Doing Kundalini yoga is like going on a date with a brilliantly insightful insane person. You have no idea what will happen next, and more often than not you are pushed beyond what you thought your limits were and afterwards you know your life was changed forever in some small (or major) way.
I don’t do the type of practice often, but when I was in Tulum one of the writers there offered to lead us in a few poses (To be honest, I had hopes this small practice would activate the coiled serpent in my sacrum and blow the energy up my spine and through my head. Spoiler alert: it didn’t happen. Yet.)
I tried again yesterday in the privacy of my own home. There is a wonderful site, Yogaglo, where there are many types of yoga and meditation classes you can stream for the low price of $18.00 a month. They have a teacher, Kia Miller, who you may, just by looking at her, believe if anyone could activate the kundalini energy in your body, this lean, glowing yogini could. She scares me, but I keep going back because I also love her. She smiles and laughs as she asks you to do simple motions for, say, five minutes, that about 2 minutes in you are pretty sure are going to make your eyeballs bleed.
I did this yesterday. She had us do one kriya (a kriya in Kundalini yoga is a series of postures, sounds, and breath that work to a specific outcome) called Archer. I’m a Sagittarius, so I thought this might be a doubly appropriate pose. All you do is stand as if you’re about to shoot an arrow, one arm out straight ahead with the fingers folded and the thumb extended, the other arm pulled back as if pulling back on a string. All you have to do is breathe (or if you are fancy, you can do breath of fire) for five minutes and focus on your extended thumb. I thought I was going to lose my mind, and Kia kept saying, Don’t even think of quitting. Don’t let that be an option. My shoulder of the extended arm was on fire, but my mind was even hotter. It was screaming: this hurts so much—drop your damn arm and go into child’s pose. There was a deeper scream that didn’t even have words, and that screaming was worst of all. I wanted to puke. I wanted out.
Trying to look just at my thumb, trying to keep single focus, made me realize my brain doesn’t work like this. It felt like I was trying to shove two or three heads through a tight turtleneck (or meat grinder).
I wanted to scream. It was like all the complex feelings I held about adoption in my body and in my conscious and unconscious brain were all packed into my thumb and, my focusing on that single digit, I was feeling them all at once. Kia kept telling me I could do it, and I watched my thumb shake and counted to twelve over and over, as if the solidity of each number could save me.
Okay, she finally said, five minutes. We, Kia and I and the people in her class on my computer screen, all took a deep breath and held it. My whole extended arm was shaking. When we let the arm fall, I felt as if warm water slid down my shoulder. I was so relaxed it hurt.
I burst into tears, overwhelmed by feeling, got into child’s pose for a minute, and then stood up because God had given me two arms and yoga is all about balance.
I had to do the whole thing one more time.
I did it. It flipping hurt, but I survived, and all day I felt amazing.
It’s so good to understand who you are and why you do the things you do. I have real trouble with romantic relationships because part of me stands in disbelief that this is the one life I’ll live. The one partner I’ll have. It makes no sense to me. And this made no sense to me because I like commitment. I don’t want to be a polygamist or to have 25 husbands, one right after the other (23 to go!). But doing that kriya helped me see my brain more clearly.
In my head I have at least two steering wheels, for as I’ve been writing about (ad nauseum), the split nature of the adoptee (the person who would have existed if not relinquished, the infinite number of people who might have existed depending on the people who filled in the mother and father spaces on the revised birth certificate.) makes single focus nearly impossible. (Google adoptee and ADD/ADHD. Not rocket science.)
But if the brain is malleable, can I change this? Can I, an adoptee, have single focus? Can I have one steering wheel?
I'm going Cat Stevens on my life. I’m on the road to find out.