The Kundalini Awakening Process: An Inside Story.

Via Kara-Leah Grant
on Sep 4, 2013
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It’s 7:15 p.m. and I’m upside down on the carpet in front of the fire, balancing on my hands and knees, head hanging low, not quite touching the carpet.

I’m meant to be on the computer, working.

But I’ve had an intense headache all afternoon—it’s felt like pressure building up in my neck and head, and now that my child’s gone to bed, I can feel what I need to do.

So I do it.

I forgo the computer, get down on the ground, not even bothering to roll out a yoga mat or change out of my jeans, and surrender to my breath and the flow of yoga.

An hour later, I’m still being taken through slow yoga postures.

Most of the action is in my upper chest and neck area. There’s all kinds of popping sensations and the odd moan escaping from deep in my belly.

If I try and stop the process and stay still, or do anything ordinary—like type this article—the energy feels stuck and starts to build towards a headache again. Only in surrendering into the spontaneous flow of movement do I find release.

This is the process of Kundalini Awakening, as it happens for me.

(I’ve called this process a Kundalini Awakening because it originally happened for me in a yoga context, or at least, my yoga practice helped provide context for it. And it’s often accompanied by spontaneous yoga movements. However, a full Kundalini Awakening is not what I’m talking about here. I haven’t experienced that at all! If I had, there would be no ‘I’ left to talk about it as such. You could simply call what I’m experiencing as an awakening—it’s a process.)

My Kundalini Awakening is a process that’s been going on for more than a decade now. At times insistent, electric and overwhelming—like now—and at other times dormant.

I’ve learned, over time, to go with the flow—literally. Kundalini feels like a river of energy flowing through my body. I feel the channels (the nadis) as real as you might feel blood pumping through your veins when you sprint up three flights of stairs.

I haven’t talked about the detail of my Kundalini experience because I didn’t want people to think I was crazy.

Now though, I don’t care. I’ve lived with Kundalini for so long, it doesn’t faze me anymore. Think of it what you will.

Tonight, it’s all I can do to get a first draft of this article out. All I want to do—all Kundalini wants to do—is lie down and breathe with awareness into my body, letting it move at will. And that’s what I’m about to do. It’s only 8:30 p.m., but I’m going to drink some serious water and go to bed.

Why the water?

I did a Bikram class today, and just want to make sure the headache I’ve been experiencing isn’t dehydration.

I don’t think it is; I’ve drunk plenty of water and I never, ever, ever get headaches. No, this is about Kundalini energy needing to move and getting stuck somewhere. That’s where the sensation of build pressure is coming from.

But still, over the years I’ve been experiencing this process, I’ve learned to make sure I take care of any possible material and physical needs first. There’s a danger once Kundalini starts moving of attributing every tiny thing in the body to her, and neglecting one’s real life needs. Staying grounded while experiencing this process is crucial.

It’s a struggle to write this, though. It’s like trying to hold back a dam by pushing two hands into its wall and on the other side is an ocean of water pressing down. This energy really wants to move.

So bed it is.

And I’ll lie there and breathe, with awareness, following the movement of Kundalini around my body, softening into it, surrendering into it, letting go into, releasing into it.

Because that’s all I need to do—get out of the way. Kundalini does the rest. And what it does can be weird and strange and downright scary at times, but I’ve learned to trust the process. I’ve learned that it comes in peaks and waves. I’ve learned that there is an intelligence to it, a rhyme and a reason.

Who knows what will happen tonight?

Maybe the waves of energy will just come and go.

Maybe there’ll be some kind of memory that comes up, or an experience.

Maybe there’ll be some kind of insight. Or maybe there’ll be a physical release of some kind.

It doesn’t matter. It never does. It’s just a process. And all I’m required to do is show up.

Showing up.


Source: Sunday In Bed
Source: Sunday In Bed

I made it into my bedroom, and standing beside my bed, I did a few spontaneous Lion’s Breaths, making a hideous, deep growling sound like a trapped dragon.

It’s like there’s something choking me that wants to be vomited out of my body.

I climb into bed and pull the covers over my head and breathe into my body. I find myself lying on my belly with one leg bent, a hand under the straight hip, the other hand under my heart. It’s only early, and I’m not tired, but I fall asleep immediately.

Dreams have been a huge part of my process, helping me to work through and understand parts of the unconscious, so I’m not surprised in the slightest to immediately fall into a meaningful dream.

I’m in a restaurant with my man, Leighton, and we are sitting on the ground, two young lovers looking for some peace and quiet and trying to avoid being seen by anyone. Then I see my Pop sitting cross-legged along the wall and I’m so glad to see him!

In that instance I know I’m dreaming because my Pop (Granddad) died last December. It’s the first time he’s come to me in a dream and I’m over the moon to see him.

“Pop!” I call out and Leighton and I move over to a room where Pop is, kind of like an attic. I ask Pop how he is and he says something’s been bugging him on his right side, and that’s why he’s still hanging around the earth plane.

As we’re talking, I start to vomit and this long tendril-like thing comes out of me—like a deep plant root. I vomit it all out, somewhat embarrassed to be doing this in front of Leighton, but I know it’s necessary.

Finally it comes to the end and I know this because there’s tiny roots at the bottom of the tendril. There’s now a pile of plant-like material in front of me, almost as high as I am. That came out of me?

I turn back to Pop and say something about how,

“That’s the genetic line of the Grants, I’ve seen this in Dad and I’ve seen it in Pop too, and he should feel much better now. Whatever it was we were carrying, it’s gone now.”

That’s when I wake up—enough to note the dream, to really pay attention to it. I go over it in my mind’s eye, paying attention to all the details. And then I fall back asleep again.

This morning, the energy has all settled and I feel very clear and energetic. Something has shifted inside me and I feel more balanced, like I’ve come more into my right side. It’s a clarity that persists for the rest of the day.

Whatever it was that needed to move, has moved.

The information from the dream is interesting—something genetic (on Dad’s side of the family?)—but also not important. There’s no need to figure out what it means exactly. All that matters is that the energy has moved through and out.

Earlier in the evening, I had broken two out of the three plates that my Nana passed down to me (Pop’s wife). I was shocked when they broke—they were beautiful pieces of crockery, but I’d made the decision to put them into every day use so I could enjoy them daily. I stood and held the broken pieces for a moment or two, wondering at all they’d seen in my Nana and Pop’s life. Coincidence? Or somewhat relevant. I know what Jung would say.

But still, I let it all go. This too is a crucial part of the awakening process—not attaching too much importance to anything that happens, just allowing it to move through without creating new stories, or new ego constructions.

This is the process of Kundalini as I know it. A multi-dimensional experience that is mostly an un-doing, or letting go.

It’s the dissolution of the ego, like pulling on tiny threads and unravelling something, bit by bit, bit by bit. Afterwards, I always feel clearer and lighter. Something has left me, something that wasn’t “me” in any sense of the word.

If you don’t understand this though, Kundalini can be a frightening experience.

The energy I was experiencing that night was intense. The headache was painful, and the more I resisted it, the worse it got. If you didn’t know what was happening, you could easily get stuck on trying to stop it, or fix it, or stuck on trying to figure out what it was all about. All of that can block the process and make it worse.

Instead, I’ve learned to accept whatever is happening. Oh, there’s intense energy moving right now.

Then I ask what it needs. Oh, I need to just stop and let it move through me.

Finally I surrender to that flow, getting myself out of the way as much as possible. Keep letting go, keep softening, keep releasing.

I pay attention to whatever insights might arise during this time, but I also don’t give them too much importance. The mind likes to attach to things, or make them bigger than they really are. This in itself can get in the way of a clear process.

It’s Sunday night now, two days since that experience, and I still feel clear and clean. It does feel like something profound has shifted or lifted in me. Kundalini is still there, in a soft and subtle way. It’s more obvious when I stop to practice yoga or meditate. Not insistent though.

There may be nothing more dramatic for months. Or something may come up next week. I don’t know.

What I do know is I can trust my intuition in working with Kundalini, and I can trust Kundalini itself. It’s just an ordinary part of life—my life.


Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Ed: Cat Beekmans


About Kara-Leah Grant

Kara-Leah Grant is an internationally renowned retreat leader, yoga teacher and writer. Along with fellow Elephant Journal writer, Ben Ralston, she runs Heart of Tribe, pouring her love into growing a world-wide tribe of courageous, committed, and empowered individuals through leading retreats in New Zealand, Mexico and Sri Lanka. Kara-Leah is also the founder of New Zealand’s own awesome yoga website, The Yoga Lunchbox, and author of Forty Days of Yoga—Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice and The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. A born & bred Kiwi who spent her twenties wandering the world and living large, Kara-Leah has spent time in Canada, the USA, France, England, Mexico, and a handful of other luscious locations. She now lives and travels internationally with her son, a ninja-in-training. You can find Kara-Leah on her website, or on Facebook.


28 Responses to “The Kundalini Awakening Process: An Inside Story.”

  1. june says:

    I h ave recently started with yoga and find I cry a lot, am anxious. It's like everything I've kept hidden deep inside is coming to the surface. A frightening yet satisfying experience to feel this vulnerable.

  2. Lindsey says:

    "If you didn’t know what was happening, you could easily get stuck on trying to stop it, or fix it, or stuck on trying to figure out what it was all about. All of that can block the process and make it worse." Noted. This is about more than just headaches. I do this with ev. ry. thing. You've awakened my kundalini curiosity. Thanks for sharing this, especially the dream, because dreams are not only deeply personal but almost impossible to put into words, at least for me… they're more a feeling.

  3. Hey June,

    Yes, yoga can have this affect. Moving and breathing with awareness starts to break up the stuck energy in the body and can release emotion. It was be a powerful and frightening experience for sure – working with an experienced and knowledgable yoga teacher really helps. And sometimes, it's also useful to have a good therapist on hand. If we deconstruct too much too fast, there is always a danger of falling apart. Stephen Cope's book Yoga and the Quest for the True Self is really helpful for understanding this process too.

  4. Hey Lindsey,

    True – we can often get stuck on trying to figure everything out, stop it, or fix it. It doesn't work well for life either does it! Yes, dreams are tricky… my dreams and I are on close terms, and I get lots of valuable information that way. I'm always cautious of sharing them in articles though because sometimes what's meaningful to me may be useless to other people. Glad it was of benefit to you.

  5. Shri says:

    Thanks for talking about this. Seems like as more people practice yoga longer, these conversations will be more commonplace. I have very similar experiences(thank you for details) and its hard to practice around others because they seem to happen frequently at the end of an asana practice (and at home in the middle of the day) and my instinct is to keep them private. I do think there is value in letting it just be mine but there is also value in sharing. I imagine now there is a tribe of us silently evolving and that's a lovely thought. Peace sister.

  6. Sze says:

    Please be careful when you play around with the energies. There is a delicate balance of negative and positive energies and if you upset it you will have problems. The energies can also go into the wrong channels it will make you very sick. Your headaches is already a sign that something is wrong. You need to find someone to help you reset your chi.

  7. Hey Shri,

    I suspect you may be right. I'm curious though at the general silence in the wider yoga community about these energetic awakening experiences. Many (if not most!) yoga teachers I've come across have had no idea about them at all. I agree there is value in sharing, so that when people experience them for the first time, it doesn't freak them out too much, and there's some context for understanding.

  8. Hey Sze,

    Thank you for your concern. I've been experiencing and working with this energy for over a decade now and yes you're right – all kinds of extreme experiences are possible, especially when we don't know what we're doing and inadvertently kick things off. However, in this case, there was nothing "wrong", it is just the way it is. Energy moves. I go with the flow. All settles down again.

  9. Eric Garcia says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Such a reflection of what has been happening within me for the last couple years. At times insistent but mostly as a background reminder to let go, I feel what you call the kundalini constantly. To me it feels as if my energy is tangled up but knows exactly how to untangle itself. The path out holds so many uncomfortable feelings that it takes a determined will to really allow it to unwind without eagerness or trepidation. When I am really in the flow, my body feels like a spool of yarn tossed off a balcony: unravelling. I feel so grateful for the space created by the absence of whatever it was that left me and I willingly submit to the process as it unfolds further. Thank you for helping me feel less alone/crazy.

  10. Hey Eric,

    It was a delight to read your comment and the way you describe this process – you capture it so beautifully. I love the idea of an untangling… that's exactly what it feels like. Beautiful!

  11. Ali says:

    Thank you for this article and for offering your story. I have been living with this for the past two years (longer of course if I’m honest) and my awareness around it has heightened in that time. I have come to know it as the surrender to what’s moving through – and what’s releasing. Sometimes it feels so intense – I wonder whats wrong with me, what else i need to take care of. Just recently I heard about kundalini rising symptoms. This article articulated what I’ve been experiencing these past few years. Thank you!

  12. Thank you for the wonderful story. Personally I feel the sleeping dream is as real as the waking dream and Kundalini only helps us in fully waking up from all dreams :-). Thank you for sharing the interesting article again.

  13. Thank you, Kara-Leah, for all the processing details. Really brings the practice home and offers essential support for others experiencing this energy, which the ego (in us and/or others) can brand as 'madness'. on the point that you could not write this article if you had completed the process… this is not so. you can go all the way with the energy and choose to return. so, please do not let the fear of dissolving (extinction/annihilation/death) keep you from surrendering to the Absolute. the dance then becomes mastery of the energy 🙂 go you! thank you for trusting this Love… for "showing up" as and when you are called. beautiful. love, thank you, megan

  14. Hey Ali,

    My pleasure. Those moments of intensity can certainly make it feel like something's wrong. And sometimes, something does need attending to… The more awareness that can be brought to this process, the better!

  15. I like that – fully waking up from all dreams. Nice.

  16. Thanks for your comment Megan – made me smile 🙂 Could feel your warmth.

    To clarify – I didn't mean I couldn't write the article if I completed the process as such… just that it was very difficult to be coherent while there was such intensity going on… i just needed to surrender into what was needed in the moment, which wasn't writing. But I wanted to capture exactly where I was, which meant forcing myself to sit and write for as long as could…

    I have no fear of dissolving. (Actually that's a weird sentence when you look at it because who is the 'I'?) Death has never bothered me – after all – either I'm gone in which case who is there to be upset because I'm gone… or I'm not gone in which case there's also no reason to be upset because I still exist.

  17. Guru Sangeet Kaur says:

    Sat Nam! A term used in kundalini yoga meaning literally truth is my identity. Or I am my highest truth. I guess you could call it the Namaste of kundalini yoga. I wonder if you've ever tried taking a kundalini yoga class, taught in the tradition of Yogi Bhajan? This kundalini energy is referred to as your creative potential, which is infinite. The goal of all yogas is to raise your kundalini energy, but Kundalini Yoga is the fastest, safest way to do so, and by harnessing this energy you tap into your infinite creative potential. You can go to to find out more.
    Many blessings,
    Guru Sangeet Kaur

  18. g says:

    I think kundalini awakening is a lot more rare than you might think. if it really had much to do with yoga practice all of India would have transcended long ago… while yoga may fortuitously jumpstart the process in a ready person, so can other religious traditions and practices which are mostly identical in action. I consider it’s all about fate… And you are very lucky this is yours, in this life. you probably earned it, but that’s another tricky conversation ! 🙂 om

  19. g says:

    every yoga system and school, Buddhism and it’sbranches included, all say theyare the safest and fastest path… 🙂 it’s a sales pitch. each way has merits and is appealing to certain personalities and stages…. being too attached to one way of thinking can causeone to ignorethe value of other teachings and perspectives. to eachhis own… peace

  20. Jay says:

    I first started experiencing my process in third grade, and as a young child it was all very frightening. You feel somewhat alone if you have no one to guide you, but somehow I got lucky and someone I knew helped me through it. It seems as the generations go on it starts younger,but it is possible to stall out your process. Though I did not meditate or do yoga, there are other activities to help the process go smoothly, for me it was archery. Just remember everyone is different and you may have to try different things.

  21. wordpresskwood says:

    My hunch (and it's only that ; ) is that some people are drawn to yoga by kundalini in order to get in a space where they can begin to acknowledge what's going on in their body. This may be why some people 'get experiences' after only just starting yoga a short time ago, while others who have done it for years have no experiences. Yoga won't cause Kundalini, but if it's already underway, it will bring it to the forefront of your attention.

    Just a thought. I really enjoyed your article a great deal, and have to laugh at how I came to many of the same conclusions as you, but from a very different background. Once the process has our attention, it seems to be very good at drawing our attention to the information we need, warning us of the dangers we face (ego inflation and so on) and just helping us along with whatever the next step may be.

  22. wordpresskwood says:

    So true. From my experience, once this is underway, we don't 'play' with the energies. They play with us while we tag along, willingly or otherwise. Running around looking for 'spiritual cures' for this symptom or that is just going to confuse us and put us at odds with our own inner experience.

  23. Rosanna says:

    I did a 10 day vipassana course and in the 4.5 months since I have been on a physical journey like no other I have ever had in my life. I have been meditating for 15 years, so it was not just the meditation, but I guess the style of meditation that triggered something in my body to awaken. It sounds a lot like what you describe as kundalini rising, but you are correct when you say that it can trigger a lot of fear. I feel like I have lost control of my body and at times my life. The symptoms seem to come and go in intensity, but I always feel them when I get quiet, sit and especially when I meditate. In the last month, since I caught a cold, they have been really severe and in fact I'm going to get a thyroid test because some of my symptoms mimic hyperthyroid. Have you ever had your thyroid tested through all of your experiences? There are times when the energy is so strong in my body (primarily in my head, neck, throat and chest but I can move them all over my body with my awareness) that I feel like I'm in the middle of a tornado. My tissues feel like they are pulling and whipping and all I can do is just what you say- surrender to the storm and breathe. I just have to let the energy move through my tissues without offering any resistance, it spins and swirls and spirals mostly, and that is at times very challenging and requires an intense deep relaxation (that doesn't ever lead to sleep for some reason.) The weird thing is that when I'm distracted, I almost feel nothing at all, just the tingling in my extremities. Anyway, I'm glad to hear that you have found peaceful ways of living with the energy. I hope that on the other side of some of my extreme experiences will come clarity. I keep doing what you say, which feels of primary importance, and I am not attaching to any of it. I just keep letting the thoughts, experiences, energies and fears pass through me, hopefully not to get stuck. It's almost like I have to get out of the way, and I find it's my nature (my ego I guess) to ALWAYS be in the way. I guess it makes sense, where-ever you go, there you are. Thank you for making this public so people can have a resource. There really aren't many resources for this type of experience.
    Peace to us all.

  24. Yvonne says:

    "I haven’t talked about the detail of my Kundalini experience because I didn’t want people to think I was crazy.
    Now though, I don’t care. I’ve lived with Kundalini for so long, it doesn’t faze me anymore. Think of it what you will."

    I think, we are two of a kind. I haven't read the comments (yet or maybe not). I just want to tell you, that I'm going through the same kind of experience. The process has been going on for 7 years now. You are certainly not alone – but the vaste majority of people know nothing about kundalini, and w i l l suspect you for being crazy, when – or if – you tell them about your experience. The loneliness will make you strong. People who haven't experienced energy moving like this can't imagine what it's like. It helped me a lot when I learned about the physiological side of the process; that it's a process running in the autonomic nervous system dissolving psychological blocks in its course (the autonomic nervous system is linked to the energy system/chakras).

  25. Mahesh says:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience.
    Can you please elaborate on how its affected your daily life after kundalini awakened?
    Off course if you don't mind sharing it ?

  26. jamie says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for sharing your story.. It's so rare to find a real-life experience of someone going through kundalini & reading your post made me feel a little less crazy, & definitely less isolated. Thank you again. 🙂 Best wishes.

  27. Kimberly says:

    I have been experiencing the same thing for about 8 months now – it literally took me down for many weeks and I couldn’t function. Anyway, I am still dealing with it but at least I am able to function.

    My main question which I cannot seem to find any answers for is: does your life change after this process? Everyone seems to be involved in some sort of healing modality or a teacher of some sort but I have not read of anyone who is going through this process whose life remained the same. I am still working at the same job and living the same life I did before – but I have all this awareness that most people don’t have. Does it mean I can just live like this with all this knowledge and keep it to myself. I guess my ego is trying to figure out the purpose of it – is it just for my own soul’s healing or am I to pass this on? It does feel weird to be around people when I can see things about them that they can’t see themselves. I don’t really want to see it, to be honest, but it’s there and not much I can do about it.

    Just curious if your life changed or if you are doing what you always did before?

  28. Rahul Desai says:

    Hello Kara,
    3 months back I experienced my Kundalini awakening, but now the energy flow is too much that I cant even meditate. Please help me