Do you pay attention to the signs that show up along your path?
I try to.
Sometimes it takes a super clear mind for me to see them. Other times they smack me across the face.
Which is how it went with Kundalini yoga.
First, it was on my WordPress feed. A blogging buddy wrote about a Kundalini teacher training she was about to embark on. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal…I follow lots of yogis.
Except a few days later another sign showed up. It was during a tarot card reading when the lady said I was about to enter into a period of shedding…like a snake. (The coiling serpent is a total Kundalini thing!)
But it wasn’t until the letters K*U*N*D*A*L*I*N*I showed up in my dream that I knew it was time to get my ass into a class.
I’ve done Kundalini yoga before. But it’s been awhile. And it’s never been consistent.
This time around I signed up for the unlimited monthly at the studio knowing it would give me a solid entry into the practice. After attending class several times, I’m becoming obsessed. The deep meditative experience (that’s a little bit out there!) is exactly what I need right now. It’s helping shift things within.
This type of yoga is not for everyone. (It wasn’t for me until now!) But if you’re even a teeny bit curious, here’s what to know about Kundalini yoga:
The typical greeting is Sat Nam.
After entering the studio, once the chiming bells from the door die down, the next thing you’ll hear is the phrase Sat Nam. In fact, whenever eye contact is made with anyone nearby, those words are usually exchanged. As someone who comes from a Namaste background, I’m comfortable with the prayer handed greeting. So settling into this particular rendition feels nice. (Sat means truth. Nam means name. There are myriad ways to translate this.)
Everyone wears white.
As previously mentioned, I had some experience with Kundalini so I knew about the white. (I prepared beforehand by pulling my light grey yoga capris and white tank from my summer stuff to wear to class.) I also had the good fortune last year to interview Andi Berger, a Kundalini teacher, and that was one of my first questions to her…why the white?
Andi’s reply: White is the combination of all colors. It has the function of clearing and allowing for energy to flow, along with attracting positive energy.
(Since I only have one pair of light colored pants, I wore black and charcoal other times. No one bat an eye at my darkness.)
Everyone covers their head.
Again, my interview with Andi clued me into this one.
She said: When you deepen your meditation experience, you‚Äôre opening the crown chakra and it gets sensitive — it actually can hurt. So you wrap your head to protect it.
I don’t cover my head in class because
A:¬†My head hasn’t started feeling sensitive yet¬†and
B:¬†I don’t have a¬†white turban.
So we’ll see how it goes. Though I am totally open to putting on a cute head scarf.
The class is comprised mostly of kriyas.
Kriyas are cleansing exercises that are often performed quite vigorously. For example, in class today we lifted our arms straight up by our ears, and then opened them to 60 degrees wide. You go back and forth with the breath, which is usually a rapid breath of fire. It’s intense! The other thing is these kriyas go on for long bouts of time. Unlike vinyasa where you may hold your posture for 5 to 7 breaths. In Kundalini, you’re holding for 5 – 7 minutes. So yes, your arms do feel like they are going to fall off. And yes, 5 – 7 minutes feels like forever. They kind of just go on and on. Until the teacher says stop.
The names of postures are completely different than the hatha tradition.
Today we did frog. With my background, I started to go onto my belly. But in Kundalini, frog is a squat to stand kriya. Same thing with cat stretch. It’s a reclining twist instead of a go-on-all-fours position.
It’s incredibly spiritual and meditative.
This is why I’m digging it! It’s about¬†raising your energy. Pranayama, or breathwork¬†tends to guide the process¬†while¬†the¬†instructors encouraging¬†an inward focus.
Also, I get to be a beginner. Not that I’m a¬†master¬†of¬†vinyasa. But after practicing for almost 20 years, I’m pretty familiar with the goings on.¬†In Kundalini, I’m a total newbie.¬†I am in beginner’s mind.
Click here to read the interview with Andi on Kundalini yoga.