How Kundalini Yoga gives you life strength and vitality, a conversation from our Re-Set Podcast with Lucy Keaveny from Kundalini Rise.
How did you become a Kundalini teacher?
I always practiced yoga and I dipped in and out of yoga, but I got into it during my twenties then continued into my thirties before I had children.
Then I lost my father and my marriage broke down so I started to practice quite a lot of development after that period. I went on a yoga retreat in Italy for three days and discovered Kundalini in a quite monumental way. It seems to be the case for a lot of people when they discover it. It has a marmite effect really. I mean, you either love it or hate it.
Sometimes when you reject it it might be the thing you desperately need in your life! This happened to me, I arrived on the mat and I was always about power, dynamic yoga, getting fitter, all about the body. Dealing with the spiritual aspect as well because you can’t do yoga without it but it wasn’t so much about the breathing or going into myself in a deep, deep way.
In 24 hours I experienced a major shift and transformation where I felt truly free.
I felt a sense of peace and calm that I had no experience with for very, very long time in my life. Maybe even ever. I spent the next two or three days exploring those feelings and touching on the practice of Kundalini and just allowing myself to go with the experience and surrendering to it. Back from the retreat, I religiously practiced and explored it more and more. That’s how I decided to become a teacher, it was a light bulb moment as you would say.
How long was your first Kundalini retreat and this new experience?
Three days. It’s the yoga of awareness. Yogi Bhajan describes it as being able to go from A to Z in three minutes. I’ve had an overwhelming experience pretty quickly.
It’s not as quick for everybody but it’s all about arriving on the mat and having a daily practice, then it can become very quickly transformational. I’m felt huge shifts and changes in my life and I just didn’t know how to manage the breakup of my marriage and grief. I went to a festival and met some people and they were quite inspiring. I think one of them just said to me ‘you seem like you should be teaching this’ and I literally went home that Sunday night and found a course and that was it.
Do you think Kundalini gave you strength and courage to go through the difficult life events that you were going through?
Absolutely. Yoga is for householders, for people who have to cope with daily challenges and stresses of holding jobs, families, managing businesses. Yogi Bhajan says it’s a part for everyone. He wants the skills to cope successfully with the challenges of our times and we are living in a time of extreme challenges politically, environmentally, our children are having to cope with more stress than I could ever imagine or cope with.
I can’t remember ever having to deal with the stresses of life that are presented with us now. So it really enabled me in a very quick way to build a sense of calm to cope with the stress that I was going through more than I’d ever been able to.
Where did you learn the Kundalini teaching?
Here in England and in Portugal. When I arrived on my first weekend, I was like ‘this is crazy’ everyone’s wearing white etc I had a kind of adverse reaction. I like the practice of Kundalini, but I didn’t know if I want to wear a white turban and I didn’t want to judge but explore.
Some people dropped out because it is associated with Sikhism so that there is that sense of becoming a Sikh to practice this properly which I don’t believe in. I was there to explore the training for about a year. Then I went to an Ashram and I got into the community of Kundalini Yoga teachers and I saw changes in my life for the better. There was nothing negative about it. It was only positive.
Why everybody dressed the same? Tell us about the Kundalini practice
It’s called the Yoga of awareness. So we describe it as a very powerful tool that is designed to give you an experience of your own soul, your own being.
By tapping into the practice and the science and technology, which are a thousands of years old and originally kept secret for the royals for the Raj in India, the Sikh Gurus used it as a private practice because in a way they didn’t want everyone to know it. They didn’t want everyday people to have that tool, that power, because it’s about hierarchy and the history of hierarchy.
Kundalini is harnessing the mental, physical and nervous energies of the body and putting them under the domain of the will, which we call the instrument of the soul. So the technology is combining Braf Madrona, which is hand movement and connection with the fingertips. I focus on mantra body locks and postures which balance the glandular system that strengthen the nervous system, expand lung capacity, they purify the blood and bring balance to the mind, body, and soul.
How different is it from other yoga practices?
I would say there is less flow. They are series of repetitive motions where you hold those assets for maybe up to three minutes, then you stop in between and that’s when the body goes into the healing process. So what can happen is that your body shakes a lot and release trauma by shaking. Animals do this, but as humans, we intellectualise everything as we grow and we stop moving trauma through our bodies. So we didn’t learn what helps us to release stress, anxiety and trauma right into your body. That’s what makes it so powerful.
It’s a real push and pull of energy, so you have to expand your energy and then there’s a big release as you let go and in that lesson go in that stillness, that’s when the transformation happens. So there’s no breath flow sequences, what you’ll be doing is pumping very dynamically for up to three minutes with a certain hand or arm gesture or a gesture or a different position. And then by releasing, this is where there is a lot of transformation in it.
You open your energy and your sense of self actuation. You’re working on the eight chakras which are along the spine and they’re spinning wheels of energy.
Look at your spine like a big highway. Along that highway, you need to keep a free flow. No one wants to be stuck in a traffic jam and you don’t want to be stuck in your own energetic traffic jam.
It’s working with the positive and the negative mind, body, aura, soul or spirit – all of these energies are electromagnetic energy and so the more you practice, the more you’re going to tap into it, the more you’re going to clear that highway. So there’s a free flow and just by experiencing it and letting that energy change and shift and move, you’re going to want to come back to more classes because you’re going to feel great.
Is Kundalini yoga a bit more spiritual than other yogas?
Yogi Bhajan says Kundalini Yoga is not a religion. Religions come out of it. Kundalini Yoga is not a fad and it’s not a cold practice because there are rumors about Kundalini Yoga being cultish, because people wear turbans and wear white.
We wear white because it’s about pushing negative energy and allowing pure energy to come to you.
We sit on sheep, we want to sit on a natural material to connect to nature. When you’re meditating you want to keep all the energy back into the body. So you want to release that sense of calm and purity and joy into the body and out to the universe. It’s a protection, everything is about the protection of your own energy. That’s why we were white.
What are the benefits of the practice, how does it connect to the nervous system for example?
We want to have oxygenated blood to feel good about ourselves. You want your brain to be activated, you want your hormones to be balanced. We use all these different techniques and the movements, the merger of the focus on the breath and the meditation to balance and connect yourself to your nervous system.
How do we bring ourselves back into feeling a sense of peace and calm and togetherness and awareness. We have to do this through our physical body, not using pills. We need to come back into our root Chakra, back into our soul, body, back into our naval, which is our sense of belonging or primitive brain and connect all these things. And the science of technology of doing this is a very powerful way, it really works.
Do you experience joy and happiness with Kundalini?
The practice helped me to keep sane over the death of my parents. I have experienced the death of my mother and father in the last 10 years and a divorce. So rather than holding onto the darkness of that, Kundalini has really helped me find solace and support and kept a little light of joy inside. It’s unlocked my mind. It’s allowed me to process and transform parts of myself I hadn’t accessed before. It helps me to stay focused. It keeps me calm.
I sometimes just feel joy for no particular reason and love. I love helping people and seeing how Kundalini helps people. I’m not bringing anything other than my own voice to the teachings and it’s not about the ego, it’s about sharing the teachings. The body is incredible, it has all the power to heal. We just need to believe in it and use it. We step out of our ability to connect to ourselves when actually it’s all in us. The use of the mantra and meditation, the breath and stillness, it’s quite a dynamic practice.
What about other things like intuition or sex etc that we hear are linked to Kundalini?
There is White Tantra, Red Tantra and Black Tantra. Tantra is the use of unlocking or sexuality through breath exercises, partner work, and there’s a lot to be said for whether that’s something that might rock your boat or not. There are long hours or days of meditation, partner work and it’s very powerful.
It can really change your Karma and connects you back into your true self. Next is that it unlocks your sexual creativity by doing exercises. We have lot of sexual energy and it’s just creative energy to just feel good about ourselves, connects to our radiance and when we feel radiant, people want to be around us. It’s about confidence really. Kundalini could awaken of real sense of wanting to be in your femininity and your power and your creativity and lead to great things happening around you.
How do you think it helps you to love yourself and have confidence?
Here are a few benefits:
- Practicing will help you increase your sense of self and accept yourself.
- You’re clearing the pathways and chakras system.
- You’re then tapping into your art, your aura and your soul body.
- You walk into a room and people look at you, you shine.
You’re connecting all of these energies into your electric magnetic energy. That’s how you keep loving yourself, it’s a sense of joy from the practice, a sense of calm, a sense of belonging to yourself, a sense of having that narrative in your mind that isn’t the crazy chatter. It’s a little bit more balanced and calm, logical mind.
Your mind is more balanced and neutral, which is what meditation can do. It neutralizes the thought patterns and clears the negative energy, pumping away tensions, stress, anxiety, you’re going to feel better about yourself.
We want to live our best lives. We want to be the best people we can be. Yogi Bhajan said just be to be yourself. You can run all over this world, but you’ll always have to come back to you and look after this first relationship with yourself.
When my mother died, my teacher said to me ‘You are okay’ Just remember that, your mantra and say that ‘You are okay’.
It’s helping you to detach yourself from all the negative events or things or people hurting you and keeping yourself safe. But to get the true benefits is by doing a daily practice for 40 days. And live a healthy life as much as possible.
What is a mantra?
In ancient Sanskrit language, mantras all have different. Some of them are associated with the word God, but not in a religious aspect. It really just means the God within us, the infinite being within us. We are gods, we are the light and we’re connected to the universe. We’ll use a mantra at least three times because it connects us to the lineage of the teachings, connects us to ourselves before we practice.
The mantra helps you to connect to your body and be very present in the practice. There are thousands of mantras, all about connecting to the universe to the cycle of life and death. It’s transforming the brain. It’s transforming the body. it can bring a real sense of calm.
Where can we find you and tell us about your next events?
I teach in my studio in Northwest London every week – group and private classes – and I do events. I have my retreats in India, next one is now sold out; it includes yoga, sound healing, delicious food, a sip of tea. I do regular sound bath sessions in South Kensington, London.
I travel to various places to do special Kundalini yoga and guided meditation workshops. I’m making another mantra album this year and exploring more teaching. I want to give this amazing and beautiful practice to people that need it.
What is your best tip to improve our wellbeing?
I would do three minutes of breath of fire every day. It can change your blood chemistry, cleanse and oxygenate your brain and your lungs. It can give you fire and energy through the third Chakra and it can wake you up.
Have a 10 min Kundalini practice that can change your day.
Read little something positive. Take time for yourself like sit down and do a 10 min mantra or exercise. Have it as a discipline. Once you’ve done it, your whole day can be completely different.
You can find Lucy on her website here and album here.