"Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.”
I grew up in Brazil in the 70s and 80s. At that time there was no yoga in my hometown in Nova Iguaçu. I was incredibly curious about the mechanism of yoga and breathwork since I was very young. The only places that had yoga were downtown in Rio de Janeiro. I held in my heart that someday I would be diving into what I perceived to be an exotic experience. After I had my daughter in 1987 here in the US, I immediately started feeling the need to experience something that would bring me to a calm and peaceful state, as well as a good workout. As an only child being a mother was a big stretch for me. I remember longing for some quiet time. I was the only source of childcare for my child, which made it very challenging to have a space in which I could focus only on myself. My husband worked very hard for long hours on a daily basis, including weekends. So I immediately looked around for a yoga class near me.
The local high school had a variety of evening educational programs. They held yoga! I was elated when I found my first yoga teacher Suzanne Grenager and dove into blissful downward dogs, forward bends, ecstatic twists, and savasana, ohhhhhhh the sweetness of the feeling of oneness, where one is in unification with all there is.... Suzanne was extremely loving, engaging, and knowledgeable. She spoiled us with a two hour class, which is something that is non-heard of in regular yoga studios. She incorporated meditation in the classes effortlessly. We met on a weekly basis at the middle school during the school year. I longed for the weekly excursions and felt that the work we did on the mat prepared me for the whole week ahead. I was a better, kinder person, mother and wife. The difference was palpable! I had no idea that I would integrate and assimilate so well with this technology of the mind, body and spirit. After two years of classes Suzanne's work circumstances changed and she stopped teaching in my hometown. I was devastated to say the least. Even though at that time I knew enough to create my own personal practice, I was sure that I still needed a guide for this profound excursion. I also needed community, even though we barely spoke to one another in class. There was something very powerful about being in the room with a group of people embracing the hunger for stillness, the delectable body wellbeing and the clarity from disengaging from the claws of the ego. The fact that our instructor, as skilled as she was, took us to some particular place within ourselves that we had never been before was huge!
The summer I began looking for another teacher in my little hometown. I started to ask questions and at the time there were very few choices. To my bewilderment I found out that there was a yoga evening class about two blocks from my home. The YWCA was holding a six week yoga session with my second teacher Petra Wirth. These two women couldn't be more different personality wise, and their passion, knowledge and love for Hatha Kripalu yoga was matched! I could not be more pleased with how I stumbled upon another phenomenal experience that kept enhancing my quality-of-life for twenty one years to be exact, without summer breaks.
After that first session I started to attend weekly classes at Petra’s home, which was a few blocks away. She had a full schedule during the week which was fantastic. A few years later she moved to the country in an ideal setting. The garage was converted into an office and it has double glass sliding doors on the back wall that opens up to a little stream. There is also an orchard behind the building. Wow! I attended classes there for a number of years. I still can close my eyes and transport myself to the energy of those classes. Petra continued to add different trainings to her repertoire, so her classes were never dulled. She was a professional ballerina and due to her injuries she learned yoga. The flow and purposeful beauty extended into the mat as we flowed from one pose to another. She was also a caring health advocate to all of her students. She was happy to share articles, books and magazines on all kinds of wellness topics. What a powerful example of what a teacher should be like! Petra is also a massage therapist and energy practitioner.
Years latter very auspiciously I found my third yoga teacher, this time it was Kundalini Yoga, Siri Neel Kaur Khalsa. I’ll share my experiences with my beloved teacher Siri Neel in more detail in a future blog.
My Kundalini training lasted nine long months. I had no idea that yoga was this diverse, since it was a completely different experience from all the years of yoga that I have had. Kundalini opened my intuition to amazing levels, and continues to do so. We never stop growing in all levels of our dimensionality, if we are on the ascension path. This form of yoga allows for depth in the journey of Self Realization like nothing I have ever experienced. I still love my Kripalu practice. These two very different practices enhance and support one another in my yogic escapades. Due to the other energetic and Shamanic practices that I adopted along the way, Kundalini Yoga kept letting me expand over and over, and allows me to let go of the debris that we all need to learn to surrender, so that we may embrace the ‘new.’ The new paradigm, the new compassionate way to talk to my Self inside my head, the new opportunities for people, places and things that I started to allow in my life. The ‘new’ is a HUGE deal!
The Kundalini Yoga meditations are multifaceted and multidimensional. The moving asanas or poses, the eye positions, the mudras or hand positions, the variety of breaths and the creation of sound via mantras, which may be very simple and vary in difficulty, allows for increase in levels of excellency. The sky is truly the limit. Generating energy is what one dives into with Kundalini Yoga. There is an organization of these energies with very specific themes to the Kriyas or sequence of poses, and the order in which the poses are placed in correspondence with one another. This all constitutes a container in which greater awareness emerges effortlessly.
As I began to create a rapport with my spiritual guides, and know that I was not going crazy lol. I started to get to know and most importantly Trust that all of my experiences were leading me home to my Truest AKA my Highest Self. The veil of illusion gradually and steadily started to dissolve into thin air. I started to see and feel my gifts that were within me all along waiting to be uncovered. I started to thrive, giggle and find myself being goofy and learning to not take things soooooo seriously in life. Slowly things began to gel and to make sense! I started to receive guidance to submerge within Kundalini Yoga and to let go of the Kripalu regular practice. This was just one of the things that I was to embrace letting go of at that time. My stubborn bone was not having it! For about one and a half years or more this Knowing was rising. One day as I drove to the country, in a perfect end of the summer sunny day to my yoga adventure, not far from Petra's studio and home, I had a head on collision. She told me latter that she heard the sounds of the ambulance coming to get me while teaching the class. My guidance was still to stop attending the classes. After two months of recovery from the accident I called Petra to let her know that I was ready and eager to return to the Wednesday morning class, which was perfect for me for years. She held different levels of yoga classes throughout the week. At that time this was the only one that worked for my schedule and was the perfect level of difficulty for me. She told me that all of a sudden the attendance had dropped and she terminated that class from her schedule. I went into meditation and realized that I was ready to climb the Kundalini ladder. My destiny was with this new and mysterious kind of ancient technology. I chose to make peace with it all and not fight the inevitable.
Letting go may be such a challenge and at the same time such a gift. It is all in the eye of the beholder! We are so much more then we perceive ourselves to be. I am eternally grateful for the ability to surrender the fullness of my body, the complexity of my mind and the eternality of my spirit to yoga. I deeply honor the three yoga lineages that I embody. These three very different women have a very special place in my heart, and in the heart of many others. They were all pioneers in a Christian area that felt threatened by yoga's mystical prospects. To me the truth is that yoga may enhance all spiritual or religious paths. It’s all up for us to decide where our yoga practice may take us. It may be that you just need an hour to quiet the mind or to exercise the body. No matter what the need, the gift is that as you grow and mature as a human being, the yoga mat holds humility and infinite possibility.
Have you ever taken a yoga class? If so what kind of yoga is your favorite? Have you ever gone to a yoga studio or do you only do yoga at home with videos?