Kundalini Yoga

What is Kundalini?

  • From kundal (coiled)
  • Shakti, after creating the 36 elements (tattvas), finally rests dormant at the lowest element, earth (muladhara chakra)
  • Resides at base of spinal column.
  • Coiled 3.5 times like a sanke • Three coils = 3 gunas (rajas, sattva, tamas) or three states (waking, dreaming, deep sleep); half coil = state of transcendence.
  •  Tantric origins – Shiva (Purusha/Consciousness) and Shakti (Prakriti/Energy)


  • In Sanskrit, chakra translates as “wheel.”
  • Center of activity that receives, assimilates and expresses life force energy (prana) 
  • Spinning sphere of bioenergetic activity emanating from the major nerve centers.
  • seven main chakras aligned in an ascending column from the base of the spine to the top of the head 

Chakras and Glands

'Granthis' (Psychic Knots)

  • Brahma Granthi -Muladhara/Tamas: attachment to physical pleasure thru the senses, material objects and selfishness; negativity, ignorance 
  • Vishnu Granthi -Anahata/Rajas: bondage of emotional attachment; passion, assertiveness 
  • Rudra Granthi – Ajna/Sattva: attachment to siddhis, ego


Chakra/Element Cleansing

  • A simple routine that will guide you through the various chakras, purifying the chakras and the associated elements in the process

Kundalini and Yoga

  • Kundalini has origins in the Tantric philosophy 
  • No mention of kundalini in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 
  • Hatha Yoga integrates kundalini with other yoga disciplines 
  • Hatha = ‘ha’ (moon/ida) + ‘tha’ (sun/pingala) • Hatha yoga: balance the two streams of energy so shakti can flow in sushumna 
  • In Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Kundalini forms a major part of yoga

Chakras (Cont)

  • Muladhara (Root) 
  • Svadhisthana (Sacral)
  •  Manipura (Navel) 
  • Anahata (Heart) 
  • Vishuddhi (Throat) 
  • Ajna (Third Eye) 
  • Sahasrara (Thousand Petaled Lotus)

The 'Nadi' System

  • Channels for the flow of subtle energy 
  • 72,000 nadis; 3 most important: Sushumna, Ida, Pingala 
  • Ida: moon/mental energy/female/left nostril/right hemisphere of brain Pingala: sun/vital energy/male/right nostril/left hemisphere of brain Sushumna: spiritual awakening/central channel along the spinal column Nadis start at Mooladhara, crossing over chakras, terminating at Ajna chakra 
  • Connected with ‘Svara Yoga’ (yoga of breath)

Kundalini Awakening

  • Methods of awakening: birth, mantra, austerities (tapah), herbs, purification of body and mind, samadhi, pranayama, kriya yoga, mudras and bandhas, tantric initiation, shaktipat, self-surrender 
  • When awakened, travels up through Sushumna nadi, crossing the six chakras on way, merging finally with Shiva, supreme consciousness at Sahasrara chakra 
  • Awakening results in greater sensitivity, control of senses, slower aging, a greater sense of calm, increased intuitive wisdom, and a more palpable experience of spirituality
  • Important to be aware of risks and precautions – proper guidance is needed

Koshas and Chakras

  • Annamaya (physical sheath formed by food) – Muladhara (earth), Svadhishthana (water) Manipura (fire) 
  • Pranamaya (universal life force- circulating vital air) – Anahata (air), Vishuddhi (ether) 
  • Manomaya (cognitive) – Ajna 
  • Vijnanamaya (discriminative/intuitive) – Ajna 
  • Anandamaya – Sahasrara

Chakras (Cont.)

  • Muladhara (Root) 
  • Svadhisthana (Sacral)
  •  Manipura (Navel) 
  • Anahata (Heart) 
  • Vishuddhi (Throat) 
  • Ajna (Third Eye) 
  • Sahasrara (Thousand Petaled Lotus)

Muladhara (Root) Chakra

Muladhara (Root) Chakra​

  • Meaning: “root support”
  • Location: perineum, base of spine
  •  Element: earth/smell
  • Petals: four-vam, sam, sam, sam 
  • Air: apana vayu – excretions 
  • Seed sound: lam 
  • Function: survival, grounding 
  • Malfunction: weight problem, constipation, sciatica, arthritis 
  • Animal: elephant 
  • Lotus: yellow square, downward triangle, Shiva Lingam with kundalini coiled around 3.5 times.

Muladhara Chakra (Cont.)

Asanas/exercises for stimulating Muladhara

  • Knee to chest
  • Bridge pose 
  • Half and full locust 
  • Head-to-knee post 
  • Elephant (bending forward, alternately fold and straighten the knees)
  • Spot jumping, jogging, massage, rest and sleep
  • Deep progressive relaxation
 Symbolism of Muladhara
  • Four petals: (vermilion and red) represent the energy (vibration) of four nadis at the center 
  • Triangle: serpent coiled 3.5 times around Shiva Lingam 
  • Vehicle of bija: elephant; seven trunks represent seven constituents of body: earth, fluids, blood, flesh, fat, bone, bone marrow 
  • Deity: Child Brahma – his four heads represent: physical self, rational self, emotional self, intuitive self.
  • Relates to physical body, health, survival, material needs, fears
  • Grounding: here and now, alive with earth’s vitality, humility, samskaras (roots), helps cope with stress, only a tool not the goal
  • Survival: financial security, freedom from sickness, job security, proper housing, self-worth etc. 
  • Body: ‘annamaya kosha’, understand, accept and heal the body; use it as gateway to the inner world 
  • Vrittis (4): dharma (psychospiritual), artha (wealth), kama (physical), moksha (spiritual)

Swadhishtasana (Sacral) Chakra

  • Meaning: One’s own abode 

  • Location: sacrum, genitals

  • Element: water/taste 

  • Petals: six – bam, bham, mam, yam, lam, ram 

  • Lotus: circle with crescent moon (light blue), petals are vermilion or orange-red 

  • Air: vyana – all over the body

  • Seed sound: vam 

  • Function: desire, pleasures, sexuality, procreation 

  • Malfunction: impotence, frigidity, uterine/kidney problem, stiff lower back 

  • Animal: crocodile (crocodile tears)

Sacral Chakra (Cont.)

  • Deity: Vishnu the preserver; four heads: 
  1. Conch: Pure sound brings liberation 
  2. Wheel: dharma – cycle of time (cosmic rhythms) 
  3. Metal club: control over earth
  4. Lotus: pure, soothing 
  • Shakti: two heads-one focused inward, the other outward 
  • Focus on desire and fantasy seat of ‘samskara’, past impressions (unconscious mind)


  1. Imbalance causes: credulity, suspicion, disdain, false knowledge and pitilessness 
  2. Vrittis (6): indifference, stupor/lack of common sense, over-indulgence, lack of trust, defeatism, cruelty 
  3. Pleasure: distinguish between joy and temporary pleasure; pleasure without attachment 
  4. Sexuality: sublimation not repression, left-hand tantra, celibacy to be understood properly

Sacral Chakra (Cont.)

Asanas/exercises to stimulate sacral chakra:

  • Lying down bound-angle pose 
  • Pelvic rock 
  • Bicycle move in lying down position 
  • Standing hip rotation 
  • Yoga mudra 
  • Rapid breathing (release of emotions)

Manipura (Navel) Chakra

  • Meaning: ‘mani’ means a gem and ‘pura’ is a city, so ‘city of jewles’
  • Location: Navel/solar plexus 
  • petals: Ten, blue, ten pranas 
  • Seed sound: Ram 
  • Element: Fire/sight 
  • Function: Will, power, assertiveness 
  • Glands: Pancreas/adrenals 
  • Malfunction: Ulcers, diabetes, digestive problems 
  • Animal: Ram

Sacral Chakra (Cont.)​

Navel Chakra (Cont.)

  • Associated with the sun and fire 
  • Helps digest and assimilate food into pranic energy; distributes subtle pranic energy: 
  • Air: samana -digest and distribute essence of food 
  • Meditation on Manipur – knowledge of whole body (YSP: 3.30) 
  • By reversing flow of ‘apana’, kundalini can be awakened 
  • Animal Ram: dynamism, indomitable endurance 
  • Deity: Rudra, giver of boons and remover of fear


  • Vrittis (10): shyness, sadistic tendency, envy, staticity/lethargy. melancholia, peevishness, yearning for acquisition, infatuation, hatred/revulsion, fear 
  • When not active: poor health, depression, lack of motivation and commitment 
  • Extrovertedness; rajasic – activity, intensity 
  • When balanced: prejudices, complexes, biases drop away, no fear of fire, freedom from disease, selfless service, dharma

Navel Chakra (cont.)

  • Asanas/exercises to stimulate Navel chakra:
  • – Breath of Fire (Kapalabhati) 
  • – Bhastrika (forced inhalations and exhalations) 
  • – Navel lock (uddiyana bandha), nauli kriya 
  • – Jogging – Boat pose (repeated rhythmically with breath) 
  • – Bow pose (dhanurasana) 
  • – Front stretch pose (purvottanasana)

Anahata (Heart) Chakra

  • Meaning: Unistruck 
  • Location: heart, cardiac plexus
  • Petals: twelve, vermillion, 
  • Seed sound: yam 
  • Element: air, touch, skin, hands 
  • Air represents freedom, openness, freshness, lightness 
  • Vayu: prana 
  • Function: love, compassion 
  • Malfunction: asthma, high BP, heart disease, lung disease 
  • Guna: rajas/sattva
  • Glands: thymus 
  • Animal: black antelope – alert and fleet-footed

Heart Chakra (Cont.)

  • Center of consciousness (atma/soul) 
  • Seat of emotions – bhakti yoga; unconditional love (not the sexual love of chakra 1 and 2); overcomes ego; empathy 
  • Seat of creativity; pathway to transcendence 
  • Seat of Vishnu knot-bondage of emotional attachments 
  • Symbolism: upward triangle: Shiva (consciousness); downward triangle: Shakti (manifestation, individuality); candle flame (soul)
  • Vrittis (12): hope, anxiety, endeavor, attachment, vanity, discrimination, nervous breakdown, ego, greediness, hypocrisy, argumentation, repentance 
  • When balanced:
  • – wisdom and nobility 
  • – senses under control, mental concentration, non-attachment and optimism 
  • – free will becomes active – can go
  • beyond ‘prarabdha karma’ 
  • Kalpataru-wish-fulfilling tree 
  • By meditation on the heart chakra, complete knowledge of mind
  • Asanas/exercises to stimulate Heart chakra: 
  • – Standing forward bend with the arms behind the back
  • and hands clasped together and raised 
  • – Cobra pose 
  • – Fish pose – Deep yogic breathing 
  • – Kapalabhati (breath of fire) 
  • – Alternate nostril breathing 
  • – Bandhas (locks – chin, navel and root locks) 
  • – Meditation

Vishuddhi (Throat) Chakra

  • Meaning: purification 
  • Location: throat, cervical plexus
  • Elements: sound, hearing, ears, ether 
  • Function: communication, creativity 
  • Glands: thyroid, parathyroid 
  • Malfunction: soar throat, stiff neck, colds, thyroid and hearing problems Seed 
  • sound: ham Petals: sixteen (all the sanskrit vowels)
  • Animal: elephant 

Heart Chakra (Cont.)

Vishuddhi (Throat) Chakra

  • Nectar and poison center – distribute nectar, discard poison 
  • Faculty of higher discrimination 
  • Ether: gateway to realization after senses are controlled 
  • Elephant: vehicle of consciousness 
  • Sharp communication skills – ability to understand ‘unspoken’ words
  • Vrittis (16): seven musical notes, OM, humm, practicality, mundane, welfare, nobility, surrender to supreme, repulsion, immortality 
  • By meditation on this chakra -control over thirst and hunger 
  • Kurma nadi associated with Vishuddhi – by focusing on this nadi, one’s mind become stable

Throat Chakra (Cont.)

  • Asanas/exercises to stimulate Throat chakra:
  • – Neck rolls 
  • – Shoulder stand – Plough pose 
  • – Fish pose 
  • – Jalandhar bandha (chin lock) 
  • – Half bridge pose 
  • – Vow of silence

Ajna (Third Eye) Chakra

  • Meaning: To learn, command, permission
  • Location: Third eye 
  • Element: Mahat (unmanifest parkriti), light, eyes 
  • Gland: pineal 
  • Function: seeing, intuition 
  • Malfunction: blindness, headache, nightmares, blurred vision
  • Seed sound: OM 
  • Lotus: two white petals with a golden triangle pointing downward
  • Guna: Sattva

Third Eye Chakra (cont.)


  • – half-man, half-woman symbol representing union of Shiva/Shakti         
  •  – Two petals representing Shiva and Shakti, merger of ida and pingala 
  • – Circle representing total void 
  • – mind free of attachments 
  • – Seed sound: OM, the primordial sound of creation 
  • Sense organ: mind 
  • Kosha: vijnanamaya (wisdom) 
  • kosha Vrittis (2): worldly knowledge, spiritual knowledge

When awakened:

  •  – cross the bounds of gunas 
  • – become free of sins, and move toward self-realization 
  • ida and pingala merge into the central channel Sushumna, thus eliminating all duality Understanding of law of karma cause and effect – One becomes a detached witness 
  • – Intuition supersedes knowledge through the senses

Ajna (Third Eye) Chakra

  • Asanas/exercises to stimulate Ajna chakra: 

-Eye exercises: 

  • vertical, horizontal, circular movement of eyes with the head steady; 
  • palming with awareness on the third eye chakra 
  • Trataka – gazing at a candle flame, closing the eyes and internally gazing at the after-image of the flame 
  • – Visualization and imagery 
  • – Meditation with awareness at the third eye chakra

Ajna (Third Eye) Chakra

  • Asanas/exercises to stimulate Ajna chakra:  -Eye exercises: 
  • vertical, horizontal, circular movement of eyes with the
  • head steady; 
  • palming with awareness on the third eye chakra 
  • Trataka – gazing at a candle flame, closing the eyes and
  • internally gazing at the after-image of the flame 
  • – Visualization and imagery 
  • – Meditation with awareness at the third eye chakra

Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra

  • Meaning: thousandfold 
  • Location: top of head 
  • Element: thought 
  • Function: understanding, bliss 
  • Gland: pituitary 
  • Malfunction: depression, alienation, confusion, apathy 
  • Petals: thousand (approaching infinity) 
  • Guna: sattva

Crown Chakra (cont.)

  • Lotus: within the crown chakra is full moon, with a triangle inside shining like lightning; Petals are lustrous white 
  • Abode of Shiva; seat of cosmic consciousness, Enlightenment
  • Manifest ‘shakti’ (prakriti) goes back to its
  • unmanifest form and merges with Shiva 
  • Equivalent of ‘samadhi’ in yoga; one transcends the individual ego as well as the three gunas