5. Yoga Community

Teacher Interview: Meet Kundalini Teacher Pritam Khalsa.

29 March 2014

1.      Name:

Pritam Hari Kaur Khalsa.

2.      DOB:

7th September 1959.

3.      What style of yoga do you teach?

I started with Hatha when I was 18 and fell in love with Kundalini Yoga when I was 21. I became a vegetarian when I was 16 after reading Siddharta by Herman Hesse. I went into fasting, macrobiotics and  yoga! I used to shop and eat at the Golden Temple Vegetarian Restaurant in Hamburg and one day I began waitering there. I was invited to come along for yoga because ‘it helped us be a team at work’ and I moved into the ashram after my first Kundalini class, no less!  I went for my first White Tantric Yoga course with Yogi Bhajan two weeks later and walked away from there, blossoming into my life! (We have such a course coming up now, May 24th 2014 in Cape Town, www.whitetantricyoga.co.za). I lived in the ashram for eight years; I was the European secretary for 3HO (Organization for Healthy, Happy, Holy Lifestyle). I was under the tutelage of the great Yogi Bhajan (1929 – 2004). I translated lots of materials into German and would translate for him live when he came to teach. 

4.      Where do you teach?

I’ve been in RSA since 1987, my husband Har Bhajan and I pioneered the Kundalini Yoga here. Aside from working at our natural foods store, FRUITS & ROOTS (for 25 years) I taught yoga all the while. The last few years, before I moved away from Joburg, I built the classes at the ISHTA Centre (www.yoga-sa.com). I’m the lead trainer for RSA and have taught teacher training since 1998. Most of the Kundalini teachers in RSA have passed through our training. We teach nationwide and our eco farm, www.longvalleyfarm.co.za, (Robertson, Western Cape), offers yoga holidays and retreats.  Our programs are on www.kundaliniyoga.co.za. Www.3ho.org is the international site.

kundaliniyoga2014

5.      How long have you been practicing yoga?

I used to practice king cobra, hand stand, head stand, shoulder stand, etc. when I was a kid – without knowing it was yoga. It just felt so darn good. My dad practiced yoga when he was at varsity, and as a kid I used to dream, one day I’ll do yoga too.

6.      How long have you been teaching yoga?

Just a month after moving into the ashram I was asked to teach a class. Terrifying! Gentler landings when we took turns leading the early morning practices (sadhana). As the ashram secretary I consolidated the teacher training materials there and took my training too.

7.      Who have you trained with and where?

In the eighties I sought out every possible course with my teacher, Yogi Bhajan. He was vital, healthy and unstoppable as a giving, sharing master teacher with an always high expectation. I used to go every year to the international 3HO events, summer solstice and women’s camp. Great fun lived and breathed for these. I worked in his house too, did Seva, cooked for him.

8.      What lead you to teaching yoga and at what point did you decide that you wanted to teach?

I used to be enormously shy. Yogi Bhajan said when I taught my energy filled the entire space. I came to trust myself as a yogini, my love for the yoga and a deep sincerity I bring. Same experience really in my professional life as health shop consultant trying to bring the right remedy to the energy, expectation and condition of the client. I grew up in Indonesia and had grandparents who were madly into herbal health, so my background is both metaphysical and hands on. I trust a bedrock of all things natural within me.

Pritam and husband

9.      What do you love most about teaching?

Teaching is very uplifting. When you teach an energy current flows through you to touch the people in the class and the space. The teacher herself is nurtured in that too. When we train we try connect people with this particular capacity.

10.  Is there a focus in your teaching style?

I take people to what they’re feeling. Feeling is transitory, yet without understanding what we are feeling we’re neither safe nor intelligent. When we feel what we feel we can pass through and beyond it. We’re blessed, the technology of Kundalini Yoga offers so many kriyas that challenge and cultivate states of emotional intelligence, courage and grace.

11.  What do you love most about yoga?

It never fails. It gives that connected, sparkly feeling that I see as an extension of Kundalini life force. You actually widen and lengthen an internal space – which allows an expanded feeling of humanness.  My immediate family practices this lifestyle too, my husband and our adult son. I created a yoga picture book called THE KUNDALINI YOGA FAN with over 78 kriyas for ease of practice and a Kundalini Yoga DVD series.

12.  What is the greatest challenge you have overcome with the help of yoga?

I used to feel smart, fine, but completely scatter-brained! Sort of like sensitivity was a liability!  Yoga helped me slow that incessant internal firing to where I can partner myself moment by moment, breath by breath, fine, easy, calm, happy.

13.  What advice do you have for people who have never tried yoga?

Give it a bash, be a little adventurous, get to know your body and mind. Nothing can hurt you but the stuff you don’t know. Reach out to those 90% capacity that lies dormant, (according to Einstein).

14.  Do you have a regular practice?

I love my early morning sacred time. I get up at 4h30, take my cold shower and get onto the mat. Every now and then I goof – and definitely know what I’m missing!

15. Favourite Asana:

At the moment I love archer pose, good hip opener and for all 1st chakra related areas, feet, ankles, legs, thighs, lower back. Strengthens radiance and projection. I also like the Set for the Aura.

Y- Strengthening the Aura

16. Strongest Asana?

108 frogs.

17. Any religious affiliations?

I am a Sikh. It fits my devotional heart and affirms that if it ain’t within it certainly isn’t out there.

18. What are your other interests?

I like creating beautiful spaces, can make a healthy vegetarian meal out of anything or nothing, love the womanly art of sewing, I speak several languages, I love my cat, Virgo-like I bring order and beauty to my environs at t work or home, I’m getting into gardening – which is a new exploration! We dialogue, yes, with people, but the conversation extends to animals, plants and the invisible :-).  I am also an EFT practitioner, (Emotional Freedom Technique, colloquially known as tapping), and I give Akara Vedic Numerology readings.

19. Any Thank Yous?

Big gift was meeting my spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan. I’m grateful that life itself is the ashram, the metaphysical learning environment. My long time yoga peers in this country are my friends and good mirrors. We call ourselves the Heart Group and started working in deep, supportive processes with each other. My husband is my inspiration and friend.

Prtiam & husband standing Smaller