Kundalini Yoga for Beginners
We are what we eat! Isn't that statement true literally?!
When you are in the process of your Kundalini Kriya certain physiological changes occur in the body, particularly in the digestive system, and hunger may vanish completely. It's obvious that Kundalini energy is enticing you to live without food. One shouldn't be fooled by this: it is a regression to being a child, where the child is so full of nervous energy that she/he doesn't even remember to eat! Therefore, a Kundalini aspirant has to be very careful about his diet and make it a part of his practice.
Scientific observations have shown that the awakening of Kundalini is generally accompanied by a state of nervous depression. This is not depression in the sense of a psycho-pathological state, but a form of deep relaxation. During this time simple foods are suggested: foods that don't strain the digestive system. Soups and other easy-to-digest dishes are highly recommended. Needless to say, fatty and greasy foods should be avoided and protein should be kept to a minimum.
Boiled foods are highly recommended but there is no need to torture yourself! Some tribal dishes in Shillong are nothing more than boiled food but they are prepared in such a manner that they are irresistible. This shouldn't come as a surprise because spicy and fatty food create such disturbances that any kind of meditation (Kundalini meditation or otherwise) would probably full of burps and farts!
Many Yogis say that some foods are not for human consumption. Sadly that is quite untrue since humans are omnivorous, but that doesn't mean that we prescribe for ourselves healthy and happy food. However, it is true that humans shouldn't have uncooked food. No matter how much you like your rare steak or how many Yogis recommend raw vegetables, please cook your food and cook it well!
Carnivorous animals have short intestines so their food can be expelled quickly, but we have long intestines that actually shorten if we have a predominantly meat-based diet. Longer digestion implies longer periods of not eating which gives us that much time to do other things. Else we will be eating every 4 hours! It's only in this context that simple, well-cooked vegetarian or vegan food is recommended. Of course, we can see from Western mystics (Jesus Christ) and even Tibetan monks that Kundalini can be awakened even if you have a meat-based diet.
Similar to the Tattvas, every food item has an essence in it, and in Yoga, this is called 'sattva' or the subtle form of food. When you eat for the sake of taste or enjoyment, instead of attaining the sattva you only get the gross flavors. I would like to go back to the simple, boiled tribal food which brings out the sattva of the food. Mystics of all traditions all over the world appear to have lived on the minimum possible food during periods of practice (Kundalini Yoga Kriya).
When we overeat... burps and farts! Need I say more! Thus, every Kundalini Yoga practice must achieve a balance between not eating at all and overeating.
Sattvic food also nourishes the thoughts and nervous system. Additionally, condiments such as coriander, turmeric, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, and the like aid digestion. Keep it simple and don't be stupid about food. A simple, balanced diet that nourishes and comforts you is the best diet. Yoga and diet are not independent of each other. All systems of Yoga have analyzed and documented the effect of food on the body, the mind, and the spirit. Not only are we what we eat but also spiritually happy when we eat great food. In this context, many cleansing exercises - and even breathing exercises - can make you enjoy food more.
From personal experience, I can say that just one breathing exercise ensured that I cut down on my coffee (from two cups a day to one). Regular practice of shankhaprakshalana (a cleansing exercise) ensured that I couldn't eat too many red peppers. Some ethnic communities don't consume garlic, onions, or potatoes. They have even adopted these tantric practices from a religious perspective and go to the extent of labeling them non-vegetarian! This shouldn't come as a surprise because on many occasions (when I was in the US), I was told that chicken is "perfectly vegetarian."
Similarly, many Yogis can consume cheese, raw vegetables, and fibrous fruits because they have a high BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate) but in Kundalini awakening, the metabolism becomes slow and you have to be very careful about your diet. I experimented a lot with food - from being a pure non-vegetarian to being a vegan - and realized that ay extreme causes a disturbance that is not conducive to any spiritual practice.
One specific tantric breathing technique generates heat energy in the body and stimulates all the systems. Exhale and inhale in a specific manner and you will overcome hunger. This satiation of hunger can last for a couple of hours but some idiots have taken this to extremes calling themselves Breatharians! They claim to survive without food for days eating a little perhaps every week.
If you need to be told - without realizing it on your own - that this is insane, then you need a psychiatrist, not a guru! But if you have been practicing Hatha yoga and meditation, you will be fine. When the body is completely cleansed, and the mind has been calmed, and the breath has been controlled through pranayama, your craving will become positive. Your body will communicate to you and expect simple food which in turn will ensure a safe form of Kundalini awakening.
Don't be in a hurry! And don't be disorganized about your practice. This is perhaps the greatest event in any human being's life - especially in the life of a yogi or yogini. The aim is not to complete the 100-meter dash but to enjoy the marathon. The goal is to establish communication with one's own body and one's higher consciousness.
Kundalini practices are certainly no more dangerous than many of the activities people engage in for the sake of thrills (think bungee jumping), sport (ice hockey anyone?), or altered states of consciousness (alcohol, pot, coke, meth...) Kundalini yoga has its own inbuilt safety mechanisms, one of the simplest being reverting temporarily back to the previous way of living. If you are an overly sensitive or introverted person, then it implies that you have not purified your mind. Go back and follow the system to ensure that you will not be overwhelmed by the changes that the awakening is causing. And very soon, you will be back on the path.
Most often it is the digestive system that is affected which when properly identified as a problem is easily resolved by controlling the food you eat. It's really as simple as that.
By exploring your unconscious and releasing suppressed thoughts you will have some repercussions in your conscious thoughts. This is normals and is akin to dealing with an emotional issue. During these occasions, it is best to talk to your Guru or Tantric Guide. You may even have hallucinations which are a common reaction due to hunger or insomnia or both. Your teacher will guide you in identifying these problems (during your daily practice) and resolving them leading to a rejuvenated mental clarity.
Kundalini practice is easy but what's easy to do is also quite easy not to do. When you start your practice, you will learn how to coax your physical body with your mental faculties. Slowly, the coaxing will be reversed wherein your body will guide your mind and into the discipline in the same way as your body tells you when your hungry or thirsty.
This is the consciousness of one's self in its entirety: body and mind. When you achieve this unity, you will experience your spirit. The spirit is independent of religiosity which is why you can be spiritual without being religious. In that same context, you can be mystical and even enter the domain of the occult without having anything to do with any kind of religion.
When your consciousness is light and clear, it can penetrate into the unconscious at will - just like when you know that you are dreaming and take control of the dream.