In our bi-weekly Reflections of Master Teachers series, YogaCity NYC interviews living legends. This week, Kathleen Kraft interviews Hari Kaur Khalsa, world-renowned teacher of Kundalini yoga and meditation.
For ten years, Khalsa worked alongside Master of Kundalini, Yogi Bhajan, directing his teacher training programs and becoming one of the first yoga teachers to pioneer the teaching of Kundalini in the west. She was the developer and Director of Kundalini wellness programs at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in the greater Boston area from 1987-2004 and the author of “A Woman’s Book of Meditation: Discovering the Power of a Peaceful Mind” as well as the co-author of “A Woman’s Book of Yoga: Embracing Our Natural Life Cycles.” Khalsa directs teacher trainings in the US and abroad, and teaches regular classes at Hari NYC.
Long-time student, Wynn Tran, said “There's no better teacher to guide a new or experienced yoga practitioner in Kundalini yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, than Hari Kaur. She provides a safe space with her masterful knowledge of yoga, accompanied by heart and humor in every class. It's so impressionable that the yoga reverberates well beyond the classroom. She delivers the teachings with the utmost respect for its traditions, but continues to grow with the times by staying at the forefront of research and technology in health and healing.”
Kathleen Kraft: What does your yoga practice look like every day?
Hari Kaur Khalsa: My daily yoga practice is filled with variety and joy, challenge and rejuvenation. One hour of exercise (Kundalini kriyas, asana, Qi Gong, breath, mantra, and mudra – according to the rejuvenation needed by my body/mind/spirit) and one hour of meditation. I add certain mantra/prayers throughout the day.
I feel the flow of forgiveness and meditative energy throughout the day. I have been fortunate to build my life around my practice since the 1980’s. As a result, my life is an amazing adventure! Each day I seek wisdom and I find it; for that I am grateful as I can share these discoveries with students. I do not recommend any one particular practice to anyone. Find a way to be happy. A practice can be anywhere from 30 seconds to a lifetime; that is the wisdom of it.
KK: What are the most important qualities of the student/teacher relationship?
HKK: The teacher is a channel for wisdom not the absolute. A teacher’s job is to deliver no matter what. The relationship between a teacher and a student is like a spark that lights up the healing path of the student, under all conditions. The teacher must be humble or they will fall like a stone.
KK: Which yoga sutra guides you?
HKK: “If you can’t see god in all, you can’t see god at all.” This is not a sutra, but a quote from the teachings of Guru Nanak who came after Patanjali, in the Bhakti Era… I believe this relates directly to the classical teachings of Ahimsa – non-harming. To see the other as your Self inspires one to treat all with compassion and tolerance. Teachers and students can train themselves to find the common ground in relationships, in events, and in the paradox and polarity of life. In this way, love, wisdom and tolerance grow; and fear and fanaticism lessen. This is good for everyone. This is good for happiness.
KK: That’s beautiful. Can you share another of his teachings?
HKK: There is also the passage by him directly from Jaap Ji, which is a devotional mantra and Shabd that is chanted daily in Kundalini Yoga.
Deeply Listening, The same honor comes As if you had continually Read and studied. Deeply Listening Brings you To the point Of One-Pointedness, Flowing with the continual flow Of the Divine Spirit In meditative delight. Nanak, Those who surrender themselves in Love To the Divine Continually blossom and bloom. Deeply Listening, Sorrows And errors Depart.
In this quote, we are taught by Guru Nanak, that there is a quality in deeply listening and being present to all that is vibrating around you that will bring you to your wisdom state. Deeply listening and being present to students, to life, to relationships, gives you more information, more wisdom than all you can read as each person is a unique and beautiful manifestation of this creative creation. You cannot predict, neither can you interfere, with that incredible creativity. We can serve it, we can create an environment for healing and self-realization for ourselves and students and all others when we deeply listen, when we listen for the truth and have the endurance to be present to it.