Kundalini with Gurmukh at Golden Bridge New York

Gurmukh at Golden Bridge New York with (not me)
Gurmukh at Golden Bridge New York with (not me)

Sunday night I went to a 2.5 hour kundalini workshop. I’m still sore. The director of Golden Bridge in LA, Gurmukh, who’s written the books and taught the celebrities that have made this studio such a hot spot I guess, was in town for a week. The teacher last week swore the event would fill up, we should register early, and indeed it was mat-to-mat, India-style, even arriving 10 minutes early. I ended up in front of the first row, on one of two mats perpendicular to the rest. A potted plant hung over my mat, I thought that was a little nicer than being wedged all the way in the back.

The theme was “The Answer is Inside You.” Something about accessing your own intuition through meditation, kriyas, and asanas.

Gurmukh spoke for about 30 minutes: random thoughts on teaching in the Hamptons and gifts she’d received from students. She shared an FDR quote: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” That was as close as she got to the marketed theme of the evening.

So we did a 2-hour set of kriyas (cleansing exercises) that was quite strange, even for kundalini (where the teachers wear white clothes and turbans, and most exercises are grounded in numerology and subtle anatomy). Example: stand up, with your right arm straight forward, parallel to the ground. On the count of 1, lift the left leg. 2, look right. 3, look left. 4, look forward and lower the leg. Continue for 5 minutes.

We also did a lot of partner exercises where we chanted “peace! love!” and other affirmations. The silliness of it all made it easy to smile… Gurmukh said she was on the fence about teaching this series, “all the newcomers will think it’s really weird,” but Yogi Bhajan told her “just do it.” (He’s deceased, btw.)

It was really difficult. I had had a fight with my boyfriend the night before, slept really poorly afterwards, stuffed myself at the only meal of the day, and in general felt like a venomous slug. I was really embarrassed to be in the front row. And in kundalini, the more senior the teacher, the more repetitions they have you do. We would be flapping our arms, shoulders burning and spasming, and flapping, and flapping, and flapping, and she would finally say “You’re almost there! Two more minutes!”

The partner exercises, which I typically hate, actually helped me get through it. You have to make continuous eye contact with the other person, like capoeira, and smile the whole time. At various times one of us would start laughing or crossing our eyes with ridiculousness / soreness, and it would give one more boost of energy to keep going and finish the set. That, and Gurmukh calling “Doing this exercise for five minutes is the same as meditating for five years!”

And the next day, I felt out of this world. The foul mood and lethargy were completely gone, I was a complete nut, writing jokes to my roommate, and biking all around the neighborhood… this is the draw of kundalini. No other form of yoga has such immediate and obvious benefits.

But I still can’t make it downstairs without the banister.