Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Kundalini Yoga Summer Solstice in New Mexico

Ego Eradicator warm up at the first day of White Tantric
This is my second summer solstice festival. The first one was three years ago in Fondjouan, France where I was still new to Kundalini Yoga. 

The festival is a nine-day event organized by 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Wholly Organization) each year to celebrate the summer solstice, the longest day and shortest night of the year [in the Northern hemisphere] with Kundalini Yoga, meditation and White Tantric Yoga. 

The highlight is the White Tantric Yoga, a three-day group meditation done in pairs which is held on the first day of summer solstice. It is described as "an ancient and unique yogic science that accelerates spiritual growth by dissolving, deep-rooted subconscious blocks through the direction of a facilitator and the energy of Yogi Bhajan, the Mahan Tantric." Since Yogi Bhajan's passing in October 2004, a video is played on a giant screen is shown where he is giving instructions.

There are two places in the world where the summer solstice festival is held - in New Mexico, where the gathering started in 1969; and in France. This year  for me is at Yogi Bhajan's Ram Das Puri ranch in Espanola, New Mexico  located in a high desert terrain with an altitude of 7,000 feet and temperature ranging from 28-35°C during the day and drops down to 15-20°C in the evening. 
It was terribly hot. I was drinking lots of water, and the special electrolyte drink made with water, lemon juice, orange juice concentrate and salt.  Despite this, I did get altitude sickness on my third day there.
Drive to Guru Ram Das Puri

Before White Tantric, for six days I attended several  kundalini yoga and meditation classes and workshops facilitated by popular and renowned teachers. The yoga plus the strictly vegan food served as some kind of body-mind-spirit cleansing  in preparation of the White Tantric. Yogi Bhajan described the process “At a solstice, you have to break your patterns. You are here to go through certain changes. And you cannot live intellectually all your life. You have to live by the power of your soul.”

My regimen consisted of a very cold shower at 3 am (there's no hot water), morning sadhana at 3:45 am, 7:15 am class, breakfast of spicy potato-celery-onion soup and bananas at 8:30am, two classes, quinoa tabouli for lunch at 1:00pm, rest at 2:00pm, another two classes in the afternoon, watermelon snack in between, dinner of spicy mung beans and rice at 5:30, evening program and end the day with a gong bath at 8:30pm. I would be in bed by 10pm, completely exhausted.
3:45am sadhana

At Snatam Kaur's Compassionate Living workshop
Guru Singh leading the all star musicians
On the day of the White Tantric on the first day of summer solstice, you can just imagine how the energy was after doing six days of this type of cleansing. We were more than 3,000 people from all over the world,  dressed in white, wearing turbans,  lined up in rows in diagonal z-lines, and seated in front of our partners with knees touching. 

3 days of White Tantric Yoga group meditation
Mind you, the meditation was not easy - it even felt like torture! Imagine you're holding a Kundalini yoga meditation pose for 31 to 62 minutes long. My partner was very tall.  We were not allowed to talk and had to gaze into each other's eyes. In one of the meditation, the right arm was extended and index and middle fingers touched each other's  forehead. As my partner's arms were much longer, I felt like my head kept being pushed back. It hurt my neck and I was getting irritated by the weight of his hands but I carried on and pushed on, determined to finish the meditation.

On the last day of White Tantric, right after lunch, the meditation was to extend the arms up 60-degrees, with fingertips touching each other for 62 minutes chanting Ardas Bhaee. Halfway through the meditation, I couldn't hold the tears back. I was bawling hysterically and shaking. I must have been the only one crying at that point. I couldn't feel my body anymore and I found myself floating up, up through the roof, up to the clear blue sky. The people around me, including my partner, became a blur of white. 

After three days on that strict routine in the middle of the desert, I came to realize that it's true -- We are all connected, we're just pure energy.
all smiles after three days of White Tantric

The solstice is an auspicious time to honor the sun and recharge ourselves. I've done three so far. Last year was actually my first time to complete all three days. In France, I did only the first day since someone warned me that it's not safe for beginners to do the three days. This is baloney! If you're heart is into it, you can do all three days. The second one was in October 2013 in Bangkok. As Yogi Bhajan recommends, “You come to Summer Solstice. Here, you recharge your batteries, straighten up the line of endurance, bring courage in yourself, grow through physiological nervous energy systems, come to an understanding that you can sit with somebody for 72 hours, and not freak out.” 

For those of you who want to do the sadhana meditation for the year which is on the 4th sutra "Understand Through Compassion Or You Will Misunderstand The Times" click here. Happy Solstice!