Are you ready to discover your life’s purpose and activate your fullest potential? Kundalini Yoga is an ancient practice that helps you channel powerful energy and transform your life. And now there is an accessible, easy way to learn how to incorporate these practices into your practice and life. Yoga Journal’s 6-week online course, Kundalini 101: Create the Life You Want, offers you mantras, mudras, meditations, and kriyas that you’ll want to practice every day. Sign up now!
As yoga practitioners, we learn that in addition to the Western way of looking at anatomy, there is also a more subtle, energetic anatomy to awaken to. One of the ways we can understand our existence and enhance our potential is to learn about and work with our Ten Bodies. In Kundalini Yoga, we each have three mental bodies and six energy bodies, in addition to our physical body. My teacher, Yogi Bhajan, said, “If you understand that you are Ten Bodies, and you are aware of those Ten Bodies, and you keep them in balance, the whole universe will be in balance with you.” Here's the lowdown on all 10 bodies, plus a sequence to awaken them.
Understanding the Ten Bodies
1. Soul Body
Our first body is our Soul Body. Our Soul Body is our flow of spirit, our connection to infinity and quite literally our Soul. This body is our foundational and true self, providing us with the ability to live from our heart. The Soul Body responds to all heart work and the raising of our Kundalini (the life force energy that rises up our spine).
2. Negative Mind
Our second body is our Negative Mind. And before you go all "negative," consider this: our Negative Mind is our first and often our strongest "body," constantly working to assess our environment and situations for danger or negative potential. Our Negative Mind keeps us safe and alive and also gifts us with, as Yogi Bhajan said, “a longing to belong.” The Negative Mind is balanced with discipline and integrity.
3. Positive Mind
Our third body is our Positive Mind. Our Positive Mind works to assess what is beneficial, positive, and affirming. This "body" sees opportunity and allows us to identify resources. The Positive Mind gives us our willpower as well as our playfulness. Everything we do to strengthen our navel point (think strong core) and to increase our self-esteem is beneficial for this body.
4. Neutral Mind
Our fourth body is our Neutral Mind. Our Neutral Mind absorbs and evaluates the assessments from the Negative and the Positive Minds and delivers guidance to us. Our Neutral Mind is compassionate, intuitive, and gives us the ability to recognize polarities. Meditation is great for balancing this body.
5. Physical Body
Our fifth body is our Physical Body. This body is the temple where all the bodies dwell in some way, shape, or form. The Physical Body gifts us with the ability to balance ourselves and our lives as well as the capacity to sacrifice for our hopes, our dreams, and the greater community. This body also holds the energy of the Teacher. The Physical Body loves regular exercise and sharing what has been learned.
Our sixth body is our Arcline. You can visualize your Arcline Body as a halo, extending from earlobe to earlobe and encompassing the hairline and brow. Women have a second Arcline across the breast line. Our Arcline Body gives us the ability to both project as well as intuit. This body grants us the ability to focus as well as meditate. The Arcline responds well to pituitary gland sequences as well as drishti (gaze) to the third eye.
Our seventh body is our Aura. This body is our electromagnetic field of energy that surrounds our Physical Body. Ironically, I often feel that I am straying into the fanciful zone when talking about the Aura, and yet the Aura is scientifically measurable as well as scientifically validated! Our Aura acts as a container for our prana, our life force energy. This body also acts as a shield of protection and allows us to elevate ourselves—energetically as well as consciously. Meditation is beneficial, as well as wearing natural fibers. The color white, which holds all the colors of the spectrum, is believed to expand and magnify our Aura.
8. Pranic Body
Our eighth body is our Pranic Body. By breathing, we are constantly working with our Pranic Body to bring in life force. This body gives us the gift of energy for action and accomplishment. All pranayama will have a positive impact on our Pranic Body.
9. Subtle Body
Our ninth body is our Subtle Body. This body allows us to see beyond what is in front of us to the universal play of everything. Our Subtle Body is deeply woven with our Soul Body. When we die, our Subtle Body carries our Soul. Many great teachers continue to influence us through their Subtle Body, beyond the death of their Physical Body. Our capacity for mastery is held in this body. In keeping with mastery, doing a Kundalini practice for 1,000 days in a row is a way to balance the Subtle Body.
10. Radiant Body
Our tenth body is our Radiant Body. This body is exactly as it sounds—it gives us our radiance as well as our courage, our nobility. People that are magnetic and/or charismatic are great examples of well-developed and balanced Radiant Bodies. The greatest thing we can do for our Radiant Body is to have commitment. To be committed to our practice, to kindness, truth, and excellence in life is a great way to amplify our radiance.
In our understanding of the Ten Body system, we also have an Eleven. Bonus! Eleven is embodiment, the state where we are beyond duality and in the flow of truth, balance, and the divine. All Ten Bodies are balanced. Eleven also represents the sound current (which represents the beginning/the source of all that follows in Kundalini) and infinity, as well as the source of all mantra.
All Kundalini Yoga works with the balance and strength of the Ten Bodies. Some practices concentrate on a specific body, while others work with the whole system. A kriya is a series of postures, breath, and sounds that work toward a specific outcome. Practicing a kriya initiates a sequence of physical and mental changes that affect the body, mind, and spirit simultaneously. A great place to start your exploration of the Ten Bodies is with the following kriya, “Awakening to the Ten Bodies."
Kundalini Sequence to Awaken the 10 Bodies
About our expert
Sierra Hollister had the good fortune to study directly with Yogi Bhajan. In 1994, Yogi Bhajan asked her to take the practice of Kundalini Yoga to Asheville, N.C., and teach. She has been sharing the practice in the mountains of southern Appalachia since 1995. On the teaching staff of Asheville Yoga Center, Warren Wilson College, and West Asheville Yoga Center, Sierra is a deeply loved and highly sought teacher throughout the Southeast. Sierra is passionate about living her practice both on and off the mat, and making yoga accessible to all. She is the founder of Light a Path, a nonprofit bringing tools of wellness to populations without access. To learn more about Sierra and upcoming events, visit her at Sun Lotus Kundalini.