Written by Bir Kaur and Guru Surya Kaur of the Portland Kundalini Yoga Community
From our Hearts to your Home: What Makes Kundalini Yoga Portland Home
We may have crossed paths at a Solstice Celebration, Sat Nam Fest, or another yoga gathering. Perhaps you were passing through town and decided to join us for sadhana or a Kundalini Yoga class. We are often blessed with the warmth and light that comes when others tell us how friendly the Kundalini Yoga Portland community is. Perhaps it is the breathtaking scenery of trees within a town that tries to be a city, a short drive to a cascading waterfall, or the simplistic and conscious lifestyle that the majority of residents embrace. Overall there is a general sense in Portland that we are all interdependent on one another, helping each other in as many small ways as we can.
Kundalini Yoga Portland has been making small changes in big ways to help form a structured and cohesive community while keeping in mind all the ways we are interdependent with one another. Our purpose as a 501c3 educational non-profit is to serve and inspire by providing access to the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, Sikh Dharma, and the practice of Kundalini Yoga. Our hope is to continue to inspire each other and other communities by sharing how we “do business.”
The Foundation: How We are Organized and Get Things Done
The Panj: A Container of Energy
As in any organization, a stable foundation is needed in order to prepare the soil to nourish a group of people. Through this foundation, there is room for freedom and creative potential for growth. That is the reason why we have a Panj, or a community board of directors. Some people ask why a board of directors, when it is just as easy to have a phone tree and call other people in the community to get together for a meditation, workshop, or concert.
That may serve other communities well, but we noticed that by creating a board of directors in 2006 a container of energy was born. It propelled us to start organizing from an Aquarian point of view. Rather than having a leader/follower perspective, the Panj holds space for the community’s creative flow of energy. We are able to help uplift and inspire others to become involved. Without question, it seems when the energy of the Panj is high and upbeat, it seems that the community is thriving and alive! When energy is low, there doesn’t seem to be as much community involvement.
We strive for five members to form a Panj, each with a different seva. This number has ranged from two to six members over the last seven years; however, we encourage as many people in the community to be involved as possible. Each Panj member gives what they can in terms of amount of time per week. We have monthly meetings to discuss upcoming events, communication, and organize within the community.
To keep the creative flow moving, each Panj member transitions off the Panj every 2-3 years. We give infinite gratitude to Hari Dass Khalsa, Holy Kaur Khalsa, Hari Nam Singh Khalsa, Ajeet Kaur and other community members for laying the foundations of our community and inspiring the creation of the Panj.
Monthly Community Events
Our goal is to organize at least one community event per month. Here are some community events we have had in the recent past:
-Eleven Evenings of Meditation: Meeting in each other’s homes and meditation for 11 days leading up to Yogi Bhajan’s birthday and Guru Ram Das’s birthday
-Picnics in the Park
-Workshops and Concerts from local and non-local teachers (Jai-Jagdeesh Kaur, Ravidass Singh, Gurushabad Singh)
-Promoting Level 1 Teacher Training
-White Tantric Yoga (yearly in Oregon)
-Bowling in Bana
-Yogi Bhajan video nights
-Bhangra dancing (gathering in someone’s home with a video
Kundalini Yoga Classes
Since Kundalini Yoga Portland does not own a studio, we work very closely with other yoga studios in Portland. We currently have on average 22 classes per week. Teachers who are KRI certified can pay a small marketing fee (to support the website) and have their classes listed on www.KYPDX.org. There are currently 12 folks listed on our website, most of whom are currently teaching, ALL of whom are serving the community.
For about 6 years daily sadhana was offered in Portland. We had 7 different volunteers lead each day of the week. About 2 years ago we decided to only offer sadhana on Sundays as many sadhana leaders had moved away or were feeling burned out. It was also challenging to hold space for a community that was not showing up in the Amrit Vela very often. Currently, we have been offering sadhana a few more times a week in addition to Sundays. We hope to have daily sadhana in the future, as more people have space in their lives to lead. We like to have a potluck breakfast after sadhana once a month, as well as invite musicians in the community to play and lead the mantras.
Networking: Letting Others Know What Kundalini Yoga is About
The great thing about having an intimate yet open Kundalini Yoga community is that it is supportive; people within the community really know and care about each other. The not so great thing is that it can be insular. One thing that was brought to our attention was that people in Portland outside of our community knew very little about Kundalini Yoga.
It was surprising to talk to well-seasoned yoga teachers of different styles who did not know where to direct their students who asked about Kundalini Yoga. Many had a general idea about the practice, but thought that it was either too ‘intense,’ or that one had to be Sikh to practice, or that the community was so small they did not know who to ask.
We decided that educating others about the practice was a priority. As a result we connected with another local non-profit organization called Yogi Roots. This organization brings together all the yoga communities of Portland to educate and collaborate with one another making yoga available to everyone.
This process encouraged us to keep in closer collaboration with our Kundalini Yoga family in Eugene (Yoga West), Seattle (Wahe Guru Yoga), and other parts of Oregon who have few teachers or no community at all to turn to. This also helped us increase our attendance for White Tantric Yoga® in Oregon (every other year in Eugene and Portland).
Events are posted on the calendar via www.kypdx.org and also as a Facebook event page . We also usually put an inspiring quote on our Facebook page, or ask people to chime in on how they are feeling with recent events/energetic shifts/etc. Taking pictures at events is a priority and they are also posted. People tell us that our Facebook page represents the energy and spirit of our community. Check it out sometime!
We regularly check for messages left via our “contact us” page on the website. We also blog about upcoming and current events on our website. The blog is linked to our MailChimp account so each blog posted is emailed out automatically to about 260 addresses.
Encouraging your local Kundalini Yoga community to connect and keep up can be a lot of work. However, there’s nothing as fulfilling as devotion to seva (selfless service) in one’s community. It all depends on how much you would like to flourish and grow in your community during the Aquarian Age. Keep up!