Dipping a toe into Kundalini Yoga... My retreat experience
Have you heard of or practiced Kundalini yoga before? For me it was a style of yoga that I had very little experience of. So with an open heart and mind, I spent a weekend in the Cotswolds discovering more about this deeply spiritual style.
My key learnings:
Sat Nam: Used instead of Namaste at the end of the class (and also in the same way Namaste is also often used to say thank you), Sat Nam translates literally as ‘The truth is my name’. A key theme of Kundalini is about finding your own truth and connecting to your consciousness - whatever that means to you. My interpretation is that it means peeling off the layers that we’ve accumulated over our lives, letting go of the ‘shoulds’, and expectations imposed by others and ourselves. Instead re-discovering what brings us joy and happiness - and being true to that. In short, it’s about being our authentic selves!
Letting go: To discover your ‘Sat Nam’ might mean choosing to let go of some (or a lot!) of stuff to create space for what brings you true joy in your life. On the retreat we were given a great analogy; In Autumn trees shed their leaves, letting them go with grace as they know Spring will provide new growth. However if humans were trees we would be trying to stick the leaves back on!! Could we be more like trees by letting go and trusting that the new will arrive? Whether a new job, relationship, place to live or whatever brings you happiness.
Tools and routes: Kundalini encompasses many different aspects;
Sound We enjoyed music, singing, chanting of mantras, and even a Gong Bath (picture a lovely warm room, snuggled up in yoga blankets and listening to the sound and vibrations of the gong - bliss - and judging by the snoring many other retreaters got their zzzz’s in too!)
Postures (‘Kriyas’): A differentiator to other styles of yoga, ‘Kriyas’ (meaning ‘work’ or ‘action’) are a series of one or more exercises or postures that are often used in combination with breathwork, chanting, visualisation etc. These ancient practices are said to have specific effects such as releasing fear, bring clarity and reducing stress, amongst many others (there are thousands to choose from - find out more on Kriyas) and are quite different to your standard yoga postures!
Breathwork: Breath of fire (a rapid and rhythmic breathwork exercise) is a Kundalini fave! This forms the foundations of the practice and I found it very energising.
Mudras: Gestures or postures - usually of the hands, are a way of guiding energy around the body and setting intention in your practice (more on Mudra’s in my previous related blog).
And much more - we also tried fire-pit dancing, crystals, card reading, and sharing circles (known as Red Tents for ladies, and Blue Tents for gentlemen), yoga in the forest and conscious eating - as we enjoyed an AMAZING vegan daily feast (see below).
I found Kundalini to be a rich, uplifting, and deeply spiritual practice. Our hosts, Yoga Instructor Scotty, and caterer / owner of Herb-a-licious / and super organiser Rachel, thoroughly cared for us, and I returned feeling completely rejuvenated.
While at present, Vinyasa Flow is still the style for me, I’m very grateful for the experience, and I’m sure nuggets of Kundalini will start to filter into my classes as I continue to blend styles.
For anyone wishing to experience a Kundalini retreat, do feel free to get in touch, and I’d be happy to share the details.
Namaste - or Sat Nam,
P.S Check out the related post:
- Yoga essentials: A simple guide to the different styles ( I had originally missed out Kundalini from this post but will be providing an updated edit).