A FRESH TAKE ON SPIRITUALITY, SHE IS DIFFERENT AND THAT’S WHAT MAKES HER SO SPECIAL. EFFERVESCENT, BUBBLY, FRIENDLY AND VERY APPROACHABLE, SHE IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL GURU! HER ENLIGHTENMENT AND ENGAGEMENT FLOORS YOU. GURU JAGAT IS DEFINITELY ONE OF A KIND! VIKI SHAH MEETS HER TO KNOW MORE.
HOW DO WE BE PRESENT IN OUR BODIES AND REMAIN CONNECTED TO THE EARTH?
HOW DO WE CULTIVATE IN AWARENESS OF SELF?
I think the basis of staying present in the body is being present with the breath, you can’t be with your body if you are not present with your breath, you can’t be truly body so that’s the first fundamental principle: presence with breath, awareness of breath, conscious breath. One of the things I love about Kundalini yoga is that it is really adaptogenic, it elevates you, it changes your brain chemistry, it gives you a healthy buzz; it definitely elevates the system however it also grounds you simultaneously. I think sometimes the spiritual and yoga world gets a rap for being airy fairy but Kundalini yoga can be very grounding while simultaneously elevating your system on a bio-chemical level or also on a spiritual and energetic level. I am a very grass roots person, you know I have a lot to do; I’m an entrepreneur, I have a lot of functionary duties just like we all do, we are parents, we are business people, we are workers; multiple roles so I don’t have the time to just space out.
So, that’s what I love about Kundalini Yoga! The fundamental part is a breath consciousness and then I do feel like if you are in a physical body which we are, you have to do something every day to get present with your physical body. My teacher Yogi Bhajan would say just being a soul in a physical form makes us frustrated and uncomfortable and that accumulation makes us want to kind of numb out to our bodies, or numb out to the physical world in some way, whether it is drinking or whether its watching too much TV or whether all of these things you do to kind of not be present, so we have to do something that will helps us to come into our body in a healthy way.
This is one of the hardest things for the modern culture because we are all on our phones, we are like not in our bodies we’re the most disembodied today than we’ve ever been. I mean think about all of the ancient cultures, there were some sort of dances, prayer dance embodiments, there was much more walking, much more physical activity so we are the most disembodied we’ve ever been right now on the planet and so I think that’s also why we have the swing of the fitness movements and the yoga movements and the boutique kind of fitness craze; people are looking for a way to come back to our bodies. So definitely it’s important to have something where you are re-embodying every day and it can look different for everyone, but I think it’s a necessity. Cultivate awareness to self; I think there’s some sort of tracking of the thoughts and of the actions and then every sequence creates a consequence what we say in Kundalini yoga; in any way just tracking where your thoughts are going, creating a habitual cognitive pattern and how that’s creating habitual chemical patterns in the body which then we call moods, emotions; we call that feelings but that’s all cascade of a kind of mental pattern that starts to create a physical pattern which people think “Oh I’m just moody” or “I’m just emotional” but there’s something way pre-mood, pre-emotions that’s happening and so in order to be more aware of ourselves, whatever that is, I think that the whole human incarnation is to try to figure out who we are, be curious about who and what we are and hopefully we will never figure out because that’s the whole point.
FOR ANYONE UNFAMILIAR WITH KUNDALINI, OR THINKS IT’S JUST ABOUT WEARING A WHITE AND TURBANS, CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT KUNDALINI AND MEDITATION?
Well, it’s interesting and I’m wondering if there is more of that in this part of the world. I used to deal with that a lot in America, it’s been a little less of that kind of propaganda now and for those don’t know how to awaken the kundalini or say it’s dangerous to awaken the Kundalini, it actually roots back to British Colonial India. The British colonials basically saw that there are certain parts of India where it was much harder to control the population and it connected to a certain yoga practice or meditative practice and so the British started running a huge propaganda machine around on some of the practices that are now called Kundalini Yoga. Carl Jung was the first westerner to go into some of the esoteric practices of Kundalini Yogis and he gave a talk which later became a transcription of his book called the Psychology of Kundalini Yoga and he gave a three-night talk in Berlin in1931. He basically said this Kundalini Yoga is way more powerful in terms of healing the system and clearing the trauma from the system than anything else that any psycho therapeutics were up to, but at the time he also said that it is very powerful, and westerners are ready for it. My teacher Guru Bhajan brought these teachings to the West in 1969; he said that basically the westerns are ready now to start his practice. Just like many of the teachers that reincarnated during our lifetime, a lot of this had to happen in the west, a lot of awakening and a lot of this teachings were brought because primarily I think that westerners are more neurotic (laughs) so in order to kind of awaken the whole planet we need to work on more neurotic people of the planet!
KUDALINI IS THE PROCESS OF BIO FEEDBACK. CAN YOU EXPLAIN?
Yes, You can look at it from an esoteric level or a physiological level, I mean I love to look at things in different ways; I’m a scientist that way and I really like to look at everything from different angles and you know put on pure evidence for it being more esoteric than philosophy; that’s the way that I just go about learning and teaching. In terms of the way the energy moves in the system, Kundalini is a kind of inherent energetic frequency that can be moved to the chakras in the whole system, and when it starts to be activated, its normally a dormant power, when it starts to move from the system there is a bio feedback, cause the system is so intelligent, in the human system, there’s a bio feedback mechanism where its adaptogenic, if you need more energy it’s going to help you become more energetic, if you need to calm down like obviously to help you with the anxiety, it will calm you and give you that, so it’s very intelligent that the bio feedback works in this inherent way and this is why I think it is so amazing and important right now. So many people on the edge of modern life are looking outside of themselves, whether it’s Xanax or Medical marijuana movement or all of these different things, we’ve been looking to kind of take the buzz; people are looking for a guru or shamans, somebody to externally help you into awakening your own power and allowing that intelligence to start feedback in the internal, the close circuit of your system. So Kundalini is very intelligent that way.
IS KUNDALINI FOR EVERYONE? CAN EVERYONE EXPERIENCE A KUNDALINI OR AWAKENING? AND IF YES HOW DOES IT MANIFEST?
Well, I met this guy who had never done yoga before, he is from South Bronx, he was saying to me, I can hardly do any of it but what I love about it is that anybody can do something, and I was like good, you know you don’t have to touch your toes! I have people who come in jeans to class, had a woman here in Dubai who came for my talk in jeans and she was like I want to stay for the workshop can I? I’m wearing jeans and I was like yeah, you can come stay for the workshop. She did the whole workshop in jeans you know, anybody can do it, you don’t have to have the right outfit, I know that the outfits you see are wearing white; I’m wearing something on my head but like I was saying in the class that I need to coz’ I’m driving the rocket ship, you know what I mean? I’ve got to put my helmet on; looks like I’m joking but I’m not joking . You can come as you are and hopefully you will be more as you are. I think it’s a relief for a lot of people because there are so many yoga scenes where you don’t have the right outfit, you are not in the right age group, you don’t know how to touch your toes, it’s so limiting; the whole message is, anybody can do this and I get messages every day from people, in fact I just got a message from a person of a different faith and he is practicing Kundalini, you know he is a very religious man, he is practicing Kundalini Yoga and his whole life is changing and that’s kind of rare coz’ usually it’s more women, not from whether different religions but we get a lot of questions from women. Yoga practitioners are about 80% women at this point although I think the male population in yoga is growing. If I was a man I would be going to yoga, I mean that’s where the beautiful women are, I mean it’s a smart idea, so I tell everyone guys, come and join! .
IS KUNDALINI PRACTICE MORE RELEVANT IN TODAY’S TIMES?
Well, I know that it was practiced in secret for 6,900 years and only in the past 70-80 years it has been brought out of the more secret practices, never taught to women, never taught in public. Yogi Bhajan was a major rebel, he basically took something that was very secret, passed only from Guru to disciple and he put it out there to a bunch of underserving, drug addict western kids and he knew it was going to be so relevant to the times. He used to talk about stuff and nobody believed him, I mean he talked about smartphones, prophecies, about all sort of medical advancements that will be made in the next era, 500-1000 years and a lot of what he is saying is going to be proven.
HOW IS KUNDALINI RELATED TO CORTISOL PRODUCTION?
I taught little steps to my crew this morning and it was very cortisol releasing, We were discussing about smell, like you know when you start to stress out and your armpit starts to excrete and smells, it’s that stress sweat, well this Kriya is one that really gets the wastages of the cortisol out of your body and it’s really effective. One of the things that I think is missing in the fitness is that we feel the body does well with little high intensity movements but it doesn’t do well, most people who are already stressed out only get more inflamed with more cortisol flushing through the system that isn’t able to metabolize from an hour of fitness class. Not for all but for some people who are already stressed, if you push the body with workouts for an hour and a half, it does not help! I think kundalini Yoga really understands the way the adrenals and the kidneys function in how to balance those stress hormones,; it’s good to have a little flush of cortisol in our system, it wakes you up but not too much so when you see the Kundalini Kriyas, little pushes, couple of minutes of certain little cycles, it’s like an interval training of sorts; this little cycle of intensive and then rest and a lot of Kriyas are pretty short as well so you get a nice 20-25 minutes clearing and balancing of the kidneys, the adrenals in the blood.
Excess cortisol and adrenaline get flushed without creating too much more. When you really had a hardcore workout it’s like your body gets a little inflamed, you hardly get that with Kundalini, you could just be a bit sore. In fact somebody told me yesterday that when they come to class they were really bloated and their pants are really tight and I taught them like a 15 minute Kriya, and I was pretty sure we meditated for a while and afterwards they put their clothes back on and they were like, my pants were 2 inches bigger, like I’m smaller by 2 inches; the cortisol, the bloat had cleared the system. Gut and adrenal fatigues are a major cause for concern in modern times.
SO HOW DO YOU PLAN TO MAKE KUNDALINI MAINSTREAM?
This is kind of my mission to really make Kundalini a household kind of name. We have the RA MA Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology, Brick and Mortar studios in Venice, California; Mallorca, Spain; and New York City; we have digital aspects to the brand called RA MA TV, my class every day, workshops or trainings or intensives or women’s sessions all of it goes globally live streamed every single day. That’s because you know we have women and men who came to this session in Dubai from Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, they were all following RA MA TV and flew in for this session. I was really happy about that. If you have Wi-Fi or if you have Internet, you can do the classes. I’m a writer and working on my next book. I would love to publish it in Arabic, it’s in French, Russian, German and English right now, I’m really working on Spanish and would like to get it in Mandarin and it would be amazing.
GOING BACK A BIT HOW DID YOU GET INTO KUNDALINI?
I was simply looking for something, I didn’t know exactly what it was. I started with some other types of yoga; I’m a really committed student, when I do something, I really go there so I was trying different things and then within 25 seconds of my Kundalini yoga class I knew I had found gold. It was incarnational! It was with some random teacher in New York City but that lead me to yoga, which is a common that story, everyone has that story, it was destiny.
WHAT ARE THESE IMMENSE GRACE IMMERSIONS?
Immense Grace is one of my programs; I have a couple of different ones. This is like a monthly subscription experience that’s specially curated and I go with themes every new moon. It’s a wonderful group of incredible women around the world. It is more focused on leadership training, a little bit more like a professional group of women not all, but like that’s kind of the vibe to do a lot of stuff over training to become the leaders of what we have. Women must take a man’s role now, be financially independent, run the household, manage home, work etc. So that’s one level and then the immense grace is like a little bit of a higher level of commitment and higher end program which has retreats, and immersions and it’s an intensive study program that goes over a year with me and we have this kind of retreat pop up like we did here in Dubai. I give teachings in areas like career, body image, healthy sexuality, leadership stuff and it’s all about parenting, motherhood, composed of a lot of the things we are facing. So that’s immense grace and we do these pop ups and we’re going to continue to expand, to have a nice women’s weekend where we can do more of that.
KEY YOGA PHILOSOPHIES YOU EMBRACE.
One of the things that I think is not yogic, it’s kind of more like a philosophy, which is the golden rule, treat people, as you like to be treated. If you live your life by this simple tenet, and my mom always taught me to treat other people the way you wanted to be treated and it’s gotten me everywhere. Yogi Bhajan gives 5 of these for this age and if you took one of those and if you really lived your life by it you would have a whole different incarnation and one that I use a lot as an entrepreneur is being someone who’s constantly taking risks and putting my neck out there and when the pressure is on I start and the pressure will be off so if I’m feeling the pressure I take minutes like I do this all the time, I set my alarm for like 7 minutes and if I cannot do it in that time I set it again for another 7 minutes. Someone told me that she would set the kitchen timer when she needed to clean something or do something she wanted to do. This stayed with me and I was like that smart. And it works! Sometimes with my team in a group session, we set 22 minutes and we are just together, and everybody works as hard as they can, it’s amazing what you can get done in that time! yoga matters
WHAT IS THE DAY IN YOUR LIFE LIKE?
Well, we’ve been on like 10 planes in 14 days, we travel a lot and I love to travel and I’m definitely a good traveler. Always my life is about how do I find status in shifting environments and I’ve done pretty good at it. I just convinced myself there is no jet lag and wherever, for me to do what I have to do and do my morning practice so wherever I am I do my very best to start my day with my morning practice unless I’m on the airplane, it will be a bit more difficult but even then I will meditate on the airplane and just you know quietly, so my day always starts with meditation. if I’m in a place where I can, I take a cold shower, I’m very into hydrotherapy so I take a cold shower, showers aren’t very cold here in Dubai or Los Angeles, I was in Sikkim recently and it was cold, really cold! I’m a morning person so I like to work in the morning, I get more done between 6:30 am and 9 am when I normally teach then in afternoon by the time, I get to like 3 pm my productivity goes down. Meetings with my team in the afternoon, people who work for global brands all over the world and I don’t go to sleep early. I prefer no dinner or light meal which is very yogic. Yogi Bhajan says that the last meal should be at around 5.30 pm I feel better when my stomach is empty.
YOUR MESSAGE FOR OUR READERS
I will just say, think of your yoga, meditation practice as a long term relationship, it’s all about phasing all just continuing to show up in the best way that you can and passion just all the things that you need to have a long term relationship because your cultivating I would much rather have a long life relationship with meditation and yoga practice that they try it and go crazy for a year and then they never do it again. So, I’m always encouraging people to make this a long- term relationship. Stay the course and on the other side of that is a lot of peace, just treasure of your humanity and your consciousness.