Kundilini is a type of “corporal energy” which in Sanskrit literally means “coiled up” at the base of the spine which made many English writers address it with terms such as serpent power. It is the power which lays latent at the base of the spine until it is awakened. There has been much debate as to why it lays suppressed and why and how it should be awakened. I would try to explain it as simply and as succinctly as possible without going into much jargon used by the learned.
It has been widely agreed that through social conditioning and emotional trauma, this life force is suppressed and blocked in chronic subconscious muscles tension which have their psychological counterpart in emotional blocks and ego- defences. When this muscle armour is softened or broken and live energy is amplified by strong emotions or by life endangering conditions, the body begins to shake and vibrate involuntarily, and kundilini energy starts reanimating formerly repressed psychosomatic areas. The resulting kundilini rising will bring old physical and psychological traumas to the surface as part of natural healing process- partly very intense as well as radically changing. Usually this cleansing phase of extreme emotions, experiences of subconscious material and may be illness resulting from it would last for about 2-4 years. After that time, in a seamless and slow transition, kundilini begins to be available in the whole body and psyche for further qualitative growth of the individual. The whole process is said to last about 15 to 20 years.
There are a number of models of kundilini in ancient texts, but over the time the model of six or seven chakras along the body’s axis became the dominant model and was accepted and adopted by most schools of yoga. It is this model where chakras are six in number and placed one above the other. Kundilini is understood to rise upwards while piercing the various chakras until it reaches the crown of the head culminating in the union with the divine. It has been said that spiritual development requires that kundilini rises and as it rises, higher states of awakening is achieved. It can either rise partially or completely spontaneously through passionate and intense love making or during the pangs of childbirth or gradually through meditation, kundilini yoga or with the help and intervention of a teacher. When it rises spontaneously in the form of ‘Shakti’ it rises in the conduits of the subtle (etheric) body, it opens and clears the seven spiritual chakras. There are certain feelings and experiences that accompany the rising of kundilini like violent shivering, rushes of energy, extreme emotions and ‘speaking in tongues’ and other paranormal phenomenon. The prominent feeling is almost always of energy travelling along the spine or progressing upwards in the body. Other symptoms may include tremors, impulsive or involuntary movements and change in respiratory functions. This kundilini rising is also some time referred as ‘pranic awakening’. Prana can be described as the vital life sustaining force present in the body and uplifted or intensified life energy is called ‘pranotthana’ and it originates from a reservoir of subtle bio-energy at the base of the spine. Pranic awakening or kundilini rising is considered to be a natural rebalancing of body and psyche but it is advised that it should be wakened under the guidance of competent and experienced teacher.