When I received my first Reiki attunements, a little before I discovered kundalini yoga, I had to wear a beanie hat for a week or so afterwards. The top of my head felt as if it had been blasted open, my crown gaping to the sky and I felt very vulnerable. It was uncomfortable and the beanie really helped. It gave me at least a layer of protection over the metaphorical yawning hole in my head. I didn’t have the language or understanding at the time to articulate it, but the beanie just intuitively felt right. (I haven’t met any other Reiki practitioners who experienced this, maybe it was just me?)
Now I get it. And it’s the same reason we wear a head covering or turban in kundalini yoga.
Ultimately, kundalini yoga plugs our finite self into our infinite self. The plug point is the crown chakra. By covering our head, we’re offering some protection – insulation if you like – to the crown chakra, our point of connection. This insulation helps to hold the space for our subtle and physical bodies to transform, open, grow and heal in our own sweet, graceful pace.
Some teachers say the turban activates specific pressure points on the scalp. Others say it helps to hold the plates of the skull steady to help us deepen our experience of meditation. Others say wearing the turban is a kriya in itself as it challenges the ego – especially in the West where a) our hair is considered by some to be a measure of beauty and b) wearing a head covering poses some social questions. Some wear the turban to pay homage to the Sikh tradition in which kundalini yoga is held, just as hatha yoga is held within the Hindu tradition. Some say that covering the head while leading a class honours the student simply because teaching this tradition has nothing to do with our preferences as individuals, but rather delivering what we know as authentically and honestly as possible, and others theorise that it prevents headaches that may accumulate from the build-up of energy.
Yes, yes, yes to all of the above. Whatever it is, I’m on board.
And aside from these, the quality of my meditation is different when I wear a turban in kundalini yoga. It’s a subtle difference, like when I meditate in lotus pose with the soles of my feet facing the sky – it lends a deeper quality. And when I’m teaching, especially on a full-day workshop, it really does support me in holding the energy and keeping me grounded. And it does keep the headaches at bay.
Most importantly, the ‘turban kriya’ is about finding our own way. Many kundalini yogis wear a head covering, and many don’t. What’s important is that we explore it for ourselves and make an informed decision based on our own experience – it has nothing to do with blindly following tradition or what anyone else expects of us. It’s about finding our own practice, and being very honest with ourselves about what works for us.
Sat nam x