Tonight I went to my very first Kundalini yoga class. I was soooo excited to see that Mt. Shasta hosts donation based Kundalini classes. It’s something I’ve been wanting to try for years, but Kundalini classes are rare and hard to find (especially on the East coast).
One of the distinguishing factors of Kundalini compared with other types of yoga is that it focuses more on breathing, chanting and moving energy than other types of yoga that are more asana-based.
I’ve been practicing yoga for a loooooong time now, almost 10 years, and I feel thoroughly unfulfilled by classes that treat yoga as a fitness regimen. I especially can’t stand classes that use the same boring sequence of movements over and over… I would honestly much rather get Ripped in 30 with my Jillian Michaels DVD than take one of these classes.
For me, yoga is so much more than that, it’s about uniting my body and mind, leaving my anxiety at the door and LISTENING to my self. Increased flexibility and muscle tone are merely (killer) benefits. There are also numerous health benefits to practicing yoga that are actually way more important than the way it makes you look in yoga pants.
~ SPINE HEALTH! As we grow older, our vertebrae start to do nasty things like crush the cartilage cushions between them and even fuse together, but moving and twisting your spine in ways you probably wouldn’t even dream of during your typical work day can help keep your backbones nice and healthy.
~ KEPPIN da FLOW! The class I went to tonight targeted the movement of lymph. This is really important for immune maintenance because lymph fluid does NOT move on its own. Unlike our blood, which is propelled though our little vessels by our big, strong heart, moving lymph requires you to actually move. Yeah, sorry.. gotta do it. This, as I learned tonight, is particularly important for women, or anyone else that has boobs. Apparently, toxic lymph fluid tends to pool in the boobies, and everyone knows that stagnation makes us sick, right?
~ RRRRRELAX! Another great thing about yoga is that, if you’re doing it right, you turn your awareness inward and really feel your body in a way that we tend to ignore in our day-to-day lives. You took time out of your day and paid however much to take this yoga class, are you really going to waste it by worrying about what your going to make for dinner, what your significant other meant by that little comment, or, even worse… work? NO! This is your time. It’s like a nice hot bath, but better!
~ LET IT GO! This is related to the last one. When we get stressed out or upset, our muscles react. We tense our shoulders, clench our jaws, make our hands into fists. I have a tendency to roll my shoulders forward and cave in my chest. Classic heart-protective move. The major bummer is that our muscles often store these negative emotions like batteries, except the kind that drain power out of you rather than provide it. Imagine little stress ticks and leeches on your muscles, sucking out your power and feeding it to the negative tension that was created whenever that particular trauma presented itself. You don’t need this. Yoga is a way to get rid of these ticks and leeches; to release them in a safe place where you are totally loved and supported. Doesn’t that sound nice? Trust me, it is.. but only when it’s over.
Oftentimes, our worst memories are stored in the tightest, hardest muscle knots that we have, and the process of releasing them comes with a brief moment of re-experiencing those memories. While I wouldn’t say that hurts, it definitely isn’t comfortable. But after it’s gone, it’s GONE, and you feel so light, flexible and free. And one of my yoga teachers once said. “We can learn a lot by doing things that make us uncomfortable.”
That brings me to my final yoga benefit:
LEARNING YOUR BODY! and respecting its limits! How can you know how far you can bend if you don’t try? Practicing yoga is a great opportunity to find out what your body is capable of, and noting progress over time. And you never (or never SHOULD) feel pressured to push yourself beyond what your body is able to handle that day. Transformation is hard work, but oh so rewarding, and anyone can do it. Even within a single yoga class, I can feel the difference between beginning, middle and end.
Even if yoga isn’t your thing (and I would urge you to try a few different classes in different environments with different teachers before you decide it isn’t) please do SOMETHING to nourish your body, mind and soul. Move around! Breathe! Smile! Find love! BE LOVE! Punch the hippies! Think happy thoughts!
I’m going to sign off here because, as the title suggests, I’m enjoying some local acoustic musicians at Mt. Shasta’s oldest bar. Yo.
Freelance writer. Trail runner. Relentless savage.