In the Hindu tradition, the Sanskrit word “kundalini” can roughly be interpreted as the creative universal life force energy permeating all things. Kundalini development refers to a person’s intentional process of awakening to higher states of consciousness, achievable through a variety of practices and exercises commonly classified as “kundalini yoga.”


Kundalini development occurs in stages, starting with the simple awareness of an energetic constancy underlying all things. At first, one is not able to control these energies but merely glimpses their presence as though other vistas through a window. As the process of kundalini development proceeds, a person goes from merely being able to observe and understand these energies with increasing persistence and sensitivity to being able to manipulate these energies, building them up and directing their course.


Awareness of kundalini energy is associated with an increased state of mental clarity, emotional calm, and spiritual peace and connectedness, or universal oneness, that is increasingly easier to sustain the more sustained the awareness. At higher states of development, kundalini yoga practitioners believe one can conceivably develop powers of clairvoyance or extra-sensory perception. A clinical study of physiological correlates of kundalini yoga found significantly slowed breathing patterns during meditation and increased alpha and theta EEG brain wave activity.


Most kundalini development techniques involve coming to a meditative stillness and concentrating not with the physical eyes but with the mind’s eye on energy flowing in and out through various centers of the body, such as the solar plexus or the “third eye” above the nose and between the eyebrows. Kundalini energy is often visualized as fire spiraling inward and outward, coiling and springing like a serpent, which is apt, as the root “kund” means “to burn” and “kundala” means “a spiral,” “coil” or “ring.” Furthermore, “kunda” means “hole” or “bowl,” implying a vessel, or womb, of creation — in humanity’s case, the seat of consciousness, or the mind.


The solar plexus and third eye are just two of seven chakras, or energy centers, oriented in the spinal column from the base to the top of the head. A common beginning kundalini visualization is imagining the spinal column glowing with light, starting from the lowest chakra and building up through all the higher chakras, and then extending that glow out from the body, downward, upward and on all sides.

Other Practices

Breathing is another instrumental component of kundalini development, with energy received or gathered on the inhale and expressed, directed or built up on the exhale. A significant portion of kundalini development work takes place at night, which is why many practitioners work on remembering and even consciously influencing their dreams. This is known as lucid dreaming or as an out-of-body experience.


Article reviewed by Christine Brncik Last updated on: May 26, 2011

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