Ashok Bedi, M.D.,
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. (Image from Crossing the Healing Zone – From Illness to Wellness: Nicholas Hayes Inc. 2013)
Kundalini yoga is one of the most sophisticated systems for accessing the Healing Zone and rejuvenating your mind, body, and soul in accord with your spiritual purpose. Kundalini focuses on the coiled serpent at the base of the spinal column at the root of the body, calling it to ascend through the seven chakras—the synapses of mind, body, and soul—to reach the seventh (or crown) chakra, the place of your highest potential and connection to Spirit or the flow of the universe (see figure 24).
At each of these seven synapses or junctions, you can balance your masculine and feminine energies and sort out your relationship and mind/body imbalances with the help of a specific archetypal gatekeeper (see Tables 1 and 2). When you are balanced in the root, or first, chakra, you are ready to move to the second, and so on up the ladder until you mature and reach the seventh. Being stuck at any of these seven synapses can cause medical or psychiatric symptoms like relationship problems and psychological developmental blocks. Carl Jung was fascinated by Kundalini yoga and did a series of seminars on it (Jung 1996). Jungian analysts Vasavada and Spiegelman have done a detailed Jungian treatise on this subject (Spiegelman and Vasvada, 1987).
Energy moves through the chakras in three channels called nadis. Each nadi is a motor system and is automatic in the sense that most of its functions are carried out below the threshold of consciousness.
The sympathetic nervous system corresponds to the pingala nadi. This is the “hot” system that prepares the body for the fight-or-flight response. In general, it excites the heart and blood vessels, increasing blood pressure, slowing the gastro-intestinal system, and increasing the metabolism of every cell in the body. Pingala is the carrier of intellectual/mental energy. It makes the physical body more dynamic and more efficient, and provides increased vitality and “male” power. Pingala has a purifying effect, but its cleansing is like fire.
The ida nadi corresponds to the parasympathetic system—the “cool” system responsible for calming, soothing, and renewing. It has a more discriminative, organ-specific response pattern than the sympathetic nervous system. In general, it calms the heart, lowers blood pressure, enhances the gastro-intestinal system, and is responsible for sexual stimulation and functioning. The ida nadi is the channel of physical/emotional energy. It is “feminine” in nature, the storehouse of life-producing, maternal energy. Ida nourishes and purifies, but its purification is gentle.
When Kundalini energy is concentrated in one or the other of these nadis, the result is an energy imbalance correlating to Type-A or Type-B personalities. When energy moves primarily in the “hot” pingala nadi, the result is a Type-A personality who is always on the go. Type-A people are characterized as competitive and hard-driving, impatient, verbally aggressive, and prone to anger and hostility. These characteristics appear to be associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. From a Kundalini point of view, the pingala nadi is overly energized in these individuals. On the other hand, when Kundalini moves primarily in the “cool” ida nadi, individuals show Type-B characteristics. Type-B personalities tend to be cooperative, easy-going, and patient, and have a generally mellow temperament. The desirable condition is for neither nadi to dominate, but rather for energies to flow naturally and in balance through the third nadi, the central channel called the sushumna.
This balance can be achieved in two ways. You can consciously and intentionally strengthen the flow in one nadi and decrease it in the other; or you can experience a transformation so that the energy flows in the central sushumna nadi. Maintaining the tension between pingala and ida demands consciousness and self-discipline. Eventually, the tension may resolve when the energy begins to flow through the sushumna. In a Type-A person, this means a decrease in compulsive self-assertion, replaced by greater flexibility to choose how to address issues and situations. A Type-B person may still be laid-back and easy-going, but may become more assertive when situations call for an energetic response.
The nadis are linked with the chakras, which are the subtle energy centers of interchange between the physical, emotional, psychological, mental, and spiritual dimensions. Medical and psychological symptoms often indicate that one or more chakras are over- or under-energized, and that you are stuck in either the ida or pingala nadi in one or more chakra.
When you live predominantly in either the hot or cool nadi, the unlived potential of the under-energized nadi automatically finds expression in illness or by projecting your past experience onto a significant person in your present life—a spouse, parent, employer, friend, or adversary.
In my recently published book, Crossing the Healing Zone – From Illness to Wellness (Nicholas Hayes Inc. 2013), I explore the dynamics and the methods to balance the Kundalini energy for wellness. I invite you to explore it further.