I was fortunate enough to take part in a Kundalini Yoga Retreat a couple of weekends ago in Sheffield, not far for me to travel as it is my home town so it meant that I could go home at night and chill out with my dog rather than staying in a hotel room.
Having never done Kundalini yoga before I really wasn’t sure what to expect and had been hearing from people how different it was to any other type of yoga.
I was the first to arrive and the studio looked so beautiful with the fairy lights on the floor and the walls hand painted with colourful mandalas. It gave me a chance to blend with the energies of the place before everyone else started arriving and also for me to meet Grace who was our yoga teacher for the retreat.
The Friday evening was the opening of the retreat ready for two full days of kundalini yoga, meditation, journal writing and group exercises.
Grace explained to us more in detail about what kundalini yoga is and how it differs from any other type of yoga
What is Kundalini Yoga
The technology of Kundalini Yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, is a science of the mind and body, to elevate the spirit, which has no boundaries, no discrimination. Therefore it is for everyone, universal and nondenominational. Kundalini Yoga is thus a dynamic form of yoga that awakens our own awareness. It uses sets of physical postures and movements (asana), meditation, breathing exercises (pranayama), and chanting (mantra). As it is a physical practice which encompasses a meditative focus, it not only strengthens the health and well being of our physical body, it is also useful in balancing our emotional state, our mental clarity, and in the relief of stress.
How does Kundalini Yoga differ from other Yoga
Kundalini Yoga contains the elements of all forms of Yoga; Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga, Shakti, Tantra, Raj, et cetera. Kundalini Yoga helps to purify, stimulate and strengthen all the systems of the body by unlocking your inner, creative energy to get the most out of life. Your Kundalini Yoga teacher does not make up exercises or sets of movements, but uses prescribed sets of exercises (kriyas) which focus upon specific areas of the body. It is taught in its pure and complete form.
We then went into our first kriya and to tune in you have to chant which was a little weird at first but you soon understand how powerful it becomes when a group of 9 women are all chanting together.
The powerful phrase of the retreat was Sat Nam which means “The truth is my identity” this is chanted to close a kriya.
One of the main differences that I observed was that all of the movements are done with your eyes closed so that we are focusing inwards although there are kriyas where eyes are open. I did struggle trying to sit with my legs crossed for the first evening and into the next day but by the end of the retreat I could sit with them crossed for up to 20 minutes at a time, for me this felt like such an achievement and actually made me quite emotional.
The next two days were spent moving through the different kriyas and learning new and some quite challenging poses and movements. One of which is called Breath of Fire – boy did I have some problems trying to master this! You have to inhale and expand your naval point and exhale and pull in your naval point and do this movement very quickly while breathing in and out of your nose. I soon discovered that this was not my forte especially when surrounded by some much younger women who were breathing in and out at an extremely rapid rate that I am sure I would have hyperventilated if I had carried on at that speed, so I found my own slower pace which worked well for me.
On both days we had a lovely vegan lunch and on the Sunday we were treated to vegan snicker bars – these were awesome and tasted divine. You can find the recipe here if you would like to try making them for yourself.
We also did some group exercises of which one was where we had to make a Labyrinth using the items that we had in the room, we then would walk through the Labyrinth one by one and perform a gratitude ceremony in the middle.
We did a Gratitude exercise of writing down things that we are grateful for and also affirmations starting with I AM. I loved this part as this is something that I try to practise everyday – the art of gratitude. The more you are grateful for what you have the more the Universe will bring to you.
I absolutely loved the retreat and I am so glad that I took part in it. It was a very emotional journey for me because I found that I could move my body much more than I thought I could and was actually much more flexible too.
My heartfelt thank you goes to Grace who was an amazing teacher with such great patience and wonderful aura. I will certainly be booking on other yoga retreats that Grace will be doing in the future.
Grace Kaya is a certified aquarian kundalini level 1 teacher , Certified RYT500 Yoga Instructor specialising in the styles of Restorative, Hatha & Vinyasa; with experience teaching Chakra Flow, Pre & Postnatal Yoga & Yoga for children. She is presently attending a 220hr Kundalini Aquarian Level 1 Teacher Training. Grace has enjoyed working with students of varying ages and abilities including special needs groups and seniors.
The Kundalini Yoga Retreat took place at Instinctive Health Sheffield