During the summer months, I decided to focus my Thursday morning Kundalini yoga classes on the eight chakras (in Kundalini yoga we recognize not just seven but eight—the eighth being the Aura or electromagnetic field). Since it was summer, I called the class series the “Chakra Cruise” and some of us, really got into it, even wearing the chakra colors: red for the first, orange for the second, yellow for the third, and so on. We learned a lot and had a good time.
I will admit when I first heard about the concept of the chakras—subtle wheels of energy in the body—many years ago, I thought it was a bunch of silly gobbledygook. If I could not see them, then why should I believe in them? If my doctor could not identify or treat them, then why should I care if they were “balanced” or “blocked?”
But, as with so many things in life, over time I began to realize that indeed the chakras—even though they didn’t show up on an X-ray—were quite real. And, when I began the practice of Kundalini yoga, their qualities and effects became even more apparent.
During our “Chakra Cruise,” I used two wonderful books. One is called The 8 Human Talents by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, and the other is The Kundalini Yoga Experience by Guru Dharam Khalsa and Darryl O’Keeffe. If you’re interested in the chakra system I would highly recommend both books. I took most of the kriyas we practiced during the eight-week series from Guru Dharam’s book and used Gurmukh’s text to give background. I love the way Gurmukh describes the qualities of the chakras. For instance, writing about the first chakra, which relates to the Earth element, she observes, “It can be the red of the burning ember at the center of a roaring fire, or it can be the musty red of clay, or the deep crimson of a ruby forged by pressure deep within the earth.” Gurmukh brings the chakras to life, and her book is a great way to dig deeper.
Just to review, here is a brief summary of the chakras, all of which work together to create harmony and balance:
After our metaphorical “Chakra Cruise” ended, I took a “real” cruise on the Seine River from Paris to Northern France and back. I’d never been to Europe, and the experience was amazing. In my past life—before Kundalini Yoga, that is—fear would have kept me from flying to France and I would have imagined and invented many obstacles that would have prevented me from such a journey. But all that has changed since I opened to this practice, and as I sat on the deck of the river boat, watching castles, swans, and barges float by, I thanked my lucky stars (and the Divine) for…
The Chakra system is a wonderful tool to help us navigate our human experience. I hope you’ll join us the next time we leave port!
What is your relationship your chakras or the idea of chakras? How do they come up in your life. We'd love to hear from you. Please comment below. Sat Nam.
Kathy (Harjot Kaur) has been practicing yoga for more than a decade and completed her Level 1 (200 hr) teacher training with Gurudass Kaur Khalsa. She began practicing Kundalini yoga six years ago; a breast cancer survivor, she found it to be a wellspring of courage, trust and joy. The author of the memoir Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman’s Quest for Balance, Strength and Inner Peace, Kathryn blogs frequently for the Kundalini yoga music website SpiritVoyage.com. Her spiritual name, Harjot, means “light of the creative Divine.” Kathy is excited to share her light and love with her students at Montclair Kundalini Yoga; she strongly believes that Kundalini yoga is for everybody and every body: There is something for everyone on this uplifting, heart-centered path. She is also a practitioner of Iyengar and Vinyasa yoga and is deeply grateful to all her teachers. Join Kathy on Thursday mornings for Kundalini Yoga & Meditation. She plays the gong for relaxation.
My Journey by Andy Steinfeld
I love Kundalini Yoga. It was love at first chant.
About three years ago I took my first Kundalini class with Cate Baily. I had just made some major breakthroughs in my life. After spending many years in the darkness, I was in the light again. Kundalini just felt so right and exactly what I needed to maintain my happiness. I kept taking classes and taking classes. I couldn’t get enough! I took classes with Savitri. She talked about spirit and the world most of us know nothing about. I was fascinated by her outlook on spiritual life.
I studied every night. I must have watched hundreds of videos on YouTube. The more I watched, the more I loved Kundalini. I was like a person who hadn’t eaten for days. I couldn’t get enough knowledge into my brain fast enough. I wanted to know more!
Cate turned out to be my mentor and spirit guide. When I asked for advice on my practice, she willingly helped guide me in the right direction. She gave me my first 40 day practice, Meditation for a Calm Heart. She gave me songs and artists to listen to. She explained everything I had questions about. Cate's love of this practice was infectious. Watching her at our first Sat Nam Fest together was inspiring. The joy in her face as we took classes and went to concerts was beautiful to see. The first time I saw Snatam Kaur perform “The Long Time Sun” (See the link to the song in the comments.) I was overwhelmed with such joy. The tears were flowing from both of us.
We went to Sat Nam Fest again the next year, and this time I stayed the entire 5 days. Wow! I met so many amazing people. I met all the artists that perform the music I love, and I took pictures with all of them. Cate always teases me that I’m going to publish a coffee table book with all picture of me and the artists. I do it so I can remember the bliss I felt at the time.
After coming home from Sat am Fest, it was obvious what I had to do next. Teacher training. In November 2018, I started my journey to become a Kundalini Yoga Teacher. Hari, and the great Dharma Devi led the training. Our class was relatively small. 13 women and me. But it turned out for the best. We became a family. We cried and laughed together. We celebrated our accomplishments together, and most importantly, we supported each other. Guest teachers came and were so giving with their knowledge of the practice. The months flew by. We all did our practicums for each other, and it really felt like we were almost there, teachers.
When we all went as a group to White Tantric Yoga (a day-long meditation event), that took things to the next level. We rented a bus so we could all be together. This was such a powerful part of our training, and we were all very moved by it.
When we all graduated in June, it was like a dream. We all went to lunch together to celebrate our accomplishment. At the end of the last class together with Hari, she brought us all in close and had us close our eyes. I will never forget her next words. “I bless you all now as teachers.” Tears were flowing.
When I taught my first class, some of my classmates came to support me. Friends from Montclair Kundalini yoga came. After the final blessing, when I arose from bowing, tears flowed again. I am a teacher. It still gives me a little chill when I say that to myself.
This past week many of us went to Sat Nam Fest together. This was my third year there. But this year was very different. I went with the eyes, ears and heart of a teacher. It was like watching a movie in a language you don’t understand. You enjoy the movie, but don’t entirely get it. Then you watch it again with subtitles and you get it. Classes I took and the words of the teachers now were so much clearer to me. Some of the words used that I had heard before, now had power. I knew the philosophy behind them. Yogi Amandeep said “The one who knows how to hold the breath, knows how to hold life.” I understand totally. In training, we learned all about breath and it’s importance. About the body locks. All so important and critical to this practice. The wonderful Gurmukh said “ Get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged.” I understood. A common thread through all the presenters was childhood. Why are people attracted to babies? Because they are pure. Pure light. As we grow up and lose our true self, our Sat Nam, we lose sight of our pure light. We still have it inside us. Its just buried deep. Kundalini Yoga teaches us to find it again, to go back to our Sat Nam.
One of the other great things about my Sat Nam experience this year was meeting people who I have only known online. I have a Facebook page "Friends Who Like Montclair Kundalini Yoga" (Link to it here and join). I post something inspirational every day. I love doing it, and many people share and comment on the posts. I got to meet many of them in person at SNF! Another miracle. New friendships were made, old ones were strengthened. I could have floated home instead of driving the 3 hours.
So that’s my journey. But it’s really only the very start. I look forward to teaching more and more and sharing my love of this practice. I just want to go deeper and deeper.
I’m still hungry.
I'd love to hear from you. What is your journey? How did you find Kundalini Yoga? Please share in the comments below.
It is an understatement to say that Andy is very excited to begin his Kundalini Yoga teaching career at Montclair Kundalini Yoga. His journey toward becoming a spiritual teacher began with the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz which offers a philosophical framework for living. The book literally saved his life and brought him joy and happiness. Soon after finding this book, he discovered Kundalini Yoga. He was instantly hooked and began studying and deepening his practice with the guidance of Cate and Savitri at Montclair Kundalini Yoga. Andy likes to say, "When I finished The Four Agreements, the light came back into my life. When I found Kundalini, that light went to technicolor." Andy recently graduated from 200 hour teacher training with Hari Kaur and Dharma Devi. His love of this practice and life is very deep and evident in his presence at the studio.