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Kundalini Yoga for Mental Health - St. Joseph’s Adult Education Programme in South Africa

By Jai Jagdeesh Kaur, Cape Town, South Africa

When Yogi Bhajan came to Cape Town in 1999 for the World Parliament of Religions, the award winning nonprofit St. Joseph’s Adult Education Programme hosted him. He taught a class there and I was blessed to meet him and told him of my desire to work with poor communities. He told me that it would happen and gave me a time frame for when it would take place. And this has occurred.

Currently, at the award winning St. Joseph’s Adult Education Programme in South Africa, we have five projects including a huge literacy project, the only Xhosa Montessori teacher training project of its kind in South Africa, the Kundalini Yoga project which falls under our alternative health project, and a general skills and cultural project. The Kundalini Yoga project is offered at state mental hospitals and in poor communities to help with drug and alcohol dependency, mental health challenges, abuse, and other life issues.

As the power of Kundalini Yoga technology is experienced and witnessed, we are asked to teach in more and more wards in Cape Town state mental hospitals and in the community. We continue to work at Valkenberg Hospital in 4 wards, Lentegeur Hospital in 3 wards, and Stikland Hospital in 2 wards. We have outreach programmes in the townships spearheaded by Qurban and Parampurkh, 2 students who have taken Kundalini Yoga teacher training here and who are now teaching. This year we have been asked add another hospital to the program, Alexandra State Mental Hospital, which deals specifically with people with intellectual disabilities.

Parampurkh’s Story

Through our yoga project we have sponsored two teachers, Parampurkh and Qurban, for Kundalini Yoga teacher training. We would like to be able to sponsor more people to become teachers. Because of the film I made in 2005, Beautiful as Butterflies, which featured Parampurkh, both Kundalini Yoga and Parampurkh have become well known in South Africa. She has appeared on television and in Oprah magazine to name a few places. She has really turned her life around. She became a full vegetarian some years ago when she took her teacher training. She quit smoking. People in her family, at work, and in the community commented on how radiant she looks. She always attributes it to her Kundalini lifestyle and her teaching. She received her first office job after working at the laundry in the military base for over 20 years. She has been asked to teach Kundalini Yoga to the military base personnel. She has expanded her yoga teaching with abused women in the community.

As a result of Beautiful as Butterflies which was well received and which was regarded as inspiring, I have been asked to do a follow up. I will start filming on Still Beautiful in 2011. We will be taking Parampurkh to the Yoga Festival in France in 2011. We will film her participation and attendance at the festival as part of the documentary. The rest of the film will focus on her life and teaching in Cape Town.

Being able to attend the Yoga Festival is a dream come true for Parampurkh. She has never been to Europe and she regards it as her yogic pilgrimage. We have been blessed to have been given sponsorship to attend the festival by the organizers and are still actively fundraising for this project. We are very excited about it. Qurban has undergone a similar transformation. Kundalini Yoga has opened up so many doors for them and for others in the community.

Celestial Communication in Cape Town

Earlier this year Hari Kaur Khalsa came to visit us in Cape Town. She was moved when she found out that when she taught her free workshop for our literacy learners (people who come from very poor areas in Cape Town to take our free classes in order to learn or improve their reading and writing skills), she was sitting on the same stage where Yogi Bhajan sat in 1999. The students loved her and the Celestial Communications that she so generously shared. She also gave a memorable retreat with me at my Betty's Bay studio for a small group. In this setting by the sea, her knowledge of Celestial Communication, mala making, personal Chinese horoscopes, origami, and the gift of an open heart that Hari knows how to communicate so well, touched everyone forever.

While in Cape Town, I produced the beautiful Celestial Communication DVD that Hari made. Sitting in my back yard, poised, relaxed, and graceful as always, she performed Celestials that she had created in New Mexico. Having this DVD as a resource is amazing. It means that we can use these powerful meditations in our community work here.

The DVD will be available in the coming weeks. You can purchase it via our website for approximately $17.00 including postage and packing. The proceeds go towards supporting our outreach yoga project. You can also purchase Beautiful as Butterflies on the shopping trolley on our website.

Jai Jagdeesh Kaur is the co-director and co-founder of two Cape Town based charities, St. Joseph’s Adult Education Programme, and Footprints Educational Trust. They both work with poor communities in and around Cape Town. In addition to being a writer, editor, documentary filmmaker and Kundalini Yoga teacher, Jai Jagdeesh Kaur, who is originally from London, has a Masters degree in African studies from Howard University in the United States and lectures on African cinema. She edited the first collection of short stories from women in prison in South Africa called Journey to Myself. Inside Life, completed in June 2010, is about the healing process of men in prison. She received a Sunflower Award for her work with marginalized women. [email protected] and Visit our website at www.stjosephsaep.co.za. She lives in Cape Town with her partner Keith and their three children.