By Dev Dharam Kaur
Kundalini Yoga has been taught in Finland from the late 1990’s, and before that mainly in Turku, on the west coast of Finland. These early influences came from the visiting Finnish expatriates who had been trained in Sweden and the US. More teaching expats (some with yogic spouses) returned from places like Chile and the UK and eventually stayed, sowing more seeds of Kundalini Yoga. Kundalini Yoga spread to Helsinki, the capital, and the Tampere area with the help of a handful of teachers.
In the spring of 2006, Jivan Mukta Singh and Sat Darshan Kaur invited all the teachers in Finland to their home. There were six teachers. The idea was to get to know each other and to establish and strengthen the little Sangat and discuss the possibility of starting teacher training. To serve this purpose, later that year the Finnish Kundalini Yoga Association (SKJY) was founded by Sat Darshan Kaur, Jivan Mukta Singh, Vappu Järvinen and Sadhu Kaur, and the following year, 2007, the first teacher training course started.
October 1, 2011, marked the fifth anniversary of the association. From the four founding members we have become 60, out of which about 35 are teachers and 23 are teachers in training. The association no longer provides teacher training, as this has become part of the livelihood of some individual trainers.
The association has found other ways to serve the Sangat. We publish a newsletter about Kundalini Yoga, upcoming and recent events, and retreats and visiting teachers. Teachers are able to announce their workshops and classes. Recently, the newsletter took a blog-format, which has made it more up-to-date, interactive, and easier to access. We plan to make the blog open to all.
We serve the teachers and teaching. We offer scholarships for teachers in training with limited means, and encourage all to join the association when studying to become teachers. As we are spread all over Finland, a gathering for teachers twice a year is a welcome way to keep in touch and share in a relaxed and informal way. The majority of us are fairly new teachers who graduated in recent years, which makes meeting the more experienced teachers very fruitful. On the practical level, we are currently working on arranging optional insurance for teachers.
Bringing the teachings to everyone is essential. This year we published a transliteration of Japji together with a Finnish translation to provide the word for all. Translating the Aquarian Teacher Level one textbook into Finnish is progressing slowly but surely. Everyone is welcome to participate in the weekly morning Sadhana arranged in midtown Helsinki, and special events such as Yogi Bhajan’s birthday are celebrated with a special Sadhana.
We try to reach out to those who are not in the best possible position to find yoga themselves, in what we call the Guru Ram Das Project. This is a charity project where Kundalini Yoga is taught mainly to people recovering from substance abuse. The project has been carried out in collaboration with rehabilitation organizations in four different cities. The teachers’ work is part of their Seva, and the association offers teacher’s insurance.
For the larger public, the association has promoted Kundalini Yoga in a yearly fair for spiritual growth called Minä Olen (“I am”). The association is planning to organize “Get to Know Kundalini Yoga Days,” where Kundalini Yoga is brought to towns and places where it is less known. This program also offers a chance for beginning teachers with less experience and without regular classes of their own to teach.
When coming to Finland, don’t forget to look us up! We have classes in English. And keep up.
Dev Dharam Kaur
On behalf of the Finnish Kundalini Yoga Association