Many people ask me why I practice Kundalini Yoga, and how this relates to Sikhi. Personally I don’t look at Kundalini Yoga as a "Sikh Thing", however It is "yoga for the householder" and I see it as very complementary to the Sikh lifestyle. There is nothing in Kundalini Yoga that is against Sikhi. The yoga keeps you healthy, calms your mind and helps you be more clear and open to then meditate on Gurbani.
Every morning before I do my banis I take about 15 minutes and do some yoga. This helps my body wake up and get going for the day. While most people are grabbing their coffee/chai and getting a dosed up with caffeine to wake up their body, I’m getting my "juice" the natural healthy way. It keeps me flexible and healthy. In the past year at first I was not very regular with my daily yoga and sadhana. I work long hours on the computer and many times am fighting off some type of sickness (small things like mucous, low energy, tension, stress, etc).
I have done yoga all my life, however I have not been very consistent in recent years because things have been very busy. I was spending so much time on the computer during the day…and then the many hours at night posting things here to this blog. My average day on the computer at the office and home is currently about 14-15 hours. I thought I was busy when I was single. Then I got married. Then I REALLY thought I was busy. Then I had a child. I thought that was the max. Then somehow I got into this blog and now it is just over the top. I was starting to feel the pressure on my body and family. The blog and outreach through it is very important to me, so I didn’t want to cut that out. So, I made a commitment to myself that as long as I do a strong daily sadhana EVERY day no matter what, then I will allow myself to continue. I didn’t want to sacrifice my personal spiritual practice since this is the whole point of my postings on the blog.
So with that commitment for the past 4 months I have been rock solid with my daily sadhana (yoga, meditation and banis). It has been very fulfilling for me because in the past It was hard to maintain, and this time around I am really having amazing experiences doing it. The yoga I do every morning REALLY has made a huge difference in dealing with the physical and mental stress. This is the first year I haven’t been even close to sick during the winter (even with myself working more than ever!). I used to have colds and lots of mucous in the morning. Now I feel full of energy and overall really good. I attribute this to my regular yoga practice. We all have different things that help keep our body in shape, but Kundalini Yoga works very well for me and is many thousands of years old. It is not just like doing stretches and getting exercise. It is much more scientific, working on specific glands, parts of your body and your life energy. There have been quite a few scientific studies showing amazing health benefits from doing yoga. Yet some Sikhs still criticize yoga, and at the same time eat terribly unhealthy food, don’t take care of their bodies, and overly use pharmaceutical drugs which in many cases just treat the symptoms and not the actual cause of the problem. Our body is a temple which we must take care of. Sikhs refrain from Alcohol, drugs, smoking, etc because it is unhealthy and clouds the mind. We as Sikhs must be clean and clear to connect with our soul/higher self/God.
I always get frustrated when people so blatantly criticize yoga without knowing anything about it and probably having never practiced it. Maybe they relate yoga to Hinduism, which isn’t accurate sinch yoga is not part of any religion. Many people ramble off quotes from Gurbani and interpret it meaning "Yoga = Bad", when in fact if you look at the writings about yoga in Gurbani many references are aimed towards those sadhus and people that do this as a mean to the end (trying to find God) and seclude themselves from society, or do it in an effort to get "powers" (siddhis). This is not the case for Kundalini Yoga.
Ok… back to me again; After I do my yoga I then do a few different meditations (Simran and Mantras from Siri Guru Granth Sahib). At this point I feel pretty good physically and am mentally very "tuned in" and focused. I then start doing banis and it is a much deeper experience for me, than just waking up and going right to banis. I can’t really explain it but it is like night and day.
I am not trying to say that every Sikh should do yoga, but merely trying to share with you all why many of us practice it and have this as part of our daily routine. It is just merely one tool that can be used by someone if they wish. If it is helps you, then great! If not…maybe something else will. In this world there is no ONE WAY. That is the beauty. We all journey on this path of life in different ways with the same end goal. If someone doesn’t practice something the way you do it, that doesn’t make it wrong. It is just merely different. We should respect that and be open. We as Sikhs have to be universal and accepting not critical and judgmental. Every person has the choice to choose their own path.
If you are interested in learning more about Kundalini Yoga, here are a few recommendations for books and videos which you can purchase.
You can also go to a Kundalini Yoga class to try it out. Search the International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Directory.
by Shakta Kaur Khalsa
Excellent for beginners. Over 250 full-color photos, including yoga for couples, families, & lots of healthy food recipes. This is a very visual yoga book (and a few of my classmates are "models" in the book, including the cover). Also available at Amazon.com
|Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power
by Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa
This is an excellent book by Shakti Parwha Kaur who has taught beginner classes all for the past 30 years. It has loads of information and is presented in a very simples and easy to understand way. Also available at Amazon.com
I haven’t personally used many videos because I have been doing yoga since I was really young and use the books for reference to different yoga sets. However, the videos are a great way to learn in a more interactive way than just by reading a book and following the instructions. Nirvair Singh Khalsa (from Alaska) had produced quite a few good Kundalini Yoga videos covering a range of benefits. There is a whole beginner set, and then there are particular videos for weight loss, back pain, stress, etc. You can order videos directly from his website or just check out what the options are. There are different video standards for USA and Europe/Asia so you might check with him if PAL versions are available.