Yoga and Tantra

Devi Bhakta

I wonder if any of our members could clarify the relationship between Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga?

Obviously, Kundalini Yoga is the yoga most closely associatied with Shakti Sadhana. It is that intensive, meditative discipline aimed at opening the subtle body's energy centers (chakras) and allowing the energy (shakti) of Devi move upward to unite with Shiva in the highest chakra (sahasraara). Suffice it to say that the philosophy of Kundalini Yoga is highly esoteric and complex, a botomless source of fascination, study and meditation.

Most studies I've seen mention the importance of Hatha Yoga -- physical asanas, postures -- in aiding the meditative aspects of the discipline. But, aside from some recommendations that the sadhak employ pranayama techniques (i.e., control of life force through self- manipulation of the breath), I've seen little in the way of specific recommendations as to which specific hatha yoga asanas are most conducive to the practice of Kundalini Yoga.

So my question is: Are there any specific asanas that are particularly recommended for Kundalini Yoga? Or is nearly any hatha yoga practice sufficient to aid this discipline? Any and all input would be appreciated.

Sankara Menon
Kundalini Yoga and SriVidya upaasana are one and the same. It is a meditative dicipline and the easiest path I have seen in SriVidya upaasana. Sri Vidya is Kundalini. It is a long and arduous journey.Asanas help to make you physically fit to withstand the changes that come with the rising of Kundalini.

Hatha Yoga is the generic term for any combination of pranayama and asana. So, a Kundalini Yoga practice is also a Hatha Yoga practice. The ultimate purpose of a Hatha Yoga practice is to make the aspirant a fit vehicle for being presented to God. Practically, this means to make the body and mind fit vehicles for meditation and to create the conditions for Kundalini to form and move up to the Sahasrara Chakra. So, every Hatha Yoga practice is also a Kundalini Yoga practice. Incidentally, the term 'Hatha Yoga' is a synonym for 'Kundalini'.

Sometimes, a particular approach to Hatha Yoga is given a particular name. The approach of Swami Vishnu-devananda to Hatha Yoga was called Sivananda Yoga in honour of his Guru, Swami Sivananda. Sri Pattabi Jois gave the name Ashtanga Yoga to his approach to Hatha Yoga. Yogi Bhajan gave the name Kundalini Yoga to his approach to Hatha Yoga. The apparent differences between these and other forms of Hatha Yoga are there to accommodate aspirants of different natures and karma.

In the Hatha Yoga and meditation classes that I teach I specifically recommend that people not take Kundalini Yoga for 2 reasons.

First, to practice Hatha Yoga with the view of raising Kundalini is apt to be an ego-based reason and therefore misleading and dangerous. One should practice Hatha Yoga with the view of making themself fit to come into God's presence. This approach tends to make one less egoless, more devotional and therefore less likely to experience difficulties if and when Kundalini does arise.

Second, I have never met a Kundalini Yoga teacher who has actually experienced Kundalini rising.This lack of experience means that those teachers cannot be of help to those students who may experience Kundalini rising. This lack of support is dangerous in the extreme. In Ottawa, I am part of a small informal group who counsel those who have difficulty with Kundalini, so I know first hand how dangerous, even lethal, Kundalini can be to the unprepared mind and body.

Finally, to answer your question. While there are specific forms of pranayama, and specific asanas, mudras and bandhas that one can practice to encourage Kundalini to form, no responsible person is going to talk about those openly on the internet. It is not that they are secret, but that they should be undertaken under the personal direction of a qualified teacher. Some of them are incorporated in most Hatha Yoga sequences but are preceeded and followed by purification pranayamas/asanas to clear nadis and balance chakras.

You are correct that nearly any hatha yoga practice is sufficient to aid the formation of Kundalini (with the exception of those Hatha Yoga practices that are geared toward physical/mental therapy). But, hopefully, Kundalini will arise only after the conscious and subconscious minds have been pacified and turned to God, after the physical body has been destressed and returned to an optimal condition, after the pranamaya kosha, the subtle energy system, has also been destressed and internally balanced, and after the practitioner has developed patience, inner focus, equinimity, and grace.

1. Because of the "branding" trend, certain classical processes have bcome identified with particular forms of yoga taught by modern teachers.

Thus kundalini yoga which is the same as kundalini tantra which is the same as tantra yoga is confused with "kundalini yoga" as taught by yogi bhajan etc.just as Pattabhi Jois has "trademarked" his palace gym. influeneced yogasana performace as "ashtanga yoga" of patanjali, as though the other yogas are not part of Patanjali's ashtanga yoga)

2. The massive influence of Iyengar, Jois and othermonk/renunciation oriented yoga teachers has almoost obliterated the importance of the natha sampradayas' contribution to yoga. The yoga as taught by Goraksha/Matsyendra natha is nothing but tantra yoga ie yoga asana pranayama and bandhas and mudras practiced with the aim of attaing the tantric goal of raising the kundalini throught the chakras to unite with Shiva at the crown.

Since there are sexual aspects of tantra there are the practices of yoga which help vajroli veeparitakarini and the other bandhas and mudras etc.WE should not forget that a lot of yoga is geared toward retention of the three jewels.

This is also the same as kriya yoga which uses asanas, prnayama bandhas and mudras to the same "tantric" end.

In his introduction to "Tattva Shuddhi" Swami Satyasangaananda says"Today yoga is practiced in almost every corner of the world, but we do not really see any transformation in the conciousness of mankind. Where does the fault lie?Is it in the practice itself? Not is more likely that the fault lies in the way we practice our sadhana: a bit of this and a bit of that, when ever we care to do it.In order to eliminate this lop-sided approach to yoga , we will have to pay greater attention to the philosophy and practices of tantra which is the source of yoga"
And as Sankara Menon had pointed out in his post Srividya is kundalini yoga or kundalini tantra. What the yogi does through asanas and pranayama is achieved here through mantras and mudras and the worship of the srichakra.

Tantra is the root of yoga in the sense of joining(shiva/shakti) is the fruit of tantra.

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