The kundalini yoga practice is based on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, who emigrated from India to Canada (briefly) in 1968, and moved on to Los Angeles in early 1969. Over the course of 35 years, he taught extensively in the US and around the world, until his death in 2004. Bir Kaur began studying kundalini yoga in 2011 and has been a certified level 1 teacher since 2014.
In early 2020 a book was published by Pamela Dyson, “White Bird in a Golden Cage – My Life with Yogi Bhajan”, which shook the kundalini yoga community since it included ethical breaches by Yogi Bhajan that are an important part of this spiritual practice. While difficult to comprehend this spiritual teacher’s conduct, we believed Pamela’s story which began a process for many in our practice of deep reflection regarding this spiritual teacher, and of these yoga teachings which we deeply appreciated. Over the months that followed more survivors came forward with claims of sexual misconduct by Yogi Bhajan, with the result that a 3rd party organization, An Olive Branch, was hired to investigate and report on this. (Click link for full report).
While many stories from survivors were shared in social media over these past few months, the depth of Yogi Bhajan’s sustained, horrific misconduct, captured in the report, was still shocking and saddening. That it was kept hidden so well for so long was also shocking and saddening. Our hearts goes out to the survivors who bravely contributed to this investigation, and to all others affected in any negative way by Yogi Bhajan or by this community’s practices over the years.
On a personal level, Bir Kaur believes the stories of the survivors. She feels that no one deserves to be subject to any kind of sexual, physical or emotional abuse under any circumstances, especially by a person in power. Prior to knowing about the allegations, Bir Kaur had a strong connection to Yogi Bhajan. Her energetic relationship with him and all mentors has changed for the better since taking people of authority ‘off the pedestal’. She still respects Yogi Bhajan as a master teacher who brought much needed healing to the world through these practices. At the same time, she understands that, like all spiritual teachers, they are also flawed humans. This does not excuse any teachers’ actions who have abused their power.
Bir Kaur believes that the highest authenticity as a human is for a person to embrace their own sovereignty and power, and to be an authority/master unto themselves. She embraces the understanding that kundalini yoga evolves according to the times (to meet the people of that time) it was given. Bir Kaur also understands there is potent power in the teachings of kundalini yoga as they were originally taught when brought to the west. However, much consideration needs to happen as kundalini yoga evolves there is also ample opportunity for the spiritual ego to cloud the authenticity of the teachings. Research studies have been done that prove the science of kundalini yoga as it was originally taught to be highly effective. With that said, Bir Kaur chooses to continue to teach classic kundalini yoga as it was originally taught. Her teaching style reflects much from her mentors including, Guru Dharam Singh, who has over 35 years of experience in kundalini yoga but also other ancient healing lineages which connect to kundalini yoga. She continues to discover the value of kundalini yoga in it’s energetic connections with Traditional Chinese Medicine and other ancient lineages. Bir Kaur aims to NOT quote Yogi Bhajan in her classes. She presents the class material in how it relates to the sound current (the Naad). When reference is necessary she refers to specific aspects as ‘the teachings’.
For teachers, students and other practitioners affected by these revelations, there are a number of services offered by 3HO to help in the healing process. Bir Kaur feels that the leaders of the community are doing their part to heal the community and make it healthier. For our part, if we can be of assistance, please reach out to us. As a starting point to learn more about the abuse of power, Bir Kaur highly recommends reading, “Sex and The Spiritual Teacher“. In addition, this LINK is to a youtube video recorded in 2021 explaining in a clear and interesting way the history of kundalini yoga in relationship to Sikhism and how the teaching of kundalini yoga has evolved over time as kundalini yoga is far older than the Sikh religion. There are many resources available online that talk about kundalini yoga so please be discerning/trust your intuition when deciding what to read/watch.
With all of this said, there are still many many students and teachers who choose to try kundalini yoga for the first time and/or continue to practice it because it creates long lasting positive effects on one’s psycho-emotional health and physical health.