I am passionate about sharing Kundalini Yoga with others because I experienced first- hand its healing benefits. Having lived under Apartheid South Africa most of my adult life, I suffered legalised racism, exclusion and disempowerment. The impact of systemic repression was internalised. My journey of transformation started 10 years ago when I attended my first Kundalini Yoga class for which I remain eternally grateful. As soon as I became a Level 1
Practitioner during 2015, I started teaching Kundalini Yoga at my home and in my advocate’s chambers in Cape Town. Donations for classes went to Rosy’s Soup Kitchen in Khayelitsha. A year later we were offered use of the Catholic Church Hall in the black working class area of Athlone. The student population mushroomed. Evidence of the benefits of Kundalini Yoga was visible for all to see in my 84 year old Mother, a regular and committed student. As soon as a few of my students became certified Kundalini Yoga Practitioners, they joined me in teaching yoga in black low-income communities: in schools, parks, streets and festivals.
We registered community yoga under the banner of Revolutionary Yoga NPC during 2017. In that year we were awarded 3hO’s “Live to Give Award”. We also received Recognition Awards three years in a row from the Catholic Welfare Development. During 2019, I discovered that many of our students, especially young children and teenagers, went to bed on empty stomaches. Together with students and teachers, we started feeding students and communities under the banner of Free Food Kitchen.
As our awareness of the extent of malnourishment and starvation increased, our Seva spread to other communities. During the start of the COVID-19 Lockdown during April 2020, I received news of mass starvation in communities. We galvanised our resources and established Free Food Kitchens in 7 communities in Khayelitsha, Lavender Hill, Hazendal, Hanover Park and Smallville and Hazeldene, Philiphi, We also started feeding cats and dogs in the name of Divine Dogs Kitchen.
In order to promote sustainability and independence, we established food gardens in two of our communities. The Free Food Kitchens are managed by women in the community who design the menus and cook and serve the food. To date we serve 7000 meals per week to humans and food to 400 cats and dogs. We increased the number of board members and conducted intensive fundraising campaigns in the yoga community. Most of our donor funding is from the kundalini yoga community in the United States of America. Gurmukh Khalsa, one of our Patrons, has played a leading role in generating donations.
During 2020 we purchased three 12 meter shipping containers from dedicated donor funding, which are situate in 3 of our communities. Cooking, feeding, yoga, reading and trauma counselling will take place in these containers. We are truly amazed at the generosity of our Sangat. Our hearts are filled with gratitude.
SS DukhNiwaran Kaur Khalsa-Sugrue
KRI honors Singh Sahiba DukhNiwaran Kaur Khalsa-Sugrue for her patient and unwavering advocacy work around LGBTQIA+ issues in the Kundalini Yoga community. For many years now she has educated, inspired, and organized to help shift our community to be much more diverse and welcoming to people of all gender identities and sexual preferences.
SS DukhNiwaran Kaur Khalsa-Sugrue
I stumbled into a Kundalini Yoga class almost 25 years ago looking to learn how to stretch. I had no idea that it would fulfill a deeper longing taking me on a lifelong journey of spirit and community. At my first Summer Solstice, I had an experience connecting me to a Divinity I only ever knew intellectually. In our chanting, sadhana, and working together I felt “Ang Sung Wahe Guru” God in every cell of my being. I whispered a prayer that week that somehow I would be able to help create this place so that others could have this experience too.
For the next 2 decades, that prayer embodied itself in ways beyond my imaginings. Karma Yoga turned into co-managing the Hospitality team at Summer and Winter Solstices. Opportunities to teach opened up at home and at Solstices and as I grew in community through Level 2 courses all over North America, I found ways to serve my communities through leadership. I worked on the Level 3 Mela and was asked to facilitate group discussions about LGBTQIA+ issues at Trainer Forums. That is when I found a voice that I had kept quiet in what I call my “transparent closet”. I was neither fully out as a lesbian nor fully closeted, living in the in-between space that was acceptable in our community at that time.
I began to speak the truth about LGBTQIA+ experiences in our community, being fed by my connection with the Rainbow Sangat. Working with KRI, 3HO and Khalsa Council, we began to make more visible spaces for LGBTQIA+ people to exist together in our communities. My prayer to create a Solstice for others to have their own experiences of Divinity expanded to create a place for every part of myself as well as others. It is my ongoing goal to use my leadership roles to open up more spaces for people of diverse backgrounds to enter into leadership throughout our communities. As we expand our awareness and visibly include LGBTQIA+ members, we find places of resistance and challenges along the way. There is more work to do as we together embrace the fullness of LGBTQIA+ people in our path in the Yoga of Awareness and heal from the wounds along the way.
DukhNiwaran Kaur is a Level 3 Teacher, a Professional Trainer, a Sikh Minister and a psychotherapist living in Chicago. She has served as co-manager of Hospitality at Summer and Winter Solstices for over 15 years, as a member of the LGBTQIA+ Task Force of Khalsa Council, of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and of the Marriage Equality Team. She worked on the Level 3 Planning Committee, the Trainer’s Forum Planning Committee, Khalsa Council Executive Committee and offered LGBTQIA+ trainings for teacher trainers through KRI and IKYTA as well as for individual communities around the world. In 2019, she was awarded the Spirit of Baisakhi Award during the LA Baisakhi celebration for her work in diversity and inclusion. Her joys as a minister have been to serve the Amrit Sanchar ceremony at solstices and minister a same-sex wedding.
Gurusangat Kaur from Brazil
As MD with a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the Free University Berlin, I had no clue at all that Yoga would touch ground in my life as it did. Here I am at the hospital in Berlin, just a few months until the unfolding of my destiny as a Kundalini Yoga Teacher. I am the kind of traveler with a deep inclination to pioneering in this lifetime. In Berlin, along with my Medical training, I also got my Level One done. In my exit interview at the Ashram in Berlin (at that time in Kreuzberg), one Trainer turned to me and said, “we were disappointed with your exam. You failed in answering one question, but you are one of us”. I heard that and thought to myself: what the f*, one wrong answer in 10! I am good! Then again: what was that supposed to mean – I am one of them?? Well, time would tell me precisely what! That was in 1991.
With Audre Lord in Berlin
It was summer 1992, probably July, when my dearest friend came to say goodbye. Audre Lord was this incredible human being, a black woman, poet and speaker, writer, and human rights activist. She was dying and passed away on Nov 17, my birthday, in that same year. When we met, she held my hands tenderly and said: “community is a guiding force in the near future. Don’t isolate yourself”. She was seeing in her wisdom many things, including my destiny as Gurusangat. My name was like a magic stick to help me break with my isolation and shyness patterns. She knew it!
There I was, fully immersed in my destiny
Upon my return to Brazil in 1995, I “unwillingly” started teaching KY classes. I never intended to, but I went to a surgery room with the surgeon, the anesthetist and the patient. I suggested to the lady who was about to get a severe operation to do some breathing and mantras. We did, that was it! On the next day, going to a regular day visit in her room, she said: what was that yesterday doc? It was magic. I said it is Kundalini Yoga. She turns to the surgeon and says: can I do it? He just nodded his head in agreement. I still laugh because later on, the surgeon also started attending my classes at the hospital. I feel that moment as the opening of a floodgate. In light speed we were already a large group of Kundalini Yogis in Belo Horizonte. We created ABAKY in 2004 (the Association of Friends of Kundalini Yoga) to pave our connection with society at large. During those years, actually up until the pandemic of COVID 19, we were frequent attendees of Summer Solstice, and I have to say, those solstices nurtured us as Sangat to serve.
Serving together as a sangat
I have no words to describe how, in Sangat, there is no limit to what we can accomplish and serve! In Brazil, we created the Miri Piri System of Education for children of all backgrounds. By 2015 we opened our first Miri Piri Brazil under Sat Kartar Kaur and her husband, Siri Sahib Singh leadership. By 2016 we already had two other schools serving their communities. Our collective voice, our Sangat, always believed that our best legacy would be in educating the children.
Educating everyone else as well
In 2013, I started a particular program called Aquarian Leadership. The goal was to train professionals from our Sangat for scaling up the sharing of Kundalini Yoga teaching at large. In 2018, we offered that program to the corporate world and leaders of different fields. The Kundalini Yoga Teachings and the Shabd Guru made their entrance with a very distinct vocabulary into several diverse areas such as medical, hospitals, Judiciary, Business, Social Initiatives for black people, LGBTQ+ and Homeless settlings.
And here we are!
That work wouldn’t be possible without the kindness and love of my life-partner, Kirn Jot Kaur. To her, my gratitude for having such patience to support me with all my wild adventures. My appreciation of our Sangat and my students, who always showed up and inspired me to keep going.
Sangeeta Kaur, Saramdeep Kaur and Japbir Kaur – from China
Sangeeta, Saramdeep and Japbir were considered pioneers in China. The three of them first met in Lijiang in 2009 at Sunder Singh’s workshop.
They didn’t know they were destined to meet there and to walk this path as an individual to grow and they were destined for something greater. In reality, they met so that they could embark on the journey and grow together with strength and integrity to build a vibrant community together to serve the humanity in China.
Japbir, Sangeeta, Saramdeep, and their sevadars team and TNT’s have supported the community to go through the turbulence of 2020. At the end of the year, IKYTA China Chapter was formed. Let us come into 2021 with love, joy, peace and deep gratitude. No matter what has happened, vibrate the cosmos and the cosmos shall clear the path.
Japbir, Sangeeta, Saramdeep:
It’s a blessings to be able to open our arms to embrace one another and serve Kundalini Yoga with love, joy and integrityto our community in China and with global family.
There are many challenges, pitfalls and uncertainties in spiritual growth, sometimes, I had no where to go, but by following the guidance of the truth in my heart, I choose to jump it and face the reality and all kinds of difficulties and challenges .
By practicing the kundalini yoga, my life changes completely. I met new people, new team, quit the job, open a studio, life is full of disruptive changes, but the strong desire to find the truth drives me not to give up, not to escape until I find the truth, it is in every breath, in the persistence of kriya meditation, in the vibration of chanting mantra, in my beating heart, in the communication with others… I found “one” in everything.
My tracing heart has settled down in peace, now I can begin to live a conscious life and recognize the eternal light. And the light takes me back to the normal life to live it, so I can light up myself and others. Be grateful to all the teachers and Gurus for their teaching and guidance, we can see God within, and see God in all.
Learning Kundalini Yoga, from strangeness and curiosity to the promotion and transformation of individual consciousness and to group consciousness practice and onto one! my experience is: practice! practice! practice again! I have the confidence and responsibility to take over this “spark”, start to serve Kundalini Yoga teachers and students in China. I have a long way to go. This is my mission.
I have practiced yoga since 1989 and acquired good yogic techniques. However, Kundalini Yoga has awakened me in 4 areas: to listen and tune in to the frequency within and without, to live my own Sat Nam and connect with others’ ,to relax by sensing my state of beingwith long deep breathing and my precious Adi Shakti, my creative and fearless goddess.
I have come to realize the challenges in my life which I used to joked about with the statement “because I asked for them “I now accept such statement and feel grateful for the weathof challenging experiences that I was detined to live through so that I can develop my humility and compassion and share my wealth of experiences with compassion to nurture others’ growth.
I am grateful for the practice of meditation and the guidance of Adi Shakti that I can creatively inspire others to practice yoga and medition.
The practice of Kundalini Yoga make me realize how blessed I am. I have teachers before me to guide me, around me to support one another and after me so that I can offer my blessings. Lastly I have my loving family to support me and encouraging and supporting me on this journey.
With so many blessings, I continue to serve humanity humbly and gratefully.
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