Called by practitioners "the yoga of awareness", it focuses on "the expansion of sensory awareness and intuition in order to raise individual consciousness" and aims "to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others."*
"Kundalini Yoga consists of active and passive asana-based kriyas, pranayama, and meditations which target the whole body system (nervous system, glands, mental faculties, chakras) to develop awareness, consciousness and spiritual strength." —Yogi Bhajan*
NameWhat has become known as "Kundalini yoga" in the 20th century, after a technical term peculiar to this tradition, has otherwise been known as laya yoga (? ?), from the Sanskrit term laya "dissolution, extinction". The Sanskrit adjective means "circular, annular". It does occur as a noun for "a snake" (in the sense "coiled", as in "forming ringlets") in the 12th-century Rajatarangini chronicle (I.2). , a noun with the meaning "bowl, water-pot" is found as the name of a Naga|Naga in Mahabharata 1.4828. The feminine ku?ali has the meaning of "ring, bracelet, coil (of a rope)" in Classical Sanskrit, and is used as the name of a "serpent-like" Shakti in Tantrism as early as c. the 11th century, in the Saradatilaka.* This concept is adopted as ku?alnii as a technical term into Hatha yoga in the 15th century and becomes widely used in the Yoga Upanishads by the 16th century.
Hatha yogaThe Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad is listed in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads. Since this canon was fixed in the year 1656, it is known that the Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad was compiled in the first half of the 17th century at the latest. The Upanishad more likely dates to the 16th century, as do other Sanskrit texts which treat kundalini as a technical term in tantric yoga, such as the ?a?-cakra-nirupana and the Paduka-pańcaka. These latter texts were translated in 1919 by John Woodroffe as The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga In this book, he was the first to indentify "Kundalini yoga" as a particular form of Tantrik Yoga, also known as Laya Yoga.
The Yoga-Kundalini and the Yogatattva Upanishad|Yogatattva are closely related texts from the school of Hatha yoga. They both draw heavily on the Yoga Yajnavalkya (c. 13th century),* as does the foundational Hatha Yoga Pradipika. They are part of a tendency of syncretism combining the tradition of yoga with other schools of Hindu philosophy during the 15th and 16th centuries. The Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad itself consists of three short chapters; it begins by stating that Chitta (consciousness) is controlled by Prana|Vayu (Prana), and Prana is controlled by moderate food, postures and Shakti-Chala (I.1-2). Verses I.3-6 explain the concepts of moderate food and concept, and verse I.7 introduces Kundalini as the name of the Shakti under discussion: :I.7. The Sakti (mentioned above) is only Kundalini. A wise man should take it up from its place (Viz., the navel, upwards) to the middle of the eyebrows. This is called Sakti-Chala. :I.8. In practising it, two things are necessary, Sarasvati-Chalana and the restraint of Prana (breath). Then through practice, Kundalini (which is spiral) becomes straightened."*
Modern receptionSwami Nigamananda (d. 1935) taught a form of laya yoga which he insisted was not part of Hatha yoga, paving the way of the emergence of "Kundalini yoga" as a distinct school of yoga.
"Kundalini Yoga" as it is taught today is based on the treatise Kundalini Yoga by Sivananda Saraswati, published in 1935. Swami Sivananda (1935) introduced "Kundalini yoga" as a part of Laya yoga.* Together with other currents of Hindu revivalism and Neo-Hinduism, Kundalini Yoga became popular in 1960s to 1980s western counterculture. It was popularized by Harbhajan Singh Yogi who founded the "3HO|Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization" (3HO) in 1969. Singh launched a pilot program with two longtime heroin addicts in Washington, D.C. in 1972,* and opened a drug-treatment center under the name of "3HO SuperHealth" was launched in Tucson, Arizona in 1973.
The Kundalini Research Institute (KRI) was established by Singh in 1972 and continues to govern the certification of Kundalini yoga teachers. KRI publishes The Aquarian Teacher in two volumes as required for "instructor" level necessary to teach beginners' classes. According to 3HO, a total of 5,000 people (the vast majority being women) have attained "instructor" certification between 1972 and 2010.*