I separated the introduction of this topic as it is a BIG one…And the practice has the practical instructions to the use of bandhas, mudras, point to point attention and breathing, mantra and more…I didn’t realise how much I wanted to cover until I started teaching, but love the effects…even teaching this was amazing. Enjoy!
Yoga is the mastery of self-knowledge and Tantra is the mastery of power of Prana. Knowledge without power is ineffective. Power without knowledge is dangerous. So we study and practice both. Weaving Asana, PY, Mudra, Kriya, Mantra and Philosophy into a practice to have a desirable outcome of being empowered with self-knowledge and skill in loving awareness to do our lives well and fulfil our purpose of embodiment.
We all know Yoga is more than just flexibility or strength in postures; it is the management of prana, the vital life force that animates all levels of being. Prana enables the body to move, regenerate, heal as well as enables the mind to think. Prana is said to be the intelligence that coordinates our senses, help digest information and release that which doesn’t serve us any longer. Prana is the life force energy that enlivens and animates the subtle body and sustains life.
We are going to be focusing on the subtle body in these coming sessions. Yoga texts and practices, particularly those from traditions like Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Tantra Yoga, define the subtle body as the energetic counterpart of the physical body. The subtle body is a concept central to understanding the flow of energy (prana) and the workings of the mind and consciousness embodied as you. This is an intricate system of energy channels (nadis), energy centres (chakras), and psychic pathways. The subtle body serves as the bridge between the physical and spiritual realms. It is also known as the Sukshma Sharira in Sanskrit, where “Sukshma” means subtle or fine, and “Sharira” means body. Remembering back when we studied the Koshas – Annamaya (physical sheath), the subtle body consists of Pranamaya (vital energy sheath), Manomaya (mental/emotional sheath), Vijnanamaya (intellectual sheath), and bridges the Anandamaya (bliss sheath) with the causal body.
Nadis is said to be composed of thousands of energetic pathways through which prana (life force energy) flows. The three main nadis are Sushumna, Ida, and Pingala. They play a crucial role in regulating the flow of prana and balancing the energy within the body.
Sushumna Nadi is the central and most important nadi among the three major ones. It runs along the spinal column, starting from the base of the spine (the Muladhara chakra) and ascending up to the crown of the head (the Sahasrara chakra). It is often described as the pathway for spiritual energy and represents the path to spiritual awakening and higher consciousness
Ida Nadi, the left channel is often associated with the feminine and lunar qualities said to control the mental and emotional processing which carries a cooling, calming and nurturing energy which leads to a state of relaxation, receptivity, and introversion.
Pingala Nadi, right channel, is associated with the masculine and solar qualities and is considered to govern physical and vital energy (prana) processing. It’s energy is responsible for heating and activating the body and mind, which leads to a state of stimulation, activity, and extroversion.
The Pingala and Ida Nadi cross the Sushumna Nadi and form a Chakra. Where ever at least 3 nadis cross makes a chakra. The main chakras we will focus on is along the central channel. Chakras are spinning wheels or energy centres associated with specific qualities, elements, and areas of the body. The chakras are believed to influence physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.
This ability to connect to your prana power is to gain access to Kundalini which is said to be the primal, dormant coiled serpent energy that is believed to be lying dormant at the base of the spine, at the Muladhara chakra. The awakening of Kundalini is believed to lead to spiritual transformation and enlightenment this desired Moksha. It is a transformative process that varies from person to person.
Some may experience sudden and intense awakenings, while others may have more gradual and subtle shifts in consciousness. When awakened, Kundalini is believed to rise through the central energy channel (Sushumna Nadi) along the spine, passing through, cleansing and purifying each chakra removing energy blockages until it reaches the Sahasrara (Crown) chakra at the top of the head. This process is often referred to as “Kundalini awakening” or “Kundalini rising.” It can lead to heightened spiritual experiences, expanded awareness, and a sense of unity and oneness with the universe, Samadhi.
It can also be intense and challenging. Unresolved psychological issues or blockages may surface during the process. It is likened to sticking your finger into a light socket. Due to the powerful nature of Kundalini energy, many traditions emphasise the need for proper preparation, devoted practice, guidance from experienced teachers, and a stable and balanced lifestyle before attempting to awaken Kundalini. It’s important to note that Kundalini awakening is not an end in itself but rather a means to spiritual growth and self-realisation.
Along with the Nadis and the Kundalini experience in the subtle body, it is described to provide access to various psychic pathways. These pathways are explored in practices like meditation and advanced yogic practices to attain Siddhis. Many texts, like chapter 4 in the Yoga Sutras give detailed description of the possible psychic abilities; Clairvoyance, Telepathy, Precognition, Retrocognition, Psychokinesis, Levitation, Healing, Astral Projection, Mastery over the Elements, Thought-Form Projection, Mastery over Time, and Animal Communication.
These Siddhis are seen as potential side effects to intense practices and that should be approached with caution and humility. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras warns us that getting attached to siddhis can hinder one’s spiritual progress as the pursuit of these abilities can lead to ego inflation and spiritual distraction. In the traditional yogic path, the focus is on inner transformation, self-realisation, and unity with the divine, rather than acquiring psychic powers.
So in conclusion, we practice Yoga to become more self-aware about our body, subtle body and the power we do have over our Prana, life force. By activating, clearing, purifying and harmonising the subtle body through practice, practitioners aim to direct that Prana Power to attain physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual awakening.