Equinox Blessings and My Perspective on the Crisis in the Kundalini World

Hello and Happy Autumnal Equinox. It’s not always easy to make these transitions, despite how beautiful they feel and are. What was dealt with flippantly and joyously as a child now requires deeper study, attic work, preparation, food shifts. I have been holding something in my mind and heart for months now, on pause since the Spring, awaiting clarity, time and guidance. 

I felt burnt out by all the screen time by late spring and decided I was taking a break from interacting with the world virtually from Summer Solstice, till now. On top of the studio closures, covid and the reports of abuse regarding Yogi Bhajan, the man who brought Kundalini Yoga to the west, the Black Lives Matter Movement, the resurfacing claims of Western Yoga to be a form of Cultural Appropriation, direct attacks via social media on a female present day teacher that I associated myself with and school reopening plans and our decisions homeschool, I have had  A LOT to think about and digest. I know we all have in this time. 

But we can’t remain silent forever, for multiple reasons. Silence is now sometimes interpreted as complicity. Silence doesn’t help others who are looking for answers/guidance/conversation and silence doesn’t help us process our own feelings. 

I have take great solace in all the Nature time we have had the privilege to experience this summer and it affirms me for that I will be moving to forest to be a hermit the rest of my life. The End.

Ok just kidding (sort of). I do find nature to be a great healer and returning to our suburban home has brought its own set of challenges as old stressors return and we are quite seriously considering a move to a more rural setting where we have direct access to land that is our own upon which we can breathe freely and peacefully. 

But that is not why I write today. I write because I have been brimming over with the need share my feelings, response and impressions of what I consider to be a crisis in the Kundalini World. What happened with Yogi Bhajan, a man who is now passed on, is not ok. It was not ok for him to abuse his students and power. This is self apparent. When his former student and secretary Pamela Dyson’s book, White Bird in a Golden Cage came out in February people were renunciating the teachings he left behind and leaving the world of Kundalini Yoga. Some waited, like I did, for the report to come back from an independent investigation organization, which in midsummer, affirmed the allegations, based on their research into Yogi Bhajan’s organization 3HO.

So, at this point in history, there is no form of yoga in the West that we can practice that has not been touched by scandal. This pattern of Spiritual teacher abuse is not specific to Yoga either. We see it in Buddhism, the Roman Catholic Church and other forms of spirituality. So, it’s an age old tale, once again confronted in present day. I, for one honestly didn’t care at first. I cared for the well being of the victims and wish them healing but I did not associate myself with Yogi Bhajan so I did not feel a loss at discovering that he made moral transgressions, in a way I always suspected it. My original teacher, Ravi Singh had left 3HO and was teaching independently, intentionally distancing himself for reasons he did not explain at the time but now make sense- in order to protect the privacy of the victims. 

I did not feel directly connected to YB through my yoga lineage because I sort of always suspected there was something just weird about him, despite his (supposed?) brilliance. I just got that feeling when I looked at his photo. But I occasionally shared a quote by him and certainly taught Kriyas and Meditations he first shared with the world. Why? Because I found them to be immensely healing, therapeutic and beautiful. 

Human Beings are not perfect, they are complex. I use to think that there could be perfect teachers but not perfect humans, yet now it seems as though there can be neither, perhaps just perfect moments. However, this does not let teachers off the hook morally. In this age of transparency and information it is impossible to even attempt to get away with amoral action as a Spiritual Teacher. Someone will find out eventually and probably even sooner than “eventually” at this point. So, it is more important than ever that we embrace our humanity, stop pretending to be perfect and above ethics for that is an ego trip and dig down deep for true integrity. When we try to be a person we are not, we suppress not only our true authentic self and deprive the world of the complexity and honesty of that but we also suppress our shadow side and then that comes out in weird ways, ie. abuse.

Yet, there are teachers out there that are not acknowledging this. Teachers that I one aligned myself with. Teachers that are actively denying that Yogi Bhajan ever abused anyone and are claiming this all to be a conspiracy theory by evil forces to take down people who are trying to save the world via the White Light high frequency of Kundalini Yoga.

Now, we must be real with ourselves. I am all about saving the world with Light Waves of Love, etc. AND YET, we can’t claim to be a feminist and deny a woman’s claims of being victimized. Even if we have reason to believe she isn’t telling the truth we owe her the respect to not claim it to be conspiracy theory. I just think that even if Guru Jagat and her yoga organization, The Rama Institute, do not want to believe the reports of abuse they need not lower themselves to make claims of conspiracy and a sort of propaganda-like film enforcing their belief system. It’s honestly and objectively fine with me if they don’t believe the truth of the accusations and they want to preserve full allegiance to their teacher but it pains me to see them trying to convince the world (and themselves?) otherwise. 

I think it is possible to learn that someone made mistakes and hurt people and still appreciate them as a human who went through this crazy vortex of what it is to be a person on this planet in modern times and for their contributions to the world and not “throw out the baby with the bathwater” so to speak. I am not defending him per se but I want to support people who currently feel or have felt spiritually connected to him. I would like to see 3HO offer healing and reparations to those who have been directly or indirectly affected by this and I think they actually are offering some online support groups, etc. 

Yet, some choose to continue to believe that he never did the things that multiple people are confirming he did and perhaps this will never change and I am attempting to make peace with that. It is not my job to convince them otherwise and as I said, I respect the sovereign choice to believe what people want but unfortunately it means I have to distance myself when the belief system appears linked to harmful and denial-based thought forms.

And it even means I perhaps stop subscribing to their content and stop recommending them to people and stop aligning myself with their messages. It is very unfortunate for me because there are MANY people in the Rama world that I love and I have experienced DEEP healing with and through their offerings and through my membership in Aquarian Women’s Leadership Society. I have even made professional connections and friendships that I thought would lead me to greater teaching opportunities and had to release. I still have deep love for several teachers in the community, I just don’t get how they could appear to be vehemently deluded. It is saddening. These are people who I’ve always felt are brilliant.

 I actually still want to stay connected in some ways and I don’t think the friendships will be gone entirely, yet, for now, there has to be some distance for it is too confusing for me to be too close to it. I know in my heart that my fundamental views on this differ from theirs and it feels super crazy important when doing spiritual work that we feel safe in our surroundings because we go so deep and open so much up. 

And this is the most I will say about it, I don’t wish to speak ill of people when I know my own perspective is limited and I don’t have all the answers. And yet, I must say this because it’s time. I am actively refusing to polarize myself in this world that is wildly out of control, politically as well as spiritually. It seems that every act and statement is a political one these days. I am not aligning myself with those that hate Guru Jagat and her Organization or that hate Yogi Bhajan, I will say I have a very hard time with Harijiwan (full disclosure) and I basically never trusted him and felt unable to participate in his classes/ workshops the very few times I was present for them. I am also not aligning myself with those that think we can go forward and pretend nothing is wrong and keep practicing and selling Kundalini Yoga as though this crisis is not happening. “We have to look at the wound in order to treat it. We do need to exaggerate or magnify it but we do need to look at it.” -Marianne Williamson

I found Rama and Guru Jagat just under 2 years ago when I was looking for a strong female teacher and honestly her all-women retreats were life changing. One hundred fierce and graceful goddesses in one room is something to behold. These experiences were my source of strength and healing from some trauma and wounding I had experienced related to womanhood and I felt strongly that I had found the place for my processing and healing. I stand by that. I believe it helped immensely in my cultivation of self-respect, access to angelic frequencies, self-love, re-parenting of myself and relating to my partner. Yet, some of it wasn’t for me either and thats fine too, isn’t life like that? I honestly think I would still attend an in-person event, if I could get past my moral concerns about supporting someone who denies certain problematic issues. Yet I also think the virtual world is diluting the purity of the teachings and infiltrating them with social media bizarreness. I think its fine to go digital and use the technology but sometimes we have to acknowledge when it is using us. Even before these scandals were occurring I felt a steady decline in the potency of the medicine of Kundalini Yoga as received through a digital platform, it wasn’t even just the energy the yoga itself but the coherency of the messages being delivered. We know that computers and iPhones aren’t healthy and screen time hurts us so I urge us all to be selective about how we spend our time virtually and emphasize the importance of outdoor connection and safe person to person interaction. 

*  *  *  *  *  *

All that said, after this season of hiatus I plan to carefully consider what it is I can responsibly go forward and share from Kundalini Yoga, what feels innately appropriate, while some things maybe are dated and need to go. The exciting thing is I can incorporate more from other lineages that I appreciate and from my own stream of connection to Source. I know I will continue to teach, but in a new way, hopefully more authentic, inspired by other streams of light in my life and focused on healing, nature, earthing, the health of our planet and local communities.

Lastly, I will be working on my new offering, Family Energetics, where I combine ReWilding, Astrology and Ritual to examine, heal and enhance family and individual dynamics. It has been slow going right now but when the children begin their shared homeschooling care in two weeks or so I will be able to pick that back up and finish the framework to craft an official offering and start taking clients! 

Thank you for joining me for this journey of words. Please reach out if you feel like discussing any of this further, and if you are a student of mine, I’d like to take this moment to formally thank you for practicing me on this beautiful Earth in this relatively short time that we have had and also acknowledge the truth of the KY lineage, its beauty as well as unpleasantness and leave the door open to future pursuits that draw upon even deeper integrity and continue this energy work and healing in some familiar and some new ways for I do feel that is part of the reason we are here on this Earth at this time. Its honestly not always easy, but some of the deepest wisdom that has emerged from all of this is that we can’t only focus on the Light for then the shadow becomes out of balance and this has been the case in spiritual work for decades maybe centuries? When we ignore our shadow side we actually empower it. But how do we approach it is the question, full on battle, gently in peace, or some magic blend of it all perhaps. I will saw that I won’t be drawn into full battle on this topic, I am saving my fight for the Earth. Yet, how we deal with our shadow side and how we love ourselves directly relates to how we treat our Mother the Earth and my overall deepest prayer is that we can focus on reducing the harm and impact that we put on our planet.

With Love,

Ana Gioia

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