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Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan Santosh's Notes
What's in a Name?

April 11, 2011

The Mind is a powerful structure, but despite its vastness, subtlety and intricacy, it still does not represent or contain all that we are. It is meant to be a tool, an interface through which we experience the world, rather than a complete concept of who we are. When we begin to identify too strongly with the Mind, particularly the ego, then we limit our self-concept. 

The ego is constantly looking for a reflection of itself within its environments as a way to further define itself, often using fixed and confining paradigms as a basis for comparison. "What’s like me, what’s not like me? Do I like this, do I dislike that?" This black and white, relativistic thinking allows for only a restricted view of our potential. But if we can attach the ego to a greater, more comprehensive idea of the Self, then those limitations can lift, allowing for continued evolution and expansion. One way to expand the self-concept and break through limiting thought forms is with a spiritual name. 

Every spiritual name has a specific meaning and unique vibration that is the expression of an individual’s most elevated, divine nature. Once the ego begins associating with and relating to this new, expanded identity, it will automatically begin looking for a reflection of that innate divinity within surrounding environments and sorting for experiences that support the new self-concept. As a result, long held, limiting paradigms begin to shift in order to accommodate this more complete conception.  And because a person's spiritual name has an inherent capacity to elevate and expand,  the name becomes a meditation or prayer that everyone repeats for you, further propelling you towards a higher state of being. Every time someone speaks your spiritual name, regardless of whether they understand the meaning behind it, they bless you and call to your destiny.  In the words of Yogi Bhajan:  

"Your spiritual name is your designated destiny, your heavenly identity. That's all it is. You may or may not live to it, but it is your guiding force." 

One of the most important steps towards becoming the best version of ourselves is believing that the divine in us actually exists. A spiritual name is a powerful affirmation of that divinity, and as this new identity becomes woven into the fabric of our lives, penetrating into the very essence of our being, we get closer and closer to manifesting that divinity, until one day it is no longer just a concept but the consolidated and concentrated truth of who we are.    

Taking a spiritual name is just one of many technologies designed to elevate an individual and connect them to their highest purpose. Not every technology is suited for every person, and each individual must decide for themselves which is most appropriate. As for me, I have chosen to adopt my spiritual name, Santosh Kaur, which means “Princess of Peace.”  Yoga with Nina Berry is now officially Yoga with Santosh, and a new chapter begins. Sat Nam.

For more information about receiving a spiritual name: 


Sat Nam: The Sovereignty of the Self

March 11, 2011

Relating the finite to the Infinite is the primary aim of Kundalini Yoga. That sacred link between an individual and their highest consciousness is essential for true and lasting happiness, and within every individual is the capacity to find that happiness, at any time, regardless of circumstance.  But we live in a society that tells us we need things, we need people, we need specific environments to be happy. When our minds become distracted and disconnected we begin to believe the rhetoric, buying into the idea that we have some essential deficiency and then looking outside of ourselves for a means to fulfill it. A person can spend their entire life searching for the perfect object, person, experience or idea to offset the imagined handicap, losing sight of who they really are and what they actually want. The key to breaking this cycle is to reconnect with the Self, and one of the simplest ways to make this connection is with the mantra, “Sat Nam.”

Sat Nam is a “bij,” or seed mantra, and within these two sounds, just like within each of us, is the knowledge of our own divinity. “Sat” means Truth and “Nam” means name, or identity. In a Kundalini Yoga class we inhale “Sat” and exhale “Nam,” and in doing so we orient our minds beyond the morass of our imagined disabilities and side-step the intrigues of the subconscious. As we establish a relationship with the words we establish a relationship with ourselves. With each conscious, generative breath, with each vibration of the mantra, we create a link. It can happen all at once or build incrementally, each recitation a plank or strut of an emerging energetic bridge, leading us to our most elevated state of being. As we build these new structures, the old thought forms, the paradigms borrowed from outside sources, the collaged personas created out of feelings of inadequacy, can all drop away, leaving only what is essential and authentic.

Within each of us is the blueprint to our own happiness. When we find within ourselves the ability to be fulfilled, to be completely satisfied, right now, in this moment, regardless of our circumstances, when we stop relating to our “deficiencies” and start relating to our own divinity, that’s when we find our freedom, our dignity and our complete, radiant truth.  Sat Nam.


Why Take Kundalini Yoga Teacher's Training

2011 Level One Teacher's Training with Harijiwan and Tej in Santa Monica, California

December 8, 2010

People take teacher training for a variety of reasons, the most obvious being that they have connected with this technology and want to begin teaching it to others. By the end of this seven month course, you will be certified to teach Kundalini Yoga anywhere in the world. But the first time I took Level One Teacher's Training I had no intention of teaching. I was on a completely different path at that time, and what I wanted most of all was change: a complete physical, emotional and intellectual transformation. I just wasn't sure how to achieve it.

Traditional Western thought tells us that the way to solve an emotional or psychological problem is through investigation. If you look at an issue from all angles, get to know it from the inside out, the theory is that you will eventually find that perfect, previously undiscovered perspective that will allow you to see the situation in a whole new light, and in the blazing glory of that new insight, your problem will dissolve like an ice cube in a cup of hot water. So year after year people dig up fossil after emotional fossil, tracking their “issues” back to the very origin of the species, but still their problems persist. In fact often times the more a person unearths, the more the difficulty can take on a life of its own, morphing into different forms and taking over new territories, setting up camp in areas that previously seemed "problem-free." This was always my experience, and no amount of emotional or intellectual investigation ever seemed to change anything. I would have an "Ah-ha" moment whenever I came across a new clue or piece to the puzzle and would buzz with the excitement of that discovery for a day or two, only to drift back into the same patterns once the novelty of the idea wore off.

And then I met Harijiwan who said to me, "If you're caught in the rain, you can talk about the rain, you can describe the rain, you can understand the rain, but you're still going to get wet. You need to get out of the rain."


It was so simple. Like a sword cutting through a Gordian knot, those words cut through the tangle, and in that moment I knew that real change, honest down-to-the-core transformation, was possible.

The trick, Harijiwan told me, was to find a new landscape all together. Just like in real estate, feeling good was all about location, location, location. If you're feeling badly, you're in a bad neighborhood, so get yourself to a better neighborhood. Within weeks of meeting him he began encouraging me to take Teacher Training. I was already taking weekly Kundalini Yoga classes and had found that a simple three minute exercise could completely change my state of mind and elevate me for hours. What, I wondered, could seven months of intense immersion do for me? I signed up for the course, and over the next several months I began to discover and experience not only my own strength, resilience and depth but a capacity for joy that I never knew existed. Within a year my life felt completely different. From the outside things looked pretty much the same, I still lived in the same house, I was still married to the same (wonderful) man, but my experience of it all changed. Everything improved, my health, my relationships, my work... everything expanded, because I had made an energetic shift. I had found a better, “drier” landscape.

The following year I signed up again, and the next year after that and the year after that. This January I'll be starting my fifth Level One Teacher Training, because it's not about what I learn in these courses. Obviously I've learned a great deal, but I could just sit alone in a room with my Teacher Training manual and read it through every year if it was only about intellectual learning. It is what I experience during these courses that keeps me coming back time and time again. Every year I experience more of my Self, I drop more of what no longer serves me, I expand my energy field and therefore my capacity to be happy, which in turn has a positive effect on everyone in my life. Each completed course marks a profound new level of understanding and of transformation. I attribute much of that continued transformation to the fact that Harijiwan and Tej are constantly working on transforming themselves, building and expanding their own energetic fields and stretching their own consciousness. The course is different every year because they are different, always opening up an even greater, more positive energetic field for us to work in. Every year they offer the training, I will participate, because while my goals used to be simply my own health and happiness, I now have a broader view of the energetic landscape. As we change, our surrounding environment changes in response. That's the law of cause and effect. So what happens if we all become living, breathing fields of positive energy? Today we change ourselves, tomorrow the world.

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