Kundalini is a form of feminine divine energy believed to have been located at the base of the spine. In yogic scriptures, our bodies have energy channels. We are said to have 72,000 energy channels within our bodies. At the centre of our bodies, these energies align, and these junctions are known as chakras.
There are 7 chakras in a human body according to ancient meditation practices. They are envisioned to be in the shape of spinning disks charged with energy at different centres of the body. When a human body is distressed, these energies get affected. These distressed emotions get blocked and stored in our physical body, making us supple in situations.
In yoga, there are various methods expressed to release the blocked energies from within our bodies, like reiki, sound healing, Pranic healing, pranayama, meditation and asana practices of yoga. It is important to release these blocked and negative energies from within before they turn into physical issues.
There are 7 chakras in our bodies :
- Muladhara (Root Chakra)
- Swadhisthana (Sacral Chakra)
- Manipura (Solar plexus Chakra)
- Anahata (Heart Chakra)
- Vishuddha (Throat Chakra)
- Anna (Third-Eye Chakra)
- Sahasrara (Crown Chakra)
Kundalini energy is said to be sitting dormant at the root chakra. This energy is considered the most powerful energy residing within us. Kundalini Tantra is the scriptures from where one can learn to wake up their dormant Kundalini energy but it is not to be practised without guidance. This sort of energy has proven to be fatal if not practised under control.
The purpose of practising this divine feminine energy is to attain the highest level of awareness in yoga. It is known to be the most powerful yet precarious practice of all. This energy is never to be practised on one’s own otherwise the results are fatal. Only under an experienced teacher, one should practice Kundalini Yoga.
It means to practice the discipline of yoga which is meant to achieve specific results. These practices consist of cleansing techniques through breath work or with the help of instruments. In Yoga, it is suggested to practice at least one of them on weekly basis to keep your body toxin-free and more centred. There are 6 types of Kriyas in Yoga.
Six kriyas are as follows :
Neti (Nasal cleansing)
Neti is a cleansing method for the nose. It is intended to purify the nasal passages and cleanse the sinuses. There are two methods to perform: either by using a Neti pot to cleanse the passages with a saline solution which is called Jal Neti. The other cleansing is with the use of a thread, passing it through the nostrils and out through the mouth. This other method is called ‘Sutra Neti’.
Benefits of Jal Neti :
- Neti helps to maintain nasal hygiene by removing the dirt and bacteria trapped along with the mucus in the nostrils.
- It de-sensitises the sensitive tissues inside the nose, which can alleviate rhinitis, allergies and some asthma.
- Several health problems like sinusitis, migraine, headaches, ear problems like tinnitus and middle ear infections can be reduced by doing neti.
- It can alleviate upper respiratory complaints, sore throats, tonsils and dry coughs.
- It can clear the eye ducts and improve vision.
- The effect of Neti on the mind is also notable. It can remove tensions and depression; and give clarity of mind.
Benefits of Sutra Neti :
Sutra Neti has benefits similar to that of Jal Neti. The nasal cavities can get clogged with impurities which may cause infections, inflammations and headaches.
Dhauti (Upper Digestive tract cleansing)
Dhauti is a digestive tract cleansing process. There are various types of Dhauti, for cleaning the mouth, teeth, ears, stomach and intestines.
(A) Vaman Dhauti or Kunjal Dhauti: The most common cleansing is Dhauti, which is called vaman dhauti or Kunjal kriya. vaman dhauti is meant for cleaning the stomach and the upper digestive tract.
Benefits of Vaman Dhauti or Kunjal Kriya :
- This practice cleans the digestive tract of any undigested food particles lingering in the stomach and oesophagus. This undigested food can eventually enter the body as a toxin. Kunjal kriya prevents the formation of these toxins.
- Cleaning the stomach also removes gas, acidity and indigestion.
- It removes extra mucus from the food pipe or oesophagus.
- It helps to relieve asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.
- It can alleviate sore throat and coughs.
- This practice is also used in Ayurveda and naturopathy. It removes the problems created by ‘PithaDosha’ like acidity and gas.
(B) Vastra Dhauti: Vastra dhauti is specifically aimed at cleaning the stomach and oesophagus tract. In this practice, a long strip of moist cotton cloth is swallowed into the stomach. After retaining it for some time, it is pulled out thereby cleaning the stomach.
Benefits of Vastra Dhauti :
- Vastra dhautiremoves impurities from the intestinal tract, thereby detoxifys the stomach and oesophagus regions.
- It helps to remove gas, acidity, indigestion and enlargement of the spleen.
- It helps to relieve asthma, bronchitis, cough and other ‘Kapha’ or ‘Phlegm’ related problems.
(C) Varisar Dhauti or Shankhaprakshalana: The word shankhaprakshalana comes from two words. Shankha means “conch” and prakshalana means “to wash completely”. The word shankha is used to represent the entire alimentary canal from mouth to anus. Shankhaprakshalana is the process to clean the intestinal tract by removing impurities with salty water.
Five special asanas are used :
- Trikaka Tadasana
- Kati chakrasana
- Triyaka Bhujangasana
Benefits of Shankprakshalana :
Unlike an enema, which only covers the large intestine, Shank Prakshalana cleans the entire digestive tract. it can clean the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. Some of its benefits are:
- Increases concentration
- Combats impurities of the skin
- cleanses the blood and detoxifies the whole organism
- Eliminates diseases
- It cleanses the intestine
- Regenerates the intestinal flora
- Prevents tumours in the intestine
- Eliminates constipation
- It gives strength and vigour to the organism
Basti (Colon cleansing)
Basti is a method to purify the large intestine with or without water. In this method with water, Jal Basti, the yogi sits in a tub of water and draws up water into the rectum by practising uddiyanabandha and using the Nauli kriya. Then the water is expelled.
Benefits of Basti :
- The large intestine can have impurities stuck to its walls, which don’t get expelled for days. Basti removes these impurities and cleans the colon, thus detoxifying the large intestine.
- It relieves gas formation in the large intestine.
- Basti is also a good practice followed by advanced practitioners of pranayama. During intense pranayama, a lot of heat is generated in the body. To remove this heat, practitioners can sit (up to navel) in a flowing river and practice basti. Drawing the cold water in through the anus and then expelling it, removes the heat from the body.
- Basti is a common practice used in Ayurveda and naturopathy for detoxification of the body.
- It helps those who go on long fasts. During long water fasts, regular stool movements are almost absent. Yet, a lot of toxins get expelled from the body and is pushed into the small and large intestine. These toxins have to be taken out of the body. Usually, an enema is given to remove these impurities stuck to the intestinal walls. Those who know basti can practice it to get the ‘enema effect’.
Nauli (abdomen cleansing)
Nauli is a cleansing practice for the abdomen which uses the abdominal muscles to massage and stimulate the digestive organs. The muscles of the abdomen are projected forward and then contracted in a wave-like movement that increases “bodily fire.” This practice can take a lot of practice to perform effectively, as it requires a lot of abdominal control.
There are three basic practices in Nauli:
- Vama Nauli – When this muscle is isolated to the left it is called vamanauli.
- Dakshina Nauli – When it is isolated to the right it is called dakshinanauli.
- Madhya Nauli – When both the left and right muscles are concentrated in the centre, it is called Madhya nauli.
Benefits of Nauli Kriya :
- The practice of Nauli massages all the internal organs in the abdomen and keeps them healthy.
- It relieves constipation.
- Also strengthens the functioning of the sexual organs.
Kapalbhati (lungs cleansing)
Kapalbhati is a breathing technique known as “shining skull.” In this practice, the breath is forcefully exhaled through the nostrils by strongly drawing in the abdominal muscles, after which the inhalation happens naturally.
Benefits of Kapalbhati Pranayama :
- Kapalbhati cleans the cranial sinuses and can relieve cerebral thrombosis.
- It purifies the nerves and the pranic channels.
- The excess of Kapha(one of the doshas in Ayurveda) is removed from the body.
- Kapalbhati gives a clear mind and helps to control thoughts.
- The word Kapala means skull and Bhati means ‘to illumine.’ This practice adds lustre to the face.
- The Hatha Yoga Pradipika claims that all impurities of the body can be removed by the practice of kapalbhati.
- Kapalbhati is the best practice available to oxygenate blood.
- It helps to remove abdominal fat and is an excellent practice for obesity.
- Kapalbhati strengthens the abdominal muscles.
- The practice of kapalbhati helps to regulate the breathing mechanism. It prepares the body and mind to take up advanced practices of pranayama.
Trataka (steady gaze)
This technique has to do with gazing or fixing the eyes on one point. either on an object or a candle flame. A technique for cleansing the eyes and improving mental focus. It is thought to increase blood circulation to the eyes and help strengthen them.
Benefits of Trataka :
- Trataka is good for the eyes. It strengthens the muscles surrounding the eyes.
- It helps to get rid of mild eye problems like short-sightedness.
- Removes insomnia. Practising this for a few minutes before sleep can improve the quality of sleep.
- Trataka removes distractions in the mind. It can make the mind calm and steady, thereby increasing the power of concentration.
- It improves mental and nervous stability.
Precautions while practising Kriyas and Kundalini Yoga :
Any practice of yoga which is new to the body should always be performed under guidance. Practices like Kriyas and Kundalini Yoga are heavy Mental and Physical body workouts. Even if the tiniest technique goes haywire then there are chances of repercussions which are not very favourable and can have long-term side effects.
Being mindful whilst performing any activity is important as all of our senses are focused on one subject which helps our brain to retain more information. In our day-to-day life, we are running around chasing things all day long. At times we may have set intentions behind these activities but the rest are subconscious. We are constantly performing something but visualising something else. It takes extra effort for us to be in the present moment and devour what we have. Our mind is constantly making us run from our past into our future. Yoga as a practice reminds us how to keep our feet on the ground and not in our imagination. The practice is difficult and requires consistency. To keep up with the consistency, all the practices of Yoga need to be considered.
Kriyas are on top of the list. They are various methods of cleansing and if we intend to learn how to balance our mind and body through asana, pranayama and meditation then we need to accept methods of cleaning blocked energies and toxins off our bodies so we can make space for the new ones. Whilst Kundalini is a type of yoga that can generate power of some velocity in our bodies in the form of energy but it needs to be practised with caution. After achieving a certain level of awareness through meditation in the practice of yoga one can attempt to go for Kundalini Yoga. As it is the highest form of awareness once practised with conviction.
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