As a student of Kundalini Yoga, I am aware of how much of this sacred practice is a personal process. My decision to get up or not get up for Sadhana. Personal. My decision to engage in a 40-day practice. Personal. Even my decision to attend a class or a workshop with other students, I find to be personal. Because, at the end of the day, whether I’m practicing in a group or by myself at home, what happens on my yoga mat is really MY dance (sometimes a graceful waltz and sometimes a full-body dry-heave set to music) between my Ego and my Higher Self.
When I step into the role of being a teacher of Kundalini Yoga, I am also aware of all of the ways in which I challenge my students to engage with their individual process. I ask them to come to their mats, close their eyes, and be with their own experience. We, of course, tune-in together and acknowledge our connection to the collective consciousness - but I continually encourage them to tap into their own internal experience.
Despite all of this, I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately and what it means to come together as a group of yogis. If you are a teacher who is blessed to have a group of active Kundalini Yogis, coming to class each week, I would ask you to consider: How are you working to build community within your class? How can you find a balance between encouraging individual growth and healing, while also honoring the power and support available within the group experience?
There are, of course, kriyas that can be practiced as a group (the Healing Ring of Tantra or Balance the Mind in the Group Energy are two awesome ones!) or even Venus Kriyas - that include partner work. However, I have found that one of warmest and simplest ways to grow community in the class environment is by offering tea and cookies after class. And, I mean, really. . .who doesn’t like cookies?!
There are stories of Gurmukh doing this in the early days of her teaching - offering students tea and cookies in her living room, following class. This is by no means a novel idea. But, in my opinion, it’s one of the best.
By offering tea and cookies, several things happen. First, you hold space and encourage students to stay tuned-into their personal experience while on their mat. But, you then give them the opportunity to connect about their shared experience at the end of class. Also, this simple offering provides students with a chance to be of service - supporting those who might have had an intense experience with a kriya or meditation. Even if students don’t feel like verbally processing their experience, just sitting and sharing quiet space with others can be powerful. You provide everyone with the ability to ground and process, fully integrating before going about the rest of their day.
Give it a try at your next class and watch your students linger and your community blossom!
Yogi’s Favorite Cookies
1 ½ cups spelt flour*
1 ¾ cups old fashioned rolled oats
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ t salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups of mixed nuts and seeds of your choice (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hempseeds, shredded coconut, pecans, etc.)
1 cup of mixed dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, goji berries, chopped dates, etc.)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup molasses
1 cup almond milk
1 cup cacao nibs or chocolate chunks (dark)
*this recipe is vegan and can be adjusted to be gluten-free with a different type of flour substituted for spelt. You can experiment, based on the needs of your class.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine spelt flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Mix well.
Add in oats, seeds, nuts, coconut and dried fruit. Stir to combine.
In a medium sized bowl mix molasses, milk and coconut oil. Beat until well blended.
Add to dry mixture in 1/3 increments stirring until fully combined between each addition.
If the mixture is too wet to form cookies, add extra flour in one tablespoon increments.
Form large cookies and place on baking sheets.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. Cookies are done when the edges start to turn golden and the tops are set.
Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Yogi Tea Recipe for Larger Groups
This recipe yields 1 gallon of Yogi Tea. I’ve invested in some basic Airpots to transport Yogi Tea to and from class. They can be found here, fairly inexpensively.
12 cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp. cloves
3 tbsp. black peppercorns
1/2 cup crushed cardamon pods
32 thick coins of fresh ginger
2 tbsp. of black tea
Boil spices in one gallon of water for 10-15 minutes. In our house, we like to go for a stronger “brew" and actually boil our spices in the water for several hours. Feel free to adjust to your taste. Following the boil, add the black tea and steep for 2-minutes. Remove from heat and strain.
For a yoga class, I don’t pre-add milk, as a standard Yogi Tea recipe might state. Instead, I bring almond milk or hemp milk along to class, with honey, and allow people to adjust to their own preferences.