June 18, 2014

When Vinyasa Flow Just Doesn’t Cut It. ~ Lauren Lastra

Authors own photograph

Last night I went to my first kundalini (kun-da-LEE-ni) yoga class since returning home from Guatemala.

For the first time in a month I felt like I had finally returned home; home to my mat, a familiar place of infinite gratitude and abundance.

A space to cocoon, to let go, to be fully present. If you had asked me a few weeks ago about kundalini yoga I would have shrugged my shoulders and responded with a casual, “I’ve gone to a class, but it’s just not for me.”

I was happy and felt at home doing vinyasa power flow classes. I needed the sweaty workout, the sense of physical accomplishment, and the quicker pace of class to match with the fast pace of my life; the endless soundtrack of life’s going and going.

That was until this soundtrack stopped.

I had arrived on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala at the yoga sanctuary Villa Sumaya where time stood still, where the familiar soundtrack came to an abrupt stop. Some attribute it to the intense energy vortex of the lake, others say it’s the getting away from it all—no clocks to dictate the day, no meetings to attend, no expectations of where I should be. I woke up with sun and a reading of Japji and went to bed with moon and breath.

The simplicity of kundalini yoga was bliss; simply just sitting, chanting, breathing, being. I didn’t have to twist my body into what I felt I should look like. I didn’t feel the need to perform asanas on command to keep up with the class. I could simply close my eyes, lay in an extended shavasana, and let breath and vibration do all the work.

Last night’s kundalini class brought me back home, to the space where time subsides and the illusion of physical separateness between us disappears.

Yoga has always come into my life when I need her most, like how an old friend or a good book always seems to appear at just the right moment.

Yoga first came into my life in 2009 just months after my brother suddenly passed away. I dove in head first with Bikram yoga, craving the emotional release that comes with physical detox. I found stability in the 26 posture structure and comfort in the mantra “mind over matter.”

My life at the time and bikram yoga seemed to mirror each other: the intense grief of loss and the intense heat of the studio both suffocated me, shortened my breath, and made me dizzy; the tears rolled down my cheeks much like the sweat dripped off my body, showing me for the first time the power of pain embodied.

Just as quickly as I dove into Bikram yoga I jumped out and have only returned a handful of times in the past three years. Since then, ashtanga and vinyasa flow have been my go-to classes, and now kundalini seems to be what I need most.

Today, I bow to all the styles of yoga that have appeared when I have needed them most and I send gratitude to all the beautiful teachers that have guided me on the way.

As we always close a kundalini class with the ‘Long time Sun’ blessing, I will close with the same blessing. Sat nam.

May the long time sun
Shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light
within you
Guide your way on
Guide your way on

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Editorial Apprentice: Ffion Jones / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Author’s own

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Lauren Lastra