I discovered kundalini yoga during a hatha yoga teacher training. We were introduced to the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, who brought them to the west in 1969.
Yogi Bhajan was passionate about sharing these teachings that had previously been held secret, only available to sages and holy men. He felt it was his calling to bring these transformational practices to the common householder, to help them develop and allow shifts into their highest and truest selves.
I remember that first kundalini yoga practice. It was rough, yet invigorating, stimulating, challenging on all levels and so deeply transformational I decided in that moment to learn these teachings and share them.
Three years later I attended a month-long kundalini yoga teacher training, based on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. It was, once again, both rough and transformational. Kundalini yoga gets in there, stirs your stuff up at the deepest layers and leaves you a different person.
Kundalini practice is where I began to understand how to embody the "witness" consciousness and become the observer of my mind. During intense kriyas (breathwork, meditations, physical exercises) the idea is to watch the mind's objections, resistances, anger and excuses as they arise.
My inner whiner will often come out in full force, and I want to quit, scream, run away or just zone out. The practice allows me to observe these reactions and recognize they are simply mental patterns, which gives me an opportunity to stay fully present with the experience until the reaction passes. In those intense moments so much arises, and to become neutral in the mind serves as a reminder and training for those intense moments in life: stay put, breathe, observe, wait. The next moment will inevitably arise.
Practice is always different; there are hundreds of kriyas and it's important to show up without expectations.
What I appreciate most about kundalini is the internal process. Most of the exercises are done with eyes closed, which allows the participant to drop into a deeper inward state and discover the more subtle aspects of the breath and energy.
Kundalini yoga teaches you techniques to stay healthy. The practice builds a strong immune system, vital glands, strong nervous system, good circulation and, most importantly, an awareness of the impact of your habits. The practice allows you to develop your relationship to mental potential. You learn to use the clarity of the neutral, intuitive, comprehensive mind.
In this practice, the most important thing is your own experience. It goes right to your heart. When a student is open to it, there will often be tears, sometimes major breakthroughs and major breakdowns, whatever is needed to soften and cut through the walls of protection and fear. Once these fears have been felt and acknowledged, the consciousness can expand into a wider horizon of grace and truth.Ultimately you will understand your existence in relationship to the universe, and give up the self-centered, small I, and come to the practical experience of infinity. You can then radiate creativity and infinity into all aspects of your daily life.
This yoga is a technology of awareness. It starts with the universal human predicament that regardless of your individual level of experience and awareness, the underlying reality of every human mind is its infinite and creative potential.
Kundalini yoga is a supreme technology to awaken your awareness and return you to your original self.
What: Kundalini yoga
When: 9-10:15 a.m. Sundays with Charanbir (David Barfoot) and 5:30-7 p.m. Mondays with Akaldev Kaur (Kim Miller)
Where: Marmalade at Smokebrush, 219 W. Colorado Ave., in the Historic Trestle Building
Cost: $10 on Mondays/by donation on Sundays; 444-1012 or smokebrush.org