CONVERSATIONS AT THE SANCTUARY: Coping with change
Release fear, anxiety, and stress with a Kundalini yoga workshop designed to help you navigate times of transition.
As the old adage goes, change is the only constant, and 2020 has made us all the more aware of this relentless state of flux. From border closures to regulations underpinning the ‘new normal’, the shifts we have experienced are not only wide-reaching but also equally profound. No one is spared. Governments, businesses, and the man on the street have had to grapple with change.
As we ride the waves of transformation, it is not uncommon to feel ungrounded and anxious about the future. For one, we can no longer rely on what we knew yesterday to predict the outcomes of tomorrow. With the economic downturn, livelihoods have been affected. Those who have managed to hold on to their jobs might feel safe for a moment before worrying about losing their rice bowl.
KRI-certified Kundalini yoga teacher Rie Komiya has observed how stress, anxiety, and fear have affected people and aims to help others establish a sense of grounding by way of a two-hour Kundalini yoga workshop on 24 October. Rie, who has personally experienced the profound benefits of Kundalini yoga, will also be incorporating a gong bath into the workshop so that participants can ease into a deeper meditative state. Below, she shares more about the benefits of Kundalini yoga, as well as how its tools and teachings can help us to navigate times of change.
How are our bodies and minds affected when we are constantly reacting to change?
When we are constantly reacting to change, our breath naturally grows more shallow. In a state of stress, our brains get thrown into a fight-or-flight response. Here, our innate instinct shifts from growth mode – where it has a natural ability to heal and recover – to survival mode. In this state, coupled with shallow breaths, our body is unable to take in enough oxygen or life-force (prana). Our body also shuts down the mechanism required for repair, healing, or rejuvenation so that it can reserve all this energy for an emergency.
Imagine a tiger coming towards you. Immediately, your instincts will prompt you to run. When we are perpetually stressed out, we feel like we are constantly being chased by a tiger. Our bodies tense up and our mind is only focused on how to escape. So while you are fully present, you are not using your energy to support your body for healing or growth.
How is Kundalini yoga different from other forms of yoga?
Kundalini Yoga is designed to take your practice deeper – without having to stay in a cave for years and years of yoga training. Every Kundalini yoga set includes kriyas (a series of postures, breath and sound work that initiates a sequence of physical and mental changes), pranayama (breathwork), asana (poses), meditation, mudra (symbolic hand gestures), and the chanting of mantras (a mantra is akin to a “sound current” that tunes and controls mental vibration). There are thousands of kriya sets and each is designed to generate or release specific energy for a desired health benefit.
How do the teachings and tools of Kundalini yoga help us to navigate times of change?
Kundalini yoga is made for ordinary people like us who go through change. In our Kundalini yoga practice, we talk about the Aquarian age which we are in right now. The Aquarian age is an age of change. In the past 2,000 years, we went through the Piscean age, which featured a pyramid-shaped structure in which people at the top held authority and everyone else followed their lead.
In the Aquarian age, the structure is flat and everyone is expected to contribute equally to society. Each person’s voice has a role to play in contributing to society and the country they live in. The qualities we should strive to carry in this turbulent time is unconditional love, compassion, and harmony. Unfortunately, the modern society we live in makes it difficult to uphold these qualities all the time. However, we are now in a time where we can begin to let go of the old structures that prevented us from embracing these qualities, allowing us to begin creating a harmonious and balanced society.
In this time of change, Kundalini yoga provides vast teachings that can help us to cope with change. For example, there are various kriyas that help us to destress, focus, and relax. Through a combination of breathwork, asanas, mantras, and meditation, we receive the ability to relax the mind.
When we begin by relaxing the breath, the brain recognises that it is in a safe situation and allows itself to relax. We can then begin to inhale deeply and take in sufficient life-force or prana so as to repair, rejuvenate, or gain clarity on a situation. When you are able to observe from a neutral position the positive and negative aspects of a particular circumstance, you can then take the best choice you can make at that moment.
Tell us more about the flow of this two-hour workshop.
The workshop will open with a discussion on grounding followed by some short exercises that help us to understand the blockages that hinder us from being fully grounded. We will then do some warm-ups and proceed to work through kriyas focused on grounding ourselves. This is followed by a 20-minute gong bath, which is a little bit longer than usual, but it’ll help you to relax and fully integrate the effects of the kriyas. We finish with a mantra-focused meditation. A mantra is a sacred sound that carries a particular vibration and anyone can use it as it’s not tied to any particular religion.
Why did you choose to incorporate meditation and a Gong bath to round off the workshop?
The sound of the gong is also called the sound of the universe. It will bring you back to your essence or your original being – one that is void of ego, knowledge, limitations, or blockages. In this state, you can then connect to yourself on a much deeper level. At the same time, it helps to guide you into a deeper meditative state, allowing you to gain wisdom and insight while making space for healing and rejuvenation.
Who is this workshop suitable for?
It’s suitable for anybody. Those who are having difficulty dealing with change, stress, anxiety, and fear would deeply benefit from the workshop. They don’t need to have any prior experience with Kundalini yoga. Simply come with an open mind.