Awakening the Kundalini within

July 02, 2017
from panic to prana

To some of us 'Kundalini' might sound like a swear word or perhaps even something potentially painful. Neither is true, of course, but this is where my story with the snake starts. With a few bruised egos and swollen tear ducts, my friends and I managed to escape this weekend pretty unscathed.

It was a magical weekend in Ixopo near, Pietermaritzburg.

Destination : Buddhist Retreat Centre

Itinerary: two full days of whatever Kundalini Yoga meant...

It always seems to start with food for me, I had heard about the Retreat Centre through a book called- Plentiful: The Big Book of Buddha Food.

With my bag packed and two beautiful friends in the car we were on our way to start our weekend.

As innocent as the road trip had started by the end I would realise that it was that step I needed. The step towards awakening my spiritual path and acknowledging that perhaps my stars had aligned.

The Centre was concealed by lush forestry. Like a soft whisper, it appeared, and as it did, this innate peace came over me and I felt ready for the hard work that lay ahead.

Bruce van Dongen was the teacher that hosted us for the weekend. He is an engineer and uses the practices of Kundalini Yoga and his love of nature to balance the pressures of the corporate world. He is a qualified Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga Trainer.

The weekend was dubbed “Going with the flow”and we would be practising present minded awareness through Kundalini Yoga and Qigong.

Qigong -

is a form of gentle exercise composed of movements that are repeated a number of times, often stretching the body, increasing fluid movement and building awareness of how the body moves through space.

In my practice of Hatha Yoga I am not a stranger to Kundalini.

To understand how Kundalini works, you first have to understand that you have a snake like spiritual energy at the bottom of your spine. The Sanskrit word kundal means "circular". And it can be a noun for a coiled snake. This concept of Kundalini was adopted into Hatha yoga in the 15th century.

Kundalini is a life-force. When awoken, it comes with a great power that clears and re-patterns many systems, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is the internal force in the body to heal itself.

We set down our bags in our cottage and made our way to the warm and cosy dining area. We were just in time for dinner and the room was filled with different aromatic hints. Needless to say the food was definitely out of this world.

That evening's proceedings started by the sound of a Gong, making it clear that we had to make our way to the “class” room. We all sat in a dim lit room, filled with flickering candles, a crackling fire and soft ambient music. All together there were about 12 of us. Our teacher guided us through a chant and a short meditation.

The night progressed into heavy breathing, fast back and forth movements and us giving each other looks of uncertainty. What had we signed up for?

For a brief time, our egos wanted to sabotage this unusual practice. This moment of complete release and pure bliss. It was empowering to say the least. The energy that was generated in the room was invigorating, and by the end of the night, I was spent.

The mental and physical blockages I had carried with had been lifted and released.

For one, I had been struggling for months with severe lower back pain, so much so that even my Chiropractor didn’t know what to say to me any more.

It hindered my Yoga practice and my daily movement.

I must assume that the release occurred due to the heightening of my conciousness in that moment. The practice allowed for a greater love and compassion to enter the space enabling me to release the physical and emotional blockage. Completely surrendering to the practice without realising it was the answer I needed to move on from whatever that “back pain” was.

In saying all of this please know that only reflecting back on that weekend now, I understood it for what it was.

But while I was there, I was definitely unsure of the Yoga path I have now chosen and if it was for me at all.

The following day followed in much the same way.

Kundalini Yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras, such as Sat Nam.

"Sat means truth and Nam means name/ truth is my identity. This mantra is more than what it means in translation. It is an experience. By chanting “Sat Nam” or meditating upon it with your breath, you call into your awareness the state of the vibration of truth. " -

After the morning practice, we were then given the afternoon off to reflect. It was a very wet weekend so I jumped at the chance to wrap a warm blanket around me and to self sooth. I think it is always a good idea to try find some solitude if you have the option.

Our last evening is when a real shift occurred in me. The group sat in the same room, in the same spot, next to the same person. But somehow it all felt different. I was closer to the 'stranger' that sat next to me yesterday. I felt more comfortable. I was able to put my ego aside, and see the practice for what it is. A deeply spiritual practice. Removing the self doubt and judgement, I could see how much bigger it was than me.

We spent the rest of the evening singing in a circle, giving thanks and allowing each other the space to heal.

In the end, this Kundalini Yoga is a spectacular teacher in itself. One that I would love everyone to try. It works deeply and fast, and it is definitely not for the faint hearted.

The primary objective is to awaken and I was definitely awoken.

I think everyone’s path is different but the end goal is the same. And that is for us to be well balanced human beings that can function on an integrated level. Allowing empathy and love to be the language that we speak.

The whole weekend left a lasting impression on me.

From the food, to the people, the serene surroundings and all the lessons.

I am extremely grateful to Ixopo.


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