Advanced Yoga Practices
Note: For the Original
Internet Lessons with additions,
For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books,
Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.
Click here for Vata, Pitta and Kapha Diet Balancing Charts
Lesson 304 - Diet, Kundalini, and the Nectar Cycle (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
304.1 - Balancing Kundalini with Ayurveda Diet
(Charts Included) (Audio)
304.2 - Icy Sweetness in the Heart (Audio)
Discoloration of the Skin with Secretions of Oily Ojas and Vibhuti (Holy
Accumulation of Air in the Center (Audio)
Date: Feb 13, 2009
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
It should come as no surprise that a diet that is good for our health is also one that
that can be an aid to our spiritual progress.
Can diet be a primary spiritual practice? While some believe that all things can be solved
with diet, and go to great lengths to make it so with some extreme behaviors of eating or
non-eating, we have to be realistic and say that diet is an aid to spiritual development,
not a primary cause. If it were a primary means, the ancient Yoga Sutras would surely have
diet as one of the major limbs, and we would have many more enlightened diet enthusiasts
running around. In the Yoga Sutras, diet is, in fact, in the sub-limb of purity under the
niyamas (observances). In other words, we can't likely eat (or fast) our way to
enlightenment, but we can help things along considerably with diet if we are doing more
powerful spiritual practices like deep meditation, spinal breathing pranayama, asanas,
mudra, bandhas, etc. Then, diet can add another layer of purification and opening to
enhance the effectiveness of other practices and our overall progress.
It is often reported by those who are doing deep meditation and other spiritual practices,
that diet preferences shift naturally over time to be more light and nutritious
call from within (see Lesson 30). As our consciousness rises, so
will our awareness of healthy eating, as well as a natural urge to do so. And if we
don't feel the urge? Well then, let's not worry about it too much. All things in
their own time. Taking a forced approach to diet and lifestyle issues will not provide for
lasting results. It is pretty certain that a forced diet will be a failed diet in the long
run. So, work it from within with sound spiritual practices, and the external habits will
follow in time. "Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all will be added to
As we engage in our spiritual practices over months and years, we are gradually coaxing
our nervous system to move to a higher level of functioning. Many of the characteristics
of this are measurable in our neurobiology. And quite a few of the changes that are
occurring are directly observable. A complex process of purification and opening is
occurring in those who practice yogic methods.
There are two main aspects to our purification and opening, each with its own biological
--The Rise of Inner Silence - an abiding inner quietness, or stillness, that is
beyond our thoughts, feelings and the ups and downs of daily life. We come to know this as
--The Rise of Ecstatic Conductivity (Kundalini) in the Body
- sensations of
pleasurable energy moving within us, penetrating every aspect of our neurobiological
functioning. We come to know this as the "radiant aspect of our self."
While diet is not a primary cause of these changes in our inner functioning, it is a
participant in them.
As we find more abiding stillness within ourselves coming with daily deep meditation, we
will naturally be drawn to a lighter more nutritious diet.
Likewise, as the neurobiological changes associated with a stirring kundalini begin to
occur within us, our diet preferences may change. In addition, certain diet adjustments
may be helpful to aid us in navigating some of the excessive energy symptoms that can
occur as our inner experiences advance. The process of kundalini is famous for its many
symptoms, which can include sensations of heat or coolness in the body, prickly sensations
on the skin, surging emotions, physical vibrations or bodily movements, visions,
occasional dizziness or nausea, etc. Sometimes there can be some pain as inner energy
(prana) is moving through areas where there are remaining obstructions in our nervous
system. All of these symptoms eventually give way to much higher and enjoyable
Depending on the pattern of inner obstructions in our nervous system and the degree of
prudence we exercise in self-pacing our practices, we may experience little in the way of
uncomfortable symptoms - just steadily increasing ecstasy and bliss, which can bring
its own challenges (distractions from stable practice). Regardless, when kundalini becomes
active, a good knowledge of yoga practices and the methods of regulating them will pay off
in a big way. For those who experience an unmanaged kundalini awakening without knowledge
of the particulars involved, it can be a challenging experience, lasting sometimes for
Once the kundalini process has begun within us, it can be managed by self-pacing our
practices in ways that maintain good progress with reasonable comfort. It is a long term
transformation we are engaged in, leading to a permanent condition of abiding inner
silence, ecstatic bliss, and divine love radiating naturally outward from within us in all
that we do in daily life.
Digestion is at the center of the kundalini process and many of its associated symptoms.
So it stands to reason that diet has a role to play. And the role of diet will not always
be the same, depending where we are on our path. To understand this better, let's
look at the process occurring in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract in a person who has an
active kundalini, and how this relates to diet.
While there are many aspects to the functioning of kundalini, both physical and
non-physical, we will focus on the physical here, as far as we can go with it. For the
purpose of this discussion, we will take the view that spiritual experience rises from
neurobiological processes occurring in our body. There are more mystical ways of looking
at it, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is the same process occurring, no matter
how we choose to describe it. When we are reviewing the effects of diet (and shatkarmas
and amaroli in upcoming lessons) looking at the biology can be helpful, as far as we can
trace it with direct perception. There is little doubt that modern science will be taking
a much closer look at the neurobiology of kundalini in the years and decades to come. It
is the next great frontier of scientific exploration - the causes and effects of
human spiritual transformation!
Kundalini is traditionally viewed as the awakening of a vast latent energy located near
the base of the spine, which rises up the spine to the head. There, a union occurs between
the rising energy and stillness, with the energy being feminine (shakti) and the stillness
being masculine (shiva).
When we look at the experiential neurobiology of this, a few more components can be added,
which are consistent with the metaphors found in many of the world's scriptures,
including the more direct descriptions found in Indian Yoga and Chinese Taoism.
When there is sufficient inner silence present via the daily practice of deep meditation,
and then the breath and body are brought into the process via spinal breathing pranayama,
asanas, mudras, bandhas, and tantric sexual methods, we will notice three things
1. An expansion of sexual energy from the pelvic region upward, with part finding its way
into the GI tract.
2. The natural retention of air in the GI tract.
3. The interaction of food with the sexual essences and air in the GI tract.
The natural combination of these three elements in the digestive system through an
emerging higher form of digestion gives rise to a new substance emanating from the GI
tract, which permeates the entire body. Much of this penetration occurs as this substance
enters the spinal canal and rises up through the chest cavity to the head. The highly
penetrating and sometimes intoxicating substance produced in the GI tract has been given
many names. A name prevalent in yoga is soma. The word soma also refers to a
hallucinogenic plant, which is not what we are talking about here. In Taoism, the GI
tract, when engaged in this higher functioning, is called the caldron, recognizing the
alchemy that is occurring there - three ordinary substances (sexual essence, air, and
food) being combined to create an extraordinary substance that is a key to the process of
human spiritual transformation.
The process continues in the head, with further refinements occurring in the brain, which
lead to another substance being secreted through the sinuses, down through the inside
nasal passages, into the throat and then down into the GI tract again, where it joins in
the process already described. This recycling of subtle essences leads to even more
refined processing in the GI tract. The substance coming down from the brain into the GI
tract is referred to as amrita (nectar) in the yoga tradition. It can sometimes be
experienced as a sweet aroma in the nasal passages and sweet taste in the mouth.
The overall experience of this combining and transformation of substances, and the
recycling of the resulting essences leads to large flows of ecstatic pleasure throughout
the body, and the radiation of energy beyond the body. This is why those who are advancing
in spiritual practices are sometimes said to be radiant. There is a specific neurobiology
behind it. In yogic terms, the body-wide radiance of ecstatic energy indicates the rise of
the mythical quality of ojas, which is a greatly enhanced manifestation of vitality that
is easily noticed by others.
If we begin to understand that such a process really exists and, better yet, begin to
experience aspects of it within ourselves as a result of our daily practices, then we are
able to look at diet from an entirely new angle. And we can also see an increasing
relevance of shatkarmas (cleansing techniques) and amaroli (urine therapy). All of these
methods are aimed at enhancing and optimizing the process just described.
As mentioned earlier, diet is not a core practice in yoga, but an important supporting
element. If we look at this that way, we can see how our cooperation with inner urges
relating to diet can enhance the overall process that is occurring on the road to
The higher form of digestion described above can generate a lot of heat in the GI tract,
radiating out to fill the whole body. It is sometimes referred to as the kundalini fire.
When the fires are burning, it can be beneficial to eat heavier foods more often. Then the
fire (intense digestive activity) can be used to consume the substances in our GI tract in
a more regulated way to produce more soma, rather than frying us from the inside, which is
the sensation we can get sometimes if eating too lightly when energy is surging within us.
It is also possible to quench the inner fires and related inner energy imbalances with
application of the diet methods of Ayurveda, which take into account our bodily
constitution and inner energy flows, and how certain foods can either aggravate or pacify
these (see Lesson 69).
To keep it as simple as possible, we just listen to what we are being called to do from
within with respect to our diet, and in other aspects of our daily activity. When we are
engaged in daily deep meditation, we may feel inclined to eat a lighter diet. And when our
kundalini becomes active, we may feel inclined to eat a heavier diet at times, and a
lighter diet at other times. It will depend on the energy dynamics occurring within us,
and the process of purification and opening that is underway.
We learn to become good listeners to the inner voice of our neurobiology as we travel the
road to enlightenment.
The guru is in you.
Click here for
instructions on how to help balance Kundalini with an Ayurvedic Diet.
Related Lessons Topic Path
Related Lessons Topic Path
Cycle Related Lessons Topic
Discuss this Lesson in the AYP Plus Support Forum
detailed discussion on
yogic diet, kundalini and the nectar cycle, see the
Diet, Shatkarmas and Amaroli
and AYP Plus.