It’s a sunny gentle morning
The wind is still
The cicadas are calling
and many others
on this mid March day.
This A.M. i gather my self around the keyboard amidst the undone dishes the vacuum cleaner sleeping beside the dog pink school bag forgotten djembe drum picture books paua patterned sunhat and toy giraffe
I interrupt that caucophany to share my experience of Kundalini Yoga as if nothing else matters in the world in this moment.
How does Kundalini Yoga differ from other forms of YOGA?
Kundalini Yoga Teachers’ Association Australia and New Zealand gives this clear description:
Kundalini Yoga is dynamic in its practice, vast in practical information and powerful in its experience. It incorporates the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of yoga into one cohesive and integrated system. It has a much broader emphasis on breathing, meditation, hand positions or mudras, chanting or mantra, and spirituality.
The practice of Kundalini Yoga balances the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system, expands the lung capacity, and purifies the bloodstream. It brings balance to the body, mind and soul. It enables you to harness the energy of your mind and emotions, so you can be in control of yourself, rather than being controlled by your thoughts and feelings. It is on-the-job training for success and excellence in life, and is designed to give you a “hands on” experience of higher consciousness. It teaches positive self-empowering attitudes of thinking. It builds inner strength and self awareness so you can fulfill your highest potential. It perfects the finite life while connecting you to the Infinite experience, enabling you to merge with or “yoke” with the universal Self.
What did that look like to me, a newbie to Kundalini, but someone who has practiced other forms of yoga namely Astanga? Read how i met this uplifting for the heart form of Yoga, the Swedish-Kiwi teacher, and how i describe a class and its benefits plus a few tangents to boot…
How i met Kundalini Yoga and Mari Hall
This time last year i was curating The Delightful Festival of Body & Sound. A gentle festival for younger humans and older humans to come together in Tauranga Rose Gardens and learn the art of wellbeing and the art of art, in classes such as Kapa Haka, The Art of Flying, World Singing, Capoeira, African Drumming, Soundbath & Meditaion, Yoga …you get the picture.
I can’t remember who ‘got in touch with who’ but in the final hour we programmed a Kundalini Yoga Class with Mari in a final-hour-donated Swedish Tipi. It couldn’t have been more juste.
As you may be able to appreciate i was rather pre-occupied over that 3 day festival, but i did participate in a few classes. Kundalini Yoga was one of them.
The year before i had brought little YOGA festival to Mt Maunganui during Springtime and sometime during those 3 days a wee angel friend whispered: Have you tried Kundalini Yoga Emily? I think you’d like it.
A year later Mari appeared. Mari Hall is sort of new to New Zealand. She hails originally from Sweden. Mari fell in love with a Kiwi, made some kids, lived in Stockholm and now they call Aotearoa their home. She is well-missed by her Swedish students of Kundalini Yoga, Mediyoga and Yin Yoga, so still offers International classes to them via zoom (sort of like skype for multiple people).Mari is a grounded, caring, joyful, skilled, prepared teacher who values the power and majesty of nature so much that her regular classes are held outside beneath and sky and trees, at Banks Reserve Mt Maunganui. She always has a twinkle in her eye and finds a way to connect with and nourish the students that sit before her. I highly recommend her teaching style and this ‘art and healing form’ that is Kundalini Yoga. You can continue to practice with her with Mount/Tauranga Kundalini Yoga Community.
That first Tipi experience of Kundalini Yoga surprised me and delighted me. It bridged Yoga of the Body with Yoga of the Song. Informed by the environment (an intimate Tipi filled to the open soft door with people) Mari gave us a slow moving class. I believe we did stand up at one point, but in that first class we spent much time lying down or sitting comfortably. I have since done a dozen classes of Kundalini Yoga (and her sister form Mediyoga) with Mari either via zoom, or under the skies of Banks Reserve and with Suraj K Khalsa within The International Yoga Festival 2017. Upon reflection that first class had more simple chanting, singing and sort of spoken mantra than the proceeding classes i’ve attended, and i LOVED that class for it. Music accompanied us from a portable speaker system. Some of us in that tent sang loud, some so quietly they may have been listening. I remember as part of the Yoga class Mari invited me (and all the other i’s in the space) to place hand to heart, a simple gesture of self-care, that i have incorporated in daily life with less self-conscious since.
It was rather peculiar for me that i envisaged and brought to life (alongside the teachers and production team) a festival of body and sound, and that it wasn’t until the last possible moment that Kundalini Yoga ‘entered’ the festival. When in fact it was the embodiment of the festival and its health and charm. For it is movement and it is sound.
Kundalini Yoga is a yoga for all of you, all that you are, and may become, your body, mind, soul/heart.
I feel many of us now understand the vitality of moving our bodies, to balance out the ‘sedentary’ life style many of us find our selves in. Yoga (of the body) has positively exploded in the West. When i first started practicing it in the late 90s in Auckland, i swear there were only a handful of Yoga studios, in that city of sails. Now yoga abounds. Wanderlust is making its way around the globe. Yoga is mainstream. Yoga is cool. The Yoga body is looked up to. Most people own an eco mat to accompany their Teeki tights and may have one of their postures (or someone elses) with a photogenic backdrop of nature or art on their instagram version of their life.
I’m sounding cynical, this isn’t deserving on a story attuned to Kundalini Yoga.
Where i really want to go with this is to so say:
the NEXT wave to ride, the opportunity that awaits is, SOUND.
As a child i learnt the piano and part of this process is i performed, sometimes to hundreds of people. I got nervous. Kids get nervous (just incase anyone needed to be reminded). Apart from pacing. I used to sing (in private i.e. away from people and quietly). I recognised it calmed me. It brought me into a state of presence and away from fear, or my neurotic imagination. I understood it was the breath moving through me, the energy moving out of me (rather than coiling around inside me) and something of the meditation of my vocal system dancing with the lyric and the melody and the rhythm in one married moment.
As Giovanni Fusetti says: Fear is merely excitement with the absence of breath.
Many of us have great fear around sound. It exposes us. Many of us have inner scarification from being told by a busy (stressed and under-appreciated?) impatient result based teacher – that we couldn’t sing ‘in tune’. We may have been told we couldn’t draw too. I know teachers, peers, parents have told us we weren’t very good at many things in our lives, but being told one can’t sing and draw seems like a travesty to me. For they are ways of moving. They are ways of making sense of our world. They are ways to process. They are doors that open to the empathetic world and i think it is great unkindness to close them on people.
Sound has great vulnerability.
The sound or silence of an orgasm.
The sound or silence of birthing.
The sound or silence of that first inhalation.
The sound or silence of that first cry.
The sound of our individual voice and the accent of our parents and their homeland.
The sound or silence of laughter.
The sound or silence of wailing.
The sound or silence of injustice.
The sound or silence of a lullaby.
The sound or silence of our final exhalation.
My heart feels we are entering a time of sound. A time where people will understand it’s vitality and its ability to heal and to flush. People making / exercising sound will become mainstream. We know it within the protest, we know it within the church choirs, we know it within the Pop Music Culture, we know it within what the counsellor says: We need to talk.
This is the added magic of Kundalini Yoga (and indeed Naam Yoga, but the Bay of Plenty doesn’t home a Naam teacher at present) and Mediyoga. Yoga of sound. The great healing art. Moving experience and residual emotion out of the body through SOUND.
I encourage us to be brave. I encourage us to be kind to ourselves. I encourage us to come to a Kundalini Yoga class and/or a Mediyoga class with the permission to stay for a short time or the full duration of the class. To be quiet or loud. To do some of the movements or all of them.
As many wise people say (Barak Obama included) it’s not my job to have limiting opinions on what or what not to do, it’s my job to TURN UP, and do it. Somedays i will be great. Somedays i will fall. It’s none of my business to matter about this. My business is to TURN up and do the ‘work’, do the ‘play’, do the ‘yoga’, do the ‘love’, do the ’empathy’, do the ‘forgiveness’, do the ‘life’.
Well i had no idea i would quite go in this direction.
As Elisabeth Lesser (Eat Pray Love) discovered, creativity is an act of the gods, i can’t take sole responsibility, for creativities ‘flow’.
In the subsequent classes of Kundalini Yoga i will admit the practice to being very rigourous. I have not experienced sun salutations. I don’t move my body in the same way as a Vinyasa or Astanga class. I don’t have the same feeling (bearing in mind i’ve only done a dozen classes) of a ‘work-out’ of my BODY, but i have the profound realisation of a ‘work-out’ of my heart a ‘work-out’ of my experience and a ‘work-out’ of my emotions. Without a Kundalini yoga teacher talking explicitly about psychology, she or he meets the play of the mind. Movements such as these:
(Sorry waiting on a wahe guru video from lovely Mari).
are repeated for an amount of time i’d rather not know the number of. There are moments within this movement i want to ‘abandon’ it, i want to quit, then moments later there is joy again or greater flexibility or aptitude for the movement. It’s truly a curious thing. With each class i have experienced an insight about how i relate to people and ‘my’ environment. These insights have then given me fresh ways of thinking. I’ve also accumulated many relaxation techniques through the various breathing practices. One is particularly good for anxiety, another good to alleviate depression. I’ve added these breathing practices to my ‘re-direct stress’ toolbox. Just last week i centered myself before having a heart-to-heart with a loved one in my family, and i believe it helped me listen, remain open, and see the person opposite me rather than to focus on the conflict or merely my own needs.
The kids are home.
That volvo is pulling up the drive to see the dishes, vacuum, but not the dog as he greets his master.
I’m pushing publish before a proof read.
Yikes, what a risk taker?
If you wanna try Kundalini Yoga come to our Backyard Yoga Festival 1 April 2017, a day for the whole family with Kundalini Yoga, Laughter Yoga, Sacred Song/Kirtan, Vinyasa from Yang or Yin, Vegetarian Banquet, Rock Painting, Child-led Face-Painting, Chalk Wall Mural in our Jemily Jardin in Matua, Tauranga.
I thought i’d add there’s a kundalini yoga festival happening in Byron Bay at the end of September 2017.
And good grief, look at how awesome this Sat Nam Fest looks, in MEXICO. Good gracious!
There’s also (for the first time) teacher training to become a Kundalini Yoga Teacher in Aotearoa. One needs to commit to 3 x 1 week long training (spread out over the year and if you can’t make one of the weeks there’s an option to go to Australia). The training is in Auckland, New Zealand. From the same ‘organisation’ there’s a Conscious Pregnancy Course available too, for those who want to teach Pregnancy Yoga the Kundalini Yoga way.
Here’s a video i found which feels somehow close to my experience of Mari’s class.
Written by Emily Marks