Slow, Confident, and Steady: The Birth and Growth of Kundalini Yoga in Estonia
By Sukhdev Kaur, Estonia
As I write this letter, the sun is shining through the window in the middle of the freezing Estonian winter. This is one of those rare days that sun peeps out from behind the tight winter clouds to salute us with its brightness, uplifting the hearts of all.
A small country bordering the Baltic sea and next to Russia, Estonia is a land where the winter nights are long and cold and the summer nights do not get dark at all. Because of this and other reasons, people here are very close to nature, the forest being the home in the heart of all Estonians. It was a day like this seven years ago, when I journeyed from my home country, Mexico, to come and live in this latitude.
In the Right Place
It has been my blessing to see the beginning and continued growth of the Estonian Kundalini Yoga sangat. When I arrived here, I knew no one, yet my heart knew I was in the right place. After a year of living and teaching Kundalini Yoga mainly to foreigners and students, someone mentioned that there was a Kundalini Yoga teacher teaching here and offering regular group sadhana in a forested suburban area. It was the beginning of autumn and I had no car, so the next morning I covered my white clothes with a thick jacket and started biking at 3:00 am. It was a very chilly morning and I had to stop on the way at a gas station to warm and hydrate myself. Doing sadhana after that was so beautiful—finding my family all over again. A good friendship began between us, and I found out there were a few more Kundalini Yogis and Yoginis around.
It was in 1994 that the very first Kundalini Yoga class was ever held in Estonia. It was in an independent art theatre and taught by Marika Blosfeldt, an Estonian-American who nowadays spends her winters in New York and her summers in Polli talu, Estonia, at her beautiful art and yoga center in the middle of the Estonian countryside. Many of our Kundalini Yoga teachers took their first class from Marika at Polli talu.
Over the last three years, the expansion of Kundalini Yoga in Estonia has been exponential. With the very first event organized as a team in 2008 (the Peace and Integration Day on Yogi Bhajan’s birthday in August), and the fourth Estonian Kundalini Yoga teacher training starting this year, the community has been growing and reaching many places that have never before heard of yoga, like Mõisaküla, a town of about 900 inhabitants. One particular thing about Estonia is that it is so small that almost everybody knows each other (at least through someone else). That makes the communities, Kundalini Yoga sangat included, close to each other and very human.
Step by Step Growth
Of course, there are challenges in every community’s growth, our sangat included. We formalized the National Kundalini Yoga Teacher’s Association in 2008, and through many challenges we are growing and reaching farther, step by step. I remember in our first meeting as a group with Guruka Kaur, she mentioned how Yogi Bhajan encouraged the associations to go slow, even slower, until all humans are in tune and on the same page, the same vibration. The first years we wanted to do so many things. We had thousands of projects, yet many didn’t happen simply because of the lack of resources. Over time we learned to focus our prana on the essential things to help the community grow slowly—yet steadily. We have managed to translate Japji into Estonian, organize regular events on Yogiji’s birthday, and regularly celebrate the winter solstice together with an evening of yoga and meditation. We established monthly support groups, where teachers gather to share their own experiences, questions, process, growth, and challenges on the spiritual path. Last autumn we organized the first Estonian Kundalini Yoga teacher’s camp in the summer at Polli talu, which we intend to keep as a regular event every year as an opportunity for teachers to share, update, and learn from guest and fellow teachers. The association is also keen on inviting a teacher to give specialty workshops or trainings every year. Last year we had the blessing of having Tarn Taran Kaur from Espanola, New Mexico to share the teachings on Conscious Pregnancy. This year we are having Karam Kriya workshops and a training by Shiv Charan Singh’s team.
Connection, Upliftment, and Group Consciousness
One of the things that we realized was that besides having our own families and friendships among teachers and yogis, we all desperately need to connect on a regular basis with our sangat, and be uplifted by the group consciousness. For almost two years, the association has been organizing weekly sadhanas which, in spite of some challenges, have been a successful way to hold the country’s energy in a constant flow towards a repetitive, growing, and stable group consciousness. Even though the regular sadhana group is small, the subtle effects expand to the whole community, to the extent that it can be felt in the growth of the Estonian sangat. The group sadhana—the best tool that Yogi Bhajan gave us—continuously strikes like a gong which keeps the vibration of the whole country steady, stable, and uplifted. No wonder that in Estonian language the words “create” and “hit” have the same root: by hitting such a gong, something indescribable is created. Guru Nanak reminds us every day in the mool mantra: repetition, meditation, continuation is the key from personal sadhana, through group consciousness or aradhana, into universal consciousness.
As a global community, we have been working on expanding our connections beyond land, water, and political borders. Our friends from the Finnish sangat constantly visit us and we keep regular communication with them. We are working on establishing deeper relations with the growing Latvian sangat; one of our teachers is already teaching there now and then, and we have been networking and sharing events with our Russian friends from Saint Petersburg, which is actually only 323 km away!
In the year 2011, our community of teachers has decided to focus our energy on sustaining and stabilizing the projects we already have going, without taking on big new projects—small and confident steps—small as this magic land and confident as the heart of the Estonians which keeps them steady throughout history.
We do have big dreams for our Baltic sangat and pray for the time when they will be realized. Our biggest dream is of a Baltic Yoga Festival which would focus on strengthening the community and expanding the teachings in the region. Just imagine hundreds of yogis and yoginis meditating during White Tantric Yoga® in the white summer nights!
Our dreams fall into the realm of the ether, and sooner than we know, by Guru’s grace will be transformed into matter. As I arrived in Estonia years ago, my dream was to have a family in this cold land. That dream has been granted. Only God knows the projects that we are to fulfill in the future. Yogi Bhajan left us a legacy of teachings which help people in every remote area of this world, even Estonia. “Obey, serve, love, excel,” Yogiji said. In other words, as long as we keep our humility, be ready to serve, keep open hearts, and uplift others, all is possible.
Blessings from the north,
Estonian NKYTA website: www.kundaliniyoga.ee