I had casually been doing exercise 2-3 times a week, yoga or elliptical trainer, thrown in playing with the kids, logging miles up and down the stairs with laundry, grocery store runs and basically weight lifting a 33 lbs 3 year old and a 22 lb 1 year old, I figured I had all by bases covered: cardio, weights and stretching. I was wrong. There is so much more to exercise than I understood. It’s called Kundalini yoga.
For those unfamiliar with Kundalini yoga, it can often be explained as that weird type of yoga where you pant like a dog, dance around with your eyes closed and make strange rapid movements all while chanting with your head wrapped up in white fabric. It is so much more than that.
The Father of Kundalini yoga, Yogi Bhajan came to the United States in 1968. His destiny was to reveal the ancient secret of Kundalini Yoga to the masses, in his mind, to reduce suffering. Kundalini (Sanskrit) is the female energy believed to lie coiled at the base of the spine. The practice of Kundalini Yoga is a system of meditation directed toward the release of kundalini energy. In other words, we want to release the energy through the chakras so that we can feel the “Kundalini rising” up our spine and give us bliss. This is done by practicing kriyas, designed for certain issues that arise in the body. By preforming these kriyas, along with meditative breath and “breath of fire” we exercise and work our glandular system, our “guardians of health”. The focus on the “master gland”, the Pituitary, affects hormones, growth, blood pressure, protein synthesis, digestion and is said to be our intuition. By practicing Kundalini yoga we can increase the Pituitary to a size of an almond and have it work in our best interest for optimal health and wellness.
I discovered Kundalini Yoga in 2007, where I found classes offered for free around the web. I loved the rhythmic movements, and always felt invigorated after completing a class. Fast forward over 10 years and I remained committed to having Kundalini in my yoga repertoire, no matter where I lived. But as life continued on, two kids later, I was having a health crisis and needed to loose weight, balance my hormones and spend quality time focusing on my health.
Being the mom to two precocious boys, my practice was often not solidary. Extra effort was needed to keep centered and focused on my third eye (pituitary gland) and sometimes my one year old would use me as a drum or climbing apparatus while I was in the middle of a kriya. The first couple of practices seemed to roll by without issue. I stuck to classes that were about an hour in length, and that included elements of kriyas, meditation and rapid breath of fire. The commitment seemed monumental when day 4-5 rolled around and my body ached from using muscles that needed time to rest. I was planking more, doing more pushups, breathing rapidly and holding poses like a champ. But was I getting my Kundalini to rise? What were my glands doing?
The first change I noticed, small albeit, was on day 5, when normally I would gorge on a chocolate treat after dinner. My stomach didn’t make the call for chocolate, I was able to brush it off, and go to bed without that over-full feeling that I sometimes had. My neck and back felt more relaxed, and I was able to feel like my scull was resting on the top of my spine, not tilted forward in the most common muscle strain in our modern lives. This was after 5 hours of Kundalini.
Along with Kundalini, I had integrated a few other helpful habits into my life. One is understanding how the lymphatic system works so you can practice self lymphatic drainage. The second is the understanding pressure points, and working with those to release muscle spasms. The final piece to the puzzle was reducing inflammation in my body, this was done by loosely following a Ketonic diet, and taking anti-inflammatory supplements like Zyflamend, and turmeric tea. Lets just say it was a multi-prong approach, and my commitment wasn’t always 100%, but I didn’t let that backslide my progress. Each day, I would recommit to my new habits. In the yogic sciences, they say “Your habits define you”. If you practice for 40 days straight, this will break negative habits. After 90 days, this will establish a new habit in your conscious and subconscious minds and begin to change you on a cellular level. After 120 days, this confirms your new habit and permanently integrate it into your psyche. After 1000 days this allows you to master the new habit and call on it to serve you. You have basically rewired your brain. (www.3ho.org)
As my practice continued, I had days where I willed myself to push to my limits, and other days where the minimum were all I could muster. It was mid way through my challenge and I really started to see the results of my daily practice. I could keep up and didn’t feel as tired with my boys. Even with some back slide with my body image and nagging back pain. But I didn’t miss a day of Kundalini Yoga.
With a couple of road trips planned I was able to read Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa’s book “Kundalini Yoga, the flow of Eternal Power” which is a highly recommended book on Amazon. While the writing style didn’t immediately click with me, I did learn so much about Kundalini Yoga that I previously only brushed the surface of understanding: Once you understand that the body follows the mind, the mind follows the breath, it is amazing how taking a “deep breath” can really center you and stop your mind from doing something stupid.
It was day 24 and for the first time I opted for a regular yoga class at the local studio, but I almost immediately regretted it. I felt like there as so much of my body that didn’t move. I did focus on my breath, and was mindful through my whole practice, but I did not get the bliss I normally feel after practicing.
It’s true. Some days I really don’t feel like doing yoga. I’m exhausted. My husband and my two boys were down with the flu, and my one yo is teething on top of that. A lot of sleepless nights. But each night. I find myself sitting down and getting centered. My body and mind crave it, the pain in my back requests it. My spine can’t wait to bend and flex, because it knows it needs too.
Almost three quarters they way through my challenge, and I had a huge shift today. I got my period after a 717 day absence, due to breastfeeding my youngest. I was a little disappointed with it’s return but then realized: it’s working. My hormones are balancing. This is good. Then my fears set in, and I was having all sorts of crazy thoughts about figuring out my life’s purpose. I’ve being jamming in as much reading as my life allows, from audio books during car rides, to reading hardcovers page by page while singing and reading to my own children as we say a mantra together.
I am noticing more results with my kundalini practice as well, my skin is glowing, acne that I’ve suffered with most of my life has diminished and my skin is smooth and supple, and my hair, yes, my hair is returning back to it’s former glory. Now here is the big one here, lets talk about arm pits, under my arms feel smooth, no knotty lumps in my lymph system, nothing, it’s all functions normal on this hormone train.
Over the weekend I suffered an anxiety attack, something I have dealt with most of my life. It was of course, about money, worrying about taxes and my lack of work meant things we needed would have to wait. This time, I felt I had the tools needed to help me through, breathing and meditating were my front line defense. Next time though, I hope to be even more prepared to avoid the attack all together.
As I write this, I’m on day 51, and plan on continuing my practice daily. Kundalini is much more than an exercise, it is a way of living life. Not only have I lost the last few pounds, I have gained strength in my core I previously never experienced. My hormones are balancing, my lymphatic system is functioning to it’s best ability. I have more energy to face the day, be present with my children and keep a positive mental attitude. I will continue to open my chakras, and to channel my kundalini energy and meditate on the positive flow of the universe as it is meant to be. I believe this is only the beginning of my journey to whole health, divinity and purpose. I’m so glad I made the commitment to 40 days of Kundalini yoga, and you will too. Sat Nam.