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by Rachel Surinderjot Kaur

I believe that getting sober at age 33 in 2008 was the beginning of my kundalini awakening. The doubt, fear, unexpressed grief, and years of unprocessed emotions needed to be allowed up to consciousness before my inner light could be remembered. By putting down the alcohol, cigarettes, pot, and unhealthy relationships, and embarking on a 12 Step program, I began to learn the tools of emotional healing and how to live life - and the possibility of bringing my gifts into the world was awakened. My sponsor, and regular meetings where other people shared so honestly and openly, all showed me that it was possible to live without drugs, alcohol, and marriage to an addict, and that dependence on those things was a symptom of some serious underlying issues.

In 2010, at a year and a half sober, I was suffering from those underlying issues terribly (depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts), when my AA sponsor brought me to my first Kundalini Yoga class. I felt like I had come home, and that the daily relief I had been searching for had finally been found. I began doing Stretch Pose and Ego Eradicator every day before getting out of bed, and it was suggested that I start a 40 day practice of Kirtan Kriya. In addition to my daily practice, I attended AA meetings and worked the 12 Steps, and began to develop the courage to make some big changes in my life, including ending a dysfunctional marriage. In 2011, I began the Kundalini Research Institute Level 1 Yoga Teacher Training in order to share this life changing practice with others. Right after completing my training, I went to West Africa to share the healing power of Kundalini Yoga with young victims of a civil war in Liberia. In 2015, I completed the eight day SuperHealth training, where I learned how Kundalini Yoga can support those in recovery from addiction. Some of the fellow teachers who I met during that training were also in 12 Step programs, and the idea dawned on us to bring together the 12 Steps and Kundalini Yoga - if the 12 Steps can work for millions of people, why not for Kundalini yogis? We had all experienced firsthand that sadhana alone wasn't enough to remove our own addictions. And we also knew that meetings and the Steps, although incredibly supportive, did not in themselves provide a daily practice of movement and meditation - things that 12 Step programs insist are vital to recovery.

In 2016, we started to meet on regular conference calls, and Embodying the 12 Steps: Kundalini Yoga for Recovery (KY12) was born. In 2017, we began to brainstorm what would become the KY12 Workbook, which will be published in the Spring of 2021. As we explored the yogic concepts and the principles of the 12 Steps, we began to see many parallels and complementary ideas. Together with Chandra Kirin Kaur of Austin as project manager, co-writer, and pillar of support, we decided to include 12 personal stories from Kundalini yogis in recovery, several kriyas and meditations that would support each Step, a few mantras to practice with each Step, questions to write on to explore each Step, and one of the relevant 10 Bodies. A big task! In addition, I wrote a Step 4 supplement, which incorporates each of the seven chakras with seven difficult emotions to create an embodied personal inventory. The KY12 Workbook became a 200 page e-workbook, which allows us to link to the Library of Teachings and for most of the kriyas and meditations, and we were grateful to receive KRI approval for the Workbook in 2019. Chandra Kirin and I taught a KY12 class at the 3HO Summer Solstice events in 2018 and 2019, and in 2019, I took myself through the program, improving and modifying it along the way. I also began working with individuals in private sessions, leading them through the KY12 Steps. In 2020, I offered the first Year through the Steps to a group of women, where we met each month (at first in person, and then over Zoom once the pandemic began) and created a safe community to share our process through the Steps. Also in 2020, I decided to remove the quotes from Yogi Bhajan from the Workbook, and realized that the KY12 work could stand on its own without reference to him - affirming the 12 Step concept of "principles before personalities."

This year, I'm offering the second Year through the Steps, to women from all over the US and from Canada and the UK; many of the participants are new to the 12 Steps, and some are new to Kundalini Yoga. And I'm so excited to have offered the first KY12 training course during the end of July 2021! This course was open to anyone (teachers, non-teachers, all genders), and we met for 6 days to go on a journey through all of the KY12 Steps. Participants were empowered and encouraged to share KY12 with others. This training course earned approval from KRI so that it is a Specialty Course, and the graduates are now certified to share KY12 with others. The KY12 Workbook is set to be published in October 2021, where it will be available on Amazon, etc. And coming up, I'll be offering a course through KRI's e-Learning platform, called Embodying the 12 Steps: Kundalini Yoga & Meditation for Freedom from Addiction, on Friday, September 17 from 9 - 11 am Mountain time. IKYTA members receive a discount to this course, click this link to register:

My mission is to make this work accessible and available to anyone who wants to embody their recovery from addictions or mental and physical health challenges, and anyone who wants to find a physical, emotional, and spiritual solution to problems. By combining the healing power of Kundalini Yoga with the practical wisdom of the 12 Steps, I have found health, sanity, and am walking the path of my destiny to be of service to others - so much healing is possible for us all! Be in touch with me at [email protected] or visit to learn more.

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