Research Notes: Yogic Awakenings & Orgasmic Meditation
“I had never really engaged with a yoga practice fully before, feeling that a Flow based movement sequence should progress past a single yoga mat. I guess I’d always felt that there was something missing for me with yoga; now I had found it…”
This post was written by Tom Dawkins in August 2018 during our Reset LAB summer road trip round Southern Italy.
We arrived in the early afternoon at the Riva Di Ugento campsite, on the south west coast of Puglia, Italy. Making a b-line for the beach, we passed a sign for a free Kundalini Yoga class, held daily at 07:30. Despite her general dislike of early mornings - Claire was instantly on board... while I on the other hand was a little sceptical as I’d never been to a Kundalini yoga class before and was nervous about what to expect. However, knowing deep down that I would love it really - and with Claire’s upbeat and enthusiastic nature to encourage me, I agreed to go along the next day.
Rising early, and undeterred after an appallingly bad nights sleep in a hot stuffy caravan, we headed for a canopy set amongst the dunes. The location alone made me feel relaxed and peaceful - so with an open mind, I took my place in the class of 8. Sitting crossed legged on a small raised platform, was a young Caucasian woman wearing flowing clothes and a turban. I could tell Claire was slightly concerned that I would find the whole thing overly pretentious, but the instructor’s friendly demeanour put me at ease and engaged my curiosity.
The next 90mins was one of the most unusual experiences of my life. The session opened with chanting a mantra, followed by a beautifully calm and gentle warm up which was perfect for mobilising the body at 7:30 in the morning. After 30 mins of light stretching we moved on to what the instructor referred to in Italian as “fire breathing”. This involved conscious breathing for around 15min while sitting crossed legged and contracting the abdominals and pelvic floor on every out breath with a chant. It was incredibly difficult to maintain the rhythm, and a couple of times my abdominals completely stopped responding. By the time the chanting ended, my stomach was very much burning.
As we moved on to a relaxation phase, traditionally the last part of a yoga class - I assumed the class was coming to a close. After an hour of sitting cross legged, something I’d not done since school - my legs were delighted to have the freedom to move; but to my surprise, after 10 mins of relaxation, the instructor once again had us resume a cross legged position and went on to discus the philosophy and themes of the morning’s session.
As the explanation drew to a close, and thinking the session was over - I was confused to find that we again returned to more cross legged fire breathing, thrusting the abdominals and consciously breathing. By the time the session did finally end 30min later, I was in bits. My feet had gone to sleep, my stomach was on fire, I had trembling legs and fatigued scapula - all from sitting up right for the duration of the session, having barely moved.
As I floated away from the class, feeling reenergised and ready for the day, I felt immensely connected to my body and my soul felt like a marshmallow. Anxious about my experience of the class, Claire asked, “How was that?”. I said, “I don’t know, but I want to go again”.
During our stay, I went back every day and quickly became hooked. From breathing, to stretching, basic flows to chanting, I loved it all, but what really kept me returning was the preparation and periods of meditation. This part of the yoga practice completely changed my physical and emotional state, bringing clarity to my thoughts and peace to my body. By the end of the week, I knew that I wanted to make this form of physical meditation a part of my daily practice.
More specifically, what I loved was that each session focused on a different aspect of the body, such as the adrenals or kidneys, but the day that really took my breath away was when we meditated on our pelvic floor.
For me, being a person who is very active and physical day-to-day, experiencing the world kinaesthetically through movement also means being in touch with the sensuality of my body. A shared sense of physical connection has always been something I’ve looked for in a sexual partner - but this energy is not necessarily something I’m in touch with all the time.
In essence, during the pelvic floor meditation practice, we were asked to chant while contracting the pelvic floor and focusing on the energy of the sexual organs. Unexpectedly, after about 3mins, I felt a rush of energy flow throughout my body as if I was on the cusp of orgasm. This moment was both pleasurable and euphoric, and I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. Lasting for about 8mins, I had a wonderful sense of achievement afterwards, feeling I had experienced something totally new and fantastic. I didn’t really know what it was, but I was thrilled by it’s intensity.
I have done a couple of different types of yoga before, with only a cursory understanding that in Kundalini Yoga there is a greater focus on pelvic floor strength. This experience had opened a window for me to a whole new world. After a week of Kundalini yoga classes, I was able explore my experience of the world with more awareness of my sexual energy. Additional experiential changes included reduced anxiety around new social groups and most significant, despite a horrible fear on heights, I found that during a visit to a well known cliff jumping spot, I was able to jump off a nine meter cliff. Something had changed... I wondered what?
To my understanding, the original purpose of yoga was to prepare the mind and body for meditation. By cultivating a spiritual practice of training the body, and developing a connection between body and mind practitioners gain a greater sense of self that helps the practitioner to achieve a higher state of consciousness. However, the only yoga I have ever participated in was for fitness, rehabilitation, or to calm the mind and body before bed. In fact, I had never really engaged with a yoga practice fully before, feeling that a Flow based movement sequence should progress past a single yoga mat. I guess I’d always felt that there was something missing for me with yoga; now I had found it.
After my week of Kundalini yoga, I felt I’d begun a new journey of discovery - unsure where it might lead but excited to find out. After leaving Puglia to travel to Naples, I downloaded a few audiobooks on the Kundalini technique and have been looking for courses and classes in London. Claire reminded me that we have the London Buddhist Centre just across the road from where we live. So I guess the journey will continue there...