I went to every yoga class I could find in hopes of discovering something more than just another way to twist my body in a pretzel. I sent all over Miami in search of a class that would inspire me. After one yoga class I was walking back to my car and passed some of the students talking and overheard the word, “the worst yoga class”. My ears perked up. I ask about this class and got all the information. It just so happened this weekly class was the next night. The class was at the local community college, in the health services department. The room was cold (which was pretty strange since I was living in Miami), smelled like a hospital, had a hard floor, fluorescent lights, examination tables and those curtains that use for privacy all hanging down in our way. It was the worst yoga class I have ever attended. I stayed to find out what I was doing there.
The class started with some chanting and then we began. What I remember was this one posture called yoga mudra. We are sitting on our heels, (on the hard floor), behind our back our hands are locked together. Then we bend down with our forehead on the ground and stretch the arms up and over the head. While holding this position, we were instructed to do breath of fire. A rapid breath from deep in the belly. During those three minutes I clearly remember having the thought, ‘I hate this posture.’ I also had the thought, ‘I love this posture.’ I had these two thoughts at the same time. I marveled at the idea that these two opposite feelings could exist while doing one posture. I was hooked. In that moment I decided to learn more about this strange form of yoga called Kundalini Yoga.
I never went back to that room so drove about 45 minutes to the ashram for classes. I went 2-3 times a week for the first month. At the end of that month, there was a weekend course where we did 5 yoga classes a day for two days. It was weird, fun, exhausting, amazing, addictive, made a lasting impact. At the end of that weekend, I did not want to leave.
Soon after I decided to move into the ashram. I gave up a penthouse apartment (a small one-bedroom in a questionable neighborhood) to sleep on the floor with two other men, one whose day job was working in his father’s fish store, and therefore always smelled like fish. It was a strange and wonderful time.
The day after moving in the ashram director Bob announced we were going to start a 40-day sadhana. This magic number is known in many spiritual traditions. So we began 40 days of sat kriya, for 62 minutes a day. Yes, 62 minutes. We were young and our bodies were better able to do extreme stuff, but it was still a very challenging experience. The sadhana started at 3.15 in the morning and ended at 7.30. We read Japji, did yoga, and the 62 minutes of sat kriya. After this, we had a long relaxation where it was common to fall asleep. If we awoke when it was time, there was a hokum (order of the day) from the Sikh holy book, The Siri Guru Granth Sahib. This was followed by more prayer, chanting and finally, we were ready to start the day. For more than six months I got by with about 3.5 hours of sleep a night. Somehow it worked.
Now something else is needed in the world. We need to create communities where we truly learn to live for each other.