The word shakti means ‘energy’, ‘prana’ or ‘kundalini’; the word chalini means ‘to move’ or ‘to conduct’. This kriya can therefore be called ‘the conduction of prana’ or ‘the awakening of the kundalini’. It is the eleventh kriya, the second of the dharana (concentration) group of practices and should be practised immediately after naumukhi.
Shakti chalini is widely mentioned in yogic scriptures. It is well described in the Yoga Chudamani Upanishad (verses 107-108), Gherand Samhita (3:44-50) and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (3:104-120). All the descriptions, however, are different; the same name, ‘shakti chalini’, is used for different techniques. Furthermore, none of these techniques resemble the practice of shakti chalini that is used in kriya yoga. If you are interested, we suggest that you look up these references for yourself. However, we will give a few quotations from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika: “The kundalini is coiled and shaped like a snake. When the shakti moves then there is realization. Of this there is no doubt.” (3:108) This verse indicates the importance of awakening the kundalini (shakti) using such methods as shakti chalini. However, there must be mental balance in one’s being:
“The balaranda (kundalini) lies midway between the Ganges (ida) and Yamuna (pingala). When it moves one attains the abode of Lord Vishnu (illumination).” (3:109) This verse emphasizes that the kundalini will not awaken unless the ida and pingala are balanced. We suggest that you refer back to our previous discussion ‘The Balance of Life’5. Without this balance the kundalini will never awaken even if you practise shakti chalini or any other yogic technique for the next twenty years.
To practise shakti chalini you should know the following techniques:
- Khechari mudra
- Ujjayi pranayama
- Shanmukhi mudra
The position of the fingers and hands for shanmukhi mudra is illustrated in figure 3.