- SRI AUROBINDO
The path to becoming a yogini practicing bhakti yoga has been a winding one. Kendra was born into a family with Christian roots, she recalls attending church as a young child.
“When I was quite young we used to attend Sunday services and I would go to Sunday school. I remember how much I loved listening to the stories and making art in the classes. One day my mother pulled us out of the program. She told us later that the pastor of the church had begun to spread hateful messages about the LGBTQ community and that the idea of an all loving God who was incapable of loving the gay members of our family was outrageous to her. She told us that she refused to raise children with hate or intolerance in their hearts. I’m so grateful for that now, because the experience gave me an introduction to the idea of spirituality, but allowed me to find my own path.”
In her teen years Kendra became a strict atheist, denouncing God all together.
“I remember a friend once telling me that women got their menstrual cycles as a punishment for Eve telling Adam to take the apple in the garden of Eden. I simply could not get behind the idea that there was a white man in the sky, some ultimate patriarch who hated me for being a sexual being, who hated me for being a woman. I rejected the idea of God completely.”
The road to reclaiming a spiritual practice has been a multifaceted one for Kendra. In 2008 Kendra was studying journalism full time at a local college, and working full time. She experienced a burnout and mental collapse.
"In a dark moment of desperation I sent out a plea to the universe. Help me, I begged. To much my surprise, I was met with an immediate response. The act of asking for help itself was all that needed to be done to welcome in the divine."
After she recovered from mental exhaustion Kendra decided to give up her pursuit of her degree in journalism and left retail to begin a career as a storyteller and documentary photographer. You can read more in depth about that journey HERE.
“Over the years I have been a photographer I have had fateful meetings with a number of people who have all influenced my spiritual path. There have been people who questioned why I did things, enough to make me question my own reasoning – enough to begin looking inward. I have met people who have been wonderful mirrors for me, mirroring back what I wanted to strive towards, and what I needed to let go within myself. The beauty of art is it truly is a gateway into the self when we allow it to be that.”
In 2011, while pregnant with her daughter, Kendra began a yoga practice, with the intention of creating more space in her hips, as she was struggling with sciatica.
“I didn’t know anything about yoga when I began my practice. I only wanted relief from sciatic pain. After my daughter was born I continued with the practice. I still did not understand much about yoga, but I practiced for two years, and then one night when at yoga with a girlfriend, I closed my eyes while in an asana, and noticed a vivid blue light behind my closed eyelids. I saw that light for months every time I would meditate or practice, and then one night it came and I couldn’t stop gagging, and I experienced a kundalini awakening. It was a radical twist in my life that nothing could have prepared me for. I could no longer eat processed foods, my digestive system began to collapse. I was no longer able to tolerate meat, or spicy food. I could no longer tolerate alcohol. I rapidly developed an interest in spirituality, and found myself reading Vedic scriptures, and studying yoga and meditation much more deeply. At the time I had no idea I was experiencing an awakening - my whole body simply transformed. I went searching for answers.“
In 2015 Kendra traveled to Indonesia where she deepened her yoga practice in Canggu, and then did a 10 day Vipassana mediation at the Landih Ashram in Kintamani. In 2016 Kendra did a second 10 day Vipassana at Dhamma Surabhi in Merritt BC. During her stints in deep meditation and with a continued daily practice & study of both meditation and yoga, Kendra deepened her spiritual journey. In 2017 she traveled to Tamil Nadu in India where she met one of her mentors Swami Vidyanand at the Sri Ma School of Transformational Yoga in Auroville, where she completed her 500 Hour Master Yoga Teacher Certificate.
“What I love about Transformational Yoga is that it combines traditional hatha yoga, pranayama, meditation and mantra into a daily practice to stimulate and awaken kundalini energy in the five bodies. In the west much of yoga strays away from traditional practices such as mantra, kriyas, yoga nidra, bandhas, self-inquiry etc. I decided if I were to learn yoga I would go to the birth place of yoga – India. Many happenstance events lead me Auroville, including the teachings of both Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. The teachings of Sally Kempton (Swami Durgananda), Sri Aurobindo and The Mother enlightened me to the feminine face of God, which had been previously unknown to me. I feel so eternally grateful for the teachings I have received because they have helped me come to a place a peace, and a place where the world makes sense, even in its most chaotic moments. I feel so much gratitude in my heart to be able to share these understandings with others.”
So why this path? Why this particular practice?
“I believe a lot of us, through the process of patriatchy, have become greatly separated from the divine feminine. We have many names for this divine feminine. Mother Earth, Gaia, Grandmother Moon, Shakti are just some of the names you may know her by, she exists as the underlying pulse of the universe, as everything manifest, including wisdom. The manifest universe is full of a wisdom begging to be rediscovered, but it is not a wisdom which can be accessed through conventional means. The pupose of yoga, of meditation, of these practices is to know what is otherwise unknowable. The goddess/kundalini/shakti are all words for the same thing - the power and energy through which we come to know that which otherwise cannot be known. My work is essentially to translate these 5,000 year old practices into tangible practices for daily life in the 21 century, for the modern house holder. These practices hold a wisdom and truth which simply transcends time and time-based structures."
Kendra Coupland received certification to be Master Integral Yoga Teacher, and TIME meditation teacher during her time in India. She is certified and registered with Yoga Alliance International. She teaches Hatha yoga, pranayama, meditation, and devotional practices. Her yogic roots are based in Kundalini Yoga, and Tantric Yoga and her lineage is one of non-duality and is steeped in the rich traditions of both Advaita Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism. She strives to combat both racism, and the gentrification and misappropriation of yoga by keeping it accessible to all, and honoring the practices as taught to her by those who have come before.