Earlier this year, I attended The Daily Love‘s week-long “Enter The Heart Retreat” in beautiful Maui, HI. During the retreat I had the opportunity to immerse myself in Kundalini Yoga at the beginning and end of every day in a group class led by Maya Fiennes. Maya combines Kundalini with the East Asian modalities of Qigong and T’ai Chi, making practice a constant reminder of the connection between one’s mind and body. I’ve continued to practice with Maya via the wonders of modern technology – taking a series of weekly class recently via an online live stream with others from all around the world. By replaying the weekly classes during my daily practice and supplementing with the sequence Maya created specifically for me in Maui, I have continued a daily kundalini practice which can flex from a short practice before a busy day to a lengthy practice when my schedule permits. This practice has grounded me in my body and helped cultivate more clarity and ease during the rest of my day. I was lucky enough to talk with Maya recently and am honored to share her inspirational words with you.
1) What inspired you to follow your Kundalini Yoga calling via MayaSpace.com?
When I was a professional pianist in London, I was introduced to yoga as a way to decrease my nervousness prior to performing at a concert in front of a large audience. After noticing that yoga was making a calming, positive difference, I was inspired to learn more about this practice. My inquisitive nature led me to seek out specific yoga modalities: Hatha, Ashtunga, Iyengar, and Bikram (or “Hot”) Yoga. I even explored the martial arts. Despite experiencing each of these modalities, I was still seeking a calmness of mind and wanted to further cultivate the mind-body connection. This search finally led me to discover kundalini yoga. I went to my first kundalini class with an open mind – the sounds and mantras resonated with my musical training. I started out wanting to be a student of kundalini yoga, however I was soon drawn to being a teacher and instructor of kundalini.
As I started instructing, I began to compose, perform, and produce music that complimented the yoga and the emotions it could bring up in order to create an even more powerful connection between the mind and the body. I became known as the “music girl” and it was something that differentiated my classes from other instructors. As I continued to explore the practice I was invited to live in The Maldives for a year: I was based at a popular resort, and performed concerts, and further worked on my unique approach to kundalini yoga. I knew I had found my calling when I was studying and my time in the Maldives became a transformational experience in my own journey.
My musical and performing arts background has enabled me to create and publish my own music, my book “Yoga For Real Life“, and create an impactful online presence. My journey from professional pianist to transformational guru was an unexpected one, but I believe I am able to apply all of my experience in my work. I approach each kundalini yoga class is like a performance: With a prepared playlist, and a focused ‘choreographed’ performance.
2) How do you re-connect to that original calling on a daily basis?
My morning practice lays the foundation for my day. Over time this daily practice has built my mental stamina. When times get busy, I can always gravitate to this foundation and it may take a few months or even years to build a solid foundation so this practice requires patience.
Each morning I connect with the physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual: a morning meeting of sorts. I meditate and pray, asking the Spirit to lead me throughout the day, and bring gratitude and positive energy to all my interactions and everything I do. During my daily swim workout, I repeat my mantras and it sets the tone for the rest of my day. There is a Hawaiian prayer/meditation, called “Ho?oponopono“. It is a simple forgiveness mantra that can be said for yourself and for others: “I’m sorry. Forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”
Throughout the day I calm and center myself by focusing on my breath – this is a tool that each of us has access to all day, every day. Focusing on the breath also helps to slow me down in those times that I naturally want to race (for example, running late to a meeting). Slowing down and being mindful minimizes energy leaks (a concept inspired by Qigong).
When I travel, I make an extra effort to maintain my daily practice, and be flexible with it. I focus on approaching each day with extra grace and ease. I aim to be in the flow of the day as much as I can despite the time zones, jet lag, and all of the unexpected things that can happen when traveling… When I arrive at my destination, I take a moment to create a small shrine and I include a few personal items which anchors me back with reminders of who and what is most important to me.
3) Where do you look for new inspiration?
Every body and every thing around me brings inspiration. From a visit to a museum, to a conference, a Conference, a Women’s gathering, and a visit to the beach – each and every experience brings inspiration.
If you’re aware, observant, present in the moment, and open to the possibilities, you are surrounded by inspiration.
4) How can a daily practice positively impact a woman’s inner bliss and outer radiance?
Build consciousness by committing to a daily practice. Repeating mantras trains the mental, emotion, physical muscles in our body and mind. Once we cultivate that awareness we always have it. And we can call upon that inner treasure whenever we need it which is reassuring and provides for inner peace, since we are self-reliant.
During those moments when things are difficult or you feel out of balance, you can re-connect to yourself by coming back into awareness and be attuned with your body, emotions and intellect by breathing through it and asking yourself: What patterns am I noticing with my behavior? What do I need to change? What action do I need to take? Be physically active, because getting your body moving helps to circulate your energy and get unstuck.
You’ll still be triggered by things that happen around you – that’s life! – but with greater self-awareness, the ‘volume’ of those will be lower in the soundtrack of your life and the amount of time it takes to tune into yourself will be reduced with awareness. Once you notice you’re stuck, be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that you have all the tools you’ll need to regain control.
5) What does the phrase ‘inner bliss and outer radiance’ mean to you?
When I’m peaceful and I’m in connection with myself, I have everything I need. Others can sense that inner bliss, and they gravitate towards that positive, calm energy. Outer radiance is apparent in a smile, a healthy and happy personality. It’s reassured energy. It’s something as simple as seeing a person who is comfortable in themselves: the way they walk, talk, and carry themselves.
We are so connected via technology these days. Instead, let’s start to ignite that connection within ourselves and build the networks inside of us. When we connect with ourselves we are filled with an inner bliss that radiates on the outside.
Maya is widely known throughout Europe and North America. She conducts in person retreats and online classes, has produced a series of DVDs, and has published a book which guides new yogis and experienced yogis alike in the practice of kundalini yoga. For more information on Maya’s upcoming live stream classes and retreats, please check her website: www.mayaspace.com