If you type in Guru Jagat's name on Google, over twelve million results pop up. Of course, because the Kundalini teacher, who sadly past away last year on August 1st, has managed to take this yoga form out of the esoteric corner and demystify it with her modern and humorous style. Even if the white, flowing dresses and turbans, which Kundalini practitioners like to wear, suggest it: Kundalini Yoga has nothing to do with New Age or chaos magic.
Photo: Manfred Hammel
In her live and online teachings, the founder of the Rama Yoga studios in Los Angeles, New York and Mallorca used to mention Hillary Clinton, David Bowie or the "Star Wars" hero Luke Skywalker in the same breath as her late teacher Yogi Bhajan and shows that high fashion and Kundalini Yoga complement each other wonderfully. The best example of this is the hype fashion label Gucci, where turbans even made it onto the catwalk of its 2018 fall-winter fashion show.
So it's no wonder that celebs like British model Lily Cole or singer Alicia Keys were and still are eager students of Guru Jagat teachings. The latter even once said of her Kundalini sessions with Guru Jagat, "I am clearer, stronger, more aware and more creative than ever before. Guru Jagat's way of calling a spade a spade is modern, comprehensible and easy to implement."
Guru Jagat, what is the secret behind Kundalini Yoga and why is it such a beloved Yoga practice?
We are at a turning point: information overload, the pressure to be constantly available everywhere and, of course, social media are draining us. This can leave us feeling drained, and in the worst cases, even empty. It is therefore only logical that in these times of digitalization we look for a deeper meaning and fulfillment. Kundalini yoga is one way to better deal with this stress. You don't have to be spiritually inclined, particularly limber or strictly vegan to practice Kundalini.
That's why we like to call Kundalini yoga for people who hate yoga. You don't need palo santo wood or fancy lulu lemon leggings to do it. Rather, it's about being yourself. Which is why our motto is "Keep it simple."
How is Kundalini different from other forms of yoga?
Kundalini yoga works right away. We work a lot with mantras, but also breathing techniques. For example, in stressful situations. It helps me to drink a glass of water, then breathe deeply in and out, and I can see a little clearer again.
That sounds a bit simple, doesn't it?
Of course it is. In stressful situations, however, we tend to breathe shallowly, and sometimes we even hold our breath for a short time. But the more oxygen is transported to our brain, the better we can focus again. In addition, this also relaxes our face.
Do you mean the Resting Bitch Face?
Exactly (laughs). With certain breathing techniques, such as fire breathing (you breathe in and out through your nose vigorously and quickly and also force the contraction of your abdominal muscles, editor's note), the entire organism is practically flooded with oxygen. This gives the complexion that certain glow.
Other yoga exercises, such as a super-fast Cat Cow performed for three minutes, can even act like anti-aging. However, it is also important to breathe intensely and quite audibly. This activates the spinal fluid flow, which produces more collagen and plumps up our facial cells.
This all sounds great and immediately makes you want to try it out. Still, people attending a Kundalini class for the first time may be a bit daunted. The turbans and mostly white clothes already have something of a cult about them.
True, my crew and I can sometimes look like hippie romantics when we all go across the street together for a matcha latte. However, I wear this outfit as a tribute to my teachers. Plus, white clothing puts you in a more positive mind-set because, unlike black, it reflects light instead of absorbing it. And the turban is about keeping the energy generated during the exercises in the body. Plus, turbans have become a fashion statement for me and are super helpful on bad hair days.
What's the deal with your name anyway?
You mean because of the guru? It's Sanskrit and means teacher, but it also means bringer of light. Imagine how I reacted when Yogi Bhajan gave me that name (groans). I am anything but on a guru trip. Rather, Yogi Bhajan gave me the task as a teacher to promote women, to make them more self-confident and to strengthen them. Because: The Future is Female!
This interview was first published on Sonrisa.ch and has been softly edited for this publication.