Side Effects of Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini is a latent, yet potentially vibrant energy that resides at the base of the spine. Kundalini-style yoga awakens this raw energy and directs it upward through the body to connect with the universal consciousness. According to the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, the founder of 3HO: Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization, when kundalini energy is fully activated, you should be spiritually mature and ready for the experience, with your energy channels clear. Otherwise, the potential for negative side effects, such as physical, emotional or mental disturbances, are possible.

Physical Side Effects

Yoga therapist Ravi Dykema says that often, especially when a person’s Kundalini is aroused accidentally, they can experience uncontrollable muscle twitching, and even head shaking and rocking. For some people, the involuntary movements can become disruptive and distracting–although, for most, the symptoms lead only to slight embarrassment. Another physical side effect often associated with practicing Kundalini yoga is a feeling of dizziness. Yogi Anmol Mehta says lightheadedness often occurs simply from practicing the “Breath of Fire Pranayama.” This discomfort is easily remedied by resuming a natural breathing rhythm. However, other times this dizziness is accompanied by ringing in the ears and is associated specifically to the phenomenon of the Kundalini energy rising.

Emotional Side Effects

Not surprisingly, many people become frightened during a Kundalini rising episode, especially when they experience the sensation for the first time, or when the movement occurs unintentionally. This fear can lead to insomnia or nighttime panic attacks, as well as an acute inability to concentrate. On the other end of the spectrum, Ravi Dykema says some people vacillate between feelings of great joy and happiness to discomfort because of the overwhelming nature of the energy flow. Some people might encounter feelings of grandeur after experiencing the often-blissful nature of Kundalini. This egotism can become detrimental in the search for spiritual enlightenment, however.

Mental Side Effects

Because the energy moving within a person during a Kundalini rising is a powerful experience, people with deep-seated traumas and unconsciously repressed feelings often experience psychotic episodes during or after the event. Because of the intensity of Kundalini, these people might relive traumas of the past, which can create mental anguish and profound pain. Some people also might achieve heightened psychic perceptions, which might–or might not–be pleasurable or beneficial for their mental well-being. For these reasons, it is best to practice Kundalini yoga under the guidance of knowledgeable instructors.

About this Author

Diane Ambrosini has been in the fitness and wellness field for more than 20 years. She has been a research kinesiologist, personal fitness trainer and yoga instructor. Ambrosini is a national and international presenter on fitness and yoga, and has been writing online articles since 2009. She earned her master\’s degree in biomechanics/kinesiology from San Diego State University.