Kundalini Yoga was first taught publicly in the late 1960s, at the height of hippie counterculture in the United States. Many first generation practitioners found Kundalini Yoga after experimenting with drugs to alter consciousness.
Today, we see a social landscape still permeated by alcohol, marijuana, and recreational drug use. Confronted with stress, fatigue, burnout, and information overload, many people turn to recreational drugs to escape the pressure of the times. Others turn to medicinal and ceremonial drugs (such as psilocybin and ayahuasca) for self-knowledge and spiritual insight.
Kundalini Yoga offers an alternate path. The oxygenating breathwork, activating kriyas, and meditative practices equip the practitioner with a toolkit to experience the Self. The Kundalini Yogi is empowered—not to escape reality, but to transcend the perceived limitations of the physical realm and eventually integrate that awareness.
Whether discussing a marijuana high, a DMT trip, or a Kundalini awakening, we’re talking about the same major players: the thalamus, the pituitary, and the pineal glands. The difference is whether the experience comes about through will, divine intervention, or by external substance. The yogi knows that the strongest mood and perception-altering drugs are already inside us. We produce them in our own internal biotech factory—our bodies!
The Kundalini Yoga practitioner learns to access these endogenous chemicals through use of the breath, body, and mind. Most practitioners find the experience of Kundalini Yoga to be what they were actually after, and so the attachment to recreational drugs (if there was one) weakens on its own. Should someone take up the path of ceremonial drug-use, it should be kept separate from their yoga practice.
The combination of Kundalini Yoga with recreational drugs can produce unpredictable results. It is not recommended to practice Kundalini Yoga while under the influence, nor should you allow a student to practice if you know that they are under the influence at that time.
Generally speaking, drugs interrupt the natural flow of energy in the body, and put strain on the nervous system to compensate. Further, the drug-induced high, combined with the activating energies of Kundalini yoga, can be unpredictable—even dangerous.
And then there are the side effects of the drugs themselves. Stimulants like amphetamines or cocaine prevent the parasympathetic nervous system from doing its job. Marijuana, while nature-made and more benign, also affects the functioning of the brain. It interferes with spinal fluid circulation. It also lowers testosterone levels and reduces neural connectivity in areas affecting memory and motivation.
Regular Kundalini Yoga practice can remedy the damage done to the brain and nervous system from long term drug use. It’s never too late to make empowered, healthy choices and to tend to the mind, heart, and body. Let this be not from a place of guilt, shame or obligation, but in divine time and from a place of self love!
“When you feel the urge for a stimulant, take seven long deep breaths, holding each inhalation to the maximum. Or do Breath of Fire. It is the most powerful remedy! If you do a half-hour of Breath of Fire every day, there are a lot of troubles that you can keep miles away.”
-Shakti Parwha Kaur