1.1-1.2 White Tantric Yoga (March 2008)
This is the second part of a series “Connecting the Dots: How I Went from Being a San Francisco CFO to an Athens Yoga Instructor.” Part 1 is here.
I had been doing Kundalini Yoga for about six months, but I didn’t really know anything about the practice itself. In the beginning, I didn’t care. I just wanted to feel better. But as I started to feel better, I became curious so I started doing my own reading and going to Kundalini Yoga workshops.
“Kundalini” is an ancient Sanskrit word that literally means “coiled snake.” It is also sometimes translated to mean “a lock or curl of hair.” The idea is that everyone possesses a divine energy that resides at the base of your spine. This energy is your creative potential. It is something we are born with, but we must make an effort to “uncoil the snake” or release the energy. When the energy is released, you awaken. Kundalini Yoga is the practice of awakening your Higher Self (or your soul) and turning potential energy into kinetic energy. When your Kundalini energy is activated, people report feeling clear about their purpose, aligned in their lives, relaxed, expansive and fearless.
Kundalini Yoga is often referred to as the yoga of awareness. It combines physical exercises, breathing techniques, mantra, meditation and energy management into a single practice. It is different than other forms of yoga in that it focuses more on energy management and breath control. All forms of yoga want to activate your Kundalini energy. Kundalini Yoga also specifically prepares your body for that change as this energy is powerful.
I learned all this and more from classes, workshops and reading about Kundalini Yoga. Eventually I started to hear people talking about White Tantric Yoga.
White Tantric Yoga is like the extreme sports of Kundalini Yoga. When I first heard about it, I was fascinated and repelled at the same time. Just the word “tantric” makes you curious because it’s so commonly associated with sex, but no, this practice has nothing to do with sex at all, that’s red tantric yoga. White Tantric Yoga is using the energy of a partner in meditation. The idea is this practice clears up all elements of the subconscious mind so that your actions are based on a clear mind that understands itself. You can use it to break blocks and things that are holding you back.
It’s an all-day event with meditations spanning 11 to 62 minutes. Meditations are announced as they are given to you so you never know what to expect. Sometimes your eyes are open, and you are staring into the eyes of a partner. Sometimes your eyes are closed. Some of the postures are very physically challenging. Some are easy. Sometimes you chant. Sometimes you don’t. There’s no routine, instructions are given only moments before starting. The things you do know are you must be dressed all in white with a white head covering, you have to sit cross legged in carefully organized lines, and you must have a partner (they assign you one if you come alone).
I think it was really curiosity more than anything that led me to go to my first White Tantric Yoga day in 2008. I wanted to see what would happen. This curiosity about the unknown has been a thread throughout my life and has led me on many colorful adventures. Why not White Tantric Yoga too? The pictures I had seen of everyone wearing white got me concerned this might be a cult so I carefully researched that point and after I established, no, this was in fact not a cult, I signed up.
They say you always get the right partner you need in White Tantric Yoga, and I am sure that was the case for me. I was assigned to a great person named Mark who was very stable and calm. And I got lucky—that particular day was considered easy with lots of 11 and 31 minute meditations. I chanted mantras I didn’t know, I stared into Mark’s eyes when we were asked to, and I followed along as much as I could. When it was over, I mainly just felt tired. I didn’t feel transformed or clear. I felt exhausted.
The after effects, however, were subtle and long ranging. As the weeks passed, my thoughts started to shift. I stopped being angry about things that happened years ago. I stopped replaying my past. 2008 was my first experience of White Tantric Yoga, but I’ve gone on to do over 25 days of the practice. And as I did more White Tantric Yoga, things started to become clearer for me. My thoughts shifted and changed one layer at a time. It was a gradual but very deep and fundamental change. It was like my brain reorganized.
When I trace it back, I did one day of White Tantric Yoga in 2008 and four days in 2009. I know those five days of White Tantric Yoga were part of the path that led me to Greece. They were steps in the destruction of mental blocks about what was and wasn’t possible for me in my life. At the time I would never have said meditation was somehow going to lead me to change countries. But in retrospect, those five days were significant dots along the way.
You can learn more about White Tantric Yoga here.
Next: 1.2 to 1.3: A Death in the Family (June 2008)
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