By Heather Greaves
Reiki Teacher, Yoga Instructor and Holistic Counsellor
Yoga is for hippies?
I was first introduced to Kundalini Yoga in 1994 while going through a very challenging time in my life. I was 25 years old, newly married to an alcohol and drug addict, and feeling trapped by my commitment to God in the presence of my family and close friends in my marriage to this man. As well as that, his family members were telling me that I was a horrible woman for even considering divorcing their son.
I had stopped eating and could only manage to swallow water – litres of it. I weighed next to nothing; I was suffering debilitating anxiety and panic attacks; and the only thing I could manage to do was exercise because it forced me to breathe – which stopped my panic attacks. I had never been so miserable in my life!
Nothing I was doing seemed to improve how I felt until a friend suggested I try Kundalini Yoga. I told her that I thought yoga was for hippies. She just shrugged her shoulders and told me that it had helped her through her recent divorce and that she had never felt better. Now, that was definitely music to my ears!
So, I went to a session. The class, as told by the instructor (yogi), was going to be on the throat chakra, the house of communication. I had no idea what he was talking about as I didn’t know what a chakra was and the only area I knew I communicated from was my mouth, but I decided to give it a go anyway.
He explained that Kundalini Yoga was practiced with the eyes shut to stop any distractions from connecting with ourselves. “Hippie talk,” I thought. He also said that certain sounds are used to open up energetic pathways through our bodies to help unblock us from stored emotions and painful things we may be avoiding. I remember thinking, “Is this some foreign language?”. Then he babbled some weird words, that when translated meant that we were truth and connecting to the universal truth that is us – my mind was a complete blank!
Anyway, I closed my eyes and repeated these sounds, very timidly at first, as I wanted to make sure I wasn’t the only one doing it. Then, I just gave in and followed his instructions.
At some point, I realised my whole body was shaking and shuttering and I thought I was having some kind of seizure. All we had done were utter a few weird sounds; stretch our bodies in interesting ways; and began undertaking odd breathing techniques. It felt like someone had their hands wrapped around my throat. I opened my eyes to see the yogi just smiling peacefully and encouragingly towards me. I felt like I was dying and he was standing there smiling serenely.
After class, he came straight to me and asked one of the experienced students to sit with me until I stopped hysterically crying and shivering uncontrollably. I was so embarrassed and totally shocked that such simple little actions could create such a reaction in me. He told me that it was unusual to have such a strong release, but that I must have been deeply suffering by keeping my truth inside me, and it was ready to come out. All I knew was that I suddenly felt empty and full all at once and I felt great!
Although, it was frightening, I was intrigued. So, I went the next week and had a completely normal class. From there, I just couldn’t get enough. And now, 22 years later, I can honestly say that Kundalini Yoga has helped me heal from emotional grief and trauma, as well as breast cancer. I am so grateful to have it as a tool in my life and to be able to share it with others. Yoga ‘aint just for Hippies! It’s for all of us.