Ask your questions about the 3HO lifestyle and your Kundalini Yoga practice. Sewa Singh, our senior 3HO lifestyle advisor, responds to your questions with compassion, insight, and deep understanding of the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. Send your questions here.
The kriyas are often very specific with precise instructions for men and different instructions for women. There is an increased awareness and presence of trans-gendered people in our community. Yogi Bhajan often spoke directly and specifically to an audience of strictly women or strictly men emphasizing how the polarity between the two genders was so different.
How would his teachings apply to a trans-gendered person? In particular, I would not want to offend anyone who came to my class nor do I want to misguide them regarding issues of gender as it relates to this yoga. Any insight you care to share would be valuable.
Thank you so much for your timely and important question.
You said, “Yogi Bhajan often spoke directly and specifically to an audience of strictly women or strictly men emphasizing how the polarity between the two genders was so different.” I am not sure whether you mean that his audience identified themselves strictly as men or strictly as women, or whether you mean that he spoke to people as if he only identified people as strictly men or strictly women.
In my personal experience neither is true. The audience has always been widely varied and he always spoke with a deep understanding of the huge variation in human experience. What has changed since his passing is how open individuals are about their sexual identities and an accompanying wider social acceptance of that openness.
His clarity and strength about the differences between female and male energy was not intended in any way to belittle those who do not define themselves firmly on either end of the spectrum. If anything, the effect of becoming more explicitly and more subtly aware of the nature of these various qualities should empower those who find themselves somewhere between the two extremes. A person whose experience of their sexuality is limited to physical, social, intellectual and emotional levels is at a great disadvantage compared to one who has the additional energetic/auric experience to relate to.
Yogi Bhajan’s life-long mission was to empower people to become more aware of the universality of their own identities and free themselves from suffering. Along the way he challenged all of our weaknesses and insecurities so that we could face them and overcome them. Almost every meditation and kriya, if done properly, will challenge us at many levels. He often said that Kundalini Yoga was not for everyone. I have found that those that it does not work for are those who do not want to be challenged in this way.
He did not limit his challenges to us by what was fashionable or politically correct. If you explain the energetic principals that he taught without judgment, and people still take offense, then maybe this is the challenge that they need to progress. Sometimes we project our own negativity or intellectual/emotional issues on a neutral presentation of information, and this likely indicates that we have something to work on to become liberated from attachment and suffering.
A parallel example might be the yogic technology regarding human hair. The information is pretty simple and direct. Hair has a subtle function; tune into this subtlety and it is best for your well-being to take care of it and not remove it. The information is not meant to shame people who have hair loss, lots of hair, curly or straight hair, or to belittle those who choose to remove or alter their hair. It is just information to use as you wish, or not.
If someone were disturbed by this information, it would suggest that some past injury or insecurity might be at the root of their discomfort. Otherwise, a person who is secure and self-aware will neutrally consider the information, choose to relate to it or not and move on. No offense will be taken no matter what the state of their own hair.
Consider White Tantric Yoga® which utilizes female and male energy, but there is no judgment regarding who is sitting in the “female” line or the “male” line. Monitors will sit in either line when needed regardless of their gender and any variety of pairs are welcome to sit as they like. White Tantric Yoga® is based on the energetics of polarity, but the technology is not limited to heterosexual beings.
The yogic teachings regarding moon and sun energies are not in any way limited to human behavior, communication, sexuality or sexual identity. For example, perceiving these energies as they are expressed in the natural world through color, sound, shape, taste, smell, movement, etc. can deepen our appreciation of the profound beauty that surrounds us. A deep understanding of what is feminine and what is masculine actually fosters the infinite variations and gradations that can be found in every great work of art, design and music.
You specifically asked how Yogiji’s teachings regarding male and female polarity apply to trans-gendered people. In my experience everything he taught on the subject of polarities is appropriate and empowering to all people. These teachings have the potential to provide insight and more importantly, direct personal experience to those who relate to them. Having a deeper experience of one’s self is valuable to all who are open.
Yogiji also taught extensively about duality and how much suffering arises out of it. Polarity and duality must not be confused. Duality exists when there is little self-awareness and polar parts of one’s self are in conflict. When we are aware of the polarities within and we consciously balance them, then no conflict can exist.
It really matters very little where on the gradient between powerfully feminine and powerfully masculine anyone may find themselves, or parts of themselves. What really matters is that when we elevate our consciousness we create harmony with all the different and potentially polar notes within ourselves.
Your sensitivity to those who may need extra compassion, acceptance, delicacy and support is admirable and inspiring. Right now, in some places on the Earth, there is unimaginable cruelty towards those who differ from certain expectations of others. You bless yourself and those around you with your priceless kindness.
It is possible to share the technology of polarity in an undiluted manner by careful choice of language to specifically avoid placing values on anything other than awareness and tranquility of being. It is within the subtle positive or negative tones or historically charged words that offense is hidden and/or projected.
Teach only what you have deeply experienced yourself as the truth; the genuine warmth of your heart will take care of all the rest. Your kindness, caring and compassion will overshadow all other issues.
Thank you again for sharing your insights.
Please note that the information and opinions here are based on the experience of one person and any contradictions or omissions regarding the teachings of Yogi Bhajan are unintentional. Any diet, exercise and/or lifestyle information in this communication is a representation of yogic traditions and is not intended as a substitute for consulting a qualified health professional. This information is only for educational purposes and not for any person’s specific medical condition. Always check with your personal physician or licensed health care practitioner before making any significant modification in your lifestyle to insure that the lifestyle changes are appropriate for your personal health condition and consistent with any medication you may be taking. If you have unresolved emotional issues, consult with a qualified therapist. 3HO Foundation International and I are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences for the use of any of the information presented in this communication. For more information about Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan®, please see www.3ho.org/kundalini-yoga andwww.kundaliniresearchinstitute.org
Sewa Singh Khalsa has been teaching Kundalini Yoga for over 40 years and has been providing counseling to couples and individuals based on Kundalini Yoga and Yogi Bhajan's teachings on Humanology for 35 years. He holds an MFA from the University of Washington and has taught at Eastern Washington University, Western Washington University and the University of Washington