My friend, veteran Kundalini teacher, fellow goddess-gatherer and bright light of Harlem Siri Rishi Kaur was interviewed by neon art-warrior Katie Cercone of radical transnational queer feminist art collective Go!Push Pops for Revolt Magazine. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts but the whole thing is worth a read, especially if you are curious about Kundalini yoga, or yogic history in general.
KC: What is Kundalini yoga and how is it different from other styles?
SR: Kundalini yoga is a very dynamic style of yoga. It’s a very physical work out involving Kriyas (sets of asanas with a specific intention) as well as several different styles of pranayam (breathing exercises) and we hold a deep emphasis on meditation. Every class includes at least 11 minutes of meditation and an 11 minute deep relaxation. We also use sound medicine by playing the Gong to help relax the nervous system and reset and restore the body. The Asana is only there to support the meditation. Sometimes it’s a breath meditation or a chanting meditation. Kundalini isn’t just a physical workout. I haven’t yet come across a Vinyasa class that really incorporates enough meditation. Every class is different and we have hundred of kriyas and meditations to choose from. It’s a very powerful style of yoga that heals rapidly. It will transform energy very quickly. People who are new to Kundalini yoga, something always happens and the question they all have is…. “Is this normal?” Kundalini yoga opens gateways. You transform stagnant energy that you didn’t even know was there.
KC: How do you avoid approaching yogic principles as dualities, for instance dark/light, pure/impure, health/disease?
SR: Are you asking how do we find that balance in our lives? It’s a process. What I try to convey to people when I’m teaching yoga is that it’s a lifelong journey, one step at a time. I think it’s very easy to jump on the path of yoga and want to be like the Maha yogi and all that, but really that person will end up burning out. They’ll end up going deeper into some crazy dark side because it’s too extreme. When you have a really strong practice, everything will start to balance out. It was a natural progression for me. My lifestyle started to shift naturally because of my practice, but it took time. What I suggest is that we allow the practice to do the work and know and trust the deeper you go into your own practice the more that stuff is going to be worked out. For people who have a strong meditation practice it happens faster. If you’re just practicing physical yoga and you’re not meditating you’re not getting the whole picture. Meditation is vital with yoga. There is no reason to do asana practice if you’re not meditating. The physical practice is there to support your meditation practice. The more people bring meditation into their daily practice they’re going to find that balance in themselves and those habits or those spaces that aren’t really matching their practice in their lives are going to start shifting. People will practice enough to the point where if cigarettes are the habit, cigarettes will start to dissolve. If drinking is the habit, drinking might start to dissolve. Whatever the imbalance is. If that’s the imbalance than that will start to move and shift. Sex addiction will dissolve, food addictions can dissolve. My most important reminder is this is a life journey. It should continuously bring you into the Unknown so…. we will always be working on something and trying to find that balance between dark and light.