A couple of months ago, I discovered kundalini yoga. Rather than focusing on strength of flexibility, this yoga focuses on breath and being. Or as yogajournal.com describes
Kundalini Yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras… The goal is to build physical vitality and increase consciousness.
There’s something about this integration of body, breath, and emotional and spiritual being that stirs me to the core. Stirs the core and invites old friends to visit…my old friends have their own version of yoga chanting:
You’re too flawed to do this. You’re not good enough to try that. Try harder. Work harder.
I’ve known this for years, spent countless hours and dollars trying to silence, stilfle, or simply ignore these old friends. But try as I might, these friends and their chanting recur–especially in times of stress, change, and loss. In the last couple of years, I’ve spent a lot less time trying to squelch or sequester these friends and a lot more time trying to listen to them in a different way. Beneath the inner critics’ chanting is a deep yearning and desire to protect. What I’ve discovered in Kundalini is a practice that invites just that. A space to listen to and release that voice, those beliefs, and the deep feelings beneath them.
This Sunday our focus was on releasing our inner anger and getting in touch with our spiritual warrior. Friends, let me just say, that the poses, breathing, and chants released something profound and deep in me. In the middle of one pose, my head started to chant F*** You. F*** U. (can you say a little pent up anger)…I don’t know how long this went on. Somewhere in the midst of this, the mantra changed to Sat Nam (meaning truth is my identity). This is the chant we meditate on in class. As my inner chanting changed, something released. My movement became more fluid. Tears streaked my cheeks.
The experience was so profound that I found it difficult to describe after class. As I worked to put words to the release I experienced, one woman started to shake her head and say “oh no.” Since I felt a wonderful release and emptiness from this experience, I’m sure my can’t hide anything face gave a questioning look.
She went on to explain, “I just thought you were passed all of that. I used to have all of that too when I was younger…and then…” She went on for a little and to be honest what she said doesn’t matter.
It felt like yoga shaming. Self-help shaming. Healing shaming.
Ouch! I’ve done that to myself before. I assumed there was something wrong with me for having x or y experience. For re-opening x or y wound. For falling down again. Or falling in the same hole again. For having this feeling. For re-having this feeling. I tell you–I have done that to me, and I have conveyed this in subtle and not so subtle ways to others. Like if we try hard enough, work long enough, grasp high enough, we will transcend.
Sometimes we do. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we get the yoga breath down and glide into serenity. Other times we chant F*** U. Most of the time it’s somewhere in between.