The Ten Bodies of Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini yoga is today what vinyasa yoga was ten years ago. Of course not literally, the differences between these two styles of yoga couldn’t be bigger. But the hype for kundalini classes is unstoppable and is comparable to the hype of strong vinyasa flows yoga studios experienced in the past. Students from all over the world are flocking into classes, practicing so-called kriyas, chanting “Saaaaat-nam” (meaning truth is my essence) and exiting classes levitating on clouds of pure bliss.
Practitioners of kundalini report results ranging from discovering their life’s purpose and activating their fullest potential to complete life-transformation. It seems about time to illuminate the principles and essence of kundalini yoga, which works with the so-called ‘ten bodies’.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini yoga is a school of yoga that is rooted in awakening our kundalini energy, located at the base of the spine. This energy is often symbolized by a snake which travels, once awakened, up the spine through our chakras. To awaken our kundalini energy, students practice chanting mantras, meditation, breath work and kriyas. The literal translation of the word ‘kriya’ from Sanskrit means “action of the soul”. A kriya is a series of postures, breath, and sounds that work toward a specific outcome. With the practice of a kriya also come some physical and mental changes that affect the body, mind, and spirit simultaneously.
Kundalini is actually a synthesis of many styles of yoga, including practices of bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion to God and chanting), Raja yoga (the yoga of physical and mental effort) and Shakti yoga (the yoga of expression and energy).
The infamous Yogi Bhajan introduced kundalini yoga to the United States in 1968, where it quickly gained popularity and spread throughout the rest of the globe in no time.
The Principles of Kundalini Yoga: The Ten Bodies explained
Different than most Western practices of yoga, kundalini is rooted much more in energetic anatomy than in physicality. One of the ways we can understand our existence through the practice of kundalini is by the ten bodies. Yes, you heard right. In kundalini philosophy, we have not only one body but even ten! They are constituted of our one physical body and in addition to that three mental bodies and six energy bodies. The ten body system makes us aware that we are so much more than only our physical shell.
Yogi Bhajan said: “If you understand that you are Ten Bodies, and you are aware of those Ten Bodies, and you keep them in balance, the whole universe will be in balance with you.” This is obviously a challenge that is not mastered in the blink of an eye, but let’s start with explaining the ten bodies and how we are able to master them through the practice of kundalini yoga.
1. Soul Body
Our first body is the soul body, which is quite literal our soul or essence. It represents our connection to the infinite and the divine. It is our deepest core, our truest self, giving us the ability to live truthfully and from our heart. In an imbalanced state, we act from our head instead from our heart, prioritizing our intellect over our intuition. Within kundalini, the soul body responds to postures, breathing exercises and mantras that resonate with our heart chakra. To balance the first body, we have to open our hearts to the divine.
2. Negative mind
This is our second body. Whereas many people do not want to accept that they have this body, it is within all of us and also part of human nature. It has its place, as it is constantly working to assess our environment and situations for danger or negative potential. In this way, the negative mind keeps us safe and alive. Moreover, if there wouldn’t be a negative mind, how could we then possibly know what a positive mind is? Everything in the universe works in dualities. It is however important to balance our negative mind by becoming aware of it and with the practice of discipline and purification.
3. Positive Mind
Just as we have a negative mind, we also obviously possess a positive mind. The positive mind gives us our strength, willpower, playfulness and a positive outlook on circumstances. It helps us identify opportunity and resources with its characteristics of enthusiasm, hopefulness and trust. In relation to our physical body, everything we do in order to strengthen our core and the area around our navel (our solar plexus chakra) resonates with this body and is beneficial for it. Strengthening the positive mind through kundalini will enhance self-esteem and self-worth.
4. Neutral mind
Not only do we have a positive and negative mind, we also have a neutral mind, which makes up our fourth body. The neutral mind absorbs and evaluates the thoughts of the negative and positive mind. Contrary to the second and third bodies, the fourth body makes decisions out of non-emotional intuition and looks behind the assessments of the positive and negative mind. It therefore delivers guidance and stimulates decision-making based on clarity, calmness, balance and wisdom. Meditation is a wonderful tool to strengthening your neutral mind.
5. Physical Body
This is our tangible body, the one we can perceive with our eyes and other human senses. It is the temple in which houses all the other bodies in some form. Through the physical body, we have the ability to balance ourselves and our lives. An imbalance in the physical body can manifest in the form of anger, jealousy, greed, fatigue and a lack of gratitude, but also in an obsession with physical appearance and a clinging to the material world. To balance our physical body we must develop a practice that keep our bodies strong, flexible and resilient, like yoga or a form of martial arts.
The arcline can be visualized as our halo, expanding from one ear to the other, encompassing the hairline and the brow. It is our avenue of intuition and regulates the nervous system. It is also associated with our pituitary gland, our third eye. Women have a second arcline across the chest, reaching from one breast to the other.
The arcline serves as a balance and gateway between the physical and the cosmic realm and between word and deed. If out of balance, our values might not be in line with our actions and we will have difficulty focusing. In order to balance the sixth body, awaken the pituitary gland (our sixth chakra) through meditation, pranayama and drishti (gazing) to our third eye.
The aura is our electromagnetic energy field surrounding our physical body. It cannot be perceived by the naked human eye, but it can still be felt. Even though that might sound very spiritual, it is scientifically measurable that this energetic resonance exists between three to nine feet away from our bodies! The aura contains and protects our life force - our prana - and interacts with it. If mastered, it projects positivity and repels negativity from our body, working as a shield. An imbalanced aura will be felt in paranoia and a lack of self-trust. Negativity can enter your body and psyche much easier. To balance the aura body, meditation, pranayama, martial arts as well as wearing natural fibers and following a wholesome, organic diet are beneficial.
8. Pranic Body
The pranic body is our eighth body in the kundalini tradition. ‚Prana‘ means life-force in Sanskrit. Through our breath, we are continuously working with our pranic body for life force to enter our body. If mastered, we will experience fearlessness, purity, energy as well as the balance of polarities. Hence, the male and female energies present within us are fully integrated within ourselves. In am imbalanced state, we might experience anxiety, fatigue and defensiveness. To balance our pranic body - yes you guessed it right - every pranayama will have a positive impact.
9. Subtle Body
This body is characterized by our ability to sense and perceive the infinite and universal reality with the material and physical realm. The subtle body is deeply woven within our soul body. When our physical bodies die, the subtle body carries our soul. The qualities of the subtle body are calmness, insight, intuition and mastery. A weak subtle body manifest in naivety, restlessness, frustration and the feeling of being misunderstood. In order to master the ninth body, keep up any meditation or kundalini kriya for 1,000 consecutive days
10. Radiant Body
This body gives - of course - radiance, as well as courage, creativity and nobility. Magnetic and charismatic people are a great example of a balanced radiant body. A weak radiant body will express itself in shyness, problems to overcome fear and the avoidance of conflict. The best thing we can do for our radiant bodies is to have commitment, no matter what obstacle or challenge we might face.
The Eleventh Body
In the understanding of the kundalini ten body system, we also have an eleventh body, a little bonus body! The eleventh body is all the ten bodies together, the embodiment of all the bodies and is represented by the absence of duality, when humanity and divinity become one. We enter this state when all ten bodies are balanced.
It is a process to keep all ten bodies balanced and energized at all time, one where kundalini yoga can be very beneficial. You can start exploring and awakening the ten bodies by practicing any kriya or meditation or visit in-depth workshops that focus on a specific body of the ten body system and are aimed at balancing our ten bodies to live in more harmony and self-awareness.
We have different classes and events on our schedule focusing on the kundalini energy. Every Monday at 10:45, every Thursday at 08:15 as well as every Saturday at 18:00 you can join Maaike Aker for a Kundalini yoga class. Twice a month on Thursdays we got our Sacred Women’s Circle in which you will learn to awake and use your kundalini energy. But we also have some monthly special classes and events focused on kundalini yoga, check them out below!
Time to book your ticket and join us for the next session at The Conscious Club: http://theconsciousclub.com/book-now!
Written by Clara Malzer