If you’ve been attending yoga classes at your local yoga studio or even watching my yoga classes online, then you’ve likely heard of it before…
But what is it and where does it come from?
And how does the awakening process even work?
With all of this talk about awakening of kundalini, feminine energy, vibrations, and subtle energy bodies, it can be hard to discern what is based in traditional yogic wisdom and what is based on a bunch of Hollywood hype.
So I thought I’d break it down for you, plain and simple.
Because awakening kundalini is an incredibly powerful spiritual experience that can move and shake your entire life (in a good way).
So the more awareness and understanding that I can bring to it, the better.
Let’s do it.
Just like you have a physical body, you also have an energetic body.
And I always like to talk about acupuncture when I first describe or introduce people to the energetic body because a lot of people are familiar with it. In acupuncture, they use meridians to map the energetic body and the word that they use for the energy that moves in our body is chi.
In the system of yoga, we instead call these channels of energy in the body a different word.
Instead of Meridians, we call them Nadis.
So think of all the nadis, or all the energy pathways, in your body as the little streets, the roads, the towns that then converge into a few major cities.
These big cities or centers of energy are called the chakras. And the Sanskrit word for chakra translates to wheel or disc because these energy centers are not stagnant.
They are moving.
Think of each chakra as a spinning vortex of prana, the Sanskrit word for energy, located at different sections along your spine.
The chakras begin at the base of your spine, below the pelvic region. Some say that the first chakra is only partially in the body and that it actually extends down into the ground providing a spiritual connection with the earth.
Now, the chakras move up the spine from there, rising all the way up and out the top of your head. Some say that that seventh chakra actually extends beyond the head, connecting to the sky and to universal intelligence, source, energy, God, whatever you choose to call that.
So each of the seven chakras along the spinal column has its own name and color and associated stones and crystals and the energetic realm that it rules.
The root chakra is located at the base of the spine, in the area around your tailbone. And if we think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the root chakra represents our most basic means of survival, food, shelter, and money. Basically, all the things that make us feel safe and secure.
Think about it.
Many of us have a roof over our heads but still struggle in this area because we’re stressed out. We never really feel fully grounded or present or able to relax. So this energy center is all about taking care of yourself and getting those basic needs met.
The sacral chakra is located in the pelvis, below the navel, and near the sacrum bone, and governs the realm of well-being, pleasure, creativity, sexuality. The sacral chakra is all about how well we handle new experiences as well.
And many say our emotions live here, so this energy center is all about how much are you willing to feel.
What are your desires? How do you feel about what’s going on in your life?
The solar plexus chakra is located at the naval. It governs self-worth, self-confidence, and self-esteem. When your third chakra is in balance, you have a strong will and you get things done.
But if you’re overactive in this area, you’re a workaholic who doesn’t know how to relax. If you’re deficient, meaning you don’t have enough energy moving in your third chakra, you find yourself procrastinating.
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The next chakra up the spinal column is the heart chakra, which is located at the heart center. It’s known as the fulcrum chakra because it’s right at the center of the chakra system, with three chakras below and three chakras above.
It governs our relationship with both ourselves and others and allows us to feel joy and embrace being present in our own skin.
The throat chakra, above the heart chakra, unsurprisingly controls our ability to communicate. So this area is all about self-expression and bringing our ideas out into the world.
The third eye chakra is located between and above your eyebrows at the pineal and pituitary glands. It governs our intuition, imagination, wisdom, and ability to think and make decisions.
When the third eye chakra is balanced, we’re able to see the big picture of what really matters in our life. When this energy sentence center is deficient, however, we’re narrow-minded and we miss opportunities. We’re stuck in old habits and stuck thinking the same thoughts over and over and over again.
The crown chakra, the highest chakra, represents our ability to be fully connected to source, to the universe, to God, or whatever you might call it. It’s about how interconnected we feel and you’ve likely experienced this energy center at the end of a great yoga class when you’re lying in savasana.
That feel-good energy that leaves you with a calm mind and absolute awareness of the present moment. ..
…you feel blissful. Whatever problems you enter the yoga room with have hopefully become smaller.
And kundalini energy, or prana or life force or whatever term you want to call it, moves along these energy centers, both upwards and downwards. When prana flows freely through these energy centers, it leads to an expanded state of awareness and consciousness. This is called kundalini awakening.
A lot of people talk about blocked chakras and chakra healing without ever mentioning the process of awakening the kundalini energy within your energy body. Instead, many will focus on specific yoga postures, crystals, mantras, or essential oils to facilitate the healing process.
But the most effective way to balance the chakras is to support the kundalini process and to get the energy flowing through the chakras…
…because how else do you clear a blockage than by generating movement?
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Now that we know the seven chakras form a vertical column from the bottom of the pelvis up through the crown of the head, what is kundalini and how does it play into all of this?
Well, kundalini explains how these energy centers are spinning by moving two currents of energy up and down your spinal column along the chakra centers.
These energy currents are the current of liberation and the current of manifestation.
Where one current, or flow of energy, moves down the spinal column through each of the chakras, the other current simultaneously moves upward, making the chakras spin.
Now, Kundalini Yoga focuses very much on that upward current, moving energy up the chakras to the seventh-highest chakra so that we can connect with universal divine intelligence.
But we don’t want to overemphasize just one or the other. A strong, liberating upward, current without manifestation might express itself as someone who’s great with ideas but is unable to bring anything into fruition.
The inverse, someone who has a strong current of manifestation without liberation might be someone who accomplishes a ton, but you can tell that they’re sort of on autopilot. They’re disconnected with their true purpose.
This movement of energy, when totally unchecked and unexpected, can often lead to Kundalini syndrome.
Here’s what’s usually confusing: kundalini and shakti are two words that are often used interchangeably to represent a liberating current and describe the upwards movement of energy up through the chakras. Shakti, according to ancient Hindu texts, represents a divine force of energy that basically drives the entire universe.
In terms of kundalini, it’s often drawn as a snake coiled three and a half times around the base of your spine.
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And as much as we’d like to think that we’ve got the divine force moving through us, the truth of the matter is that this kundalini serpent is usually dormant, where you’re mindlessly performing tasks or completing errands.
When you do kundalini yoga or choose to meditate, the idea from the ancient yogic texts is that you’re waking up that serpent. You’re moving it from being coiled just at the base of the spine, up through all the chakras along the nadis, or pathways.
This kundalini energy, or kundalini shakti, finally reaches the crown chakra at the top of the head. There she waits, according to ancient yogic texts and philosophy, to find Shiva, who represents a divine consciousness or enlightenment or bliss.
And then Shiva descends to meet her.
So when Shiva and Shakti are united together, that’s when you begin to feel connected to something bigger than yourself. That’s the great feeling that yoga and meditation give you.
The benefits of kundalini are that you feel more connected, more awakened. But the drawbacks for a beginner is that the awakening process can sometimes be intense, drawing out inner demons that maybe we had forgotten were there.
Now, I’m just scratching the surface here to make these concepts approachable for beginners. So I’m also simplifying some of these things, but these are the basics and it’s just so fun!
If you want to learn more about the chakras, then sign up for my free chakra challenge below.
It includes a yoga class and a meditation from me on each chakra so you can really begin to experience these energy centers for yourself to feel them based on what I described.
If you’d really like to dive deeper, then come join me in my upcoming online yoga teacher training, where I break down the entire kundalini process and yoga philosophy. Even if you don’t want to teach yoga, you can use this teacher training for your own spiritual awakening.