Hatha Yoga and Awakening of Kundalini

Swami Satyananda Saraswati Given at the Yoga Teachers Seminar in Collbato, Spain in Aug. The science of yoga has not brought any great surprise to the world, but it has given man the hope of awakening the potential that is dormant in every individual. When man was engrossed in ignorance, he was only thinking and identifying with the material part of his existence - the body, mind and emotions. He was then caught in the realm of pain and pleasure. But it seems that the universal consciousness is taking a round about turn and man is gradually becoming more concerned with the discovery of his real nature, and the means by which he can achieve this goal. Because man is so habituated to identifying himself with the body and mind, he finds it very difficult to transcend this level of consciousness and realise or experience his higher consciousness. How can we separate the consciousness from the lower nature, and discover our link with the deeper and higher self? It is only through awakening our dormant spiritual energy- kundalini, that we can achieve this end. And yoga has a gradual and systematic method for awakening kundalini, which has been practised and perfected throughout the ages. According to the scriptures, hatha yoga plays a very important part in awakening spiritual energy. Just as in an automobile there must be harmony between the functioning of brakes, accelerator and steering, etc., in our body the different systems must also function in harmony. Hatha yoga actually means balance between the two principal forms of energy in the physical body. Harmonisation of the energy forces The two energies comprise lunar energy, represented here by the syllable 'ha', and solar energy represented by the syllable 'tha'. From the modern scientific point of view, lunar energy corresponds to the mental functions of man and is a composite of the knowing, thinking, reasoning, remembering and analysing processes. The solar energy, on the other hand, encompasses movement, locomotion and life. The processes of breathing, digestion, secretion, circulation and conception are all in the realms of solar energy. When there is harmony between the mental and pranic functions of the body, yoga becomes swift and smooth. However, this harmony rarely occurs. In most people, either the solar or the lunar energy predominates. An excess of solar energy manifests rajo guna, and if lunar energy predominates, tamo guna is present. If the lunar energy is weak and the solar energy is powerful, one becomes restless, violent and schizophrenic. People are sensuous on account of excess solar energy. Conversely, when lunar energy is more powerful man falls into the realms of depression or frustration. Therefore, if you wish for harmony between the two forces, you must maintain a balance between frustration and depression, and aggression and action. These two energies in the physical body should be known as mind and vitality. In modern terminology we call them the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems, and they control the functioning of the entire body. An imbalance between these systems can lead one to confinement in a mental hospital or a jail sentence. On the other hand, a balance results in an awakening of the higher energies.

or when you are eating. Yogasanas are an important preparation for kundalini yoga because they give a mild awakening to the chakras. the major object of hatha yoga is to connect this finite body with that infinite source. the word pranayama literally means supplying and balancing the pranic energy in different dimensions of the body. In this way the mental and pranic energy flow to different parts of the body. the prana is in the brain. and ida the lunar energy or mental shakti. it is a higher practice carried out in the physical body. Of these. These two nadis flow within the framework of the spinal cord. Swami Sivananda. So an important function of hatha yoga is the purification of the nadis. The high tension lines leave the main station and the current is stepped down at the transforming station ready for distribution to the domestic outlets. this is not their real purpose. pranayama. By practising pranayama we create proper organisation of the pranic energy in the body. the flow of energy in sushumna is of a cosmic nature. When you need prana in mooladhara or sahasrara. I thought it was all nonsense until one day Swamiji explained how a mild awakening is exerted in each chakra when you practise the postures. ida and pingala carry a high range of energy to the chakra points where it is transformed into a lower voltage of energy.Purification of the nadis According to hatha yoga scriptures. So now we arrive at the understanding that hatha yoga is not physical yoga. ida and pingala branch off to the various organs of the body. or when you sleep. mudras and bandhas should not be considered as physical yoga. When I lived with my guru. Similarly. ida on the left side and pingala on the right. The practice of the six cleansing kriyas. In the same manner. your prana should be . Therefore. If the nadis do not flow freely you will feel mental or physical weakness. and balance out the excess in other areas. impure and incapable of efficiently conducting the pranic and mental shakti to the various organs of the body. Besides ida and pingala there is one other very important nadi which flows through the centre of the spinal cord. I used to type his writings on yoga. On account of excessive and useless thinking. When you sit for meditation you need excess prana in the higher regions of the brain. Therefore. When he wrote that sarvangasana awakens vishuddhi chakra. The pingala nadi carries the solar energy or the flow of prana shakti. We supply prana to the areas where there is a scarcity. the cosmic energy of sushumna is infinite. Let us use the electric power station as an illustration. you should be able to supply it. ida and pingala are the most important. the nadis are generally weak. the prana is in the digestive system. when you are practising yoga nidra. In different centres along the spinal cord. It is called sushumna and it conducts a higher form of energy.000 nadis or flow circuits in the human body which control all the different bodily functions. We could say that while ida and pingala conduct earthly energy. there are 72. Whereas pranic and mental energy are finite. The aim of asanas and pranayama Although people have been using asanas for the treatment of disease. and the practice of sirshasana awakens sahasrara. Sometimes when you are relaxing. and when you are eating you need more pranic energy in the digestive system. It is only a side benefit. I did not believe it. bhujangasana wakes up manipura chakra. asanas.

When this link is established. In your domestic electrical meter there are three lines. Unless you have been a regular practitioner of yoga for some time. but it is more than just a breathing exercise. Pranayama increases vitality and ensures good health. Connecting ida. If you want to know what prana is. in hatha yoga the science of pranayama is considered to be supreme. prana is like a missile and mantra is like the nuclear weapon on top. and sushumna is the booster. Just as matter is convertible into energy. pingala and sushumna In the human body there are two vitally important centres. at the base of the spine. the pranas are dormant. One is mooladhara chakra. I will give you an illustration. you must understand existence. If you have a missile and at its head you put an atomic weapon. we are born with it. kapalbhati. But the microcosmic aspect of the universal prana is in me and you and every object of the universe.distributed throughout the body. But when you practise trataka and kapalbhati. Understanding prana Prana is not something we take in with the air we breathe. prana can be converted into action and action into prana. there would be total disintegration. although it is in the gross form. When there is no existence. pingala carries hot energy. then the missile is the carrier of that nuclear weapon.microcosmic and macrocosmic I am not going to tell you about macrocosmic prana because you cannot conceive it. If there was no prana. Prana is comprehended in two aspects. One is positive. you should practise shambhavi mudra. and if prana was withdrawn from the universe. it was the result of an explosion of pranas. In the same way. Although the energy is conducted through the positive and negative lines. Prana was created in us when we were in the womb of our mother. ida and pingala are not in communication with sushumna. To awaken ajna chakra and create union between the three conductors of energy in the body. In the same way. We are not able to think about prana in its subtle form. the lights immediately become dim. Therefore. Ida. the ida nadi carries cold energy. and its path of ascent is through sushumna nadi. Pranayama and mantra make a very powerful combination and they are said to be the real definition of yoga. there would be no existence. If you remove the neutral line. neutral is necessary to maintain the higher voltage. Nadi shodhana. you can transfer prana to any part of the body. and you would not be able to understand. The whole universe functions on account of prana. pingala and sushumna emanate from mooladhara and terminate in ajna. the higher energy flows through them. When you have mastered pranayama. and when the cosmos came into being. The negative line is called the 'cold line' and the positive line is called the 'hot line'. Simply close your eyes and concentrate on the mid- . energy is also convertible into matter. It is intended to disturb the sleeping kundalini. The sleeping kundalini resides in mooladhara. and the other is ajna chakra at the top of the spinal cord. sheetali and sheetkari pranayama are all ways of achieving this end. they are connected. but it is convertible. I cannot speak about it. bhastrika. one is negative and the third is neutral.

pingala and sushumna into union and triggering the flow of kundalini energy. Many people see the blaze as an explosion of light. Prana has no form or dimension. Symbolically. pingala and sushumna has taken place. Prana is existence. Then gradually the eyes become concentrated at the mid-eyebrow centre and shambhavi mudra develops.eyebrow centre. Awakening of prana is awakening of kundalini. In order to master shambhavi mudra. one experiences definite symptoms. Therefore. but you can conceive kundalini in any manner you like. and we are all specimens of prana. they say it is a serpent. When shambhavi mudra becomes effective there is light within. although in the beginning you have to keep your eyes fixed on something. In other words it is macrocosmic pranic force united with the microcosmic spiritual force. Prana and kundalini When we examine the absolute meaning of hatha yoga we see that it is union of sushumna with ida and pingala. And what is prana? Prana and kundalini are synonymous terms. But our prana is at a very low voltage. and therefore all of humanity has to be taught how to increase the voltage of prana. bringing ida. Kundalini is microcosmic prana shakti. The consciousness manifests in the form of illumination. Trataka is not merely gazing at one point. What is the ultimate destination? Awakening of prana. It is a psychic experience in which you see the blazing of light. You can call this experience either illumination or enlightenment. When this energy begins to flow. . you must practise trataka. When you open your eyes. try to look at the mid-eyebrow centre. and in awakening kundalini you unite yourself with the cosmic prana. This illumination indicates that the union of ida. the practice of hatha yoga can lead one to the ultimate destination. and this is the ultimate purpose of hatha yoga. whereas others experience it as a twilight which slowly increases. it is infinite.