it’s easy to dismiss kundalini yoga as the normcore stepsister of sexy, hot vinyasa. the baggy white clothes, general lack of sweating, and older average age of kundalini participants can lead you to believe it’s a form of geriatric meditation.
called the “yoga of awareness,” kundalini uses meditation, mantra, movement, and breathing techniques to move kundalini, or spiritual energy, up the spine and through the chakras.
i’ve done it a few times, namely when Obama’s in LA disrupting our delicate traffic ecosystem and the only yoga studio i can reach is the kundalini one within walking distance. but, heads-of-state visits aside, i prefer the mind-clearing burn of a strong flow class.
but several weeks ago i went to an evening kundalini workshop at a brand new studio. the focus was activating your highest self--essentially accelerated soul-searching. subconsciously i felt it would be difficult because i was anxious the day leading up to it.
in fact, it felt like my beheading was scheduled for 19.00 at la brea and melrose. i called my grandmom to take my mind off the upcoming event. but she reminded me i have to get married (“you need to find someone!”), which, although it temporarily shifted my focus, didn’t help overall.
after my usual Friday yoga i went to the new kundalini place. the main room had dark wood floors, huge windows, and a feeling of industrial, minimal peacefulness. a gigantic gong sat in the corner, but sadly it went unused.
others had already settled on the floor, many with sheepskin rugs on top of their yoga mats, which bolstered my secret hope (later proven false) that the workshop would emphasize lolling around while someone told me stuff.
first we did some kundalini postures, which are hard. kundalini is no joke, psychologically or physically. it features a lot of repetitive movements for minutes at a time while taking the longest breaths imaginable. you often feel like your extremities will fall off or burst. but persevering rewards you with rushes of energy throughout your body.
after the warm-up, the teacher guided us through writing exercises about issues blocking our progress and qualities we must nurture in order to overcome them. we discussed our writing with another, randomly-chosen participant, in the hopes that talking about the discoveries would inspire us to act on them. by now i was crying big, hot tears but everyone was cool with it.
earlier i said this workshop was a few weeks ago. i didn’t immediately share this experience because of what happened next, which left me thinking, “whaaaa?” and “no one wants to hear this much about you.” i wrote a draft skirting around the next section entirely. then i remembered my commitment to my readers—to be authentic and honest.
first, the heart. we wrapped this first portion with a meditation for self-confidence. during it, i felt strangeness around and behind my heart. not the heart-failure kind, but a warm fuzziness. it was energy flowing. i’d never, in nearly eight years of consistent yoga, or 10 days of vipassana meditation, felt movement there.
shortly thereafter i thought, “where will i get the love?” (this was unrelated to anything i’d said or thought earlier) and then the answer came, “not outside.” it was just a voice—no Southern accent, no lisp, no autotune—only pure information being transmitted.
oh, fuck, i thought. “not outside” was not the answer i wanted. why no love potion number 9 to drink, or spell to cast, or product to buy?
because going inside to find love is the truest, most fulfilling path.