Harbhajan Singh Khalsa, known as Yogi Bhajan, honoured in 1974 with the title of Siri Singh Sahib by the Sikh authorities in Amritsar, India, founded the 3HO Foundation in 1969. As master of kundalini yoga, Yogi Bhajan arrived in Canada in 1968 and began sharing what he had learned from his spiritual teachers in India. With the motto, “Keep up and you‘ll be kept up”, and the ever-repeated goal to inspire teachers and leaders rather than gather students, Yogi Bhajan travelled tirelessly throughout the world teaching and counselling. He inspired us to live, serve and practice in community, in ashrams and at yoga camps. He visited us in 1999 and taught in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Yogi Bhajan left his body in 2004. We are indebted to the enormous body of teachings he left and the continued inspiration and strengthening derived.
View libraryofteachings.com for wonderful information.
Kundalini means ‘a lock from the hair of the beloved’ – a poetic metaphor reminding us that yoga is linking the individual consciousness to our infinite source. Yoga considers this our natural, non-dualistic state whether we are religious of any spiritual provenience or not. Mostly classes are 90 minutes long; they comprise 1 hour of exercise, a deep relaxation for settling the yoga effects and a short meditation. New-comers are invited and encouraged at their level of ability. Teachers also offer specific introductory classes or workshops. Being a contemplative, introspective art, yoga also challenges and calls forth our potential thereby birthing our clarity and strength. You will be introduced to –
- breathing techniques,
- the bandhas (muscle activations known as ‘locks’ to harness the energetic potential of the exercises) and
- chants. The chants may be in English, Gurmukhi, and even in Zulu. Chanting draws us into a sacred mood and harmonizes brain chemistry (balanced pituitary and hypothalamus) via the stimulus through the upper palate.
Kundalini Yoga works on the nervous system and glandular system – whilst also promoting overall fitness and deepening one’s breath. Since the glands’ functioning and the nerves are directly related to how we ‘feel’ and what emotions we experience habitually, let yourself enter the transformative arena where Kundalini Yoga nurtures in you the self healing delivered via feelings of harmony, bliss and expansion. At the same time, Kundalini Yoga is a great tool for strengthening under the pressures of stress, finding one’s ability to be present with what is and fostering a personal and cozy connection with spirit.
When we commence with yoga, we chant a tuning in song. And remember, it is best to practice with a teacher!
Some general guidelines!
- Practice on an empty stomach! Some fruit is fine but you want to feel light and unburdened.
- Bring water to your practice. Same like with all exercise, hydrate! Drink water even in the middle of a work-out!
- Wear comfortable clothes; this could be track pants and a tee.
- Wear light-coloured clothes – this supports the expansive yoga experience.
- Bring a blanket or a beach towel. When you get into yoga, invest in a sticky yoga mat – this supports posture – and a sheep fleece – this supports your energy field during practice. (Look in Tools for where to find.)
- Yoga and intoxicants do not go together! The yoga induces a natural high and works the same neural pathways that may be affected through intoxicants.
May the Long time Sun Shine upon you, All Love surround you. And the pure light within you, Guide your way home.
– Kundalini Yoga Blessing
Since the beginning of 2020, 16 years post Yogi Bhajan’s passing, many critical voices have spoken up around this spiritual teacher’s denigrating treatment of students. Premka Pamela Dyson, a once staff member, wrote a book, White Bird in a Golden Cage. This gave many others the courage to share their stories, too. An Olive Branch was contacted by KRI and 3HO international to collate them.
We too, are in conversation with one another and the international colleagues in an attempt to process the depths of emotion we have each felt.
In various social media platforms, we also hear the many different stories of working and living with Yogi Bhajan, and of the profound value of Kundalini Yoga in people’s lives. We, too, have our own inspiring and transformative stories of this.
But this does not erase the individuals’ pain.
We see this revelation as an invitation to the global Kundalini Yoga school to witness, hear and hold in neutrality, with compassion and service. As we know from our own country’s past, bringing that which was hidden to light, no matter how harrowing, can only build a stronger, more transformed system.
We hear the reactionary voice expressing outrage, incredulity and betrayal.
We hear the dissenting voice wanting to protect the beauty and sacredness of Kundalini Yoga.
We hear the disillusioned voice wanting to walk away in shame.
All voices have a place in the system.
We are at a time when the feminine awakens as the overriding paradigm. It has to be the outcome, without deconstructing that which has brought us to this moment.
Finally, we honour our inner voices that urge us, along every step of our earthly journey, to overcome weaknesses and grow in strength, dignity, compassion, solidarity and love. In the spirit of transparency and honest seeking, we are open to further conversations about these narratives and experiences.