Category

Kundalini Yoga

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 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, Spirituality
A Gift from Paramahansa Yogananda
September 13, 2018
in Inspiration, Mind, Self Care, Spirituality
4 Reasons Why You NEED to Start Journaling NOW
May 26, 2018
in Kundalini Yoga, Self Care
5 Life Changing Ways to Practice Self-Love
November 8, 2017
in Kundalini Yoga, Self Care

5 Life Changing Ways to Practice Self-Love

AAAHHHH SELF LOVE.......

Image result for self love image

How many of us actually know what it even means? A mani and pedi once a month? A nice massage? How about a long bubble bath? All these acts certainly qualify as self-love, but you are selling yourself short. Let me explain.

You see, we are ALREADY LOVED. We are ALREADY WHOLE. But riding out this lifetime in a skin suit means we may forget these simple Truths. I know I have and continue to. But we have to gently (and repeatedly) remind ourselves that love is our essence. We are worthy of love because love is who we are. So how do we remind ourselves? By choosing to practice self-love.

My definition of self-love is the practice of honoring yourself by CHOICE. So go get that mani and pedi! Indulge in that massage! But those acts are merely the tip of the iceberg. Real self-love involves choosing to get down and dirty...and that's why many of us, including myself, resist self-love.

Whyyyy??? Well, it just HURTS sometimes. It hurts to make choices that align with your Truth because those choices can cause upheaval in your life. It is much easier to remain in the realm of comfort and security, even if your perceived 'comfort and security' continues to hurt you. At least it's a consistent hurt you can rely upon right? [YES, THERE IS A HINT OF MADNESS THAT LIVES WITHIN US ALL]  Not to mention it hurts to love those 'unloveable' aspects of us that we wish would just be gone! 

But when you make the choice to love yourself, even if it causes you a significant amount of pain, it ALWAYS leads you to the right path. Yes, choosing self-love hurts sometimes. It just does. You are consciously CHOOSING to go through "pain", holding onto nothing but faith and hope. It takes a grand amount of courage to do so, but I believe it is beyond worth it at the end. It brings you that much closer to completely loving and accepting yourself for who you really are. (And ultimately, isn't that what all of us strive for as human beings?)

So how does one practice self-love besides the obvious spa visits? I have been experimenting for a while now 'cuz well, I just didn't really love myself as much as I deserve. I am still doing the work, but BEHOLD! Here are a few ways I've learned to CHOOSE to love myself:

(WARNING: They are not that easy, but SOOOO worth it!)

1. Analyze Your Habits

Do they make you happy or empower you? Do they bring you a sense of joy or peace? Do they positively affect your health? Or do they leave you feeling empty, drained, guilty, or angry? Make the CHOICE to hack away at the demoting habits that hurt your mind, body, and soul. There are plenty of books that can teach you how to create new, healthy habits in place of the ones you want to get rid of [I suggest reading "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg]. But please, do not try to re-wire your entire life in one week. Start off with one or two simple habits and snowball from there.

Image result for SELF LOVE

2. Analyze Your Inner Dialogue 

If your inner voice(s) was audible, what would that sound like to the rest of us? Would we want to stick up for you because you are just so damn mean to yourself? Cut it out! Make the CHOICE to be kinder to yourself. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend [I'm sure you wouldn't tell your friend she looks like a fat piece of shit today. So why the hell would you tell yourself that?]. You can practice this by being more aware of your thoughts and quickly replacing the negative ones with positive ones. Or just simply apologize to yourself for that rude thought and give yourself a compliment instead. SELF-ACCEPTANCE GOES HAND IN HAND WITH SELF-LOVE!

3. Analyze Your Circle

Are there certain people in your life that are super negative, extremely needy or extra critical? What about people who constantly gossip about others? Or those who always flake out on you at the last minute? Take a step back and see if they are worth keeping around. DON'T GET ME WRONG...No one is perfect. You and I sure as heck aren't either. But when someone does more bringing down than lifting up, it's time to step away for the sake of your own sanity. CHOOSING the right company is very important for your well-being. What about family? Same rules apply. Just because they are family doesn't mean you need to continue to be subjected to their bullshit. Minimal contact is best, but only you know what works for you and your situation. Point is to make sure you have plenty of love and support around you. (And ahem...make sure you are extending love and support to them as well!) 

4. Pay Attention To Your Inner Child

STOP! Think of a couple of super fun moments in your childhood. No for real, look away and actively bring up those memories. Are you smiling yet?? Adulting can be sooo monotonous, I know. You can quickly lose touch with your inner child by tending to life's endless responsibilities and tasks. But they are still inside of you, waiting to be played with. Make the CHOICE to let that aspect out of you out once in awhile! Laughing, having fun, and just enjoying life is practicing self-love. Who knew right?? Here are a few ideas to get the fun started: go to a park and ride the swing or slide, play hop scotch or skip around, make sand castles or dig in the dirt, play your favorite childhood board games, finger paint or draw in coloring books, share silly jokes, play with toys, race or have tickle games with your children. Use your imagination! 

5. Just Breathe

 I LOVE THIS ONE. This is a simple exercise you can do for a couple of minutes every morning as soon as you wake up. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach and breathe. Feel your heart beating. Feel your tummy rising and falling from each breath. Close your eyes and say to yourself (or think) "I love you". Continue to breathe. Smile. Try to conjure the emotion of what it would actually feel like if you truly and completely loved yourself. Would you feel freedom? Peace? Acceptance? Happiness? Completeness? Try to FEEL these feelings..and JUST BREATHE THEM IN. You do not have to do this particular exercise, but make the CHOICE to dedicate a few minutes of your day to do one that connects you to your breath. Meditation, perhaps? 🙂

Image result for Elliana Esquivel breathe

NOW GO GET'S TAH LOVIN' YOSELF <3 

Top Image by: Rita Loyd // Other Images by: Elliana Esquivel

Related posts
in Inspiration, Kundalini Yoga, Spirituality
Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training
September 14, 2018
in Inspiration, Mind, Self Care, Spirituality
4 Reasons Why You NEED to Start Journaling NOW
May 26, 2018
in Spirituality
How Spirituality Changed My Religious Beliefs
June 10, 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 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. That powerful???? Count me in! 

Not Quite 'Yoga'

The sea of yogi's dressed in white swarmed in 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.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Nelsy Zagales, people smiling, people standing

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 IT WAS WORTH IT!

My soul allowed White Tantric Yoga to gently and lovingly ascend particular thoughts and feelings of hurt, false beliefs, judgments, and "garbage" I had unknowingly stuffed far, far away in my subconscious.  It was painful to bring these dirtballs into the light and it is still difficult dealing with them post-yoga. But this is an experience I wouldn't change for the world knowing that I am that much closer to embodying my TRUE SELF.  I encourage you to add this event to your bucket list and attend at least once in your life so you can experience growth and enlightenment in your own unique way.  I promise you will not regret it 🙂 

Related posts
in Inspiration, Kundalini Yoga, Spirituality
Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training
September 14, 2018
in Inspiration, Mind, Self Care, Spirituality
4 Reasons Why You NEED to Start Journaling NOW
May 26, 2018
in Kundalini Yoga, Self Care
5 Life Changing Ways to Practice Self-Love
November 8, 2017
Close