Tu sei qui

Stretching to Break Free

By Nicola-Jane le Breton 

“Vibrate the cosmos, the cosmos shall clear the path.”
-Yogi Bhajan, a sutra for the Aquarian Age

New beginnings often arrive with bad endings, and in June 2016, I was in the midst of what I felt to be a very bad ending. External circumstances were forcing us to give up our home in Denmark, Western Australia. Other facts made it clear we needed to relocate to the state’s capital of Perth where we both had work and our boys were studying. After many years of saying we would never move back to the city, of relishing the cooler climate, the tall karri forests, the bracing Southern Ocean and the spectacular granite-scaped beaches, we were leaving.

I spent two months crying nearly every day over our impending loss, saying goodbye to dear friends, and dreading the move to Perth’s hot dry environment and suburban traffic jams; the anonymity of city life and the crazy pace of it all. But there was a sense of inevitability, and I knew from experience that plans and dreams are dispensable and often the wisest path to peace is surrender. So we packed our belongings and headed north.

There’s something about having the rug ripped out from under you that instils greater courage and a willingness to open yourself to new experiences. I was moving to a suburb I’d never heard of in the southern suburbs of Perth, so why not learn a yoga I’d never heard of? Through Facebook, a colleague of my husband’s recommended her favourite yoga teacher, Simone, who was about to start a six-week course in Kundalini Yoga, “Awaken Your Life Flow.” One of the goals of the course was to encourage participants to develop a daily yoga practice and to commit for forty days to meditate on the mantra “Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung.” Simone’s flyer offered to “pop the myth that you don’t have time for yourself,” a feeling I often had.

I knew I needed a daily sacred practice, a still place from which to navigate the tumultuous river of my current life. I was being stretched to my limits and neither mind nor body was holding up to the stretch. I was breaking. I was sick. I was miserable.

So I rang Simone and was in part convinced to go ahead by her neutrality about whether I did or didn’t. She didn’t promote Kundalini Yoga as the best thing since Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook. She may have even said, “It’s not for everyone.” Over the phone, her presence radiated calm and an inner knowing that the right people would come. The only question she had for me was whether I felt pulled to join this course, and if I did, could I trust that calling, and could I commit for the duration? Being prone to indecision in my low patches, this was what I needed to hear. What did I have to lose? I would do it.

What I remember about the first few classes was the weirdness of it all counterbalanced by the progressive calm that washed over and through me like a series of white-crested turquoise waves. Half the class were dressed in white, some were wearing white turbans, including Simone, and I wondered if I’d wandered into a cult. Would I be expected to dress the same way? And what on earth were these strange and dynamic poses that Simone was teaching us, with all the chanting and the panting? My back ached, and I was not as flexible as I had once been—I needed cushions to prop my hips so I could sit on the floor. And yet, as Simone gently guided us through warmups, kriyas and meditations, I could feel subtle currents shifting in my body’s energy field. Like a dried-out flower blessed with rain, I could feel myself softening, opening and sitting taller.

At home, I kept my daily practice simple and short, beginning with the Adi Shakti mantra, a few minutes of pranayama, some free dance and the 11-minute healing mantra that Simone said would “open our hearts to the flow of healing light.” I also began practicing spinal flex in rock pose regularly. Simone had explained this would energize the third chakra associated with willpower, thus empowering us to get things done. During our preparations to move to the city, I’d felt paralyzed by indecision and resistance, so I was painfully aware of the need to strengthen my willpower.

My health, when I arrived in Perth, was at an all-time low. I rolled from one bout of illness to another, cold after cold, interspersed with the flu and nagging coughs that went on for weeks. But miraculously, after I began Simone’s classes and my daily practice of 15-20 minutes, my physical and emotional condition began to improve. As strange as Kundalini Yoga was, I knew it was working for me. It was changing me in visible and invisible ways. My back was getting stronger, my immune system more resilient, my lung capacity increasing, and even my willpower was toughening up. Best of all, I was growing calmer and more able to trust my intuition and ‘go with the flow.’

A few weeks into the course with Simone, I asked about teacher training and she pointed me in the direction of a local teacher who was bringing teachers from Europe in 2017 for a Level 1 Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training course. I knew, at that moment, that I wanted to do this. That I needed to do it. I needed the self-discipline, the commitment to a consistent exercise program and, above all, dedication to a daily spiritual practice that would deepen my connection to Source, and that would guide and inspire my journey on.

A little over two years later, I can say all aspects of my life have been transformed by the gift of Kundalini Yoga. I meditate, chant and practice pranayama and yoga daily—I’ve even incorporated mantras and yogic breathing techniques into my regular lap-swimming regime. I’ve experienced the most sustained emotional equilibrium of my life. I am happier, healthier and more creative. It’s easier to get things done and my days seem to flow more easily.

Perhaps the most profound change is that I have a deeper sense of being held by a greater power, of being part of a dance in which I play an infinitesimal yet vital role. From what felt like disaster and a dead end, I now stand on a path that opens invitingly into the great unknown.

Nicola-Jane le Breton is a community facilitator who plays in the genres of creative writing, environmental arts, dance, theatre, and yoga. Her strength as a teacher is creating a safe space for participants to discover and trust the creativity that flows from surrender. She offers writing circles and journeys that support deep inquiry through journaling, poetry and memoir. By sharing our innermost stories, we build empathy and dissolve differences in our communities. Nicola-Jane works as a publishing consultant and editor in Perth, Western Australia and is currently designing an oral storyteller-development program with theatre director and performance coach, Silvia Lehmann.