Last night I took my first Kundalini yoga class at Okra yoga studio in Plaza Midwood. It was a night of firsts, as it was also my first time ever at Okra. Luckily I’ve been disciplined in my practice this week so an hour of god-awful uptown traffic to drive all of 8 miles to the new studio didn’t ruin my zen. I’d hoped for a nice 15-20 minutes to get acquainted with the studio, but instead I had to quickly snag a (luckily) open spot across the street and dash in. I was instantly struck by the homey vibe. The studio felt well lived in, like a place you wanted to spend an afternoon sipping tea and chatting yoga with your best friends – or new friends. The yoga room itself spoke to nature and the earth. Curtain rods resembled branches, soft yellow light filled the space, and some sort of essential oil or incense gave the room a soothing scent. I think it may have been lavender. I love that stuff.
This was all quite different from my yoga experience to date. For some context, aside from a few occasions of home practice or catching a class while on vacation, the majority of my practice has been at Arrichion in Southend where the style is hot and the vibe is athletic versus spiritual. I’m addicted to the heat and I love being constantly challenged to become strong – not skinny. Having recently completed the instructional piece of my RYT200 certification, I’ve challenged myself to try new studios and new yoga styles to help define what I want to personally teach and bring to my students.
Kundalini was definitely a departure from everything I’ve practiced before, but I enjoyed it immensely. The focus of the class as described by our instructor, Carly, was to move energy in a precise, specific way through the body – or along our chakras (energy centers.) It is a perfected ‘technology,’ she said. We were warned that as a style of yoga which emerged in the ’70s we may find some of it ‘silly’ but to just do it any way. It would be worth it. It was.
The class consisted of focused breathwork, endurance-challenging holds, deep stretching, and meditative chant. Throughout the emphasis was on opening the heart and at the end we focused our energy at heart center and released it along with well-wishes to the world. We closed with a song, and I may have found my voice mingling with my fellow practitioners to be the most cathartic release of the class. Carly was charming and fun, but she also challenged us exclaiming ‘if you’re the type who gives up on things mid-way through – don’t do that today!’ Those words struck a chord and after class I continued to meditate on what they meant to me. I’ve found I have often set things aside when they became dull, too hard or too easy, unpopular or frustrating. Her words – while not directed at me necessarily – really hit home. I know there most likely won’t be an overnight miracle, but I suspect that next time I’m going to release my yoga pose just as the burn sets in, or I’m thinking about quitting a job, hobby, eating regimen or other personal challenge, I’ll hear Carly’s words in the back of my mind and maybe, just maybe I’ll reconsider and I’ll choose to push through instead of giving up.
Thank you Carly for giving me that gift, and for introducing me to a beautiful new practice. Namaste.