This is the second part of an interview with Kundalini and Self Awareness teacher Krishna Kaur Khalsa.
A: So, obviously you’re teaching a certain demographic so they would benefit from it the most, right? It’s so clear the way they are handled. I mean, they are treated differently from a child who comes from an economically advantaged background. They’re spoken to differently. Because automatically we have this idea in our minds of who we think that they are and what we think they’re capable of. So I love that this program is taking place where it is. Because some people may think, “Yoga? They don’t need that. What they need is ...”
Krishna: A job! (laughs)
A: A butt whooping! (laughs)
A: Yoga at times can come off as elitist. And it certainly shouldn’t be about money. The same benefits that the white woman from Beverly Hills gets from yoga is also beneficial to the young black kid in the underserved communities.
A: So, I noticed that Kundalini is very different from other types of yoga. And when you Google it, it seems that it does it a disservice. It’s written about as some mystic, religious weird thing. What would you say about Kundalini? You’ve practiced for how long?
Krishna: 45 years.
A: Oh wow.
Krishna: Well, Kundalini yoga is a very ancient art and science, it’s a technology basically, of body, mind and spirit. We all say those words, they come out of our mouths so fast as if we really know what they mean. It really taps into all the ways in which, we access our lives and our beliefs; our relationship with the divine. Kundalini focuses on the individual, it focuses on the human part, not so much the aesthetic part. It’s not about going away and living in a cave. It’s not about abstaining from (worldly) things, it’s about living a regular householders life, raising your family, doing your work, involving yourself in the community at the same time, maintaining a way in which you can access the highest level of your humanity. And to do that we need to learn the techniques that support you as a human. And those techniques have to do with how you breathe, how to use the breath in order to bring you to a state of balance, how you think, how to realign the mind with the body in the sense that you find yourself in that harmonious balance, the state of "yog." It teaches you how to understand your relationship with the world. We can say a thousand times, “We are one.” But saying is not believing and believing it is not actualizing it in your life. And what’s missing as the cultures have evolved to the state where we have evolved to this point is a technique to being able to get back or to access that humanity. So yes it works with posture, but sometimes the angle is more important than the full look of the posture itself. It goes beyond trying to think yourself through everything, you have to actually help the body to release the things that it has stored that are preventing easy access. In other words, the body becomes like a hoarder of emotions and of feelings and of and you know, regrets and things that our society almost encourages us to hold on to those things. You know, “Don’t you feel bad about that?” No! (laughs) “Don’t you feel guilty about that?” Umm, no. haha. I learned from it. But I don’t have to hold that feeling cause that feeling clogs me up. And I look at these tv programs with these hoarders, and there’s no place to walk, no place to put your stuff down, no place to lay down, you’ve got garbage here...that’s what it can be like inside of us if were not letting things go. So the idea is to really think about what do I need to do to help release the energy here...it’s more of that approach to the practicality of using this ancient teachings and this scientific approach to the human anatomy, the human psychology, the human instrument, the human feeling, the human emotion, in a way that will help individuals tap into that place of “I am.” And what better way to start than with people who are still vulnerable, still searching, still trying to make sense out of things and who can have another way of creating another kind of pattern. As adults we’re working on breaking patterns that’s been going on for 25 years maybe. But when you can start breaking patterns that’s been going on for 7 years. It’s good to start that foundation like “Oh I have a choice?!” We talk about consciousness like it’s some vague, abstract idea but it’s really a real tangible tool when you learn how to relate to it and if you’re willing, willing to go through the pain, pain is a very important part of the process, if you’re willing to go through the pain of leaving your comfort zone of behavior, which is only comfortable because you’ve been doing it forever. So for these kids, they need all of this. They don’t have the luxury of 25 or 35 years to figure this stuff out, because things are moving too fast. And it’s not just our rural kids, our "ghetto" kids, our underprivileged kids, it’s these wealthy kids whose parents are neglecting them in such a way that they give them money and pay for everything, they learn nothing and have no self esteem. They’re killing people on the highway with these fancy cars and not having to go to jail for it. They’re filling up these drug rehab centers because they’re all addicted to something. And yet they end up being the ones who make decisions in our businesses and politicians because they have access. So both ends of the scale have to be dealt with in a meaningful way.
A: What about the juvenile detention centers, and your program there?
Krishna: We’re in one now in the Malibu area. We were in 3 or 4 of them before but we lost funding. But we’re back in one of them now. It’s what we built our program around after working with Upward Bound at USC for seven years. Well, when your president Bush, instituted his “No Child Left Behind” program he cut out all the stuff that gave these kids a chance to be human. But we’re working in facilities in New York and non secure facilities, these are like group homes where they leave to go to school.
A: So how many detention centers is Y.O.G.A for Youth implemented in worldwide?
Krishna: Well, it’s not that broad. It grows then shrinks. Then grows again.
A: Depending on funding?
Krishna: Depending on funding and depending on the support that the local teachers get, how their lives unfold for them. Which changes sometimes and so we have to adjust to that. But the places where we have been the most stable at are New York and Los Angeles and North Carolina is also growing very strongly. And here in Mexico. And they work with some amazing facilities. And I’ve had some amazing experiences walking in and they’re all just sitting there meditating. It just makes you wanna cry. And I talk to them about how brutal and hard there lives were and then you have the political situation that kind of changes things around and next thing you know you don’t have access, or the person who you were relating to there that really understood is no longer there.
A: Donations can be made on the Y.O.G.A for Youth website correct?
A: Okay. Awesome. Thank you so much for what you do and sharing your wisdom.
Krishna: Thank you! Sat Nam!
A: Sat Nam.
To donate to Y.O.G.A for Youth visit the website here.
*Y.O.G.A. for Youth has been providing classes specifically tailored toward youth since 1993. They offer unconditional respect to students with firm boundaries. Within the classroom students are encouraged to take responsibility and really look at the cause and effect of their thoughts, words, speech, and actions in their lives.
With your contribution they can help our youth see that there are options in their lives for growth and greatness. The Y.O.G.A. for Youth program helps increase resilience, improve learning skills and reduce criminal recidivism.