How My Kundalini Yoga Practice Began
More often than not these days, the road is my home. For over a year I waited for my Austin-based Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training to start. Houston didn’t offer its teacher training at the time, and having already squandered one $500 deposit on a training for a competing style, the three hour drive, bi-monthly dog boardings, and Priceline hotel stays were all small prices to pay for mastery in the mystical study of Kundalini.
Kia Miller’s strangely pleasing YogaGlo videos had been my first exposure to the style, but it was when I first set foot in the Houston Ram Das Ashram that I knew I was onto something. I had been to Pralaya, Yoga Collective, and heard tales of Lulu-clad fitness herds wafting in and out of Joy and Big Yoga, so when I pulled up to the 1920s two story one day, I straightened my spine, and entered the room as though I was no foreigner to the yoga-jam. I knew yoga, and I could hack it anywhere. Only to realize that Kundalini and its students are quite uniquely gentle, and softly special.
The old house was lit only by sunlight pouring in the white dressed windows, and thick, pristine, green carpet was covered wall to wall in bright, white flannel sheets. The room was calm, and the faces were kind and welcoming. I nearly forgot that day to check my ego at the door, a practice I would come to learn as Kundalini became a regular player in my life.
We chanted in strange languages, used blankets and pillows instead of mats, and our radiant little teacher, Satmitar, a student of Yogi Bhajan, the Kundalini Yoga Master himself, smiled with warmth and love. She never came over to tell me I was doing anything wrong, or even left her tiny platform to correct anyone’s form, or posture. Later she would unleash a flood of relaxation within me as she let loose her meditative powers pounding away on a 32″ gong as we lie in shavasana.
Every weekend that the Ashram hosted a workshop, I was there. My work schedule rarely allowed for weekday classes, but on the weekends, I blissed out and furthered my studies of this esoteric style of yoga. It wasn’t long before I was ravenous to begin the my teacher training. I loved the practice, and just attending classes when I could wasn’t enough. Kundalini had changed me, it undid me like a spool finally let free of all its density of yarn. I had to know more about this ancient, sacred technology. And I had know how to bring it to others.
A wise friend reminded me that time would pass anyway, so I might as well make the sacrifices necessary to master the practice, and learn something in the process. The past eight months were not always easy. Life does not put itself on hold while in pursuit of a dream, in fact, in ways it almost seems to push back, to challenge it.
From September of 2016 through April of 2017 I missed my social life, my boyfriend, and my dog. I changed jobs, laid my beloved Waylon (dog) to rest, and adopted adopted sweet, fluffy Wally. Friends, moods, identities came and went, but I held fast, committed to the training I knew was a part of my path I’d always longed for. I couldn’t have known what challenges life would throw across my path in the months since my training began, and if Kundalini and its wisdom of infinity and spirit were not in my life, I don’t know how in some of the darkest of life’s recent moments I might have made it through.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini is called the yoga of awareness. It is a stripping down, a return to self. To the truth that lies within us all.
When you don’t go within, you go without.
Kundalini Yoga: In One Breath
- “If you can rhythmically slow down your breath to four breaths a minute, you can indirectly control your mind and slow it down from its obnoxious behavior.” -Yogi Bhajan
Try just slowing down. Wherever you are, deepen your breath into your belly, your diaphragm, your clavicle. Breathe deeply, slowly, fully, and allow it to change your entire mental state.
Kundalini Yoga: An Overview
Kundalini is your creative potential. The word Kundalini means “awareness” and the practice of Kundalini Yoga uses mantra (chanting), meditation, movement, and breath to control and direct the flow of energy in the body. By doing so you can strip away the onion layers of your outer self to connect to your inner wisdom, divinity, creativity.
Kundalini Yoga practice can involve nothing but chanting to change your reality with sound vibration and affirmation. It can use breath work to change your state by removing energetic blocks in the body and subconscious mind. It also uses strangely simple motions like twisting, stretching, and bending to work your creative energy through any blocks that may be holding you back.
It is a “householder yoga.” This means that it is intended for every man or woman, there is not need for perfection, just intention to create balance, change, awareness.
Kundalini Yoga: The Aquarian Age
In Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan it is believed that in 1991 we entered into the Aquarian Age after coming out of the Piscean Age.
The Piscean Age was a time dominated by machines and hierarchies. And information was a tool few had access to. Today we are in the Aquarian Age, a time synonymous with awareness, energy, and information.
Information is readily available, but to live our best lives we need more than just information, we need wisdom to guide us.
Kundalini Yoga: Five Sutras of the Aquarian Age
According to Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan we are currently living in the Aquarian Age. To help us navigate these times, there are five sutras:
1. Recognize that the other person is you.
2. There is a way through every block.
3. When the time is on you start, and the pressure will be off.
4. Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand the times.
5. Vibrate the Cosmos, the Cosmos shall clear the path.
Kundalini Yoga: Prana, Apana, Sushmana
If the goal of Kundalini Yoga is to awaken the latent creative energy or Kundalini at the base of the spine and raise it up through the crown of the head, then its energetic highway is called the Shushmana. Today’s short lesson will explain why posture is so important in Kundalini.
Brief overview of prana, asana, and sushmana as referenced in Kundalini Yoga.
- Prana, also known as the life force, is the inhale and generating energy.
- Apana is the exhale or eliminating force of the body.
- Sushmana is the central nadi, or energy channel which kundalini uses to raise as it runs along the spine.
Kundalini Yoga: Finger Reflexology
Each finger has a specific representation and focus in Kundalini Yoga. Here I will discuss each finger’s symbology and use.
- Pinky Finger- mercury, water, communication.
- Ring Finger- sun/venus, fire, physical health and radiance.
- Center Finger- saturn, air, emotion to devotion.
- Index Finger- jupiter, ether, open space for change and wisdom.
- Thumb- earth, positive ego.