By most measures, I had it all: 2 beautiful, smart children, a faithful, hardworking husband who provided for us wonderfully, a thriving restaurant business, a lifetime of travelling the world, a beautiful home, nice cars, many friends.
Yet as ideal as my life may have appeared on the outside, inside – I lived with persistent frustration & disappointment, a foreboding sense that ‘this couldn’t possibly be there is all to life.’
Almost 5 years ago, I was introduced to Kundalini yoga. Like most people, I found it weird & way out of my comfort zone (the chanting, all-white gear, turban & heavy breathing) but my first ever class was incredibly powerful & life changing – it left me curious and wanting more.
I already had a good Hatha practice which allowed me to connect with my physical body. But Kundalini yoga enabled me to access more subtle energies beyond my physical body. The power it unleashes within me to go beyond the limitations of my mind to continue a movement or hold a pose was nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. It opened up a path to the wonderland of my own consciousness where I get to spend time in a state of utter bliss.
Original Photo By: Lyka Gonzalez
With a steady practice, pretty soon my life started to change. I was adopting more positive habits and letting go of things and patterns that no longer served me. My expectations of my life and family changed. I started to look after myself more, eating healthily, spending time with people with a more positive influence. The chronic dissatisfaction that had long been part of my life was suddenly no more real to me than a dream. Suddenly, I felt myself ‘wake up’ – totally unidentified with the old story I was choosing to hold onto, for most of my life.
It is said that shortly after enlightenment, the Buddha was stopped by a traveler as he walked down the road. Noticing his remarkable energy, he asked him if he was an angel, a wizard or magician or some kind of god. “No,” the Buddha said, “I am awake.”
That pretty much sums up the transformation the practice of Kundalini Yoga has given me. I started fostering a stronger sense of who I am and gave myself permission to create a genuinely thriving life that I had previously only dreamed of. I started to awaken to what is real and true in my life. To see things as they are, notice all the beauty in life and savour it, to wake up each day with gratitude and lightness. That may sound too good to be true but it certainly did not come without hardwork & effort.
Being awake takes practice, it requires patience. Which is why I love Kundalini Yoga – it gives me an opportunity to get face to face with my limitations, pain and discomfort and look at them squarely in the eye. At the same time, cultivating enough grit within myself to move through physical, mental & emotional blocks as well as the humility to surrender the struggle. The practices are indeed challenging & strange but they really work. To me, that was more than enough reason to keep going.
After a year of a dedicated daily practice (Kundalini yoga is big on the importance of a daily sadhana or personal practice) that created profound shifts within me, I made the decision to take the plunge and become a teacher. I went to India and took teacher training which was a real pivotal decision in my life. I experienced a deep transformation over the course of this month long training. I discovered that accomplishing more was not the source of my happiness; it was the result of it. That joy had nothing to do with any of my achievements or acquisitions. My life had changed because I started to experience a greater measure of Contentment.
In our modern world of overwhelming outside stimulation, it is so easy to get distracted by the countless diversions at our disposal. From Social Media, online shopping to celebrity gossip and adulation, they all fill a void – fleetingly. None of them will ever fulfill our deeper longings that is coming from our soul. True contentment is the only thing that can provide it.
Looking back on myself and how I’ve lived my life for the most part, I realized that I desperately tried to ‘fit’ into the world by identifying with everything outside of me – with all the material trappings. Kundalini yoga gave me the gift of having the ability to look inward. To realize that I did not need to change my outer circumstances to experience fulfillment – the change I needed to make was all from within. To live in a state of grace and divine inspiration. Thankfully, it is not just reserved for enlightened masters such as the Buddha, it is available for everyday householders – like you and me.
As our teacher Yogi Bhajan said ‘Life is a flow of love, only your participation is requested.’
Madonna English is certified in both Radiant Body Yoga (a powerful combination of Vinyasa & Kundalini) & KRI Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. She is also a certified Gong therapist & teaches regular classes, workshops & retreats. Madonna’s passionate about sharing the Kundalini technology in a highly accessible way. Her classes are a potent fusion of asana, breath, chanting & meditation that will leave you elevated and empowered. www.madonnaenglish.com