Meet Sujan Singh: Co-founder of Yoga Jap kundalini yoga centre in Rome, translator of Yogi Bhajan’s teachings into Italian and serial ‘sadhana surfer’

SUJAN SINGHI’m from Rome, Italy. Coming from the information technology field (my job) and different sports played since my childhood, I have been running Yoga Jap with Jot Prakash Kaur since September 2005. We attended a 3-year Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training (not a KRI-IKYTA one) and few years later we were Level 1 and Level 2 certificated by KRI. Since 2009 we have been hosting TT1 and TT2 Courses at our Yoga Studio and we have been creating a series of books dedicated to the Italian translation of Yogi Bhajan’s Teachings (with a special team of Kundalini Yoga students and teachers who support us in this sharing idea).

HOW DID YOU GET INTO KUNDALINI YOGA, SUJAN SINGH?

My Kundalini Yoga journey started in 2003, when I was searching for something different than the “logic” I was in touch with in my work as a computer consultant and as my natural attitude. I’ve been always attracted by eastern cultures so Yoga represented a good answer to what I was searching for, other than a good way to relax. I still remember how I felt after my first lesson and it was love at the very first sight. I felt at home with myself, energetic and strong, with a strange sense of “joy”, something more than simple “pleasure” (I also discovered I had some muscles whose existence I totally ignored!). It’s hard to fully explain it by words, but I liked it very very very much (is it too simple?), so now I’m still “here”, with my double perspective of being a student (there’s always something to learn) as well as a Kundalini Yoga teacher.

SUJAN SINGH YOGA JAPHOW HAS IT CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

The very first change I’ve noticed… I didn’t want to kill the mosquitos anymore 🙂

Other than that, my experience tells me that Kundalini Yoga can be the key to open the door of a different awareness of all our surroundings, but starting by ourselves. It gave me a clearer vision of my mental “intrigues”, helping me to better recognize the patterns I often confused for a natural way of living. I’ve found how easy can be to mistake what we want to believe in for what the reality is. Am I able now to completely see beyond the “Veil of Maya”? Of course not: I’m still on my learning curve (with some highs and lows) in a continue work in progress… Being compassionate with myself is my first step (and with a good sense of humor too), and being aware of how important it is to always take things lightly (it never means to take them superficially): this is how I try to live and what I try teach to my students (as Yogi Bhajan says, “…If you want to master something, teach it”)!

SUJAN SINGHWHAT DOES YOUR YOGA PRACTICE LOOK LIKE NOW, SUJAN?

Now I’m mostly a “sadhana surfer”: I go from a 40-90 or 120 days sadhana from another one, and if meanwhile I have the opportunity to practice with some other teachers, I try to grab this opportunity as well.

I’ve a strange relationship with the daily practice, with the personal sadhana I choose for myself, as well with the ones some teachers did choose for me: I simply “hate” them! No matter of the time I spent in choosing my sadhana, at the end of the day-1 I “sadly” think “I had to do something different, there was something better to try”… But then I can’t give it up, as “something” simply keeps me faithful to my commitment. Of course, I’m an excellent excuses-generator (and this can be a good feature as I’m able enough to recognize the excuses of my students!): the “lazy me” has always a good idea to suggest me to avoid my sadhana, but there’s also a “better me” and this takes me on my sheepskin again and again! I’m now in the middle of a 40-day sadhana and… guess what, I hate it!!!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE KRIYA OR MEDITATION?

Thinking about this question, I’ve realized that as soon a kriya or a meditation or a mantra comes to my mind, another one immediately pops up claiming it’s the best one, so I realized that it’s the moment that chooses what is the best, it’s not me (at least, it works for me that way). I usually don’t like too much the meditation working for too long with the arms over the head, so it happens that occasionally I choose one of them as a challenge for myself… but if I could chose just for what I like the most, I’ll meditate with a mantra now and forever!

WHAT’S BEEN THE MOST POWERFUL KUNDALINI YOGA PRACTICE YOU’VE EVER DONE?

I remember my very first one of 40 days (July 2004): Exercise Set for Relaxation and Releasing Fear (from “Kundalini for Youth and Joy”). It did teach me how to be consistent in my commitment, no matter what… where there’s a will, there’s a way! Then, another one important to me has been the 120 day practice of “Complete Adi Mantra for Individual Meditation“. A teacher gave it to me in the summer of 2017, and as a matter of fact, it did help me to clear some doubts and to choose a new path in my life.

HAS ADOPTING THE NAME SUJAN SINGH CHANGED YOU?

My name means “the wise lion”… So I try to remember it especially when my impulsiveness suggests me what to do (sometimes it works, sometimes not… but aren’t we all here for a “work in progress” learning process?). As I tend to think that I’m always right (maybe I take too seriously the fact that we all are perfect the way we are!), being wise is a good polar star to follow when things don’t go as I expected or when I see something wrong in my eyes: there could be a different way to look at things and the way of wisdom makes everything easier! As usual, Yogi Bhajan (or Nirinjan Kaur who gave me my spiritual name following his teachings) has been right with the name I needed the most. 

As my legal name is Andrea, a male name in Italy but often a female name in other countries, my very “first” spiritual name I’ve received was “Sujan Kaur” (as they probably haven’t seen the mark on the “male” box in the form I’ve filled to ask for it) and I still keep that letter from 3HO as an input to take care of my female polarity: maybe this is the reason why I’ve also decided to attend a “Yoga for Women” Course (dedicated to the women in the various stages of their life), to be able to also teach Yoga in Pregnancy classes, when or if needed (my spiritual name turned into Sujan Singh as soon as I’ve informed Nirinjan Kaur and her staff of the mistake and they just told me to change “Kaur” in “Singh”).

SUJAN SINGH YOGA JAPWHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM RUNNING A KUNDALINI YOGA CENTRE? ANY ADVICE TO THOSE WITH SIMILAR DREAMS?

Patience is a key: patience waiting that the business-side would go as you had hoped for, patience to face the unexpected, patience concerning your own expectations, patience with yourself and with the others (even when your collaborators forget to remember that the “boss” is always right!!) …as patience is a precious “friend” of another quality: flexibility. Of course… theory is just a step toward the practice, so I keep trying to learn it every day and I try to learn every moment how to integrate them in my actions!

Sujan Singh Yoga JapBut to me the most important aspect in running a Yoga Studio is to consider the money with the right perspective: if we look just at money, consciously or not, to make our decisions, sooner or later we’ll be wrong. Instead, money will come if we’re honest in ourselves and pure in sharing Yogi Bhajan’s teachings, especially when he says that we should trust in God or Infinite. Yes, we have to pay the rent of our room, it’s right to pay the teachers for what they do (as too often the word “seva” can be hackneyed), so we should have a good relationship with money, but when money is the key of our choices, we lose our spiritual basis, even if our dress and our behavior look spiritual (and people feel it!).

WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT YOUR WORK IN TRANSLATION?

Thank you for your question, as it gives me the opportunity to thank those who support us in this precious work, as me and Jot Prakash are just who those had the idea to translate Yogi Bhajan’s Teaching on a regular basis, but now what we are able to share is the result of a team work. 

I’ve always seen my translations as a “selfish” act, as it was easier, primarily for me, to read Yogi Bhajan’s words in Italian, so I translated few pages (or sometimes just a few lines) a day, as a kind of personal sadhana: then it happened that after some weeks or some months, depending on the number of pages of the book, the translation was over… and I had a whole book in Italian for me: could it be useful for someone else? Ok, no problem in sharing it!

Then, I’ve been lucky enough to meet people willing to support this project with their own abilities: of course Jot Prakash Kaur has been my first proofreader: precious eyes that helped me where I just see what it should be written, rather than what I really wrote!

Nimrita Kaur, student and then teacher of Yoga Jap Studio, professional translator, soon became the very first person to read my works, due to her ability to turn them from “Sujanese” (a mix between Italian, English and what I could understand of some of Yogi Bhajan’s complex quotes) into a better Italian!

Mahanbir Kaur, student and then teacher of Yoga Jap Studio, is a real “Italian language lover” and she is our eyes always searching for an easier and more understandable way to deliver Yogi Bhajan’s teachings in Italian.

Siri Akal Kaur, student and then teacher of Yoga Jap Studio, offered her support… and two eyes more have been more than welcome for a double check of proofreading, as misprints seem to multiply as gremlins do!

Alessandra Merigliano, a professional proofreader and Mahanbir Kaur’s friend, “moved” from being a reader of our books to a proofreader of the new ones (she’s the only one outside “Yoga Jap” Studio, as she attends another Kundalini Yoga Studio here in Rome, the “Yoga Sat” one, run by Guru Gopal Kaur and Sadhana Singh).

…and finally, in our last three books translated, Nirvair Charan Singh gave us his precious help. 

We respect few rules: we translate what we like the most, we do it when we can (the only deadline is “when we’ll be able to do it”) and we do it for free. Yes, for free.

As me and Jot Prakash decided to translate just for our pleasure, a “bigger” Energy sent us people with our very same idea of sharing, so we never had to discuss about this topic (simply, it would be too strange for us to do something differently!).

We take each copy of the book we worked on (a right prize for our efforts!), we set aside just a small part of our profit (what is necessary for our next projects, to follow up the old ones and to support the Yoga Studio if needed) and all the rest goes to charitable organizations we totally trust in (http://www.yoga-kundalini.it/iniziative-di-solidarieta/): this is our way to give back to people really in need a part of what we took thank to Yogi Bhajan’s teachings (and maybe this is one of the reasons why I care for our work so much, as I see how much love and real selflessness are behind it – not mine, of course, as my original motive was just that I wanted to read Yogi Bhajan’s teachings in Italian!). 

Will it be that way forever? Who knows… Now it works fine, but there is still room for improvement!

Finally, I want to thank the buyers of our books, as they give us the opportunity to keep up and to continue this work of sharing (also for their words of support and encouragement, a real nourishment for our souls!).

FAVOURITE QUOTE?

“Be simple, be straight and do it with a smile”

YOU IN A TWEET…

Please, do not disturb me (as I try to do my best not to disturb other people) and, please, do not make a fool of me (just real friends can do it).

BOOK?

The next one I’ll translate 😉

PLACE?

A quiet one, better if close to the sea.

TEACHER?

My first teacher has been Hari Singh, then I’ve studied with Guru Shabad Singh as well, but a special place in my heart is for Sada Sat Singh, a real example of what a teacher is and how a teacher should be, being him able to mix the spiritual realm with the day by day reality: a real and smiling warrior!

…and from other sides of my life, if a writer can be a teacher, I can’t forget Richard Bach and his inspiring books: just different ways, compared to Yoga teachings, to tell us that we are something more than just our physical body!

KUNDALINI MUSIC?

Sirgun Kaur (please, listen her recording of “Akhan Jor” or “I am the Light of my Soul” with Sat Darshan Singh), Wahe Guru Kaur (her triple CD “Japji Sahib” is a real jewel, as well her version of “Har Har Wahe Guru” mantra), Guru Ganesha Singh (I adore his “rock” inspiration), Sat Purkh Kaur (have you ever listened to her recording of “Jai Ma”?), Ram Dass (his CD “The Alchemist’s Prayer” is one of my favourite), Sat Shabad Singh (his “Guru Mantra” from the CD “Guru” is an instantaneous anahata-opener), Sada Sat Kaur (for the devotion she’s able to inspire through her music), Siri Kartar Kaur (such an energy in her Kirtan!), Simran Kaur & Guru Prem Singh (for the sweet melodies they are able to
create), and I apologize as I’m surely forgetting someone else (Gurunam Singh, Snatam Kaur, Sat Kirin Kaur etc.) as I am in debt with all the musicians who give their art and their spirit to share the sacred science of mantra!

BREAKFAST?

Cup of herbal tea or rice-milk, bread with jam or muesli.

FIND MORE ABOUT SUJAN SINGH AND YOGA JAP KUNDALINI YOGA CENTRE AT: http://www.yoga-kundalini.it

Thank you Ram Nam Singh for arranging this beautiful interview!