In a few weeks’ time it will be a year since I certified with Yoga Alliance as a Kundalini Global yoga teacher. That went by pretty fast. Wow. I was in the first cohort of graduates from the training. Soon another big group, full of fascinating and brilliant humans, will qualify and join us. It is an exciting time.
I am extremely proud to call myself a Kundalini Global teacher.
As a general rule I strongly reject names and labels. My pride is testament to both the quality of the training and the potency of the practise. I love it. I do. I love being in classes. I get to them as many as 5 times a week. I adore teaching. I am passionate about this incredible community growing.
Community is one of the first words that comes to mind when I think of Kundalini Global. The past year has been so weird. So hard for so many. Not least in the isolation. The community that Carolyn Cowan fostered over lockdown through her own Kundalini Global classes has been a magical thing to be a part of. It’s amazing, actually, to consider how we all managed to come together so often over zoom and how much solace we found in doing so. Not only solace. Magic. Transformation. Joy. It’s been unforgettable. And we continue.
As the first group of graduates stepped out in to this peculiar, but really quite wonderful, landscape of online teaching we took the spirit of community into our own classes and slowly but surely, we have built communities of our own. I feel the connection between them all. We are, together, such a force for positive change.
At the time of writing I believe there are around 16 certified teachers of Kundalini Global. Within the next few months that will likely treble. I hope it will treble (and more) many many more times over coming months and years. Another training starts in September. If you’re interested in joining us it’s an incredibly exciting time to do it.
You can find out more here:
Kundalini Global is pioneering, unique and, best of all, it works…
Works for what?
Most people come to a yoga class because they have heard through the grapevine, or via a super-skinny YouTube yoga celebrity, that it is relaxing, gentle, or good for stress.
Perhaps too, they seek some kind of a spiritual experience… whatever that means.
Some, like me, come because they are desperate to find respite from how unbearable life feels. How bored they are of their wily, unrelenting mind, and contracted, tense and agitated body. Respite that does not come from a hastily prescribed box of pills from the GP or from the bottom of a bottle of wine.
Kundalini Global classes offer that respite. Quickly, magically, and through a growing, inclusive, community of teachers and practitioners who become experts in, a phrase you will hear us echo: changing how we feel.
We are a community that is new, yes, but growing quickly. And we have things to do. Big things.
What is Kundalini Global?
I do have a little page on my site about this question, a question I get asked regularly. I never manage to do it justice.
Kundalini Global is a new form of Kundalini Yoga. It is tricky to encapsulate in words, beyond saying that it is absolutely bloody amazing.
I find it to be an extraordinary, embodied, safe, kind, trauma-informed, form of yoga. A practise that creates a unique, still and gentle space within and outside of the self. The practise has a strong focus on the power of presence. And it is fun. I always add that. I have to. I have to tell you it is fun because as a statement it passes the test of being kind, necessary and also true.
Kundalini Global has opened up an entire new universe for me. One of connection, of community, one that feels powered by gratitude and intention and that allows for infinite space and freedom to be myself.
We probably aren’t what you expect…
Teachers of Kundalini Global are trained to consider aspects of creating safe, sacred spaces for classes that, I believe, opens up the possibility of exploring yoga to a much wider demographic. That is what we want. What we intend.
We probably don’t dress how you’d expect a yoga teacher to, we may not be as pretty, as flexible or as ‘love and light’… we may not play the music you have come to expect in a yoga class and we sometimes even say or do naughty things. But we are kind. We are open-minded. We practise self-reflection, daily, to notice where we may have yet unchallenged biases, attitudes or blindspots. We are supervised… we work to ensure we are well boundaried, that we are taking care of ourselves physically and mentally. We support each other.
We are human (and not, unfortunately, frogs… at least not always)
Kundalini Global teachers share a desire to use our individual manifestations of ‘humanness’ to offer those who come to classes an experience of what it can be like, what it can feel like, to be present, safe, still and gentle.
How we help you get there can require effort, don’t be entirely fooled by all this talk of ‘gentle, still, softness.’ That’s the reward.
We may have you using your arms as the world’s sharpest swords, working your core, squatting as a frog in stilettos or beaming 80 foot beams of light through your exhausted, extended arms up over your head (it’s not all barmy – but it’s fun when it is). No matter what we invite you to explore, though, all posture is presented with many equal variations to suit all body shapes and abilities, to allow for knowing that a posture is not a ‘can or can’t’ situation.
We show you how to make the postures work for your body. With no ‘ideal’, only equal variations that give the same, or a similar, desired effect.
Kundalini Global is not the preserve of the bendy, the thin, the white, the cis, the straight, the able-bodied, the young, the rich. It is our intention that we do the work to create diverse and welcoming communities that feel safe, fun and, hopefully, sacred. For everyone.
Whilst we may teach on zoom from grey, post-industrial cities in the midlands rather than parading in leggings and bras on rocks in the Ganges, we are all in service to create magical spaces that allow for all manifestations of what it means to be human to be held safely.
The work that we began on ourselves during the teacher training with Carolyn Cowan has continued for me every single day since.
‘The work’ – it sounds like a chore, doesn’t it?
Perhaps, if you haven’t ever done a yoga teacher training, you could imagine we mainly practise postures and learn about bones and muscles. We do do that. Lots of it. But the experience of training to teach Kundalini Global goes far beyond that.
With Carolyn you are invited to take apart your entire self-and-societally-constructed sense of self and examine each aspect with open, present, eyes.
I mention presence again here because, in order to do the work, the ability to come to presence again and again is vital. As teachers we must ‘practise what we preach’ and do that.
On the training we become expert at knowing hundreds of ways to come out of the pain of the past and the fear of the future and to the present moment. The commitment is to do it. Believe me, this is easier said than done. It takes huge amounts of self-awareness. It takes an ability to step out of self-obsession. But we commit to it. Because we understand what it opens up.
Deconstruction to reconstruction
I had a point on the teacher training where my entire universe lay in a giant, messy, heap on the floor in front of me.
But I was present to it. I could see the work that was needed.
Deconstruct, examine, look at it in different lights, through different lenses. Reflect. Keep? Upcycle? Discard? And repeat.
Repeat with each and every aspect of yourself. From the stories you feel are pivotal to your life to how you feel about veganism to your gender identity to your relationship to god. Eventually you are left with what is likely a smaller pile of ‘stuff’ of ‘parts’, from which you can begin to reconstruct YOU.
My reconstruction has been interesting. Bits fall off all the time. Usually for good reason. But I reflect on them as they tumble. On what they taught me. New things get added. I have to take them off and have a look at them every now and then too.
Big parts of my work have been about dealing with shame, on body issues, on landing back into my body after years of being incredibly disconnected. It truly has been about challenging all aspects of what I thought about life and what life could, or should be.
When I wrote earlier ‘it sounds like a chore?’ I was going to follow with ‘it hasn’t felt like one.’ But actually, on occasion, it really has.
I have done it anyway.
I made a commitment when I qualified. I wrote an agreement for myself about what being a Kundalini Global teacher meant to me, what my commitment was.
I am really bloody proud of myself for sticking with my commitment to change, to challenge, to reflect and to remain, always, open-minded.
When I got to my teacher training in February 2020 I would NEVER have thought possible that I would be in a place so soon of having taught hundreds and hundreds of classes. Of having built a absolutely awesome community of lovely humans who I teach. To have made my own Instagram account full of artistic manifestations of the insides of my brain, made friends with an imaginary tiger that I was comfortable enough to share with the world… none of this would have felt possible.
It became possible because the Kundalini Global training is an incredible, incredible, way to kick-start huge transformation. A little spoiler: you may have to walk through hell on the way. It’s worth it.
When I first came to Kundalini Yoga it was not, back then, Kundalini Global. My first exploration was in the ‘as taught by Yogi Bhajan’ school. I remember someone describing the practise at the time to me as ‘yoga, but more spiritual’. An interesting statement on a number of levels. Hilarious.
I could kind of see what they meant, though. It felt like a ‘spiritual thing’ in comparison to what you may find presented as yoga in a gym. To chant. To focus at the third eye. To meditate for hours on end. And it made me feel great. The endorphins alone were enough to see me leaving class as high as a kite, desperate for my next Kundalini fix.
When I first practised Kundalini Yoga, I went from a lycra-clad, scatter-brained, spiritually-skeptic accidental-class-attendee to a white-linen-wearing, spiritual-name-holding, daily sadhana practising, devotee within months. I also became vegan, stopped drinking, took daily cold showers and believed every problem that had ever existed in my life had miraculously vanished with the power of chanting with Snatam Kaur.
I lived for a few years as if I was floating in a cloud of sparkly fairy dust. It drove those around me mad.
This form of Kundalini did much for me at the time but I never wanted to commit to teaching it. Partly because:
a. Everyone around me thought I had joined a cult.
b. Some part of my knew I had, indeed, joined a cult.
It’s a big topic. And by even discussing it I open myself up to scrutiny in a way I do not feel entirely comfortable with. But the context is important in my journey. Because part of what I love about what Carolyn has done with Kundalini Global also comes to how the practises we teach, just like my description of the work we are invited to do on ourselves, have been deconstructed and examined. The ‘why’ of how they work has been conceptualised within the frameworks of physiology… neuroscience, endocrinology…
We have equally looked at the esoteric thought of the practise. But broadened out that exploration to consider the whole spectrum of religious and spiritual belief systems.
We understand how the practises we work with work. And, yes, many teachers then choose to imbue their classes with all kinds of other concepts and ideas that resonate with them. But the key aspects remain: we can show you how to go from feeling left-out, stressed-out, overwhelmed, anxious, pissed off and offended to the present moment. A place where the ability to accept and allow is possible. And, often, welcome. You also, of course, have permission to stay exactly as you are. We’re only here to show you what you’re capable of if you make the choice to change.
BS Free Yoga
When it comes to Kundalini Global, in private I have said that it is ‘Kundalini Yoga without the bullshit’. A controversial statement? Definitely. And perhaps something of a judgmental one, too.
But, on a personal level, I believe that Yogi Bhajan was not only a despicable predator but that his teachings contained huge amounts of complete and utter, misogynistic, harmful, BS. Beyond that I believe, with every cell of my body, that we do not need anyone to be our guru. We only need to be given some tools and a safe enough space to practise them, to realise that we are powerful beyond measure ourselves.
Creating a new form of Kundalini Yoga is quite a thing. Fearless, fascinating and controversial in itself.
Carolyn Cowan, who founded Kundalini Global, spent decades teaching Kundalini Yoga
before making the incredibly brave decision to take this new, pioneering, path. Carolyn recognised, long before the controversy that hit the world of Kundalini Yoga at the start of 2020, that a new way was needed. A kinder way. A 21st century way. One that is radically inclusive.
Together, I believe the Kundalini Global community will do truly amazing things. I would so love some of those who have enjoyed my classes to train to teach this incredible practise themselves. If you want to read more about Carolyn and the training you can find information here:
Feel free to email me if you have questions.
With loads of love, as always