I am sometimes asked about my experience of yoga and it has been lovely after all these years to write them down. There is so much more I could say and I hope to use this blog to share how yoga can help you in different ways. But as an introduction and an inspiration, here is how Kundalini yoga changed my life!
Kundalini Yoga helped me become who I already was inside, but didn’t quite know it or have the courage to fully embrace it and show it to the world without conflict or neurotic worrying about the opinion of others. A sensitive soul with great capacity for love and healing, of myself and others. My childhood story isn’t only mine to tell and in a way it doesn’t matter anymore. I am grateful for every moment of it for what it brought me to and for who I have become.
I discovered yoga in my mid-twenties, though there is a picture of me doing the full lotus in my school uniform as a child and a vague memory of my mother doing yoga or exercise to a Jane Fonda cassette tape! Hatha and Zen yoga gave me peace and relaxation during a difficult period at work and generally made me feel good in my body and calmer in my head.
By this point I had already conquered the eating disorder Bulimia Nervosa that had accompanied me since my early teens. I say conquered because Cognitive Behavioural Therapy really did work in practice – I never abused myself with food again and growing and cooking and sharing food is one of my passions now. CBT was amazing at dealing with the acting out of my inner conflict and neuroses, but it didn’t heal them.
Life was happy in many ways, I was finding a career in saving the world as the rescuer in me needed to do, making lots of life long like-minded friends and fell in love with my husband James. But I was still neurotic – I cared deeply about what other people thought of me in a rather obsessive way, was desperate for approval – I think I often confused approval with love – and could get easily angry and defensive in my relationship because of my own inner lack of trust and affection for myself. And I still had major body issues.
It was not until I discovered Kundalini Yoga that everything began to fall away. I danced back from my first class with the wonderful Anya Weil, telling James “I have just done the most amazing yoga! To music! It was nothing like yoga (it can often feel so different from all other kinds of yoga) but it was amazing!”
I started going twice a week and very quickly felt like a new person. I started to take responsibility for my own happiness and fulfilment of needs in all areas of my life. I quickly let go of my “I am a victim of my mother’s issues” self-definition (and guess what, I have the most wonderful relationship with my beautiful mother now!) and taking responsibility in my relationship means I no longer resent James for not second-guessing what I want or need but actively ask for it and find I am more loved than ever for this.
This all felt so life-changing that I decided I wanted to teach this amazing technology to others. Instead of trying to save the world through International Charity work I wanted to work with people to help them find healing and transformation themselves. I had already done the Foundation level year of a Counselling Degree and talking hadn’t seemed like enough either. It dawned on me that I was going to be a yoga teacher after all, something I had always jokingly said I would become.
I was extremely fortunate to have a year of total immersion in the teachings as I studied and taught simultaneously in The Kundalini Yoga Teacher Trainers School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where we were living at the time. And embarked on a Foundation Level year of Arts Therapy training at the same time, a highly experiential course with 5 weeks across the year of intense therapy and training. And I saw my own private arts therapist to help me make sense of all my stuff! It was a very intense year!! Filled with yoga, poetry, drama, performance, drawing, painting and a lot of tears.
I began to let go of very painful childhood and adolescent baggage, and found forgiveness and compassion gently replacing anger and self-pity. I grieved for what I needed to grieve for and found great peace and acceptance of my life and myself. I learnt incredible insights about myself and my patterns and was challenged to drop my defences and look deeply at ALL aspects of myself. This journey continues to this day…
Kundalini Yoga with Tonnie and Hanneke & Arts Therapy with Kit Loring and Carrie Herbert from Ragamuffin was the blossoming of the grown up woman and mother and teacher and therapist that I am today. I went in a child and came out a woman – a Goddess actually! And this is what I see happening to all those clients who come to me and stick with it. Not everyone comes back after the first session… it is not an easy journey to make. But those who do are shining so brightly and living so fully and have bravely come through the pain and out the other side into the light. Anyone can do this, no matter what trauma they have experienced.
Kundalini Yoga taught me to trust myself – how can anyone thrive without self-belief… worse, mistrusting themselves and their intentions at every turn? It taught me personal responsibility and honesty. And it showed me the Divine in me that I had always known was there but never known how to access or embrace. Every time I sit down and tune it I feel a physical sense of the Divine in and all around me. I feel an opening and awakening within me… an infinite source of love and compassion for the whole world.
Kundalini Yoga gives me a sense of calm and stability that has meant I very rarely react in anger or frustration now… I respond with breath and awareness and compassion… almost always! The awareness that comes with the practice means I can see myself and others more clearly than ever before and am able to respond moment by moment.
Kundalini yoga makes me laugh more, cry more, live more freely and fully and whenever things get hard it is always there to lift me up – it helps me meet and embrace each feeling and challenge without fear.
Where I used to judge harshly, myself and others, I now feel total acceptance of all living beings. As this judgment fell away I became able to serve my students and clients with compassion and honesty. I am no longer afraid to show them their truth because I understand that making someone feel good is just serving my own ego and need to help, whereas guiding someone to their own truth is the true path to their own healing.
I honestly hug myself and love myself every day through the ups and downs of life because I have so much tenderness for myself. Some would call all this navel-gazing – but just imagine how everyone in my life benefits from my saner, happier, more loving self. When you live in this way you will see all those loved ones around you bathe in your light and access their own higher selves more easily as you live from yours. When the cup is full, it overflows….
May your journey into the light be as beautiful as mine… with all its rocky paths and deep ravines… I truly believe that accepting and embracing our pain and fearlessly embarking on the path of healing is the only way to truth and happiness and inner peace. Sat Nam dear beloved readers!