Monday, October 29, 2012

Kundalini Yoga Teacher Simran Khalsa Asks: Why Poverty?

Simran Khalsa

 T he West end YMCA in Toronto held a staff meeting for its yoga instructors a few weeks ago. Across the table sat Simran Khalsa, the kundalini yoga teacher who, a few years back, had watched my life's rougher patches play out in yoga postures week by week, class by class. He was grinning as he looked across the oval board room table and said:

"Hey, I hear about your classes from one of my students... I've been meaning to come and check it out but haven't had time!" Then he turned to the instructor next to him and said: "You know she and I are born on the same day. We have the same birthday!"
There was something so comforting about seeing Simran in his trademark white kundalini garb and running shoes years later, radiating all things exceptional and simple.

I stepped into Simran's class accidentally while I was writing a 'novel' a few years ago. I would leave my house in the west end every morning, just to get out of the reach of its four walls. Then I would head to the Y with no real objective apart from sitting for hours at a time in view of a pool in which the voices of children and swim instructors echoed and dissipated behind flawless glass. I spent hours writing poolside, drawing childlike fragments... images in yellow, poppy and powder blue with colored pencils, until it became clear that mine was not a novel so much as a children's storybook about things you'd rather not tell children, or some unruly derivative of 'Life or Theatre' a la Charlotte Salomon.

One day, I was either out of things to say, or just too tired to write anymore that I walked past the treadmills and up a flight of stairs. There was a paper schedule tacked outside a closed door which read, "Kundalini yoga." For the next year I went to Simran's class three times a week, awkwardly making my way through postures that were unrelenting, trying my best to accommodate whatever emotional/mental states might erupt during 'breath of fire'. Simran always warned that breath of fire was provocative - it would test you, try your nerves before it calibrated them. Not unlike incoming tropical storm Sandy (it should hit Toronto in the next few hours) you didn't get into it without bracing yourself.

Anyway, this video was sent around at the west end YMCA this morning. It was made by Geoff Bowie, a Canadian filmmaker, longtime student of Simran's, and a regular in our classes. As you can see, Simran is - well, just plain special. I'm thrilled that Geoff has put this together and I have every intention of chatting with him in the near future to see if he and Simran would consent to an interview with this blog. 

Until then, below is Simran Khalsa's answer to "Why Poverty" on TVO. If you are on an ipad or iphone, click here for a non-flash version.