I believe that people turn to Kundalini Yoga for two reasons: out of inspiration or out of despair. I came in despair. I have had back problems since I was eleven. I remember my mother being so surprised to see these problems with someone so young. The back pains varied in intensity over the years and reached their peak when I was 28.
At the time I was working as a PhD student at the University of Maastricht. One evening I couldn't get up from my desk and a friend of mine had to carry me down the stairs to take me home. With some heavy painkillers and muscle relaxants, some beer and chips, I spent more than a week just lying in bed. Hardly able to be, I remember thinking in pure despair: "How is it possible that I have so little energy and why is my physical body such a mess at such a young age?" Now that I am writing this, I still feel grief in me.
I believe the universe has responded to my desperate request. A few weeks later, when I recovered a little, the same friend asked if I wanted to come along to a yoga class. I thought it would be good for me to work on my physical body, so I went with him. It was a Kundalini Yoga class. Of course I found it a bit weird. I think we did the Ten Bodies kriya and the Kirtan Kriya (the Sa-Ta-Na-Ma made me feel like I was doing something occult). My friend asked me if we should continue with this. I hesitated a bit, but an inner voice said yes. So we went on. Sometimes weekly, sometimes we missed a few weeks, sometimes more than a few weeks. I think you know the dynamics of starting your practice.
When I was 29, I gained my PhD and moved from Maastricht to Amsterdam to work as an economic advisor at the Economic Development department of the municipality of Amsterdam. My brother, who also started Kundalini Yoga after my enthusiasm, told me he went to an early morning training session called Sadhana in the center of Amsterdam once a month. I decided that I would accompany him on one of his sadhanas on Wednesday morning. But every time my alarm went off at 4 AM, I would snooze and decide to go another time. Weeks passed. One day my brother told me that the next morning a 40-day early morning Sadhana Challenge would start and he challenged me to join him.
The next morning, instead of sleeping through, I jumped out of bed, stepped under the cold shower and cycled with my brother to the Sadhana in the center of Amsterdam. After doing the Sadhana group every morning for two weeks, I felt deep in my being that this could change the course of my life. So I made a commitment to follow this path. After 40 days I continued with Sadhana in the early morning and now more than 13 years later I still do my daily Sadhana. Not always in a group anymore (although I did that daily for the first 7 years) and not always so early (although always before breakfast) or so long (although I always do Japji, some yoga and some mantras). But I never miss a day. It has become my strongest life-enhancing habit and I am grateful for it.
Not long after my first 40 days, I started the Kundalini Yoga teacher training and started teaching. I was ready for some new challenges in my life. At the end of 2009 I decided to quite my job as an economic adviser, I traveled to India and promised myself that when I came back, I would only earn my living by sharing yoga. And boy, how I was challenged in that dedication to myself. In 2010 I met my partner and she soon became pregnant. So now I had a growing family, no job, and only gave two yoga classes a week.
My savings shrank quickly and before I knew it, we were in a financial crisis since my partner was unable to work due to her pregnancy. Fortunately people started asking me if I could also give private lessons (on a very limited scale I did that from 2008). So I started giving more private lessons. I asked € 45 for a private lesson of 90 minutes. And then € 15 would go to the yoga studio owner. This gave me a little more income. Although the extra private customers brought in more money, it was still financially very difficult to make ends meet at the end of the month.
I felt a calling to do more and I decided to give workshops. Giving workshops meant that I needed tot reach out. I was very shy by nature, so this was terrible for me. Although my students loved me, I didn't dare invite them to my workshops. My subconscious and my old programming created all kinds of doom scenarios with people who didn't like me, people who said no, people who thought: who do you think you are to give Kundalini Yoga workshops. There was a strong opposition in me, but the urgency was big enough to face these fears and to continue anyway.
Through self-coaching and the skills to go reach out (and of course my dedication to the practice of Kundalini Yoga) I always had full workshops. My interaction with clients and students was much more relaxed and effective. I saw so many people change their lives for the better through Kundalini Yoga and Coaching. So I decided to create a program called Kundalini Yoga Coaching in which I could share my positive experiences with daily Kundalini Yoga and the enormous positive effect of (self) coaching with others.