Kundalini Yoga for absolute beginners

Kundalini Yoga is an ancient art and science of fine tuning the human personality for experiencing the divinity within. Even though the ultimate goal of Kundalini Yoga is Self-realization, it can be of great help to people interested in general well-being. Not everybody is interested in the spiritual aspects of Kundalini Yoga but many are keen on maintaining a healthy mind and body. The beauty and efficacy of Kundalini Yoga is that it can be used by all for improving their lives.

Ancient Yogic texts written thousands of years ago use vocabulary that was relevant in those days but today the same vocabulary sounds tedious and overly complex. Because of this complexity a novice is often turned away from taking this path. Additionally, there are dozens of practices mentioned in the books of Yoga and it becomes a daunting task for a beginner to select appropriate set of techniques. The remainder of this article explains the art and science of Kundalini Yoga in simple and jargon free terms. The set of practices mentioned here can be practiced by anybody irrespective of gender, age and geographical location. All that is required is faith, sincerity and regularity.

Remember that the term "Kundalini Yoga" used here refers to the art and science as taught by the ancient Yogic traditions and texts and in no way it refers to teachings of any particular modern day teacher or organization.

The term "Science" is used in this article in a broader sense. It refers to a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws of that branch. To prove the facts, truths and laws of Yogic science, one needs  to undertake personal practice of the techniques as suggested by ancient Yogis who had direct experience of those facts and truths.

Though the explanation contained in this article is intended for absolute beginners in Kundalini Yoga the same set of practices can be used by a novice and an advanced practitioner. This is because as the practitioner becomes seasoned the same practice evolves further and further. So the same practices form the sadhana of a practitioner for life.

Kundalini Yoga identifies five parts of human personality. In order to live a healthy and happy life all the five parts of human personality should be devoid of any friction. The five parts of human personality are:

  • Body
  • Energy
  • Mind
  • Intellect
  • Self

Body

Human body is made up of combination of five elements namely Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. Factors such as wrong diet and undisciplined lifestyle put tremendous pressure on the bodily systems. When this pressure exceeds what body can handle, it triggers some or the other ailment. Asanas or Yoga postures help you to tone-up the bodily organs so that impurities accumulated in them are dispelled restoring their healthy condition. Though Asanas are often considered merely as a fitness exercise, they are more than that. Unlike some other fitness exercises where concentration is rarely given any importance, Yoga postures are performed with mind focused on the act. This not only channelizes the energy but also hastens the recovery due to the will power and attention paid by the practitioner. Yoga postures work on the principle of contraction and expansion. They provide a gentle massage to the bodily systems rather than exhausting them with rapid face or force. It is said that in all there are 84,00,000 Yoga postures out of which 84 are more important. Of course, one need not include all of them for daily practice. A carefully picked set of 10-12 Yoga postures along with warm-up exercises is generally sufficient to maintain general health.

Energy

Mere physical body made of bones, flesh and veins is of no use unless life energy is present in it. There is a large reservoir of latent energy – called Kundalini in Yogic terms - in every human being. Unfortunately, very few know how to unlock and use it for personal improvement. As a result lack of energy, fatigue and tiredness are very common symptoms amongst working professionals. To tap this potential energy, Yoga makes use of Pranayama. Outwardly Pranayama is a breathing exercise but it has tremendous impact on bodily energy and mind. The science of Yoga suggests several Pranayamas for variety of diseases but chief amongst them is Nadishodhana Pranayama. A Nadi is a channel that conducts energy from one body part to the other. There are 72,000 energy channels in the human body out of which three are more important than others. They flow through the left nostril, right nostril and spinal cord respectively. On the spinal cord there are seven important Plexuses – called Chakras in Yogic terms – that control the important bodily systems such as heart, digestion and reproduction. The primary cause of energy deficiency is impurities in the energy channels. Through the regular practice of Pranayama all the energy channels and plexuses are cleansed and a balance is established in the left and right hemisphere of the brain. Pranayama is also beneficial in disease removal due to its cleansing and balancing qualities.

Mind

Mind is that part of human psyche that deals with emotions and spontaneous thoughts. Most of the people fail to have any control on their mind and as a result suffer in the hands of dualities – pleasure and sorrow, good and bad etc. - of life. Ordinary mind is like a piece of iron with disoriented magnetic polarities. To convert this piece of iron into a string magnet one needs to gain control on the thoughts and emotions. Japa or reciting certain mantra over and over again serves this purpose. During Japa mind is focused on the mantra and its meaning causing other thoughts to subdue. Every mantra carries a sound vibration with itself. Bombarding mind with this sound vibration again and again causes its disoriented energy to reorganize for higher purposes. When this happens one can look at the various events of life in indifferent manner. Then the dualities of life won’t be too much painful. Remember, however, that this indifference is in no way merely drying-up of emotions. It is transformation of lower energies to higher energies.

Intellect

Intellect is the faculty of reasoning and understanding that helps one to decide what is good and what is bad for one’s life. In spiritual terms intellect decides what is "real" and what is "un-real". At every juncture of life man needs to decide on his path further. A confused mind often tries to copy others or blindly follows the same path taken by dozen others. It is the job of intellect to decide what one wants in his life, what success and happiness means to him, what is the best way to attain this success and happiness and such matters. Clearly developing this ability is important for everybody. People often fail to arrive at a right decision because their intellect is plastered with the coating of emotional surges. They don’t allow their intellect to take the decision. They jump to a conclusion based on their feelings and emotional surges. A good decision making ability requires calm, relaxed and clear mind. The practice of Ajapa or breath awareness induces great amount of relaxation in the mind-body equipment. Regular practice of Ajapa slowly evolves into what is known as Kundalini Pranayama or Sushumna Dhyana. Ajapa requires you to reflect on the fact – SoHam or I am That. This reflection leads to clarity of mind as one understands that real “I” is not body or mind but something beyond. One can then define the idea of success and happiness without getting influenced by others.

Self

Ancient Yogis through their rigorous practice and detachment experienced the highest spiritual Truth – I am That. The art and science of Yoga teaches us that this universe is manifestation of God. Yogis believe in “God became world” rather than “God created world”. At first glance this may seem against ordinary belief but a careful dissection will reveal that since God is infinite there cannot be creation separate from Him because such a separate existence will negate the infinite nature of God. We experience this world through sense organs and we believe this world to be real. Though our definition of “real” holds true for ordinary talking, in spiritual sense no object of this world is real because every object has birth and death. What is real for us today is going to become unreal tomorrow. In spite of this constant creation and destruction happening in the world, there must be something constant that forms the very basis of this cycle. This “something” is termed as God or Reality or Truth. The ultimate goal of Yoga is to gain direct experience this fact. Yoga proclaims that every human being is potentially divine.  Nature of our true Self is pure bliss. Many people experience this “connection” with the blissful Self accidently or unknowingly. They enjoy that state but very soon the joy fades away as daily life takes control of their mind and body. Can the same bliss be experienced at will? Can the same blissful state become our natural state during day to day activities? Yoga says “Yes” and suggests the path of Meditation to reveal the blissful Self. The eyebrow center or Third Eye – called Adnya Chakra in Yoga – is the seat of Self and at physical level influences the Pineal Gland. The practice of Shambhavi opens the Third Eye of the practitioner so that he becomes ready to experience the spiritual Truth.

Shaktipat

A practitioner can no doubt practice Asana, Pranayama, Japa, Ajapa and Shambhavi on his own by reading books or listening to some talks. He may even get success in his endeavor but since he has opted to walk the path of Yoga without any guide, he may stumble here and there. As a result he may end up spending more time in achieving the same results that he could have achieved with a proper guide. Ancient Yoga texts broadly speak about three forms of a spiritual guide – personal, subtle and divine. The personal guide is a human being who has experienced the Truth (or at least glimpses of it) himself. A guide in subtle form is an adapt – called Siddha in Yogic terms – who has concurred the boundaries of physical existence and roams around the universe at his will. A divine guide comes in the form of a deity being worshipped by the practitioner. Whatever may be the form of a guide the primary role of a guide is to pass on higher spiritual energy to the practitioner so as to kindle his Kundalini. It is like using one candle to kindle another candle. This process is called Shaktipat or Falling of energy in Yogic terms. Normally personal guide bestows Shaktipata during a personal meeting with a practitioner through touch, gaze, will or mantra. Shaktipat from the other forms of guides is often received during meditation, in dream or during a sudden surge of devotion. In any case Shaktipat awakens Kundalini of the practitioner and hastens the overall spiritual progress. Shaktipat brings about the purification quickly. That is why Shaktipat is given importance in ancient Yoga texts.

Kundalini Awakening

Through the practice of Asana, Pranayama, Japa, Ajapa and Shambhavi you are preparing your body and mind for Kundalini awakening. When the Kundalini awakens your spiritual progress will be quicker because now the awakened energy is there to bring about the necessary transformation. Of course, the actual time of awakening will depend on variety of factors such as your sincerity of practice and your karmic balance. Nevertheless the practice of the aforesaid techniques will make you energetic and capable of enjoying life in a better way even if Kundalini awakening is yet to take place. One needs to be patient and steadfast on the path of Yoga. It is best to look at Yoga as a way of life rather than a set of exercises.

Basic Rules

Just like any other walk of life, the path of Yoga expects the practitioners to follow some rules. Merely practicing Yoga techniques without following these rules will take the practitioner nowhere. Though strict Yoga life calls for many rules and behavioral traits, beginners should at least adhere to the following four rules:

  • Have firm faith on the path of Yoga.
  • Be contented with what you get. Do not crave for material pleasures.
  • Keep your body and mind clean. Bodily cleaning can be achieved through bath and purificatory techniques such as fasting. Equally important is to protect your mind from six enemies namely Lust, Anger, Greed, Delusion, Pride and Envy.
  • Always consume wholesome diet in moderate quantity. Imagine your stomach to be consisting of four parts. Fill two parts with solid food, one with liquid and keep one part empty for gas formation. Consume food items that are easy to digest. Avoid oily, spicy, pungent and stale food.

Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant, trainer, author, yoga mentor, and meditation teacher with over 24 years of experience in classical form of Yoga. He is an internationally published author and has authored or co-authored more than twelve books on .NET technologies. He has been awarded as a Most Valuable Professional by Microsoft. He has also written a few Marathi books including Devachya Davya Hati and Natha Sankentincha Danshu. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he also teaches Ajapa Yoga to selected individuals.

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Posted On : 03 January 2012


Tags : Yoga Kundalini Chakras Meditation Asanas Pranayama Natha Shakti Sadhana Spirituality

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