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Kalamunda naturopath and Kundalini Yoga teacher Andrea Gabriel is one of those women who you just want to emulate; she has a lovely, grounded energy, is gorgeous and a seemingly perfect life. When Andrea invited me to join her Kundalini Yoga class, I admit, I didn’t want to go. I was resisting. I felt hesitant, afraid and to be honest, somewhat afraid that I might walk out on her class like I did the first time I tried it.
The first time I tried Kundalini Yoga, I nearly packed up my mat, never to return. The teacher was amazing, but the venue wasn’t ideal and in all honesty, I protested in my mind about how it WASN’T “real” yoga. In the end I sat in meditation trying to address the massive resistance I was feeling. As an Iyengar, Vinyasa and acro-yoga aficionado, all the breathing and accessories that accompanied Kundalini Yoga stressed me out. It all seemed so…well, contrived. I ended up planning to never do it again. But something in me was fighting. What was this? Why was I resisting? Was it because I was blocking something with myself, or did I genuinely not enjoy this style of yoga? If it was my first ever yoga experience, I probably would have never gone back, but I knew there was something deeper at work.
When many people first start yoga, they are not aware of the abundance of different styles and diversity amongst teachers. It takes a while to find a style that suits you and also a teacher that resonates with you. The first time I walked into Andrea’s beautiful home studio overlooking rolling hills and met her, I knew that she was a teacher I could relate to, but the style, Kundalini Yoga, I was still not sure about.
Kundalini Yoga is a style of yoga that was brought to the U.S. in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan in response to a need he felt in American society. According to Andrea, he was the last in the Golden Chain, a lineage of Yoga Masters who left behind an abundance of great teacher trainers after his death in 2004. Andrea’s own path into Kundalini Yoga is very different from my own. Andrea went through a very “dark” time where she felt out of place and didn’t care whether she lived or died. Following a serious car accident where she walked away with only a scrape to her head did she realise that things needed to change. In seeking healing from her accident, she came across a book: “The Eight Human Talents” by Gurmukh. Everything in the book resonated with Andrea and she started practicing the meditations and practices in it, often in secret, because it seemed so “weird” and not mainstream. Soon her clients noticed a change in her and wanted some of her magic. Before long Andrea had started practicing Kundalini Yoga with small groups and soon was drawn to the teacher training.
Like many people who do yoga teacher training to deepen their own practice with no intention of teaching, Andrea was no different, “what I did was to create a space for sharing with others.” That was six years ago. Now she has a beautiful purpose-built studio adjoining her home and offers classes as an aside to her Naturopathy business. “Kundalini is a spiritual and uplifting yoga, but very grounding,” she said. It is about shifting the energy from the base up rather than being driven by animalistic desires, addictions and survival patterns of living. The mantras are grounding but connect to the greater self, “creating a safe place to practice in.”
Some of my biggest blocks when I went to my first Kundalini Yoga class were the teacher’s head cover and dressed all in white and the rapid and intense breathing that accompanies the movement. I think more than anything, I wanted to understand the logic behind it all. The headpiece is not religious and Andrea explained that it is designed to both keep the bones in the skull in alignment, but also covers the crown chakra, allowing for the spiralling energy experienced in the class to rise up to the crown and instead of being released, returns into the body, building it’s intensity as are the pranayama (breathing). The white clothing is for expansion of the energy into the auric field.
After being a yoga participant for nearly 20 years, I would have to say that this would have to be the most overtly spiritual yoga practice that I’ve come across. It doesn’t hide the energies, or the chakras and isn’t about achieving the pose the best, or wearing the latest pants or accessories that so often accompany yoga these days. There is no room for ego in Kundalini Yoga. “Kundalini is for everybody…Yoga for the most part is quite physical,” but Andrea says this style is a “fast-track to get into spiritual awareness…it’s the energy of the whole experience…it’s a technology, a science that’s proven.”
I won’t deny that I had a very strong resistance to Kundalini Yoga, after all, I’ve had mind-blowing ecstatic orgasms through Kundalini Dance practices with Leyolah (http://www.kundalinidance.com/ref/11/ ), I’ve got plenty of books on Kundalini Shakti and tantric arts and the energetic aspect is not foreign to me. The resistance is there because there is energy that needs shifting, Andrea said. “Resistance means that you need it even more,” and she’s right. I might not need Kundalini Yoga specifically to get myself back on track, but I need the connection that it brings. In those moments where I forget that I’m a soul experiencing a physical incarnation, I need to re-connect. “Whenever I teach, I’m here, I come back, I’m present,” Andrea said.
I’m glad I went back for another go at Kundalini yoga. Andrea recommends at least three sessions before making your decision about it. Resistance is often about energy that is blocked that needs releasing and on the other side of resistance is bliss, the energy shifts and you can “feel the most intense feelings of love and acceptance,” she said. The key to overcoming this resistance is through repetition of a mantra, thought pattern or habit for at least 40 days, it may take longer. Even if you didn’t like your yoga class, or your teacher, you will find the style and teacher that work best with you, just like a good hairdresser, it takes time. Embrace that resistance.
Contact Andrea at www.raisingvibrationsyoga.com.au
©Alyssa Curtayne 2015
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