I set the coffee pot to start brewing at 4:10 AM.
I put out the clothes I was planning to wear the next day. I did everything I could to send a clear signal to my mind and body that I was doing this. I was going to make the 5 AM Kundalini yoga and Kirtan class.
When I saw the class listed on Mind Body I was intrigued. I've done Kundalini yoga before, and I've always found it has a powerful way of breaking through habits, patterns and mental blocks in a way nothing else does. It just seems to tear down the walls of rigidity and open me up to things I couldn't or wouldn't see from my old perspective.
Sometimes I go to things like this not for the meditation itself, but to remind myself I can be very committed and determined when I want to be. It's a powerful reminder to my mind, my body, my soul that when I want something bad enough, I will do whatever it takes to get there.
I can muster up willpower for anything, but I don't always acknowledge that in myself.
The plan went off without a hitch, I drove downtown, and got there at 5AM and... no one was there.
I looked through the glass door, unsure what to do. The streets were empty. I wrapped my jacket tighter around me, wishing the sun wasn't over an hour away from rising. Occasionally, someone would pass me, and I felt weird and out of place. I knew they were wondering why I was lingering outside this shop in the dark.
I never get up this early, and here I was, full of anticipation for this class that didn't seem to be happening. I didn't understand why I'd felt so powerfully guided to be here, just so I could be disappointed and cold.
Since I was there, I decided to wait. I went back to my car for awhile and finished off my coffee. I visualized someone coming, trying to will this experience into existence. Finally, after what felt like the longest 15 minutes ever, someone came. She was a student, and she assured me the teacher would come.
At last, a woman with a white turban and flowy white clothes showed up, and I knew it was her.
I was glad I'd waited and hadn't driven home to go back to sleep like I'd considered. The class began, and as we went along the Kundalini energized me and awakened me. I didn't feel like I'd gotten up at the torturous hour of 4, but instead, I felt refreshed and grateful everything had worked out.
Kundalini yoga, unlike other yoga, is not a flow from pose to pose. Instead, it's a series of postures that are intended to move energy through your body. The poses themselves are meant to be uncomfortable. Each pose usually involves a fast movement, such as sitting down and twisting left to right, while breathing in and out quickly.
Most of the postures aren't difficult. It's not uncomfortable in the sense that you must be strong and flexible to do them. Rather, you position yourself in a way you normally wouldn't. This is intended to break up blocks, stuck energy, and mental barriers. It gets you out of hard wired thoughts, beliefs and patterns, and frees you into new ideas, feelings, connections, beliefs and also, to a deeper connection to God.
After the class ended at 7:30 (it was two hours!) I thought I'd be exhausted. But I remained energized well into the afternoon, at which point I had to take a nap.
In the days that followed, things started to get interesting quickly.
I spontaneously signed up for aerial yoga, which I've wanted to do for years but never did. I joined a gym with super early classes, and continued to push myself into more uncomfortable places. Getting up at 5AM for the gym has always been a no-go for me, but suddenly I was doing it.
It made me exhausted (and a bit irritated in the beginning), but this snowball continued to pick up momentum. Out of nowhere, I felt I was done with sugar, and quit cold turkey. I hadn't had any alcohol in a few weeks, and I felt done with that also.
And then came the craziest thing. Something I swore I wouldn't do, because it seemed too impossible, too far outside my reach. I gave up coffee. The thing I craved as soon as I opened my eyes. The thing I looked forward to each night, knowing it was part of my morning ritual.
These changes led to more changes, and as my body began to feel stronger and healthier, I returned to regular ashtanga yoga classes. I always felt ashtanga was too challenging for me to really get into it, but then I began practicing the poses on my own, each morning, at 6AM.
I was becoming a new person, and one that felt empowered in her body.
I was no longer a slave to coffee, sugar, wine and my alarm clock. I felt freer than I ever had. I became healthier than I have ever been in my life. And it all began with that one morning of massive discomfort, which was accompanied by a powerful feeling of determination and commitment.
Sometimes the very thing we want is right on the other side of a little discomfort. I had no idea where all of this was going to lead, but I'm so grateful I opened this door. It has given me new insights on myself, what I want and how I approach my life. It has energized me and awakened me in ways I didn't know I could be.