June 2013: Sarv Varta Khalsa and Jeremy “Siri Gobind” Prescott
Dear reader, do you remember where and when you began your yoga practice? With so many studios and teachers, the options can be overwhelming. Adding to the inevitable indecisiveness are the different styles of yoga to choose from. We’re proud to offer several different class options at Yoga Nirvana Studio, one of which is Kundalini.
The Kundalini class description on our website reads that it is ‘various exercise sets (kriyas) which utilize specific postures, breathing techniques, mantras, mudras and locks to raise the Kundalini energy, improve physical health, elevate consciousness and expand self awareness.’
Have you been to our Kundalini class on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm? If not, don’t worry, reader, our Kundalini teachers are the June Teachers of the Month. And, you know what that means: your first class is on us.
Our two Kundalini teachers, Dr. Sarv Varta Khalsa and Jeremy “Siri Gobind” Prescott, rotate every other Wednesday. Both teachers offer a unique opportunity for our yoga practitioners to search inward through breath, movement, mantra and meditation. I bet you’re wondering how one becomes a Kundalini teacher, eh? Well, we had both teachers answer a few of our Teacher of the Month questions. One of the teachers spent a portion of her childhood in India; the other was surprised to learn that he could strive to reach a meditative state through his construction painting work. Both teachers are inspired by their students and eager to share the Kundalini practice.
Read on to quench your curiosity and join us for a Kundalini class this month.
Q: How long have you practiced yoga? Studied to be a teacher? Taught?
SVK: I have been practicing yoga since my childhood. I grew up in a family with a strong spiritual foundation. In the 70’s my parents were seeking a more natural and spiritual lifestyle when they passed through Phoenix and came across a group of people that were teaching and practicing Kundalini yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan. Yogi Bhajan was a Kundalini yoga master and a Sikh who moved here from India in the late 60’s with the desire to help guide people to live a more enlightened existence through the practice of yoga. With his long black beard and white turban, his goal was to “create teachers, not students”. Soon thereafter my father started teaching Kundalini yoga classes and my parents adopted the Sikh religion. When I was nine years old, I moved to India to attend a Sikh boarding school where yoga, meditation and prayer were part of my daily routine. So, it has been a part of my life from the beginning.
I became a KRI certified Kundalini yoga teacher in 2007 after attending Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training through Yoga Phoenix. I have been teaching Kundalini yoga for the past eight years. I also received specialized training in the art of gong playing and conduct monthly gong meditations at Vision Quest Metaphysical Bookstore in Scottsdale.
JP: My bank statement says Jeremy Prescott, but when I feel connected to the Source, I am Siri Gobind Singh. When someone calls me by my spiritual name, it reminds me that this Soul is on a ride in this body, bumpy or smooth, it’s just a ride. Where are we going today?
I’ve been practicing Kundalini Yoga since 2002. I have worked as a Painter in construction for the last 20 years. To my delight and surprise my first Yoga Teacher was a General Contractor. I realized “Wow, even me, a blue collar worker can achieve some level of higher consciousness.” He taught me that the repetitive nature of my work could be transformed into a meditative practice by the use of mantra, helping me to train my mind to find the sacred in the mundane.
Q: What is your style of teaching and what motivates you?
SVK: My style of teaching is very motivational and supportive. I like to push my students to go beyond where they think their limits are. In class I often say things like “keep up” or “be great” which are phrases that my father and Yogi Bhajan would use as well. I emphasize the idea that yoga is an internal journey. It isn’t about being the most flexible person in class or perfecting every posture/asana. The goal is to put in your best effort, keep your focus inward, and have an experience of your higher consciousness. Ideally each student is able to bring a state of increased awareness and elevation of spirit into their daily lives. My students motivate me. I find that they are my best teachers and it is rewarding to see them grow and blossom as a result of committing to their yoga practice.
JP: In 2006 I took Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training and I have been teaching ever since. The practice is universal, powerful, and works swiftly, regardless of the strength, flexibility, age, or limitations of the practitioner. If you simply breathe and move, bring your focus inward; push yourself beyond your comfort level, the transformation happens! By the use of conscious breathing linked with simple but powerful exercises, along with mantra and meditation you experience a deeper connection with yourself, bringing the mind, body and spirit into union.
Q: What are you passionate about in addition to teaching yoga?
SVK: I am passionate about being a Naturopathic physician. I have been a physician for over 10 years and feel blessed to have the privilege to help people become the best possible versions of themselves: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. That is what I love about Naturopathic medicine; it treats the whole person in a supportive and natural way, resulting not just in the absence of disease but also in optimal health.
JP: For the last few years I have been passionate about gardening, mostly vegetables, and herbs. I enjoy being able to go into the back yard and harvest fresh produce.
Q: What attracted you to Yoga Nirvana Studio?
SVK: There are a couple things that attracted me to Yoga Nirvana. The main thing is that I’ve known Jim Keegan for many years and have always had a lot of respect for him as a teacher. He actually attended some of my father’s Kundalini yoga classes many years ago during his Yoga Teacher Training and I feel a special bond with him because of that. I think his experience helped to foster a supportive attitude about Kundalini yoga at Yoga Nirvana, which I appreciate very much. Also, the space that is currently Yoga Nirvana used to be called Body Works and my father taught there for many years. So I feel the energy and spirit of my father in this sacred space.
I feel honored to be part of the team at Yoga Nirvana and look forward to many more years of growth and community. Sat Nam!
JP: Jim and I met in line at sunflower market. We spoke for a few moments and realized we had an influential teacher in common; in fact, I attended classes with this teacher right at the studio under a different name.