A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to be invited to a small retreat in Kansas City. It was an immersive Kundalini Yoga retreat. Kundalini Yoga is the most powerful thing I have ever done for my body-mind. The setting at the ashram was profoundly healing and the connections I made with the other people in attendance was magical.
If you are a Yogi or interested in learning about Yoga I suggest reading on to learn more about the technology behind Kundalini Yoga practice as taught by Yogi Bhajan.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
"Kundalini Yoga is the science to unite the finite with Infinity, and it's the art to experience Infinity in the finite."
-Yogi Bhajan, 10/27/88
Kundalini Yoga is heavily focused on techniques that gently awaken the dormnant energy coiled at the base of the spine, known as Kundalini (or Shakti) energy. Practitioners use very specific sets of exercises, known as Kriyas, to tap into both the nervous and glandular systems of the body.
If you normally practice Hatha Yoga you might be surprised by the amount of pranayama, chanting and singing used in Kundalini practices. I really enjoyed the chanting. The sounds help to quiet my mind and afterwards the sense of calmness is very rewarding.
What is an Ashram?
Traditionally, an ashram is a spiritual hermitage or a monastery in Indian religions. There are now ashrams all over the U.S. dedicated to teaching and practicing different forms of Yoga and other spiritual practices.
An ashram is a place one can go and spend time focused on her inner being. Yoga is about transforming the Self, which can be extremely challenging while also trying to juggle work, family and other day-to-day responsibilities. At an ashram everyone supports your spiritual practice and provides a safe and soul-nourishing atmosphere for you to do the hard work of inner transformation.
Sat Tirath is one of several ashrams established by Yogi Bhajan in the late 1960s and early 70s when he came to the west to share his knowledge of Kundalini Yoga.
My Experience at the Ashram
When I arrived at Sat Tirath in Kansas City, MO I was met with a very peaceful energy. The house is very old and surrounded by gardens. Inside felt tranquil and warm, like home.
The retreat began with a welcome meeting and we went straight to our practice. After the first evening Kriya we were treated to sound healing by means of a gong bath. We went to bed early and arose to the sound the Rise Up song on the guitar at 3:30 am for the morning Sadhana practice.
After a full day of chanting together, cooking together, eating together, learning together and crying together we spent the second evening sleeping in the Yoga room for an all night gong bath. It was surreal. I enjoyed the togetherness. We felt like a tribe, even though many of us had never met before.
Right before the gong bath we heard news of the chaos happening in North Carolina. I was grateful for how our group leaders handled the news. They didn't give us any details, just that there may have been some fatalities and there was chaos. We did an impromptu group prayer for peace that included chanting for 22 minutes. Our intention was to send as much peaceful energy that way as we could. It felt good to respond in such a loving and peaceful way. I felt as if our practice DID have some kind of effect, even if I will never see it directly. Ripples, man....
I am contemplating Kundalini Yoga teacher training in the near future, but until then I am pleased at the impact the retreat has had on my practice. I went to gain more confidence and training in Kundalini Yoga so that I could practice at home. I returned with that and more.
I do Kundalini Yoga at least 4 times a week now. The improvements in my physical and mental well being have been noticeable. I especially notice a boost in energy that is quite helpful as a working mom.
If you are interested in learning more about Kundalini Yoga visit 3ho.org or find a local class. If you are near the mid west I suggest you learn more about Sat Tirath Ashram and consider dropping in for classes, gong baths or an extended stay.
If you Kundalini Yoga seems like too much for you at this point in your journey consider taking a retreat of some other kind. Retreats are a wonderful opportunity to hit the internal reset button. When life is overwhelming a weekend retreat might just be the medicine the doctor ordered.