It’s 9am on a Saturday and I’m sitting in a quiet room trying to breath as rapidly as possible. I’m surrounded by people dressed head to toe in white, most of them over the age of 50. Long deceased Indian men in turbans peer down at me from the walls.
A few moments ago, when I walked into the Kundalini studio for the first time I was greeted by a warm older man, also dressed in white who warned, “This is not going to be your average yoga class.” I reassured him that I knew this, and that was why I had come. Although, to be honest I didn’t fully know what to expect.
I have been on a spiritual journey for a long time now. I’m exploring new things and looking desperately for a way to connect to the divine, to myself, so some greater spiritual guidance. I decided after a whole lot of prayer, consulting with spiritual mentors and hours of writing in my journal that I simply need to get quiet. As quiet as possible. Then maybe I’ll be able to hear God.
I have walked past a street sign for this Kundalini studio every day for over three years. It is right next door to my office building. It looked odd. Ornate Sanskrit symbols surrounded a old guy in a turban. I would give him the side eye and step around the sign. I was a devout Christian at the time, yet I was intrigued. This past spring, as I began to question my beliefs and wonder what else was out there I had been listening to a number of podcasts where Kundalini yoga was mentioned. Over and over I heard this particular form of yoga mentioned. When I finally googled it I found that there was a studio literally next door to my office. I remembered the sign. After a couple more weeks of hesitating I finally signed up for the $30 for 30 days entry deal.
After getting oriented in the studio and putting my things away I entered the yoga room. I was surprised to see that it was carpeted. The carpet felt wonderfully luxurious under my toes. I walked the perimeter of the room and look at the walls. Everything, walls and ceiling, was painted in soft rolling clouds. There were photos of more old men in turbans, Sanskrit mantras, abstracted drawings of what appeared to be women and men connecting with the divine. As I circled the room I felt a warmth come to my eyes. I was tearing up. Why? I’m still not sure why, but for some reason I was moved to tears. As I regained my composure I grabbed a meditation pillow and sat down for class.
The one and a half hour class was a series of breathing techniques, mantras, and holding intense yoga poses for long periods of time. It was peaceful. I tried desperately to clear my mind and focus on my breathing and the mantras, but time and again my mind drifted, drifted, drifted. While focusing on my breath I found that my sense of smell was heightened. The old man next to me smelled like an old man, and I was very away of and distracted by this. At one point while we were quiet in meditation he farted. I tried to just let it go. In the couple months that I have been meditating on my own this time of quiet has become easier for me.
The “breath of fire” also helps focus the mind. It is a technique where you breath as fast as possible through your nose. It’s quite difficult at first. At times I felt like my breath was a run away train that I could no longer control. I would get out of sync, out of rhythm and feel like I was choking. I would slow down a bit, relax a bit, but then the teacher would encourage us to go faster. After a while I start to get the hang of it.
Sitting in class I am hopeful. Hopeful that this technique will help to quiet my mind. Hopeful that it will help me connect to some power greater than myself. Hopeful that it will help me discover who I really am. Hopeful that I will be able to tap in to some greater guidance. I want direction. Right now I feel as if I’m just floating in shallow water, not sure if it’s safe to put my feet down. No solid rock to stand on. But I am hopeful.
Have you tried Kundalini Yoga? What has your experience been?