Published 22 August 2020
My Yoga Journey
with Salimah Kassim-Lakha
After a life-altering car accident, Salimah took to yoga for healing and later reinvented herself as a Kundalini Yoga Teacher. Today she's transforming lives. In this interview, she describes her yoga journey, the impact that yoga has had on her life, and her gratitude for the changes that COVID-19 has ushered into her life. Based in Toronto, Canada, Salimah presently teaches Kundalini Yoga online. You can learn more about her courses here.
What does yoga mean to you?
Yoga is a spiritual connection. It is a language for the soul to speak with Creation. It is movement to still the mind. It is breath work to calm the body. It is meditation to activate our highest potential. All of these things combined make an extraordinary life.
When did you first start practicing yoga and why?
I started in 2006 because of a serious car accident. I am pain-free after all these years in part from that early practice and my willingness to trust and believe it was doing me a lot of good. I didn't have words for it then -- but I know now that it was divine intervention.
Were you ever resistant or hesitant to learn yoga?
The first time I tried it, I thought it was so boring and repetitive. I thought I needed to be at the gym pushing weight, sweating and hurting for movement to be worthwhile. I just wasn't ready at that time to really get what was going on. The car accident happened about a year later.
How has yoga impacted your life?
How has it not impacted my life? That’s the truth. It has given me a strong and healthy nervous system. I can handle whatever comes my way with grace. It has given me a code of honour -- a way to show up and pay attention -- which makes me a safe person to be around. Teaching has given me confidence to speak my truth. It also led me to become an entrepreneur and a mom.
Why should someone practice yoga?
That’s a personal choice. There is a yoga practice for everyone. It’s a matter of interest and a willingness to try something new and stick with it until the results become proof of how well it works. Most people who tried it and did’t like it were not in the right class for their interests or physical abilities. Just because you don’t like how something tastes doesn’t mean you stop eating, right?
What are your favourite asanas and why?
I always get the most out of a simple forward fold. Doesn’t take much. I love all of it.
In what ways are you grateful for COVID-19?
COVID-19 gave me my life back. I closed down my yoga studio on March 13, 2020 due to government orders. That gave me lots of time to stop and reflect on what is truly important to me. I realized I didn't want to keep working 16 hour days. As much as I loved the community we had built and the authentic way we were offering classes, I knew there was a more impactful way to move forward. So on March 17, 2020, I started focusing on my YouTube channel and have been putting all my time and energy into that.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Teaching yoga online has been an amazing experience. Everyday people from around the world send me messages about how this practice of Kundalini Yoga has changed them, helped put order to their lives and that they feel connected to what we are offering. That is very gratifying and it’s the type of impact yoga can have if presented in a responsible and respectful way. Yoga is for everyone -- there is no certain age, colour, gender or ability that is required. That’s my hope and intention for the classes we provide online -- that everyone has a clear mirror for the greatness within. One of the best ways to explore that is through my Yoga teacher Training Program which is 100% online and focussed on Kundalini Yoga.
How did you get into Kundalini Yoga?
As I practiced yoga, I became more aware of energy, from people, from thoughts and emotions. I found Kundalini Yoga really heightened my intuition so I could navigate situations and people a lot easier. I appreciated the peaceful feeling I had after my practice and I enjoyed the music, mantra and meditation. It was a full experience. I often left other classes feeling like something was missing. In Kundalini Yoga, the exploration of spirituality is front and centre. It was all the connectivity without dogma. I felt free. Over the years I have made it my own. I offer a lot of modifications; I like to teach beginners and I make sure my language is inclusive and wholehearted. I think language is a gesture of mindfulness.
Why should someone consider practicing Kundalini Yoga?
Great question. This practice is for everyone. If you are a deep thinker, want to know more about your truth, to trust in the Universe, to engage deeply in the process of life, to offer yourself opportunities for fresh perspective and bold moves -- this is the yoga that can help. There is a ton of variety in the practice -- no two classes are alike, just like all teachers will present differently. The music is uplifting and a big part of the practice. Most new students are impressed by the emphasis on good breathing techniques and the structure of the classes. There is a sense of ritual and an elegance to the practice that makes it unique. I consider Kundalini Yoga to be my best friend. She gives me a hug when I need it and a little shove when I need it. I am blessed. I hope to introduce you to this practice so you can feel that too.
Salimah's yoga journey illustrates the truism that "Life does not happen to us; it happens for us." After she experienced a tragic car accident in 2006, she didn't let her pain or physical limitations get in the way of trying to improve her life. As a result, she discovered yoga, self-healing, a new career, and an abiding and dependable source of spirituality and sense of purpose. That's the impact yoga can have on anyone who approaches it with an open heart.
Teach Kundalini Yoga
The most powerful way to deepen your practice is to become a yoga teacher. Salima offers a 10-month program designed to help you improve the quality of your life and grow a new career. As you gain leadership and teaching skills, your ability to communicate and relate to others will transform in ways that will serve your highest intentions.
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