Early this year I embarked on a journey practising Kundalini Yoga. I clearly remember my first class, feeling a bit awkward, trying to embrace postures and ways of breathing that I had never experienced before. After this class I felt energised and keen to try another, so I continued to do weekly classes. I then found out that I could begin a private practice at home each morning and choose an area of my life that I would like to work on and develop. I decided to begin with commitment to self. With Kundalini, it is all about commitment, sticking to your practise each day and showing up for yourself without fail. If you miss a day, you must begin again. The set of postures is called a Kriya, and the amount of time you choose to practise it is called a Sadhana. I chose to begin with a 40 day Sadhana.
My teacher advised me to take note of how I was feeling each day and to pay extra attention around day 20 as that is when things can really start shifting. For me, the most challenging part of this first 40 day Sadhana was the commitment each day. I realised that turning up for myself every day without fail was something that I had always struggled being consistent with. Knowing that I would have to start again was the incentive I needed to keep showing up and continue to exercise this ‘commitment to self’ muscle.
Next came the lessons and challenges. Kundalini practise is a powerful force. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced before and really does help to make some powerful shifts in your life. Old negative patterns, realisations, and various scenarios in my environment began showing up to test, challenge and teach me. There were tears, there were tough conversations with people, there was detoxification physically and emotionally. My body began shifting and releasing what was no longer needed. By my 40th day, I felt like I had worked through a lot then I ended up with a really bad cold. More releasing perhaps.
I then chose to embark on a 90 day Sadhana on Self Belief. I found this particular Kriya empowering. I was put in situations that tested my belief in self, I faced challenges in my work and environment that forced me to look at stories I had believed about myself since childhood that weren’t for me to carry. Musculoskeletal ailments began to arise around my neck and shoulder area, physically challenging me, but also forcing me to look deeper at the emotion behind these pains.
My 90th day came and I found myself on the Sunshine Coast at my parents’ house. I remember sitting on a big rock in their garden looking out at the sunset. I felt overwhelmed with emotion that I had really committed to a practise for that length of time and worked through so much from being so consistent. Even though my body aches were still causing me grief, I felt spiritually stronger. I had grown a lot.
The next Kriya I chose to do has ended up being my last. This was focused on the Sacral chakra. This particular chakra is our seat of self, where we can store anger, frustration, resentment, and emotions around finances. First the anger, frustration and rage reared their head. Then days and days of tears, and recurring dreams of feeling frustrated, August was one of the toughest months of this year for me emotionally. My gut started playing up again, my shoulder and neck were causing me grief. I persisted.
By late September early October, I was a mess internally. I was away at the time, holding myself together on the outside but really physically struggling inside and keeping it to myself. I was determined to make the most of my holiday!
Just over half way through my time away, I decided to stop practising and just let go. At first there were feelings of guilt, then sadness because I felt like I couldn’t keep committing to it. Was I just done with that particular Kriya? Should I begin it again when I get home? I had reached around day 67 when I stopped. I felt torn, I felt exhausted, I felt far from myself. I had lost my joy, my spark.
When I returned home, it was still playing on my mind. Do I begin a brand new one and start fresh? Physically, I was in pain so I knew I really needed to rest. I decided to have a break, nurture and take care of myself. In this down time, I came to some realisations.
While I had experienced an incredible journey of shifting and detoxifying through my practise, it began to not serve me well. I had become incredibly regimented and strict with myself, I had essentially put myself in a cage. I realised that I had stopped doing activities and things that brought me joy and nurtured my feminine and heart space. I was becoming hard through this practise rather than soft. I much prefer feeling soft, feminine, and sensual. I had feelings of guilt around my practise, and had become so absorbed in what I was working through, to the point where I found myself constantly talking about Kundalini and all the things that were shifting. It had started to take over my life in a negative way. It was incredibly isolating and lonely.
Some might say, well couldn’t you have done both - the things that brought you joy and Kundalini? For me, the practise was so energetically intense, I was unable to do that and cope with it and everything it was bringing up as well as keep doing all the other things I really loved including running my business. I discovered that I had also stopped hearing from Spirit as often. I had become disconnected from Source, because I had become so regimented and far from my heart space.
Throughout the month of November, I was faced with challenge after challenge, mostly in my business. There was a point where I thought about giving it all up and going back to work full time for someone else. Let’s just pause right there so you know how big that was for me to admit, but also to sit with the magnitude of how challenged I really felt. I also had feelings of embarrassment, shame, and feeling like I was a failure. TRUTH.
One evening in the kitchen I was brought to my knees, literally screaming at the Universe asking why do you keep punching me? It is relentless! What is this? What am I meant to do? Then a whisper… ‘we are pushing you’. I was grasping at the air…trying to find something or someone to save me. Then another whisper… ‘the only person that can save you is yourself’. I let the tears flow until there were no more. Then I picked myself up, rolled up my sleeves and began to build my new website. That was just the beginning. I began to write again and connect with my heart space and spirit again. I started to really understand that I have the power to save myself. All I need to do is ask for help and be open to receiving help, spiritually through my writing, and verbally to those closest to me. I had to put my pride aside and begin to talk about my situation with friends and family. Help in all shapes and sizes began pouring in unexpectedly. VERY unexpectedly!
So how does all of this relate back to why I chose to discontinue my Kundalini practise? Well, my biggest realisation was that I had disconnected from my heart space and had become obsessive with something that wasn’t essentially serving my spirit well. I was insanely focused about working on myself so much that in the process had become disconnected from what mattered most and what really filled me up and made me feel free and joyful. There were certain exercises like dancing, and meditation that I found nurturing, and will continue to keep in my ‘what fills Catherine up’ box. However it was the overall daily routine and my feelings around it that I needed to let go of to connect with myself again.
I have a choice, I can choose to fill my life with activities and things that fill me up and bring me joy, or I can choose to go against what my heart wishes to do. It has taken me a good couple of months to come back into balance, and regain my strength and connection with myself. My inner child is loving this new way too. She hated such a strict routine. I feel soft, feminine, and sensual again. My spark is back. My morning and evening rituals of connecting with Spirit and heart space through my personalised Catherine Saliba special meditation is back and I love it. I’m happy, centred, and at peace. Even my reiki and capacity to be of service has improved.
I am so incredibly grateful for my time with Kundalini yoga. It has taken me on a journey of learning how to commit to myself, believe in myself, shift through big layers of suppressed emotion, and most importantly after ceasing my practise, trusting that I can actually connect deeply on my own. Since stopping my practise, I have shown myself that I can do this work on me and face challenges in my own way, in a soft and flexible way. I have shown myself this past month that I can trust myself to hold my hand and get me through the darkest of times and come out the other side having learnt valuable lessons in a way that doesn’t squash or cage me in.
I am in no way saying that you shouldn’t attempt Kundalini. I feel that it is important to dive into new experiences if you feel called to do so. I’m grateful for all of the lessons and layers I have worked on and shifted through this past year. Is it sustainable for me to do this long term? No. For the time I did it though it was fantastic. Just as I would only do a juice cleanse for a week max, for me personally, I could only do this kind of practise for around 8 months. The real magic though was what it led me to discovering about myself and the inner strength I found when I stopped the practise.
I feel like I have personally reached a point in my life where I have done an insane amount of inner work for the past three years. I’ve been going to energetic healing and counselling appointments, coaching sessions, seeing osteopaths, acupuncturists, as well as doing committed Kundalini shifting for months. It can be easy to become a little addicted to appointments and feeling like you won’t be able to cope without them. But I can safely assure you that you can get to a point where you don’t need as many, and you get to a point where you can just go in every now and then for a little tune up or balance.
The work most certainly does not end. Each day is a new learning experience, but I’m learning now to flow rather than push. I’ll take the lessons as they come rather than peeling back the layers too forcefully. That way, I’m able to cope with life and growth in a much more balanced way.
Appointments are great, they are an investment, but help you to shift through things in an environment where you are being supported by a practitioner. As a practitioner myself, my aim is to get my clients to a point in their journey where they do not need to keep coming back to me regularly. I want my clients to get to a point of having shifted through so much that they feel like they only need to come in for a tune up once in a while. I like to see the work that I do as helping you to repair your wings so that you can fly again. That way I know I have done my job supporting you and helping you grow and become stronger.
So what does my daily practise and ritual involve now? A meeting with the divine through meditation, writing, immersing myself in nature, and gently showing up for myself each day. If there is a morning where I am sick or need a sleep in, I flow with that. I like to feel flexible and free, and prefer to intuitively decide by dwelling in heart space and choosing in the moment based on how I wish to feel. Since coming back to my garden of heart space, I am trusting the process more, feel a lot more peaceful, happy, and content with where I am at and how my life is unfolding. I’ve found my joy again.