Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kundalini Yoga at Baba Siri Chad Ashram

Teresa White Raduazzok invited me to join her on a trip to the Baba Siri Chad Ashram to experience Kundalini Yoga. The Ashram is located at 404 East Center Street Altamonte Springs. When we arrived Teresa showed me around the meditation garden. The garden was gorgeous with tall bamboo making it feel like an exotic secluded forest. Ancient statues covered in moss were found is quiet corners of the garden and a small gazebo housed a place where two people could sit facing one another on pillows. Also in the structure was a large bronze statue of a muscular man named Baba Siri Chand who was a farmer in India who became enlightened. Instead of secluding himself on a mountain top , he continued farming and helped bring enlightenment to the people.
I had bought a yoga mat but was very self conscious about it because it was foam and bright pink. Teresa had a beautiful old quilt and I suspected I might stand out. At the entry way there was a place to put your shoes before entering the building. The interior is amazing. The room was filled with golden light from the huge windows facing the garden. Every wall was covered with intricate murals with images of snakes coiling around cylinders and shapes that mirrored one another and seemed to spiral up the walls in organic and flowing patterns.
Teresa mentioned to the instructor that I would be doing a sketch. The instructor said to me, "This isn't a spectator sport, I expect you to do some of the exercises." This left me feeling nervous, I was certain I would get kicked out of the Ashram. I worked with extra speed to get as much of the sketch finished as I could before I was given the boot. I did the breathing exercises, called rapid breath of fire, and some of the upper body work. I would close my eyes on occasion to fully experience the flow of energy but soon I would open them and continue my sketch which is my way of merging with the universe around me. Breathing consisted of fast staccato inhales and exhales for an extended period of time. The movements were more relaxed and gentle that yoga I had taken in the past. Kundalini in Sanskrit means "That which is coiled", it is conceptualized as a snake that is coiled three and a half times at the base of the spine. When Kundalini is awakened it brings the person pure joy, knowledge and love.
When everyone lay down for meditation, I decided my sketch was finished and I joined them. The instructor got out large bronze and glass bowls. She took a wooden mallet and used it to rub along the outer lip of the bowls. A warm humming note was generated which could be felt right down to the spine. She sang a series of vowels along with the resonant note. Everyone's breathing grew heavy and relaxed. A man in front of me was snoring. The instructor recited verses which told us we should shine out light out into the world, that our influence should extend beyond Orlando, Beyond Florida and we should envision the whole world engulfed in this loving light.

Longtime Sun Song:
May the longtime sun shine upon you:
All love surround you
and the pure light within you
guide your way on.

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