Kundalini Yoga

Is a Kundalini Awakening Safe?

The free flow of energy flows up through the chakras leads to an expanded state of consciousness—but is it safe?

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. In Sanskrit, Kundalini means “coiled snake,” and it is believed that divine energy was created at the base of the spine. It’s energy we are born with, and Kundalini works to “uncoil the snake” and connect us to our divine essence.

Kundalini was originally a study of the science of energy and spiritual philosophy. In ancient times, royalty would sit with Kundalini Masters to hear the ancient scientific teachings of Kundalini and spiritual visions. Yogi Bhajan who brought Kundalini to our western culture and transformed it into the beautiful practice with ancient knowledge and modern practicality that it is today, making it accessible to all.

Kundalini energy is the ultimate life-force energy. It is the source of our creative power, spiritual gifts, and divine feminine energy. Practicing Kundalini Yoga is used as a tool to expand consciousness and reach a state of lightness, joy, and boundless love. Kundalini pulls the energy that lies dormant at the base our spine up to the crown of our heads, creating an upward flow of energy and balancing our chakras and energetic bodies.

Kundalini allows for the free flow of energy up through the chakras, leading to an expanded state of consciousness—but is it safe?

What is a Kundalini Awakening?

According to Tantra, kundalini energy rests like a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. When this dormant energy flows freely upward through the seven chakras (energy centers) and leads to an expanded state of consciousness, it’s known as a kundalini awakening.

A kundalini awakening is a remarkably powerful spiritual experience, one that yogis and practitioners spend years preparing for. The experience can happen intentionally through practices like meditation, pranayama, yoga and prayer or it can happen without warning. This type of awakening is considered to be fairly common in the spiritual world, but in our Western society, Kundalini awakenings are considered rare.

How do you Awaken Kundalini?

Kundalini can be awakened in a variety of ways. Sometimes, awakening kundalini takes many hard years of dedicated practice and for others, it can happen completely spontaneously.

Awakening Kundalini is achieved through a variety of sacred practices rooted in Hinduism. Traditionally, in India, yogis would cleanse and prepare for many years to experience Kundalini awakening. Proper preparation and daily nourishment is required to safely and properly prepare for Kundalini awakening.

It is said that you don’t actually have control of when and if your Kundalini energy awakens, but there are some practices that can help encourage your awakening and support you on your journey.

  • Shake your body and practice dancing
  • Practice tantra
  • Energy work
  • Exercise breath control and practice pranayama
  • Meditate regularly
  • Practice gratitude and live with an open heart

Benefits of a Kundalini Awakening

A Kundalini awakening can be an amazing tool for healing and self-improvement, allowing long-term positive change. Some of the benefits of a Kundalini awakening can be:

  • Feelings of blissfulness
  • Enhanced psychic abilities
  • More compassion and empathy
  • Increased creativity
  • Increased spiritual connection

How Can it Go Wrong?

For some, the experience can be blissful and filled with feelings of love and a sense of the interconnectedness of all things. For others, it can feel more like a bad drug trip, or even a psychotic break, where practitioners go through altered sleep cycles, changes in identity, or depression. This discrepancy has led many Westerners to fear the coiled serpent resting in their spine, ready to strike.

Meditation teacher Sally Kempton had such an awakening in her late 20s, and while she acknowledges that the experience may be scary for those who are without an experienced teacher to guide them, she believes that awakenings are a gift from the universe. “In our tradition, we honor and respect kundalini,” she says. “Her energy is trying to awaken you, expand you, and put you in touch with your own deep energy, which is a fundamentally benign process.”

See also Yoga Style Profile: Kundalini Yoga

However, according to Kempton and Stuart Sovatsky, a psychotherapist specializing in spiritual work, kundalini awakenings are rare in Western students because hatha yoga is practiced in a less spontaneous way today. “People are trying to hold the poses in a certain way, as opposed to doing poses that release energy blocks specific to their body,” says Sovatsky.

Still, many teachers caution against attempts to induce an awakening through intense Pranayama or other methods. Instead, it should occur spontaneously, when the body is ready. In Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy, yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein explains why: “If you don’t first open the central channels of the nervous system, raising the serpent power along the axial pathway is not only impossible but also very dangerous to attempt, for instead of entering the central channel (sushumna nadi) it is likely to force itself in to the ida or the pingala nadi, on either side of the central channel, causing immense havoc in the body and mind.”

Kundalini reminds us that consciousness is far vaster than most of us have ever imagined, which can seem overwhelming and disorienting. But Sovatsky says that people who have a psychotic break from an awakening usually come from a troubled family background, face high levels of stress, and don’t have enough emotional support. Still, both Sovatsky and Kempton recommend that anyone who is fearful in the midst of such an awakening should seek support from a therapist (such as a transpersonal psychologist) or a teacher who has gone through it herself.

See also 8 Detoxifying Poses + Kundalini Kriyas