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Kundalini, or Kundalini-shakti, bhujangini or avadhuti, is the psychospiritual energy or force which is said to originate from the area of the astral and causal bodies associated with the base of the spinal column in the physical body; in the perineum in men and the cervix in women, i.e. the location of the Muladhara Chakra.


In many teachings of yoga, including Raja, Hatha, Tantra and Kundalini yoga where it is central to much of the teaching, Kundalini is seen as the individuals` form of the universal feminine life force, prana-shakti.  An important aim of those teachings is to cause the ascent of the feminine kundalini energy through the central channel or nadi, Sushumna, to the head where it will awaken dormant areas of the brain and where it can unite in the Sahasrara chakra with the masculine force of Shiva.


In Tantra, Kundalini is visualised as a coiled serpent covering her face within the opening of the Sushumna nadi. The snake lies coiled three and a half times, five or eight, depending on the teaching, in the Kunda pit or cavity.  Interestingly the fire pit used in Tantric ritual is also known as the kunda.  The serpent represents the unlimited potential for action/creation within us.  The potential is sometimes described as the equivalent of a million suns.


As the serpent Kundalini –shakti awakens she begins to uncoil and rise up through the Sushumna nadi, passing through each chakra along the way, and in its course leading to their opening.  In all the teachings it is emphasised that the awakening of Kundalini must be done under control.  The effects of uncontrolled awakening have been likened to an electrical surge blowing your PC or sensitive electrical equipment.  In Tantra the uncontrolled force is described as the goddess Kali.  She is the terrifying aspect of the feminine force; the black goddess with bulging eyes, wearing a necklace of human skulls: the destructive aspect of the goddess.  Conversely when the kundalini-shakti rises under control, entering and opening each chakra in appropriate conditions, she is described as `the divine spouse of Shiva`.


From a modern western perspective we may regard the concept of kundalini-shakti, the chakras and so forth as interesting but irrelevant myth.  However it would be useful to realise the essential meaning behind the symbolism.  If we remember the dictum that we are a microcosm of the macrocosm, then we begin to see that we are involved here in the eternal interplay between the opposite forces masculine/feminine, positive/negative, black/white, light/dark etc.  In other words we are as bound by the rules of existence as the whole universe.


Within ourself we can also realise that as we are aware of our Self on different levels.  In the development of our spiritual body we tend to begin with a greater awareness of the physical body through the practice of the yoga exercises.  Better physical health allows us to become more aware of the needs of our emotional Self and so forth.  In the end we may hope to experience that wonderful state of bliss promised by the teachings of yoga, when we realise the oneness of all those levels of our existence when we truly become at one with our body, mind and soul, and also realise our place in the greater world of creation.   Yoga teachers rightly warn us against trying to do this too quickly.  It is all too easy to fall victim to the euphoria of `enlightenment`, thinking that a few blissful experiences – i.e. feeling really, REALLY good  about things constitutes Samadhi.  Slow down friend, establish your foundations first, and then practice; practice the codes of yoga, until they become not just second nature, but first nature.



Bhujangasana - the serpent pose