Whenever I play Jai-Jagdeesh’s music in my kundalini yoga classes, I’m inevitably asked: ‘Who, pray tell, was that?’ Well, everyone, it was the wonderfully bright, talented, quirky and humble Jai-Jagdeesh who’s currently singing those same beautiful mantras in a UK city near you over the next few weeks – PLEASE don’t miss her! Here she is…
When did you get into Kundalini Yoga, Jai-Jagdeesh?
I was introduced to Kundalini Yoga in the womb. I was born into this community; born at home, in my parents’ bedroom in a yogic, wholistic, Sikh ashram in suburban Connecticut.
How has it changed your life?
Even though this technology has been a part of my entire existence, this is still a valid question, because I didn’t always practice it. And of course until we actually UTILIZE whatever tools we have for wellness, healing, connection, and expansion — which is what Kundalini Yoga is to me; all of the above and MORE — those tools don’t have their fullest impact on us. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that I stopped seeing these practices as “the weird stuff that my parents like to do,” and earnestly, willingly, curiously gave them a proper try for myself. I stopped being an observer and started being a practitioner. At which point, EVERYTHING changed. My career path shifted, as did my priorities, boundaries, and focus. My relationship with my Self evolved, as did my relationships with others. It changed my definitions of success and prosperity, right and wrong, good and bad. My neutral mind strengthened, as did my resolve, as did my ability to show up in challenging circumstances.
Probably the biggest thing that changed when I started practicing Kundalini for myself was the circumference of my comfort zone. Kundalini Yoga helped me tap into a wealth of wisdom, courage, and intuitive understanding, which made me more likely to take previously unfathomable leaps into the void. It helped me find my sea legs in situations that would have been terrifying to a younger version of myself. Basically all of the freedom of expression and effervescent joy that I feel now has everything to do with the digging I’ve done whilst sitting on my yoga mat.
In truth, my current yoga practice is less of a practice and more of a hot mess of inconsistency! I’m presently 5 1/2 months into an 8-month international tour, and it’s been righteously hard to create any kind of routine for myself. If I’m in one place for longer than 4 days, I usually manage to get a few consecutive days of Kirtan Kriya under my belt… but my consistency lapses as soon as I have a back to back series of events. In other words: I remain a student in all ways, forever learning how to keep up in new circumstances. It’s good, but it’s hard. And it’s totally humbling.What’s your favourite kriya or meditation?
I can’t possibly pick a favourite. There are so many that have been special to me, and there are a huge number that I’ve never even tried yet… but there are two that completely rocked my world in the past, and those were Bound Lotus (so effing hard, but so completely transformational) and Self Blessing Guidance by Intuition (ditto, but WAY more subtle than Bound Lotus). If you’re looking for a revolution, make a 40 day commitment to either of those.
And what’s your favourite mantra?
Guru Guru Wahe Guru, Guru Ram Das Guru is one of my favourite mantras. If ever I’m feeling stressed, stuck, or disheartened, it’s the one I reach for. Anything that sinks me into my heart — which this does quite swiftly — is a go-to, because I have a tendency to get lost in mental jigsaw puzzles. The Virgo mind is a beautiful but VERY tricky place…
Has adopting your spiritual name changed you?
Jai-Jagdeesh is the only name I’ve ever had; YogiJi gave it to me when I was born, and it’s what I’ve been called for nearly 36 years. So I never went through a process of choosing whether or not to adopt a spiritual name… but there was a time when I refused to use my WHOLE name, because it felt too big, too clunky and unusual for the mainstream mouth to pronounce. I went by ‘Jai,’ for simplicity’s sake, and because the destiny of my full name (“Princess Who Supports the World of God”…) just felt too big & ridiculous. Plus I had a REALLY complicated relationship with the word “God,” being that SO MANY heavy and horrific things have been done while invoking it… so ‘Jai,’ which means ‘victory’ or ‘praise’, depending on the context, was enough.
Now however, many life lessons and growth spurts beyond that chapter of life, I’ve completely embraced every syllable — and the energetic invitation — of my weird, wonderful, destiny-bound, hyphenated name. I dig it. I’ll take it, thanks very much.
You in a Tweet? ‘Turns out I am muuuuuuch too verbose for Twitter. #LittleEpiphanies #KnowThyself’
Fave quote? This gem by Dr Seuss:
‘Today you are you
That is truer than true
There is no one alive
Who is you-er than you.‘
Book? For inspiration: Jack Kornfield’s hilarious & wise After The Ecstasy, The Laundry. For soul-nourishing alchemy: Daniel Ladinsky’s masterfully compiled collection, Love Poems From God. For deep healing: John O’Donohue’s impossibly perfect To Bless the Space Between Us. And to dive into one’s Self: Elena Brower‘s brand new Practice You.
Breakfast? Chocolate. (Kidding. Sort of…)
Place? Wherever I am. Because if I don’t find beauty, purpose, and special-ness in each place I go, I feel I will have completely missed the point.
What’s on your altar? Treasures. Pebbles and shells from different coastlines around the world. Semi-precious stones I’ve been gifted by friends and audience members. A teeny tiny seated Buddha. A golden lattice mandala. A photo of my 5-year-old self giving Yogi Bhajan a shoulder massage. Wooden dragonflies that perch on a point and sway in the breeze. And some random handmade objects that hold sacredness for me.
Teacher? Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s a warrior, that one, and I have learned SO MUCH from her candid sharing of her messy, complex, courageous, creativity-filled life.
Kundalini yoga song/artist? I’m going to answer this with songs and artists, plural, because there is such a wealth of wonderful work out there. I love Sada Sat Kaur’s Gobinday Mukhanday (off of Shashara), Singh Kaur’s Ardas (from the impossibly perfect Crimson Collection), Tina Malia’s Gayatri (track 1 of Jaya Bhagavan), and Snatam’s Mul Mantra (the closing piece on Anand). They are alternately peace-bringers & goosebump-givers, and I can’t resist singing harmonies with Snatam on that last one.
What are you most excited about right now? Aside from this tour in Ireland and the UK, which is WILDLY exciting: I’m really really REALLY looking forward to releasing a new album in just a few months. It’s been cooking for a while now, and it’s almost ready. It comes out in October. And I can’t WAIT to share it. (And we can’t wait to hear it, thank you Jai-Jagdeesh!)
Catch Jai-Jagdeesh on her 2017 UK tour. She’s in Manchester on 11 July (with Sound Code Sirius – go Anand Kirtan!), Birmingham on 13 July, London on 15 July and Cardiff on 20 July. Visit Anhadh.com for tickets