Today was the last day of my ten day Kundalini yoga workshop. These past ten days have truly been life changing. The workshop began March 4th at 4:30 am to 7:30am and ended today March 13th. These 30 valuable hours changed my outlook on life, and for that I am forever grateful. I found this workshop on groupon and really had no idea what I was getting into. The first day of the workshop was a huge challenge for me; I had so much judgment filled within me that I didn’t enjoy any of the exercises, breathing or mediations. I could not stop judging everything we were doing and I had convinced myself that I would not be coming back the next day, at the very end of class we did free form dance, the first song I was still judging away, but something shifted inside of me when he played the second song. I stopped being so critical and started laughing and it felt really good.
The days that followed were truly incredible; I experienced every emotion known to mankind. I felt extremely frustrated and angry one moment and content and blissful the next. I cried and laughed and released a lot of deep rooted feelings I didn’t even know were inside of me. The two main things that I took away from this workshop were self-awareness and the concept of pain.
The mind and the body are two separate things yet we don’t always view them that way. For the first time in my life I paid attention to my mind and tried to control and quiet it. We focused a lot on breathing, always inhaling across the shoulders and exhaling down the spine, and did a lot of Bhastrika breathing as well. One exercise that really resonated with me was when we would shake our bodies chaotically while keeping the mind focused, at the end Gary (our amazing instructor) would tell us to freeze and to pay attention to what was happening inside our bodies. Our hearts were beating so fast yet our minds were focused and still, we would watch our breath come back down to a normal pace all on its own without doing anything. This kind of self-awareness did a lot for me in my life. In the past ten days I have made some significant changes. I have stopped eating meat, fish and eggs; I have educated myself by watching a few documentaries about the food and way of life in America (Food Matters, Vegucated and I am.) I disabled my texting services, stopped watching mindless television, read more, cleaned more and I focused more on my breath than ever, I felt a level of calmness that I’ve never experienced before.
We only did two asanas throughout the course; cobra pose and the shoulder stance pose. I have only been to yoga classes that are Vinyasa Flow so the poses are not held very long. In this workshop by day ten we held each asana for 32 minutes!! Holding cobra pose for 32 minutes taught me an insane amount about my mind and my body. Your mind is so powerful and strong and can take over your body. My mind was thinking of every possible way I could get out of the pose, but my body remained strong. Gary told us to do nothing but focus on our breathing and if our mind wanders not to get frustrated, but simply focus back on your breath. He told us to observe our bodies like we were watching a movie and settle into the pain.
The pain aspect of this course taught me knowledge I will never forget and want to continue to explore for the rest of my life. I have had my fair share of “issues” in my life. I have had stomach problems my entire life, was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy in my right foot a few years ago and was told that I had to just live with it (my foot was blue, see through, freezing cold and I had a limp) and just recently had two bulging discs in my low back. I am a very willful person so I never took the pain lying down and was always searching for a way to alleviate my pain, but what I learned in this workshop that is we should never run from our pain. Pain is an extremely powerful tool, our body is trying to tell us something and instead of immediately booking an appointment to go to a doctor to find out what’s wrong with your body, YOU should find out, listen to yourself because NO ONE knows your body better than you do. During cobra pose the first few days I felt an excruciating amount of pain in my low back, I constantly had to break the pose and lay down. On the second day of the workshop I broke down and told him that I was afraid of hurting myself. Later on in that day I realized I had a lot fear about a lot of things in my life, and that the fear itself was inhibiting me to truly heal from my emotional and physical pain. By day six something miraculous happened, we were in cobra pose my hands were tingling and completely numb and my back was throbbing, and Gary told us to focus on our breathing and any pain we were feeling to try to settle into and accept it. I felt an extreme shift within me, my breathing was stronger than ever and I accepted the aches and pains that my body was experiencing. From then on I didn’t break the pose once in the workshop and my back pain has been better than ever. I no longer fear hurting myself. I know that I am in control of myself and that if I do experience pain it will be okay too, I will not try to mask it with pills or shots I will learn from it and grow from it. Click on this link and scroll down to the section titled Pain to read more about Gary’s thoughts on pain.
This workshop has been transformational and eye opening. I began the workshop full of doubts and anxiety. Every morning that I woke up the doubt and fear diminished a little by little, I began trusting in myself knowing that I would get up in time and physically make it there, but also continue to grow and work on my mind and body together. The people that I met in this workshop were amazing and so honest. Gary is an amazing teacher and I will be forever indebted to him for showing me what it is to truly be self-aware and in the moment. We are always thinking of the past or the future which is not real and it is a true gift to be able to fully present. I could go on forever about how this workshop has changed me, but to be very honest putting it down in words doesn’t seem to really describe and capture everything I am feeling and went through these past ten days. If any of this sounds remotely interesting or enticing to you I strongly encourage you to take a workshop with Gary or try something similar to this in your local area.
“Meditation allows for self-awareness, being self-aware can create a life of meaning and real purpose”
-Taylor Alberts 🙂