WALKING THE PATH
I was deeply touched that The International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association honoured me as an Inspirational Teacher in 2014. The citation included these comments: * Guru Kaur sincerely follows the teachings of Yogi Bhajan so her students can be confident that they are following his path. She is dedicated to teaching and recognises the uniqueness of every student supporting each in their individual needs. * her great knowledge, unique tapestry of skills and radiance * her excellent Be the Woman you were Born to Be course * her true understanding of life is inspirational * Guru Kaur is the teacher who leads by example. She inspires not only by teaching but also how she lives. She helps me to expand, set higher standards and live up to my potentials. For me she is The Teacher. The more I live with Kundalini Yoga and the whole body of teachings which Yogi Bhajan brought us, the more I see the immensity of brilliance it encapsulates, touching on every aspect of our lives as a human. Just to teach it as it is, without changing what we received, is to commit to being a teacher. Without the character of having put it into practice it is superficial. This way of life isn’t about obfuscating its simplicity in spiritual mumbo-jumbo nor about pushing people beyond their limits. It is about the minute detail, how we breathe minute by minute, and how we face daily challenges and life crises. Being a teacher is to be yourself and a representative of the impersonal potential of a human. The only way I’ve found to attain this paradox is through my personal practice. That doesn’t mean hours and hours of sitting on a mat polishing my chakras. It’s taking my life right back to the basics of what it means to be a decent, honourable human being who can account for each breath.
This simplicity of living is best summed up for me in Yogi Bhajan’s Patience Pays. It all sounds so easy on the first hearing, but listen carefully and in the detail the challenge it presents to overcome is revealed in the tiniest of words. Oh, how lovely it is to think that the Hand of God will take care of you, you’ll get everything you could ever want and all that. It’s staying conscious through that section to understand the full implications of “if you are stable, established, firm, patient” which matters. That is mastery of life: to understand that everything happens in its own time, from seeds growing to healing, from cheese setting to life unfolding. When you know that there is no rush but there is no time to waste, then you know that you are on your way. That little word “if” is priceless, just as it is in Rudyard Kipling’s eponymous poem summarising the Bhagavad Gita.
When I met first Yogi Bhajan over 20 years ago already he exhorted me to be still and silent. When he sent me to live in the Golden Temple complex for the summer of 1998 it was the first time in my life that I had spent 40 consecutive nights in the same place. The following year I went to Baba Bakala Gurdwara, Punjab where Guru Teg Bahadur had meditated daily for many years. I decided then and there to do something similar before it was enforced in my dotage. When the 2008 financial crisis loomed I saw the possibility of turning the situation to an advantage. Consciously I began a very short meditation within the same two hour time frame each day in the same room which continued for seven years until I marked its ending by going away for a few days. In the turbulence of the ups and downs of my life, not least in recent years, developing this patience has brought me to a more stable place within myself, providing a foundation of inner strength and an access to a prosperity of knowing that “Creation is ready to serve you, if you just be you.” In the end, everything else is smoke and mirrors; being you is what yoga is about. You can learn more about Be the Woman on the website To keep in touch please sign up to Guru Kaur’s email list on her website
When a friend told me about a great yoga class she’d met, I judged yoga as ‘airy fairy’ (I was more into sports). I finally took her up on her suggestion – and very glad I did! Life has and will never be the same!
Wow, I still remember the evening I walked out of that first class – all senses were heightened, there was a stunning sunset and half moon in the sky, I felt so expanded and connected to everything, also very present in my body. An inner door had opened. This has never and shall never close.
I used to experiment in psychedelics – and the experiences I had were mind and heart opening. But these experiences weren’t really embodied. My upper chakras were opening but it was kundalini yoga that really brought me into my physical body as well as opening my consciousness beyond what I knew.
I soon started practising daily, going to as many classes as possible, and later that year started my first year of teacher training.
First the yoga took me upwards, but gradually I became more guided to, and able to enter, what I was feeling in my body; delving into pain, uncovering wounds, healing much unresolved emotional stagnation that had built up throughout my life so far. I am lucky to have/had a range of dedicated teachers who helped and guided me, ultimately to ‘Guru Dev’ – the subtle teacher within and without, beyond form.
I started the teacher training because I wanted to help others! I now realise it was totally for me as an individual.
Although, as I heal myself, I heal the world. It has to start within. The more I delve inside, connect, heal, expand, the more I help others. And life flows on! Through changes, through challenges, I grow.
Teaching plays a huge role in my life. It teaches me new things all the time. My teaching is forever expanding. And touches many people’s lives – including everyone who knows me, not just those who come to classes.
Thank you to myself for the courage to walk this path of the heart. Thank you to all the teachers. Thank you to Yogi Bhajan. Thank you to the Infinite of which we are all a unique and beautiful part.
“If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.”
Bridgid Har Dyan Hess
Ever since I can remember I have laid awake at night wondering who I REALLY am. I have sought it through Christianity, I have sought it through becoming a Psychotherapist and sought it through studying for a PhD in pastoral healing – But in all this seeking – there was a sweetness that I yearned for that was missing. I always felt a fear and a division within myself.
Soon after I moved from Africa to Scotland in 2007 I attended a Kundalini Yoga class in the small town of Oban where I had recently come to live. It was my first ever yoga class and I simply loved it. The time just flew, and although my hips were killing me, I sat there tasting honey. I began taking my grandson’s car booster seat to class as it eased my hips (it must have looked weird)…. I persevered with the postures and meditations, with the thud thud thud of the loud gym music shaking the walls of the room where the class was taught!
In 2008 Hari Har Ji (Sahej Academy) offered to run Teachers Training in Argyll. I found myself signing up for it. I was anxious as it was outside of my comfort zone within the church and family. I think that my husband thought he was losing me to some sect. I also knew friends who disapproved.
It was the first teacher training to happen in Scotland and we met in my house. It took Hari Har Ji all day and evening to get here by train. I picked her up from the un-manned station. I dreaded each weekend!!! It was agony for me. So much of who I ‘thought I was’ became exposed. Shame and fear set in. I still persevered. Something much bigger drove me on through my fears and brokenness. It was such a hard thing for me to do. I had already lost so much of my ‘assumed identity’ coming here from Africa. There is a pattern however in my life…. The hardest, most difficult and painful things have been the most rewarding…. Like breaking through a concrete wall. It is true that as I kept up I was kept up.
I began to enjoy those early hours in the morning. I would light the wood-burning stove and sometimes the moon was out over the loch and I would look out into the pre-dawn darkness of the new day and do my daily practice. At the beginning I practiced kriyas for 40 days and they are the ones that have become part of me, for example Nabhi Kriya and the Ten Bodies. I do not always find it easy to rise early and I find myself fiddling around making tea, sorting the kitchen…. Anything to procrastinate. But once I get going I taste the honey. I put on a vaporiser in my room with jasmine, lavender, rose geranium or ceder wood. I sometimes play my guitar singing a psalm or reading the Jap Ji. I vary the kriyas but one I find myself returning often to ‘Transforming of energy from the Lower to the higher triangles’. It is a really challenging set. I am drawn to it for some mysterious reason; maybe it is that treacherous journey from from the navel to the heart-centre, breaking through those blocks where so many of my ‘demons reside’!!!! Training as a teacher is a life-changing experience.
My desire to integrate my Yoga with my Christian Faith has led me to create Celestial communications using some of the ancient Christian prayers. I began to find new words that removed gender and duality. For example, instead of ‘Our Father Who art in Heaven’ I sing ‘Our Creator, light of our Being, Holy is Your name. Your love comes, your light shines in our hearts……. One of my favourite sayings of Yogi Bajhan is – the difference between THE POWER OF LOVE AND THE LOVE OF POWER. This one saying will keep me busy for the rest of my days of my life on earth!
I love to teach yoga and have classes at my house overlooking the Isle of Mull. I also run workshops and teach classes on some of the Hebridean Islands. My classes are never big. I visit Africa at least once a year and teach in a small village in the Western Cape of South Africa. Wherever I am I try to go to a class or workshop and always learn from different communities. For example I have been to Thailand for White Tantric Yoga – that was a different experience.
There are a number of teachers here in Oban and I enjoy attending some of the other classes. Even so – I can feel somewhat isolated here and for the last three years have been attending the British Yoga Festival. I have found this immensely rejuvenating and fun and inspiring. I came away this year determined to offer some on-line classes for students on the islands and in South Africa and to set up a web-site. The teachers conference has also been such a supportive day of sangat.
May you be inspired to continue your journey wherever it leads you and to never give up on your true identity. This comes with the power of love to you
Bridgid Har Dyan Hess
Hari Karam Singh
How did you first ‘meet’ Kundalini Yoga?
I’ve had a lifelong interest in all things mystical and the combination of a growing discontent with modern life and my “recreational” activities in university had led me to begin studying Eastern esoterism. After graduating in 2002, I came to London to pursue a career in music. Between the financial and the culture shock, it was not an easy time. One day my new flatmate said she was going to a “Kundalini Yoga” class up the road in Stoke Newington and asked me if I’d like to come. I had no interest in “yoga”, stereotypically believing it to be just the modern aerobics (oh the irony!) BUT “kundalini” is a word I had come across in my readings and interested me immensely so I went. From the first tuning in, I knew I had found something special. It was also good that the teacher played cool music – Gurunam’s Triple Mantra IIRC – I was a total music snob and had he played Snatam the first time, I’d have run for the hills. I love Snatam now 🙂
That class was my sanity for a while but it eventually ended and a newly acquired girlfriend filled the gap so-to-speak, but about a year later, I had the thought “There’s something to that Kundalini Yoga. I need to find it again”. I went on a hunt and found Guru Kaur’s classes at Pineapple Dance Studios. The rest is history!
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What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
I had no interest in being a “Yoga Teacher”. I still don’t, really. I’m much more interested in learning and practicing. However, I’ve felt compelled to teach more lately because I feel like I’ve learned some things and that someone’s life might benefit if I share them – someone like me 10 years ago.
Me doing Teacher Training was all down to this one-liner delivered by Guru Kaur. I had been going to class 3+ times per week for 2 years. She was organising the next group and was nudging me to join in. I wasn’t interested – I had a decent occupation and I couldn’t see the point. She organised a lunch after class one Saturday as an information session and asked me to come, so I did. As the others present enquired about certificates, subjects covered and whatnot, my attention was drifting out of the second story window of the World Cafe overlooking a summerly Neal’s Yard. Then Guru Kaur dropped this line: “What we do in class – isn’t really Kundalini Yoga. Teacher Training – *that’s* Kundalini Yoga”. I paid that evening, as well as wrote the 500 word essay she required answering the question “What do *I* bring to the party?”. She was good!
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What inspires your personal practice?
If you study some of the stories of human excellence from the ancient yogic traditions you begin to get a sense of just how exalted a human being can make him/herself and how much higher this bar of achievement is then what we call “great” in the Western world. I want to be worthy of the company of those great yogis.
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Do you have a favourite sadhana? or a particular tool that you return to again and again in the teachings?
Stretch Pose. It took me 5 years to build up to 5 minutes. If you see me in the morning, I’ve done it – I haven’t missed a day in years. For me it’s the single most critical thing in KY to do. It’s the anchor that keeps you steady even in the most turbulent energies – whether they be from intense meditations or intense drama. That and Frogs – 108 a day was the first 40 day sadhana I ever did (thanks Sat Charan Kaur!) Still working towards Yogi Bhajan’s goal of “270 in 4 minutes”…
Pran Chakra is a gem amongst gems. 17 minutes to ecstasy…
Japji – Everything you ever wanted to know about spiritual reality in 39 verses or less.
Turban – Not saying what *you* should do but for me it was huge – the moment I finally defeated the inner desire to “fit in”. There’s only two ways you can go when you wear it publicly: uniquely inspiring or uniquely insecure – and you’ll be tested on which you are. I nearly got fired from my job when I first started wearing it. A few months later they were offering me a partnership. It also makes yoga and mediation *way* more effective.
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Is there a specific teaching from Yogi Bhajan that you take guidance from?
“Feel good, do good, be good. These are the only goods you can take with you. The rest belong to the Earth”
“The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan”, the book of quotes – man it is good. If you don’t have it, go get it now…
I also love these ones from his teacher: “Dull words never penetrate,” “The aged wolf loses it’s teeth and then decides it’s going to be vegetarian”
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What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a Kundalini yoga teacher? How did you keep up through it?
Authenticity and authority. I believe they both come from being experienced in something rather than just learning the lingo so for me expanding my knowledge and practice are the most important thing.
I also have a list I call my “Spiritual Bollocks” list which consists of words and phrases I try to avoid in class. They include things like “projection”, “chakra”, “infinite”, “at a cellular level”, excessive use of “really” and “energy”. It’s not that these words aren’t valid – sometimes they are the best word for the task – it’s just that it’s too easy to cover up one’s knowledge gap with lofty terminology. When I hear myself saying them too much I ask myself “what are you really trying to say?”. I like my friend’s version on an Einstein quote: “If you can’t explain something to your mother-in-law then you don’t understand it yourself” (Einstein: “a six-year-old”).
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What helps you to keep up on an everyday basis?
Homemade Yogi Tea. A cup in the morning is officially part of my sadhana 😉
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What practical advice would you offer to a teacher starting out on this path?
A couple pieces of solid advice that were given to me early on:
“The people who come out the best from this experience are those who keep going to a regular class during and after Teacher Training”.
“Don’t go quit your day job. Your inner life is about to become very unstable. You’ll appreciate having some certainty in the outer portion.”
“If you want to know how you are progressing, don’t pay attention to how you look, how you feel or even what thoughts you have. Look at the details in your external world”.
Sat Nam! Godspeed!
Hari Karam Singh