In the classic methods known as Kundalini Yoga, and more generally in traditional yogic practices that seek to open and energize the subtle energy centers, or chakras, the experience is described as one of the energy starting at the lower chakra center, the Muladhara, and then rising up until it joins with the chakra at the crown of the head.

For practitioners of the integral Yoga, however, this process is reversed. Once the connection is made to the higher spiritual planes above the head, either through the opening provided by the psychic being coming forward, or through a direct connection to higher mental and overmental planes through an opening that begins with the harnessing of the mind, the experience is one in which the force is felt to descend from the higher into the lower centres. In many cases this starts out as a feeling of deep peace as the mind widens under the influence of the Force. As the higher chakras open and reveal their powers, the Force descends farther and adjusts the response of the emotional and vital centres and eventually even the physical.

For those who practice a yoga aimed at liberation from the world and its activities, there is simply an ascent to these higher planes and no corresponding descent is experienced, since those individuals have more or less abandoned the framework of the outer life. For the integral Yoga, however, the Force begins a process of adjustment, transformation and adaptation to make the instruments more in tune with the methods, powers and intentions of that higher Force and to thereby bring about a new action, a new level of perfection in action, and a new instrumentation as previously closed off capacities begin to emerge under the action of this force.

The advantage of this method is that the higher Force works to maintain both a balance and a level of insight and understanding that does not always come with the uprising of the Kundalini energy from below. This helps mitigate the chance of some turbid uprising of lower vital impulses without any check or obstacle placed in their way.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “When the Peace is established, this higher or Divine Force from above can descend and work in us. It descends usually first into the head and liberates the inner mind centres, then into the heart centre and liberates fully the psychic and emotional being, then into the navel and other vital centres and liberates the inner vital, then into the Muladhara and below and liberates the inner physical being. It works at the same time for perfection as well as liberation; it takes up the whole nature part by part and deals with it, rejecting what has to be rejected, sublimating what has to be sublimated, creating what has to be created. It integrates, harmonises, establishes a new rhythm in the nature. It can bring down too a higher and yet higher force and range of the higher nature until, if that be the aim of the sadhana, it becomes possible to bring down the supramental force and existence. All this is prepared, assisted, farthered by the work of the psychic being in the heart centre; the more it is open, in front, active, the quicker, safer, easier the working of the Force can be. The more love and bhakti and surrender grow in the heart, the more rapid and perfect becomes the evolution of the sadhana. For the descent and transformation imply at the same time an increasing contact and union with the Divine.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.