On Wednesday evening I headed to RADA studios in central London for my first ever Kundalini yoga class. One of my 25 Things Before 25 was to go to a yoga class and I was inspired to try Kundalini yoga after falling in love with yoga a few years ago, alongside hearing the effects of Kundalini specifically could be similar to Ayahuasca.
During my time in Peru, I met a lot of people who had taken Ayahuasca and had incredible experiences. Others, not so great. I passed on doing an Ayahuasca retreat whilst away as I actually don’t think I’m mentally strong enough to cope with vomiting, intense hallucinations or potentially life altering revelations . Some of you may call me boring, I like to think of myself as sensible.
So Kundalini yoga seemed like a great substitute. It’s supposedly enlightening, energizing and peace restoring. And the best part? You don’t have to take any drugs.
I have been meditating daily for the past 24 days and although the people around me might argue that I’m still crazy (sorry), I am slowly learning that one of the best things you can do for yourself is to take care of your body and mind. This is something I have spent roughly 23 years struggling with.
So, feeling adequately spiritual and ready to tackle the next item on my bucket list, I headed to RADA studios for my Kundalini yoga class.
I was met with an enormous queue outside the studios, stretching right down to the end of the road. This, alongside being absolutely starving (we are told not to eat for 2 hours before the class) meant I was about 80% on my way to bailing. Terrified that people would shout at me for skipping the queue, I lurked outside for a few minutes pretending to be doing something important on my phone. As you do.
Eventually I had the uncomfortable realization that I’d never get anywhere in life if I didn’t push myself. So, I headed inside and up a narrow staircase to Studio 3, where the Kundalini yoga class was taking place.
Kundalini Yoga was brought to Europe in 1969. The practise combines posture, breathing, meditation and mantra to break through blocks in energetic pathways which form from our emotional habits and history. When these pathways are unblocked, energy can flow freely meaning we feel present, connected and balanced. And if there’s one thing I crave, it’s connection and balance.
I know many of you will be reading this thinking that I been injected with a large dose of pretentiousness. But I whole-heartedly encourage everyone to try it and see the benefits for themselves. The physical and mental benefits of yoga are undeniable and it was good to see a side of yoga that doesn’t involve a thin person doing a handstand on a beach in Thailand.
A lot of people in the class wore only white to ‘expand auric radiance’. I wore my Nike leggings and exercise top because #basic. The teacher wore all white and a turban around his head. Initially I felt intimidated, like I’d entered into something way out my depth and I never would be a decent or calm enough person to practise something this spiritual. But everyone was so welcoming and I was given a print out of the mantras, a blanket and a mat.
The class begins with mantra chanting. The sound vibrations help to unblock stored energy and then help this energy to circulate (cue eye rolls from 70% of readers). As it was my first time, I sort of just made it up as I went along and this seemed to work just fine.
Next, came a series of exercises designed to break down the blocks in your energy pathways. We clapped, chanted, and threw our bodies around on the mat like we were ‘peas on the skin of a drum’. This was fairly exhausting. The embarrassment in pretending to be a pea didn’t last long, and I felt more energized than I had in so long. A strong, long-lasting energy, as opposed to the ‘I’ve just drank 3 coffees and I feel good now but the crash is coming’ that I used to experience until I discovered a life of green tea and 9.30pm bedtimes.
We moved onto deep relaxation. Covering ourselves with blankets, we listened to beautiful music, focused on our breath and made our bodies as heavy as possible. I cannot recommend meditation enough for anyone who occasionally feels stressed out or tired (download the Calm app, it’ll change your life). Even just 10 minutes a day can make you more productive, energized and will even improve your immune system.
Kundalini yoga was one of the strangest things I’ve done, and it is something that I am definitely keen to do again. It’s energizing, exhilarating and at times, really hard work. The music is incredible and the sense of connection I felt in those 90 minutes is like nothing I’ve ever felt.
Many people feel emotional during or after their first Kundalini yoga experience. As someone who tends to only express emotion whilst watching channel 4 documentaries or when Marley dies, I can’t say I felt particularly emotional. However I definitely felt more content, relaxed and connected to my body.