Purification of neural network
Kundalini is a very subtle ‘prana’ or life-force energy, considered to be cerebrospinal fluid contained within the central nadi, the sushumna, located at the centre of the spine.
Through the practice of Hatha Yoga we can gain an awareness of this force. The ‘awakening’ of kundalini refers to our ability to become aware of it starting at the muladhara (coccygeal plexus) and moving upwards through all the chakras situated along the spine, to the sahasrara (hypothalamus centre). The ‘awakening’ of kundalini causes both hemispheres of the brain, including the dormant parts, to become active. This brings about a particular experience at the mental level that occurs when perfect balance is gained between ida and pingala, the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. This is achieved when the physical channels of the chakras and nadis are cleaned of all blockages and the channels of the mind are purified. In particular, the mudras and bandhas as the culmination of skill in hatha yoga, can help to achieve this.
The practice of kundalini in Hatha Yoga, cleans the neural network of nadis, our hardware. The mind is the software that can only be cleansed through nivritthi yoga. Hatha Yoga kundalini techniques include dharana meditations on the chakras. They work by using a reflux or simulation mechanism that remove the knots in the subtlest channels of the body. This de-atrophication has a deep cleansing effect on the body and the mental channels and prepares the practitioner for the more advanced meditative practice of Raja Yoga as taught by Patanjali.
There are two types of kundalini experience, hot and cold, otherwise called inert and active. A hot kundalini experience can be attained forcibly though meditation on the chakras. Forcing kundalini for the sake of an ‘experience’ is dangerous and can lead to serious mental health problems such as schizophrenia. If kundalini ascends through ida nadi instead of sushumna, people may have intense experiences but can lose mental balance. If it accidentally ascends through pingala nadi, this can lead to hallucination.
Kundalini is a very powerful force that should arise naturally through the process of purifying the body and mind in a systematic way, with proper guidance from a highly experienced teacher. If the gross blockages in the chakras and sushumna are removed and the mind has been purified enough through Raja Yoga, then kundalini is naturally awakened in the sahasrara and the practitioner will have a cold kundalini experience, also known as Bhavanga Nana. This is one of the important stages of Raja Yoga achieved through properly guided practice.