December 3, 2010 § 1 Comment
by bethany hard
I was despondent when I learned I was pregnant with my first child. I found myself crumpled on the floor of our closet, in the middle of the night, crying and feeling lost. I was scared to be pregnant at this time. My marriage was in the midst of its first major challenge, and I was terrified. Why was I pregnant now? Were he and I going to make it? Wasn’t this supposed to be a time of bliss? And this poor child…I yearned to want him, not feel this way!
Earlier that day I had purchased a prenatal yoga book, “Beautiful, Bountiful, Blissful” by Kundalini yoga guru, Gurmukh. I opened to:
“Having a child is a beautiful kind of alchemy. What this soul brings you, and what you bring to the soul, transforms you both for all time.“
As I continued reading, I felt my energy shift as love and gratitude flowed in. My tears of terror turned to tears of joy. “Wow. Wow! I am going to have a baby!” As soon as I accepted this precious gift –instead of resisting it- strength and love poured in, allowing me to fully enjoy, be present, and embrace my pregnancy.
Soon after the magical birth of my son, I became certified by Gurmukh in The Khalsa Way Prenatal Yoga. Later I expanded my knowledge by becoming certified in The Kabbalah of Birth and Beyond with Joseph Michael Levry (Gurunam). I share with the mothers-to-be in class that pregnancy is a time when your intuition, that “still, small voice”, is stronger than ever and ripe to be heard.
I have heard many midwives say, “The body of a woman in labor knows exactly what to do to get the baby out”. I 100% believe this to be true. But what if you are not used to trusting your body or your instincts? What if you don’t know how to listen to your body? What if you don’t know how to go inside and block out the noise? What if you haven’t learned to depend on your inner strength? Then, instead of listening to your inner, wise-beyond-comprehension voice, you will listen to those around you: your family, partner, doctor, friends, etc. And no one, no one, knows your body like you. This is not anyone else’s pregnancy or birth. It is yours. Own it.
We have a heightened capacity to go inward while pregnant. All of life steers us in this direction. We are bigger, heavier and have less energy. We must literally slow down, sleep more, plan, and think in terms of “we” instead of “I”. Do not resist these changes. There is a reason you are being taught to slow down! Did you know that a newborn nurses 10 hours per day? Our intuition is super sensitive during pregnancy. Welcome your new thoughts, inner-knowing or impressions that begin to unfold during pregnancy. Do not discount them as “hormonal” or “irrational”. And do not allow anyone else to do that to you either. We must rely on our intuition during our pregnancy, childbirth, and while raising children.
How can prenatal yoga help us listen to our inner wisdom?
In a prenatal yoga class we take time to just sit, breath and listen. Radical, isn’t it? We listen to our bodies, our hearts, and our babies. We even listen to our fears and anxieties surrounding birth and motherhood– and use ancient tools to transmute them into strength. The sacred space of a yoga class, away from the rush and noise of everyday life, allows your intuitive eye to open like a flower.
Prenatal yoga also creates the space for an expectant mother to not only connect with her unborn baby, to develop that bond, but also allows her –the woman – to breathe more, sing, stretch and connect to her own divinity, her own spiritual self. This may be the most important part of your prenatal yoga practice. Your emotional, mental and spiritual health directly affects the health of your child.
As a woman, a mother, a human, I encourage you to listen to your inner voice. She is wiser than any book, therapist or friend. She will guide you in everything from how to raise your child to what decision to make in a business transaction. Learn to respect her all-knowingness. Remember that 10% of Life can actually be seen with our physical eyes. We must rely on our third eye, our intuition, to navigate the other 90%.
Ultimately, childbirth will be a tremendously empowering passage. But you will be able to trust and surrender to this passage with more grace and ease if you have repeatedly practiced and experienced the power and wisdom of your intuition beforehand. That is where the sacred space of a prenatal yoga class, or your own meditation practice, come in. Use the nine months before your birth to practice hearing and trusting your inner voice. To respect your inner voice is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your children. Life will become magical when guided by her.
December 3, 2010 § 1 Comment
Teaching through the voice of reflection, my daughter sat in front of me, ready to begin yoga. Gifting the opportunity to see my self as I had once begun this application of self discovery, I saw her eagerness to expand beyond the known.
Cutting through the voice of doubt… “Iʼm not flexible. Iʼm not limber. Iʼm awkward and self conscious. I canʼt keep up. Iʼm not as good as you. What if I canʼt do it?” …Ready to embrace the infinite possibilities that may arise now as we opened our beings to the limitless realm of trust, we began together.
A moment in time, an introspective gift from a “practice” that I had first embarked upon only a little over a year ago.
Feeling the doubts I had just expressed, I began my first Kundalini yoga class with instructor, Crystelle Brown. I immediately felt at ease in her presence and recall her gentle reminders to respect our own individual pace. “Itʼs not about where we want to be; itʼs about knowing where we are and beginning from this authentic space.” Feeling hopeful, I followed Crystelleʼs lead with an open heart as she led me down the path I was choosing to endeavor upon.
As a young girl, it was spoken to me by a dear, wise friend and teacher, to always be humble, teachable and pliable. Yoga has given me the means to explore, cultivate and apply these aspects of self and life to a deeper spectrum, gifting integrity beyond body, mind and soul. Opening the eye of the heart through the depths of awareness, yoga is continually creating new insight, unveiling illusion, restoring clarity and restructuring this being from the inside out.
If I could express to another the growth, the self discovery, the patience, the empowerment, the fusion of understandings set forth as I have continued to adventure through yoga, it would most certainly be described as a gift of presence.
Thank you Kundalini Rising Yoga Studio for the opportunity, the relaxing, beautiful space, and the endless love and support that you continue to share today!
editors note: Candyce is currently enrolled to begin the Kundalini Yoga teacher training beginning in February, 2011 at KRY, and recently received her spiritual name, which is Dayaljeet. It means “Victory through mercy, kindness and compassion”. For those that know Candyce, we all agree, it is so fitting!)
October 8, 2010 § 1 Comment
If you happen into a Kundalini Yoga Studio anywhere in the country it is comforting to know there are many things that will be familiar. Most likely you will enter into a room where you are welcomed with sacred vibrations in the form of “Kundalini Music”. It is nice to know you can always count on a vigorous, cleansing kriya (yoga set), a healing deep relaxation and a transformational mind clearing meditation. It is quite comforting that after every class a warm, cleansing, soothing, aromatic cup of Yogi Tea will be waiting for you.
There were many classes in my early days of practice that I thought I just could not go on for another minute of frog pose or stretch pose. I would actually find myself looking forward to that reward of a hot cup of Yogi Tea. I did not get why the studio would serve two large urns of this tea and provide graham crackers after class. I never experienced that in other yoga studios. I realized after a few classes that it helped to drink the yogi tea and eat something before I left the building to ground me. If you have been to a Kundalini Yoga class you know we bring an incredible amount of prana (life force energy) and oxygen into our bodies in a relatively short amount of time, giving us a ‘natural high,’ so it makes sense to provide something to bring students back down to earth.
This vibrant friendly cup of tea also assists in connecting students and building a sense of community. Instead of rushing out after class students tend to hang out and enjoy conversation with one another getting to know the person they practice next to week after week.
It is also a wonderful feeling making it at home especially in the cool weather. Your whole home will fill with the scent of spices adding a sense of coziness that will have you wrapping up in your favorite fuzzy blanket reading that novel you have been wanting to get to.
Yogi Tea and Kundalini Yoga……comfort and healing you can count on!
Below you will find a basic Yogi Tea recipe.
(You do not have to add the milk or the black tea. Measurements can vary according to your taste. Be careful not to put in too many cloves or cinnamon sticks.)
Add spices to 3 Quarts of boiling water:
20 Whole Cloves
20 Whole Green Cardamom Pods
20 Whole Black Peppercorns
5 sticks of Cinnamon
Continue boiling for 15‐20 minutes, then add:
* Optional 1⁄4 tsp. of any Black Tea.
After an additional one or two minutes, strain tea and add:
1/2 Cup Milk (almond, soy, cow.. or whatever your preference) per Cup of liquid
(Or, strain before adding the milk, and store in the refrigerator until ready to drink, then add milk and bring just to boiling before serving.)
When it returns to the boiling point, REMOVE IMMEDIATELY FROM HEAT. (Watch closely so it doesn’t boil over.) Strain and serve with honey or maple syrup to taste.
NOTE: The black pepper purifies the blood, the cardamom supports the colon, the cloves are for the nervous system and the cinnamon is for the bones. The milk aids in the easy assimilation of the spices and avoids irritation to the colon. The black tea acts as an alloy for all of the ingredients, achieving a new chemical structure which makes the tea a healthy and delicious drink. Slices of fresh GINGER ROOT may also be included, especially when you are suffering from a cold, recovering from the flu or want extra energy.
September 18, 2010 § 1 Comment
It is said that the sound of a gong is the only thing that can totally and completely relax the human body on all levels. It goes very deep into the body and penetrates on a cellular level. The sound of the gong is the one thing that supersedes the mind. Within thirty to ninety seconds of hearing it’s sound, the mind is rendered powerless over the the gong!
I remember the first time I was surrounded by the healing vibrations of the gong. It was during my second week of my Level I Kundalini Yoga teacher training. I had no idea what I was in for, and by the time I was ‘asleep’, I had no idea where I was. It felt as if I had been in a deep sleep for an immeasurable amount of time, yet in reality it was probably less than a total of 10 minutes. I was in the deepest state of relaxation that I had ever felt (while still being aware of my self, yet not awake, yet not asleep! (explain that!🙂 )
Gong Master, Don Conreaux explains it: ‘[The gong], is considered a shamanic power-tool, likened to the mythic philosopher’s stone. During the gong experience, we are in the completely awake state, while completely asleep meditative state, what I call the 4th dimensional dream-body. In this state, which is also known as the completely neutral yogic state of “Turiya,” we greatly increase the re-youthing efficiency of our innate intelligence that operates 24 hours a day. When the senses of hearing and feeling sound are mixed, a blissful mood occurs which science calls “synaesthesia”. In this altered state, with our eyes closed, it is possible to behold the Invisible Light of Illumination, and also experience various levels of samadhi , ecstasy and enlightenment. Gong vibrations are gifts from the universe called:”free energy.” Sonar energy comes through the gong in a continuous flow in every direction, emanating from its center.’
The gong is an especially profound tool to use with the practice of Kundalini Yoga. As any regular practitioner of Kundalini Yoga already knows, the kriyas and meditations that we practice are deeply transformative. Once we have completed a kriya, it is the ideal time to rest. Yogi Bhajan emphasized the great need to rest after yoga. Without this resting time (savasana) and allowing the body to fully relax, your body will not be able to integrate the changes made possible through performing the exercises that form the kriya. The sound of the gong will allow maximum and efficient healing to occur in the body on all levels.
Every year at the Summer Solstice celebration in New Mexico, there is a gong bath every single night. I find it an absolutely crucial part of the day. After a long day of yoga, the gong bath is just what is needed to allow our bodies the opportunity to relax and integrate the deep transformation we are experiencing. One of the gong masters that plays every year is Harijiwan Singh Khalsa. Harijiwan says this of the gong, ‘Among the tools the yogi has to merge the finite with the infinite the gong reigns supreme. Regular listening to the gong will re-pattern your magnetic field, open you to the vastness of your own psyche, and release you from all that prevents you from living a life of complete and utter happiness.’ … Umm…What more could be said, really?!
Believe it or not, actually, quite a bit:
‘Gong therapy relieves stress and has a profound, revitalizing effect on the immune and nervous systems. When you bathe in the healing tones of the sacred gong the wave of total sound is both heard with the ears and felt as a powerful vibration sweeping over and penetrating deeply into the body – cleansing, releasing, healing and harmonizing on all levels.’ Guru Ram Kaur
‘The gong is a sacred threshold. It is the portal that links the finite and the infinite experience of the Self. As such, the gong is the most sublime instrument of the Yogi. It is a cauldron in which you can create alchemical blends of qualities that open and develop the Inner Self.’ – Gurucharan Singh Khalsa
‘When someone plays the gong for you, the gong sound removes the fear of death by taking you out of your body so you realize you don’t need a body to have a spiritual consciousness. It might heal diseases you don’t even know you have, while it keeps you at your highest potential. Youthfulness is on the increase along with a resurgence of sound therapies.’ -DonConreaux
‘Gong healing principally brings about the transition of cellular re-alignment through the medium of sound. Whether a physical, mental or spiritual problem the pure penetrating sound waves of the healing gong will enable you to break free of old patterns and re-generate and re-balance yourself. Working within all the parameters of the body there is nowhere that the resonance of the healing gong cannot penetrate. It will bypass the mind and go straight to the root of the problem.’ -Mark Swan
‘The Gong is an idiophone, i.e. it resonates with the whole of its’ being, producing many harmonics from it’s fundamental tuned note. When played it produces the primordial & original sound “Om”, which is an extremely powerful & healing sound to the human ear.‘
And finally, as the Master, Yogi Bhajan tells us:
‘The gong is God. So it is said; so it is.‘
Cannot top that. Now, go ……. bathe yourself in the healing vibration of the gong!
To donate to the Kundalini Rising Yoga Gong Fund, go HERE.
Enter the donation to: firstname.lastname@example.org…..and specify ‘gong donation‘.
September 5, 2010 § 2 Comments
A Kundalini Yoga Posture to assist in opening the channels of creativity
I love frog pose! It is one of my favorite asanas and I do it almost every day. When I first began practicing frog pose years ago, I struggled to get through the (assigned) twenty-six frogs!, but as I’ve continued to practice it, I am able to accomplish those 26 very quickly.. and more (and feel fantastic afterward). As an ‘earth sign’ I recognize the great value and necessity on this path (if you want to get anywhere) of being grounded. The frog pose is a great practice to not only opens us up creatively, but also align us with the earth so that we may hold and anchor those energies in our bodies for good.
Not only is frog pose fantastic for grounding us and opening the channels of creativity, it is also a pretty great (quick, yet powerful) overall workout for the entire body. It will get the heart rate up while also working to build great lower body strength. It is especially good for shaping the legs and thighs, while simultaneously working on the heart chakra and the associated functions of that region. The health of the heart, respiration and overall circulation are all greatly improved by practicing frog pose. Best thing: it takes less than 3 minutes!!
From a standing position, bring the heels together and turn the feet so the toes are facing outward. Keeping the heels together, squat down, bending the knees and keeping them spread wide apart. Drop the buttocks down to the heels. Bring the finger tips to the floor and raise the head up, face forward. This is the starting position. (see above pictures)
Inhale. Keep the fingertips on the floor, lift the hips up, straighten the legs and drop the head down, looking at the knees.
Exhale. Return to the starting position.
Continue, rapidly transitioning from the inhale to the exhale position.
Slow Frogs. When doing slow frogs, the heels should actually touch the floor when the head is dropped and the hips are up.
You can begin with 13 or jump right into 26! Build up to 52 or 100!!
Be ready for a workout!
Opening the Floodgates of Creativity w/ Kundalini Yoga & Hearing the Voice of Destiny w/ Teacher Training
September 5, 2010 § 1 Comment
Having recently read an article on marketing, I was reminded of what I already knew from personal experience. In this day and age, people will only read about the first five lines of an article before their attention quickly drifts on to something else. So, on needs to say what needs to be said and say it fast, or really have something pretty enticing to get you to read on. Well, I am simply asking you to take a few long deep breaths, tell yourself that whatever you have to do next will still be there in a couple of minutes and just read someone elses experience… it might just resonate with you!
My name is Kristianna, co-owner and instructor at Kundalini Rising Yoga Studio. With our upcoming teacher training (October 28), and recently having an article featured about the practice of Kundalini Yoga in ‘Natural Awakenings’ magazine’s September issue on Creativity, I was inspired to write this article and include it in our newsletter.
One of the main reasons I have always wanted to be a part of bringing Kundalini Yoga to Nashville is my own personal experience. I want to show how this particular path of yoga opens the channels of creativity in such a way that tidal waves of ideas come flooding out.
It was in October of 2001 that my introduction to this path of yoga began. I had just moved from New York City to Los Angeles. Once I got settled in to the city and found a job, I began my search for a yoga studio. One day I was speaking with a girl who was wearing an ‘Om’ symbol on her necklace. I was pretty sure that she would have some suggestions for me. I asked her where I should go, and she replied, “Oh, you really have to check out Golden Bridge Studio. It is amazing and will change your life.” I thanked her and immediately thought, “Change my life…yeah right.”
In my first class at Golden Bridge, I was sitting in a packed studio of students. As I sat there waiting for the teacher to arrive, I noticed a lady who resembled an actress from one of my favorite TV shows (duh, I was in L.A.) Thankfully, the teacher finally arrived before I could gawk any further and get caught!
My eyes drifted to a vision dressed in bright, white flowing clothing. I really had never seen a yoga teacher that looked like her before. Atop her head she had a perfectly wrapped white turban adorned with a beautiful sparkling jewel above her brow point area. My first of many times during the class that I would be thinking…”WTF”! She stepped onto a raised platform that was basically a stage, sat cross-legged and began speaking to the class through a headset microphone.
We began the class with chanting. I had no clue what in the world I was saying. We then moved into warming up. “Finally,” I thought, “Lets get to some sun salutations, or downward facing dog… warrior… triangle…” Nope, instead, I found myself flexing my spine five different ways and twisting my torso, chanting, breathing in ways I did not think were possible and moving all around the studio having to interact with the other students. “What kind of yoga is this? These people are freaking crazy!,” I thought. By the end of class I could not see straight. I was high as a kite and was very thankful for the graham crackers and yogi tea provided afterward meant to assist us with grounding ourselves so that we could drive home! As I left, I said to myself, “I am never going back.” Yeah… Yeah… never say never.
A few hours after my first class I noticed a small shift in my energy and my mood. I cannot explain it, as every persons experience is different, but I found myself going back to another class and another and another until I ended up buying my first monthly unlimited class card.
Why did I keep going back? An amazing thing started happening. After class I would go back to my apartment and just start writing. Poetry, song lyrics, short stories, beautiful words, they just came flowing out through my pen. When I would read what came out, I was always in disbelief because I just did not know where the words were coming from. I had never written that way before.
Suddenly, things I had never seen before or were even aware of, were coming into my consciousness. I did not know that I lived right down the road from ‘The Musicians Institute‘ in Hollywood. One day, with no fear in my body, I ventured in to inquire about attending the Vocal Institute. Now, mind you, I had never sang single a note in front of anyone before except my friends, and they would always laugh at me and make fun of my singing voice. It had always been a dream of mine to be a singer, but I was always afraid. Now I was no longer afraid. I enrolled just days later and within three months was performing in front of an auditorium full of people, writing charts, and I even had my own band. It seemed like anything was possible. What had I been doing differently? I was attending Kundalini Yoga classes twice a week – that is all. Now I was stepping into my dream. Merging with my infinite self.
I was beginning to understand why classes at Golden Bridge were so packed. I was understanding why Kundalini Yoga was so popular in Los Angeles. Gurumukh Kaur Khalsa has an amazing gift to push her students to their limits and help them break through those limits and go beyond. Kundalini Yoga was truly taking away that which was holding me down and allowing me to tap into my true creative potential. I practiced yoga next to models, rock stars, movie stars and television stars. I was even was partnered one time with a very handsome soap opera actor that I would occasionally watch on TV. I do not share this to show off and advertise this as “yoga to the stars”, simply to deepen my point and the realization of why these creative types attended Kundalini Yoga!
I recall during one particular class hearing about a teacher training program that was about to start. I had a thought that day, “If I ever go back to Nashville, I would love to teach Kundalini Yoga there. Nashville is bursting with creative types that would benefit from this practice. It would be awesome!” That thought would stay in the back of my head not to resurface until almost a decade later.
When I moved back to Nashville in 2005, I looked for a studio that offered Kundalini Yoga and was very confused as to why there was not one. All I saw were ads for Hot Yoga. The east and west coasts had greatly influenced this area within the ten years I had been gone, so why hadn’t Kundalini Yoga made it yet? It would not be until four years later that a friend shared with me that someone was teaching a regular class twice a week. When my schedule finally permitted me to attend I found myself sitting in Crystelle Brown’s class at Cosmic Connections. After tuning in, and within the first few warm-ups, everything came rushing back to me and I felt like I was home once again. Just as before, as soon as I began a regular practice, my life took off at warp speed transformation. This time I began writing a book about inner child healing, creating works of art with my pastel chalk and I began selling my art as prints and note cards. Hmmmm…coincidence? I think not.
You don’t have to become a teacher to participate in the teacher-training program. When you make the decision to yourself and the universe that you are going to attend, I believe a shift begins to happen and your training begins right then and there.
I knew within a week of re-starting my practice that I wanted to go into the teacher-training program. I had planted that seed a decade prior, it just took me a while to get to the place mentally, physically and emotionally to handle the intense transformation that takes place in the program. I call it taking the ‘red-eye destiny’.
It was through this training that I was able gain deeper access to those areas of my body where deep emotion and trauma were frozen. The amount of anger I released was unbelievable. The amount of yogic wisdom I gained was, and is, priceless. Taking the KRI (Kundalini Research Institute) teacher training program has given me the confidence to move from always wondering “hmm, what if I could…” to actually doing it. I am no longer sitting on the sidelines of life but I am actually playing in the game. I am able to reach my hand back into the tunnel of darkness that I have emerged from and help another come out of it into the beautiful light that is life.
It gave me the space and the time to listen to my higher self, to connect to the voice of destiny; that place of knowingness that guides me to where I should be and what I should do…if I so choose. We always have a choice. That voice finally was able to reach me after I cleared some of the garbage in my mind away.
After the teacher training, that inner voice suggested I go back to Nashville, find a space and help build a Kundalini Yoga community. Now, you can imagine immediately that my ‘monkey mind‘ started screeching and jumping all around, yelling all the reasons that I was crazy and that the idea was absurd. I mean, Crystelle already had a space and she was already building a community. Magical things happen out there in New Mexico where I took my training and amazing things happen during teacher training, so I wasn’t going to completely dismiss it.
Upon my return it took me a couple of weeks to re-integrate back into the world. I shared with Crystelle what had come to me, knowing that she would not judge, but would understand. We talked and let it be. That was in August. In February, it started happening. I could not explain it. I had to go look. Something bigger than me was guiding me and I had to start looking. That is all I knew. One day I viewed a space. It was not sacred, it was not ideal. It was a serious piece of coal. I just could not ignore it.
The time had come. I knew whom I would call…Crystelle. She saw the diamond that it could be. We knew transforming the space was a practice of yoga. True beauty comes from cultivating and working from the inside out.
On May 22, 2010 Kundalini Rising Yoga Studio opened its doors.
I invite you to experience this practice. Come to a class. Be amazed. Be confused. Look at your teacher like she or he is nuts. Feel like you are home, or never come back. Make a commitment. Experience how your channels of creativity open and flow. Will new song lyrics come through you? Will that ending to your novel emerge? Will you remember that lost dream of wanting to be a stand up comedian? How will Kundalini Yoga help you create your life? I still have my early writings. I’d be happy to share if you ever ask.
See you in class!