The benefits & the slippery slope of kundalini yoga:  how it can serve your life, and how it can turn into a soft addiction

There is a specific benefit to practicing Kundalini Yoga that I’d like to dialogue with you about: it’s capacity to strengthen our ability to stay centered during stressful moments. This is especially true with regular class attendance, even more so than doing this at home, because for most of us, we take our practice further with group energy, making the practice work faster. 

Kundalini Yoga kriyas are productive and get down to business. The sequences are meant to put you under pressure, during which you are asked to find your power, determination, and stability through your breath. You are asked to observe the ways your body communicates with you, and how you relate to each exercise, while under pressure: the tantrums and the joys, both physically, mentally and emotionally. You don’t react; you simply feel, breathe into it, and take note. You get to know yourself better during this process, and over time, your habitual reactions to those challenges shift, and a wonderful thing happens: equanimity. Not just on the “good” days, because that’s not equanimity. 

Kundalini Yoga strengthens the nervous system: our response-ability. As our nervous system becomes stronger, we develop real-time access to switch from meditation to “confrontation to the irritations of life” and back, at will. It doesn’t mean you won’t get angry, but it does mean you won’t lose yourself in the process. 

This practice translates well into our lives. What we cultivate during practice, we can bring to our lives. What we do might still feel scary, but we now bring to it a greater sense of self, connection, and support. 

The slippery slope: when you don’t bring the fruits of this practice to your life, and each time you feel challenged, you instead hide in this practice to feel good for the moment, then this becomes a soft addiction. Use it as a daily discipline to build your capacity and your reserves, and it will serve you well. Use it to fight fires, and to hide in it the way others may reach for a drink, and it becomes nothing more than that. 

Don’t use it to “feel better about yourself” having found temporary relief through what you might view as the noble way (without substances). Use it to move forward, take the plunge into a more engaged, fulfilling life where you harness your fears and come out the other end experiencing yet another victory where even failures are celebrations.

With love, grit and gratitude,

Savitree Kaur

Body Check

If you’ve been coming to my class or have had a Wellness Assessment with me, you will have heard me asking for a Body Check.

Your body has a lot to say to you, and when it talks, we benefit A LOT by listening to it rather than by dismissing or complaining about it.

The Body Check is taking a moment to pay attention to what’s happening inside of you, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. You don’t have to look hard for it or make something up. You just need to pay attention to what’s calling out at the moment while you are listening. More often than not, your body is calling out, and you aren’t listening.

Here are some examples of what comes up for people when I say, “First thing in the morning when you wake up. Body Check.”

I’m not ready. I dread the day ahead of me.

I’m stuffed up and I can’t breathe.

I feel rested. The morning is the best part of my day.

I feel my lower back pain.

My neck hurts.

I don’t know. When my alarm rings, I jump out of bed and hit the shower and start my day.

In the Wellness Assessments, I ask for a body check at 4 different hours of the day. Regular body checks will give you insight into what’s working and what’s not if you use them for what they are– your guiding system. If you wake up dreading the day, your body is telling you to make a change (i.e. diet, bedtime routine, ruminating thoughts, actions) so that you may wake up feeling good again.

If you’ve been sitting at your laptop for too long, your body may start to feel stiff, and you might feel emotionally cramped. Your body might be telling you that you need to get up, stretch, and drink a glass of water, or get some fresh air. Ignoring these signs, especially over time, will cause the body to stop whispering and start screaming. Or it can go into hiding and it will take a lot more to figure out what’s wrong.

If you take these signs to simply mean that you are aging, or that today just isn’t going well for you, or to complain about the ache, or identify with them in a way that is self-deprecating, then you’ve essentially dismissed your body’s intelligence that is communicating to you that a shift is necessary to move back into wholeness. Its messages are revealing and they wake us up to do something about it. These messages are gifts guiding us towards continuous self-love and self-care. The longer we wait to listen, the more challenging, chronic, urgent and expensive the “prescriptions” for change becomes.

Body Checks require tuning in throughout the day, for as little as 15 seconds, and paying attention to what comes up. The rest will happen on its own, because the more you start paying attention, the better you will hear your body’s messages. The better you hear, the more likely you will listen. The more you listen, the more you begin to trust yourself. The more you trust yourself, the better you feel about yourself. There is a cost to not stopping and plowing through the day. Disconnect from the body happens, and choices become artificial and externally oriented. Tune in. Feed the intelligence that is your body. Feed your Soul.

Understanding each other is a no-fault zone

At some point in my adult life, I realized that I held the key to my own experiences. Others might impact them, but at the end of the day, my responses dictate my ultimate experience. 

Looking for who’s at fault when things don’t go our way is a complete waste of time and energy and only serves to separate us further from one another. Same with making a list of how the other person needs to change. Sharing that list with them almost guarantees war followed by hours, days, or years of frustration. Blaming ourselves is just as futile. This is different from taking responsibility for our own experiences. While blaming makes us stuck in the past and creates more of the same in the future, taking responsibility empowers us and changes our future.  

When I am frustrated with someone, I go through the following questions: 

  • What did I mean to convey by what I said? Did I straight talk, or did I go about it sideways? Was I sharing myself, or was I blaming or talking about someone else? 
  • How did the other person receive what I said? We can’t fault the other for receiving our message “incorrectly,” because we all receive things through our own filter. If we want to connect with others, we benefit from doing our best to meet them where they are, because they first need to feel understood. Expecting them to meet us where we are is expecting them to change first, which is fine if we don’t want to get anywhere. The question is, is our intention to be right or to do right? 
  • How have I enabled this situation? What have I allowed in the past? Is this another area where I didn’t set healthy boundaries for myself?
  • Am I digging my heels in deeper on this one, just to feel in control, to command respect? Is it really worth it and why? 
  • Is this my work? If it is, then being open to looking at things from a different lens and experiencing some discomfort around it could be the next lesson for me. If not, and this person is important to me, I can accept that this is their work and let them work through it. Meaning, I won’t try to fix it, nor will I beat myself up over it. By knowing this isn’t my work, I will treat the situation differently and more compassionately than I am now. I accept the person for where they are, just as I am sure that others are accepting me where I am.

This can be extra challenging if your hunger to be understood is strong. This is where the kundalini practice comes in. It expands capacity to understand and accept yourself well enough that you can bring that understanding back to others. Communication and understanding are a no-fault zone because we are each other’s mirror.

The key to understanding others is to understand yourself.  –Anonymous

Catching up to each other.

In our personal evolution, we are somewhere between the beginning of it and much further along. It is likely that, for most of us, the journey isn’t close to being over.

If you think back 1, 5, 10 years ago, where were you on that journey? Imagine if someone who was “ahead” of you in their journey judged your past self for being “behind” back then. They may still be judging you for being “behind” today if they “maintained their lead”.

Does their judgment, prodding and expectations that you catch up to where they are help you grow?

Probably not.

Would you want them to give you the space to do it in your own time, on your own terms, and in your own way?

Probably.

Before judging others for being “so far behind”, think about how you would want others to receive you as you are today. Think about letting others have their experiences in their own time and in their own way. In the meanwhile, consider living in your own evolution. Do what you need to do, and support others in where they are… because most likely, they are doing the best they can, just like you are doing the best that you can.

It’s everyone’s best chance at catching up to each other.

Day 3, 2019: what comes after NO?

At the end of the day, the reason that we do much of what we do is to feel good: fulfilled, purposeful, like we matter.

3 days into the New Year, are you in the same auto-pilot that you were in in 2018? Our desire for self-preservation can often cause us to stay in that mode because it’s perceivably no-risk, and changing our routine can feel exhausting and full of risk, and that would not feel good…

On the morning of January 1st, I asked my community to close their eyes and to catch the first thing that came up when I asked the question, what was unacceptable to you in the previous year? What was your NO? 

As babies turn into toddlers, they say NO – to our dismay – to test their boundaries and to find their sense of Self. It’s what leads to the YES– who are they then, if they aren’t their mom or dad?

Knowing what we don’t want, what we don’t want to be, what experiences we don’t want to have, what situations we don’t want to be in, is important. But staying there puts us in danger of growing cynical, disempowered, frustrated, bitter, and stuck in a cycle or unwanted experiences. Knowing our NOs are indeed critical for the next step, which is to ask, what do I want? How do I want to be? What experiences do I want to have? Our NOs open up opportunities to turn things around and better inform what we need to do to step into who we truly are.

Let your NOs be the prompters they are, helping you find your YES so that you may start paying attention to, and act according to, that which is most aligned with your Soul’s desires.

Fate & Destiny

Fate can be looked at as the way the wind blows. If you were on a sailboat, you might be moved according to its direction.  This is where you might say, “Well what could I do? I can’t help the wind.” Or, “How lucky was that??” Fate is the circumstances of your life (the wind) that your soul has chosen to experience in order to grow in this lifetime. 

Destiny is when you use the sail’s rudder in response to the wind to move in the direction you want to go. This is where you understand your own personal power as co-creator. Destiny is your life purpose, and it gives direction. From fate comes the experience, the growth, and the lessons that supports your destiny. 

Safe to be yourself

If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.

Brene Brown

It feels vulnerable to be your most honest self. Scary as it is, so is the above list. But one brings you closer to you, and closer to Joy, while the other takes you further away. 

Vulnerability is scary, but it’s also the source of your true power, because within it is the real you, and the real you is powerful by nature. 

Mool Mantra to strengthen your sense of Self. It has the vibration of empowerment and increased sense of security.

Ek Ong Kar, Sat Nam
Karta Purkh, Nirbao Nirvair
Akaal Moorat Ajoonee
Saibung Gurprasad Jap
Aad Such, Jugaad Such
Haibee Such, Nanak Hosee Bhee Such