YOGI BARE: An Introduction To Kundalini Yoga

With Paramjot Singh Khlasa, By Karl Plewka…

Let’s face it, I was never a natural yogi. I find the general concepts of yoga, like being detached yet fully engaged with the world hard to grasp and my main reason for doing the hot yoga classes I have endured over the last eight years was always about getting thinner and not because I’d had some spiritual epiphany after reading Paramahansa Yogananda’s ‘Autobiography Of A Yogi’.

In fact despite the constant exposure to alien body fluids and fear of contracting some airborne disease from the snail trials left on un-wiped communal yoga mats, my love affair with hot yoga even the after-class feelings of post-coital euphoria and the glow this creates, has wained of late. And it’s mostly due to one thing, the other students. I hold my hands up as I’m as vain, competitive and aggressive as the best of them but recently I realised how much my inability to do Side Crow was affecting me mentally and as I fell back on my mat one day, done-in and defeated, I saw the competitive yoga couples around me levitating to the giddy heights of Nirvana and I felt like I’d witnessed the zenith of facist yoga smugness.

What to do about the malevolent attitude I was developing towards these people? Could I be saved from my yoga contempt? I was intrigued to hear from Wendy Rowe about a form of yoga called Kundalini that she had experienced during a recent trip to Thailand. Kundalini is a school of yoga that is influenced by Shaktism and Tantra schools of Hinduism often referred to as ‘the yoga of awareness’. Could this be my saving grace from yoga abstinence? So in a bid to reunite myself with some spiritual downtime I got in touch with Paramjot Singh Khalsa, who taught Wendy, and who is one of the world’s leading Kundalini teachers. Could Paramjot save me from my yoga scepticism?

Image credit @wendyrowe instagram
Image Credit @ Paramjotkhalsa Instagram

Here’s what happened when we spoke:

Karl Plewka: Did something happen in your early life that drew you to yoga and meditation?

Paramjot Singh Khalsa: As a young child I was always interested in ancient knowledge. At the age of seven I started to practice Yoga Asanas without even knowing that something like Yoga existed. It seemed like these Asanas were natural to my body and mind, as if I was recalling something I already knew subconsciously. Coming from an Indian Sikh family background, born in Thailand, I was fortunate to learn not just about Indian tradition but also the deep wisdom of Buddhism. I used to sit with the monks and studied their way to meditate and spent time with the Indian Yogis and was blessed by their wisdom. As I was working for the family business I was travelling around the world, yet I felt empty inside. The material world could not fulfil that emptiness so I decided to proceed into a spiritual direction.

KP: When did you discover kundalini yoga?

PS: Around the age of seventeen I heard about Kundalini Yoga from Indian Yogis and at the age of twenty I came across the teaching of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan.

image credit @paramjotkhalsa instagram copy
Image Credit @ Paramjotkhalsa Instagram

KP: Where do you teach Kundalini yoga?

PS: I am blessed to teach weekly classes, private sessions, workshops, retreats and at Yoga Festivals, in recovery centres, health care hospitals and wellness resorts, as well as online classes all over the world.

KP: What are the main differences between Kundalini and other forms of Yoga?

PS: The main differences between Kundalini Yoga and other Yoga paths are that Kundalini Yoga was kept secret until the early 1970’s and as a Raj Yoga it was given from the master to the Brahman cast. It is the deepest and fastest way to connect to your inner self and with the universal self, combining not just the Asanas but various types of meditation techniques and mantras and also the controlling of the breath and using the natural locks (bandhas) of the body and mudras to awaken the Kundalini energy so we can carry ourself to our full potential.

KP: Can you define what the word Kundalini actually means?

PS: Kundalini comes from Sanskrit which means “the coiled hair of the beloved” and describes our strongest energy we have that sleeps at the tailbone, between the anus and the sexual organs.

image credit @paramjotkhalsa instagram copy 2
Image Credit @ Paramjotkhalsa Instagram

KP: Do you actually believe in the concept that we have a spiritual energy or life force at the base of the spine?

PS: Yes, I do believe. It’s even more than a belief, it is my experience. I have felt the shifting of the energy through the awakening of the Kundalini along the spine. It is also said, in the yogic tradition, that how your spine is functioning determines almost everything about where your consciousness is going.

KP: Is Kundalini a combination of different yoga and meditation techniques?

PS: Kundalini Yoga is the “Mother” of all Yoga paths, in fact, whatever Yoga one is practising the original approach behind them is always to awakening of the Kundalini energy.

KP: Is there a significant spiritual aspect to Kundalini Yoga?

PS: Yes, it is guiding you deeper into the space where you connect with your essence, your soul, to go within yourself to connect with the infinite. In fact the very idea of practicing Kundalini yoga is the choice one chooses to walk a spiritual path. It is to be able to live life as a householder, living in a day to day life without being shaken by the Maya’s.

KP: I read that Kundalini Yoga became popular in 1960s Western counterculture. Does it still draw outsiders”?

PS: It was becoming popular in the 1960’s as Yogi Bhajan opened up the teaching in the US. Right now it is spreading to every part of the world, to people from various backgrounds, even to clinics as a yoga therapy.

image credit @paramjotkhalsa instagram copy
Image Credit @ Paramjotkhalsa Instagram

KP: What kinds of people practice kundalini?

PS: All kinds from the young to the elderly. You don’t need a special skill all you need is an open heart. I have taught to a man with one leg. I have also taught in rehabs and in the corporate world.

KP: Have you taught any celebrities? I read Madonna, Demi Moore and Al Pacino have all practiced Kundalini.

PS: I have taught many celebrities, for example, European royalty, ministers in the Middle East, models, artists, actresses and high profile business people.

KP: What are the first noticeable effects on someone who begins practicing Kundalini?

PS: Firstly the body starts to change as the metabolism and breathing pattern gets better. The mind become more calm and focussed. Of course you release a lot of emotions from the past which are in fact sabotaging the journey of your soul. You release those unconscious patterns and come to the realisation that happiness is your birthright.

image credit @paramjotkhalsa instagram copy3
Image Credit @ Paramjotkhalsa Instagram

KP: Can Kundalini help solve health or personal issues, like addictions?

PS: Oh yes! That’s my main work. Together with my wife we have been treating, for example, cancer patients, ADHD, depression, burn out, asthma, high-low blood pressure, fertility, stress related diseases, and of course any sort of addictions.

KP: What is the most amazing transformation you have seen from someone starting to practice Kundalini?

PS: I have had a guy who was addicted to everything, you can say he would be addicted to anything any time. He found my website and said that he has been to many rehabs in and out but nothing could fix him. I asked him to try my treatment for 40 days. It was the most hard and transformative 40 days of his life. The best part was he fully trusted me and allowed me to be his shadow, to guide him through the transformation. Now it’s been 7 years since he became clean and back to live a normal life.

KP: I’ve heard that with the regular practice of Kundalini it’s possible to liberate oneself from one’s karma and realise one’s dhama. Do you support this idea?

PS: It absolutely gives you a chance to recognise your karma but whether you have the courage to overcome your ego and walk towards drama or not that is your own choice.

KP: What is the positive aspect of liberating oneself from karma?

PS: I would not say that yoga will liberate your karma because that would be a trick of our ego. Yoga is a tool, yes, but that soul which has the destiny to liberate the self by the grace of the universe will be able to cross this wheel of life. For some it might be as short as opening a door and to walk in, for others it might be a long journey.

image credit @paramjotkhalsa instagram copy2
Image Credit @ Paramjotkhalsa Instagram

KP: I’m notoriously impatient so if I began practicing Kundalini tomorrow how long would it take for me to notice any changes be they physical, mental or spiritual?

PS: There is no timeline for that. In fact that is the ego which again wants to conquer you. The change varies from person to person. Some might feel it in a day and for some months or longer.

KP: So is kundalini growing in popularity in the west?

PS: Yes, it definitely is. We have the biggest festivals happening both in France and US which are each attracting more than 3000 participants and I was teaching at the Festival in France as well. The Kundalini community has been growing tremendously each year worldwide. This is just one section of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, but there are also those who are practicing Kundalini Yoga traditionally in India and the number is growing as well.

KP: We need you Paramjot! Any plans to come to the UK?

PS: Coming to the UK has been in my mind for a long time, in fact I would like to share the teaching together with my wife, bringing the east and the west aspect of Kundalini Yoga for addiction, healing emotional trauma and Kundalini Yoga in a therapeutic way. We are open to cooperate with a local organiser who might be interested to host us. For more information about us and our Concept “Touch of Soul”, please have a look at our website.

KP: Thank you Paramjot! You have restored my Yoga faith. Namaste.