Philosophy and Yoga

Philosophy and Yoga

Kundalini yoga, also known as laya yoga, is a school of yoga. Based on a 1935 treatise by Sivananda Saraswati, Kundalini yoga was influenced by the tantra and Shakta schools of Hinduism. It focuses on awakening Kundalini energy through the regular practice of meditation, pranayama, chanting mantra, and yoga asana. Called by practitioners "the yoga of awareness", it aims "to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak the truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others."

What has become known as "Kundalini yoga" in the 20th century has traditionally been known as laya yoga, from the Sanskrit term laya "dissolution, extinction". The Sanskrit adjective kundalini means "circular, annular". It does occur as a noun for "a snake" (in the sense "coiled", as in "forming ringlets") in the 12th-century Rajatarangini chronicle. Kunda, a noun with the meaning "bowl, water-pot" is found as the name of a Naga in Mahabharata 1.4828. The feminine kundalini has the meaning of "ring, bracelet, coil (of a rope)" in Classical Sanskrit, and is used as the name of a "serpent-like" Shakti in Tantrism as early as c. the 11th century, in the Saradatilaka.

This concept is adopted as Kundalini as a technical term into Hatha yoga in the 15th century and becomes widely used in the Yoga Upanishads by the 16th century.
The Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad is listed in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads. Since this canon was fixed in the year 1656, it is known that the Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad was compiled in the first half of the 17th century at the latest. The Upanishad more likely dates to the 16th century, as do other Sanskrit texts which treat Kundalini as a technical term in Tantric yoga, such as the chakra-Nirupama and the Paduka-pañcaka.

Introduces Kundalini as the name of the Shakti under discussion. The Sakti (mentioned above) is only Kundalini. A wise man should take it up from its place (Viz., the navel, upwards) to the middle of the eyebrows. This is called Sakti-Chala.

In practicing it, two things are necessary, Sarasvati-Chalana and the restraint of Prana (breath). Then through practice, Kundalini (which is spiral) becomes straightened."

Swami Nigamananda (1935) taught a form of laya yoga which he insisted was not part of Hatha yoga, paving the way for the emergence of "Kundalini yoga" as a distinct school of yoga. "Kundalini Yoga" as it is taught today is based on the treatise 'Kundalini Yoga' by Sivananda Saraswati, published in 1935. Swami Sivananda (1935) introduced "Kundalini yoga" as a part of Laya yoga.

Together with other currents of Hindu revivalism and Neo-Hinduism, Kundalini Yoga became popular in the 1960s to 1980s western counterculture.

Principles and methodology
Kundalini is the term for "a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine", conceptualized as a coiled-up serpent. The practice of Kundalini yoga is supposed to arouse the sleeping Kundalini Shakti from its coiled base through the 6 chakras and penetrate the 7th chakra, or crown. This energy is said to travel along with the Ida (left), Pingala (right), and central, or Sushumna Nadi - the main channels of pranic energy in the body.

Kundalini energy is technically explained as being sparked during yogic breathing when prana and Apana blend at the 3rd chakra (naval center) at which point it initially drops down to the 1st and 2nd chakras before traveling up to the spine to the higher centers of the brain to activate the golden cord - the connection between the pituitary and pineal glands - and penetrate the 7 chakras.

Borrowing and integrating the highest forms from many different approaches, Kundalini Yoga can be understood as a tri-fold approach of Bhakti yoga for devotion, Shakti yoga for power, and Raja yoga for mental power and control. Its purpose through the daily practice of kriyas and meditation in sadhana is described as a practical technology of human consciousness for humans to achieve their total creative potential.


The practice of kriyas and meditations in Kundalini Yoga is designed to raise complete body awareness to prepare the body, nervous system, and mind to handle the energy of Kundalini rising. The majority of the physical postures focus on naval activity, the activity of the spine, and selective pressurization of body points and meridians. Breathwork and the application of bandhas (3 yogic locks) aid to release, direct, and control the flow of Kundalini energy from the lower centers to the higher energetic centers.

Along with the many kriyas, meditations, and practices of Kundalini Yoga, a simple breathing technique of alternate nostril breathing (left nostril, right nostril) is taught as a method to cleanse the Nadis, or subtle channels and pathways, to help awaken Kundalini energy.

Sovatsky (1998) adopts a developmental and evolutionary perspective in his interpretation of Kundalini Yoga. He interprets Kundalini Yoga as a catalyst for psycho-spiritual growth and bodily maturation. According to this interpretation of yoga, the body bows itself into greater maturation, none of which should be considered mere stretching exercises.

Medical research
Psychiatric literature notes that "Since the influx of eastern spiritual practices and the rising popularity of meditation starting in the 1960s, many people have experienced a variety of psychological difficulties, either while engaged in intensive spiritual practice or spontaneously".

Some of the psychological difficulties associated with the intensive spiritual practice are claimed to be "kundalini awakening", "a complex physio-psychospiritual transformative process described in the yogic tradition". Writers in the fields of near-death studies and of "transpersonal psychology" have described a "kundalini syndrome".

Venkatesh (1997)

Studied twelve Kundalini (chakra) meditators, using the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory. They found that the practice of meditation "appears to produce structural as well as intensity changes in phenomenological experiences of consciousness". Lazar et al. (2000)[  observed the brains of subjects performing, "a simple form of Kundalini Yoga meditation in which they passively observed their breathing and silently repeated the phrase 'sat Nam' during inhalations and 'Wahe Guru' during exhalations," and found that multiple regions of the brain were involved especially those involved in relaxation and maintaining attention.

Yogi's of the mind and body, to elevate the spirit.

How do you describe Kundalini Yoga with Philosophy?

Kundalini Yoga is also known as the Yoga of Awareness; its focus is on self-awareness and delivering an experience of your highest consciousness. Bhavishyajot Swami Shanthiprasad.

The technology of Kundalini Yoga is a science of the mind and body, to elevate the spirit, which has no boundaries, no discrimination. Therefore it is for everyone, universal and nondenominational.

In the ancient tradition that is yoga, Kundalini Yoga SSMHG Association® The householder path; that is, it has always been practiced by  Hindu families and jobs as opposed to a renunciate's path of celibacy and removal from society, which was the usual path of a yogi's.

Yoga is a classical school of Indian philosophy: To understand the true nature of Yoga as a path of spiritual realization, it is necessary to have some small understanding of the six classical schools or systems of Indian philosophy, of which Yoga is one. By understanding Yoga in that context, it is easier to more fully delve into Yoga as the enlightenment practice that it actually is, rather than the mere physical fitness program it has come to be known as. The sincere seeker can then discriminate between authentic teachings and modern adaptations.

Yoga contains, or is built on other philosophies: It is important to note that the Yoga system contains, or is built on four of the other systems or schools of Indian philosophy (Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, and Sankhya). In other words, it is not necessary to go into great depth into those as separate studies and practices. They are adequately incorporated into the Yoga system, from the standpoint of doing the practices. In addition, the Vedanta system is a practical companion to the Yoga system (See Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra). It is also important to note that while there is no universal agreement, many consider the teachings of Buddha to be a seventh system or school of Indian - KYTT Hindu philosophy, rather than a separate system, in that his methods come from the same root. Not surprisingly, it is mostly those who self-identify as Buddhists who think of Buddha's teachings as a totally separate system and not the seventh school of Indian philosophy.

Practical methods for direct experience: Yoga systematically deals with all of the levels of one's being, striving to experience the eternal center of consciousness. Yoga is best described in the Yoga Sutras and involves systematic witnessing of your inner states, so as to experientially go beyond all of them to the center of consciousness. Yoga is often called Sankhya-Yoga, as Yoga contains the practical methods to realize in direct experience the truths of Sankhya philosophy (below).

The framework of manifestation: Sankhya philosophy offers a framework for all the levels of manifestation, from the subtlest to the grossest. Sankhya comes from samyag akhyate, which literally means that which explains the whole. Sankhya deals with Prakriti (matter), Purusha (consciousness), buddhi or mahat (intelligence), ahamkara (I-am-ness), three Gunas (elements of stability, activity, and lightness), mind (manas), cognitive and active senses (indriyas), and the five subtle and gross elements (earth, water, fire, air, and space). In light of its breadth, it contains all of the domains of Vaisheshika, Nyaya, and Mimasa, which are described below.

Contemplative self-inquiry: Vedanta philosophy and practice provides contemplative methods of self-inquiry leading to the realization of one's true nature, that which is not subject to death, decay, or decomposition. A major key of these practices is a contemplation on the Mahavakyas. The teachings of Vedanta are best captured in the books of the Upanishads. The text, Vivekachudamini (Crest Jewel of Discrimination) by Adi Shankaracharya is an excellent source and is available in English translation. (See also Vedantic Meditation)

Physical sciences: The Vaisheshika system was developed by Prashastapada and emphasizes the physical sciences such as chemistry. It includes exploring the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space, as well as time, mind, and soul.

Reasoning: The Nyaya system was founded by the ancient sage Gautama, and deals with logic, the process of reasoning. Doubt is considered a prerequisite for philosophical inquiry. Other systems of Indian philosophy draw on this process.

The main philosophy of yoga is about: mind, body, and spirit are all one and cannot be clearly separated. Yet, there is a multitude of philosophical ideas that are helpful to explore the deeper dimensions of the body, mind, and spirit. Studying and understanding these ideas are essential to shift our view as ourselves as separate, to realizing the unitive state.

Yoga philosophy, similar to Buddhism, believes that spiritual ignorance creates suffering and binds us to the wheel of samsara. The removal of our ignorance can take many different paths and techniques in yoga. Still, the central philosophical teachings of yoga revolve around the practice of mental discernment, detachment, spiritual knowledge, and self-awareness. The different paths of yoga utilize various aspects of Sankhya dualism and Upanishadic non-dualism. Some paths like Tantra and Bhakti, utilize the forms of Hinduism's gods and goddesses. In addition, Patanjali's yoga sutras incorporate the concept of Ishvara-a personal god. Thus, a yogi should understand both the relationships between atman and brahman, prakriti and purusha, and the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.

The law of karma is central to the philosophy of yoga. Karma is the glue that attaches us to the wheel of samsara, which perpetuates our suffering and the delusion of maya. Maya is the "illusion of ignorance" that creates the veil between our ego and our unitive experience of the universe.

These foundational world views can be confusing to Westerners but are helpful to reorientate our minds to be able to see and experience the interconnection of all things.

Yoga philosophy also incorporates the concepts of the subtle body and the spiritual energies of prana and kundalini moving through the nadis and chakras. Hatha yoga is especially steeped in the concepts of this energy anatomy.

The ultimate goal of Yoga is a sustained state of pure awareness called Moksha or Samadhi. Yoga is the transcendence of the mind to realize the "true self" or "highest self." This experience of pure consciousness is our true nature. In this state of liberation, all mental and philosophical constructs fall away. In essence, yogic philosophy is a necessary means to deepen one's yoga practice and to reach enlightenment.

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