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Unwrapping the Gifts of Yoga

By Shabad Kaur Khalsa

"On the caterpillar’s journey, she eats one last leaf and then crawls to the underside of a branch beneath her favorite tree and creates a tiny silk pad above herself on the tree, hooking herself onto it. She twists herself around and around and around, and when she is finally done she sheds her skin. What remains in its place is her chrysalis, and she hangs upside down inside of it. This helps prepare her wings for the process of emergence." Stephanie Madson

Yoga found me when I experienced a “soul-ache” in my 20’s. I met my first yoga teacher in college as one of my art professors. She initially invited me to attend her Kundalini Yoga classes when I met her at school, and then continued to invite me when I would periodically run into her around the city after graduating. I did not attend the classes, but kept replying, “One day.”

Finally, once upon that day, I experienced unendurable pain in my 10 bodies (I would come to understand this only later). Depending on who you ask, I either quit or I was dismissed from my high-level graphic design job. Either way, it added up to liberation. Two years after graduating from college, this profession had become increasingly meaningless for me. I felt a pull towards work that served people on the Earth more directly.

The first person I called was that yoga teacher. “I’m ready,” I told her.

I traveled 14 miles each way on two trains and a bus to attend the weekly classes in her home in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. As we arrived for class, the students would team up and move the dining room furniture to create space for yoga. Afterwards she would serve us a wonderful vegetarian meal and Yogi Tea. The experience was the perfect blend of her European hospitality and 3HO coziness. I made good friends there too, fellow travelers on this road of transformation.

I embraced this path with great enthusiasm and implemented huge changes in my lifestyle. My soul now smiled as I enrolled in a Master’s degree program to pursue a career change. The practice of Kundalini Yoga helped create a strong baseline of health for me on emotional, physical and spiritual levels. My arcline cleared, my aura strengthened, and my radiant body was polished up! Kundalini Yoga gave me what Yogi Bhajan refers to as my ‘original self.’

With my teacher’s encouragement, I began teaching Kundalini Yoga, to share the gifts that had brought me so many benefits. Three decades later, I will never tire of seeing the look on students’ faces as they sing the Longtime Sunshine Song in bliss and relaxation at the end of class.

I have, humbly, as a link in the Golden Chain, passed on this gift.

“Gradually and slowly we develop ourselves into that maturity, that understanding, that depth, that firmness—so we can become radiant, and our pleasantness starts working and the glow of our arcline may cover our universe." -Yogi Bhajan

Shabad Kaur Khalsa, LCPC, LMFT, E-RYT 500, KRI Level 1 Lead Teacher Trainer. She is co-founder and director of Spirit Rising Yoga Center and Spirit Rising Foundation in Chicago, IL. She has taught Kundalini Yoga for 30 years, and as a psychotherapist, she integrates the teachings into treatment for adults and couples. She is honored to have served Yogi Bhajan directly and has transcribed, edited, and illustrated several books including his Women’s Camp lectures and Master’s Touch, and Shakti Parwha Kaur’s Flow of Eternal Power.

The health and empowerment of women through the teachings of Kundalini Yoga is a cause that is near and dear to her heart and she also specializes in Humanology, marriage, conscious birth, self-care, and health and wellness. Shabad Kaur leads the Midwest Women’s Yoga Retreat in Wisconsin in October 2017, (www.spiritrisingyoga.org) and is honored to be the guest lead teacher this year at Khalsa Ladies Camp in Vancouver, BC, Canada in August 2017. (www.yogawest.ca) www.spiritrisingyoga.org