November 3, 2011

My Secret (& Now Not So Secret) Yoga Name.

I started practicing yoga in the late ’90s and within a few years found myself eyeballs-deep in a popular yoga club. It was cliquish and hypocritical, but I didn’t notice at first. I was too distracted by my desire to find my inner truth, grow, change, and become a better person.

As time went on, I observed similarities in other yoga communities, which consequently shifted my opinion of the Westernized yoga industry at large. My conclusion, expressed in a mathematical formula, looked something like this: celebrity-esque yoga leader + starry-eyed, blind followers clad in Be Present pants = frightening yoga cult most interested in posing to be something it’s not. I wanted out.

I found my out, unexpectedly, through another type of yoga: Kundalini. And ironically, of all the yogas, Kundalini is the one that an innocent bystander would most likely mistake for a cult. According to Wikipedia (the source of all that is good and true), a cult is “a group whose beliefs or practices are considered strange.” Um, check. There’s nothing about Kundalini yoga that isn’t strange.

In the Kundalini tradition, devotees take on a spiritual name.

I didn’t decide to take that step until I was entrenched in my teacher training program. I figured I’d already acquiesced to wearing a turban on my head and white pants on my ass—so what more could they ask of me?

But, everyone in my class began getting their names and I started to feel a little left out. So, I requested mine. It’s Sat Karam Kaur, which means “the Princess/Lioness of God with the destiny to act in harmony with the truth.” I’m still not sure what princesses and lions have to do with anything, considering I don’t live in Narnia. But, I am interested in the truth.

At this point in my life, I’ve found that I’m comfortable with having a spiritual name in theory, but not so much in practice. When it comes down to it, I just honestly feel a little silly referring to myself as Sat Karam. To Vanessa’s point, maybe if I liked the sound of it a little more and liked my given name a little less, I’d be more apt to throw it around from time to time. Hell, I might even sign an email with it. But for now, I only occasionally reference it during an introduction to a senior teacher or at a White Tantra workshop event. Regardless of my hesitancy, the message behind it really means something to me. It says that when I’m connected to my soul, my actions vibrate truth. And that’s what it’s about for me now – consistently striving for my actions to be a loving expression of my truth. And that speaks to me. So I’m rolling with it for now.

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Leslie Munday (Recovering Yogi)  |  Contribution: 400