I took my first yoga asana class in a cleared out storage room in a Midwestern YMCA. I borrowed mat that had grimy footprints and a faded permanent marker butterfly on it. My newly adopted daughters were in an activity and this yoga class was the only thing “to do” during that time slot. Somewhere on that beautiful mat between looking up and trying to figure out what pretzel shape everyone else was in, wondering about poses called “froggies” and desperately trying to recall my right from left, I realized that I felt suspended in time: the perfect weightlessness of fluid timelessness. All of my busy-ness and an overscheduled world waited patiently. I was hooked.
Several months later I began a vinyasa based 200 hour teacher training which included an almost alien-feeling series of kundalini yoga classes with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. I spend the next 6 years teaching hatha & power vinyasa core. I am steeped in the Bhagavatigita and asana.
Then I find myself in a community center in SE Portland while my daughters (now teenagers) are in an activity and the only thing “to do” is a Kundalini Yoga class in an upstairs art room. My Manduka mat collects long ago art project glitter that still falls out here and there to this day. This yoga is jarring to my system compared to the flowing asana practices I was used to. And the teacher is…weird. She wears white clothing and her head is wrapped. She's not covered in spanex with ample skin exposed...how does one do yoga in flowy natural fibers? It doesn't stretch and won't it get dirty? But she glows. Literally and energetically. She is buoyant, beautiful and vibrant. She’s funny, too, which makes those core-breathing movements seem faster than the eons they actually take to complete. Guru Surya Kaur becomes a blip on my radar (more on THIS in a moment).
The few classes that I show up for are pretty sweet. But it’s, you know… kundalini. I return fervently to my vinyasa but this kundalini stuff keeps finding me in nudges and whispers. I become more and more engaged. Kundalini Yoga blooms. It asks different things of me...I feel as though I am cheating on asana. Then I catch myself singing "Ek Ong Kar Sat Gur Prasad…Sat Gur Prasad Ek Ong Kar." I Have no idea what it means or where I’ve learned it. I look it up on Spirit Voyage. Ugh. More kundalini. And for positivity, no less. Whatever, it’s pretty.
I take Street Yoga teacher training. A very shiny and bright class clown with intelligence and a killer center-of-the-room handstand introduces himself to the group as Jean-Pierre (“JP”) Parent. Months later Jean-Pierre is leading a kirtan that I found randomly posted online. So he’s a kundalini yoga teacher… his kirtans are juicy and not entirely in Gurmukhi and afterwards he shares amazing komboucha. We cross paths here and there.
JP invites me to sing backup on a track he’s recording for the Yogi Roots album where I meet an amazing community steeped in the kundalini yoga tradition. I still sing regularly with most of these lovelies and I’m now partnered with my Beloved (a kundalini yogi!) that I met there. Davida has taken me to a number of events including White Tantric Yoga where that vibrant Guru Surya Kaur keeps popping up: smiling, glowing like the glitter that keeps falling from my mat and reminding me of her classes almost four years ago.
I traveled to India to learn more about hatha yoga, or so I thought. I end up sitting on the plane next to a Sikh couple and learning Japji Sahib, reciting “wahe guru!” for 60 minutes at 3:00 a.m. and being immersed in other Sikh prayer and lessons for ten hours… But I am really not about to grab onto this kundalini thing, am I? Once in India, my now much loved teacher and friend, Jean-Pierre, greeted me with the other travelers in his usual white and I remembered… this retreat is going to be kundalini based… Would I have booked this trip if I had remembered that? It was two weeks of sunrise kriyas on a rooftop in Pushkar with mantra falling like stars from the temples on the hill and I remember thinking briefly, “I feel amazing...it’s really too bad that Kundalini Yoga is so weird because this is beautiful”.
An early summer event at Tryon Life Community Farm combined kundalini yoga, a new moon, beautiful community, cobb sauna…and Guru Surya Kaur – grinning, “Sat Nam”-ing all over the place and handing out kundalini yoga information. Arriving home that night a flyer with Yogi Bhajan picture and the five sutras for the Aquarian Age falls out of my towel. I take a deep breath and Google “kundalini yoga teacher training, Portland”. When I get into the house my Beloved asks how my night was and sleepily adds, “I’ve been thinking about doing the kundalini yoga teacher training...I was wondering if you’d be interested...” Yes. I am. Sat Nam.
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