That’s how I felt last Saturday after my first Kundalini yoga class. Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article on this type of yoga. When you read about the Kundalini energy coiled around the base of your spine it may seem a little weird. And it was a little weird—there were students there who described themselves as addicted to this kind of yoga, there was singing, there was crying… Suffice to say it was a little weird. But it was also a little awesome.
Actually, a lot awesome. I can’t remember feeling so great about life as I did after leaving that class. That doesn’t mean that I’m addicted, but it does mean that I would do it again.
You’re probably wondering how we went from yoga to singing and crying… and that’s a valid question.
This is how the class/workshop went: We started off with a brief history of Kundalini yoga—and I learned some pretty cool things, like all the teachers traditionally wear all white. Then we actually started the practice. The class began with a chant (love love love chanting!) and instruction on how to do breath of fire. We then did some movement and this is where Kundalini is really different from hatha yoga. Instead of flowing through several different poses and linking them with breath, the practice is holding one pose for an extended period of time while breathing and meditating. This sounds similar to yin yoga, but its really not—it’s a lot more intense and a lot less focused on the lower body. And each set of poses (you do one set per class) is intended to help with one area (like digestion). Between poses, you take an extended child’s pose and then start the next.
At the end of class, instead of savasana, we did an 11 minute overcoming obstacles meditation—this consisted of us sitting in sukasana with our arms extended, bent, and doing peace signs—towards the end of the mediation we chanted again. After the meditation, we sang, (here’s where it got a little too crunchy for my hippie self), looked at our fellow classmates in the eye, came into a circle, held hands, hugged, and sang in a swaying circle. And yes, people were crying. No, I was not one of those people. In fact, I was a little uncomfortable here—I was having flashbacks to college sorority events, when I was usually the only person at any given event not crying. It’s not that I’m not an emotional person (some people might disagree), it’s that I think my emotions are too personal to share with complete strangers. So the fact that I was a little uncomfortable with the crying doesn’t mean that I don’t think it was an emotional experience—It was, I felt really happy and connected after class—my discomfort just means I don’t think one needs to cry in public.
I should point at that during this entire class, I was wondering about liability for injuries in this type of yoga. I guess that the lawyer in me talking, but in most yoga classes, the teachers tell you to listen to your body and to not push into pain. In this class, the teacher (who really did a great job) was telling us to not listen to our bodies, that our bodies were trying to trick our minds and that we really weren’t in pain. Not to get all lawyer-ey, but what are the liability implications? Do you accept the risk of injury by proceeding in pain or has the teacher torted you by instructing you to do something painful?
Despite all my issues (both legal and personal) with this class, I really liked it and I would definitely do it again. I don’t really think it’s a cult-ey class or addictive, but it does have a very new agey vibe. So if you’re not open minded about snakes of energy coiled around the base of your spine or the teachers clothing affecting electromagnetic fields, maybe this isn’t for you. But I suggest getting in touch with your hippie side and giving it a try.