I discovered Kundalini yoga long ago in Los Angeles when I first became enamored with yoga. I thought it was cool and I liked the way it made me feel but it didn’t pull me in the way vinyasa did. Then a few years ago a gorgeous woman named Sheel Seidler walked into Buddhi Yoga to take my vinyasa class. It was one of those “can we be best friends?” moments. You know what I’m talking about right? It’s that best friend love at first sight phenomenon. To make a very long story short, she re-introduced me to kundalini and I fell deeply in love with it. It has changed my practice, my teaching and my relationships all in a subtle yet deeply profound way. Because of this I of course want to share it with our yourBuddhi community. Keep on reading to listen to Sheel’s insight on the power of Kundalini. Try one of her many online classes or tune in live with her every Monday at 10am PST.
We are so excited to have you join the yourBuddhi line-up. Your kundalini classes are the best I’ve ever taken so it really is an honor. Kundalini has been around for a long time but has recently become more popular than ever. Can you give our readers a quick little rundown of what it’s all about?
Thank you so much homie! I’m stoked to be a part of the yourBuddhi line-up as well! Kundalini has literally been around forever, since the Mahesh (Shiva) incarnated and meditated for 108 eons. It organically sprung from his mental space as a technology. Kundalini was always meant to flourish in the Aquarian Age, which is now. It is a source of self realization and a tool for healing and well-being. Its popularity of late is not a surprise if you follow cosmic news through a yogic lens.
Kundalini is a technology for householders to become self-realized and connected with awareness of the Divine at at all times, not just while practicing. It is not a technology for yogis who meditate in caves all day. It is for those of us who wake up early with kids, worry about making a healthy breakfast and battle the traffic of Torrey Pines. With all the pressures of modern day life and all of the information we absorb with every blink of the eye, kundalini technology was meant to meet and neutralize our mind during these times. To create an experience of peace and joy, all day long.
I know you had been practicing vinyasa for many years when you found kundalini. What are the main differences between these two styles? Do you think they complement each other?
I love vinyasa yoga and I still practice it, you are one of my favorite instructors! There are some important differences between these two styles of yoga. The main thing has to do with the purpose of each of the schools of yoga. Vinyasa comes from Hatha yoga. The most significant influencer of the way we practice Hatha in the west was Krishnamacharya. When you look at his life and how he proceeded to transmit the teachings of Hatha, it was for practitioners to experience a heightened sense of well being. He also encouraged discipline not just in the practice but also in habits, for even more well being.
Kundalini on the other hand came to the West from a rebel and rascal named Yogi Bhajan. He was a master of Hatha yoga and also Kundalini yoga. His early experiences with westerners curious about yoga were mainly with hippies thirsting for an experience with their Soul Identity. He realized Kundalini would be the technology he was going to unleash because of the way it nudges the Soul. It rises up the spine through the chakras and shapes your daily life. It transforms your Destiny into alignment with your Soul Identity.
So the big difference to me is that a good Vinyasa class makes me feel good in my body and relaxed in my mind. A good Kundalini yoga class takes me on a journey into my shadow side making me see things I probably don’t want to see. This can be upsetting emotionally, physically pushing me past limits that are created by the mind. But by the end I feel I went through an actual experience that will lessen my karmic load in my daily life. I feel like I am co-creating my existence with the Divine rather than life happening to me. Once you get through the shadow work, the ecstasy of awareness on the other side is a mental type of savasana that can’t be replicated in a vinyasa class.
There are some ideas floating around out there that kundalini is a cult, or that you have to wear all white and a turban. I’ve also had several people tell me that they were “warned” not to do it because it’s “too powerful.” What do you have to say about things like this?
Hmmm…I don’t want to get in trouble here. I’ve definitely had moments as a kundalini teacher where I have intentionally distanced myself from the kundalini community for various reasons. One reason is that it seems like the momentum of the groupthink of the kundalini community undermines the core teachings to become Self Realized and led by our inner teacher. How? When the community directly and indirectly has so many rules before you even sit down on your mat. They prescribe what to wear and how to eat. You can even adopt a new name (for only $39.95! LOL). When do we get to listen and follow our inner guidance?
My experience with the rank and file kundalini community and trainings are that you get the technology as Yogi Bhajan imparted it until his passing in 2004. However it will be laden with dogma through the tone and vernacular of his early western followers and their influences. Questioning anything is frowned upon. The Dalai Lama tells his followers, “spy on me,” meaning question everything, test everything. I wish the community would trust the teachings more. Remind us how they will awaken your intuition as a tool to navigate your life in alignment with your True Identity.
Every day I push and lean on this technology, daring it to make my life and my home more full of love and more magical…and it always works. Why can’t we let people practice the technology and let them decide what to wear and eat and how to spend their days in order to maintain that magical space, rather than the other way around? Because the heavy-handed approach definitely doesn’t help with the cult-y reputation.
As for it being “too powerful,” yes, Kundalini is powerful! It wakes you up, to YOU. I like powerful things, don’t you? Kundalini is undiluted. You think Krishnamacharya taught the Brahmin mantras he did at home with his family like Yogi Bhajan did? No, he didn’t. He taught the diluted and lovely ones that made you feel good. Sometimes people let me know they have been “warned” about Kundalini being too powerful.
Often times they are people who spend a lot of money and time on healers, trainings, and all the other stuff. It’s as if they will do anything to avoid something that is totally free: a meditative experience that actually transforms you and lifts you out of Karma (the cycle of death and rebirth) to the Realm of Dharma (living self-realized, heading home to the Divine). I think when people tell you their fears, they are really telling you their relationship with their True Power.
I love when you say kundalini is for “householders.” Can you talk a little bit about what that means, especially when it comes to women and mothers?
Yes. This is an area of the teachings that I live and breathe. So, because kundalini is tantric, it is dynamic. Kind of like a spin class, you pick the resistance you want to engage with your Soul at depending on where you are in your life. As mothers and women, we have a lot of daily pressures. If we are thinking in a linear fashion it would be like this: “I don’t have the time to meditate and chant for 2 1/2 hours a day, so I won’t benefit and have the spiritual experience that those who do spend that time meditating will have.”
This could not be further from the truth with Kundalini. Kundalini awakens based on willingness to engage with it. So if we chant while packing lunches in our mind, we get the full benefit as someone who lives in a one bedroom apartment with no children who drives to a popular teacher’s class and also has a personal practice for 2 hours.
Those we live with benefit from 33% of our practice. Our husbands and children are getting their kundalini energy rising (their true identities) from our practice and willingness to yoke our minds to the Divine. Doesn’t this just make so much sense? When, as mothers and wives, we are seeking the Divine in whatever ways we that we can, our homes will begin to radiate more love. This is why Universe bends the rules and invests in us meditating, so that we can pull our entire households with us towards the Sunlight of the Spirit as we raise our vibrations.
I know you are a lover of plants and plant medicine. So tell us, if you were a plant, which plant would you be and why?
Omg Amanda, I love this question. It would be Angelica Root. I love working with roots because I love being incarnated and existing on this earth and in this time and space but with my mind on the Divine. Angelica root is a plant I use on myself and my children to turn our dreamtime into a sleeping prayer, tuning our minds to the the Angels that watch us when we sleep.
And speaking of plants…Sheel works with pure, one ingredient plant essences. They are powerful allies in taming the fluctuations of our minds, nurturing our authentic nature, and bringing out our own pure essence. Contact her to find out about finding the perfect plant complement for your yoga and meditation practice.