Kundalini yoga is a blend of moving poses, chants and breathing techniques that teaches students how to connect to their divine, or higher, self. As beneficial as this style of yoga can be, it can also be an intense experience with negative consequences.
Part of Kundalini focuses on the awakening of Kundalini energy, which artists metaphorically depict as a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. Kundalini uses specific combinations of poses, chanting, meditation and breathing techniques to dissolve blockages in the body, mind and spirit. The awakening of Kundalini energy is supposed to be a positive experience, but some students find they must first deal with personal issues, problems and pain before they are ready to accept their true selves.
Students may have one or several overwhelming Kundalini experiences throughout their lifetime. Smaller or less dramatic awakenings can also occur as particular blockages release. Keep in mind that while exercises have are meant to create the awakening experience, the end goal of Kundalini is to live a more satisfying and happy life based on your connection to the divine nature of the universe. Practicing Kundalini for the sole purpose of obtaining a mystical experience can contribute to or create negative feelings of dissatisfaction and depression.
As with any form of exercise, Kundalini postures could cause injury if not practiced properly. Always advise your yoga instructor of any physical injuries or conditions before you practice. The realization of your true nature and connection to the universe should be a beautiful experience, but some yogis report negative physical sensations, including shaking, dizziness, nausea, headaches and general disorientation. Sensations comparable to a shock or electricity coursing through the body are also commonly reported.
Kundalini and the Psyche
A wide range of mental, emotional and spiritual experiences could occur after awakening Kundalini. You could experience visions or hallucinations, depression, nervous breakdowns, crying spells or even suicidal thoughts. If you experience anything negative or feel that you might hurt yourself, or others, report it to your instructor and to a doctor.
"Yoga Journal" contributing writer Nora Isaacs cites research from psychotherapist Stuart Sovatsky, which highly recommends seeking professional guidance if you want to awaken your Kundalini. Search for a certified Kundalini instructor before you being practicing on your own. Acknowledge that negative emotions or sensations could surface. Kundalini.org says that learning techniques at a gradual rate is the safest way to practice.