As part of our Wellness Wednesday series, this week we are delighted to give you the inside scoop on the first ever central London kundalini yoga studio which opened on Monday 16 December. Based in Bloomsbury, Kundalini Yoga Studio will provide Londoners with weekly kundalini classes, meditation and gong sessions as well as workshops and teacher training, by some of the most senior and experienced teachers in the practice.
Our London Living editor Katharine, had the chance to sit down with founder Siri Sadhana, who is not only a kundalini yoga teacher and trainer, but also a talented singer and mantra artist. Siri has sung in a variety of styles including jazz, soul, blues and gospel. Her love of the healing power of music and meeting of the kundalini teachings led her to sacred chanting where her true calling was ignited. We asked her all the burning questions about the new studio launch, what makes her yoga studio so different to others in the city, and what she appreciates most about London life…
Siri Sadhana, it is very very exciting that there is finally going to be a central London centre for Kundalini Yoga! What can people coming to the centre expect?
It’s a studio in the heart of Bloomsbury only 4 minutes walk from Euston station, and 10 mins walk from Kings Cross station, so it’s incredibly central and accessible. And it’s in the basement of a large storey house. There is a small kitchen area on entering for teas and to put your shoes, plus showers and toilets.
We are offering weekly classes of kundalini yoga and meditation, gong and workshops. There is also a teacher training that will begin in January 2020.
What makes Kundalini Yoga Studio different to all the other normal yoga studios out there?
It’s quiet, intimate, light and accessible with a small outside area, it’s dedicated to kundalini yoga and meditation and serves as a sanctuary to reflect and retreat from the city noise. We will run a 40 day early morning practise starting at the beginning of January organised by Adi Priya Kaur. The practise starts at 5-7.30am and is called Aquarian Sadhana which includes Yoga, meditation, chanting, prayer and relaxation. It’s a beautiful, transformational practise to prepare you for the day – I find going to bed a little earlier makes it possible.
For those of our readers not familiar with Kundalini Yoga, please can you tell us a little about it, and what makes it so special and different to other types of yogas?
Kundalini yoga was bought to the west by Yogi Bhajan in the late 60’s, its referred to as a Raj Yoga (Royal Yoga). It is an ancient science and technology that activates awareness of one’s inner and outer world, developing truer potential and capacity. It works with powerful and relaxing breathing and visualisation, dynamic asanas (postures) along with mudras (hand gestures/postures). Chanting and mantra are key and foundational to the practise. Kundalini yoga is not kundalini yoga without mantra.
It is taught in a kriya (a series of postures) that are designed to bring about a transformation, through working a particular system of the body (ie the nervous, endocrine, lymphatic and immune system). The emphasis is on the flow and movement and sequence of the kriya.
What can you expect from a kundalini class? And are there any proven benefits?
Each class will start with a tuning in mantra, a warm up, followed by a kriya, relaxation or meditation, and a tuning out to ground and focus your energy at the end. This yoga cultivates consciousness of mind, body and spirit. The positive effects will penetrate into your lives and can manifest in numerous ways.
The benefits of the class include:
– Improved flexibility
– Core muscular strength
– Calmness in mind and body
– Positive attitude
– Improved mental balance
– Better awareness and connection in the body
– Improved sleep patterns
– An overall radiance
Why do you think there is been such a surge in popularity for Kundalini yoga the last few years?
Yogic scriptures talked about the times we are currently inhabiting. Many of us overwhelm and overload on a daily basis, our pace of life is fast and frantic. Kundalini Yoga offers an antidote to enable us to connect our vast internal capacity and excellence, along with the calming, wise and sacred voice within. The whole self gets met through Kundalini yoga. The physical workout is enhanced by the deep meditative focus, we strengthen the nervous system meeting the demands and challenges of life. We begin to access inner tools, as our intuitive nature develops. Mantra and chanting are key elements to this transformation that many experience from a yoga class. Using our voice to chant activates happy hormones, the vagus nerve -the longest cranial nerve in the body connects to most of the body, as we resonate our own voice we connect to our core depth and experience. Through this profound experience of our self we find ourselves, and feel the truth of who we are.
Are there any workshops or classes happening pre-Christmas that you’d like to tell us about?
We are running classes from the 16th December and have a special winter solstice event on Sunday 22nd December from 7-9pm, with a few teachers in the community. We will dance, chant, share tea and have a relaxing gong meditation, all are welcome. The winter solstice is marking the path of the sun, the 21st is the shortest day of light, then days get longer. “The sun, moon, and stars are your teachers.” Yogi bhajan. In yoga we can come together in community to use these turning points in the seasons to cultivate a meditative and calming mind, supporting us to navigate tensions and conflicts that arise throughout life. We can start aligning ourselves with our inner light, wisdom and true nature by gently attuning to natural cycles occurring.
Will your new studio also be offering other types of yoga?
We are currently focussing on setting up kundalini, meditation, gong, mantra dance and chanting events. The workshops we run will explore themes around yoga given by senior and experienced teachers. Shaura Hall a yoga teacher and therapist will run a workshop on ‘the science of anxiety and overwhelm’ in February 2020. It will explore the nervous system and how it adapts to stress, and look at yoga and breathing. Shiv Charan Singh and Satya Kaur from Portugal will give a talk called ‘Nature is calling’ practising atunement meditations.
We heard that you also run some renowned music, dance and mantra workshops. Please can you tell us a little bit more about that?
This workshop has been developing over many years. As a mantra artist I am currently completing my 8th mantra and music album, many of the tracks I have created, are upbeat and great for embodying conscious dance. Having trained in a variety of movement forms, fusing my theatre and dance background, music + yoga was a natural progression. Mantra Dance combines 3 naturally healing modalities for mind, body and spirit. The intention is embodiment, the foundation is yogic teaching and philosophy, the heart is a play+Joy, We draw on the exquisite power of vibrating and toning your voice using kundalini mantras, as well as accessing the freedom and joy of dance expression, then slowly end with a relaxing gong meditation and relaxation. Sound and movement taps into our body’s wisdom releasing “feel good” chemicals, and aligns us to create habits of happiness, as we intelligently yield and twist, within the dance of life.
There seems to have been a sudden explosion of excitement and interest in gong baths and sound healing amongst Londoners in the last 12 months. Will the centre also be offering that?
Yes. Like Kundalini Yoga, The gong gives a powerful and strong transformative experience. The gong works as a sonic massage moving through blocks and moving vital energy. A listener experiences kinesthetic sensation as the vibrating sound penetrates and dissolves thought structure. The resonance and vibration stimulates energy centres, releasing old patterns creating a relaxation response, balancing sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous activity. The gong can positively affect health supporting, stress, circulation, the nervous and endocryne system, sleep and energy levels.
Thank you so much for being a part of our Wellness Wednesday series. Lastly, where are your favourite places to chill-out in London. And do you have any tips for our readers?
I recommend a little bit of nature where possible, and yes its possible even in the heart of London. There are many hidden and beautiful gardens. Hampstead Heath has several seemingly hidden and secluded spots. Walking along the canal can be an exquisite meditation in and of itself. I like to go to the water, I know how good it is for me. The Thames at low tide near Blackfriars, gives you an experience of beach and cityscape views. I love the city views of London from Alexandra Palace, Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill.
If you are interested in finding out some more information about Kundalini Yoga Studio or would like to sign up to an upcoming class you can visit: kundaliniyogastudio.co.uk or you can follow them on Instagram @Kundaliniyogastudio_bloomsbury
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