Negative Impact of Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yogis who hurry enlightenment can face serious troubles.
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Kundalini yoga has a reputation for being more dangerous than other types of yoga. In the West, most of the yoga taught focuses on the physical aspects. Kundalini is about spiritual awakening, which attracts more intense experience and often more intense seekers. According to Goswami Kriyananda, founder of the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago, Kundalini students get into trouble by failing to build a long-term ethical foundation and trying to attain enlightenment too quickly.


People often picture Kundalini energy as a coiled snake at the base of the spine.

“Kundalini” is a Sanskrit word for “coiling” and is used to describe divine energy. This is perceived as both something outside a person – a great goddess who is the source of life – and as divine energy within a person waiting to be awakened. Everybody has this potential power, but most people never activate it. In Hatha yoga, Kundalini is usually pictured as a coiled snake at the base of a person’s spine. If it’s awakened, it unfurls, metaphorically slithering up the chakras, or energy centers in the body, and bursting out through the crown chakra in the top of your head. Kundalini has also been described as a reservoir of creative, psychic or sexual energy.

Kundalini Awakening

People report seeing visions during Kundalini awakening.

The Kundalini may awaken in a few different ways. One is through “Shaktipat,” the term used when a master deliberately transfers this gift to another person during an initiation. People may “awake the snake,” as it’s sometimes affectionally called by Kundalini students, through years of prayer, yoga practice, selfless service, meditation, chanting or other acts of devotion. It can also happen sponatenously through great sorrow, pain or near-death experiences. Emotions range from bliss to terror. Visual and auditory hallucinations, uncontrollable physical movements, sharp aches, anxiety and hot flashes may also accompany the awakening.

Dangers of Kundalini Awakening

Acute anxiety can be a symptom of Kundalini awakening.

Not everybody can handle the mental and physical side effects of Kundalini awakening. According to Lawrence Edwards, a transpersonal psychotherapist who teaches Kundalini meditation, awakening your Kundalini can activate latent disease of the body and mind. People who seek help may be misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue system, fibromyalgia, or anxiety, dissociative or psychotic disorders, he said. Skeptics might posit that people who claim that a Kundalini awakening triggered a mental disorder actually had the disorder in the first place and that’s why they were drawn to a practice that promised release. Goswami Kriyananda believes that trouble springs from people wanting to awaken their Kundalini for the wrong reasons. Some practice because they feel helpless and are trying to quickly gain power.


Many seekers dream of finding the right guru but put their trust in the wrong one. As Edwards wrote on his website, “The guru market is worse than the used car market, be wary!” Kriyananda believes that too many people get their Kundalini information from books instead of enlightened masters. But he acknowledges that a “living sane master” is a rare find. Enlightenment is not a regulated industry, and spiritual seekers are especially vulnerable because of the nature of their quest. If you are considering following a guru, do a background check. If you feel that your autonomy is being violated, such as a guru dictating whom you should or should not fraternize with, or demanding money from you, this is probably not a person who is operating from a place of integrity.

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