Speaking of Kundalini Yoga
Teaching a Kundalini Yoga class involves infinite preparation, infinite self-purification, and infinite regard for the people one is to instruct. It is much more that putting on a costume, showing up, and directing one's students through a series of exercises, wonderful as the exercises might be. Our presence and the words we choose to speak play an important role in the conduct of the class.
Yogi Bhajan was a man of the world, well-educated, and well-spoken. He was curious about and knowledgeable of the world he lived in. Before the day of the internet, when he came to our city he would want to see our local papers, and when it became available, the New York Times, each morning. Yogiji would typically stay four or five days around a 3-day White Tantric Yoga course and each day we would fetch him his papers so he could be informed of the latest happenings in our city and in the world.
Our teacher would use his knowledge of both timeless truths and passing trends in his constant interactions with politicians and heads of state, opinion leaders and his fellow spiritual teachers. He also shared his informed perspectives of modern day life in his many classes and lectures.
A Kundalini Yoga teacher does not have to be a great orator, but a student of Yogi Bhajan should try their best to channel the infinite wisdom and humor of the Master when they give a class. Speaking to one's class before setting them to work is a great chance to poke-provoke-confront-and-elevate everybody. It is an opportunity to inspire them. It is a chance to provide context to these teachings and this life we live.
Yogiji spoke on about 100,000 topics in his lifetime, each time adding grace and insight to his subject. He talked about the human body and how we abuse it. He spoke about the fallacies of religion. He talked about womankind and mankind and the worthy objective of creating a cozy home. Yogiji spoke about the original American Dream of a free society for all. He also lamented the domination of the rich. Yogi Bhajan talked about the intricacies of the mind and how to master it. He told stories of great saints. Yogiji shared openly his own life story in India and his experiences in the West. He talked about his relationship with his teacher, Sant Hazara Singh. Occasionally, Yogi Bhajan would also call his students to action as he did during the nuclear arms race in the 1980s.
We may not be as widely read or experienced as Yogi Bhajan, but we can still learn to teach with an authoritative and knowledgeable spiritual voice. Depending on the class, I almost always begin by saying something I feel will be of special relevance to my students. Often I will go on for fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five minutes. Sometimes students will approach me afterwards and say that my talks are the best part of the class.
If you are not experienced at speaking in front of your class, you can rest assured that while there will always be some students who only come for the exercise, a good many more (and this will vary according to the venue) will appreciate some occasional words of guidance and inspiration.
Here are some topics you can talk about that will interest your students:
What brought you to Kundalini Yoga Guaranteed, some of your students are going to say to themselves, "That sounds just like me." Others will take inspiration from your journey.
Mental health is everybody's business Too many people are making money out of other people's mental dis-ease. You can assure your students that anyone who has a mind is sure to have emotional highs and lows - and that yoga, meditation, and good friends can help create a healthy mind and outlook without (or with minimal) psychiatric medication and stigmatization.
The physiology of meditation Physiology might not be your strength, but your students are sure to be interested to know what is going on "under the hood" the next time you lead them in a meditation.
The most inspiring person you know Make it personal. Share with your students why you hold somebody in high esteem and how they influenced you in your life.
Stress and society By telling your students about the many social factors that can cause stress and anxiety, you take a weight off their shoulders as they realize it is not their fault.
Little blessings Help your students to cultivate an attitude of gratitude by bringing their attention to some of the infinite blessings that surround us each day.
Beautiful mantras Kundalini Yoga is adorned with amazing, deeply meaningful mantras. Take some time to get to know them, then share these ancient formulas together with their implications for living.
Of course, there are 100,000s of topics about which you can speak. You can even have somebody videotape your talks and post them on YouTube, as I have. If you run out of ideas, meditate. New ones are sure to come. If you are stuck, you can reference here a few of my talks on YouTube.
May God and Guru give you light, excellence, and inspiration each day. May you succeed in life and in teaching the sacred science of Kundalini Yoga with humility, effectiveness, and grace. Sat Nam.
In the Name of the Cosmos which prevails through everyBody and the Holy Nam that holds the world.
Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa