Breath of Fire: Tales of Transformation: Introducing Arlene Shanti: Beyond a Spiritual Moon-Mover to a Galactic Kundalini Brown-Eyed Guru
Before I met Arlene, I heard about her through the dance community. Social media is a powerful tool and if used from a heart-centered intention, it can connect you to some amazing people. Before I took Gabrielle Bernstein’s Spirit Junkie Masterclass last Fall, I recall seeing Arlene’s instagram posts. In her posts she always showed up dancing, laughing, and really in tune with what spirituality meant for her. After my masterclass with Gabby, one of the lessons that really registered was to find your “spiritual running buddies”.
This message really sunk in deeper when earlier this year I had an emotional day, and I recall reaching out to Arlene when the emotional pain felt like torture. Her text messages through that time were the exact healing words that filled up my reservoir of purpose once again.
Arlene Shanti teaches Kundalini Yoga and Meditation which happens to be the yoga of the heart. Simultaneously, I was also practicing this yoga at 4am every morning at Golden Bridge by Santa Monica.
One of my favorite aspects of kundalini yoga is the how it helps with insomnia, intuition, and health issues. While we live in the digital age where the phones are getting bigger, and more apps are being created each day, we are losing a sense of our breath, and when one gets in touch with breath, amazing insights can occur. I’m excited to introduce to you, Arlene Shanti.
Erika Briones: Before we start with the questions, please tell our viewers more about yourself.
Arlene Shanti: I am a Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Teacher and student of life. I work with women through my coaching practice. In my coaching practice I create a sacred space for people to shed limiting beliefs, bust through blocks, master their fears, and reconnect to their intuition to live a happier life. I also hold new moon circles with women where we dance, support each other, and uplift each other. It’s a lot of fun and very healing. I love to dance, I love to laugh, I love to travel, I love to cook.
Erika Briones: When is the next new moon?
Arlene Shanti: This month’s new moon just passed, and since I was at Sat Nam Fest, I’m planning to do a Full Moon circle later this month.
Erika Briones: Wow! How was the “Sat Nam” fest?
Arlene Shanti: It was so much fun! It’s a kundalini yoga and music festival hosted by Spirit Voyage. There’s transformative workshops held by world renowned teachers, there is kundalini yoga classes scheduled throughout the day, live music by incredible sacred mantra musicians, and you get to eat the most delicious food. It’s a place where you go to make real human connection with people from all walks of life. The vibration is very high, it’s a place for transformation, growth, and healing. It’s a lot of fun and it’s in the desert which makes it even more magical.
Erika Briones: I’m very curious to ask...it’s my favorite question to ask from my favorite company, MindValley, by the founder Vishen Lakshami, “What wakes you up in the morning?”
Arlene Shanti: (asks to self) What wakes me up in the morning? Inspiration, Curiosity, and Gratitude.
Erika Briones: For example, what are some morning routines you do with that inspiration?
Arlene Shanti: What gets me out of bed is my morning Sadhana. Sadhana is a daily spiritual practice. I wake up before sunrise, and do a kundalini yoga set and meditation. After that, I do whatever inspires me that morning. Sometimes I journal, sometimes I dance, sometimes I chant, sometimes I read. It’s different every morning, but my non-negotiable is kundalini yoga and meditation. Conscious connection with spirit every morning is what carries me through the day.
Erika Briones: (laughs jokingly) Is that why your eyes are you big and glowing? Is that the key to having big, beautiful brown eyes? (Arlene laughs in the background). I guess kundalini is the key to having these big, brown and piercing brown eyes (both laugh together). Being a lover of people’s stories and a big fan of film, especially the typical “Cinderella” story, I recently heard a little bit of your story on a phone call. I’m inspired to hear what is your story? I hear stories are medicine and very healing and now look forward to hear your kundalini “Cinderella” story.
Arlene Shanti: Before my awakening I was sleepwalking through life. For as long as I can remember I always felt a deep void. I didn’t know that the missing piece was me until I hit a series of low moments that shook me awake in 2012. The beginning of that year seemed promising. I had just moved in with my boyfriend at the time. I had just started a new job that seemed to be the perfect one. It was a very exciting start to 2012. About a month in, I lost my job. The relationship with my ex had seen its darkest moments. I got myself into debt. To numb myself from the chaos that was my life I started drinking heavily and was getting into drugs I had no business getting into. I had built a life based on fear, shame, and guilt. It was a very lonely and scary time for me. In April of that year I got into a really bad car accident that totaled my car. It’s a miracle that I’m healthy and alive today.
Erika Briones: What happened with the car? Tell me more about that situation.
Arlene Shanti: It was 6am on a foggy morning. I had been drinking the night before with a friend. I had too much to drink so I slept over at her house that night because the bar we were at was just walking distance to her place. I woke up to what seemed like a thousand text messages from a worried boyfriend asking if I was ok. I got up in a rush, still feeling the alcohol inside my system, I was also coming down from some drug, and I started driving home. As I was getting on the freeway I crashed into something. I don’t even know what it was. I was in a daze. I totaled my car, it’s a miracle that nothing happened to me. The turning point in that series of low moments was around that summer. I had decided that there had to be a different way of living. The desire to live a better life led me to the world of self-help. I remember ordering a bunch of books from Amazon.
Arlene and Erika: (Both in synchronicity and playfulness yell-out): Amazon! (laughter)
Arlene: In that list of books was ‘A Return to Love’ by Marianne Williamson, which sat on my bookshelf untouched for about 3 months. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor one afternoon in September of that year feeling so alone, so scared, with suicidal thoughts running my mind. My eyes gazed over to the bookshelf and immediately landed on Marianne Williamson’s book. I heard a voice coming from behind me that said, “It’s time to read that book.”. Gabrielle Bernstein also talks about an experience she had when she felt an energy push her into action. My experience was very similar. I felt an energy pull me in the direction of the book, I reached for it and started reading it as I sat on the floor. Ever since that moment, my life has never been the same. It was the book that would open the door for me to meet and reconnect to my soul, which was the missing piece to the void I felt inside. That book led me to teachers, mentors, experiences, and other books that aided in my awakening. This path eventually led to me becoming a kundalini yoga and meditation student and teacher. Prior to that moment, I was not spiritual or religious. I would cringe whenever I heard the word God, and wanted to punch anyone that would tell me, “You should go to church.” Today it’s a lot different.
Erika: It’s amazing what a person, place, or thing, especially the impact a book can create. That is why education is so important. Again, thank you for sharing your story. I’m curious to hear what you meant earlier by your definition of shame and guilt. How did that look like in your body? What were your mannerisms because I’m sure some of the audience can identify with that example.
Arlene: I distanced myself from family and friends because I was so wrapped up in that dark bubble. I wasn’t aware of emotions or sensations in my body. The alcohol, drugs, and fear did a good job at numbing me out, until they didn’t. All I knew in that moment was that I was unhappy. Like I mentioned before, suicidal thoughts played a lot in my head during that time. Not a lot of awareness of my body or any sensations. I was completely numbed out.
Erika: It’s amazing how you completely just changed that story with Kundalini Yoga. I think Yogi Bhajan has said, “⅓ commit suicide, ⅓ go crazy, and ⅓ wakes up” . You are one of the lucky ones that woke up. Hearing about Kundalini yoga there is this misconception and myth attached that one needs to do all these movements in order to achieve a physical desire. Wondering what makes this yoga specifically unique? Also what are the benefits and science behind kundalini yoga?
Arlene: Kundalini yoga is often called the yoga of awareness. It’s a technology and science that opens up the energy centers throughout the body called chakras. It reorganizes and generates energy in your body. It brings you to a new depth of awareness of yourself and the world. It strengthens your nervous system, glandular system, builds your lung capacity, strengthens your intuition, reduces stress, the list goes on and on. There is breathwork, asana (physical postures), mudras (hand/finger placement), deep meditation, and chanting involved in this yoga. The combination of all of this creates internal stillness. You start to hear your intuition, and be guided by that light. Through the awareness that it has brought me it led me to my soul’s work.
Erika: You mentioned chakras, something I’m a big fan of at the moment. From what I heard it means “wheel or disk” and sounds like a mythological perspection like a unicorn creature. However, I heard biologically and physiologically it affects the pineal gland. I heard it affects the third eye. Just like our eyes have rods and cones, the third eye also has those features, and curious to hear how kundalini affects our pineal glands. Can you please tell us more about that.
Arlene: In kundalini meditations there is instruction on where to focus the eyes. When we gaze at the tip of the nose it stimulates the pineal gland which controls the mind allowing you to get deep in meditation.
Erika: Some people tell me they see angels or metaphysical entities, and curious your take on it.
Arlene: The pineal gland is associated with the 7th chakra or crown chakra. It is sometimes referred as the “Angel” gland because it allows us to connect to that realm. Everyone has a different experience of how they experience the awakening of their third eye or crown chakra. Sometimes it’s very subtle too.
Erika: What was your experience when you had that aha, lightbulb, or “wow this is amazing” moment?”
Arlene: (pauses for a second) Every time I do kundalini yoga I think, “wow this is amazing”. Every class has been a doorway to awakening more and more, to connect more deeply to spirit and my intuition. Recently I finished a 120 day meditation called “Gyan Chakra Kriya” It heightened my intuition and awareness. It gave me deeper compassion, and deeper love for myself and the world.
Erika: I like what you said about deeper compassion because a lot of these teachings come from a lot of spiritual teachings like Yogi Bhajan and there is a quote by him that states, “If you can not see God in all, then you can not see God at all.” That being said, what are the core lessons and biggest take aways you got from Yogi Bhajan?
Arlene: His teachings are timeless. Every word he spoke was full of power and truth. I learn from him everyday. One of his mantra’s that I repeat in my mind daily is “keep up”! He said, “Keep up and you will be kept up”. What this translates to for me is to keep up with my practice, my commitment, and through the challenges. This attitude and willingness of keeping up gives you courage, confidence, patience, and the ability to relax into life. Whenever I’m in a posture or meditation that is physically and/or mentally challenging I repeat this mantra in my mind “keep up, keep up, keep up!”
Because I know that if I get through it I will have a stronger nervous system, amped up intuition, and more energy to do the things I need to get done. The mantra can be applied to anything, not just yoga and meditation. It’s a mantra for life.
I do want to share with you 5 Sutras of the Aquarian Age that Yogi Bhajan left for us. You can take one and meditate on it for the rest of your life because they are that potent.
1)Recognize that the other is you.
2) There is a way through every block.
3) When the pressure is on you, start, then the pressure will be off.
4)Understand through compassion or you’ll misunderstand the times.
5) Vibrate the cosmos and the cosmos shall clear the path.
Those are the 5 principles to live by.
Erika: Curious since we talked about movement and yoga poses, and after checking out your Instagram I noticed that you do some dancing, and I believe it’s a powerful form of self-expression. What have you gained by sharing yourself through dancing, and your intention behind your self-expression.
Arlene: Whenever I move my body and start dancing it drops me right into my heart and into the wisdom of my body and intuition. It also simply makes me really happy. I don’t know anyone who dances for 2 seconds and is not happy. We all express ourselves in different ways. Some through playing instruments, some through speaking, some through painting, some through writing, some through making others laugh, some through dancing. It’s vital to use whatever inspires us to express ourselves. We can’t contain it. It must be expressed. Not expressing ourselves can cause a lot of pain.
Erika: I believe that’s something experienced dancers take for granted. When I used to be part of a dance team, there was a moment where I would always ask for feedback, like “did that look good?”, “are my spins ok?” and before I knew it I was really in my head and I was super critical. I have a lot of friends that they are always self-criticizing their spins, movement, and before they know it, they give up or it feels like a chore. I believe it’s important you discuss this because we are forgetting the joy out of dancing. I believe this is a message most dancers need to hear.
Arlene: It’s pure ecstasy
Erika: Speaking of ecstasy, loving my favorite subject with the elephant in the room being sex and intimacy. Seeing how in the Western culture, sex is being overly desensitized by pornography and other means, I was wondering how Kundalini can awaken some other yummy areas.
Arlene: There is a teaching on this that I want to mention. The blending of auras during intercourse. Women are more sensitive to this blending of auras. When a woman has intercourse here and there, her aura is imprinted. She loses identity of who she is and intuition is weakened, it’s something that is very common in today’s culture. Sexual freedom is a choice. When both parties show up with a sense of reverence, love, and respect it can have a positive effect on the woman. She will feel creative and vibrant. If those components are not in place then it can have the opposite effect on the woman like bring up childhood traumas, fear, and insecurity.
Erika: Can you tell me more about what you mean about blending of the auras?
Arlene: We have a physical body, we have 3 mental bodies, and then we also have energetic bodies. The aura and arcline are part of our energetic bodies.We all have an arcline from ear to ear and women have an extra arcline from nipple to nipple. This is the part that gets imprinted and blends with the other person during intercourse. I believe bringing this sense of awareness can create a profound spiritual experience for both. Instead of fucking for the fuck of it, it can be a deeper experience for the woman and the man or man/man or woman/ woman.
Erika: I love how you integrate that and acknowledge that aspect. Sometimes we tune out from that community and it’s important to teach that practice to all types of sexual orientations.I was wondering what are some kundalini practices or systems model that they can take away from this article into their lives. Even though they might not see auras right away, just curious to hear what can they apply today?
Arlene: What I love about kundalini yoga is that it’s very practical. It’s a householder’s practice. It’s for the people who have busy lives, raising families, have busy jobs, but really it’s for everyone. If you don’t have long periods of time in the morning to meditate, doing a 3 minute kundalini exercise will help tremendously throughout the day. A quick energizer is Breath of fire. It’s a rhythmic breath through the nose. Equal inhale and exhale. Another one is alternate nostril breathing. You do this by covering the right nostril with your right thumb and simply inhale and exhale through the left nostril. Practice this breathing technique when you feel anxious. It’ll calm you down. Do the same thing with the right nostril. This gives you energy when you feel tired or stagnant. And simply long deep breathing is an excellent practice. Inhale for 10 seconds,exhale for 10 seconds. It’s very practical. That’s what I love about this science.
Erika: I love how you mentioned breathing because in the past I don’t believe I breathed that much. From what I hear, we hold our breath the majority of the time and it makes a big difference in our physical bodies.
Arlene: Breathing consciously for 3 minutes can change your life. Our breath is our life force, it’s what keeps us alive.
Erika: (jokingly) You're breathing right now am I right? Just checking
(laughing in the background) That being said, I want to thank you for your time, your breath, your energy. Now want to hear of your plans for 2016 with your company or anything you would like to share with the world?
Arlene: Part of my destiny is to share this technology of kundalini yoga and meditation with the world so I will continue teaching. I’m in a surrendered state. I’m open to the unfolding of what this year will continue to bring.
Erika: Also is there a way they can connect with you and find you for more coaching or learning kundalini?
Arlene: You can go to ArleneShanti.com and ArleneShanti on all social medias Instagram, facebook, twitter, and snapchat.
Erika: And again thank you so much I really enjoyed our interview. I hope you had fun.
Arlene: Thank you I had a lot of fun!
Thank you for all who read this interview and if anyone wants more information on Arlene, please message her on her social media she previously mentioned. Also if anyone is interested in an amazing photographer I recommend Miko Aquino, and his work can be found on instagram under @mikowashere.