The Ten Bodies of Kundalini yoga
As humans, we are very attached to our physical body. We identify with it. We consider it to be the expression of who we are, we think of ourselves in physical terms and rely greatly on physical anatomy to enhance our potential. We often label ourselves based on our morphology; thin, fat or chubby, and carry this definition almost like a label. When we feel unwell, we try to heal the physical symptoms our body manifests. That is quite a limiting way of considering our existence.
Like other Eastern traditions, yogic teachings point out that in addition to our physical anatomy, there are also more subtle, energetic structures to consider when it comes to understanding our existence, our strengths and imbalances. Those structures constitute our subtle anatomy and include our life force energy and the channels through which it circulates within us, as well as our chakra system or energy centres which relate to physical, emotional and energetic capacities.
In Kundalini yoga, Yogi Bhajan also taught another way of understanding the subtle anatomy, which he referred to as the Ten Bodies or Ten Light Bodies.
“If you understand that you are Ten Bodies, and you are aware of those Ten Bodies, and you keep them in balance, the whole Universe will be in balance with you.”
The Ten Bodies are powerful capacities of the psyche (the psyche refers to the totality of the human mind, conscious and unconscious). Each of the Ten Bodies has specific gifts that manifest when strong, and certain deficit tendencies that surface when weak. Yogi Bhajan explained that the root of all disease exists first in one of these spiritual or energy bodies before it manifests outwardly.
Therefore, by learning about the Ten Bodies, we can understand where some of our imbalances lie and work on strengthening the weak bodies to make ourselves healthier and happier.
To follow, I intend to give you an overview of what the Ten Bodies are and how they manifest when balanced or weak.
1st Body: the Soul Body
The first of the ten light bodies is your soul, your connection to your inner infinity. It is the foundation which connects you to your purpose and destiny.
When your Soul Body is in balance, you feel connected to your inner wisdom. Your intuition is strong, you are creative and come from a place of humility and understanding. Your heart rules over your head so you can trust and relax into the flow of life.
When your Soul Body is weak, you tend to come from your head instead of you heart. You over intellectualise and feel stuck, not able to access your creative flow.
Tip to strengthen the Soul Body: Practice heart opening exercises (yoga kriyas and/or meditations). Lead with your heart in general.
2nd Body: the Negative (protective) Mind
This is the part of your intellect which gives you discernment and allows you to set boundaries. It keeps you alive so although its name sounds negative, the Negative Mind is a good thing. The Negative Mind is often our stronger body and it is constantly working to assess our environment and situations for danger or negative potential.
When your Negative Mind is in balance, it warns you of potential dangers, keeps you safe and alive. It gives you patience to listen to your inner guidance.
When your Negative Mind is weak, you may be overprotective and do not take action because you fear the worst consequences. You may also be aware of the dangers but choose to ignore them. A weak Negative Mind can cause you to go into self-destructive relationships.
Tip to strengthen the Negative Mind: Practice discipline and integrity.
3rd Body: the Positive (expansive) Mind
This body serves to identify opportunities and see the positive essence of all situations. The Positive Mind gives you willpower and encouragement to take the necessary steps towards your destiny.
When your Positive Mind is in balance, you have a good sense of humour and sense of hope. You see the good in all and judge situations with honesty and clarity. Your communication is strong and direct. You meet your challenges with reverence.
When your Positive Mind is in weak, you might be over positive and ignore dangers or simply not consider the risks.
Tip to strengthen the Positive Mind: Strengthen your navel point through core work. Work on increasing your self-esteem.
4th Body: the Neutral Mind
The Neutral Mind evaluates the inputs from the Negative and the Positive minds and delivers neutral guidance to us. Your Neutral Mind brings you in alignment with your destiny.
When your Neutral Mind is in balance, it is meditative and gives you guidance form a place of intuition. It gives you the ability to recognise polarities (good vs. bad, right vs wrong etc).
When your Neutral Mind is weak, you have a hard time making decisions, obsessing over weighing the pros and cons. You’ll have the habit of being victimised by life because you don’t know how to integrate your experiences and find meaning in them.
Tip to strengthen the Neutral Mind: Meditate.
5th Body: the Physical Body
This body is the temple where all the other light bodies meet. The Physical Body allows you to experience life, balance yourself and fulfil your desires.
When your Physical Body is in balance, you have the strength to physically go for and sacrifice for your hopes and dreams. You can share your knowledge with others.
When your Physical Body is weak, there can be narcissism and too much concern with perfection of the physical body. You may be angry, greedy, jealous competitive. You inner and outer realities will be out of balance.
Tip to strengthen the Physical Body: Regular Exercise. Teach others, share what you have learned.
6th Body: the Arcline
You can visualise your Arcline as a line of energy, extending over your head from ear to ear. Women have a second Arcline in front of the body which extends from nipple to nipple. Your Arcline gives you your projecting power and your radiance. It is also a protective shield.
When your Arcline is in balance, you have the ability to focus, concentrate and meditate. Your projective power is strong helping you manifest what you want in life. You are less prone to aggressions and negative thoughts.
When your Arcline is weak you may be overprotective and easily influenced. You may be unfocused and unable to manifest your prayers.
Tip to strengthen the Arcline: Awaken the third eye, the pituitary gland; seat of your intuition.
7th Body: the Aura
The Aura is the electromagnetic field of energy that surrounds your Physical Body. Your Aura acts as a container for your life force energy, your prana, and is also a shield of protection. It extends up to 3 meters (9 feet) around the body.
When your Aura is in balance, it creates a sense of presence and charisma. It elevates you. It can attract positivity and repel negativity.
When your Aura is weak, you may be paranoid and lack self-trust, and negativity can penetrate into the psyche and into the physical body.
Tip to strengthen the Aura: Meditate. Wear white natural fibre clothing. White, which holds all the colours of the spectrum, is believed to expand and magnify your Aura.
8th Body: the Pranic Body
This body deals with the prana, the life force energy which comes with the breath. Through the breath, your Pranic Body continuously brings energy into your system.
When your Pranic Body is in balance and your breathing is deep and relaxed, nothing can bother you. This body gives you the energy and self-motivation necessary to take action and achieve your goals.
When your Pranic Body is weak you may have constant low-level anxiety and chronic fatigue. You may be fearful and defensive or try to get energy from food or stimulants.
Tip to strengthen the Pranic Body: All breathing exercise (pranayama) are beneficial.
9th Body: the Subtle Body
This body carries your Soul when you die. It allows you to see through the veil, beyond the immediate realities of life.
When your Subtle Body is in balance, you become subtle. You have great finesse and a powerful calmness. You learn quickly and master situations easily.
When your Subtle Body is weak you may be naïve and easily fooled, unintentionally crude or rough in your speech or behaviour. You may be restless. Because you lack the peace that comes from flowing with the way things are.
Tip to strengthen the Subtle Body: Develop mastery. One way to do so is to practice a Kundalini yoga kriya or meditation for 1,000 days.
10th Body: the Radiant Body
This body gives you radiance and courage. It allows you to act despite the fear.
When your Radiant Body is in balance, you are charismatic. You exert a magnetic presence and inspire respect. You give 110% to all that you do. You have authentic relationships with others and an overall well-balanced life.
When your Radiant Body is weak, you tend to have a ‘’my way or the high way’’ attitude. You may be afraid of conflict. You may shy away from other people’s attention, or feel ineffective and unable to come through in situations.
Tip to strengthen the Radiant Body: Have commitment. This could be commitment to your practice, to doing the right thing, to being true to you etc.
When all Ten Bodies are in balance, we reach embodiment, the 11th Body, the state where we are one with the Universe’s play.
Kundalini Yoga works to balance and activate the Ten Bodies. Each Kundalini yoga kriya (or yoga set) is complete in itself. A regular practice is a comprehensive way to work on all Ten Bodies at once, so if you haven’t already, do join a class and experience the balancing effects of Kundalini yoga. Click here to view my latest class schedule. If you are aware of a weakness or imbalance in one particular body, and you wish to focus on strengthening and balancing that body in particular, you can choose a meditation which works that particular body, or which uses a mantra associated with strengthening that aspect.
If you would like to learn more about Kundalini yoga, click here.
The illustration used in this post is extracted from the excellent book Enlightened Bodies, Exploring Physical and Subtle Human Anatomy by Nirmal Lumpkin and Japa Kaur Khalsa. The pearl in the center represents the “Soul Body” and the outer edge of Gold is the “Radiant Body”. The other Bodies are left open to interpretation through the mudras and movement cycling through the mandala.
Sources: 2010 KRI – The Aquarian Teacher KRI International Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training Textbook. 2015 KRI – Enlightened Bodies, Exploring Physical and Subtle Human Anatomy by Nirmal Lumpkin and Japa Kaur Khalsa. 2010 KRI The ten Light Bodies of Consciousness by Nirvair Singh Khalsa.