environment of fellow practitioners who have undergone the same awakening can provide comfort and confidence. Finally, a strong and resilient mind capable of coping with this sudden burst of unconscious material will help.
Also, there may need to be some integration of the effects of these experiences into the body and personality. This is a time when stabilizing actions are important, including daily exercise, wholesome food, reparative sleep patterns, and healthy relationships with others.
Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan
Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga from India to the west in 1968, and taught extensively until his death in 2004. He began training in Kundalini Yoga when he was eight years old, and mastered this discipline at age sixteen.
Yogi Bhajan broke the ancient tradition of secrecy and introduced Kundalini Yoga to the Western world. Kundalini Yoga had never been taught anywhere publicly before this time. Yogi Bhajan started teaching Kundalini yoga because he saw that thousands of young people were using drugs in search of higher consciousness. He offered an alternative to the drug culture. He knew Kundalini yoga would give seekers a real experience of God within, and help heal their mental and emotional problems as well as the physical bodies that had been damaged by the use of drugs.
Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan® is a formalized style of yoga. A class typically consists of six major components:
1) tuning-in with the Adi Mantra,
2) pranayama or warm-up,
5) meditation and
6) close with the blessing song, “May the Long Time Sun Shine upon You”.
The Kriyas are complete sets of exercises that are performed in the specific sequences and directions given by Yogi Bhajan. Yogi Bhajan established the 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) foundation in 1969 to further his missionary work.
Next week’s blog post will continue with discussing Kundalini yoga and addiction recovery, Kundalini yoga meditation, Kundalini yoga Kriyas and additional resources for further exploration of Kundalini yoga.
Fred Haas is a recovery coach in Texas. For more information on Kundalini Yoga as a Resource for Recovery from Addiction. Please contact Fred Haas at his web site: http://www.fredhaascoaching.com/ or by email at: Fred.Haas@sbcglobal.net