Monthly Archives

September 2018

in Inspiration, Kundalini Yoga, Spirituality

Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training

A Transformative Journey

I will never forget my first Kundalini Yoga class. I don't think most people do.

My friend Elsa, who was in the middle of training to become a Kundalini Yoga instructor, asked me to attend her "yoga" class, which she held out of her real estate office. I was experienced in Vinyasa Yoga so I was thrilled to have a chance to practice, no matter where it was.  LITTLE DID I KNOW...this was NOT Vinyasa.

"ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO!!!!!" Elsa chanted loudly to start the class. We were supposed to have our eyes closed, but I peeked through my right eye to see what the heck was going on. I had never heard of Kundalini Yoga before then but I decided to just go with the flow. I was absolutely stunned to see how effective this practice was in getting me to relax and quiet my mind in such a short time. Yes, I felt awkward at first, but after a few minutes my body remembered. It remembered that this ancient practice was a part of my ancestral lineage. It was a part of who I was. My soul reveled in this recollection and now all that was needed was for my conscious mind to catch up to the Truth.

And did it catch up!! I was hooked after the first class. I wanted to learn everything there was to know about the practice. I stayed up several nights watching YouTube videos and reading tons of articles about Kundalini Yoga. I read great things, controversial things, and also scary things, which deterred me for a while [ugh, fear *eyeroll*]. But then I came across an article about the Master of Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Bhajan, and I was surprised to discover that his birthday was the same day as mine. I took that as a huge sign from the universe. I wanted to go deeper....so after just a few months of being introduced to Kundalini Yoga, I signed up for Level 1 Teacher Training.

Image result for so it begins meme

TEACHER TRAINING

Level 1 Teacher Training took about nine months and was a pretty big commitment. Once or twice a month, we would meet all weekend long. The first day, my stomach was in knots.  I didn't know what to expect nor did I know anyone there. We all had to sit in a huge circle to introduce ourselves. I am naturally outgoing but speaking in front of 40 strangers gave me a bit of anxiety.

Truth be told, it went pretty well. As the months passed, we got to practice speaking in front of the class and interacted in smaller groups. We thoroughly discussed topics from our books and many personal matters on a one-on-one basis, which allowed me to get to know some of my fellow classmates on an intimate level. We even took turns in teaching our first yoga class in small groups. Oh, and the workload was not for the faint of heart. We had to read and take in A LOT of information but fortunately our teacher, Deva Kaur (a/k/a the Queen of Kundalini 😉 ), was amazing at explaining everything to us. For me, it all felt so familiar. It felt like home.

Our Level 1 Teacher Training Graduation Ceremony in Yoga Source

WHAT I GAINED

  • KNOWLEDGE: What didn't I learn!? We were taught so many things: The roots of Kundalini Yoga; yogic philosophy; humanology and yogic lifestyle; Western anatomy; yogic anatomy; awakening consciousness through pranayam, mantra, asana, mudra, bhandas, and meditation; the role, responsibilities, and identity of a Kundalini Yoga Teacher; proper yoga class structure; teacher etiquette; and SO MUCH MORE. The beautiful part about the knowledge we received is that we were not "talked at" all day long about these topics. Instead, we were very interactive and EXPERIENCED most of the things we studied.

 

  • GROWTH: My vulnerable side and I had been out of reach for yearrrrrsss. I equated it to weakness. Boy was I wrong. There is so much power in acceptance and vulnerability. We had to speak in front of the whole class at times. Other times we had to speak to a partner about a sensitive or personal topic. We were told to get up and dance in many instances. Or walk around the studio. Or lay down and suck on our tongues. Or chant with our eyes open. Or watch others cry. There was definitely no room for embarrassment or judgment here. These experiences helped me gain a stronger acceptance of myself and others. It allowed me to embrace vulnerability in a way I had not before, which helped me to grow as a person.

 

  • PERSPECTIVE: My perspective on spirituality definitely changed. It does NOT have to be serious all the time. For God's sake, life is meant to be FUN! For example, at lunch we were always given a delicious Indian meal. It was all good until those beans started kicking in and farts started flying out of people left and right. Man, I had my fair share of giggles. Also, there were times where we had to stay in baby pose for a while and I felt like I was drowning in sheep hair. I would sit up, spitting all over myself, trying to get the hair out of my mouth [in Kundalini Yoga, we sit on sheepskins while practicing]. This was the epitome of human-ness in spirituality. And I loved it.

 

  • PUSH PAST LIMITS: This training helped me push past the limits of my mind. Sitting on the floor for 8 hours was not easy. Plenty of times it hurt like heck, but I did it. Keeping up with the 40 day meditation challenges was also difficult, but I did it. Studying textbooks for hours and preparing class schedules was daunting.....but I did it. Your mind can play tricks on you and make the tasks at hand seem insurmountable...until you overcome them. Having the confidence and belief that you CAN do things is key; because in reality, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO. 

 

  • COMMUNITY: Lastly, I began to put my guard down and was more open towards others. I actually started to TRUST people! And I am glad I did, as I gained a sense of what a real community is. I felt supported, guided, and loved the entire time. I met some amazing friends and I was finally able to come together with members of my soul tribe who love me just the way I am.

 

Me, speaking at the Graduation Ceremony

HIDDEN JOURNEY

I went into Teacher Training with a insatiable hunger for knowledge. What I left with was far more than just that. In the process of learning the origins and intricacies of this ancient practice and the methods on how to teach it to others, I learned so much about myself.

It has given me such an appreciation for life (and my body) that otherwise I do not believe I would have attained. The relationship with my mind has significantly improved and continues to get better, one meditation at a time. Before being introduced to Kundalini Yoga, I was on a fast track to disaster. Unhealthy thoughts and habits, destructive relationships, stressful career, and harmful behavior patterns were my norm. I did not know who I was or the power I possessed as a woman.  I can honestly say that Kundalini Yoga played a big part in being able to let all that go. It taught me to self-reflect in order to self-correct.

In the span of nine months, I shifted right before my very eyes. The amount of transformation that occurred in that time is monumental for me. It brought me closer to my true authentic self.  I discovered that this was not a regular yoga teacher training, but a gentle nudge towards a profound inward journey.  I can honestly say that all of my classmates and I left this training a changed person, in one way or another. I recommend this training to anyone who is looking to teach Kundalini Yoga, but more so for those who are willing to grow and evolve as a spiritual being having a human experience.

SAT NAM!

Class Picture

Related posts
in Inspiration, Yoga
Tips for Teaching Yoga at a Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Center
June 17, 2020
in Spirituality, Yoga
Hatha Yoga Teacher Training – at an Ashram!
June 11, 2020
in Inspiration, Spirituality
A Gift from Paramahansa Yogananda
September 13, 2018
in Inspiration, Spirituality

A Gift from Paramahansa Yogananda

ALL of us are on a spiritual journey, whether we are aware of it or not. But those of us who ARE aware of it get to experience some real fun and unexplainable things along the way.

I totally believe that there is NO SUCH THING as random coincidences or situations of chance. All is divinely orchestrated. As a matter of fact, my favorite Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, first coined the term synchronicity in the early 1920's. He described synchronicity as "events that are 'meaningful coincidences' if they occur with no casual relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related."

Ever since I consciously embarked on my spiritual journey, the synchronicities have been insane...and continue to get wilder!! I admire how the universe loves to blow my mind. To me, synchronicities are like winks or smirks from God, letting us know we are on the right path. I mean come on....when I was on the fence to fully commit to study Kundalini Yoga, I found out my birthday is the same day as Yogi Bhajan's birthday! WHOA.

I have countless synchronicity stories and I am sure you do too (11:11 anyone?). But I felt compelled to share a particular story that just happened to me two weeks ago.

A Gift from Paramahansa Yogananda

One of my soul sisters, Elsa, gave me "The Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda as a birthday gift. I'd like to think that most people who study and practice yoga have at least heard his name once before or know of his contributions in delivering yogic philosophy to the US. I had certainly heard of him but was not too familiar with his story.

Autobiography of a Yogi

Anyhow, I had planned to travel to Boston to visit my brother on Labor Day weekend.  The night before I left to Massachusetts, I decided to read one more chapter of this memorizing book. I was dead tired, but for some reason, I felt compelled to read a little more. As I am reading Chapter 21, he made mention of coming to America and eating strawberries...in Somerville, Massachusetts!! I immediately sat up in my bed. The tiredness completely left my body. I was like, "Wait, what??? He has a center in Massachusetts? How crazy, that is where I am going tomorrow! I would love to go! But it's probably too far. If it's meant for me to go, I'll get a sign." (I can imagine a giggle or two from my spiritual audience right now...we know what happens when we ask for a sign!) 

So fast forward to the airplane right before take off. I'm reading a Loner Wolf article that appeared in my email inbox earlier that morning. Lo and behold, there was a quote by none other than Paramahansa Yogananda! I was like, OK...this is the sign I asked for. 

I get to Boston and I reluctantly ask my brother if he could take me to a city called Somerville. I hoped it wasn't too far away. He looked at me and said, "For sure! Its only 10 minutes away!" I was in shock. I had no idea it was that close. I was a bit bummed to see on my Google Search that the center was closed at that time, but I decided to make the best of it. So on our way to visit Salem, we stopped by the Self-Realization Fellowship center in Somerville.  I pull up and get out, admiring the historic building. I couldn't believe I was actually standing in front of this place!

Me, at Self-Realization Fellowship Boston Center

As I am taking pictures, I notice that the door is slightly cracked...and so does my curious son. He pops his head in to check it out and quickly runs over to me. Out comes the groundskeeper, Jean.  He is sweaty from trimming the hedges and preparing the inside of the center for service that night. He is a super nice guy, tells us all about the history of the building and how much Yogananda's teachings had saved his life. I say to him, "Hey Jean, I come all the way from Miami...you think I can take a quick peek inside even though it is closed?" He was happy to oblige.

I walked in behind him and passed church-ish pews and came up to a nice-sized stage. On the wall behind the stage, there were huge pictures of Krishna, Jesus, Yogananda, and Yogananda's master, Sri Yukteswar. The second my eyes met Yogananda's eyes in the picture, I felt his humbling presence. I almost wanted to bow in reverence. Not because I saw him as a God to be worshiped, but because his soul had personally guided me to this very moment. What a privilege...what a gift. 

Jean continued discussing facts about Yogananda's legacy and proceeded to give me booklets containing information about the center. As I exited the building, I commented to him how crazy I thought it was that I had been led there, as I had been on the fence about jumping into studying different branches of yoga. Jean turns to me, smiling, and says, "But you know, there are no such thing as coincidences".

Source

This experience was definitely a confirmation from the universe (and from Yogananda himself) for me to dive deeper into Yoga and continue my studies in various types of Yoga, not just Kundalini. It had been a topic of debate in my mind for a while now. It was also proof that we are always being guided towards the right path...we just have to pay attention and trust. Spiritual lessons and signs may not always present themselves in the way you expect (or even want), BUT THEY ARE ALWAYS A GIFT. 

If and when you experience these delightful "meaningful coincidences", take a moment to acknowledge the intricate planning that took place, just for YOU. No synchronicity is small. A quick thank you prayer does the trick for me: Thank you God for always supporting and guiding me. I am humbled, I am grateful, I love you.

 

SAT NAM!        NAMASTE!

 

*Need help with recognizing the more subtle signs? The best way is to BE in the Here and Now, the present moment! Also, you can try journaling or work on a gratitude workbook (I created this free workbook for you, no excuses!), as introspection can also bring them to light 🙂 Enjoy!

 

Related posts
in Inspiration, Yoga
Tips for Teaching Yoga at a Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Center
June 17, 2020
in Spirituality, Yoga
Hatha Yoga Teacher Training – at an Ashram!
June 11, 2020
in Inspiration, Kundalini Yoga, Spirituality
Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training
September 14, 2018
Close