By Cynthia Gran
“Little Darling, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter.Little Darling, it seems like years since it’s been here.”Here Comes the Sun, George Harrison
As soon as you walk outside on a spring morning, the senses awaken. The ears fill with bird songs. The sun shines brighter and appears higher in the sky, and your skin feels its warmth. Plants emerge from the ground. The air smells fresh. You can’t help but exclaim, “It’s a beautiful day!”
The greening of the Earth’s mantle in spring is an awakening of energy. Plants and trees awaken, utilizing resources that remained inactive all winter. This stored energy, recognized in physics, is called potential energy. A yogi sees this as analogous to awakening the divine energy and sparkle of one’s own dormant, potential energy that lies within the pelvic region.
That divine energy is Kundalini Shakti. It’s symbolized as a sleeping snake coiled up in the base of the spine. The classic Sanskrit manual, The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, says that the entire purpose of yoga is to awaken this potential. Like the awakening of the Earth in springtime, the yogi’s objective is to awaken Kundalini Shakti from its dormancy, and move it up through the spinal column to the crown of the head. This is why most yoga postures involve loosening, twisting, and strengthening the spine, tapping into and rousing the potential energy at its base. Yoga cultivates that human potential, otherwise untapped, in order that we may transform our everyday human experience. Still the process is as natural as the flowering of a daffodil.
We’ve all experienced Kundalini Shakti in the form of unexpected raindrops; a brisk wind or gentle breeze; a shiver up the spine; goose bumps; butterflies in the stomach; a sense of rising/swirling energy; or intense prayer. Yet its ultimate expression is stillness.
“A seed is waiting in the earth, for rain to come and give him birth.It’s all he really needs to set him free…So lay down your umbrellas; strip off your plastic macs.You’ve never felt the rain my friend, till you’ve felt it running down your back.So the next time you see rain, it ain’t bad. Don’t complain it rains for you.”Mamunia, Paul McCartney and Wings (1973)
As a key is used to open a door, the potential energy of Kundalini Shakti can open the door to spiritual liberation. The whole process, as written in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, is archaic and complicated. It requires guidance by a competent teacher to translate subtleties of the exercises. Genuine awakening requires commitment, diligent preparation, and sincere effort. In fact, it’s been said that the preparation is greater than the achievement. Preparations include purification of mind and body, hatha yoga, meditation, and breath control. Breath is exceedingly important in awakening Kundalini Shakti. Without harnessing the breath, nothing happens.
Kundalini is an advanced branch of yoga with multiple definitions. It’s often misunderstood; yet one basic concept can be easily understood: the outer world is reflected in our inner world, although we experience them as separate. Tantra adds that we may be conscious or unconscious of this separation. It usually causes the restlessness in our lives. But we are all connected to that same primal energy, just as a drop of water has the same qualities of all the water in the ocean.
The purpose of yoga is to transcend our limited human experience and tap into our unlimited potential to see we are not alone. Kundalini actually draws us towards her. The raising and awakening of her energy is yoga, the union that we naturally desire. Tantra states that Kundalini Shakti is the divine, cosmic reservoir. It’s the universal source of life, and the vitality of the body/mind complex. We experience it directly, but only in minute amounts. We just need to realize that we can align to these channels of spiritual energy.
Kundalini Shakti is divine. You are divine. Nature is divine. By breathing along the spine we become linked to the Divine. As the weather warms and you spend more time outside, try this simple technique. Here the body is a conduit between your potential energy and Nature’s energy. Take 30 minutes to feel fully alive and profoundly connected to the energy of universal consciousness:
Find a quiet place outside.
Either sit directly on the ground, or stand barefoot.
Get in touch; feel the grass beneath you.
Look. Listen. Smell. Breathe.
Establish deep breathing by simultaneously raising the arms very slowly overhead while inhaling.
Exhale and slowly lower the arms to your sides.
Continue coordinating arms and breath this way for three minutes.
Pause the arm movement, but continue the same deep, rhythmic breathing.
Bring your attention back to the grass and the Earth beneath you.
Inhale, using the mind to see breath/energy rise up from the Earth and up into the body.
Continue breathing slowly upward, lengthening the breath, reaching several inches overhead.
Exhale from overhead back down through the body until reaching the Earth.
Continue coordinating mind and breath through the body, inhaling up and exhaling down.
Let the mind and breath continue to flow together slowly without pause.
After several minutes, focus the attention at the heart.
Remain here as long as you wish, continue watching the breath.
Become aware of your surroundings via sensations.
Open your eyes and see the world anew.