Cape Town-based Patwant has been teaching kundalini yoga since 2001, from private one-to-ones to workshops at the European KY Festival to classes in a male ward in a government-funded psychiatric hospital. Last year she released a poetry and meditation anthology. Here she tells the fascinating story of her healing journey through yoga and Reiki…
When and how did you get into kundalini yoga, Patwant?
I went to my first Kundalini class in 1999 at a gym and fell in love. I knew I needed to teach it from my first class.
How has it changed your life?
Profoundly, on every level and in every way. It is my spiritual practice and has been since I started… The timing was perfect. In 1997 my then-partner found out he was HIV positive. I was 24 at the time and breastfeeding our one-year-old daughter. Miraculously we were not infected. It was the beginning of an incredibly intense and challenging journey, filled to the brim with invaluable golden learnings. I also discovered Reiki then, and experienced beyond-profound healings. I instantly knew it was something I needed to practice.
I raised my daughter alone as her father died when she was five. I experienced a lot of post-traumatic stress and anxiety attacks many years after my partner’s death. While it was all happening, I was very calm, clear and accepting, very trusting of the experience. I kept saying: ‘Everything is as it should be.’ I almost kept on bypassing the really deep and uncomfortable emotions. It took me a couple of years and even a bit longer to truly grieve and feel angry and allow the pain.
So what kundalini yoga has gifted me with is a deep unshakeable strength, endurance, an inbuilt coping mechanism, acceptance, surrender, humility, and a nervous system of steel :). It has allowed me the continual space to energetically, physically and mentally process and release what I need to, as well as maintain an intimate connection with the divine through each breath. One of my biggest lessons has been learning to sit with what is as it is. To sit in the fire and not run from the flames because this is where the powerful healing lies.
What does your yoga practice look like now?
My practice has changed so much over the years and I have learnt to listen to what my body and being needs. I used to whip myself for not waking up at 4am every morning and doing a full sadhana. I have definitely learnt to be gentler with myself. Because I teach so much now, I find my personal practice has become a lot more meditative. I am currently practicing 31 mins bound lotus with Japji and 11 repetitions of Sopurkh. I’m loving this combination. I have only in the last two years got into Sopurkh and have recently just completed 120 days of it. I missed it so much that i have started doing it again! I find it incredibly soothing. Bound lotus is something I keep coming back to. I think it needs to be a 1000 days meditation now! Let’s see… I’ll speak to you in three years 🙂
What’s your favourite kriya, meditation or mantra?
I find both Japji and Sopurkh deeply healing. Japji covers all our bases physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and Sopurkh heals our karma with men in so many ways. Our male lineage/ancestry, our past karma with men, past lives and current relationships heal. It dissolves negativity and I love that you can chant it for up to three men at a time. It energetically lifts and assists them if they are going through challenging times. Yogi Bhajan said if you chant this for a man it will elevate them to the level of a saint. It is the most beautiful gift we can give the precious men in our lives… fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, friends, lovers. And it also supercharges our prayers as women.
It’s so challenging to choose a favourite kriya. We are so blessed with so many phenomenal ones. Bound lotus though keeps coming back to me.
What’s been your most life-changing practice?
Every single meditation or kriya that I have practiced for extended periods of time has gifted me with something very deep, often in a very subtle way. Nine months of Japji was probably the most transformative for me, during a very challenging time. It feels like it assisted in opening a flow back into my life. Every single meditation helps us to just get out of the way of ourselves and let spirit move through us.
You teach in Cape Town. How is kundalini yoga received there?
Kundalini yoga has grown immensely here over the years. There are many teachers here and full teacher trainings happening every year. Since 2001 when I first started teaching, it has grown exponentially. People are ready for the potency of the practice now more than ever.
Favourite quote? ‘The ultimate act of power is surrender,’ Krishna Das
Book? Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Place? Deep in the wild heart of India
Teacher? Guru Dev
Musician? Ajeet Kaur
Breakfast? Thick green smoothie