After practicing and teaching different types of Hatha yoga – Kripalu Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga, Infinite Light yoga – for almost 20 years my yoga practice took an unexpected left hand turn at the traffic lights in 2015. As yoga practices often do. I began dabbling in the “light side”: Kundalini Yoga.
My husband, bless his soul, bought me a gift card to Kripalu for a milestone birthday back in July of 2015. Until then, I was of course the only practicing yogi in the North Eastern portion of the US of A who had never experienced the silent breakfasts of Kripalu.
Whilst perusing the Fall 2015 Kripalu catalog advertising the variable cornucopia of yoga and mindfulness workshops, I couldn’t help returning time and again to the page with the smiling face of Snatam Kaur. She was hosting “Peace in our Hearts Through Kundalini Yoga” with her husband Sopurkh Singh over Labor Day weekend.
Even though I’d never done Kundalini Yoga in my life I felt inexplicably drawn to the workshop. Plus it was a workshop on Naad Yoga. The yoga of sound. I’ll get new material for my Kirtan and chanting workshops. Plus Snatam Kaur. Happy Birthday to me!
Of course it was amazing. The voice. The music. But in my humble opinion, Snatam Kaur’s most amazing quality is how enthusiastic and devoted she is to sharing the many gifts of Kundalini yoga with the world. So much so that you can’t help but feel your heart crack open and the healing energy flooding in. I’ll never forget how moving that whole weekend was. So much so that I didn’t mind getting up at 4:15am and stumbling wearily to Aquarian Sadhana Sadhana every morning for 5:00am. Seriously.
After returning home from my Labor Day Kundalini Yoga extravaganza I tearfully exclaimed to my husband, “I think I’m supposed to teach Kundalini yoga”, even though it all felt a bit crazy and sudden and not really how I ever saw myself developing as a yoga teacher. Wearing all white. Covering one’s head. Turbans. Mantras to Guru Ram Das. Oh My. “This could get… really… different”. I told my husband.
Santam Kaur and Sopurkh Singh gave us a 40 day meditation to begin upon our return home and much to my surprise I got up (OK maybe not at 4:30am) the next day and did the meditation. And I got up the next day and meditated and the next.
The Kundalini meditations provide mantras, gazes, focal points, in essence, things to do, that helped me focus in meditation as never could before. And I began to notice changes in myself that made me want to get up every day and sit for meditation. I was calmer. Things were not bothering me quite so much. I felt connected, plugged in. Soulful.
After a few weeks and attending a few Kundalini Yoga classes I added the Basic Spinal Energy Series Kriya to my daily Sadhana or spiritual practice and an amazing thing happened: I woke up a few days later and my back didn’t hurt. And the next day it didn’t hurt either. And the next.
Just to be clear here – I’m not talking about the sort of back aches and pains one gets from overuse or standing or sitting for too long – I am talking about full on sciatic back pain caused from a herniated disk in my lower lumbar. The sort of inconvenient pain that would come on at anytime (when presenting in front of clients, teaching yoga, trying to navigate through security as O’Hare airport) rendering me unable to walk or put any pressure on my left leg at all for a few minutes. And then the pain would be gone – just as quickly as it came.
The sort of pain that I didn’t think I’d ever get relief from unless I had more invasive procedures like injections or surgery or pain killers.
Sure, my back gets achy from time to time, or I trap a nerve doing something reduculous like vaccuming and I see the chiropractor regularly to keep my spine in alignment. I’ll admit my back isn’t perfect. Looking back, I’m convinced that the Kundalini Yoga cleared energy blocks, directed healing energy, worked on the physical nuts and bolts of my spine and healed me. Yes, it’s that powerful.
The changes that Kundalini yoga bring about to our bodies, minds and souls happen fast. So fast for me that practically my entire home yoga practice has became Kundalini based overnight. And because what we practice at home is generally what we are most passionate about sharing with our students I embarked upon Level One Kundalini Yoga Teacher training with MahanRishi and Nirbhe Kaur at the Khalsa Healing Arts Center in Yardley, PA in 2016 and graduated the course in February 2017.
The whole journey to this point has been filled with one serendipitous opportunity arising that I explored after another. It can’t all be happenstance, now can it?
Hatha Yoga saw me through so much over the last 20 years and has helped build my ‘container’ as it were. Given me a foundation. Set the stage. As a Kundalini Yoga teacher I’ve evolved with new focus, new language, new presence, new mantras, new music to play on the harmonium, new life, new love and a new instrument: the gong.
So much to look forward to! So much to explore! How excited am I?
Peace to all. Light to all. Love to All.
Liv Avtar Kaur