“If people are scared of snakes, they are scared of their own spirituality.” That may seem like a bold, or even harsh statement, but it forms the basis of Kumara Serpent Healing, a snakey relative of Kundalini yoga. The founder of this system of “snake yoga” is Hari Bhajan Kaur aka Kwali Kumara. She has described herself as a “mad snake lady,” and incorporates tamed snakes into her yoga classes and workshops in order to help people “face fears and deepen [their] connection to spirit and the natural world.” So, where did “snake yoga” come from and what does it involve?
Kwali Kumara, originally trained as a Kundalini yoga teacher, has a passion for snakes. She works with “Snakey Sue’s Serpent Sanctuary” to rescue and find homes for snakes that are no longer wanted by their owners. She decided to merge Kundalini yoga practices and handling snakes because “having the snakes involved connects people to what is going on inside.” She feels that each snake is a unique being with its own wisdom to share, and hopes that her students can shed some of their fears by interacting with her snakes.
A Serpent Healing class with Kwali and her snakes involves some aspects that look pretty familiar to many Kundalini yoga practitioners: kriyas, chanting, and meditation pertaining to different chakras for example. After going through some intense poses, there is a time of relaxation and meditation before the snakes are brought out. According to her website, Kwali has different sizes and breeds of snakes available “to suit each individual yogi’s needs and confidence with the serpents.” Students can hold and interact with the snakes for up to one hour, and will also have time to “analyze the anxiety and stress related to snakes by studying their incredible journey throughout history.” Kwali Kumara maintains liability insurance to cover any potential mishaps, but is confident in the peaceful nature of the snakes she shares in each class.
While using live snakes in a yoga class may seem strange, it makes sense in the context of Kundalini yoga. “Kundalini” is considered to be the latent, feminine energy residing at the base of the spine. It is conceived of as a coiled, sleeping serpent. Kundalini yoga practices seek to awaken the sleeping, or dormant, energy and project it upward through each chakra until it meets the masculine, universal energy and emerges through the crown of the head. By incorporating actual snakes, Kwali is trying to help people overcome fears and anxieties which could be blocking their chakras.
What do you think about “Snake Yoga?”