Yoga's Ancient Roots
Uncovering the original practices of Kuṇḍalinī-based Haṭha Yoga
For nearly a decade I have researched the roots and evolution of Tantric Yoga, drawing from a collection of hundreds of Tantric texts and manuscripts, the vast majority of which remain unpublished. This work culminates in an academic dissertation titled ‘Tantric Origins of Kuṇḍalinī and Haṭha Yoga' (Fall 2017).
Yogavidhi - What’s in a Name?
In the earliest tantras, the term vidhi means regimen, referring to a ritualized sequence of mantra-based yoga practices. The Yogavidhi of the Tantras was prescribed as a daily practice of sequenced techniques meant to engage the subtle energies (śhaktis) that sustain the body. The goal is drawing them into a single point of concentration comprised of pure sonic energy, known as Kuṇḍalinī Śhakti (the coiled power).
The core practice of Tantric Yogavidhi thus became known as Kuṇḍalinīyoga, the ‘application of the Coiled’ Power, one which was never ‘dormant’ or ‘asleep’ at the base of the body. This ‘coiled power’ is universally capable of breaking through all emotional, physical and mental blockages that keep human beings in bondage. The techniques comprising the Yogavidhi sequence were performed on three levels – mentally (mānasā), vocally (vācikā) and physically (kāyikā), all of which were meant to manifest and engage Kuṇḍalinī in the body.
The ultimate goal of this Yoga was to incite a complete immersion (samaveśha) into the source Self. This was celebrated by Tantric Masters as the liberated state (mokṣha), one comprised of being (sat), consciousness (chit) and bliss (ānanda).
My work brings an understanding to the science imbued within this pan-tantric Yogavidhi, including the sequence (vinyāsa) of techniques crucial to its performance, later omitted from the haṭha-based texts known to the West, all of which claim to represent the ‘Kuṇḍalinī-based Yoga of the Tantras.’
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Christopher P. Tompkins is a scholar of the ancient Sanskrit language. His groundbreaking research and translations illuminate the unknown origins of Hatha Yoga.