When I arrived at Hari NYC, a haven on a third floor, away from the bustle of Herald Square, Christina La Bue regaled us with her experiences of giving up sugar, and how she did it with the help of Hari Kaur Khalsa, the studio's namesake teacher. It was an intimate class, and Christina knew everyone taking it. Hari NYC invites that kind of community.
Christina opened class with a Ong namo guru dev namo chant, and then began the regular Kundalini yoga warm-ups of Breath of Fire, twists, and seated forward bends. Then she walked us through a macro and micro warm-up that she said she'd been enjoying recently. The first movement was neck circles followed by much more subtle movements. "Imagine that you have a piece of chalk on your head," Christina instructed us, "and now, subtly move your head, tracing the infinity sign."
Our kriya for the day was "Balancing the Five Vayus." (The five Kundalini vayus are: Prana, which moves at the heart, Udanna, which moves in the throat, Samaana in the navel, Apana in the sphere of the anus, and Vyanna, which pervades the whole body.) Most of the poses in the sequence were done rhythmically for one minute.
In Easy Pose, we put our hands on our knees, then moved in a circular direction. Christina told us that it was almost like rocking straight back and forth. It was a small circular motion.
Staying in Easy Pose with our hands on our knees, we then bent to the left, attempted to touch our head to that knee, then back up and turned to the right, and again tryed to touch our head to the other knee, and back and forth steadily.
We then crossed our hands at our heart centers and twisted the body left and right for one minute. Following this, we locked our hands behind our necks and bent forward to the ground and then came back up to sitting.
The next movement was a rapid Cat and Cow for fifteen seconds. From Cow, we quickly lifted our hands off of the floor to clap, and came into a Cat shape with the spine, then brought the hands back to the floor into a Cow shape.
This was followed by Frog Pose, a vigorous Kundalini exercise. We stood up, placed our heels together with the toes turning out, then squatted down, raising the heels, aligning the knees over the toes with our fingertips in front of us. On an inhale, we raised the hips and straightened the legs. On an exhale, we returned to the squat position. We repeated this 21 times.
As if that weren’t invigorating enough, Kangaroo Hops were next. With our knees bent and arms close to our sides with the elbows bent, we did twenty-one hops.
Moving onto the floor, we came into a Cobra Pose, then rolled to one side, came back into Cobra, and rolled to the other side. This required a lot of coordination with fellow practitioners and resulted in a lot of accidental bumps and laughter. This movement was followed by Bow Pose with Breath of Fire.
Sitting on our heels, we spread our knees. We pounded our upper chests with our fists for twenty seconds, then pounded our bellies and thighs and necks for fifteen—our navels for ten.
We came back to sit in Easy Pose, with our hands on our knees, and rotated our upper bodies 51 times, squeezing the digestive area. Christina told us to retain a slight Mula Bandha as we tilted back, and to release it as we came forward.
We lay on our backs and lifted our legs to 90 degrees and lowered them back down, with Breath of Fire, creating more heat in our bellies. Still on our backs, we locked our hands behind our heads and rose up, bringing our heads to our knees and back down again, in an ab-awakening movement.
We took Savasana, and Christina played the gong beautifully while we rested.
We eased out of our Savasana/gong trances for the final meditation which involved the Antar Naad mantra—Sa re sa sa sa rung, har re har har har rung—which translates to, "Infinite totality is here, everywhere. That creativity that is God is here, everywhere."
While we chanted, we brought our hands to prayer at our solar plexuses and lifted them to our hearts, making a lotus shape. Then we inverted our hands and brought the backs of our palms together and trailed them back to our solar plexuses. It was a gentle movement that complemented the kriya beautifully.
After class, Christina invited us to share Yogi tea and a walnut snack. We gathered together for a short chat to ground ourselves before heading back into the mayhem of Herald Square.