I have been working on this question in my clinical practice since long ago. In my regard, the integration of KY needs an objective consideration in the clinical setting that concerns us as yoga therapists.
Telling a little about my experience as a trained teacher, the KY (KRI) was my second yoga training after traditional hatha yoga and I decided to stay in the field traveling around the world with my IPod and white clothes, learning, being trained and teaching regular classes and workshops for several years.
And it was precisely because this method changed my life. It got me out of very embedded patterns of behaviour and thinking, an evolution of my Self after ten years of psychotherapy. The changes that can be achieved with a « tantric methodology » are abysmal compared to what we usually achieve with Traditional Hatha Yoga. That is my experience. But I held this appreciation UNTIL I began my training as a yoga therapist in India, where I started to question and deconstruct what I had been taught. From that precise moment until today, exactly 14 years have passed. It was like turning the page of the book of my life.
The first thing I must say is that I have learned that from a clinical point of view, you have to be quite objective to use these techniques. In my internship as a student I saw that we can apply certain KY protocols (some that have already been published and others that I have created) for CERTAIN pathologies, physical or mental, with great success. And I have repeated this application even with some « complex » patients; and there you have to know how to define the complexity of the patient’s case before applying these protocols.
Once in a KY second level training before the pandemic, a very young teacher approached me and told me very enthusiastically that he thought it was great that I applied EVERYTHING that the Kundalinis teach us to my patients. I frowned and I said.. « Mmm it’s not like that…, the patients who come to yoga therapy are usually chronically ill.. they are not there to learn this.. they are there to heal and I must work together with a diagnosis and perhaps medical treatment.«
So, for many patients I only use techniques that are not part of these teachings, because it is simply not necessary.
And this is when I totally disagree in believing that the Kundalini series that we have been given in the training manuals work as magical recipes for this or that symptom or illness.
I also share with you that all this time I have witnessed similar experiences, in which the instructors give vague answers and without scientific criteria after using some difficult techniques (breath of fire or arms up) all the time during a 3 hour workshop; in my opinion that’s not appropriate, and there is no scientific evidence of the benefits of these exercises.
The second aspect of my learning, and to which I have seen many « anti-science teachers react », is that sometimes we can avoid talking about “energy” with our patients. We can talk about energy levels on a “fatigue” context. But for the rest, we can leave aside the inner experience about « energy » and « super consciousness. » (a term I really like from Ken Wilber). We can open the subject once the patient asks with curiosity or is ready to hear something about this.
Again, in a clinical setting these concepts can help us to provide psycho-education to patients, and we will also have to be quite careful in trying to first know the patient’s level of consciousness and understanding.
Where I live (France) the terms and concepts of energy and spirituality are not openly accepted or understood. Thanks to this situation, I have had to change my thinking chip and beliefs when it comes to applying KY to Yoga Therapy. It is definitely not for everyone and it can harm those who do not align with the effects of the techniques, even more inside a clinical context.
With this critical thinking I began to study in depth what the creator of this branch of yoga said, compare it with the academic discourse and also with what the yogic scriptures teach us and I have found MANY errors and contradictions that give rise to perhaps having a long debate on this regard.
It is not a complex thing, it is just confusing for those who have not developed critical thinking.
Well, seeing and verifying afterwards what the KY techniques do with the nervous system (in long meditations, in tantras, etc.) is enough material to consider it to work in a properly framed and serious clinical practice.
That does not mean that we should not consider the concept of energy in our practice. I integrate it into my work, but it is not the main focus of my intervention at first instance and I do not promise the patient that I will help her/him raise his « creative energy and infinite » so that she/he is healed.
These things may happen with the patient’s disciplined and dedicated practice, and we will be able to see the results throughout the treatment and through the changes that the patient himself manages to make.
This is how a large majority of my patients have been able to attain some sort of “self-realisation” and to “resolve” some of their most important somatic symptoms.
Mona Villacres, MPhil
Clinical Psychologist and Yoga Therapist
Specialised in Yoga Psychology, Somatic Trauma Therapy and EMDR