Kundalini on Kythera :)
Current schedule: Vinyasa Yoga, Level 2, Equinox Columbus Circle, Tuesdays 6:30pm (ongoing). Subbing: for Derek, Vinysasa Basics and Level 2/3, Equinox Soho, Wednesday September 14th, 6:30 and 7:30pm.
Hello! Happy week after Labor Day weekend to you. I hope you all enjoyed some time off and were able to avoid major damage/destruction during both the earthquake and hurricane that passed through New York City during the last few weeks of August. I was fortunate enough to have missed the hurricane, as I was very far away, in Athens Greece, awaiting a flight to a small, unspoiled Greek island in the Mediterranean named Kythera. It is by far one of the most beautiful, serene, peaceful places I have ever been in my life. I was lucky enough to have visited this same island last year for a Kundalini Yoga retreat, led by the folks at Semperviva Yoga, based in Vancouver, BC. I knew this was a place I wanted to return to again, if only to re-live the beauty and tranquility another time.
This year I returned for an official Kundalini teacher training course, consisting of 35 hours of both hands on class-taking/yoga practice time, exposure to Kundalini philosophy, history and culture, along with chances to teach and reflect deeply on our own personal yoga practice. The environment was so incredibly suited for self reflection, there was almost no way I could come back from this trip the same person I was when I left. Suffice to say this trip changed me, changed my yoga practice, and opened my world in such a magical and inspiring way I am driven to attempt to explain it. Words fall short in describing some of the most wonderful experiences in life, when your heart opens and your spirit lifts, yet I insist on sharing my experience with you as best I can.
Some of what I learned was the difference between thinking, doing and feeling. Why are these things different? Why should we think one thing, feel another thing, and still, do something entirely different? This is how we have been trained, to mask how we really feel, to cover our true nature in fear, insecurity, perfectionism, judgement, negative emotions or other means by which to separate ourselves from others, and ultimately from ourselves. When we come to a place where we are honest with ourselves, when we really listen to what is inside, we can integrate and really act how we think and feel. How liberating! But wait, how does one get to this place? I would not claim to know the answer to this, but I think meditation and yoga practice is one way. When we meditate, we become still and quiet. In this space, our demons come out, and we are in a position to sit with ourselves and really begin to understand the forces within that keep us from freely expressing who and what we are, which is a vehicle of love, compassion and service. What are these demons? Judgement? Fear? Is it old pain, or new pain, or something of a blurred mix of new/old/not-sure-when pain? For me it is all of these things. One main demon of mine is doubt. The voice I hear most loudly when I sit to meditate, and I am new to having a consistent meditation practice (and I am a yoga teacher!), the voice I hear most loudly is doubt, the mirror image of fear. This is the voice telling me all the things I cannot do, how difficult it will be, why I cannot surmount the difficulty, and why it is better to not even try.
Why change when you can stay the same? Well, because change allows us to grow and growth brings things into our lives that we need, on a fundamental level. Growth, ironically, ultimately brings the security we crave. When we grow and begin to glow with the light of self love, love for others and compassion, we attract the things we want – whether it be a better job, a meaningful relationship, our passion for our family or our ability to give the best of ourselves in whatever we are involved in.
This teacher training was all about growth for me. I am not a Kundalini Yoga instructor, I am not even a Kundalini Yoga practitioner. For years I have been teaching, practicing and studying Vinyasa yoga, with sprinklings of Power Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Iyengar Yoga. In order to fully appreciate another form of yoga, I had to humble myself to learn a new form of teaching, a new language of spiritual development, a new path for my yogic practice. As with anything that is special to us, a new format or teacher can feel threatening and have the opposite effect, making us cling even harder to what we know. Clinging and defending will have the opposite effect, closing you off to what is possible. When you make space, things come. When you become empty, you leave room to be full. I cannot go into the entire methodology of Kundalini Yoga in this post, there is tremendous research out there to demonstrate how it has changed peoples lives and put them on a path to growth and spiritual fulfillment. I am just happy to have been part of it, if even just for a week.
In order to receive my certificate from this teacher training, I have to complete 40 days of meditating first thing in the morning, followed by a cold (ish) shower. The meditation should last for at least 11 minutes. I have done it 2 consecutive days so far. I am so proud of myself! I always wanted a consistent meditation practice, and now I am forging that path. I remind myself of what power there can be in stillness. I feel myself manifesting the things I want and becoming more and more the person I would like to be. I am not there yet, but hey, maybe I’ll just have to hop over to Kythera again next year 🙂 There are worse ways to discover what you want in life:)
“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we receive that heals us.” (O. Hobart Mowrer, 1966)
“Things do not change. We change.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden