Naive and completely uninformed of exactly what I’m getting myself into, I walk into the practice room for my very first taste of Kundalini yoga. The room is humid and the heat from the previous Vinyasa course sticks around in the air. I discover a location for my mat and sit down amidst the buzz and chatter of the yogis and yoginis that’ll be practicing together with me that night. The space is entirely packed, and I eye the fellow to my right, who smiles at me and says, ‘It’s going to be a hot one tonight!’ This makes me nervous.

Kundalini Yoga

The educator, Gloria, enters all smiles, and an immediate hush settles over the space. She informs us to sit in a comfortable position, close our eyes, get grounded. I follow these directions, which appear basic enough. All of a sudden, everyone begins to chant – Ong Namo Expert Dev Namo – words that are unknown to me, and I’ve no concept exactly what they imply. I mumble along incoherently, acting that I too, am a skilled professional. She advises us to bring our palms together and inhale deeply as we raise them overhead, and exhale strongly as we move our hands greatly toward the mat.

Everyone starts breathing, and I’m strangely reminded of the sounds of the orcs in The Lord of the Rings. What am I doing right here? We stand up, and music begins blasting – ABBA’s Dancing Queen – and everybody is moving and smiling and laughing and before I understand it I am laughing too, even if I’ve no concept exactly what’s going on. Gloria tells us to grab a dancing partner, and I see these big, muscular men in front of me holding hands and dancing around gaily and I can’t assist but get into a cheesy smile.

She tells us to cry out HAR as we punch the air, releasing our anger. I feel strong and equipped. Sweat rolls down my face and back, in a gratifying sort of way. The boy beside me was ideal – it was a hot course that night. As I settle in Savasana at the end of course, a smile crosses my lips. I’m proud of myself for being brave, for attempting something brand-new. (If I’d understood how sore I’d be the next day, I certainly wouldn’t have actually been smiling). I’m currently anticipating next week’s class.

I was fortunate enough to take part in a yoga teacher training that included a range of designs of yoga. Among my amazing instructors, Gloria Latham, is specifically well-versed in Kundalini yoga, and my schoolmates and I were encouraged to take part in among her Kundalini courses each week. The very first time I went to a Kundalini course, I went in with no expertise or background of the practice, which was most likely for the best. Kundalini yoga tends to be presented in an overly fanatic, cult-ish sort of way. There are those that alert against the practice, asserting it’s dangerous and hazardous. There are many Kundalini devotees who use turbans and dress in all white, and spend lots of hours of their day exercising sadhana.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the practice, Kundalini yoga is based upon the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, a spiritual leader who’s credited for bringing Kundalini yoga to the Western world. Kundalini itself is conceived as a coiled up serpent which represents a concentrated form of prana or life force, lying dormant in chakras in the body (… a serpent? Coiled and lying dormant within my chakras? The closest I’d ever pertained to anything like this was Cobra present …). Hence, Kundalini yoga is a set of exercises (kriyas) and mental practices (reflections) that are developed to awaken one’s spirituality and awareness to the universal nature of the soul. Kundalini yoga is often called the yoga of awareness since it awakens the kundalini which is the limitless capacity that already exists within every human being.

Although it might sound a little odd or strange, Kundalini yoga is something that truly needs to be experienced personally. I discover that it’s an amazing complement to my routine yoga practice. Although Kundalini may not be the ideal suitable for everybody, I encourage everybody to attempt it at least as soon as!