Gemma Bliss Shamrang Kaur

A time for change in kundalini yoga?

Great fissures have opened up in the kundalini yoga community between those who want to tear up this practice and leave it in the dust of history, those who want to continue on with a practice that has brought them so much healing, and those who want to walk a middle line between the two with a reinvention of sorts. It seems our sacred practice is not immune to the polarisation that’s pulling us into a million camps of righteousness around the world right now.

During all this, I’ve been sitting – often very painfully – in my heart. I’ve been feeling my way through difficult emotions, pondering difficult questions, feeling sickened and admittedly traumatised by the Olive Branch report. Deep breaths, listening, witnessing and feeling – really feeling – what’s right for me.  It’s difficult to hear clearly with all the loud voices, difficult to listen for my quiet voice beneath them. But it’s that quiet voice I must trust most.

For now, I have not changed anything about my kundalini yoga practice or the way I teach it. I practice for me. I teach to share what I practice. As long as I am practicing kundalini yoga – and I am practicing it exactly as I received it – I will share it with those who want to learn. I’ve been studying the history of kundalini for my dissertation. I’m digging back into the medieval Indian tantras to find out what kundalini was then. What’s described in those tantras resonates with my experiences in my sadhana. I have no doubt that what I am practicing every morning is kundalini yoga, no matter what strange, round-about route it took to find its way to me or what strange form it has taken.

It has been helpful to witness our various reactions to the Olive Branch report. Some of us have stopped wearing the turban or head-covering to teach. Some of us have deleted their spiritual name. Some of us have dropped the tradition of tuning in with ‘Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo’. And some of us have switched off the practice altogether. I measure these responses with my own. It’s a constant adjustment to what feels right or, in some cases, what is considered to be right… We desperately want to be on the ‘right’ side, to do the ‘right’ thing.

What if there is no right, no wrong. What if we were free to drop it all if we liked, or continue on if we liked, or reinvent it if we liked? For now, I have chosen to continue teaching the same way that I was taught it. I will teach what I know, my daily practice, the practice that has brought me more transformation and healing than anything else and that I know can help others in the same way. With the trauma of the report often repeating on me, it might take me out of my comfort zone far more than wearing a turban / adopting a spiritual name / tuning in and closing with the Long Time Sunshine blessing ever did… but that’s where I am at the moment. TBC.

Sat nam x

4 months ago