Sacred Sweat - Yoga and Heat as a Practice to Deepen into Soul

We all know yoga has a profound effect that runs much deeper than the physical body. For thousands of years, we have turned to yoga as a practice of deepening into the complexities and beauty of the human experience. Through this practice, we use the physical body as a portal into understanding, appreciating and honoring the many layers of our Self. Today, yoga gets recommended for a wide range of matters including stress, anxiety, pain, grief, injuries, mobility, pregnancy, focus and much more. We know, through anecdotal experiences and now through science that yoga affects us physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Running alongside the tradition of yoga, many cultures around the world have been using sweat as a form of ritual and ceremony for hundreds of years. Spanning from the indigenous people of the Americas to the Turks, the Russians, Scandinavian, Finnish and Japanese, sweat is an effective way of communicating to a deeper part of the Self, which is our primary intention with the yoga that we offer at The Kali Collective.

From saunas, to steams, to sweat lodges, sweat ceremonies which were lead by local guides, were used as a way to heal, purify, pray, and reestablish a connection to the deep Self, ancestors, and collective wisdom. Once the door was locked and the ceremony began, the heat allowed for emotional guards and walls to be broken down so true vulnerability could emerge. Deep emotions that were locked away could be felt, gratitude for the body could be experienced, and connection with the community was created. 

The ceremony of sweat created a sacred space for people to come together and experience something deeply personal within a loving community. Experiences such as release, purification, strength, healing, and deep presence can be expected in the heat, and when combining that with the power of yoga, a potent space for transformation can be born. 

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Being in the heat while practicing yoga offers a space for you to be challenged and encouraged to face the limitations you may have placed on yourself. We can peel back the layers to see what arises in us when we are uncomfortable, challenged or tired and then have the opportunity to confront those limiting beliefs. 

We have no doubt that a profound physical experience can occur while practicing yoga in a heated room. However our aim is that by infusing several sacred traditions together, we can create an experience that runs below the physical and will take you into a deeper connection with the essence of you. 

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The Most Loving, The Most Fierce Mother

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Kali is easily one of the most misunderstood figures in ancient mythology. To simply look at her image without seeing her symbolically or with complexity, one might just see a violent image of an enraged black woman. Many people shy away or dismiss this figure due to staying on the surface and taking powerful symbols literally, however Kali is not an energy to dismiss. For those who know the basic qualities of Kali, we know that she epitomises the dark, mysterious, vast, infinite unknown. She works via death and destruction and is not for the faint of heart. However there is a side to her that often gets missed and that is her as the all loving Mother.

When we think of the role of Mother we might immediately turn to qualities such as warmth, kindness and softness. And although these are indeed qualities of Mother, they are not the only ones nor should they be placed at a higher value. Another face of Mother is the face of Kali; fierce, relentless and direct. What all faces of Mother have in common though, is Love. For anyone who truly wants to grow and experience self transformation, preferring one expression of Love over the other may be a mistake. Sometimes the love, the lessons, the nourishment we want is not what we actually need. Sometimes we really do need a strong, tough, fierce love that might be painful and knock you off your feet as a way to transcend lifelong limitations we’ve placed on ourselves.

Kali is not a Mother to dismiss because she doesn’t show up the way that is preferred. She is a Mother that will love, tirelessly and endlessly, to hold you as you transform. Sometimes that Love just might need to be a bit tough and scary.

KALI THE MOTHER

By Swami Vivekananda

The stars are blotted out,

The clouds are covering clouds,

It is darkness vibrant, sonant.

In the roaring, whirling wind

Are the souls of a million lunatics

Just loose from the prison-house,

Wrenching trees by the roots,

Sweeping all from the path.

The sea has joined the fray,

And swirls up mountain-waves,

To reach the pitchy sky.

The flash of lurid light

Reveals on every side

A thousand, thousand shades

Of Death begrimed and black —

Scattering plagues and sorrows,

Dancing mad with joy,

Come, Mother, come!

For Terror is Thy name,

Death is in Thy breath,

And every shaking step

Destroys a world for e'er.

Thou "Time", the All-Destroyer!

Come, O Mother, come!

Who dares misery love,

And hug the form of Death,

Dance in Destruction's dance,

To him the

Mother comes

My Journey into Stillness | By Steph Wall

A series of events put me in a situation Ive never been in before.; an experience more powerful than anything I could have ever paid for, any course I could have ever taken, or any advice Ive ever heard. As a person who thrives on excitement, determination and achievement, this experience came to me in the most unlikely of places: I gave everything up and got really still.

 

It all started because I decided to take a job overseas. Had it not been for prior commitments at home, I would have leapt across the pond to the UK immediately. Instead, I have had to spend several months in transition. I decided it that would be perfect to slow down and enjoy my remaining time in the beautiful Okanagan. So I left my jobs, moved in with my boyfriend got super quiet.

 

I was one of those people that busied myself beyond belief and could give you a thousand reasons why

 

My life used to be insane. I was one of those people that busied myself beyond belief and could give you a thousand reasons why. I was teaching around 15 classes a week, working twice a week as a caregiver for a quadriplegic and going to University. I practiced yoga once a day and my spare time consisted of juggling friends, a relationship, homework and marketing my yoga business. So when I took time off, I thought it would all slow down - but I quickly busied myself in other ways doing things I never had time for before like cooking, studying yoga, running and seeing friends and family.

 

It didnt take long for me to realize I was filling my time to ease the intense anxiety I had towards doing nothing. In the rare quiet moments, I felt all the things I was trying to hide. I found myself anxious to get things done when I had nothing to do. I would create weird little deadlines for things that held no importance. I felt guilty for relaxing, as if I didnt earn it. I struggled with my self-worth as I quickly realized I valued myself by who I was as a teacher not a person: my pay-cheques could no longer determine my value because I wasnt getting any. Worst of all, I questioned my relationship with my boyfriend many times. Now we were living together and spending much more time with each other than before. My insecurities bubbled up fast as the tables turned and now time spent with my boyfriend revolved around his schedule and not mine. He was the one that needed some space now, not me. I had to let go of the control I held for so long in order to find a compromise with him. It hit me hard realizing how much I love control -even harder seeing all the excuses I used and believed as a way to justify distracting myself.

 

I realized then, that it was time I had a serious sit down with myself. I made a deal with myself to get more curious about this illusive stillness I was trying to avoid. Here was my opportunity to look straight at the deepest parts of myself and see what I knew it would be the ugly truths behind my anxiety, guilt, insecurities, lack of worth and value, and need to control.

So I got even quieter. I enforced limitations on my phone use: turning it off between 9 p.m and a.m. and only using it on wireless. Realizing the studio was my little escape, I began practicing yoga at home, and no more than necessary. I stopped filling my schedule to the brim with coffee dates and dedicated much more time to just being still, allowing myself to go wandering outside without my phone, to lay in the sun without checking the time, to sit and meditate without setting a timer, to lay on the couch watching repeats of The Mindy Project without feeling guilty. Most importantly, I created space to observe the emotions that would start to rise from the nothingness and then patiently watch them leave. And the lesson I learned was priceless.

My conclusion is this: I understand that the things I do are not nearly as important as I thought. Who I am is what’s important. My friends and family dont care if I teach zero classes or 15 a week; they care that Im happy and healthy. The pay-cheques from overworking were temporary moments of satisfaction that hold little real value now. And all those extra classes I jammed into my schedule because I thought I should, didnt help me feel any less guilty when I sat down to relax. All that happened when I glorified my busy-ness was I let the most special feelings you could have about yourself come from what I did not from who I was.


Feeling valuable without a decent income is difficult for me. So is feeling loved without a jillion coffee dates, and feeling worthy without teaching full classes, or feeling wanted when my boyfriend needs more space. Through working to cultivate these things on my own, though, Ive learned that I cannot allow the external world to define me; as the universe continues to teach me, all those feelings of love, worth, value, and security can still be present when you have nothing at all. Because stillness is not nothing.