Kundalini Sadhana. I’m rising in the stillest hours of the morning to make it to a 2.5 hours long kundalini yoga sadhana (daily spiritual practice) that begins at 4am, every morning for 40 days. The first few days felt a lot like jet lag as I adjusted my sleep schedule, aiming to be in bed by 9:00pm. The last time I remember being in bed while there’s still light in the sky was over 25 years ago. I was probably about 3 feet tall.
Now here I am putting myself through a morning practice that some would consider crazy. I received a few deer-in-headlights looks when telling my friends why I can't go out to a late night show.
I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge, and that’s really how this practice began - a challenge to strengthen my courage and grit. I had little discipline as a child so rising before the sunrise has always been a rare and beautiful occurrence for me.
It’s been a week since I started this 4:00 am journey and already, it doesn’t feel like a challenge. It's a beautiful heart opening highlight of my day. We sing, chant, breathe and move our bodies in powerful repetitive motions that cleanse, open the heart, and break through mental, emotional and spiritual blocks simultaneously. They’re called kriyas.
The long chants have shown me my inner dialogue and revealed tendencies to either force myself or give up. Each day is an opportunity to show self-compassion and listen deeper to what I need in the moment. Some days my practice is to keep focused and concentrate and I notice these effects throughout my day. This morning I tuned into my body and noticed that I needed rest and gave myself that space and in doing so I came back 15 minutes later feeling refreshed, sharp and clear. Doing the same thing every morning has shown me my habits.
Yesterday, when my mind wandered and wanted to get up and do something else, I brought my attention back to my breath and remembered that I was training my concentration muscles with the act of coming back. No judging or shaming, rather gentle reminders and encouragement.
Today, I learned that when I’m feeling mentally tired while working, taking a 20 minute rest is going to get me back into balance, connection and clarity, whereas pouring another cup of coffee and trying to ‘push through’ can actually be quite cruel.
As I deepen my listening and move into tenderness I realize this is where my true strength comes from -- presence and spaciousness. In 7 days I’ve begun to look at my life with fresh eyes and a new sense of life, not to mention the physical benefits which are balancing my energy levels and healing my body. I’m excited to see what else will be revealed in the coming month.
My first reaction to getting up at 3:00 AM every morning to to do 2.5 hours of yoga was HAHA.. YA.. RIGHT. I’ll never wake up that early. The rebel in me was choked that I doubted her and was determined to prove myself wrong. Aware of my weakness, I enlisted powerful support for accountability. I don’t know that I would have gotten this far without it.
If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, try a 40 day challenge! It’s a powerful pattern interrupt. Doing the same things, the same way, every day is easy and predictable. Give something up or do try something you never thought you’d do before. It does wonders for your confidence, trust and courage.
It’s only 40 days. You can do anything for 40 days.