From the late '60s forward, I had the good fortune to study with many of the renowned yoga teachers who had come to the U.S. from India. Yoga felt incredibly familiar to me and totally in alignment with my path and purpose, but I always felt that something was missing, something as yet undefined. It seemed that many of the Eastern teachers assumed that Western bodies and Western psyches were somehow not quite ready for the truly authentic, unabashed techniques that would deliver us to unprecedented breakthroughs and bliss. That all changed when Yogi Bhajan unveiled Kundalini Yoga, which I encountered as a student at the University in Chicago in 1972.
Kundalini is a tantric path. Tantra means that the seen and unseen are interwoven. It also posits that desperate times (Kaliyug or the Age of Darkness, which we're in now despite the onset of the Aquarian Age) call for desperate measures (i.e., what works!). Kundalini Yoga is immediate, powerful, and potent. It's a gift to humanity from the saints and sages of the ages and lets us enter into the profound process of our unfolding in the context of life as we know it. Life is the crucible for our transformation process. But we need to approach life with a firm discipline and the willingness to take our yoga beyond our mat and extend it to everything we do.
I first met Yogi Bhajan in 1973. He was not like the swamis and gurus I'd met previously. He was more like Sean Connery in the Wind and the Lion rather than Ben Kingsley in Ghandi. What I learned from Yogi Bhajan was exactly what I'd always been looking for in my yoga journey: something immediate; something with some spiritual juice; and, most importantly, something that I could pass on as a teacher to help people deal effectively with all of the issues they invariably encounter.
For many years I was the only Kundalini Yoga teacher in Manhattan. I had a number of yoga centers and throughout the '80s and beyond I published books, videos, and DVDs. In the 2000s I met Ana Brett, who was a sub for the Vinyasa teachers at my studio. We soon merged into one unit and began to teach together. We recently published The Kundalini Yoga Book—Life in the Vast Lane, a 10-year project.
This year marks my 45th year of teaching. Yoga now in the U.S. is a bit bipolar. On one hand, it's trendy and silly (goat yoga, beer yoga, nude yoga…) and conversely it's evolving into something amazing. What I foresee is a Grand Synthesis of yoga styles that will be woven through the fabric of our culture and consciousness.
A Kundalini Yoga teacher is a spiritual teacher because Kundalini Yoga is all about spirit. When spirit is present we can live our greatness. The purpose of Kundalini Yoga is to give us the means to live lit up. What I see happening among many modern yogis is that people are sometimes losing sight of what's important. The key is to remember what the saints and sages have been telling us for 5000 years. Successful living means bringing our minds and emotions under conscious control. Also, we need to deal with karma before it deals with us. We need to live in a way that honors and gathers energy. Our chakras, nadis, nerves, and all bodily systems need to be aligned and purified every day. Every day we need to ingratiate ourselves with the self that never dies. Kundalini Yoga gives us the means to do all that every day so we can live the high life. Then our life can become our yoga and yoga can be our life.
I look forward to seeing all of you on September 14 at the YTA's kickoff for the 2019 season of workshops. You will experience a yoga workout, and we'll also be focusing on yoga tools for every form of modern malaise. These include: thyroid issues, addiction, weight loss, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, issues around menopause, adrenal fatigue, digestive issues, depression, insomnia ... and anything you would like to request a protocol for.
Increase your professional palette. Share in a powerful group energy. Give your life and practice an energy boost. Manifest destiny and heal the world!
To learn more about Ravi, go to raviana.com.