Kundalini Yoga is not yet well known in Haiti. The Seva "Harmony Day - an interaction of traditions”, seeks to openly share the practice of Kundalini Yoga in Haiti and to promote understanding between traditions. On this occasion, the experience involved an encounter with the Voodoo community, a tradition that is strongly rooted and present in the culture of the Haitian people.
PROJECT NAME: Interaction of traditions, "Harmony Day".
DESCRIPTION: Interfaith meeting to share the practice of Kundalini Yoga and promote understanding between traditions.This first meeting took place with the Voodoo community, which is the strongest and most widespread tradition in Haiti.
PEOPLE SERVED: Local community.
STARTING YEAR: 2018
PERSON IN CHARGE: Kiret Nam Kaur (also a 3HO Luminary)
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Kundalini Yoga is not well known in Haiti yet. Kiret Nam has been teaching it for five years, making the practice as accessible as possible to everyone. "It's a work of raising awareness," she says.
Kiret Nam was the only Kundalini Yoga teacher who served and actively taught in Port-au-Prince until the pandemic started.
"I have a Brazilian friend who was trained in New Mexico and was also a KY teacher, but due to ongoing problems and difficulties in my country, the classes had to be suspended."
We talked with her to learn a little more about her experience, and how she decided to organize a Seva project aiming at the inclusion of different traditions:
“I was very lucky because I went to Canada to study, and when I finished my studies and was returning to my country, Haiti, I discovered Kundalini Yoga, just one day before I travelled. I started practicing Kundalini Yoga on my own. My sources were YouTube, the Internet. That's how I started practicing. It was not that easy for me to find the information I wanted on the Internet and finally, after a long time practicing on my own, about two years ago, I got the urge to take the teacher training course.It had to be abroad because in Haiti there were no teachers or anything related to Kundalini Yoga at that time.
So I traveled to Canada again to do the teacher training in 2015, and then came back to Haiti to share what I had learned with the community."
HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE OF TEACHING IN YOUR COUNTRY AND WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROCESS OF ORGANIZING SEVA TO INCLUDE DIFFERENT TRADITIONS?
"People really liked it. They felt they had found something that could support them in difficult times, even though they didn't know exactly what was helping them. They wanted to start sharing what they had learned with others. Most of all, with their families.
They asked me: hey, I want to teach, is it possible? Can I share this practice with my cousin? They also asked: Isn't there any training, even if it is small or intensive? Is there anything we can offer to our families? That's all they wanted.
Then I realized that there was a great desire and I wanted to see how Kundalini could be offered to more people and also, to those who had never heard of this practice, especially those who see yoga as something that will interfere with their religion or what they are used to doing.
So every year I started doing what I called 'Harmony Day'. Two communities would meet on that day. A day when we would learn from each other, with no judgment.
It was a huge challenge because it was a completely new experience for both parties. It took us three weeks to talk to people and invite them, to make that moment happen. But I knew that this was the service I had to do, it was a call from the soul, encouraging people to know the other traditions, to participate, and to develop tolerance. It was a peaceful gathering.
There was chanting, mantras. Everyone was dressed in white because Vodun* communities dress in white for spiritual events, as we do, to practice Kundalini Yoga. It felt like we were merging into one.
It was a very nice way to promote Kundalini Yoga, acknowledging the spiritual richness of our country, saluting and honoring it. Sharing, not trying to convince anyone, and at the end of the day walking away with something in our hearts."
WHAT HAS THIS SERVICE EXPERIENCE TAUGHT YOU?
“I carried out this Seva for four years, and each time a little bit bigger, each time a little bit deeper.
This experience taught me that the work is not only about doing kriyas, sitting, breathing, but sharing it with people, and this confronts us with our fears, our prejudices, with the need to let go, and in being together through this it makes us grow and be one with the whole, Sat Nam, truly.
I feel very grateful for this opportunity of service and also for Kundalini Yoga. In this time of pandemic, since we cannot go out, the practice of Kundalini Yoga allows us to go within ourselves. And for me, this Seva has been a great opportunity to open my heart and the hearts of those I serve.
Little by little you realize that every time you serve, your heart opens a little more and you have the opportunity to grow with this gesture that you are doing with your whole being."
Kiret Nam says she is spending this pandemic time in Montreal, where her parents live. She lives in Haiti, but because of the situation in her country, which is often very complicated and even more so now because of Covid-19, she doesn't know when she will be able to return.
"In Haiti, the reality is different from life here in Canada. And also, as far as Kundalini Yoga is concerned."
The practice of yoga is still not available to all social classes, which is why it remains a privilege. We also don't know who can travel to Haiti to teach because of the situation in the country.
"My wish is that this will change and that there will be an increasingly accessible practice available to everyone in Haiti. I also wish to return to continue serving the community that is growing little by little. I would like to continue with this Seva and I think about the possibility of expanding to other countries, the Caribbean, Latin America. Spreading and sharing Kundalini Yoga with other communities and traditions, while having the opportunity to learn more about others.”
ABOUT KIRET NAM KAUR
She is a level 1 Kundalini Yoga teacher and contributes to promoting understanding between traditions in Haiti and practicing KY in a compassionate way, open to all, and with respect for local traditions.