Kathryn E. Livingston

I recently began a 40-day sadhana as part of my Kundalini yoga teacher training. I’ve practiced a number of 40-day sadhanas before (including most of the Spirit Voyage global sadhanas, which I loved). But this one seems different. I’m practicing the challenging Nabhi Kriya (it starts with ten minutes of alternate leg lifts!) followed by Kirtan Kriya.

I must say I approach Nabhi Kriya like something that has to be conquered, whereas Kirtan Kriya seems like trusted a friend. But what strikes me about sadhana this time around is how much it reminds me of marriage.

Mirabai Ceiba’s Kirtan Kriya recording

Yes, marriage. With sadhana, there are plenty of days when I just don’t feel like getting up. I’d rather stay under my warm, cozy covers. I’d rather not be exercising (sitting with a book and a hot cup of tea sounds better to me). But I’m committed; I’ve committed to doing this sadhana and so I am going to pull through no matter what. Sort of like marriage.

I’m not saying one should stay in a loveless or abusive marriage, but if your marriage is basically sound then you’ll know what I mean when I say that even though you love your partner, sometimes you’d just like to “get the hell out of Dodge.” We all have good days, and bad days. Sometimes even good years, and bad years. I’ve even heard of marriages that had bad decades and then miraculously revived.

I’m sure there are many cases in which people fall in love on day one and never fall out of love even for an instant. But I also know plenty of people who fall madly in and madly out of love—with the same person, over the course of many years. The only thing that keeps this sort of marriage together is commitment. The love is there, underneath, but it’s not always experienced. Commitment is what keeps the fires burning—just like getting up for sadhana.

Yogi Bhajan used to say, “Fake it till you make it.” I think that can apply to marriage (orgasms should be real, however!). But sometimes you just have to carry on, putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that the reason you married this person in the first place is going to re-surface, and you are going to be okay.

My husband is a very private individual; he’s a classical musician who doesn’t enjoy social outings other than playing in an orchestra, and he does his yoga (Hatha, that is) alone in his own quiet way, never in a group setting. Nevertheless, he supports my practice of Kundalini yoga. He’s seen me through a lot of phases: my hippie and party days, my workaholic days, the birth of three children, breast cancer, and now chanting and wearing white. He isn’t a Kundalini yogi but he understands what sadhana involves: commitment, no matter what. When it comes to marriage, my husband likes to quote the joke about the weather on Cape Cod. If you’re unhappy with the weather, “Wait a few hours.” The same can be said for many marriages. He also likes to note that he’s been married to many women (all me) over the past 36 years. I’d have to say that’s true; but the one thing that has remained unchanging is commitment.

Sadhana is always changing too. One day it’s easy, the next it’s impossibly difficult. One day you’re painfully pushing through that Nabhi Kriya and the next you’re floating through the movements on a blissful, energetic cloud. But you’ll never know what either the hard work or the bliss feels like if you don’t show up: Kinda like marriage.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all…Nabhi Kriya here I come!

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