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Sahaja yoga is a meditative spiritual practice founded by the yogi Shri Mataji Nirmala in 1970. The technique, which traces its roots back to the 15th century yogi and mystic Kabir, is said to awaken Kundalini, the force of divine love, in an individual’s body, and in turn, incorporate the invoked presence into everyday life. The process is said to increase self-awareness, and the ultimate goal is a state of blissful mental silence and thoughtless awareness, Nirvichar Samadhi. The organization Vishnu Nirmala Dharma, overseen by Shri Mata Nirmala, has sahaja yoga centers in over 100 countries worldwide, where it oversees the building of schools, retreat centers, and various other institutions.
The word sahaja means “born with,” and yoga means “union or yoking” in Sanskrit. Nirmala started the movement in India and then moved it to be headquartered in England, where she relocated in 1974. Practitioners believe everyone is born with dormant Kundalini energy that can be awakened spontaneously, thus uniting the individual with the godhead.
This type of yoga is considered by some to be the most difficult form because there is no static set of practices, or asanas, that can be practiced to achieve enlightenment. Practitioners can merely ask for the divine presence to come into their bodies and then receive it in faith. Advanced teaching is withheld from individuals practicing sahaja yoga until they have attained the divine presence. It is recommended that seekers treat sahaja yoga as a scientific hypothesis, and then when individual experimentation proves the practice to be adequate, accept it as divine truth.
Proponents of sahaja yoga say Kundalini awakening is more accessible to the average person living today because humankind’s mass consciousness is changing to become more receptive to the change, which Shri Mataji says is the next logical step in the evolution of mankind. The yoga technique relies on the concept of a seven-chakra system that functions as a conduit for the Kundalini energy. During practice, individuals will often claim to feel a cool breeze on the top of their heads, the crown chakra, and in their hands, where other minor-release chakras are located, which is thought to be a physical manifestation of Kundalini. As the divine energy progresses up the energy system, it is believed to repair any imbalances or injury to specific chakras. As the chakras are healed and cleared, disease and emotional instability are thought to disappear, and the person becomes more aware of the nature of reality.