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Health + WellbeingThe Balanced Brief

Wednesday Wellbeing: Kundalini Yoga by Zoe

Yoga in Paris

 

Yessss, we’re so nearly at the end of January, our first month of this new decade! How’s your month been, how’re you feeling?

January can be interesting in many ways and can also feel like the longest month. I decided to celebrate it in true Wellbeing Queen style by taking myself off to Paris for some yoga CPD!

I’m a kundalini yoga teacher and one of my favourite teachers, Guru Jagat has been in Europe! So last Tuesday, on a burst of spontaneity, I booked myself on the Eurostar to go immerse myself in her workshops at the wonderful Rasa Yoga, in Paris. Much bliss on many levels here! Plus, it’s the first time I’ve been back to Paris since I stopped drinkingalcohol! Another association to smash through and it’s been a breeze!

So here I am, lying on my bed at the Hotel Europe Saint Severin, listening to the rain, having woken from the deepest, yoga induced sleep after yesterday’s sessions. As an aside I’d recommend the hotel. Its location in the Latin Quarter, a direct trip of ease on the Metro purple line 4 and just a five-minute walk from the yoga studio! Service is friendly and it’s very clean. I loved the wood floors and exposed brick work in my room.

Being well & feeling good

For the last ten years but most likely more, I’ve been on a quest to incorporate practices into my life that make me feel good, especially those that can minimise the impact of stress. Although I’ve always dabbled with various types of yoga, discovering the impact of kundalini yoga has been nothing short of mind blowing!

So, I thought I’d share a bit more with you about this lesser known magic! Please do read on, even if you think yoga inot for you! You never know it may just be …

Because this type of yoga is actually for everyone, in fact it’s referred to by Yogi Bhajan the person that brought it to the West from India as the “householders” yoga. This is because it’s perfect for doing at home and can be done by anyone.  It isn’t about contorting oneself into odd shapes, which rely on flexibility, either! This practice works to transform the body’s energies and uses the breath, postures & movement, meditation, deep relaxation and sound to do just this.

Now, you have to trust me on this one because it can all sound a bit woo. Especially, because as a teacher I follow tradition and wear white and a turban when I teach. So, you may find you need to get over the preconceptions that inevitably arise and do what I did and just give it a go. Because once you feel the impact and trust me you will, you’ll know there really is something in this accessible type of yoga that has you inhaling deep down in to your core and maxing out the use of your breath like never before! Ah some poetry or a song lyric maybe?!

Why kundalini yoga?

Kundalini combines the best of everything I know (from my personal experience) to be essential in supporting holistic (whole, not hippy!) wellbeing. The focus on breath, movement, deep relaxation and meditation are not so unusual but the use of sound is a little more unconventional. But is it easy to incorporate these as part of our daily lifestyle?

Yes, especially when you do this type of yoga. Each class or workshop provides a ‘complete experience’ that draws together the essentials to optimise health. It’s also unlikely you’ll ever experience the same class twice, so there’s lots of scope for variety and this means different experiences each time too!

The breath and our quality of breath is key to maintaining good health, keeping stress at bay, helping the body to release toxins through the blood and deep relaxation. Specific time is dedicated to working with the breath in classes and I particularly love that breathwork is at the heart of this practice. In fact, each posture or movement is usually matched with a certain type of breath or action to heighten the impact on mind and body. While this can seem unusual at first, it’s all part of creating greater self-awareness and is picked up with ease.

Kundalini yoga focuses on glandular health. Our glands are known to be ‘the guardians of our health’ and the movements or postures are designed to focus on specific aspects of these systems in our body. The movement can also focus on supporting our digestive system, endocrine or reproductive and hormonal centres, all of which are impacted by stress. The practice builds energy and people can experience natural highs, clarity of mind and relaxation all at the same time. You can also notice the energy moving within the body too which is so cool!

Short relaxations take place after each posture to help the body absorb the goodness that’s created plus it offers time for much needed stillness.  Deep relaxation at the end of class is essential to make sure the body has longer to absorb the benefits of practice that benefits our glandular health. In my classes we relax under thick fleece blankets and cotton, weighted eye masks to enhance the experience and we end class with my homemade yogi tea! Divine.

The sound comes in two ways, the music often used during the classes and by chanting during some of the meditations. I know many people switch off at the thought of this but honestly once you ditch the inhibitions and get over the mind telling you it’s crazy, feeling the vibes resonate at different frequencies inside your body feels incredible! We nearly lifted the roof off the studio at Rasa! It was mind blowing! It’s these frequencies that can promote deep relaxation, healing and change in the body. Science supports this and it’s not new, it’s an ancient art form. Plus, the experiences speak for themselves. Of course, you can just listen and soak up the vibes and have a go when you fancy it. It’s not compulsory!

Which takes me to the other element of this practice which is special.  The majority of postures and meditations are done with the eyes closed! Which means there’s no one looking at you other than the teacher, their role is to give guidance and encouragement. Keeping our eyes closes helps to increase our levels of self-awareness and connection to our self as we naturally go within, plus it can help with focus and being self-conscious. There’s no comparison or competition culture. Liberating!

The benefits of kundalini yoga

Improved sleep / quality of sleep
Promotes clarity of mind
Supports optimum functioning of the bodies internal systems
Strengthening the nervous system
Stretching and building muscles
Stimulates circulation
Gives increased awareness of the bodies internal processes
Relieves stress and anxiety and promotes deep relaxation
Increase in self awareness
Enhances mental capacity to keep going and push through barriers you might think are not possible to get through

I had a wonderful time in Paris, the perfect celebration and end to January. The studio space at Rasa was stunning, everything is beautiful & Zen. I walked for miles with not one craving for a glass of champs and spent around 6 hours doing yoga, meditation, chanting and listening to gongs. I was so zoned out when I checked out of my hotel that I left my passport and keys in the safe and had to go back for them! Surely that has to be a good thing?

I’d love to start classes for lawyers so you can also experience this magic too. Please let me know if there are any central spaces that could work. And if you’re ever down in Brighton, please do pop into my Friday night class at The Loft 6 – 7.15pm, close to Brighton station, it’s the perfect way to start your weekend,

followed by a bite next door at the new 640 East!

Yours in peace, love and yogic chants,

Sat Nam,

Zoe

Kundalini Yoga & Meditation Teacher

Health & Wellness Coach

Find me over on the Gram @Zoe.Swan

My new website The Practice of Wellbeing is launching SOON!