I’ve had new students or potential students ask me “Is Kundalini Yoga sexual?” Because it’s a topic I’ve researched a bit over the last 8 years I’d like to share with you some of the information that I’ve gathered and experiences I’ve had over the years. Before we get going, I just want to mention that the first part for this series looked at the similarities between Kundalini Yoga and other yogas and in the second post we looked at differences between Kundalini Yoga and other yogas. Again, we will talk about Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan™ rather than some of the other styles that call themselves Kundalini Yoga.
Is Kundalini Yoga Sexual? (or What is House Holder Yoga?)
Before I answer the question “Is Kundalini Yoga Sexual?” I want to ask you whether you’re in a romantic relationship right now or want to be at some point? Most people in the world are either in a relationship or want to be in a relationship. Most hatha yoga practitioners have sex with a partner at some point. Same with Kundalini Yoga practitioners. So we establish now that sexuality on some level is normal for humans and is considered necessary for the survival of the species. So let’s look at how is Kundalini Yoga different from other yoga when it comes to sexuality?
Most hatha yoga traditions come from an ascetic lineage. This means that the original practitioners in India were celibate (no sex for them!) and practiced yoga purely for elevation and connection to God (or the Source of all that is or whatever you want to call It). You could almost compare the original yogis to monks who retreated to the mountains. This is evident still in practices like Sivananda Yoga and certain other styles which ask committed practitioners to abstain from garlic and onion because it stimulates the sexual energy. The practice of non-attachment in various yoga styles comes down to detaching from various worldly attachments and trying to eradicate them from existence by not eating onion and garlic and various other practices. In other words, people who practice various hatha yoga styles are supposed to be celibate and save all their creative juices (ojas) to raise the kundalini and improve their practice of posture, meditation and non-attachment.
Now before you throw up your arms and ignore anything else I say, I will mention that non-attachment has in it a level of spiritual sophistication that goes beyond denying things like sexuality and into transmuting it into spiritual use. This is something that takes time to ponder and practice. Celibacy or denial of sexuality can be healthy at times, but I don’t think it is necessarily a healthy way for us to live all the time and most hatha yoga practitioners in the West are not celibate and they eat plenty of onions and garlic! While the media is overly sexualized and we are sold everything through sexuality, celibacy is not an option for most people, nor is giving away all worldly possessions (think non-attachment). As healthy people we need the healthy functionality of all 7+ chakras in our system, sexuality and creativity being the second or sacral chakra.
Where am I going with this? Kundalini Yoga was originally practiced by royalty in India, people who were of nobility and had families. This is also known as a house holder yoga, you have a house rather than giving away all your possessions and moving to the mountains or forests. This is in pretty stark contrast to the celibate background of most yoga lineages. The original Kundalin Yoga practitioners were people who had to function in society and govern the people living in their domain with full capacity. Since Kundalini Yoga is known as the yoga of awareness this includes awareness of your sexuality in relationship to your spirituality. But wait, these people had families too. This mean that they probably had sex every so often and maybe it was pretty good and healthy too.
So, Kundalini Yoga has recipes that include a lot of garlic, onion and a ton of ginger to help us function in a healthy, happy, holy way rather than a celibate way. The idea with sexuality here is that it is not a “Hey sexy, let’s do the horizontal mambo and then part ways” kind of sexuality. The idea of sexuality in a spiritual context such as Kundalini Yoga is the merging of two energy fields in a mutually respectful and supportive atmosphere to elevate the spirit. This means we respect sexuality to the utmost and never take it for granted, never take advantage of someone or go outside of a committed relationship for sex. We also respect ourselves and don’t waste our energy in being overly sexual. If you actually look at what Yogi Bhajan taught, he suggested that you should not even start having sex until you are in your mid- to late- twenties and then only if you are married. If you are married he said once a month should be a sufficient amount of sex. So, do you still think that Kundalini Yoga is sexual?
Ok, I’ll address a few more questions you might have. Yes, there are some Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations that target sexuality. Say like the kriya to release pre-menstrual tension and balance sexual energy. Yes, Yogi Bhajan gave us meditations and practices that would help us relax and also have awesome sex when we were finally settled down with a committed partner. He also gave yoga postures to those people who were single to channel their sexuality into creative activities while remaining celibate (until they settled down with a partner). Sat Kriya is one of those practices for channeling sexuality into creativity.
Some of you may also have seen pictures of Kundalini Yogis facing each other and assumed that this was sexual because you have a partner. What you’re most likely looking at are partner kriyas called Venus Kriyas that are meant for advanced practitioners that help to balance and heal the energies in each other while elevating the consciousness. These are only done for short periods of time (max 3 minutes) in a very elevated setting and usually in conjunction with other yoga sets. There are also a few that are specifically for people in relationships that elevate the relationship to improve sexuality. Male-female polarities in these kriyas acknowledge the yin/yang energy polarity of the Universe, the sun and moon, ha and tha, advancing and receding, there are many forms of this duality. Ultimately we work to transcend this duality, but we still function in a physical world.
You may also have seen pictures of White Tantric Yoga workshops with lines of people facing each other and assumed this was sexual as well. Hate to break it to you, but red tantra is sexual, black tantra is to manipulate other people and white tantra is to elevate consciousness. The use of polarities in lines acknowledges that the masculine and feminine energies are both a necessary part of elevating consciousness and are woven together in all parts of the universe in various ratios. White Tantric Yoga is not Kundalini Yoga, but is often practiced by Kundalini Yoga practitioners as an additional workshop once or twice a year. (Read more at http://www.whitetantricyoga.com/). The energy of White Tantric Yoga is a zig-zagging energy that travels through the group helping each person to heal what they need to heal in their person at that time.
While sexuality is a complex topic and each relationships is unique, there are certain components that help a relationship work well. While involving a spiritual practice in a relationship is at the top of my list, I would suggest you also take a very close look at communication. In the past few months especially, I’ve looked at communication as a part of business and personal relationships and I’ve come to the conclusion that basically all of the problems I’ve encountered have been due to a lack of communication. This is also a necessary component in any sacred sexual relationship and that hopefully means every marriage!
When ever there is a problem a lack of communication seems to exist on some level. It could be that one party is not willing to talk at all or is belligerent and interrupts the other person, showing disrespect. When communicating in any relationship, take time to share your side of the issue objectively and then listen to the other side objectively. This means that differences of opinion can exist, but we attack the problem together rather than attacking each other! What a novel concept!
If you’d like to read up more on spiritual relationships and sacred sexuality as taught by Yogi Bhajan, some of his students have compiled books and yoga manuals to help you understand this. These are in no particular order and should be available on places like Amazon.com.
Divine Relationships, Nam Kaur and Siri Atma Singh Khalsa, MD
Marriage on the Spiritual Path, Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa
The Art of Making Sex Sacred, Guru Terath Kaur Khalsa, Ph.D.
Sacred Sexual Bliss, Dr. Sat-Kaur Khalsa
I hope that this has shed some light on why some people ask “Is Kundalini Yoga sexual?” and how that actually plays out in the classes and personal practice side of things. I find this a fascinating topic because it’s taken me time to overcome some hurdles in this department and I know that there are still many things for many of us on this planet to learn. Since we’re still looking at the context of Kundalini Yoga and how it differs from other yogas, the next post is going to take a look at the terrifying topic of cult like behavior. Some folks like to think that because Kundalini Yogis often wear white to practice and some choose to wear turbans or grow beards that this is a very questionable practice that might be a cult. I thought so in the beginning! We’ll look at what’s actually behind these practices and how they fit into the larger yogic and societal context!