Hindus gave a lot importance to the spine. The spine links the segments of the body and makes it possible for the central nervous system to coordinate gestures with thought. The spine is the axis of all the postures. A yogi’s spinal column can be as strong as a tree trunk and as flexible as a snake. They have developed highly effective massages of the spinal column, and hatha yoga always takes into account the interests of the spinal column. Because of its key function, yogis have situated the power that can animate the body and coordinate its segments at the base of the spine. They call this force the kundalini. It is an affirmative and sexual force, which leads to a form of sexual arousal mobilized by tantric yoga. To feel one’s kundalini is to feel a powerful, warm, and agreeable current rise up the spinal column from the coccyx to the crown of the head. This form of arousal is deemed so powerful that it can activate an involuntary movement of the spinal column that undulates like a snake. This movement of the spine engages the entire body in a global movement that goes from the feet to the head and activates a trance state. The body acquires an autonomic dynamic that mobilizes the resources of the organism independent of volition. The follower needs the containment of a group and a master to maintain a certain mastery over what is happening. At the beginning of a tantric process, the kundalini is like a sleeping serpent, wrapped around itself in the coccyx.43 This notion is included today in a more or less central fashion in the teachings of the majority of the schools of yoga.
Body psychotherapists know well the sensation of warmth that rises up the back when a patient rocks back and forth many times on his bottom, sensing the movement of the spine. This phenomenon is close to Wilhelm Reich’s Vegetotherapy method to elicit an orgasmic reflex. One’s gaze becomes clearer and one’s back more tonic while more relaxed. Thus, body psychotherapies often use the term kundalini to describe this phenomenon because they do not have a better one.
The model of the chakras is also used by many schools of body psychotherapy.44 It is a model built on the centers of every segment of the body coordinated by the kundalini. The flow of the kundalini must pass through a number of psychoorganic doorsâ before being able to freely circulate the length of the spine and set the organism in an ecstatic trance. These doors, which are often closed when a student begins his yoga practice, are called chakras. According to many authors, these chakras are represented by wheels or flowers situated on the back, superimposed on the spinal column, or on the front of the body, parallel to the spine. We are thus very much in a segmental approach to the body because the front and the back of the body are linked to a chakra. The number of these wheels and their symbolism varies. Iyengar prudently mentions ten principal chakras.45 The most often mentioned are the following:
1. The muladhara chakra, situated above the anus for the pelvis, associated to the idea of rootedness and source of the kundalini.
2. The svadhisthana chakra, situated above the genitals, associated with the vital energy and the soul.
3. The mana chakra, situated above the navel, associated with thought.
4. The surya chakra, situated at the solar plexus, associated with the sun.
5. The anahata chakra, situated in the region of the heart, associated with the heart (as organ and as openness to others).
6. The visuddha chakra, situated in the larynx, associated with purity.
7. The ajana chakra, situated between the eyes (the famous third eye), associated with mastery.
8. The sahasraha chakra, also called the lotus of a million leaves, is situated in the cerebral cavity.