I was on the phone with my “sista-friend” Maria this morning, and our conversation turned, as it often does, to our kids. We each have two daughters, and we each have one daughter heading off to Middle School next year. “Heading off”- that sort of sounds more like going away to college, or military deployment. But “heading off” seems right to me, because it is a big step, a coming-of-age that is about to come, whether I am ready for it or not.
Our girls are not like many of the other girls. There is something different about them. Something a little bit younger, and more innocent. They don’t play video games, they don’t care about clothing labels, they love music and dance and reading and writing. They aren’t interested in boys yet (thankfully). These things that make them wonderful and unique and special, also keep them from having a lot of friends.
So they don’t have a group or a clique. They don’t have a Kula.
I’ve been thinking a lot about kulas lately. Kula is a word I wasn’t familiar with until I became more deeply involved in the practice of yoga. And now I hear it all of the time. It is a group of people, like- minded and like-hearted, who support each others’ awakening. There is no judgment in a Kula, no pressure, just support and growth. It’s like a family, but better.
As I went through Yoga Teacher Training, I realized that the women in the room with me for long weekends of asana, meditation, and study, were just that: My Yoga Kula. We were all awakening, each time we analyzed another sutra or pose, each time we related our experiences on the mat to our life experiences. Connected by our breath as we saluted the sun together. Connected by our common desire to practice yoga, while honoring and respecting our differences.
They are my latest Kula in a long line of Kulas. (Can you tell I really like this word? Kula. Kula. Kula. It’s just so fun to say.)
When I was in college, I had a Kula. The Radio Station People. We spent countless hours in the tiny studio cataloging albums, talking about music, debating about lyrics, reading liner notes, dreaming of the perfect list of Desert Island Disks. These were my people. It was all about music. We all loved music. We went off to our classes (not as often as we should have) we went home to our families (as dysfunctional as they may have been) but when we were there, we knew that was where we belonged. It just felt right. We had found our place, and our people.
We were awakening daily, to adulthood, to responsibility, to the harsh realities of life, but we had each other, and our common love of music as a place of refuge. Our lives have changed a lot since then, but when we get together there is always music playing, the conversations always turn to some band or another. Every other sentence reminds us of a song lyric, and we are off and singing. Time can pass between visits, even years in some cases, but as soon as we are back together- we are home. No judgment, no pressure. Something in our hearts is the same- and that part of us connects the moment we see each other, so none of the other shite matters.
I had a Kula in high school. It was an all girl school, and my kula was a group of like-minded, like-hearted girls, who (a pattern here) all loved music. We worked hard together and studied together, snuck around to smoke cigarettes, and cut classes together. We drove around in my 1979 Cutlass Supreme, blasted the radio and sang at the top of our lungs. These women are my sisters, still to this day. No matter how much time passes between visits, when we all come together it is 1984. No judgment, no pressure.
When I was in middle school, I had a Kula. A bunch of friends who would get together on Friday nights at each other’s houses and (here it is again) listen to music. We would bring our new albums, The Cars, Blondie, Devo, put them on our parents’ turntables, dance around living rooms or basements and play spin the bottle. And thanks to the wonders of Facebook, we have caught up, reconnected. No judgment, no pressure.
I have been very fortunate to have these groups of people in my life. There have been many others along the way; like-minded, like-hearted people I met at different jobs, and even through my children. People I feel at home with. It is always nice to find people that you feel completely comfortable with. A family; not by blood, but by choice. A group you can truly be yourself with.
It is a blessing to find a place where you don’t have to worry about what you say, or what you do. A place where you can grow and change, and not be held back. Where you can try to stand on your head, but fall flat on your face. Where you can sing at the top of your (tone deaf) voice and dance your (uncoordinated) body around the room.
HEY, wait!! Maria!! Our girls do have a Kula! They have each other.
And that, is really Kula. (You knew I was going to do that, didn’t you?)