This article based on the book Layayoga: The Definitive Guide to the Chakras and Kundalini by Shyam Sundar Gowsami.
Shyam Sundar Goswami, who was an adept of Laya Yoga (Kundalini Yoga), sifted through no fewer than 282 Sanskrit texts to gather all the relevant information about the process of absorption (Laya-Krama) into one volume.
I would strongly suggest you buy the book and read it not just for the forewords, but also for the excellent work done by Shyam Sundar Gowsami to compile his life’s understanding and practice of Laya Yoga (Kundalini Yoga) into such a wonderful book.
The information locked away in the Sanskrit scriptures and present here comprehensively for the first time is based on actual yogic experimentation and realisation, which makes Shyam Sundar Goswami’s compilation an extremely valuable gift to genuine Yoga practitioners.
I would like to commend the publisher for reissuing this book, which has been out of print for many years.
Extracts from the book foreword by Acharaya Karunamoya Saraswati
The author is a renowned teacher of Yoga, whose work is based not only on his lifelong study and practice yoga, but also on direct instruction by advanced layayogis.
Acharaya Karunamoya Saraswati
Tantra, or Tantrism, is a spiritual tradition that crystallised in the opening centuries of the first millennium CE and reached its zenith around 1000 CE.
It represents a remarkable synthesis and understands itself as the teaching for the present age of darkness (kali-yuga).
Among its central tenets is the notion that the body is not, as taught by more ascetical schools, an obstacle to the path of enlightenment.
Rather, it is a manifestation of the Ultimate Reality and hence must be fully integrated into one’s spiritual aspirations.
The early Tantric adepts (Siddhas)developed an approach that is body-positive and epitomized in the concept of “body cultivation” or kaya-sadhana, which in due course led to the creation of Hathayoga with its many purificatory practices(sadhana), postures(asana), and techniques of breath control(pranayama).
The purpose of these practices is not merely to attain physical fitness and mental health, but primarily to awaken the body’s dormant psycho-spiritual power called Kundalini-Shakti.
When this power, which is a form of conscious energy, is fully aroused, it begins to transform the body.
This alchemical process of transmutation of the very constituents of the body is the domain of Laya Yoga.
Laya refers to the absorption of the elements(tattva) constituting the body, which occurs when the kundalini power rises from the psychoenergetic center(cakra) at the base of the spine toward the center at the crown of the head.
In its ascent along the spinal axis, it must pierce a series of psychoenergetic centers(cakras), each of which relates to specific psychosomatic functions and also to anatomical structures.
This induces a deepening state of mental concentration and conscious lucidity, but at the same time decreases physical animation.
Thus the outside observer would notice a drastic decrease in metabolism and spontaneous suspension of breathing.
In a way, the ascent of kundalini amounts to a consciously undergone death process.
If the yogin remains long enough in this state of suspended animation, the body simply dies.
But that is not the intended outcome of Tantra. Rather the successful practitioner of Tantrayoga must next skillfully guide the kundalini from the crown center back to its home at the base of the spine.
This restores all bodily functions, yet brings a new element into play: the gradual suffusion of the body with consciousness.
For the Tantric adept, enlightenment is nothing until it includes the body.
Thus the delicate process of Laya Yoga is designed to bring enlightenment down to earth, into the body – a quite literally breathtaking adventure.