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 Yogi Bhajan 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. As Yogi Bhajan said, “If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.” Then came a sign from the universe: Hari Kaur was coming to Montclair Kundalini Yoga to do teacher training! Hari worked directly with Yogi Bhajan for ten years as director of teacher training. Yogi Bhajan said “ I don’t believe in miracles, I rely on them” This was my miracle. Who else but Hari could I learn from? So I signed up.
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 quotes from Yogi Bhajan, or 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. Always learning from the master, Andy posts daily quotes from Yogi Bhajan on the Facebook group he manages, Friends Who Like Montclair Kundalini Yoga. Join him on Thursday nights for Kundalini Yoga & The Four Agreements.
I was 10 or so and thrilled to be with my cousins for the day. With them, there was no self-consciousness, no hesitation. I could be myself, and I even had a bit of bravado as the oldest cousin. The day’s plan: Have a touristy time at the Statue of Liberty with my larger-than-life, super-fun uncle leading the way. I don’t remember if I cared about the ferry ride or Lady Liberty — probably not. I was with people who loved me and there was an exuberant safety in that.
I felt on top of the world, and it had nothing to do with climbing the 354 steps to the crown because I don’t even remember if we did. It had to do with my heart. An open and free heart is the top of the world.
At some point, we went for lunch at the crowded cafe. With no tables available, we found a ledge above the fray where we kids could perch while my uncle waited on line for our food. Just below us, stressed, exhausted adults with furrowed brows wove around each other with their brown plastic trays. We watched the scene below us, contentedly. Then, I got a “brilliant” idea.
A pinched-faced woman with a severe bun (or maybe she’s become that caricature in my memory over the years) walked by trying to balance an overflowing tray. I thought, “I’m going to make my people laugh. I can always make them laugh.”
“Watch this,” I said to my cousins. “I’m going to do something.” I reached out as if to steal a soda from the woman’s tray. My cousins’ eyes widened. It was a scandalous and thrilling action. I enjoyed showing off. But then…
…the woman stopped in her tracks and looked right at me: “What are you doing?” I don’t know what I’d expected her reaction to be or if I even thought that part through, but she was NOT amused.
Mortified. Momentarily mute. Blood rushed to my face. Please walk away. Please walk away. Please walk away. I silently prayed. But she held my deer-in-the-headlights gaze. Finally, I managed to stammer, “Just joking.”
“Joke with yourself!” she spat and huffed away.
Joke with yourself. My spirit plummeted. My heart closed a little. Joke with yourself. Don't try to be funny. Keep it all in.
That moment when my feeling of freedom diminished was just one of many "assaults" throughout my life to my identity, to my belief that I am loved and accepted, to my willingness to take risks and put myself out there. Those moments are commonplace in childhood. Aren't they?
This is why I need Kundalini Yoga. I need it to reclaim my liberty, my free, open, top-of-the-world inner self. I need to sit tall in my truth, roll my shoulders up, back, and down, lift my heart and feel supported in who I am. I need the repetition of Sat Nam Sat Nam Sat Nam. I need to connect to my breath. I need to meditate to restore my Self, return to myself.
This is why I think we all need a practice. No matter how charmed a childhood we had and adulthood we lead, we encounter people who reject what we project; we store little shocks to the system along the way which seem to be a sign that we are not good enough.
If your karma is a hard karma and your story includes truly harsh treatment, injustice, devastating loss or any of the many things that are more painful than a humorless woman making a nasty comment a practice is also a cure. Wherever we fall on the spectrum of harm a practice is a cure.
EVERY meditation speaks to the need to fortify our psyche and rebuild and reconnect to the aspect of the Self which is True. But there’s one Kundalini meditation in particular that speaks to it quite directly: Meditation to Experience & Project the Original Self.
The Original Self is your Sat Nam, True Identity. What is your True Identity? You know it, even if you don’t know you know it. It’s the deepest part of you, the aspect that knows your right from your wrong — even when you can’t find the words. It’s the essence of you that never picked up anyone else’s expectations or disappointments. It’s your untainted, quiet center. It’s your confident, fearless, open heart.
Practice this meditation for 40 days to become one with the original you, the you you came here to be. Reclaim your liberty. Here’s how:
Meditation to Experience & Project the Original Self
Commit to it. Commit to shedding all the cranky lady comments and reconnecting to your open, free heart. It is one of the most important endeavors of all.
AND … Don’t be disapproving with children. Smile and accept them as they are — even if it’s a bad joke in a stressful moment.
What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you. What meditation helps you feel that you are coming home to yourself?
Cate discovered Kundalini Yoga by accident over 20 years ago and was surprised and thrilled by how engaged, energized, and inspired it made her feel. She's been practicing ever since. In 2008, Cate completed her Level 1 (200 hr) teacher training with Hari Kaur Khalsa of Hari NYC. In 2012, she broadened her knowledge with a very special Holistic Hatha Yoga training (300 hr) with Amy Witmyer of Sacred Space. Kundalini Yoga is her home, her go-to sanctuary, her point of peace and insight. She believes that it is a wonderful tool for busy times and busy minds. Join Cate on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings for Kundalini Yoga & Meditation.
Tonight's turbo-charged, wolf howling, full blood moon lunar eclipse promises to bring a crescendo to whatever is most important in our lives. The Leo season makes us want to shine, to show off and actualize our potential. But the blood moon urges us to look backwards instead, at the burdens we insist on carrying around with us from the past that no longer serve our higher self.
Knowing this, I yearn to use this eclipse to finally move into my home. As some of you know, last year I experienced the devastation of a house fire. My home burned down, and we rebuilt from scratch. (All living creatures were unharmed. Even my turtles survived.)
I haven't really moved into the new home. I've been sidetracked by still more disasters, so my belongings wait patiently inside hastily packed boxes that can't mask the sickening stench of smoke from the salvaged items inside. I must go through each treasured belonging to decide what to keep. Grim and dirty work, but it's got to get done. With my few hours off work though, I'd rather do a load of wash, or meditate in front of my altar.
Most of all, I long to design a shiny new yoga program for aspirants at MKY. But with no real home base beneath me, my radiant dreams remain embryonic.
Astrologers agree that this lunar eclipse in Aquarius is completely idealistic. Yet its Shangri-La expectations are frustrated by the earthly, domestic concerns that now influence the moon's energy. This perfectly describes my own frustrated emotions: I want to fly so high, but too much needless ballast weighs me down. Whatever we've been resisting or holding back is now pushing violently to the surface. We are called to make a sacrifice, to forgo our magical thinking and clean up our messes. Astrologers urge us to be with our feelings right now, understand what they are bringing up to be looked at and dealt with. We must face our inner demons, and my demons are hunkered down inside boxes, badly in need of a bath -- loitering, unemployed sentries, waiting for their next tour of duty.
We are also now on the eclipse's razor edge of Mar's rebellious fury. Time to reign in our egos, so magnified by the proud majesty of the Leo sun. We want to be careful what we say and avoid emotional outbursts that we may regret later. The moon rules our emotions and Mars rules our passion, so relationships with people, places and things we love are super charged. Thankfully, the structuring effect of Saturn will hopefully lead us into a mature and productive channeling of this fiery force.
So now to deal with the outcome of my own fire; feelings of loss and sadness, the senseless attachment to things I no longer need, all the ways I avoid the unpleasant tasks that need to get done. What kind of truly powerful life might I lead if I stop avoiding?
Intense transformation rules this time. This blood moon eclipse gives us the opportunity to completely drop our baggage, to volcanically purge and clear all that no longer serves us. Doing this fully promises to bring abundant reward.
So I open the first box, my senses are accosted with the smoky remnants of the fire. My heart jumps with delight as I lift out my beloved stuffed dragon, Raj, who used to sit atop my quartz crystal collection. His red flanks are darkened from the smoke, his once proud whiskers are covered in ash. I’m instantly reminded of the most frightening day of my life. Along with a sense of anguish, I also relive all the smiles Raj brought me and thank him for his decades of service. My hand trembles slightly as I place him carefully inside the garbage bag.
What is rising to the surface for you? Please let us know in the comments below. Let's move through the challenges together.
Savitri's path of right living centers around the spiritual upliftment of each person she encounters. As a Yoga teacher, Savitri brings the potency of over thirty years of spiritual study and practice, including meditation, in-depth study of Tai Chi, Chi Kung and other martial arts, as well as her certified expertise in Kundalini Yoga & Shakti Dance™. Savitri transmits her passion, joy and commitment to truth through these Raj (royal) yogas, which enliven and empower all who attend her classes, workshops and retreats. Join Savitri on Wednesday and Friday nights for Kundalini Yoga with Sound Healing and on Saturday mornings for Kundalini Yoga & Meditation.