David-Neel, Alexandra - Kundalini and the symbolism of 'breathing'
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Immortality and Reincarnation – Alexandra David-Neel
It is said that six months of these daily exercises are the minimum necessary toward achieving satisfactory results. The yogi who has perfected it and is capable of remaining, even for only a half a minute, with his tongue twisted around while holding his breath is, we are assured, freed from illness, old age, and even death. Another result of this exercise is depicted in the following extract:
"Once the yogi has sealed the opening of the windpipe, his semen will not escape, even when he is tightly clasped in the arms of a young and passionate woman."
Let's note that the retention of seminal fluid, like that for the breath, figures among the means that are judged suitable for increasing longevity, if not even capable of leading to immortality. The masters who teach Hatha Yoga believe that it is through the loss of semen, as with breath, that man's vital substance escapes. The candidate for immortality is therefore compelled to conserve both of these within in order to feed from them. To this effect a complicated system of various practices concerning sexual union has been elaborated.
Among these is the practice that aims to increase the sum of energy contained in the semen and to cause it to rise along the nadis until it reaches the vital center located at the crown of the head, just as it is claimed 'air' can be made to rise through 'breath' retention in the practice of pranayama.
Hatha Yoga doesn't fail to turn its attention to Kundalini, the energy (shakti) that sleeps, like a coiled serpent, in the lower vital center located beneath the belly. Numerous methods are indicated for awakening this energy, "to make the serpent uncoil," and force it to raise itself through the mystical veins to the ever sought objective of the superior center located at the crown of the head.
It is recommended that the bizarre techniques presented in the treatises of HathaYoga are not taken too much at face value. A great many of them are presented in symbolic and figurative terms that are only intelligible to the initiate. According to these adepts, a number of the methods that appear to the profane as applicable to the body in reality concern a mental or spiritual activity and the objects mentioned are completely different from those that bear the same names in ordinary Ianguage.