What are the Dangers of Kundalini Yoga?
Our body’s centers of spiritual power, or chakras, allow the flow of energy. Yoga awakens this energy in many forms.
I have used yoga as a tool for practicing peace of mind, body awareness, body positivity, and to gain strength. The energy I feel after a yoga practice is incredibly soothing and I am always left with a sense of peace and confidence that no other workout has provided for me.
My practice has mostly consisted of asana yoga. Each pose creates heat within my body and a deeper understanding of what it needs in order to work out kinks and become stronger. With yoga, I am allowed to be peaceful while simultaneously putting my body to work. I do have some experience with kundalini yoga though. Unlike most, kundalini yoga was my first peak into yoga 8 years ago. I really enjoyed it and it provided amazing benefits to me that I still enjoy to this day. However, I decided to take a break from kundalini yoga and go back to a regular Hatha class until I can train under a proper teacher.
This is because despite the benefits of yoga, some practices don’t always go as planned. One classification of yoga is kundalini yoga that can prove to be a positive spiritual experience for some, while leaving others learning the hard way that their bodies weren’t ready for it. This is when people run into the many dangers of kundalini yoga. Kundalini yoga is massively beneficial but has a dark side for those who aren't ready or don't practice under a proper teacher or guru.
As with any physical experience you choose to put your body through, it is essential to understand what it is and if your body can handle it. While it is good to challenge yourself, some challenges are best to wait for later when you’re more prepared.
If you have never attempted kundalini yoga before, you will be fascinated to learn how powerful the energy within your body is and eye-opening to learn its effects. It is important that you understand your body’s capabilities to ensure a safe and healthy kundalini yoga practice. This most is in no way meant to discourage people from trying kundalini yoga. It is simply meant to inform people about the dangers if not done correctly.
What is Kundalini?
Kundalini is dormant energy located at the base of your spine with powerful potential energy. With specific meditation and yoga techniques, a kundalini awakening may occur that releases the powerful energy up the spine and throughout the body.
Kundalini yoga is defined as “the yoga of natural healing at the physical, emotional and spiritual levels via heightened awareness that consciously connects with a higher nature of self or divinity” according to the Kundalini Research Project.
The 7 Chakras and Kundalini Energy
In learning more about kundalini, you will need to understand chakras, which are the seven energy centers of the body where each have a strong connection with nature and the makeup of your body, or a blueprint.
The chakras are associated with earth, water, fire, air, space, light, and energy and are located along a line from your head down to your pelvic floor. With intense focus on each chakra, you will feel more connected to the element of life it is associated with.
Kundalini yoga aims to heighten spiritual awareness by releasing the energy resting at the base of your spine and shoots it up through each chakra.
What happens during Kundalini awakening?
Kundalini yoga has the capability of igniting a kundalini awakening. This can be from the result of specific meditative practices and poses.
Some sensations during kundalini awakening includes tingling down the spine, feelings of deep connection with all living things, and relief of any negative emotions or thoughts. Typically, it can be described as an intense spiritual experience.
Basically, bottled potential energy within your body is released and becomes available for your body’s use. There are plenty of tips to master this awakening correctly; however, some mistakes will yield troubling outcomes.
This is the part that can get potentially troublesome for some people. If you aren't mentally or physically ready for this intense spiritual experience, it can really do a number on you. That is why it is absolutely imperative to practice with a teacher or guru who really knows what they are doing.
Kundalini Awakening Gone Wrong
Craig Holliday, a Non Dual teacher and therapist, speaks of his negative side effects from a kundalini awakening. He recounts the bliss but educates his audiences about preventing the dangers that he became victim to such as convulsions, seizures, and loss of memory.
His kundalini awakening resulted in about three years of neurological problems due to the intense energy rushing through his body. He experienced troubles with walking, motor skills, and the constant feeling of extreme blissful consciousness.
Holliday describes kundalini’s energy as “a power greater than ourselves.” It is energy that is different than any other energy experienced in life. He asserts that “true kundalini awakening is the power of creation; literally the power of the big bang waking up in you.”
Corinne Lebrun, a self identified spiritual pragmatist, lives with daily kundalini energy and desires to educate others on what it’s like to always “feel like your finger’s plugged into a light socket”. Through her work towards her master’s degree, she has a stronger understanding.
Despite her endless energy and kundalini bliss, she explains how it feels like an extra responsibility to always be conscious of balancing her energy to keep it under control. Her mind can get in the way and she’s had to work through how to return to a more balanced state.
Kundalini Awakening Dangers and Their Symptoms
If you are suffering from premature kundalini awakening symptoms, you may experience physical symptoms such as:
- increased heart rate
- sudden limb movements
- respiratory problems
- fever or chills
- sudden pain.
Mental and emotional symptoms include:
- intense fear
- bipolar mood
- out of body experiences
- trance-like states
- altered state of consciousness
Pretty scary stuff! All of these symptoms signal an imbalance and inability for the body to cope with the sudden awakening of energy. You may experience symptoms for months to years of time if not handled properly.
Holliday suggests various therapies such as massages, chiropractic work, and some forms of yoga as coping methods. Kundalini yoga specifically focuses too intensely on energy, so you will want to choose a yoga practice less intense like yin yoga.
Another coping method is to spend time in nature. Being surrounded by trees or walking barefoot through grass tends to bring the energy of your body down and provide a calming effect. Work in the garden or any activity outside will bring you closer to nature.
Physical work also serves as a coping method. Directing the intense flow of energy to an activity like carpentry, construction, or farming will bring your body back to a balanced state.
Similarly, exercise can relieve anxiety or many other symptoms of kundalini. If your body is in good enough condition to do so, try implementing a regular exercise routine into your lifestyle in order to gain confidence in your health and prevent stress.
Eating more filling meals may aid in coping with kundalini side effects. With the combination of a proper diet and fuller, more satisfying meals, food may help to make you feel more connected to your body.
Avoid foods or substances that may stimulate unnecessary extra energy in your body by minimizing or quitting the intake of coffee, tea, alcohol, and drugs.
Also, try breaking from your yoga practice. If your practice is what is causing the overflow of energy, it is best to take a break and return to it when you feel a better sense of balance. Any form of rest and relaxation will benefit your body and energy flow.
Of course, you should consult with a doctor, therapist, or instructor who has experienced a kundalini awakening before for the best advice and care. While these coping methods may help with negative effects, it is always ideal to seek medical advice from a professional you trust.
How to Awaken Kundalini Safely
The very first rule you want to keep in mind when awakening your kundalini is that you don’t want to overstrain yourself. If your body isn’t ready for the types of meditation or poses that is required of the practice you are attempting, it’s better to start light and make your way up to more challenging practices.
Do not excessively partake in chakra meditations. Chakra meditations opens the different chakras throughout your body, but if your body is not equipped or prepared to handle the energy flow that occurs when they are opened, that could cause some damage to your health. If you are doing it under the care of a true kundalini yoga expert, you should be fine. This is mostly true for people who are doing it on their own without consulting any experts (which I strongly do not recommend anyway).
Be aware of the dangers of using drugs during kundalini yoga. Some use narcotics or recreational drugs to aid in arriving in the right mindset and calm the body to experience kundalini awakening. It is strongly advised to avoid drugs for your kundalini experience. There is no way to awaken kundalini safely if you are under the influence of drugs (yes, that includes cannabis!). I have foolishly done kundalini yoga stoned a few times and I did not like the way it felt at all. I became immediately ultra-sensitive to the energy transfers that were going on inside my body and it was too much! It was so overpowering I could barely focus on doing the poses. It was very unpleasant and I would highly suggest you do not try it. There is no wake to awaken the kundali safely while on drugs (or alcohol).
Be sure that you are of optimal health first. If you have any health conditions, kundalini yoga may create imbalances that will further complicate your conditions, no matter how mild or serious they may be. Start with basic practices until you feel your body is ready for kundalini.
Make time to be alone and rest. After being awakened by kundalini, there will be times that your body needs rest or time away from others to maintain balance throughout the body. Without giving yourself time to find balance, you may experience negative effects.
Practice gratitude. It is best that you remain conscious of how you go about your day with respect for others, gratitude towards your life, and humble. This way, your energy will better align and balance to yield optimal positive energy flow throughout your body.
Ideal Kundalini Awakening Age
As mentioned before, kundalini yoga and awakening should not be performed or practiced when the body is not ready. Any physical ailments or diseases should be resolved before your kundalini practice.
Age is one factor to consider, as young children will experience more negative effects if their kundalini is awakened too early. According to Krish Murali Eswar, a kundalini and kaya kalpa yoga master, children under fourteen should not participate in kundalini yoga.
“Up to the age of fourteen, the body needs to build itself,” Eswar states. “There are millions of cells that need to come together to form the integrity of the body for the child and that is the foundation.”
Without reaching physical maturity before attempting kundalini yoga, the body will not be strong enough to deal with the heightened energy flows and sensations that are a result from kundalini practices, thus creating imbalances and dangers to the individual.
While there lies a risk with kundalini practices, you can absolutely experience benefits if practiced safely and correctly such as a strong sense of bliss and love for other living things.
Some specific benefits reported include strength, steadiness, boldness, lightness of body, a new perception of self, and mental freedom.
Other benefits involve physiological improvements such as the autonomic nervous system reaching equilibrium, healthier gastrointestinal functions, and a decrease in blood pressure.
In a typical kundalini practice, movement, various breathing techniques, meditation, and chanting of mantras, a word or sounds to increase focus. In doing so, you will gain stronger consciousness and physical energy.
Typically, if you consider yourself advanced in asana practice, kundalini yoga may benefit you. It is advised that you only attempt kundalini yoga if you are in an advanced stage of an asana yoga practice to prevent the dangers kundalini yoga can cause.
Whether or not you have attempted a kundalini awakening or practiced kundalini yoga, it is important to educate yourself on the subject and know the positive and negative effects it can have on your body.
As you now know, kundalini is a powerful and intense energy that can either bring an individual into states of bliss and fortune, mental and physical ailments, or both.
Prepare yourself by:
- Ensuring optimal health
- Having the ability to master basic yoga of other forms
- Having the guidance of someone experienced with kundalini
- Consulting a doctor before attempting kundalini awakening or kundalini yoga
- Know what to do if you experience negative effects
Kundalini yoga is considered one of the most dangerous yoga practices, solely due to the possibility of negative effects. There are plenty of resources to prevent dangerous symptoms, but mistakes can still occur. Be sure that kundalini yoga is not your first yoga experience (like it was mine!).
Despite the possibility of negative effects of kundalini yoga and awakening, you may take away benefits such as a new sense of bliss, sense of purpose, a heightened sense of connection and love to living things, and more energy in general.
I still plan to go back to kundalini yoga one day when I feel more ready. For now, I am working on myself everyday to prepare myself for when I return. I am making better diet and lifestyle choices. I am also doing more traditional Hatha and flow classes to get my body and mind ready.
You may be wondering why anyone would want to go back to kundalini yoga after hearing about all these horror stories and dangers. Well, to me it had a whole slew of benefits I haven't been able to find with any other form of yoga. I can only describe it as "energizing" when most other forms of yoga are "relaxing". I believe it adds to your personal magnetism and has some profound mental and physical benefits if you do it right. So if it didn't work out for you on your first go, you can always come back to it later.
Have you ever experienced any kundalini awakening type symptoms? How did it feel? Was it a positive or negative experience? Please let us know by leaving a comment below. Namaste.
1. Kundalini Research Project http://www.kundaliniresearchproject.net/resources/kundalini/benefits
2. Chakra Healing http://www.chakrahealing.com/kundalini-syndrome/