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(See also, "Hatha Yoga")
The concept of the Kundalini, or Kundala, was apparently ancient when Patanjali referred to it eighteen hundred years ago in his Sutra (see "Classical Yoga"). Kundala goes back to the most ancient pre-Ayrian Shavite Yogic rituals, and references to it are found in the earliest archeological findings of the Indian sub-continent.
The Kundalini is the repository of potentialised spiritual energy, which is personified as a female serpent that resides in the base of the spine in every individual. The Kundalini is waiting to be awakened so that a person's spiritual path in life may be fulfilled. The concept of the Kundalini is very close to that of the Shakti, the potential spiritual energy that exists in all of nature (see "Tantric Yoga"). Shakti is also sometimes translated in Yoga as "Grace".
The Kundalini can be awakened in many ways. This is said to be a Shaktipat experience. Shaktipat means the transference of spiritual energy, or transference of Grace. Shaktipat can take place when a person experiences something that provokes them to awaken, or transform, or to attain a higher state of existence. This can come from experiencing great works of art, or meeting someone that inspires one greatly, or it can come from a near-death experience, from meditation, or some kind of recognition of god's presence, or it can be consciously or unconsciously transmitted by a Guru. Anything that shuts down the internal dialogue can be a trigger to a Shakti experience (I say, "can", but that doesn't mean it necessarily does. A person can have many experiences that shut down the internal dialogue without having their Kundalini awakened).
Once the Kundalini is awakened in a given individual, their spiritual path begins to take shape, though that path can take an infinite variety of forms, and it may take a long time before a person becomes aware that they are "on the spiritual path". This spiritual path becomes the Sadakha's (Yoga student's) personal experience, open to their interpretation. Each Sadakha has a Sadhna, or daily practice. For one person, this daily practice may mean meditation for 30 minutes each day. For another person it may mean Hatha Yoga. For another it may mean service to a Guru. The word Sadhna in Sanskrit is very interesting, because as well as meaning "daily practice", it also means "what one is witnessing on one's journey through life". This is affected by Karma, which means, "action", so one's action directly affects what one experiences, and what one experiences is the same thing as one's daily practice.
Kundalini Yoga connects the Kundalini-Shakti with the Chakras and the Nadis. A Nadi is an energy pathway, similar to the meridians in Chinese Accupuncture. There are many Nadis in every human body. They are an important part of the process of living. Through the Nadis flows one's life force, or Prana (see the "Hatha Yoga" section).
"Chakra" means, "wheel" in Sanskrit. Chakras are wheels of energy that exist at certain points along the Nadis. They are very similar to Accupressure or accupuncture points in Chinese medicine. These Eastern sciences seek to bring a person to health by unblocking energy that has gotten knotted up in a chakra. Yoga seeks to give a person exercises that keep the chakras from getting blocked up to begin with.
It's important to keep in mind that in Yoga, we really don't have the distinctions between the body, mind and spirit that we have in the West. The Chakras are as much a part of one's spiritual and mental well-being as one's physical well-being.
The three most important Nadis are the Ida Nadi, the Pingala Nadi and the Sushumna Nadi.
The Ida Nadi lies to the left of the spine. It is the prime repository of "Tha" energy (see "Hatha Yoga"). The Pingala Nadi lies to the right of the spine. It is the main artery of "Ha" energy. Both the Ida and Pingala Nadis originate at the base of the spine. The Ida Nadi ends in the left nostril, and the Pingala Nadi ends in the right nostril.
The Sushumna Nadi rises up through the center of the spine. It originates at the base of the spine and terminates in the third eye point between the two eyebrows. The Sushumna Nadi is all-important.
The Kundalini lies sleeping in the base of the spine, at the very point of origination of the Sushumna Nadi. When the Kundalini is awakened through Shakti experience, she begins her ascent up the Sushumna Nadi through the center of the spine.
As one advances spiritually, the Kundalini/Shakti encounters each of the seven primary Chakras that lie along the path of the Sushumna Nadi.
1) Muladhara Chakra - At the base of the spine - connected with basic physical needs and security.
2)Swadishtana Chakra - In the sex organs - connected with sexual desire and passion in general.
3) Manipura Chakra - In the naval point - connected with self-esteem and personal power
4) Anahata Chakra - At the top of the heart - connected with love in a global sense (compassion, understanding).
5) Vishuda Chakra - In the throat - connected with communication ability and self-expression.
6) Ajna Chakra - The "Third Eye" between the two eyebrows - connected with transendental wisdom and ultimate detachment.
7) Sahasrara Chakra - At the top of the head - connected with Samadhi, enlightenment, complete spiritual fulfillment.
It is said that when the Kundalini Shakti has pierced and integrated all of the chakras, and has made her way to the top of the head, she unites with Shiva, lord and master. That is when the student achieves Nirvana, complete Samadhi, the goal of Yoga. (See also "Tantric Yoga").
The Aura, which surrounds the total individual is said to be the eight chakra. There are many smaller chakras and nadis throughout the body.
The student will find many correlations between this system and the Hebrew form of mysticism that is called, "Kabbalah" (see my section on the tarot).
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