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Kundalini yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline for developing strength, awareness, character, and consciousness. Practitioners call Kundalini yoga, the yoga of awareness because it focuses primarily on the practices which expand sensory awareness and intuition in order to raise individual consciousness and merge it with the Infinite consciousness of God. Considered an advanced form of yoga and meditation, its purpose is to cultivate 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.[1][2][3]

Contents [hide]
1 Definitions
2 History
3 Methodology
4 In practice
5 Development
6 Observations
7 Medical research
8 Notes
9 References
10 External links

[edit] DefinitionsSeveral definitions of Kundalini yoga have been used in Eastern and modern Western teachings. According to various prominent teachers and authors, Kundalini Yoga has been described as:

A contrast of active and passive approaches designed to awaken the kundalini .[4]

Kundalini Yoga consists of active and passive asana-based kriyas, pranayama, and meditations which target the whole body system (nervous system, glands, mental faculties, chakras) to develop awareness, consciousness and spiritual strength.[5]

Kundalini Yoga, at its highest form, is practiced for the purpose of attaining bliss, opening the heart center, developing power, serving others, attaining self-realization and ultimately merging into God consciousness.[6]

[edit] HistoryUntil modern times, Kundalini Yoga was on the whole a secretive and misunderstood technology – it was not widely taught by any master teachers outside of India until Yogi Bhajan brought his understanding of the teachings to the United States in 1969.[7]

Perhaps the earliest known written mention of Kundalini Yoga is in the Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad, which is the eighty-sixth among the 108 Muktika Upanishads, associated with the Krishna Yajurveda, originating from India. The origin of this particular writing is difficult to substantiate because scholars disagree about the exact dates of the composition of the Upanishads, but agree that all Upanishads have been passed down through oral tradition. Some have estimated that the composition of the Yajurveda texts date as far back as between 1,400 and 1,000 BC.

In the late 1800s into the early 1900s author John Woodroffe, an Oxford graduate, translated some twenty original Sanskrit texts under the pseudonym Arthur Avalon. His most popular and influential book titled The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga, became a major contribution of the time to the appreciation of Indian philosophy and spirituality and the source of many early Western occult appropriations of tantra and kundalini practice.

In 1969 Kundalini Yoga was brought into awareness of Western and American spiritual culture by yogic master Yogi Bhajan, a renown spiritual teacher from India. He re-incarnated the previously restricted yoga form and introduced it to the West as comprehensive spiritual system for personal growth.[8] The yoga form was initially set about to teach Kundalini Yoga as an alternative and transformational technology for self-development, and to counter the drug abuse of the 60’s.[7] Throughout 35 years teaching until his death in 2004, Yogi Bhajan built up a legacy of information and teachings around the yogic lifestyle practice of Kundalini yoga, including the publications of over 100 related books on the applications of the yogic technology in the fields of spirituality – covering yoga, meditation, body-work, drug rehabilitation, women’s and men’s yoga, psychology, healing, re-birthing, teaching, business, relationships, and marriage. He also succeeded in training a network of teachers who continue to share and disseminate this form of Kundalini Yoga all over the world.

In 1935 Sri Swami Sivananda penned a detailed, but esoteric depiction of some historically classic Kundalini Yoga practices in a treatise called Kundalini Yoga.

All yoga forms are believed to be designed to raise kundalini energy, and have their origins in the pillars and Yoga Sutra of Patanjali – a foundational yoga scripture believed to have been compiled around the 2nd century BCE.[9][10] Based on this foundation, most yoga forms and meditation derive their structure and discipline from the ashtanga 8-limbed approach, which provide guidelines for the austerities of practice.

[edit] MethodologyAccording to yogic philosophy, kundalini is a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine. It is conceptualized as a coiled up serpent. Literally, kundalini or kundala is that which is coiled (Sanskrit kund, to burn; kunda, to coil or to spiral). It is believed that Kundalini yoga is that which arouses the sleeping Kundalini Shakti from its coiled base through the 6 chakras, and penetrate the 7th chakra, or crown. This energy is said to travel along the ida (left), pingala (right) and central, or sushumna nadi – the main channels of pranic energy in the body.[11] This process can be seen depicted even today in modern medical iconography as two snakes spiraling a central staff, and although the origin of this image is more directly derived from the Caduceus of the Greek god Hermes, it may express the same or a similar principle.[12]

Kundalini energy is technically understood as being sparked during yogic breathing when prana and apana blends at the 3rd chakra (naval center) at which point it initially drops down to the 1st and 2nd chakras before traveling up to the spine to the higher centers of the brain to activate the golden cord – the connection between the pituitary and pineal glands – and penetrate the 7 chakras. Yogi Bhajan has also described the aura as a supporting 8th chakra which he claimed is essential for integrating and containing the energy and effects of the Kundalini energy through the 7 chakras and allowing this energy to safely manifest in the body.[5]

Borrowing and integrating the highest forms from many different approaches, Kundalini Yoga can be understood as a tri-fold approach of Bhakti yoga for devotion, Shakti yoga for power, and Raja yoga for mental power and control. Its purpose through the daily practice of kriyas and meditation in sadhana are described a practical technology of human consciousness for humans to achieve their total creative potential.[13]

According to one school of thought, there being four main forms of yoga, Mantra yoga, Hatha yoga, Laya yoga and Raja yoga; Kundalini yoga is really considered a Laya yoga.[14] Yogi Bhajan refers to Kundalini yoga as a Laya form of yoga and taught many Laya form practices in his compilation of Kundalini yoga.

Mainstream traditions propose that kundalini energy can be awakened and enlightenment attained by practicing a combination of yogic techniques—ideally following the guidance of a certified teacher—including the use of mantra, prana and breathing techniques, sadhana, asana practice, meditation, or purely through devotion and prayer.[15]

According to some Hindu traditions, Kundalini yoga is considered a highly developed spiritual awakening which relies upon a technique called shaktipat to attain enlightenment under the guidance of a spiritual master.[15]

In the classical literature of Kashmir Saivism kundalini is described in three different manifestations. The first of these is as the universal energy or para-kundalini. The second of these is as the energizing function of the body-mind complex or prana-kundalini. The third of these is as consciousness or shakti-kundalini which simultaneously subsumes and intermediates between these two. Ultimately these three forms are the same but understanding these three different forms will help to understand the different manifestations of kundalini .[16]

The path of Kundalini is said to proceed from the Muladhara Chakra at the lower end of the spinal column up to the Sahasara Chakra at the top of the head. But its awakening is not thought to be a physical occurrence; it consists exclusively of a development in consciousness. According to some claims, awakening of kundalini brings with it pure joy, pure knowledge and pure love.[2][3]

The word ‘Kundalini’ can be traced to the Sanskrit word ‘kundala’, which means ‘coiled’. Kundalini can therefore be used by believers to refer to the latent energy within the human body which is constantly trying to manifest as our insight, power and bliss.[17]

According to one author, the word kundalini literally means “the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved.”.[18] It is a metaphor, a poetic way of describing the flow of energy and consciousness which already is said to exist within each person.

The practices are said to enable the person to merge with or “yoke” the universal self. This merging of individual consciousness with the universal consciousness is said to create a “divine union” called “yoga”.[19]

[edit] In practiceThe practice of kriyas and meditations in Kundalini yoga are designed to raise complete body awareness to prepare the body, nervous system, and mind to handle the energy of Kundalini rising. The majority of the physical postures focus on naval activity, activity of the spine, and selective pressurization of body points and meridians. Breath work 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.[20]

Along with the many kriyas, meditations and practices of Kundalini Yoga, a simple breathing technique of alternate nostril breathing (left nostril, right nostril) is taught as a method to cleanse the nadis, or subtle channels and pathways, to help awaken Kundalini energy.[21]

In the Upanishads, it is mentioned that the control of the three bhandas, along with the control of held and expired breaths, are the keys to releasing and harnessing Kundalini energy.[22]

Several schools teach methods of visualizing and meditating on the chakras to balance and maintain the pathways for Kundalini energy to flow.[23]

[edit] DevelopmentAccording to some traditions Kundalini techniques are only communicated from master to disciple once the disciple is deemed ready.[2] In these cases, yogic masters believe that in ascetic settings ignorance or refusal to follow instructions of a master can lead to harmful effects.[2] However, in a few instances teachers from India encouraged students to update and spread the teachings to the West, thereby putting doubt to this claim.[24]

Sovatsky,[25] a scholar of Yoga associated with transpersonal psychology, adapts a developmental and evolutionary perspective in his interpretation of Kundalini Yoga. That is, he interprets Kundalini Yoga as a catalyst for psycho-spiritual growth and bodily maturation. According to this interpretation of yoga, the body bows itself into greater maturation […], none of which should be considered mere stretching exercises.[26]

[edit] ObservationsThe system of exercises and meditations of Kundalini Yoga are demonstrated in some medical applications and trials to provide extensive benefits for improving mental and physical well-being. Some studies have shown that the physical and physiological benefits cover a wide spectrum of ailments, including healing treatments for memory problems,[27] asthma, diabetes, pain, stress-related diseases, rehabilitating addictive behavior, and treating mental disorders.[28][29]

All intensive spiritual practices associated with Asian traditions require attentive practice. Psychiatric literature notes that “Since the influx of eastern spiritual practices and the rising popularity of meditation starting in 1960s, many people have experienced a variety of psychological difficulties, either while engaged in intensive spiritual practice or spontaneously”.[30] Some of the psychological difficulties associated with intensive spiritual practice are claimed to be “kundalini awakening”, “a complex physio-psychospiritual transformative process described in the yogic tradition”. Also, writers in the fields of Transpersonal psychology[31] and Near-death studies[32][33] describe a complex pattern of sensory, motor, mental and affective symptoms associated within the concept of kundalini, known as kundalini syndrome. Believers say that the negative experiences might occur only when acting without appropriate guidance or ignoring advice, as this is a system designed for personal spiritual growth.[34]

[edit] Medical researchPreliminary research on the effects of Kundalini Yoga meditation known as Kirtan Kriya on retrieving memory and cognitive functions have been encouraging. Limitations of this research can be addressed in future studies with more detailed analyses.[35]
Venkatesh et al.[36] studied twelve kundalini (chakra) meditators, using the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory. They found that the practice of meditation “appears to produce structural as well as intensity changes in phenomenological experiences of consciousness”.
Manocha et al.[37] used temperature readings to verify that coolness experienced on the palms of the hands resulted from the Sahaja Yoga technique of kundalini meditation.
Lazar et. al[38] observed the brains of subjects performing, “a simple form of Kundalini meditation in which they passively observedtheir breathing and silently repeated the phrase ‘sat nam’ during inhalations and ‘wahe guru’ during exhalations,”[38] and found that multiple regions of brain were involved especially those involved in relaxation and maintaining attention.
[edit] Notes1.^ Sat Bachan Kaur Karla Becker, 2004
2.^ a b c d Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, The hidden power in humans, Ibera Verlag, pages 47, 48. ISBN 3-85052-197-4
3.^ a b Swami Sivananda Radha, Kundalini Yoga for the West, timeless, 2004, pages 13, 15
4.^ Eastman, David T. (1985): “Kundalini Demystified”, Yoga Journal, September 1985, pp. 37–43, California Yoga Teachers Association.
5.^ a b Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007, pages 176-179
6.^ Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga, The Divine Life Society, 2007, page 49
7.^ a b Congressional Honorary Resolution 521 US Library of Congress
8.^ Yogi Bhajan, 75, ‘Boss’ of Worlds Spiritual and Capitalistic, Douglas Martin, New York Times, October 9, 2004, Retrieved on 2011-01-31
9.^ Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa, The Essential Gursikh Yogi: The Yoga and Yogis in the Past, Present and Future of Sikh Dharma, Toronto, Monkey Minds Press, 2008, 188-89, 210-12, 222-39.
10.^ Swami Sivananda Radha, Kundalini Yoga for the West, timeless, 2004, pages 14, 29, 43
11.^ Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga, The Divine Life Society, 2007, page 12
12.^ Isolation Guidelines for Hospitals, A.K. Bhattacharya, JIACM 2006; 7(2), p108
13.^ Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007, page 20
14.^ Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga, The Divine Life Society, 2007, page 32
15.^ a b “Kundalini Yogas FAQ – So how do I awaken kundalini?”. Eecs.berkeley.edu. http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~keutzer/kundalini/kundalini-yoga.html#4. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
16.^ “Kundalini Yogas FAQ”. Eecs.berkeley.edu. http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~keutzer/kundalini/kundalini-yoga.html. Retrieved 2010-02-04.
17.^ “Heartcenteredtherapies.Org”. Heartcenteredtherapies.Org. http://www.heartcenteredtherapies.org/go/docs/Kundalini%20Meditation%20-%20Article%20by%20John%20Selby.pdf. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
18.^ “Yogi Bhajan”. Store.goldenbridgeyoga.com. 1969-01-05. http://store.goldenbridgeyoga.com/uploads/images/yogibhajan.html. Retrieved 2010-02-04.
19.^ design@lancasters.co.uk. “What is Kundalini yoga?”. Kundaliniyoga.org.uk. http://www.kundaliniyoga.org.uk/whatis.html. Retrieved 2010-02-04.
20.^ Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007, page 177
21.^ Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga, The Divine Life Society, 2007, page 23
22.^ Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad, Translated by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar: [1], Vedic Scriptures Library on Astrojyoti.com, Retrieved 2011-06-03.
23.^ Swami Sivananda Radha, Kundalini Yoga for the West, timeless, 2004
24.^ Swami Sivananda Radha, Kundalini Yoga for the West, timeless, 2004, pages 13, 23
25.^ Sovatsky, 1998: p. 6, 82, 142
26.^ Sovatsky, 1998: p. 142
27.^ WebMD Alzheimer’s Disease Health Center: ‘Can Meditation Reverse Memory Loss?’ From the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
28.^ David Shannahoff-Khalsa, Kundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric Disorders: Techniques Specific for Treating the Psychoses, Personality, and Pervasive Development Disorders, 2010
29.^ David Shannahoff-Khalsa, Kundalini Yoga Meditation: Techniques Specific for Psychiatric Disorders, Couples Therapy, and Personal Growth, 2007
30.^ Turner et al.,pg. 440
31.^ Scotton, 1996
32.^ Kason, 2000
33.^ Greyson, 2000
34.^ Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, The hidden power in humans, Ibera Verlag, pages 47, 48, 49.
35.^ Newberg, AB; Wintering, N; Khalsa, DS; Roggenkamp, H; Waldman, MR (2010). “Meditation effects on cognitive function and cerebral blood flow in subjects with memory loss: a preliminary study”. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 20 (2): 517–26. doi:10.3233/JAD-2010-1391. PMID 20164557. http://www.j-alz.com/issues/20/vol20-2.html. (primary source)
36.^ Venkatesh et al., 1997
37.^ Manocha R, Black D, Ryan J, Stough C, Spiro D, [2] “This study demonstrates a skin temperature reduction on the palms of the hands during the experience of mental silence, arising as a result of a single 10 minute session of Sahaja yoga meditation.” [Changing Definitions of Meditation: Physiological Corollorary, Journal of the International Society of Life Sciences, Vol 28 (1), Mar 2010]
38.^ a b http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=4456292824344620582&hl=en&as_sdt=0,10&as_vis=1 Functional brain mapping of the relaxation response and meditation
[edit] ReferencesArambula P, Peper E, Kawakami M, Gibney KH. (2001) The Physiological Correlates of Kundalini Yoga Meditation: A Study of a Yoga Master, Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback, Jun 2001; 26(2): 147 – 53, PubMed Abstract PMID 11480165.
Cromie, William J. (2002) Research: Meditation Changes Temperatures: Mind Controls Body in Extreme Experiments. Harvard University Gazette, April 18, 2002
Greyson, Bruce (2000) Some Neuropsychological Correlates Of The Physio-Kundalini Syndrome. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol.32, No. 2
Laue, Thorsten: Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Tee und das Wassermannzeitalter. Bibliografische Einblicke in die Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) des Yogi Bhajan. Tübingen: 2008. Online abrufbar unter: http://tobias-lib.ub.uni-tuebingen.de/volltexte/2008/3596/ [in German]
Laue, Thorsten: Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Tee und das Wassermannzeitalter. Religionswissenschaftliche Einblicke in die Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) des Yogi Bhajan, Münster: LIT, 2007, ISBN 3825801403
Kason, Yvonne (2000) Farther Shores: Exploring How Near-Death, Kundalini and Mystical Experiences Can Transform Ordinary Lives. Toronto: Harper Collins Publishers, Revised edition, ISBN 0-00-638624-5
Lazar, Sara W.; Bush, George; Gollub, Randy L.; Fricchione, Gregory L.; Khalsa, Gurucharan; Benson, Herbert (2000) Functional Brain Mapping of the Relaxation Response and Meditation, [Autonomic Nervous System] NeuroReport, Vol. 11(7) May 15, 2000, p 1581 – 1585, PubMed Abstract PMID 10841380
Narayan R, Kamat A, Khanolkar M, Kamat S, Desai SR, Dhume RA. (1990) Quantitative Evaluation of Muscle Relaxation Induced by Kundalini Yoga with the Help of EMG Integrator. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. Oct 1990; 34(4): 279 – 81, PubMed Abstract PMID 2100290.
Peng CK, Mietus JE, Liu Y, Khalsa G, Douglas PS, Benson H, Goldberger AL. (1999) Exaggerated Heart Rate Oscillations During Two Meditation Techniques. Int J Cardiol, Jul 31, 1999; 70(2): 101 – 7, PubMed Abstract PMID 10454297.
Scotton, Bruce (1996) The phenomenology and treatment of kundalini, in Chinen, Scotton and Battista (Editors) (1996) Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. (pp. 261–270). New York: Basic Books, Inc
Sovatsky, Stuart (1998) Words from the Soul: Time, East/West Spirituality, and Psychotherapeutic Narrative, Suny Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology, New York: State University of New York Press
Turner, Robert P.; Lukoff, David; Barnhouse, Ruth Tiffany & Lu, Francis G. (1995) Religious or Spiritual Problem. A Culturally Sensitive Diagnostic Category in the DSM-IV. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease,Vol.183, No. 7 435-444
Venkatesh S, Raju TR, Shivani Y, Tompkins G, Meti BL. (1997) A Study of Structure of Phenomenology of Consciousness in Meditative and Non-Meditative States. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol, Apr 1997; 41(2): 149 – 53. PubMed Abstract PMID 9142560.
[edit] External linksColumbia Encyclopedia article on Yoga
ReligionFacts.com – Kundalini Yoga
International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association

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