Kundalini is a dormant spiritual energy, often described as a serpent coiled up at the base of the spine. This serpent guards the entrance of susumna, the central energy channel, keeping prana energy from entering and ascending up through the center of the spine through the seven chakras. Kundalini is regarded as the individualized form of cosmic feminine spirit of Shakti. The opposite pole and pair of Shakti is Shiva, who resides in the crown chakra. Yoga has two main paths for achieving enlightenment. The classical path is through stilling the fluctuations of mind and prana through inner focus, concentration, and meditation. The tantric path is to uncoil the serpent, releasing kundalni to rise up the susumna channel through all seven chakras to unite Shakti with Shiva.
Activating kundalini creates an ultimate state of bliss. Yet without adequate preparation, releasing kundalni can lead to disaster. The release of such a powerful source of energy into the body’s delicate systems can cause pain and in rare cases lead to insanity and death. Before kundalini is activated and released upwards, the body and mind must be prepared through hatha yoga exercises, completed in a specific order. First, the energy channels (nadis) and physical body must be strengthened and purified through pranayama, meditation and yoga postures (asanas). Second, all seven chakras must be slowly awakened using meditation, yoga postures and mudras. Once the body and nadis are purified, the chakras are open, and the aspirant has a mastery over body, breath and prana, only then can kundalini be safely awakened. Kundalini can be awakened through many yogic techniques: mantra, tapas, meditation, pranayama, mudra, shaktipat and self-surrender.
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During the activation one can still experience adverse effects as kundalini moves through the body and the nervous system adjusts to this dramatic increase of psychic energy. Therefore it is not advised to activate kundalini without guidance of a qualified teacher and support of a spiritual community.
Once kundalini is activated, the yogi’s life completely changes. However, you need not follow this path all the way to its ultimate end. Purifying body and mind, cleansing the energy pathways and activating the chakras promote consciousness, equanimity, well-being, and inner peace.