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September 30, 2005

Gurmukh: Conquering our Imagined Disabilities

As a teacher of Kundalini yoga, I had been looking forward to Gurmukh's intensive all week. Having taken her classes in the past, I knew it would be a challenging session and inevitably, my entire body would be sore the next day. Yet there was no fear; I felt a familiar sense of calm and homecoming when Gurmukh walked into the room gracefully with her white turban and flowing chuni.gurmukh1.jpg

She spoke of imagined disabilities--areas in which we feel inadequate or things we feel we cannot do, based on programming from multiple sources, including our parents and society. We set the intention in class to release anything, conscious or unconcscious, that keeps us from connecting with our highest potential. Or more simply, from being happy. Gurmukh reminded us of Yogi Bhajan's (the father of Kundalini yoga in the West) favorite teaching, "happiness is our birthright."

Throughout the day we completed two challenging yoga sets. Gurmukh encouraged students to push past perceived barriers in the exercises (for instance, holding the arms up for a full three minutes, rather than giving up due to the discomfort) in order to dissolve mental and emotional blocks in the body. We twisted, we laughed, we walked outside, we hugged and we danced. Even for the least touchy-feely member of the class, there was no denying the shift in energy and lightness of being that happened over the course of the day.

gurmukh2.jpgThe yogini to my right, JoJo Field from Longmont, CO, shared with me at the end of the day. "Her classes are rigorous, both physically and mentally. But I always feel cleaned out and softer on the inside."

Softer on the inside, indeed.

September 24, 2005

Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa

Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa is cofounder and director of Golden Bridge in Los Angeles, where she teaches Kundalini yoga and meditation. A yoga teacher for 32 years, she is the author of The Eight Human Talents: The Yogic Way to Restore the Natural Balance and Serenity Within You and the video Kundalini Yoga with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa.

September 21, 2005

The Intensity of Gurmukh

One of the main things I get from a Yoga Journal conference is the ability to sample new teachers and practices. Each of the three years I have gone, I've plugged one of the many holes in my understanding of different approaches to yoga.

Last year it was the Intensive with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, one of the foremost Kundalini teachers in the US, that generated the heat for me. Anyone who has practiced with her understands that I mean that literally. After dozens and dozens of repetitions of movements isolating parts of the body--arms, legs,... everything, lots of heat gets generated. Gurmukh manages to work in anecdotes from her colorful background, and discussions of her philosophy in with these intensely physical practices. She's coming back this year. Jumping squats anyone?




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