Guru Jagat may be the new model for a thoroughly modern, multimedia yogi and the fresh, female face making the Kundalini yoga tradition increasingly popular.
In her new book, "Invincible Living: The Power of Yoga, the Energy of Breath, and Other Tools for a Radiant Life" (Harper Elixir), Guru Jagat puts in print some of the many lessons she's issued through branches of her RA MA Media outlets, which encompass online videos, a record label and discussions with a variety of spiritual leaders and artists. Her presence in media and in-person is helping to demystify the workings of Kundalini, a mix of meditation, breath exercises, chanting and poses to improve and access our energy.
The Colorado-born, East Coast-raised Guru Jagat moved to Los Angeles in 2003 at the urging of her guru, Yogi Bhajan, who popularized Kundalini in the West. In 2013, she founded her RA MA Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology in Venice. She also has a studio in Mallorca, Spain, and one planned for New York. In addition, she stages retreats, workshops and training — several aimed at women and teen girls that show how to use Kundalini yoga and meditation to build a more resilient life.
In September, her RA MA Foundation opened a studio in the West Adams neighborhood to offer by-donation yoga, meditation and wellness classes.
In a recent interview, Guru Jagat touched on why Kundalini is getting a higher profile these days, attracting followers such as Kate Hudson, Kelly Rutherford and Alicia Keys. Throughout her book and online lectures, she emphasizes that Kundalini isn't about complicated poses or matching outfits (though she frequently wears the traditional all-white and a turban), but a system to enhance creativity, calm, prosperity and self-healing.
"We are starting to see the tipping point of people wanting something a little deeper than a fitness experience in yoga. Or they are looking for something that will make them more successful in a very complex, technological age," she said. "You don't have to consider yourself spiritual and you don't have to be able to touch your toes, either."
Kundalini, she has written, is a process of biofeedback and a science of accessing the brain's potential.
"I am really into the science of the brain. I work with a lot of people who have some brain issues," she said. "My mother has Parkinson's, so this is a personal thing for me. I see how much it helps with brain health.
"That is what is creating a lot of buzz around it. If you are depressed or anxious or even feeling any one of these modern emotional things, you can do three minutes of one of these breath practices and feel better," she said.
A few practices to try:
Lighten up: "If you feel a little negative, throw on some white and see how you feel. White expands you; it puts you in a better, more-positive mood. White also refracts instead of absorbs (which can be protective in negative situations).
Stay fluid: Keeping the nervous system strong builds a kind of emotional infrastructure to help minds and bodies handle big jolts of stress. Being well hydrated will help.
"Anytime you get stressed or worked up, just drink a full glass of water, breathe, and then act," she said.
Try a mantra: Scientists are studying how mantras, such as the Kirtan Kriya, can develop communication between parts of the brain that control attention. Sitting cross-legged, focus closed eyes on your brow point and breath naturally. Coordinate touching individual fingers with the thumb while saying out loud each syllable of the mantra Sa-Ta-Na-Ma. On "Sa," touch the index finger to the thumb; Ta, the middle finger to the thumb; Na, the fourth finger; and on Ma, the pinky.