This is the first part of an interview with Kundalini and Self Awareness teacher Krishna Kaur Khalsa.
I was first introduced to Kundalini teacher Krishna Kaur at her home in Los Angeles for a yoga class through my friend and yogi Sacha. Krishna, also runs a nonprofit called Y.O.G.A for youth. Y.O.G.A for youth is dedicated to training yoga teachers to work with at-risk youth and creating yoga programs in schools and juvenile facilities. I visited one of the schools in Watts and was surprised to see students sitting on yoga mats and fully engaged chanting “Sat Nam!” If that wasn’t impressive enough, I interviewed her via Skype during her stay in Mexico and was blown away by her wisdom and introspection, to say the least.
A: I noticed that the yoga classes for students are gender based.
Krishna: Yes because there is a different mindset. There is a different way of thinking. Girls are the hardest to get focused in yoga at the middle school and high school age because it’s something about the way they are developing. What we don’t understand in this country, is the woman’s brain works differently than the man’s brain. Yes we have all the same components. But when it comes to how we make decisions, when it comes to how we communicate, when it comes to how we respond through our emotions...it’s different.
A: It’s interesting that you say that because one of the instructors Ed mentioned one of his difficulties in the beginning with teaching yoga to young boys, was that they associated it with femininity. It’s funny, when I observed the boy's class they were more into it. But in India, where yoga comes from, it’s male dominated, right?
Krishna: That’s right
A: So how does that switch here?
Krishna: It is. It is male dominated in Africa as well. It’s culture based for sure. But you look at the images that are out there of yoga...what kind of bodies do you see? You see beautiful, thin, mostly white women doing yoga. So even among women of color who don’t have those kind of bodies, they’re not sure that it’s for them even. So there is that culture thing, and that’s always going to be there in places like India and Africa and places where it’s still male dominated. Not as much now. India is coming out of it a lot faster than Africa is but you still have the woman’s place. And you have the image of the spiritual beings being more male images than female images.
A: Yeah, I mean look at Jesus. (laughs)
Krishna: You got the blessed Virgin Mary but who can believe that you know! (laughs) Keep her a virgin you know. Trap her in that.
A: Or even when we refer to God we say he and it’s supposed to be a spirit. How can gender be attached to that?
Krishna: (laughs) Oh, it’s true.
Krishna: But when you look at guys, once they get in there they really experience what it does for them and they recognize it and that’s the thing that keeps them.
A: So what can we expect to see in the future?
Krishna: It’s changing and shifting. (the image of who practices yoga) And that’s part of the age we’re shifting into where there’s a lot more breakthroughs from the traditional more static ways of looking at things and just accepting things as they’ve always been done for years and years and centuries and generations. To looking at what’s more meaningful and people are searching for more meaning now. Not just going to church, not just showing up for this or that but they’re looking for some meaning. They’re making decisions outside of the traditions sometimes. Because they’re not holding that space for meaning for many people. And the thing that is happening with our young people which is so exciting about working with them is that they’ve come along in a time when the energy has shifted so much on the planet and it will continue to shift a lot more. And they bring with them a level of sensitivity. A level of spiritual intuition you might say. And it’s like, they have been born at this time because they have something very special to bring at this time and also something to receive. Because times are moving in a place where our young people are going to be more understood. But in this transition period we’re in, they’re not really being understood as much, because we’re still locked into a [certain] approach to things. Our educational system is still pretty (square). They’re not able to respond to the fluidity of the thinking of our young people and those advanced creative educators have gotten it and you can see it popping up in places where there’s a more creative energetic way of working with the different styles of learning, different ways of accessing information. Different ways to be able to put things together, to make decisions and just a different way at looking at their relationship with the world. This kind of access, this kind of development is showing up younger and younger in our young people.
A: I’m noticing that!
Krishna: They are everywhere these kids you know. And when they come to our classes and they have a chance to tap into some of that, they are so grateful. Because they don’t find it in their neighborhood sometimes or their homes a lot of times and they’re longing for it, really thirsty for it.
A: I have to admit that going in I thought, yeah this is yoga. But it’s at a school. I figured it would be pretty watered down to an extent. I was impressed though. The students were chanting and I thought “Oh, this is the real deal." This is not just something that’s been thrown together. And the instructors were using the jargon as well and students seemed to understand it.
Krishna: And even if they don’t understand it. It’s going in. And by repetition it’ll start to make sense. You know repetition is a process of learning. So you start seeing/hearing the same thing again and again in different ways. And one day this kid is going to say, “Oh! I got that.” These are souls. Some of them are more mature than many of us adults. Souls don’t have ages or genders either. If they come to sit before you it’s not personal. It’s because you have the frequency to deliver what they need right now. And we’re not talking down to them. We’re talking up to them. And I said, I’m giving them everything Yogi Bhajan gave me. Period. Everything. In every yoga class, he taught us how to think, how to sleep, how to eat, how to communicate, how to have relationships. And that’s what we’re using, the philosophies, the teachings. I said “we’ve got to teach them how to think!” And when a kid comes to me after class, eyes watering, some big gang banger type, someone you think would be out there banging people up. He says “Ma’am, nobody ever talked to me like that before.” It made me think, “What are we saying to our kids?” What is the language that we hear, what are the conversations that they hear? What’s going on around them that they are not being nourished, in the way that they have come here to be nourished? They’ve come with a special gift and talent and the elders for the most part are awol. We’re just not showing up in the way that they need. And so having the chance to interact with them and give the wisdom, and the way to think about themselves you know? Not blaming anybody for anything, take responsibility, there are no victims here. Yes the world is unfair but you still have to relate to it and how you relate to it determines how it’s going to serve you.