At the age of 18, few young people dream about a trip to India. But chant artist Snatam Kaur did just that, spending six months as a teaching assistant at Miri Piri Academy, the residential children’s school in India founded on the principles of education taught by Yogi Bhajan. Snatam Kaur has continued to be connected to the school ever since and will be headlining the January Kundalini Rising fundraiser in Los Angeles which supports this innovative nonprofit as well as Sat Nam Festival from April 11-14 in Joshua Tree, CA.
Snatam Kaur spoke to LA YOGA just after the release of her latest album, Heart of the Universe.
LA YOGA: Did being at the school make you wish you had been a student there?
Snatam Kaur: Being 18, I was able to catch some of the wave of what was going on. It was particularly amazing to witness the lifelong core friendships that were being developed. One of the lifelong friendships that I made at the Academy was with Karan Khalsa, who is the president of my record label [Spirit Voyage].
When I was a teaching assistant, I was in charge of putting together the live music for the morning meditation program and the evening prayer. All the kids would wake up and do yoga and meditation on the roof. It was an incredible feeling being up on the roof with 100 children singing at the top of their lungs. There was so much passion in the children’s voices to connect with God and the music. I believe that it created a foundation for my entire musical career.
LA YOGA: How do you think we in the U.S. can bring a greater sense of community in our schools?
SK: One aspect of the school that we can do here in the West is spiritual academics — when children connect with their spirit on a daily basis, when it becomes an achievement to connect with your soul. In the West, we have achievements where you get an A on your social studies paper or you jump 25 feet in the long jump; all these are physical, tangible things. But to be able to connect with your spirit—that is a huge part of a daily activity at the Academy.
I think western schools can incorporate more of this by teaching meditation and having an opportunity for young people to become certified Kundalini Yoga teachers.
LA YOGA: What inspired you to participate in the upcoming event in LA?
SK: I would do anything for the Academy. In November, I taught a two-hour yoga class with the children. We tuned in, I closed my eyes and I felt this incredible power with the children from all over the world — Germany, Mexico, Malaysia, Canada, Africa, the U.S. — and I could feel how for each of these children it would be a light in their lives to carry them forward in powerful ways as teachers, healers, and leaders.
I felt so humbled that it brought me to tears. It’s an incredible place and training center for the powerful leaders of tomorrow. My spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan, prayed for the purity of the teachings to come through and these children are receiving it. I see it in the graduates, including in my brother. I see it in so many ways that I would do anything — physically, mentally, spiritually — to support this effort in the school.
LA YOGA: How did you personally stay in balance with your traveling and touring schedule?
Snatam Kaur: My two foundations are my yoga and meditation practice and keeping a healthy diet. I have removed most processed foods from my diet and I stick to whole vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans. Both of practice and diet keep me clear, focused, and centered. From there, I can make decisions that further promote my balance. I’m blessed that my husband is also passionate about this so we have a practice at home and when I’m traveling we connect with our practice together. This has been key for my health.
Snatam Kaur’s latest album, Heart of the Universe, was created in collaboration with Peter Kater. The collection of songs, many of which are in English, are inspired by writings of Yogi Bhajan and saints from India: snatamkaur.com; spiritvoyage.com.
Kundalini Rising is an all-day yoga and sacred chant event benefitting the Miri Piri Academy. Gurmukh, Guru Singh, GuruPrem and Simran, and Snatam Kaur join forces with a collection of other renowned teachers and sacred musicians for a spiritual festival on Saturday, January 12 at the Art of Living Foundation: kundalinirisingla.com.
Beth Shaw is the founder and president of YogaFit Training Systems and the author of the best-selling YogaFit. She has produced a compilation of her personal favorite chants from Snatam Kaur: yogafit.com.
Beth Shaw C-IAYT is the founder of YogaFit and the author of Healing Trauma with Yoga. Healing Trauma with Yoga combines a discussion of trauma from the perspective of modern neuroscience with empowering teachings from yoga philosophy and yoga practice. In the book,13 people share their inspiring stories of how yoga is an essential component of their own path of learning to heal and thrive. Order the book and learn more at: bethshaw.com.