In today's interview, we meet up with the creative and passionate Tarandeep Kaur to discuss her yoga pathway, love of dance, life work and more...
How did you get started on your yoga pathway and what led you to Kundalini Yoga specifically?
I have been practicing yoga for more than 10 years. First I was drawn to hatha yoga and different types of meditation. I practiced yoga in the Paramahansa Yogananda School of Yoga in Slovenia and also the Sivananda branch in Austria. I traveled a lot in Nepal and India and did intense Vipassana meditation courses in silence (Buddhist type of meditation).
In 2010 I first learned about Shakti dance at a retreat center with many different types of workshops. I hadn't heard about Shakti dance (The Yoga of Dance) or Kundalini yoga before. The founder of Shakti Dance – Sara Avtar – presented the workshop. It was called Shakti dance and she said it connects the practice of yoga with dance. I thought to myself: "My God, my two favourite things in the whole world!"
What I saw moments later was breathtaking. It was like a Goddess appeared in front of us. Beautiful, graceful, humble, with so much devotion towards the invisible world that surrounded her. It was like she called on those divine energies with her movements, with her gestures. I was deeply touched by what I saw.
After a week of dancing with Sara Avtar I decided that this was the thing that I was looking for. I had to stay in touch with this practice. I decided to do a Shakti Dance Teacher Training, a full immersion in the practice to really learn all about it, how it works and why it has such an amazing effect on the people who practice it. Later I learned that Shakti dance actually derives from a practice called Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. So my first contact with Kundalini yoga was actually through Shakti dance. In the Teacher Training we did morning sadhana which was a typical Kundalini yoga class.
Do you also practice other forms of yoga (or have you in the past)? What is the difference between those styles in your opinion?
In the past I mainly practiced hatha yoga and it had its benefits, of course. However my experience is, that I missed the devotional aspect of yoga in classical hatha yoga. I missed opening my heart with my voice and getting in touch with my body through my own authentic movements. In Kundalini yoga and Shakti Dance I could experience that. The fact that Kundalini yoga uses so many sacred chants, mantras was something that enriched my practice profoundly. Singing, chanting, using our own authentic voice is something that can clear so many of our blocks. Together with physical practice it's a great combination to really get it touch with our own inner light.
What about Shakti dance... how long have you been practicing / teaching and how has it changed your life?
I have been practicing Shakti dance for 5 years. It is an amazing practice. It lets you express yourself. It lets you cry if you feel you need to. It lets you be still in the midst of music playing. It doesn't tell you how to dance, but it lets you find your own expression, even if that means that you are just standing up, with closed eyes. That can also be dancing. Dancing with the peace inside you. Shakti dance can be joyful and playful, it reminds us of the child within who wants to play and laugh and act funny. It nurtures the inner woman, the wise one, who listens to the messages of her body and is touch with her life cycles.
For me Shakti dance is something that brings me joy, it teaches me how to love myself more, it enables me to express who I really am. It is a practice that reveals, layer after layer, the Goddess within.
What do you think is the greatest benefit of practicing Shakti dance... can students do it on their own or is it always done in a group?
The greatest benefit of practicing Shakti dance in my opinion is relaxation on all levels. The mind relaxes through the gentle flow of asanas, connected with the flow of the breath. The body relaxes and gets charged with new rejuvenating energy, our emotional body relaxes and gets an influx of positive feelings about ourselves.
Deep relaxation on all levels of our being is something that is difficult to reach nowadays. Shakti Dance offers us a way to that in a 90 minute class. You can practice Shakti dance alone or in a group.
Where do you teach KY and SD - in Slovenia and also other places / festivals?
I teach regular classes of Shakti dance and Kundalini yoga in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. I love sharing these practices with my students and it makes me so happy to see the benefits they get out of them. I also teach Shakti dance workshops at the Slovenian Kundalini Yoga Festival, which is held every year in September.
What was your best teaching experience from those places / settings?
In the summer of 2013 I was one of the presenters at the Kaypacha Healing festival in the United States. It was a travelling festival; we stopped in north California, Oregon and Washington and held four 3-day festivals there. I offered Kundalini yoga and Shakti dance classes at the festival and the experience was just amazing.
Is Shakti dance appropriate for men as well as women?
Shakti dance is not reserved only for women; men are more than welcome to attend. It has been said that it's more of a feminine practice in the sense that it is very gentle and soft. The movements are very fluid and that is how Shakti dance teaches us how to flow with life.
For men Shakti dance is a great way to get in touch with the feminine, intuitive energy inside them and learn how to cultivate it. It also helps men to find their creative expression and get in touch with their body.
How do you combine living in the "real world" as a journalist with your yogic pathway & lifestyle? Are the two ever in conflict with one another?
I consider myself very lucky to be able to combine journalism with yoga as two of my callings in life. I work as a journalist at the national radio station; my field of work is culture, mainly dance and theatre. My job involves interviewing amazing artists, dancers, choreographers, directors and actors who speak about their creative process, they tell me how an idea for a dance show comes to life and we talk about the message that they want to convey to their audiences. Every time I speak to these artists I am amazed because I see that the force that is driving them, the energy behind their creative work is that same divine spark that I try to get in touch with during my morning practice of yoga.
All of us know that there is something inside of us, a kind of basic goodness, a bright shinning inner light, which when we are in touch with it, fills our lives with a sense of meaning and purpose.
We all know at a certain level, that we have a job to do on this Earth. We are not here by chance. Each of us has his or her own specific gift to share with the world. I believe that sharing the practice of Kundalini yoga and Shakti dance is one of my deepest callings. What can be more beautiful than helping people realize their own inner Light? It's the highest calling.
How do you find the right balance between being an independent Western woman as well as a sacred channel in which the yoga teachings flow and transmit to your students?
For me yoga is not something that I do but it is who I am. It is not a set of exercises that I do in the morning and then forget about during the day. Yoga – union of the finite and infinite self – is something that I try to live every moment. I act with kindness toward my coworkers, I try to see, really see the people who cross my path, the old ladies, the beggars, and the homeless. I try to help in every way that I can, sometimes with a kind word or a smile, sometimes with a little bit of money. I practice non-attachment to things or situations or the past. I practice gratefulness for the beautiful country that I live in, for the people who love me and for my job, which enables me to sustain myself. I try to show love every day, to everyone, in all its different disguises. I try to walk my talk. Live what I preach. And while I do that I remind myself to always stay humble.
If you could do/live/be just one thing in life - what/where would it be and why?
I really, really, really love at least three things – I love teaching yoga, I love writing and I love chanting mantras. Those are the three things that make me happy the most. And I consider myself very lucky to be able to do them often and share them with others.
My vision for the future is that I would have my own little place, a nice cozy yoga centre, with lots of nature around, where I would be able to do all of that. I would also like to publish my book and organize kirtan events where people would chant mantras and spend time together in a positive and uplifting way.
For more information about Tarandeep Kaur's upcoming event, please click here.