My First Kundalini Yoga Class

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I’ve been listening to “Mantra Music”, made by the devotees of Kundalini Yoga practice, for some time. The new generation of Kundalini yogi-musicians worldwide are making beautiful music, blending powerful Sanskrit and Hindi mantras, Indian/World music and instruments, sometimes English lyrics, light percussion, arranged beautifully in the modern, Western style. The names of the gurus of this path of yoga–Guru Nanak and Guru Ram Das are often chanted in these songs and chants.

You can say I’m musically a devotee of the Kundalini Yoga path. The Kundalini Yoga practice, however, I had never experienced, until today.

My own Hatha Yoga practice started with the ever popular Vinyasa flow classes. After being trained to teach Ananda Yoga, which is a classical Hatha Yoga practice focused on alignment and holding in postures, much less on flow, I’ve rarely experienced any other types of yoga classes.

Today I broke this tradition. With a friend I went to a Kundalini Yoga class in town. I knew a little about their practice. It’s super heavy on breath and energy exercises, mantras, mudras, and flowing with the breath.

As we were about to start the class, I bowed down to the studio floor and offered a prayer to Guru Ram Das and Nanak. For years I’ve been hearing their blessed names in the chants and songs I listen to, but as a disciple of another path of yoga—Kriya Yoga of Paramhansa Yogananda—I have no connection with those gurus. So now that I was on their “temple floor”, so to speak, I felt to make the supplication to get to know them.

The contents of the Kundalini Yoga session was more or less what I expected, but to experience it was something else. The power of the breath exercises and letting the sound and vibration of mantras and Japji (quick recitation of Sikh mantric prayers) do their work on the spine was deeply felt. Leaving the yoga studio I felt so purified, so much so that I jokingly asked my friend if we should get a sonogram, to see the purified versions of our spines.

But the most powerful event of this class came to me at the very end. As a powerful mantra was playing in the background, our instructor said something about “letting go of the fear of the future”, asked us to meditate as we put the palms together, with the right hand holding the left, and press them together at the heart center in the middle of the chest.

Do you remember in the beginning when I said I prayed to the gurus of Kundalini Yoga for a connection to them? Well, That did not happen …

Do you know what did happen during that short meditation, when we had the eyes closed and joined palms at the heart? Surprise! I had a visualization of my own beloved guru, Yogananda, approaching me. With infinite love he allowed me to hold his hand and twirl around him. We danced together. No words. Just ever so soft and easy blissful love and connection. My tears flowing down seemed to make these moments even sweeter to experience.

So there you go. As devotees of a particular path, we might get the totally wrong notion that the guru wants us to literally stick to what we identify as a practice in the path, and avoid anything from another. The truth is that the masters, the great gurus, have no competition! They are one, as they have merged with the One. Guru Ram Das was saying to me, “My child go to your own guru!”

What the guru wants for you is your continued inner transformation. Sometimes, if you do something out of the ordinary, which breaks the cycle of your habitual sadhana, or spiritual practice, the guru might even come to personally dance with you, to cheer you on!

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