UK based Kundalini Yoga Teacher, Kwali Kumara, opens up about her partner, her music and progressing on the spiritual path
What were you doing before you discovered Kundalini Yoga?
Before I found this spiritual path, I was a tribal psychedelic fire dancer, stilt walking performance artist, dancing with my snakes and my troupe of ‘fairies’ on stage in front of thousands of people. At the time, I loved the shamanic trance-like tribal atmosphere of unity consciousness and then one day I was on stage looking out into the crowd and realised that they were all looking at me as inspiration and I thought: how can I influence them in a more positive way? It was then I knew that I must find a way of using my platform for something much more profound and transformational than just mere entertainment.
So, what prompted you to explore the spiritual world?
I’d already had several ‘otherworldly’ experiences growing up, so I always knew that there was something more. After exploring spirituality, searching for a method that really resonated with me, I finally found kundalini yoga. It was while I was in India practising this style that I intuitively knew it was the right path for me. I experienced some real inner shifts and my old life and friends just fell away to make space for my new life. It was actually the death of my first snake, a python called Kundalini, that inspired me to become a kundalini yoga teacher. I wanted to honour her life by making a commitment to the wisdom she had shared with me, so I signed up for a teacher training course with Shiv Charan Singh who is still to this day my beloved teacher and mentor.
How much of a life changing decision was that?
Well, it completely transformed everything. I think every spiritual path requires sacrifice and I had to make changes and leave behind many things. Some were easier to drop than others. Weirdly, initially, one of the hardest things for me was giving up all my colourful clothes and elaborate headdresses to wear the sacred white attire required to teach kundalini yoga. We wear this from day one of our training and while it does magically cleanse your aura, ironically it can catapult you into your spiritual ego too if you’re not careful.
You also rescue serpents – how did that come about?
It happened by accident really. I was given my first snake by someone who could no longer care for it. A woman overheard me talking about missing my own snake terribly! So, she brought hers to me in a beautiful basket at work and I couldn’t believe how much it resembled the one who had passed. It felt like this was a sign and now my duty to care for snakes. Also, I said to the Universe, ‘If I am meant to keep a snake as a pet then you will send me another ‘ and sure enough they have not stopped arriving at my door ever since. Many people get them as pets before doing their homework and then change their minds about wanting to care for them for various reasons ranging from boredom, lack of research about correct care and the simple fact that they live a very long time and require specific husbandry to keep them healthy. Since that day I have always felt a strong calling to rescue them and give those in need a caring, warm sanctuary to live in. I just can’t turn away ‘a snake in need’.
Many people are still in fear of them as sadly they have been given a bad press. And personally, I know this feeling well as I’ve also experienced a lack of understanding surrounding what I’m doing, which is essentially providing a caring environment for unwanted, abandoned and sometimes mistreated pythons, boa-constrictors and other serpent breeds of all shapes and sizes.
How many snakes have you got now?
There are 26 snakes in the sanctuary – some of those are baby pythons which have just hatched and the largest is a beautiful 13ft Burmese python that I rescued from a nightclub.
Tell us about your serpent healing workshops…
I’m grateful to my teacher Shiv Charan Singh who gave me his blessing to facilitate these workshops with the fundamental structure of a kundalini class. This work gives people the opportunity to reconnect to their own natural life force energy, often referred to as the serpent power. The kundalini energy that resides at the base of our spine. Essentially, I help people get over the anxieties and fears they have surrounding snakes through group healing sessions and sometimes ‘one to ones’ if the phobia is very severe. I facilitate bringing the students to a place of peace where they realise that usually the fear of snakes is a fear of facing their true selves and their own serpent power. There are many reasons for these deeply engrained neuroses which we address together with transformative kriyas and meditations to prepare the participants to share a divine energy exchange with my serpentine friends. It feels that a symbiosis takes place where both student and snake both receive healing from each other. I feel very honoured that the Universe has given me the task of setting up these sacred ceremonies, it is such a joy to witness the student shift from intense fear to immense love in a relatively short space of time and I know the snakes adore the opportunity to receive so many meditative cuddles.
Part of me is intimidated by the fact that I’m one of the only people in the world who does this particular kind of work, it does feels like a great responsibility to deliver it with the utmost integrity. I feel a great commitment to this path and I find it super exciting to guide people to transmute their limitations.
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