I was introduced to gatka, the Sikh martial art, by Leipzig-based gatka teacher Har Anand. It’s energetic, rhythmic, fast-flowing and challenging – embodying our inner warrior, we come face to face with our shadow, wrestling it with hands, wooden staves and swords – sounds aggressive, but it’s the flow of love that guides the dance. The philosophy behind gatka as Har Anand teaches it is as graceful as the light-footed moves that accompany it. But when I went in search of a teacher in London – nada. It seems gatka teachers are a rare species. And that’s why Har Anand is on a mission to call up more of us to practice, fall in love with, and teach this beautiful form…
How did you get into kundalini yoga and gatka, Har Anand?
My partner was a kundalini yoga teacher and Sat Nam Rasayan healer. I’d been going with her to Guru Dev Ji‘s weekend retreats since 2006. Amazing… but in the end, it was her healing in very special circumstances that was THE door: I was in Cape Verde and suffered a robbery. There was a bit of a fight and I got a muscle strain. That evening I had such pain in my neck and shoulders – there was no way I could travel with my luggage through the mountains. So we agreed to have a healing appointment – she was in Germany! I fell into a deep sleep and the next day, the pain was totally gone. Right up to the day before, I had been blocked: yoga, meditation and these kind of healings were so esoteric to me. We had a lot of conversations, my questions… hallelujah for her patience… she was able to answer with lot of compassion and without dogma or preaching… I’m so grateful for this. Later, in 2008, we visited the European Yoga Festival in France where I met two gatka teachers: Nanak Dev Ji (who left his physical body in 2015) and Guru Shabad Ji. It was love at first sight. I asked Guru Shabad if I could learn and he invited me to come to Italy.
How has it changed your life?
I am a curious man. I like to move all the time and to fully experience what’s coming to me or what’s around me… Life swung into full swing with a lot of inspiring new doors opening. I am now growing with my new family – my wife and my three children. I quit my work as freelance architect to follow my destiny as a warrior and as a teacher, as a healer. But I am still a beginner…
What does your practice look like now?
Honestly: My practice is (still) chaotic like waves of the ocean. I know the balance is somewhere between an ocean and a whirlpool with an off/on function. I am still learning…
What’s your favourite kriya?
Nabhi Kriya. It heals everything around the pelvis, sexual organs and lower spine, as well as mental and physical digestion. It gives you a way to be in your power and maintain a strong nervous system. I also love Gatka pantra. It’s a meditation, moving and balancing the focus and all five tattvas [elements] to become neutral, to come closer to a state of shunia [stillness]. It’s a dance around your true self.
What’s been the most powerful practice for you?
2008 was my first experience of the three days of white tantra at the France Yoga Festival with my wife. We laughed so much and it was so light. Also, the never-ending fighting in gatka brings me regularly to the edge – it’s a big challenge for me to surrender to the flow of love.
Did adopting your spiritual name change you?
Every time somebody calls me Har Anand, it reminds me to face my inner pain. I am thankful for this. This name is a big challenge.
Favourite quote? How can I miss you when you are with me all the time? (Stereo Total)
Why you are so serious? (Ava, stepdaughter)
Place? My inner garden
Teacher? My wife and children, Guru Shabad, Guru Dev, Nanak Dev, Karta Singh… all beings
Music? Kirtan by Nihang Singhs like Blue Lions and Chardikala Jatha
Breakfast? Long and varied
For more info about gatka classes, email Har Anand aka Rüdiger Tancke at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit gatka.eu