I’ve been craving Kundalini yoga.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Hatha yoga practice, and it serves me well. But Kundalini yoga brings a whole different kind of energy to the table, and it’s not one that I typically get to experience very often.
I’ve written about this before, comparing Kundalini yoga to a fine, barrel aged-sour ale. It’s not something I get to indulge in very often, but when I do, I truly savor it. Mostly I have scheduling conflicts with the classes that are available to me, but when an opportunity arises for me to attend, I try to take it.
An opportunity presented itself recently—one of my favorite teachers, Virium Kaur, was teaching a 4-week series on Saturdays at a studio relatively close to home.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend the whole series, because I teach kids yoga a few Saturdays a month at my local library. But I noticed that the final class being offered was on a Saturday I wasn’t teaching, and I knew it was always okay to “drop-in” as long as space was available.
However, my husband works Saturdays, so I always have my 9-year-old son with me.
This is actually awesome, because I love our Saturdays together! I usually take him to piano class, then we get a Jamba juice or a coffee after (hot chocolate for him), before heading to the library for kids yoga (or whatever else we have going on that day).
But the Kundalini classes being offered, were not kids classes; they were regular, adult classes.
Still, I thought, I wonder if he’d be okay?
I looked at the details on the Facebook event invitation. My teacher was calling the last class of the session a “Kundalini Party.”
The invitation read:
We will dance, move, chant and meditate, with a sound bath: crystal bowl and gong. Tea and snacks served after. We love creating community to support, gather, move, get healthy, & happy! All levels welcome, work at your own pace.
It sounded awesome! The uplifting, Kundalini experience I’s been craving.
I thought about my son. He loves dancing and music. I had a hunch he’d get a kick out of the gong. And he loves a nice, warm cup of tea too!
He is a yogi, in his own right, and is the best assistant when I am teaching my kids yoga classes.
I started getting excited, thinking about attending this Kundalini class together. But I had some apprehensions too. After all, he’s still a kid. He could get bored, or act up, and I certainly didn’t want him to spoil someone else’s experience.
How would he react?
I mean, Kundalini can be off-putting, even for a grown-up! I remember the first time I ever tried Kundalini, I was like: What the eff is going on? How is flapping my arms for 3 minutes yoga?
But at the time, I didn’t understand the way the moving postures are designed to shift and move energy throughout the body. It’s a very different style of yoga.
In Hatha yoga, we practice asana—the physical practice of holding postures. Even in a “flow” style class, where the postures are linked together, they are still essentially static postures.
My son knows several of Hatha asanas (downdog, cobra, tree, etc.) from his exposure through kids yoga. And of course, in kids yoga, we try to make things really fun by telling stories and playing games that incorporate those postures.
But in Kundalini yoga, instead of moving through static postures one at a time, the postures are done in repetitive sets called Kriyas, so there is way more movement.
But in terms of how a kid might receive things, I thought, More movement kind of sounds like a good thing!
I imagined taking the kiddo to an adult Hatha class. I figured there’d be a good chance he might get bored, standing there holding Warrior 2 pose for several breaths. But I could totally picture him having a great time rocking up and down on his spine for a Kundalini Kriya.
Kundalini also incorporates more chanting than one might find in a traditional Hatha style yoga class. That’s another thing that might feel a bit strange to someone just walking in off the street, expecting a “regular” yoga class.
Personally, I love that chanting and music is such a big part of practicing Kundalini. And I thought my son would dig it too!
After a good deal of internal back in forth in my mind, I reached out to my teacher, asking her how she would feel about me bringing my son to her class.
She responded that it was fine with her, but she did warn me that she’d be teaching some of the tougher kriyas, as this was the last class in the series, and they’d been working towards these more challenging postures.
She advised me to use my intuition.
“I never turn a mommy down,” she said. “Because I know how it is! I can’t go to so many events because of this issue.”
I told her I’d see how things were going Saturday morning and take it from there.
When Saturday came, I approached my son as he ate his breakfast, “We don’t have kids yoga at the library today, but there’s another yoga class I’d like to go to today, if you feel like trying it?”
He seemed interested.
“It’s not a kids class,” I explained. “It’s a very different kind of yoga, where you move your body a lot. Sometimes there’s even dancing, and there’s usually lots of music and chanting, which is kind of like singing.”
“It sounds kinda cool,” he said, munching on his cornflakes. “Can I think about it for a little bit?”
“Sure,” I agreed. Then I added, “Oh, and there’s tea and snacks served afterwards.”
“Oooh, tea!” He exclaimed.
I knew that might entice him a bit.
I also knew one of his big concerns would be if going to the yoga class would cut into his video game time, which we limit to the weekends.
So for good measure I added, “And don’t worry, if you decide to go, there will still be plenty of time to play Super Mario Brothers later.”
I’d like to think know my kid pretty well…
“Okay then, Mama,” he said. “Let’s try the yoga class.”
After piano, on the drive to the yoga studio, I started to feel a bit nervous.
What if he hated it? What if he disrupted things, or said something embarrassing, like kids can sometimes do. I certainly didn’t want to ruin the experience of anyone else in the class.
After we parked and began walking towards the studio, I gave him a last-minute pep talk.
“If you get bored, or if the yoga moves don’t feel good, you can just lie down on your mat and rest. Just don’t disrupt the rest of the class, okay? Be respectful.”
I thought back to my first Kundalini experience, and remembered how strange it had seemed at first.
I added, “If you have any questions, you can ask me or the teacher after class. Please don’t interrupt the class or laugh, okay?”
He looked at me with all seriousness, “Why would I laugh, Mama?”
I smiled. God, I love this kid.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m just being nervous, since this isn’t a kids class. But I know you’re mature and respectful. Let’s go in!”
We were welcomed and greeted with smiles. The class was just getting started, and we found a spot to unroll our mats next to each other. I took a couple of blankets from the props closet and handed him one.
We listened as the teacher explained we’d be doing kriyas to shift our energy and reduce stress. She gave us handouts of the “tuning in” chant that is said at the start of every Kundalini class.
We followed along with the sheet as we tuned in:
Guru Dev Namo.
Aad guray nameh. Jugaad guray nameh. Sat gureh nameh. Siri guru devay nameh.
Our teacher, Virium Kaur, led us through the various kriyas. Some of the movements are so simple, but when repeated for 2-3 minutes (or longer!) they can be challenging and even excruciating.
“Work at your own pace. Just do what you can!” Virium reassured the class.
I cannot describe the joy I felt having my son on the mat next me and practicing yoga together. It was different than when we do kids yoga together, and I’m the teacher and he’s the student.
We were simply two people, sharing a space and doing our practice.
I moved my body quickly, doing the kriya that had been instructed, as I inhaled and exhaled along with each movement.
While I was focused on my movement, I could hear my son breathing next to me, and it gave me such comfort.
He kept up really well! He also rested when he needed to. He took child’s pose a few times, and occasionally moved into rabbit pose because it felt good. He’d join back in for a few postures and then he’d lie down and snuggle under his blanket.
“You know, Yogi Bhajan never turned anybody away,” Virium told the class. “He’d let mother’s bring their children. When he brought these teachings to the West, he said Kundalini is for everyone, young and old. That’s why I never want to turn anyone away either!”
When it was time for the sound bath, we all lay on our backs as Virium walked around the space, playing the gong.
The sound washed over us in waves, and we all lay still, letting the healing vibrations soak in.
At the end we sang “The Longtime Sun” together and sealed our practice with a Sat Nam.
As we were rolling up our mats afterwards, packing up, the woman who had been on the other side of my son remarked, “Your son has such great energy!”
I felt so happy that his presence had been well-received!
I also felt so proud of him! For trying something new and rocking it, and also for the level of maturity he had demonstrated.
I was absolutely a proud mama-bear, filled with gratitude.
“Mama,” he said quietly. “You said there’d be tea?”
“Yes,” I said. “It’s right out there. Let’s go get some!”
We both enjoyed a cup of honey-lavender tea, and he was thrilled to find a plum in the fruit bowl to munch on.
“So what did you think?” I asked him on the ride home.
“I liked it!” he responded.
“That makes me so happy!” I told him. “I thought you would like it, but I didn’t know for sure! What did you think of the gong? I love that part—when she plays the gong.”
“That was my favorite part too, Mama!”
Then he added enthusiastically, “When can we go again?”
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Yoli Ramazzina
Editor: Renée Picard
Photos: Author’s own