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The Basics of Kundalini

Kundalini, a meditation form described in the Tantras, is a powerful mix of asanas, mudras, bandhas, breathing, and mantras.

| April 2018

  • The Buddha Mudra gesture helps us to access the neutral, meditative mind.
    Photo by Karen Yeomans
  • "Everyday Kundalini" by Kathryn McCusker helps readers find the energy within themselves and use it to its full potential.
    Cover courtesy Watkins Publishing

In Everyday Kundalini (Watkins Publishing, 2018), Kathryn McCusker explains how each of us can activate Kundalini through meditations, yoga poses, breathing techniques, and chanted mantras. Kundalini is a special life-force in each of us, the energy for which coils at the base of our spine, and by releasing it we can experience its healing and revitalizing powers. Through guided meditations and illustrated exercises, learn how the practice of Kundalini might best benefit you.

Kundalini — A Unique Approach

Every form of meditation is powerful, but the unique approach of Kundalini makes it especially transformative. It is the combination of five specific elements in Kundalini that is so important. These are: asanas (yoga positions), mudras (hand gestures), bandhas (body locks), breathing, and mantras.

Asanas, mudras, and bandhas

Many people meditate effectively and powerfully without practicing yoga postures, and it is possible to take this approach with Kundalini meditation, too. However, simple body postures known as asanas can allow you to become more tuned in to your body and sensitive to the changes that take place. As Kundalini rises and balances the energy of your body’s chakras, asanas relating to the major chakras will significantly increase your awareness of your energy levels. For example, Frog Pose is excellent for channeling creative sexual energy in the sacral chakra, while Neck Rolls help you to tune in to the throat chakra, which is associated with our capacity for clear and truthful communication. Any sitting pose where the base of the spine is in contact with the ground is good for creating awareness of the base chakra, such as Half Lotus or Easy Pose or the more demanding Full Lotus.

Mudras are hand gestures that create subtle energetic connections through the nadis (energetic channels) to the brain. They can powerfully evoke a spiritual idea or symbol and connect your mind in a very direct way to different parts of your body. The ancient yogis believed the five fingers each symbolized a different human quality, element and planetary influence: for example, the thumb symbolized happiness; the index finger, knowledge; the middle finger, patience; the fourth finger, energy; and the little finger, intuition. Certain mudras, such as Venus Lock and Yoni Mudra are very Tantric, balancing male and female energy. The mudras shown in this book can be used in isolation, but will be more powerful when integrated into a specific Kundalini meditation.

Bandhas or body locks are used to direct the flow of energy in your body and are key in raising Kundalini.


Breathing techniques are another key aspect of Kundalini. Yogis traditionally believed that our normal breathing pattern is too rapid and shallow to raise Kundalini energy effectively. Exercises focusing on the regulation of breath play a large part in Kundalini practice, and principally involve slowing down inhalation, holding the breath and then gradually exhaling. In the process we absorb more prana (life-force) and enjoy the physiological and psychological effects of a meditative state.

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