I Tried Kundalini Yoga. Here's What Happened.
Since one fateful tarot card reading in New Orleans propelled me on an arguably life-changing journey of rediscovering my spiritual identity, I’ve been periodically exploring new things. It started with buying my own tarot deck (and then another, and then another, and then…it’s a problem), then becoming a freelance horoscope writer, to reiki, to chakra alignment, and even a past life regression exercise. This quest for adventure and experience pairs perfectly with my love of learning, pushing me on to try more and more new things as the years pass along.
So when I started seeing more mentions of Kundalini yoga, I decided that was a sign from the universe. Or else some super subliminal marketing from well-chosen influencers in my life. Who really knows anymore?
Thanks to ClassPass, I was able to easily find and book a Kundalini yoga class in the East Village, at Illumina East. Before going, I did some cursory research. One article explained that it was a combination of yoga, meditation, and chanting. That sounded right up my alley. But a further scroll described it as a magical science, which had me a little more concerned but still excited.
I get to class, loving their phoenix-like logo, the smell of incense in the air, the warm wooden floors and the free yogi tea ready to warm up my belly. I wash my hands (you can’t be too careful these days!), roll out my mat, and wait patiently for class to get started. In typical New York fashion, half the class shows up late. But we press on.
The class began with some talk about how a major yoga guru was recently accused of sexually abusing his followers. Yeah. So much for purity of mind and movement. I was feeling pretty weird about things at this point. And freaking out. Was the yoga instructor going to touch me, and that’s why he was being upfront about the history of this yoga style?! What was that weird thing he just plugged into the wall? Why is he talking through a microphone to a class of 8? Am I being filmed?
A great mindset from which to do yoga. We get started.
And let me tell you when I read that this would be meditative, I thought that meant easy. It did not. This class was really hard. Here’s a quick list of what we did:
We moved back and forth between a downward-facing and upward-facing dog for a while, to warm up.
We held bow pose for three minutes, all while chanting. Three minutes! My thighs were on fire. By back muscles are still feeling it!
We did really fast bridges while shouting “hud” each time we raised or lowered our hips, again for like three minutes.
We ran really fast in place while punching fiercely forward, thinking about the things that drove us. I got kind of emotional thinking about the female leaders of the Spiritualism movement, and how their bravery and boldness changed America.
We held bow pose, AGAIN! While chanting. I got really emotional about how good it felt to use my voice in a weird way. I’ve been working really hard to heal my social anxiety and relationship to my voice (both literal and metaphorical), and felt like chanting weird stuff with total strangers was actually a step in the right direction.
Then we did some more “hud” shouting and rapid bridge poses.
We rested in between things and did some visualization exercises and a well deserved Savasana at the end. It lasted for 90 minutes! The seven other women in the class did not give two fucks about doing the weird stuff we were doing. It felt empowering and also like I was being indoctrinated into some kind of cult.
Overall it was super strange but I kind of loved it. At least enough to give it another try.