When I got sober, I kept hearing phrases like, “yoga heals.” I had gone to a few yoga classes during my addiction and I just thought they were for sweating and getting more flexible. I never realized there was a spiritual component to the practice. But the more time I spent making myself a part of the recovery community, the more I heard about yoga as a way to heal, as a safe space to reconnect with yourself on the mat, and a way to meet yourself back in your body.
It was through the recovery world I first started hearing about the practice of Kundalini. Tommy Rosen, of Recovery 2.0, and Holly Whittaker of Hip Sobriety both talk about Kundalini a lot and are certified teachers. Russell Brand is also vocal about his Kundalini practice. It looked and sounded interesting, but a bit off the map in regard to any “normal,” yoga classes I had previously taken. All I knew was that everyone wore white and there was chanting involved and something called “breath of fire,” which sound intimidating at best. I immediately wrote it off as not for me. After all, I was practical not, woo-woo. I assumed Kundalini would be too woo-woo for me.
In late December 2017, my friend Carly who is also a yoga teacher, encouraged me to take a class with her locally when she visited Florida. I decided to try Kundalini for myself and see what it was all about. What was this spiritual yoga everyone was raving about? I learned a lot during just my first class. I got to chant mantras, meditate, do a few yoga poses, and hang out in shavasana. I walked out of that class feeling the yogic energy, the prana, as they call it. It felt like an emotional release and the vibrating during the mantra chanting was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I was humbly able to admit that I unfairly judged Kundalini as being too weird and too woo-woo for me, when in reality I loved it!
That’s when my Kundalini practice began. What I’ve learned since then through a few great teachers is this: Kundalini is the yoga of angles and triangles, for people who want to go out and live in the world as the best version of themselves, and to stimulate your innate mystical energy that sits at the base of your spine, unsurprisingly called Kundalini energy. I have laughed, cried, sang songs, and chanted at the top of my lungs in Kundalini and I haven’t felt weird doing any of it. It feels…right.
Now I understand why all these recovery gurus have been speaking about the healing power of Kundalini yoga. I feel like I’ve finally found a spiritual practice and a yoga class that works for me. In recovery we often crave structure and similar to an AA meeting, Kundalini classes provide structure. Kundalini class opens with warming up, or tuning in, and then each class has a kriya, or the set of poses you follow during a class. My teacher always says each kriya is like baking a cake. You must follow the poses, the breathing exercises, and the time lengths according to the recipe for the cake to come out right. After the kyria there is a shavasana followed by Kundalini meditation which normally includes music and chanting.
This new way of meditating, of strengthening my spiritual muscles, and allowing me to reconnect to myself have also enhanced my recovery. I don’t know about you but sitting down with my eyes closed and trying to quiet my monkey mind doesn’t really work for me. Guided meditations do. Chanting and music do. Feeling the vibration of Kundalini energy does. Moving my body and feeling the power of my breath do.
Do I think Yogi Bhajan knew he was creating a recovery tool when he invented Kundalini yoga? No. But I think he knew he was creating a pathway to healing. I think he was aware of the power behind this spiritual energy. Since leaving AA and truly believing a spiritual life probably wasn’t for me, discovering new tools like Kundalini, guided meditations, and A Course in Miracles have let me know that I can make spirituality my own.
Kundalini has given me a new way to connect to myself and my recovery. It has provided me with a way to cope with the trauma of everyday life and to tap into my mystical power I never knew was there. If you’re looking for a new enhancement for your own recovery, I highly recommend trying Kundalini yoga. Throw away any judgements you have about singing, chanting, or woo-woo witchy vibes, because I promise you you’re going to love it.
Yoga heals, if you let it.
Kelly Fitzgerald Junco
Kelly Fitzgerald Junco is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterPartyMagazine. She is currently writing a memoir.