Working on becoming a "better human" is some serious work. It makes us raw and vulnerable, it opens up our wounds from the past, and when we consider taking risks, whether it's in our work or personal life, we find ourselves questioning our worth or wondering if it's worth the rejection or potential failure.
Perhaps you are going through tough times, and it's just one thing after the other, and perhaps you are conflicted between choosing what you think will make you totally happy (but no guarantees) and what is practical and logical (the path your parents and the rest of the world would breathe a sigh of relief for).
So you are confused, but not really; just fearful. And there is no humor in it. And you meditate for answers and you can't get clarity on the next step.
Because the answers are in the present moment. And it's in the play rather than the suffering.
Instead you are bouncing between the past and future... which might offer some insight and direction, because knowing what we've been through could inform us on where we would rather be. But if you are in the throes of your karmic drama, it's likely you aren't there for insight and direction. You are there in the comfort zone of stuckness.
Just as we practice meditation to develop personal strength and clarity (right?), letting play into our moments brings in the lightness you need to stand in front of your sh*@ with neutrality, to accept the challenge, and to pay ball with the challenge that stands before you.
And when you accept it with neutrality -- when you show up unattached to the outcome but ready to make the decision that most honestly reflects you, you have activated the burn button for this karmic lesson.
In play, you don't mock the work in front of you; you don't ignore it and keep defaulting to the same pattern, you also don't take it too seriously, causing more karma. Play lightens the mood. It sheds light on the dark moment. It gives you the power to smile honestly and recalibrate the energies that surround you in support of your divine purpose. It's not easy work, but hell's not easy either, and play sure gets you there faster.
What gets in the way is our inner child that has not been given permission to fully embrace her tantrums like children do and have thereby lost the ability to tap into play. The wounded child refuses to play, but then the moment you give her the ball, she hardly hesitates to bounce it. She just needed the ball to remember, retool, and find the proper support.
I'm not done with my karmic lessons, of course. But I did have a serious one over a decade ago. It included the end of my marriage, foreclosure on our home, a repossession, bankruptcy, and sorting through the web of lies and dealing with people close to me with drug addictions. During these challenging times, I learned to play. I received each "terrible thing" that happened *to* me as another thing to burn off, and I didn't want to waste my time lengthening the process. I played ball. I stood at home base with my bat at hand, over my shoulder, ready to swing, and I said, "come at me."
I took risks with work that my parents didn't approve of, and I played with my children, scheduled playdates, taught yoga, chanted with friends, and smiled all the way through-- not hiding behind the smile, but seriously feeling the trust I had in myself and in the Universe that I was making the right decisions.
Because I knew that all I had was the present moment, and in that moment, I knew what had to come next.
Play releases the chains of the past, and of the fear of the future. It brings you back into the present moment. And it relaxes the mind and body, which attracts good things. Learning to play, and understanding that play was not a luxury was the blessing of my life. Somehow I got it and had the courage to follow it.
Learn to play. Childplay.*
Learn to trust. Level 1.
*Take a look at this, especially if you work with children in any capacity: teachers, therapists, social workers, parents, anyone with an inner child. Let's break the cycle and help children hold on to their innocence.
by Jodh Kaur
Let's get serious... actually let's not - life is way too serious these days! Some of you may be like me and have a tendency toward the serious-ness of life. While I do have a fun loving even funny side to me, I often find my default is the serious Jodh Kaur- even my name, "Princess of God who is an UNDAUNTED and Brave Warrior for Truth and Righteousness" has a serious flair to it, does it not?
I have found that my career choices - Crisis Social Worker, working in Corporate America and yes even Yoga Instructor and Business Owner - all serious stuff! Right? Even my personal growth and development journey - wrestling with myself to be better (whatever that means), happier, kinder, more communicative, emotive, REAL (the list goes on) - all VERY serious! Right? Well that's what I thought anyway. But somewhere along the way, I started thinking - where's the fun? Where is the playful side of me? How do I lighten up in my teaching and my daily life? 🤔
I have always taken the teachings of Kundalini Yoga, this technology, my practice and my teaching very seriously. After all, this is life changing, transformational technology!
However, I experienced a shift last year during our Teacher Training where I witnessed how FUN teaching & practicing yoga can be and how we can truly use it to work with all aspects of self, including drawing out our inner child. Our first trainer, Gurudass, had the challenge of coming into UYC where she knew no one other than Savitree and me, yet through her kind and loving teaching style, we experienced teamwork, sharing, supporting each other, even strengthening our intuition in a totally light and joyful way.
We quickly learned that Gurudass loves to bring the inner child out of us serious adults. Her teaching and travels around the world have provided her with the unique ability to engage with her students quickly and authentically (without using any of those ice breakers we all try to avoid at networking events). Though our own experiences with Gurudass and her teaching, we knew we wanted to bring her and her ChildPlay Yoga course to UYC so that the Midwest would have the opportunity to call out the inner child in all of us.
Gurudass calls ChildPlay Yoga - the Yoga of Fun. Yes it's an amazing opportunity to learn how to teach yoga to children, but what is even more valuable it is an opportunity to teach yourself how to reconnect with the child inside of you.
We invite you to join us November 9-11 for ChildPlay Yoga. In honor of our anniversary this month, we are offering special pricing for this course. Register by July 25 and save $125 off the full price of the course.*
Have questions? Let us know.
Come play with us!
by Jodh Kaur
In July 2011, we stepped into the dusty indoor market on Granville and Broadway in Chicago to create our first space. With the help of our community, we hung tarps to create walls, we swept the dusty floors best we could, laid out the mats and brought flowers for our altar. In this pop up market - Urban Yoga Chicago was born. We offered Kundalini Yoga Saturday morning and Mantra Meditation Sunday morning each weekend for the rest of the summer.
Over the next couple of years, we chanted and cooked together, we did flash mob style meditations in the mall, on the Metra and in the park and we popped in on yoga classes around the city. In 2013, we rented space at another yoga center in Chicago and offered our first Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training and it was during this training, we found our home in Evanston. If you have been to our center, you have seen the crockpots and teapots in the kitchen. Each weekend of teacher training we would pack those crockpots (and the food that would go into them), the tea and all of our supplies for the weekend and head to the yoga studio where we would unpack and set up. All of that work motivated us to find a home of our own - something we hadn't before considered.
We moved into UYC in April 2014 and officially opened our doors in May. It has and continues to be a tremendous journey filled with lessons, laughter and personal growth. Through all of this Savitree and I have forged a relationship and partnership that is based on direct communication, mutual love & respect, understanding & appreciating each others' gifts and allowing each other to lead through our strengths. Each and every day we are uplifted, empowered and sustained by our shared love of this practice, of this community, and in our mission to hold space for each of you, in your spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional growth and development. We hold space for you to be the light and that part of Special that only you can be.
In celebration of you and the UYC community, we invite you to our Anniversary Open House and Celebration on July 14 from 12-4pm. We are offering mantra, sound healing, food & community time and drums & dancing. Register for one event or stay all day and if you happen to be busy that day, we would love for you to swing by for a quick hug and a Sat Nam -we would love to see you!
Please click here for a description of the day's events. We ask you to register for each event individually so we know how many to expect throughout the day.
We are so grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for being a part of this community and for your love and support over the last 7 years.
With absolute love and gratitude,
PS In April, we were featured on the Podcast Ready.Aim.Empire where we shared a portion of our journey. We invite you to listen to that episode here (it is also available on iTunes, episode 206).
PSS Stay tuned for our special July offer!
by Jenny Arrington
Applause erupted as an earnest couple pressed the pads of their feet together and pushed. They had reached the full expression of their partner version of Upavistha Konasana, all four legs straight as they held hands and balanced on their sitz bones. The other couples in the room clapped and smiled with the compassion of those who had just moments earlier wondered if they would figure out what looked and felt like a very challenging position. Six couples in the cozy loft at Urban Yoga Chicago were embarking on a Couples Yoga workshop.
This partner pose was a perfect metaphor for relationship challenges. In a committed relationship we can find ourselves in scenarios that feel uncomfortable, challenging, and seemingly impossible to overcome. In Couples Yoga these scenarios are recreated in a supportive, calm environment. I share cues to help the couple achieve poses safely, while encouraging their communication. Some of these partner poses feel insurmountable at first and people think they aren’t strong or flexible enough to do them. Their first perceptions are deceiving though because it doesn’t take brute strength or an advanced yoga practice to achieve these shapes. The key is clear communication and working together. Every time, without fail, the couples delight in what they’ve achieved after a little bit of patient communication, along with some trial and error.
Along with overcoming challenges, couples will get to explore the edges of their comfort zones in a safe, controlled environment. Fear is the catalyst for most interpersonal conflict. Our brain is wired to pay attention to fear so whenever there is a perceived threat, we often let our thoughts run away in a storm of negative thoughts. With couples, the fears generally hover around finances, sex, desire, jealousy, and power differentials. Couples Yoga allows couples to be in a safe environment while experiencing small doses of fear. I’m right there to help guide participants to the edge of their comfort zone so they can experience sitting with that little bit of fear and working with their partner to move through it.
Erin Miller shared her experience in the workshop, “Couples yoga was a wonderful way to introduce my partner to yoga and my studio. We learned exercises that allowed us to be part of and assist in one another’s yoga experience. Working through those challenges together was transformative!”
Savitree Kaur also shared her experience. “I went in tentative, unsure if I would become irritated, or if this would actually be fun for both of us. It was soooo much fun. This was a fantastic option away from the typical dinner and movie that we could do together that elevated our sense of togetherness, strategy, partnership and playfulness. It was another way to get to know each other physically and as a couple in a setting where we are both equally responsible for the experience we have. And while that may be true with everything in life, you get to see it unfold immediately, right in front of you.”
Everyone’s comfort zone has different parameters and different triggers. Some participants may feel some discomfort or embarrassment with the shared mouth-to-mouth breath work we do. Others may be pushed to their edge by the chanting or the poses. We want to trigger a little healthy discomfort so the couples get to practice how to help each other. In this environment, there’s always victory. There is enough time and support so nobody is left sitting alone with their fear. There are always spontaneous hugs, kisses, and snuggles throughout the workshop. These are unambiguous testimonies of success and connection.
Yoga is about the union of the body, mind, and spirit. A couple who practices yoga together puts themself on fertile ground to continue the growth of their union.
“Don’t live with each other, but for each other. Hold an attitude of gratitude.”
- Yogi Bhajan
Couples Yoga returns Sunday, June 24 1:30-3:30pm.
The price increases June 16.. Space is limited, register today!
by Jodh Kaur
Kundalini Yoga Quotes:
“I’d never felt anything like it; it was just an opening of energy and a feeling of such liberation.” -Marika Bethel, owner, Glowing House