There is a quote from Yogi Bhajan on the poster for Kundalini Yoga Teacher Rachael Lowe’s Wellington workshop that reads:
The best way in life is simply to be.
Let the spirit, let the soul, let the self shine like sunshine
Oh only if it were that simple! Yet it is that simple for children. Watch a group of five year olds play, or a baby crawl around the house exploring, and they’re just being, just shining, just living.
It’s this quality of innocence that Rachael is set to help people access through Kundalini Yoga techniques. It sounds playful, and delightful.
The Yoga Lunchbox connected with Rachael in Cambodia where she’s currently living and working to find out more. (See the end of the interview for details about the workshop).
1. What’s your yoga background?
I learned yoga from a Turkish woman while living in Turkey. We would scrape away the furniture off her living room floor to make room for the two of us to do our yoga practice. Sometimes we’d be joined by other ladies. There was no particular formula or style to our practices. Melek would mix up different styles and deliver what she felt was needed at the time.
This one on one or one to a few experience of yoga inspired me as well as inspiration I found within myself as I became aware of a shift in my consciousness through the yoga practice. I vowed to become a yoga teacher. I made this vow 7 years ago. Since then I searched for the yoga style that resonated with me and I finally found that Kundalini Yoga did that.
2. You’re a Kiwi living in Cambodia right now and teaching Kundalini Yoga – how’d you end up there and what’s it like teaching yoga there?
I actually fancied being in Africa not Asia. I registered with the NZ Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA) organisation, looking for a way I could use my business skills in a development context. It just so happened that the volunteer position that suited my professional skills was as a Management Advisor to a Cambodian non-governmental organisation operating in the countryside working with HIV/AIDS sufferers.
Within weeks of arriving I found Kundalini Yoga and when the time was right, I began to teach.
Teaching yoga in Cambodia is challenging. The environment is very transitory among the expat community, so as a teacher, it is rare to witness in your student’s a journey of self discovery because often the students are in Cambodia on short term work assignments.
As a teacher, this can be difficult to accommodate because through being of service as a yoga teacher you would like to see students grow and glow. Often there is little time for a transformation to occur within the students from the teachings of yoga. That said, there are times where students are instantly affected by a class and a transformation occurs in that instant and that is such a treasure to witness. Those moments are precious.
3. Kundalini Yoga is probably one of the lesser known major styles here in New Zealand – how did you discover it and what’s it all about?
In my perpetual search for a yoga that resonated with me I turned away from many and began to despair of finding the right yoga, or even began to doubt that my conviction to be a teacher was a true authentic conviction.
I went to my first Kundalini Yoga class. It was a 7am practice on a Saturday morning. I was one of only two students. The teacher had a long grey beard and long long hair plaited hair that hung down his back. After that class I knew without a doubt this was the yoga I was to teach. That man with the long grey beard and the long long plaited hair trained me and is a very dear spiritual guide on my own Kundalini journey.
Kundalini yoga is an ancient yoga and is unchanged since it emerged in India around 3,000 years ago.
Kundalini Yoga works on loosening joints and muscles and opening subtle energy channels in the body – the chakras. It is also a very powerful tool to clear imprints from past experiences – clearing the subconscious and the unconscious minds. These layers of the mind dictate our thought patterns and those thoughts are vibrated into the subtle energy layers around the body and that vibration is received by others.
If you’ve ever had the sense that a person’s energy is good or bad, you are tuning into such vibrations. Our thoughts are powerful and are manifested into existence through the physical body in an unconscious behaviour pattern or reaction, or manifested as a vibration in our subtle energy layers around our physical body. Kundalini yoga uses breath, asana and meditation to tune into the sensitivities of the mind and peel away all the layers and stories and fantasies that you have developed over the years that mask deep hurts or fears within you. That hurt or fear is a barrier to discovering your Self and your true nature and living from that place of your true identity. It is a discovery of Self.
Kundalini yoga is called the yoga of awareness.
4. Your workshop is called Experience Your Innocence – what does that mean and how can yoga affect this?
Ah, do you remember when as a child you would easily cry and laugh and feel deep sorrow and deep joy and there was lots of lots of spontaneity and free spirit?
As a child we express our true nature and we express natural love. Then we become conscious of our actions and the actions of those nearest us and we begin to learn the consequences of our actions and the actions of those nearest us… and sometimes those consequences are unpleasant and cause deep pain… and then the stories and the fantasies begin to form in our mind and these stories and fantasies govern our thoughts and behaviour when faced with a similar life situation.
We have a notion that a true expression of an emotion is a vulnerability that will only invite more pain or sorrow… what if your true expression is governed by Love?
As a child, Love governs the expressions of our true nature. Whether that expression is one of joy or one of sorrow – sorrow because Love feels threatened. There is nothing to fear of Love.
When we live by our true nature our words and our actions are direct expressions of our true nature that aspires to Love.
When the stories and fantasies are recognised for what they are, we are aligned with our true nature in a true reality, and when we might feel that Love is threatened we have an awareness of the cause and effect in that moment and in that moment we can make a decision, in connection to Self – to apply a familiar story or a fantasy to protect yourself and others, or to express how you are feeling with an honest regard and respect to Self and other Selves – an expression that serves Love and serves you.
People get it. People really get it when you express from your true Self and your authenticity. Expressing from your true nature, as we did when we were innocent children, has an enormous capacity to extend a jewel of Love that touches you and touches others.
This workshop uses meditation, visualisation, an application of Kundalini philosophy and finally a Kundalini kriya (a kriya is a set of actions designed for a specific purpose – in this case to experience your innocence). It works on the subconscious mind. You will be guided to look into this mind and draw out childhood expressions and sensations and to remember the innocence of expression.
Perhaps you will be able to recognise when you began to develop stories and fantasies to protect yourself from an unpleasant experience. You might experience a deep release of a past imprint on the mind you have held onto for so so long that might not serve you anymore. It sounds serious, perhaps potentially a little scary, but we get to do some childlike things that should make you giggle a little bit.
5. Who is the workshop suitable for? Does it matter if you’ve never done Kundalini Yoga before, or yoga before?
The workshop is suitable for anyone, though I don’t recommend it to pregnant women.
It matters not in the slightest if you’ve not done Kundalini Yoga or any yoga before. I will introduce the basic concepts of Kundalini Yoga so the context of what we will experience in the workshop can be understood.
The yoga itself, the kriya (or set of actions) people can explore according to their own abilities. If a participant must rest during an action, that person can visualise themselves continuing with the action, and can assume the action again when able.
A Kundalini Yoga action (or asana) is a continuous movement, so the participant keeps up as able. If a participant has high blood pressure, please tell me so that I can instruct alternatives on breathing patterns. As a matter of course, I instruct alternatives with some breaths and exercises particularly limited by a woman’s menstruation cycle. Meditations we will do will be guided carefully.
Really, anyone can join. Lots of fun for all!
What? Workshop ‘Experience Your Innocence’
Who? Kundalini Teacher Rachael Lowe
When? Saturday October 30th, 2010 @ 11am until 2pm
Where? Hot Yoga, Wakefield Street, Wellington
How Much? $35
Register: Email Rachael on firstname.lastname@example.org