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April 2017

in Kundalini Yoga

My Experience at White Tantric Yoga

I recently attended a White Tantric Yoga event hosted by the studio where I practice Kundalini Yoga.

[Before diving in, I want to clarify that White Tantra is not the same as Black Tantra (directing energy to manipulate other people) or Red Tantra (directing energy solely for sexual purposes). White Tantra is a meditative group practice in the practice of Kundalini Yoga that directs energy to cut and release blocks from the individual's subconscious mind.]

My friend Elsa, who is actually about to graduate from her Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training, had attended a Winter Solstice White Tantric Event last year and although she didn't go into too many details, she did say that it was a bit like childbirth: extremely exhausting while you are there but the pain of it is quickly forgotten after and it does change your life. Gee thanks girl, not exactly what I call motivation! Regardless, I had wanted to attend out of curiosity and of course reap the benefits that this type of event proposes to give you. Yogi Bhajan had said that attending one of these events is equivalent to meditating 10 years in a cave. The claim sounds fabricated to me, but hey, why not!?

Not Quite 'Yoga'

The sea of yogi's dressed in white swarmed the auditorium. Everyone was told to find a partner and was directed to sit on the floor. We formed about 20 rows of partners sitting criss cross in front of each other. Although everyone was very friendly, I was grateful that Elsa decided to come with me and be my partner. Here I was, all dressed in comfy white yoga clothes, mentally ready to perform a bunch of rigorous, physical kriyas. HAHA! Think again Nelsy. All the exercises we did were meditative, meaning, hardly any movement was performed. In some of the kriyas, we were instructed to either hold hands and ask each other questions, hold each other's shoulders while looking into each other's eyes and chant the "Ang Sang Wahe Guru" mantra, or put our chin on each other's shoulder and chant the "Ardee Bhaee" mantra...EACH KRIYA FOR 62 MINUTES. Yes. 62 minutes.

Elsa and I

What I Learned From My Experience

Elsa and I shared several moments of vulnerability and intimacy during 2 of the kriyas by voicing our biggest fears, concerns, hopes, aspirations, and joys in life. We were open and supporting with one another. This taught me how it felt to be genuinely vulnerable with someone and BE ACCEPTED for who you are. After being hurt by so many people in life you learn to keep them at a distance. You build walls, masks, and false beliefs to avoid pain, criticism, and feelings of unworthiness...only to realize at the end that it does nothing but distance YOU away from your true, higher self.

We also shared moments of stillness and oneness while meditating and chanting together. Staring into each other's eyes while chanting made us laugh a little [OK A LOT], but the times we surpassed our laugh attacks and went still were very powerful. I felt how we are all connected. The feeling is pretty hard to describe but it was as if we mended or meshed into one, along with everyone else in the room.  Some people were crying, some were laughing [us], but all of us were in this experience together at the same point in our time space reality, separate but united.

Finally, the discomfort of holding positions with someone else for so long and being in such close proximity to others irritates and frustrates a few if not most people. Their squirms, loud breathing, opera-ish version of the chant, or maybe even body odor can be downright annoying. But once you get past all that nonsense, you kind of just surrender and accept the space you are in.  This taught me how to honor and accept my space while simultaneously honoring and accepting someone else's. No matter how loud they chanted or breathed, I loved them for it at the end.

Was It Worth It?

After the event was over, I was able to understand why Elsa had described the experience as childbirth. It was in fact very intense and draining. Holding a posture alone for 62 minutes was exhausting. Add the talking exercises, powerful chanting, and meditation and you are sure to be pooped by the end of the day. BUT MY EXPERIENCE WAS WORTH IT! 🙂 

Have you attended a White Tantric Yoga event? How was your experience? I would love to hear about it!

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Change The Way You View Your Body

"I wish my [fill in body part] was different"

This statement just might be the most frequently used phrase among women everywhere. I've been saying this type of phrase to myself since I was little. Growing up, I was teased all the time for being overweight. I mean yeah, I was chubby and all, but c'mon...the way I was teased you would have thought I was the world record holder for being the most obese child in the world.  Body shaming usually begins when we are young and it seriously affects our self perception. 

As a grown woman, I STILL have to lovingly re-affirm to myself that I am beautiful just the way I am when I look in the mirror and feel like pinching that 'trouble spot'. My body image journey has been an extremely tough one. It is upsetting how long this issue had (and still has!) a stronghold of my life and how much it continues to affect other women around me. Research studies I've read show that:

  • Body image is one of the top predictors of overall life satisfaction for women
  • Majority of women are dissatisfied with their bodies
  • Technology has affected the body image of girls as young as 8 years old
  • Most teens girls report being unhappy with their bodies

The lack of self-love for our bodies is severely affecting our lives and it is even being 'inherited' by our daughters! We need to take a stand for our generation and the ones to come by learning to truly love and accept ourselves, especially our bodies. From personal experience, I  believe you rarely succeed by treating the symptoms alone [harmful behaviors such as self-injury, binging, purging, excessive calorie restriction, excessive exercise, etc]. You must simultaneously treat the CAUSE...lack of self-love.

So How Can We Love Our Bodies?

Our bodies are so sacred! Us women even have capabilities of forming human life inside our organs! Let's be friends with our bodies, not enemies. I am still figuring this out right along with you, but I have discovered a few ways to change the way you view your body RIGHT NOW:

  • Stop the comparison game - Stay away from the triggers that make you feel insecure or judgmental about your body. I am not saying to avoid beautiful people! Just take measures to avoid the triggers that activate YOUR automatic comparison game. For example, stop following that certain "InstaModel" account that makes you feel more depressed than inspired after scrolling.
  • Replace inner negative talk and judgment with positive talk and affirmations - If you do catch yourself comparing, thinking, or talking about about your body in a hateful or negative way, stop yourself and follow through with a more positive thought or affirmation. For example, you might think to yourself as you watch 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians': "Why can't I be skinny like Kylie? I hate my body, I am so fat!" Catch yourself and say out loud or think, "Well I may not be skinny right now, but I am working on being healthy. Besides, my thick thighs are bomb!" 
  • Respect your body - Be active, eat properly, and get a good amount of sleep each night so you can be stronger and healthier. Try to cut back or refrain from drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Primarily focus on how you FEEL, not how you look.
  • Honor your body - Visit your doctor for those yearly check up's and routine blood tests, use protection if engaging in risky sexual behaviors, REST if your body is asking you to rest, schedule a massage, take a long bubble bath with epsom salts (detoxifying and relaxing!)...be nice and genuinely LOVE your body.
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How To Rise From The Ashes

In order for a Phoenix to rise from the ashes, it must first burn and die.

The same goes for you and I. After a traumatic experience such as being domestically abused, or going through a horrible breakup, the pain is intense. But these feelings of regret, disappointment, anger, loneliness, grief, and sadness are actually calling our attention to peel off a layer of our ego so we can get closer to being our highest and best selves. How do we do that? By feeling, accepting, and ultimately growing.

FEELING

Our society has conditioned us to hide our pain. Conceal, don't feel, don't let them knowww...Disney's Frozen anyone? We attempt to subdue pain with temporary harmful behaviors that create a snowball effect which leads to addictions, disorders, self-injury, and breakdown. Allow yourself to feel the pain. Own it. Be aware of it. Don't rush this stage. Journaling is a very effective tool for releasing emotions and thoughts in a healthy way. Once you actually feel it, you can begin to accept it.

ACCEPTING

This doesn't mean you should turn pain into a little luggage and haul it around. It just means being at peace with the way things are at the present moment. It's being comfortable in the uncomfortable. Easier said than done I know, but mindfulness is the key here. I find that meditation and exercise are great for being in the now while also lifting your mood. Acceptance is the fertile ground upon which understanding is born.

GROWTH

Once you understand the pain, you start to see it with a different set of eyes. It is clear that pain actually taught you a lesson (or lessons) and you realize you will never be the same person again. You are wiser, stronger, full of compassion, forgiveness, and love. You have successfully removed a layer of your ego. That old part of you has died. This new part of you is now a reflection of your higher self...reborn, renewed, and risen from the ashes, just like the Phoenix.

Image result for phoenix

Photo credit: © Chanel Baran via C. Ara Campbell

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