By Victoria Lynes/Atmabir Kaur
Another graduation circle, a big box of tissues and hearts full of emotion. The final teacher training weekend, set in an ideallic retreat, deep in the woods, surrounded by sounds of the loons, lapping lake water and the buzz of June mosquitos. Amidst yet another wonderful group of Level 1 Kundalini Yoga Teachers, I hold out hope that they would all stay connected. To us, to the yoga centre, but most importantly, to themselves.
I love this part of my involvement with the Kundalini Teacher Training Team. After observing, teaching and supporting the students over the 9 month program, this is where the juice is. These are raw souls—opened up, wrung out and cleansed. At times not sure they would make it, figuratively throwing mirrors against walls that are beginning to crack. Breaking them down, then building them up stronger, yet with less brick and mortar.
PranaShanti Yoga Centre in the beautiful city of Ottawa, Canada has just hosted the 5th year of Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training, and almost 100 students have become teachers, myself being one of them. Wahe Guru! Since that very first year of my own Teacher Training, I have been blessed with being able to offer a support/mentor role within the program each year, alongside teaching regular weekly classes. We have developed a beautiful, strong and committed Kundalini community at PranaShanti over the years and I am grateful for my part within it.
But as happens with many things in life, people often fall away, lose touch and move on to new things. Out of the 100 or so teachers that have graduated the program since 2009, some return to the centre for classes and events regularly, some occasionally, and some we have never seen again. I often wonder about those we have lost contact with, those that we supported through their transformation, those that both struggled with and devoured the course material. I reflect back on each graduation circle over the past 5 years, remembering the profound, honest, emotional and joyful words that were shared there, in that sacred space. I see their faces and remember their individual stories. I loved being in community with each one of them—strangers at first, then allowing the months spent within the teachings to connect us.
The diversity of people drawn to this program, these teachings are astounding to me. It truly is yoga for the householder—real people from all walks of life, every age, every background, upbringing and belief system. Looking around the training room, at the outset, one may wonder what on earth draws these people together? A group that perhaps would not have found each other in other communities: a 20 something year accountant and lover of shaman teachings, a massage therapist, a young mural painter, a 66 year old mortgage broker, a mother with the sweetest singing voice, a hospital worker struggling with an auto immune disease, a military veteran returned from combat, a meditation and yoga junkie, a daycare provider, a divorcee, a young girl with a Buddhist upbringing, an addictions counsellor, a retired government worker, an engineer, a college student, a Zumba instructor, a cook—the list goes on and on.
This is our community. “These are my peeps,” one young student said recently. We have all been drawn together by the strength and integrity of these incredible teachings, from far and wide. Spending 9 months breaking down barriers, moving through blocks, peeling away layers of Maya, just like an onion; often being blinded in the process. But each month, when the group once again meets, the collective energy of support nourishes and brings renewed courage to weary souls. Something magical happens in that last month of training and especially on graduation day. This is why I do this work—to have the privilege to take part in this profound unravelling. To see these spirited, brave souls as they lay witness to the very best part of themselves. And once that key has been turned, there is no turning back.
So to all those students over the past 5 years who we have not seen since graduation day, I say this to you: It was an honour to spend time in community with you and I know that you are out in the world, spreading light in your own communities. And that no matter how much time there may be between connecting in person again, it is irrelevant. Whether or not you come to classes, or practice on your own at home; whether you are leading weekly classes or simply sharing Yogi Bhajan’s wisdom occasionally with friends; whether you take on 40 day meditations and commit to a rigorous daily practice or whether you just remember to breath deep when challenges arise; whether you call yourself a “teacher” or not—is beside the point. The key was turned, your doors are open. All our doors are now permanently opened by what we shared together. This is how we are connected; this is how we will always remain in community with each other, and with ourselves.
“May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you guide your way on.” Sat Nam.
Victoria Lynes/Atmabir: “I have to say that to teach has always brought me the greatest of pleasures. When I am teaching I feel the most connected to my truth - my "Sat Nam." When I sit on my mat and gratefully share the joy and transformation of yoga with students from all walks of life. When I discovered Kundalini Yoga several years back, I resonated instantly with this powerful and profound practice. Having a busy life and being a mother of 2 growing boys, I was astounded at how a sense of peace, neutrality and strength quickly permeated so seamlessly into my daily life with the regular practice of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation.”
Internationally Certified KRI Kundalini Yoga Teacher
Level 2 Radiant Child Yoga Teacher