Learning Self-Awareness Through Yoga: Personal Challenge, Day 108 (1.2.13)
A while back, my acupuncturist, Dawna Ara, mentioned I should check out The Awareness Center in Pasadena during my personal challenge to try something new every day. She mentioned that they practice Kundalini Yoga and that it could help me with the effects of Endometriosis.
A year and a half ago, my doctor realized that I was compensating for my Endo pain on my left side by favoring my right side. My balance was off and over time, my right side became so much stronger than my left. In fact, I couldn’t even balance on my left leg any longer and I was even walking differently. I had started physical therapy but it was too costly. Plus, my physical therapist had me doing the majority of the exercises on my own. I was actually using my Wii and Yoga training through the Wii Fit. But after my car accident last May, I stopped working on my Endo pain therapy and had to spend months focusing on recovering from my injuries on my neck and back. Now that my neck and back are doing better, I can go back to focusing on my Endo management. (I also need to work on losing the weight I gained from the depression following my accident). Since Yoga was helping before, I figured I could start doing it again. But this time, instead of only using my Wii and at home Yoga DVDs, I decided I would try out some classes.
Following Dawna’s advice, I went to The Awareness Center website to learn more about the Kundalini style of yoga. According to the site, the history of this particular type of yoga is as follows:
Kundalini yoga is considered the most comprehensive system of yoga at is combines meditation, prayer, asana (physical postures), and pranayama (breathing exercises). “Kundalini” literally means “the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved.” This poetic metaphor refers to the flow of energy and consciousness that exists within each of us, enabling us to merge with the Universal Self. Yoga, literally translated as “divine union”, happens when the individual and universal consciousness are merged. The Upanishads, the sacred scriptures of Hinduism that date back to the fifth century B.C., provided a written description of Kundalini, although the oral tradition dates back even further. For thousands of years, this sacred science and technology was veiled in secrecy, passed along in the oral tradition from master to chosen disciple.
Kundalini Yoga was never taught publicly until Yogi Bhajan, Ph. D. challenged the age-old tradition of secrecy. In his compassionate wisdom, Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the United States in 1969. Since then, it has spread all over the world. He wrote, “I am sharing these teachings to create a science of the total self…It is the birthright of every human being to be healthy, happy and holy.” The master of Kundalini Yoga, and head of the Sikh faith for the Western Hemisphere, Yogi Bhajan also founded 3HO (The Healthy, Happy, and Holy Organization), a worldwide non-profit foundation that offers classes in Kundalini Yoga, meditation, vegetarian nutrition, and healthy life choices.
Kundalini Yoga was designed for the householder: those who live in the world, who have families and jobs, and who want to balance the inner and outer world. Kundalini Yoga fits the busy lives that most of us lead. It is effective, efficient and easy. People who practice Kundalini Yoga say they can feel changes in the body and psyche within a few minutes, and experience even deeper changes through regular practice. Although it can be practiced religiously each day, yoga is not a religion. A more accurate description of yoga would be to say that it is an ancient science.
The Awareness Center
Our mission is to provide you with a practice and technology to feel comfortable in your
body, connected and expressed in relationships, fulfilled in your life’s work and at
peace with yourself. Through Kundalini yoga and meditation as well as many other transformational practices, we are here to inspire, uplift and empower you.
Established in 1974, the Awareness Center began as a 3HO ashram in Altadena, run by founders Dr. Santokh and Suraj Khalsa. Everyone remembers the big white house on the top of New York Drive. It has been through many changes over the years, but the one thing that has remained constant is the offering of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation to the Pasadena community. Anyone who has visited the center knows that The Awareness Center is a family. It still evokes a comfortable feeling of “home”, a feeling that leads students to deeper states of relaxation and renewal. The Awareness Center affirms that by using the body and mind through exercise, breath, and meditation, you can balance and revitalize your nerves and glands, clear past blocks, and bring harmony and peace to your life.
The Awareness Center is now owned and operated by Wahe Guru Kaur/Gisela Powell. She is committed to honoring the wisdom and teachings from the past and to expanding our Kundalini Yoga family well into the future.
The Awareness Center is located on Foothill Blvd, just east of Daisy. I actually passed the building when I first arrived and then struggled to find parking, making me late for my first class. But now I know, for the future, that there is two-hour free parking on Daisy and the neighborhood streets just north of Foothill.
Class had already begun when I arrived but I was escorted into the Yoga room and quickly set up my mat, trying my best not to disturb anyone. I was able to step right into the warm-up exercises. During the relaxation time before exercises, the Instructor, Helen, came over to welcome me and give me a quick introduction. She told me that Kundalini Yoga isn’t about perfection or competition. It is very loving and forgiving, you just do your personal best. There is no judgement, just a chance to relax and get to know yourself better. The class represented all levels of yoga and we could adjust it to meet our own needs.
This particular class had a lot of abdominal work. During some of the floor exercises, I became very aware that my left side is still incredibly weak compared to my right side. I struggled with some of the leg lifts, realizing I really need to get back to my Endo therapy. This class definitely helped.
When class ended, Helen came over again to talk with me and tell me more about her classes. She said that every class is different. There are so many different poses, stretches, and exercises in Kundalini Yoga that no class is ever exactly the same. Being a Libra who easily gets bored doing the same thing over and over again, I really liked the fact that each class would be different. I also liked the whole non-judgemental vibe. You didn’t have to worry if you couldn’t stretch as far as the others or that you were struggling when others were not. Everyone was focused on their own exercises. It was a very relaxing and welcoming environment.
I am definitely going to return and continue taking yoga classes at The Awareness Center.