(Winter sun on The Rookery in Streatham, London)
I saw the first sliver of the moon yesterday evening and felt the shift of energies - that it is now time to start drawing in new beginnings, new choices, new beliefs, new habits to me. I planted seeds at the new moon. Now is time to begin to water these seeds.
I woke up this morning and felt the energy, the desires to start to action some of the things I've been thinking about. That now is the time to begin some of these things. For starters, I am implementing a new little daily routine which was in place last year but went out the window around Christmas and never quite recovered. And its great to have routines, and its also great to throw them out the window from time to time. Both help with flow, with ease, with attending to your needs. Having a routine is great for grounding, for stability, for creating security. Once it's in place and you don't think about it, then it creates a great foundation for other things. But sometimes when the body is changing, when emotions are shifting and the external world changes, if we hold too tightly to the routine, it no longer serves because the body needs more sleep, or less sleep. Less food, or more food, or different food. The mind and soul need more time in meditation, less time in meditation. We need more active or more gentle yoga. These are the rhythms of our life. To find the routines, and then the creativity and flow from the routine, and then lose the routine and find some new spark from the loss of routine.
So I am implementing a new little routine. My body seems to be calling for this now, after a period of rest, retreat, reset. And this routine will help support me in other ideas that have been percolating, growing, taking on roots. Now is time for some leaves. One big one is that I need a new name for what I am sharing with the world, with you. It's more than saying its a new name for yoga because I offer much more than yoga. And it's not quite right to say that I need a new name. I have many names already. But it's something inbetween. More than a thing I do and not quite my whole identity...
It is something I've been wrestling with for many months now - whether to continue to use Hari Charan Kaur publicly. There are great advantages to it in many ways, but I've chosen to let this name go publicly, and for teaching, for a few reasons. To take on a spiritual name like this is no small matter. These names have significant and sacred meanings to Sikh peoples. I was given it by my teachers during my teacher training, to signify a shift for me into a new life - that of a yogini. And the name has huge importance to me personally. I feel very connected to it and to its meaning, and I am grateful to my teachers for giving it to me.
However, I am not Sikh and don't see my path in life to become one, although never say never. I do not have a particular cultural or social connection to the Sikh communities or to Sikh histories. Kundalini Yoga does share some connections to Sikhism, however, its connection to Sikhism is disputed and many Sikhs feel that the connection is spurious because Sikhism was in some ways created as an antidote to yoga. Yoga was prevalent in Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as other spiritual paths such as Tantra, across South East Asia. Sikhism is a relatively new religion and is founded on a concept of stillness and meditation on the words of the Guru, as a deliberate alternative to yoga which is to find unity through movement, breath, mantra and meditation.
The history and lineage of Kundalini Yoga is unclear and contradictory, and somewhat shrouded in mystery. To an extent this was deliberately done by Yogi Bhajan so that he could be seen as the only person with knowledge on Kundalini Yoga. Since his death more work is being done to understand where Kundalini Yoga comes from. Yogi Bhajan was a Sikh and made the connections to Sikhism which we have in Kundalini Yoga today from philosophy and history to the mantras. He created this intertwining that we have in Kundalini Yoga today. Given this, and given that some of Yogi Bhajan's behaviour, attitudes and actions have come to light which were hidden and which are disturbing and upsetting, it's necessary to re-look at the connection between Sikhism and Kundalini Yoga.
My thoughts on all which has been revealed about him recently are more than can be covered as part of this blog, but I will write a blog about this subject soon.
Suffice to say for now, my reflections on this have led me to recognise the immense value, power and truth in Kundalini Yoga and I desire to continue to both practice and teach it. However, out of respect for Sikhs and Sikhism, and especially given how oppressed and suppressed they have been and continue to be (and yet, they were the ones who fed the lorry drivers stuck in Kent at Christmas), it does not feel right to me to keep my Sikh name and practice Kundalini Yoga. I also don't feel it's right to continue to convey the Sikh aspects of the teachings in Kundalini Yoga, especially when it comes to history and philosophy, and it's unclear to me whether it's considered true by Sikhs. The one aspect that I'm retaining is the mantras. This is because they are powerful, transcendental and have the ability to create transformative change. I think to remove them from Kundalini Yoga will significantly reduce the impact of it. However, I do seek to honour Sikhism in how I use them and to choose and share them thoughtfully and respectfully, and to respect their power and beauty.
And so, you'll see me starting to remove this name from communications and social media. The website is a little more complicated and will take more time. And as I start to release this name, I am turning to see what new name may emerge in its place. It is all part of the process of constant change, evolution, growth, release. Watch this space! And once the leaves are showing and the flower blossoming, I will share the new name.