I often say to students that you cannot stay the same when you practice Kundalini yoga. The very nature of what we do is to awaken the energy of consciousness, to practice in a way that sheds light on our self-imposed limitations, and invites us to think out of the box and develop our intuitive mind. Being able to live from our intuitive mind is one of the main goals of a Kundalini practitioner.
I practice and teach both Hatha and Kundalini yoga. I see my Hatha practice as daily maintenance — a great way to work out kinks in my body, get grounded and calm. My Kundalini practice is a place of transformation.
The first time I took a live yoga class, at age 12 or 13, I remember hearing some strange, prayer-like, exotic word come out of my teacher’s mouth. Everyone echoed it back, and it made me uncomfortable. It didn’t stop me from going back, but I did kind of feel “left out,” as I didn’t know what they were saying, what it meant, or if it was the name of a god or other deity. Frankly, it sounded kind of religious, and I was definitely not into god-stuff at that point in my ’tweendom.
When my teacher told me what Namaste meant (“I bow to the god within you”) and how to pronounce it (Nah- Mah-Stay), it didn’t necessarily make the phrase any easier for me to embrace. But the social pressure of “call and response” soon won me over. I attended very small classes in Santa Fe, and any non-compliant Namaste’ers would be very obvious to the teacher and other students. At first it barely rolled out of my lips, a garbled rumble of vowels with slight hiss in the middle. I had no way of knowing that a decade later, I would be the one at the front of the room offering the same salutation to my classes.