B2L Q&A with Kundalini Yogi, Adette Kagan

If you’re familiar with yoga you may know that it is practiced in a variety of styles.  Practices like Ashtanga/Vinyasa and Brikram are focused around a physical workout, and are the most common in western society. Others, like Jivamukti are a more contemplative practice, with spiritual elements being explored through Sanskrit chanting and meditation. Kundalini yoga is an uplifting blend of the two, combining movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation and chanting with the intention being to pump up the invigorating Kundalini (or coiled snake) energy that lays at the base of the spine.

The popularity of Kundalini yoga is growing in Western society, with many people feeling from their very first class the powerful transformative effect of the practice on their consciousness. Others cherish the blissful invigoration they feel when they leave the studio after a class. At balance2life, we choose to run Kundalini yoga sessions in our corporate programs because of this two-fold effect. Participants have reported that a Kundalini session was just the thing they needed to get energised before a long arduous afternoon meeting. Others have said it was just the thing to open up their back after an extended period of sitting.

We spoke to our resident Kundalini yoga expert, Adette Kagan, who founded It’s All Good Kundalini in Sydney to get a better idea of Kundalini yoga practice for beginners.

 

 

What makes Kundalini yoga different from other yoga practice?

Kundalini Yoga is like the Mother of all yogas. Russell Brand describes it as

“the crack-cocaine of yoga!” It’s known as the Yoga of Awareness, as through the practice, it takes you deep within yourself and it allows you to become acutely aware of all aspects of yourself, physical, mental and spiritual and also gives you an increased awareness of what’s around you.  It transforms at a cellular level areas of your life that may have been blocking you for years.  Other yogas mainly focus on the physical side with some breath work, meditation and mantra but in Kundalini Mantra, meditation, mantra and breath work are at its core.  It also provides a very quick transformation.  Yogi Bhajan, the Yogi Guru who introduced Kundalini Yoga to Western Society in 1969, says what takes 10+ years to achieve in Hatha you can achieve in 1 year of Kundalini Yoga.  I’ve experienced rapid transformation like this myself after practicing other styles of yoga for a number of years without the same success, and I have also seen this in so many others as a teacher.  The transformation is incredible!

People describe Kundalini yoga as transformative and life changing. Why do you think it has this affect on people?

As Kundalini is the yoga of awareness it forces you to face your demons, so to speak.  It really opens you up and can be quite confronting for some, but if you can work through the discomfort, the rewards are incredible. You literally see yourself transforming into a more centred, balanced version of yourself.  As it is the yoga of awareness it brings to the forefront areas that require change, and through practice it allows the student to actively work their mind, body and spirit.  It is technically designed with each Kriya to transform a person at cellular level, where we hold memories of past trauma etc.

How did you discover Kundalini yoga and what has it done for you?

I discovered it by accident and it literally changed my life.  I was looking for a yoga to help me with breathing and someone recommended I try Kundalini Yoga.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I walked into a beautiful studio in Bondi Junction and people were sitting on sheep skins, some wearing turbans! I thought, where have I landed!?  I worked my way through some weird and challenging postures, chanted mantra for the first time ever and by the end of it I felt more at peace than I could ever remember.  I was hooked!  I started doing 4-5 classes a week and over the weeks, then months and now years I noticed significant change in myself. Before yoga I suffered from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks and couldn’t even get on a bus for fear of an attack.  After just a few months of practicing this incredible yoga I was riding the buses again, getting out and about, becoming more confident and open every day and finally travelling overseas by myself for the first time in years.  I love this yoga so much, not just for the practice but also the teachings that are so beautiful and simple:  Be compassionate, kind, loving, of service, take care of your body, open your heart and love. How beautiful is that!  I’ve been practicing for nearly 6 years now 2-4 times a week, meditating every day and it has changed my life!  The back issues I had are nearly non-existent, my chronic anxiety is at a minimum and the panic attacks I suffered for years are all but gone.  I’m more open, loving, kind, balanced, happier, healthier and more at peace with myself than I’ve ever been.

It’s sounds like this practice has done amazing things for you. But I have to ask…What's with the white turbans?

Haha I thought that at my first class!  The turbans are worn to protect the Crown Chakra, as when open, it connects us to all and if not protected in high-energy places such as a Kundalini yoga class, we can get headaches.  A lot of the die-hard yogis wear them all the time.  I tend to wear a beanie or scarf when I’m teaching but don’t wear them whilst I practice in class.

Is Kundalini yoga for everyone? Tell us about some of the barriers people face when starting Kundalini and how they can overcome them.

Absolutely, but as I mentioned it can be quite confronting, so a lot of people will try it once and never go back because they don’t want to face their fears. It’s also very different to other styles of yoga with some weird postures so people can feel a bit silly.  The only way to overcome this is to have the courage to just do it.  The more it’s practiced the easier it becomes and it’s actually quite addictive. With regular practice you reap the benefits by feeling so good!  As Joseph Campbell says “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”.

 

 

How can Kundalini yoga be put into practice in today's busy schedules?

I believe wellbeing is so important, that it’s a must do.  When I first started practicing yoga I scheduled it into my diary so it was part of my day.  I was running my own business and had personal commitments but still found the time to practice it minimum 3 times a week.  If someone can’t attend class there are online classes there are webpages with sets that can be done at home.  Where there’s a will there’s always a way!

Do you have any simple moves you can share?

Cat Cow is a great move that is actually in a lot of styles of yoga.  It works the whole spine- the area of our body that is core to wellbeing.  A couple of other great moves are Spinal Flex, Life Nerve Stretch, Spinal Twist and Triangle Pose or Downward Facing Dog.

A great beginners meditation is the Kirtan Kriya which has also been endorsed by the Alzheimer's Association as a meditation that can help with dementia.  I find this meditation’s simple repetitive movement and mantra to be very soothing, winding the mind down to a blissful relaxed state.

Adette teaches Kundalini yoga at Soul Flow Yoga Level 2, Suite 12, 51-53 Spring Street in Bondi Junction.

You can get in touch with her at www.itsallgoodkundalini.com.au/

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