I first heard about Yogi Bhajan and his teachings while shopping at a grocery store in the year 2000. Just 16 months before, I had moved to San Antonio, Texas from a small town in Southeast Missouri to study for a degree in Religious Studies at a small Catholic University there. Being so far away from home, and stepping out on my own as an adult was both thrilling and challenging. For the first few months I lived exclusively on deep fried fast food, soda, and even larger quantities of alcoholic beverages. In addition, adapting to city life and working long and late hours were exacting a toll as well.
I knew deep down that I had to make some changes. For a person in his early twenties, I felt terrible. Finally, I made a decision to walk into a local Health Food Store. This was undeniably one of the most pivotal moments in my life up to that point. It was there I came across Yogi Tea and Peace Cereal. The wisdom in the messages on the packets of tea really influenced me at that early time in my life. I remember taking the little pieces of paper everywhere with me to serve as little reminders throughout the day.
Years later, I was reading an issue of Yoga Journal. Kundalini Yoga teacher Gurmukh Kaur was being interviewed, and I remembered the Yogi Tea and made a connection with the turban, but still had very limited understanding of the concepts of Kundalini Yoga. As my Hatha Yoga practice grew, I began to take classes to be certified to teach Hatha Yoga. At the same time, the Yoga Journal article sparked my interest, so I decided to buy her DVD to see what all of the fuss was all about.
At that point, after one session of Kundalini Yoga, I was a changed man.
It was as if my practice blasted off into warp-speed in the period of one hour. As a Hatha Yogi, I was used to a certain set of asanas and variations within those sets. The Kundalini Yoga kriyas and breath work I was learning were totally new to me, yet I found my practice very comfortable and even enjoyable—something I hadn’t experienced in awhile.
The main benefit I’ve noticed since beginning Kundalini Yoga is the sense of contentment and well being I feel with where I am today. I get a real sense of joy out of living here and now, because I know my Sat Nam is unfolding according to the grace and will of the Divine. Looking out at the world around me, its beauty unfolding in nature, people, and pure potentiality fills me with wonder and awe every day.
Even though I've been into Hatha Yoga for over five years now, and have been an instructor for a little over a year, I've done more personal growth in just two months of Kundalini Yoga than in the past several years. I believe the reason for this is that Kundalini Yoga involves the whole person. It's not just a class to take on Tuesday afternoons—it is a lifestyle. For me, it pulled together a lot of things that I instinctively knew—veggie lifestyle, breath work, honoring all life, etc. Little by little, I feel more integrated, yet more unsure of who the 'old Tim' really is/was. I suppose that's a valid challenge!
I still feel very much like I’m a child on the path. Gradually, as I understand more and more of the teachings, I embody them. I’ve begun practicing ishnaan (cold shower hydrotherapy) daily, and at first I was a bit skeptical (and cold). Now I have to say I really enjoy it. (I try to remember that it is probably the toughest thing I’ll have to face that day—and so far it has been true!) I’ve been very blessed to have the support of new friends in the 3HO community to answer any questions and make me feel like family. As I humbly approach the feet of the Guru I know that my Sat Nam is becoming ever more real and true.