Body-Friendly. Size-Inclusive. Kundalini yoga for self-love.

My free, online Kundalini yoga content is coming soon! For now, heres a quick note from me and an invite to sign up to be notified when we go live! As a bonus, I’ll send a meditation directly to your inbox when we launch.

Sarah Sapora Kundalini yoga

A note from Sarah:
Kundalini yoga and meditation has played a HUGE role in my wellness journey. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Studying Kundalini has allowed me to find center and stillness within my own body; there has been no single tool more valuable to me in the past few years than learning how to sit through challenging moments. I am SO excited to be able to teach you tools that have helped me in a safe, relatable and size-friendly way. I am honored to be a plus size woman who can share this technology in such a way that makes it accessible to other bodies who, just like myself in the past, have not felt welcome or visually represented within the community.

I will teach you what the practice is and how you can incorporate it in your own life. (I've had the pleasure of teaching women several times in the last few months and it is such an honor to see how Kundalini helps them to find peace and power in their own body.) I will show you what a larger body looks like doing Kundalini and I will share how I modify movements and different kriya and postures to fit the needs of my larger body.

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As always, as a teacher, I honor the deep Kundalini tradition that comes before me. As a Caucasian woman, I honor that this practice is not culturally MINE to own, but something I must have respect and reverence for. In support of this, a percentage of all proceeds from in-person classes will go to a non-profit that directly serves marginalized bodies in the yoga space. All the general live Kundalini content I will share online will be free.

Photo by Hope Leigh: Body + Love WOrkshop 2018

Photo by Hope Leigh: Body + Love WOrkshop 2018

Kundalini Yoga 101: The Questions You Probably Want Answers To

What is Kundalini yoga?
Kundalini yoga is known as the the Yoga of Awareness. It is an ancient yogic technology that uses Pranayama (the controlling of the breath and “life force” through the body), meditation, mantra, and movement, to increase consciousness, build your physical vitality, and unblock and empower your energetic chakras in your body.

 What does that really mean? It helps you show up as a greater, more badass version of yourself.

Video from HOPE Leigh

Who can do Kundalini yoga?
Anyone! You do not need to be “skinny” or young to practice Kundalini. If you have a body and you can breathe, you can do yoga. The “wellness” industry we live with today has many of us believing that we are not good enough to use tools, like yoga, to create change in our lives. Bullsh*t. Wellness and self-improvement belongs to EVERY body!

photo by matthew nadu: body + Love workshop 2018

photo by matthew nadu: body + Love workshop 2018

Kundalini Yoga is a yoga for householders. This means, very simply, it is for everyday people like you and me. People who have to cope with daily challenges and stress of life. It is not exclusive. Kundalini is INCLUSIVE and does not require an elite physical or mental state in order to practice.

Is Kundalini yoga a religion?
No. Kundalini is yogic technology. It is universal and denominational. It does have themes of spirituality to it, but it is not a religion in any way at all.

I Googled and saw some weird stuff about Kundalini online. Is this a cult?
No. If you pop into a class, it might look funny to you – people chanting and wearing white. Dancing? Moving around? Breathing all weird?  I get it! Let’s break it down.

Why do people doing Kundalini wear white?
It’s all about science. First, darker colors capture more energy and heat (think of a dark shirt in the sun) than light. White clothes are a blank canvas and reflect the energy of others so that your being can focus on YOU and your energy.

 Yoji Bhajan explained it this way: “Colors create an uncontrollable action in your subconscious mind of inspiration, productivity and expansion. Colors have an effect on consciousness. We wanted to develop a very fast, progressive, spiritual and technical method of all the colors, so we have adopted the one color of the seven colors, which is white.”

I read that Kundalini is satanic energy. WTF?
Let’s get real – Western, patriarchal society hasn’t always been keen on Eastern culture or things they can’t explain with Judeo-Christian teachings. So, here’s the deal.

According to the Yogic tradition, the idea of kundul (which is Sanskrit for for “circular”) was adapted into Hatha yoga in the 15th century. By the 16th century, it was part of the Yoga Upanishads. The idea is that we are all born with a coil of energy in our root at the base of our spines. This energy is what fuels and empowers us. Kundalini means “spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine” which is often conceptualized as a coiled-up serpent. When we practice Kundalini yoga, we awaken the sleeping Kundalini Shati from its coiled base at our spine, through the six chakras that journey up the spine, and out through our seventh, or crown, chakra. But, wait, what are chakras? I like they way they say it here, “Chakras are wheels, or hubs of energy, along which energy or prana, travels like a superhighway to distribute energy throughout the body. Like a snake being charmed out of a basket by a bansuri, Kundalini weaves and coils, waking up energy and clearing stagnancy along the way. Without the fangs.”

Kundalini is about awaking the energy that resides in your body as you are born. For whatever reason, many of us are living with blocked energy. Fear, life, pain, whatever. Kundalini is about UNBLOCKING your energy and living in the most vibrant you.  That’s it!

Photo by matthew nadu: sarah sapora’s body + love workshop 2018

Photo by matthew nadu: sarah sapora’s body + love workshop 2018

Who is Yogi Bhajan and how does he play a role in Kundalini tradition?

Let’s borrow this from Gaia. “We in the west basically wouldn’t have any idea or access to Kundalini Yoga if it weren’t for Yogi Bhajan. Born Harbhajan Singh Khalsa, in Kot Harkan, India, to a Sikh medical doctor father, and a Catholic educated Hindu mother, his fairly wealthy family owned much of the property in their village, and served as landlords. At that time, and the centuries prior, the practices and techniques of Kundalini Yoga were passed down in a very secretive, elitist way from teacher to well selected student. Yogi Bhajan received these teachings firsthand and mastered them by the age of 16 ½.

The exact origin of Kundalini Yoga is unknown, but historical records, referred to as the Upanishads, a sacred Vedic collection of writings dating back to 1,000 B. C., cited the science of Kundalini energy and spiritual philosophies. The expression of these was developed over time as a body science, now referred to as kriyas or actions. In other

types of yogic practices, these may be referred to as asanas. The word Upanishads has a literal translation similar to that of the wordasana: sitting down to hear the teachings of the master. The root of the word asana literally means to sit close to (the teacher).

In the late 1940s, the violent upheaval of India forced Harbhajan Singh Khalsa’s family to flee Punjab (what is now Pakistan) to New Delhi, and in the next number of years, he joined the Indian Civil Service, and began working for the government. Yogi Bhajan was offered a position as a new yoga studies department at University of Toronto in Canada where he emigrated in 1968.”

 Yogi Bhajan had a vision he would bring Kundalini yoga to the west, so he came to the US to TEACH TEACHERS how to share the technology and elevate their students.

OK, Sarah. You’re a white chick teaching yoga. Isn’t that cultural appropriation?
I am SO glad you asked. This is a topic that we should be talking about, and we don’t. I’ve got a big ass blog post coming where I talk about this within the next month- stay tuned. For now, I will just say this.

See this? This is cultural appropriation.

See this? This is cultural appropriation.

Important: Everyday Feminism describes the idea of cultural appropriation as a process that “takes a traditional practice from a marginalized group and turns it into something that benefits the dominant group – ultimately erasing its origins and meaning.”

So…Yes. Western yoga culture, as whole, as most of us know it definitely has big elements of cultural appropriation. It has lost the meaning and original intention of yoga as a practice and turned it into something completely different. (Does everyone fall into this boat? No! But, ask yourself the last time you heard someone, totally out of context, tell you “Namaste” and pause… Side note; I once went to a kettlebell workout class and the teacher closed by saying “Namaste.” That was weird.) Western yoga culture as it currently exists, places more value on slogans and perfection of Athleticism than it does on the spiritual meaning of a yoga practice. Yoga is not a “hot new trend” for people to pay lots of money to buy into. Yoga has a deep, rich, and VERY long cultural tradition; white people didn’t invent yoga and it’s REALLY important to remember that.

So, what makes you different?
Also a very fair question. Physically, I am not different. I am a Caucasian woman and that is something that can’t change.  That being said, there are things I actively do to minimize any negative footprint I may have as a teacher.

  • I have deep humility for the practice and a strong awareness that Kundalini is not MINE to own, but something I can share and translate for people.

  • I am committed to using sacred language with educated respect. When I chant, meditate, or share teachings in Gurmukhi, I will make every effort to assure the correct pronunciation, usage, and meaning of the language.

  • I acknowledge that, as a white person, I have advantages that other marginalized persons do not have. Because of this…
    - I will continue to seek partnerships and opportunities to uplift, and give space to, teachers who represent marginalized communities.
    - A percentage of proceeds from every in-person Kundalini class I teach will go directly to support a marginalized teacher of color in supporting their practice and work.

  • I am committed to offering all my online, “Live” Kundalini resources for free.

  • I will always remember that my commitment as a teacher is to Forklift my students, and not further my own agenda.

I will be talking more about my personal experience with this in the future. For now, here are two articles I have come across that I believe do a good job of addressing the subject. Here and here.

Where did you do your Teacher Training?
I did my teacher training in Los Angeles with the wonderful people at Wanderlust. I am a Level 1 Kundalini Yoga Teacher as taught by Yogi Bhajan.