In January 2013 I had just moved back to New York after receiving a bone marrow transplant that saved my life. I felt lost and in need of healing, clarity and a way to process all of the overwhelming emotions that had decided to take permanent residency in my brain. At the time I had dabbled in the world of spirituality and meditation but didn’t have concrete tools to move through what I was going through.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I was searching for but I knew I had to keep looking until I found it.
I tried every modality you can think of, sticking to them for a few weeks or even months but then eventually letting them go as they didn’t resonate in the way I was hoping for.
April 2013 I attended a healing workshop and after the lecture, we moved into a deep meditation. Suddenly the room was chanting, singing and moving our arms around in the craziest of ways. Before I even had a moment to process what was happening, tears were streaming down my face. What was this? After further investigation, it was explained to me that this was the practice of Kundalini Yoga. And so began my relationship with the modality that would save my life over and over again.
For those that are new to the practice, Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan is the yoga of awareness. It works on the entire being: body, mind & spirit combining mantra, breathwork, and movement with the goal of inner awareness and higher consciousness.
From the outside, the practice might seem a little intimidating (I know it did for me). My first few classes I noticed everyone was wearing all white and a turban. I felt like the only one who didn’t know what was going on but I kept at it. I kept showing up because my entire being was pulling me there, and I am so thankful I listened.
Once I understood why everyone was in all white and what the turban was all about (more on this below!), what the mantras meant and the history of the practice, I began to understand how extremely practical these tools are. They are not for the yogi who wants to live in the mountains but for everyday people like us.
Since that first experience with Kundalini, I have attended countless classes, studied with incredible teachers and practiced daily. I am currently coming up on my graduation of a 220-Hour Kundalini Teacher Training program. To say it has shifted my entire state of being would be an understatement.
This practice has supported me in moving through difficult health challenges, connecting to clarity and finding purpose through my work. When you commit to a daily Kundalini practice, the transformation is powerful.
A few things to know about Kundalini Yoga:
Why we wear white and a turban
In Kundalini Yoga you will see the teacher and students wearing white, typically made of cotton or other natural fibers. This is because it strengthens the aura, also known as the electromagnetic field which surrounds the body and acts as a container for your life force energy. You can think of the aura as a protective shield. Wearing white is not required and students can come in clothes that are comfortable and that they can move in. If it is appealing you can always experiment with wearing white and see if you feel the difference.
The turban is to contain the energy within the body and cultivate focus within your practice.
The flow of a Kundalini class
A Kundalini class is structured differently from a typical yoga class you might attend. We begin by tuning with the mantra Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo 3x which stands for “I bow to the Creative Wisdom. I bow to the Divine Teacher within.” There is a warm-up and a pranayama or breathwork series followed by a kriya (a sequence of postures). Between postures are periods of rest and relaxation. The class ends with a meditation and closes out with the mantra Sat Nam which stands for true identity.
With that being said every class will be different! There are 1000’s of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation practices taught by the master, Yogi Bhajan.
Why we chant
In Kundalini there is a lot of mantras, or sacred sounds both chanted out loud or used mentally. They each have their own intention and are used for their meaning and the sound vibration they create in the body. One of my favorites is: “Ra Ma Da Sa, Sa Say So Hung” a powerful mantra chanted in a healing meditation. Ra is the sun, Ma is the Moon, Da is the earth, and Sa is Infinity. Mantra is often linked to a breath practice.
In Kundalini you will utilize a variety of tools including breathwork, mantra, movement, and meditation. The practice goes deep and can support you in accessing so many of its benefits including an increase in energy, feeling at peace, a deeper connection to your intuition, clarity in your life, abundance (which comes in many forms!) and feeling happier. All that is asked of you is to show up and do your best.
It has transformed my life in countless ways and I can’t wait to share these tools with you!