KUNDALINI RISING – GUIDANCE FOR TEACHERS
The following document is intended as guidance for Kundalini Yoga Teachers working with students who approach them reporting energy disturbance/ kundalini rising. The aim is to help teachers to discern between cases where general information and support may be useful, and those where outside support (e.g., the student’s GP) must be referred to.
Please see handout Kundalini Rising – The Basics for general information on kundalini rising and resources.
Kundalini Yoga is for anybody; yet it is not for everybody. There will be some cases of reported kundalini disturbances by students that cannot be dealt with by a teacher alone. It is important as teachers that we do not hold any illusions about being able to fix or save a student from their experience. Remember that as a teacher, you are one small part of a student’s network of support; you are not ‘the answer’ or a magic key. In some cases, referring the student back to his/her GP may be the best path.
Please note: if a student reports sudden onset changes to perception (vision, hearing) or sensation (tingling, numbness) or pain and that these symptoms are continuous, it is important the student see a doctor to rule out any neurological cause for the symptoms.
Signs of Kundalini Rebalancing Phenomena:
- may include physical symptoms (see basic handout) and these will be transient in nature; if the person experiences symptoms that last beyond 1-2 days, recommend the student see his/her GP
- the student may report negative or fearful interpretations of symptoms (e.g., I am going crazy, no one will believe me, etc) “ reframing these interpretations (e.g., this is healing energy, I am ok, etc) may reduce symptoms
- physical symptoms can often be contained by relaxing and allowing (in this case they usually subside within <10 mins)
- call the student into their heart “ if they are able to stay there with you a few minutes, and breathe, and listen to your instructions, or stay with a mantra “ this is a good sign.
- provide the student with the handout with basic information on kundalini rising.
- keep any advice simple and straightforward.
- explain how breathing into the heart and/or chanting a mantra can help to stay connected and ground the person.
- be sensitive about touching the student (putting your hand on their arm, hugging), as this may be disturbing to someone who is very open and sensitive.
- it is helpful for the student to connect with community and attend a regular class; it is equally (or more) important that the student has a practice (which can be a simple pranayam or one mantra, like Sat Nam, that they connect to daily, throughout the day)
Signs of Imbalanced Kundalini Phenomena:
- wanting to only talk about their experience / kundalini phenomena , self obsession , attention seeking in class / being disruptive in class without regard for the rest of the class , dilated pupils, not blinking , lack of coherence in speech (if consistent across time) .
- continuous physical symptoms that cannot be contained by moving, relaxing into it; this can either be a sign of a physical and/or neurological problems – in which case the student needs to seek medical assessment via their GP Ã.
- an energetic problem (ie, kundalini not rising in shushmanaa, but via another nadi) or that the person is getting secondary gain from the symptoms (e.g., mental indulgence).
- any form of indulgence in kundalini phenomena and/or attention seeking related to it .
- you call the student to their heart, and they cannot go there, or go and move away seconds later .
- the student does not listen to your suggestions or take them on board and/or the student is not practising at home.
- this is a sign that your input will not be effective, and you and the student would be best served by making this clear .
- keep in mind that such a student would need reminding every day to ground themselves and connect to the breath.
- if they are attending your class once/week, this is going to make little difference.
- the student needs an environment that constantly reminds and supports them.
- downplay phenomena (for instance, Yogi Bhajan often referred to energetic disturbances as ‘the glitter at the bottom of the ladder’, or would simply say ‘so what?’; if the student is responsive to this, that is a good sign they may make progress and not become attached to these phenomena .
- have clear boundaries with your time. Some teachers have gotten involved in taking long phone calls from students on a regular basis, and have overextended themselves in the support they offer. Remember that you are one person in this student’s support network. If you are not able to offer long talks before/after class, or between classes, be clear about this from the beginning.
- if the student is disruptive in class ask yourself: if this student is like this every week for the rest of my life, am I OK with it?
- If yes, then let them be, don’t give them too much attention, keep reminding the importance of Sat Nam on every breath, and keep reminding them to come back to the heart .
- If no, then you must communicate clearly to the student that they need to check with their doctor about practising yoga and meditation. You have the right to say that you cannot have the student in your class. This is not abandoning the student, if you explain that what they need right now is to seek support from their GP.
- If you have concerns about a student’s mental health status, you can ask: are you on any kind of medication – heart? Blood pressure? Mental health?
- Never agree with any student who says they are going to start kundalini yoga and stop their medication – strongly/sharply request that they speak to their GP or consultant before making any decisions .
- Consider a simple balancing practise (e.g., Awakening the Ten Bodies Kriya, or a simple mantra) possibly as a long term practise (e.g., 1000 days) this underlines that improvement might be over the long term, and having the focus or anchor of simple regular practise can be a life line through this.
- If you are feeling out of control with supporting a student, this feeling is a good reminder that a greater support system needs to be called upon in the student by connecting with family, their doctor, the wider sangat, and in you, the teacher, by speaking to other teachers, reflecting on your scope of practise and your boundaries, and what you are reasonably able to offer.
Kundalini Yoga is clearly recommended for people with all sorts of imbalances – both physical and psychological (see Kundalini Yoga Meditation books by David Shanahofi Khalsa a psychiatrist and yogi who recommends practises for support with specific mental health imbalances). However, this requires that the student be in a position and a time in their process that they are ready to take this on board. The teacher can be one steady support in this process.
Take a look and download this Kundalini Rising Info Sheet