I’ve been getting regular headaches, and my specialist had some interesting ideas, beyond medication, of how to limit their effect on me. One of those ideas was practicing meditation to help manage stress, which can wreak havoc on the body. So when Natalya Meyer from Expansion Wellness Center reached out to me about taking a class, it felt like kismet.
Expansion Wellness Center is, according to the blurb that came up when I put the address into Google Maps, a “chill facility for yoga, tai chi and tango.” They group most of their classes into three categories—slim, which includes a barre class; sane, which is where most of the yoga classes fall; and enlightened, which has a lot of kundalini-style yoga, meditation, and something called a “gong bath.” Classes are $20, and they also offer individual classes and massage and reiki sessions.
I went for a kundalini meditation class on a Friday morning. The six-month-old studio is tucked just off West Alabama on Bute Street, which is currently torn up with construction, making the studio a bit tricky to find. But once you’re inside, you can’t hear the jackhammers and whatever else at all. It’s also surprisingly large, with two studios plus a community space, a room with a kind of living room vibe and an infrared sauna.
Meyer is one of the studio’s founders. She’s a practitioner of kundalini, a spiritual-focused yoga practice that includes a lot of breath work and chanting of mantras. I noticed several breathing techniques—like breath of fire—from other yoga classes I’ve taken. But I’d never done a kundalini yoga class, let alone one focused mostly on meditation.
Meyer explained that it was kind of like jumping into the deep end on your first swim lesson, but she was thorough and open in her explanation, and gave a mini lesson in the beginning so we could all grasp the bigger concepts. I appreciated learning some of theory behind what I was doing before we jumped in. She said the goal of meditation is to find your neutral mind, which is a kind of sorting process where you detach a bit and kind of float above; from there, you can see your problems and stresses without getting all tangled up in them.
It’s kind of hard to describe a meditation class (and it was my first one, so I’m the opposite of an expert), but through a combination of repetitive breathing and quiet focus, I felt like I could see what people got out of the practice. If anything, in a world of near-constant depressing news alerts and round-the-clock communication, it feels nice to sit quietly for a bit with nothing beeping at you. I left feeling a bit more sane, if not quite enlightened yet. There’s always next time.