Magazine

‘Queen of Kundalini’

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It’s hard to imagine Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, the calm, turbaned yoga teacher, protesting on the streets over issues like the Vietnam War. As a teenager, that was her way of giving back to the world. Now, she helps people find inner peace and happiness through Kundalini yoga.

Born Mary May Gibson, she met Kundalini expert Yogi Bhajan at an ashram in Arizona, the U.S., in 1970. He gave her the Sikh name, which means “one who helps thousands cross the oceans.” She eventually went on to become a Kundalini Yoga teacher herself and founded the famous Golden Bridge Yoga Center with centres in Los Angeles, New York and Santa Monica.

“Usually, people take up yoga for fitness. They want to get healthy, do the treadmill, sweat and feel better. Then they move to yoga. But their spirit is still not satisfied. And that’s when they take up Kundalini,” said Gurmukh, who was in India last month to participate in Anahata’s yoga retreat in Goa.

Kundalini is often people’s last choice. “They go to different classes (of yoga) and often end up in this. Kundalini yoga involves a lot of chants and meditation, and people are not ready for it right away.”

According to the Golden Bridge Yoga website, Kundalini yoga uses breath ( pranayama), yogic postures and meditation to help maintain a healthy spine helping to strengthen the nervous and glandular systems. It helps to facilitate a physical change as well as emotional and spiritual.

Gurmukh, whose celebrity students include Madonna, Courtney Love and Gwyneth Paltrow, is equally renowned for her work with expectant mothers. The Khalsa Way is a childbirth education programme that is “an emotional, physical, and spiritual journey to a healthy, conscious, and joyous pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood.”

“Practising yoga is important for pregnant women as it helps make the experience safer, easier and also makes them more conscious. Yoga helps mothers stay calm during their pregnancy, and so they give birth to babies that grow up to be calm, happy and peaceful children,” explains the Illinois-born ‘Queen of Kundalini’.

Gurmukh, who is married to Gurushabd Singh Khalsa — also a yoga teacher and co-founder of Golden Bridge — swears by the ancient Indian traditional wisdom with regard to childbirth which is the basis of her book Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: Exploring the Natural Power of Pregnancy and Birth with Kundalini Yoga and Meditation.

Unfortunately, she says, India has pulled away from the traditional practice of home birthing. She is also critical of the increasing use of epidurals and C-section cases. “A child needs the stress of going through the birth canal. The massage is good for the baby,” she says, comparing the birthing experience to that of a butterfly struggling to get out of a cocoon.

Gurmukh’s philosophies

Rise before the sun and say ‘thank you’

Work hard physically. Don’t let your maids do all the work

Serve people, keep in touch, remember their birthdays, smile and give a hug

To live your life in service is to live your life in happiness


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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 12:39:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/queen-of-kundalini/article5844199.ece

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