At Sat Nam Fest Berkshires, it was such a joy to reconnect with Sukhdev. I wrote about Sukhdev a few months ago following her co-leading 3HO International Women’s Camp. So, this was a great way to check in on her adventures this summer. She led some great classes, as well as a concert with her talented husband, Akahdahmah, as part of Aykanna (We also heard Aykanna play in Krishna’s class and at the closing ceremony!).
On our way to sit down together, I was reminded again just how much Sukhdev connects with and lives the women’s teachings that are an integral part of Kundalini Yoga. We walked past a beautiful, radiant pregnant woman relaxing, as we strolled through the grass near the main tent at the festival. Sukhdev reached out to her immediately — asking her about her pregnancy experience, her other children, and her inspiration through Kundalini Yoga and Sat Nam Fest. It was such a joy to see them together in just a few short minutes — both reflecting each other’s radiance and wisdom as women.
We then got cozy to catch up in the Spirit Voyage boutique — sitting on a soft wool fuzzy mat surrounded by racks of beautiful white clothing. What a perfect place to get comfortable for an inspiring chat!
Sat Nam Fest: How is the East Coast tour going?
Sukhdev: So sweet. It’s been really different for us this year in some ways. Our daughter is older, which makes it a lot easier. And my women’s workshop last week, it was sold out. That was so much fun. I have never had a sold out workshop. It started in Santa Monica and then we headed to the East coast and it was fun to see how many women are now really interested in working through their blocks. So that was the fun part of it — hey, it is really cool. Such a pleasure to serve and uplift in this way and take care of our family too at the same time.
Sat Nam Fest: As a life long East Coast resident, I see you radiate such a beautiful West Coast vibe. So, when you are headed East and see this side of the country a bit more enmeshed in our nation’s messy politics, maybe more stressed out, etc…how does the vibration shift feel to you?
Sukhdev: Yes, there is a different frequency at play, and my job is just to stay neutral and observe what is going on and not get plugged into it.
I felt it a little bit when we were in Harlem for a week and taught. It was really something to witness the consciousness in that part of New York. I am familiar with that demographic, I grew up around some of it in London. It is very mixed in London. And there is really not the separation in neighborhoods like there is in America.
So, through the gift of sadhana, I can stay more neutral. But it is also just my character to not get so focused on just what’s going on in the world, but I have always been more focused on how I can make myself a better person so I can serve more. Also, I have never been one who is really plugged into the news, and that vibration and frequency. I grew up with my grandfather always having the television news on and I was just never interested. It was the rebellion in me, too — just for me, it is holding that possibility of peace wherever I go and the possibility of people elevating their consciousness. I like to do what I can do to elevate consciousness.
Sat Nam Fest: You have had a busy summer. It was so great to start the summer with you at 3HO International Women’s Camp. It was so transformational for me, what about you?
Sukhdev: For me, yes…for the women, yes, but really for me. I have noticed a big shift since I went home. It had probably been 10 years since I had done women’s camp, and I only did it once. At my first women’s camp, I ran away the first day, the second day I came back and I stuck it out for seven days. At the time for me it was grueling. I had so many hang ups around women and I didn’t like women back then. But now I love women and I only wanna be with women and teach women!
Sat Nam Fest: Tell me about the new Aykanna album. We heard some new songs at your concert, but tell me more!
Sukhdev: It is really still underground right now. We are downloading a lot of new mantras and we have just been playing them at home and we have demo’d a few of them. We work pretty quickly so we are comfortable we will have something ready by April. It is going to definitely be a classic Aykanna album where it will be a mix of song and mantra together. We are really excited to just focus and hone in on this. We made our last Aykanna album four years ago, other than the meditation album we did with Spirit Voyage last year. Of course it is very different when you are making three specific meditation tracks versus a creative album with your interpretation of the mantras that have moved us and are poignant in our life at this time. So, we are really excited.
Sat Nam Fest: I love how you two play such happy music. We can all get into dark places, but I always appreciate how you show up at Sat Nam Fest and you express that heartfelt happiness in the present. So what do you do to hold onto that radiance within you? What do you do so you can show up with that happy?
Sukhdev: I think that my family provides a lot of that for me — Akahdahmah and Sahej. It is just such a joy. And the gift of being able to play music with my husband. It is just the greatest gift. It is a cornerstone of our relationship.
Now we are not always playing happy music at home, but when we come here we are in community and we are rejoicing! Certainly while here we go through challenging moments, too, like this morning I woke up at 5am, and after I did my sadhana I was in tears and said, “I’m just so tired and I feel so puffy.” I was really just so exhausted from the road because we have been going non stop for the past couple of weeks. This is our last stop on the tour.
But still when we come together on stage and we are in community, there is a celebration. It is not even really about performing, it is really like, “Oh my God, let’s celebrate our victories.” I feel like if you celebrate your victories you are just going to create more victories. We do focus on the joy and being happy, and then having a five year old, you want to demonstrate that. And just live in the flow. Of course,we are human and we are not everyday like that, but we have an easy access to it. And our family, most of the time, is in a joyous place.
Sat Nam Fest: Tell me about your experience at Sat Nam Fest over the many years you have been at the festival on the East and West coasts.
Sat Nam Fest is one of our fave times of year. This is our home. These are our people. It is growing and every time we come it feels like a family gathering. We get to come together for this brief moment and it is kind of a recharge. We get to recharge by witnessing each other, seeing each of our growth, whether it is as musicians, as teachers, as students, as people — all of it. To witness each of us grow, it is just so great and so fun. And we just get to hang out and talk and share, like “How is the road for you?” and “What is working for you and what is not?” There is just so much authentic simple relatedness and love here that is just really nourishing, no matter how tired you are.
Sat Nam Fest: So, you have been teaching with Gurmukh and Wah. What do you hope people come home with from your classes with them on women’s teachings?
Sukhdev: The women’s work and the incredible legacy that Yogi Bhajan left us is really about women living in their grace, their divinity, their magnificence, their compassion and their strength. And I think that if a woman can take away an inkling of something that she can connect with within herself, that she can hold onto, that can carry her through the times when it is really challenging — like a divorce, or sickness, or financial hardship, or losing a child. We hear these kinds of stories when Gurmukh, Wah and I teach.
Life is not always a rosy festival! (laughs) If by taking one of our workshops a woman can connect with even just one of those tools or meditations or a kriya or just a concept, it can carry her through and strengthen yher prayer, because a woman’s prayer is really her power. And if it can strengthen her prayer to help her move through whatever it is she is moving through with just a little more grace, then our job is done. We have fun together. I love those two. I just spent a week at Omega with them. It is like family with them.
Sat Nam Fest: What is next now that this is the final stop on your tour?
Sukhdev: I am going home and I am preparing for my online Shakti School. The doors of the course open on September 12 for five days. The program starts on the new moon on September 20. Shakti School is a six-week online live video program (where you own the video, audio and all the materials for life). I have written a nearly 200 page manual to go with the course. And I have amazing guest teachers like Gurmukh, Kia Miller, Ajeet and Carrie-Ann Moss. I just love being with the women and I love sharing these teachings and doing it online is a great way. I find a lot of women who want to get to these teachings but cannot get to where retreats are happening. Online courses make the teachings more accessible to more women. It really is a training and a coaching program at the same time.
Then we go to Costa Rica on November 4, which is really like a Level 2, which is a deeper experience. That is called, “The Embodied Woman.” That is like longer, deeper meditations, rebirthing kriyas, sweat lodge — a lot of the practical aspects of what we will do online earlier in the fall with Shakti School.
And that is all in the midst of recording the album. (we both laughed)
Sat Nam Fest: What a creative process — and multiple processes at the same time!
Sukhdev: I think when you work with the Kundalini energy and you really are dedicated to it on a daily basis, it really fuels you creatively in such a huge way. I have done more in the past ten years since I started teaching Kundalini than I have done in the 30 years prior to that. The past 10 years have been much more creeative — in terms of delivering materials and so much other creating.
It is amazing what you can get into when you channel your creative energy, and Kundalini really is the creative potential of being a human, and having a channel to awaken that. And when you do [awaken it], the vitality, the health, the mental clarity from Kundalini practice, it helps the creative process a lot. It is not easy by any stretch — we work very hard as a family. And sometimes we are like, we just need a vacation, and we try to get those in. But it is working and worth it, we are feeling like we are in a creative period and it is time to keep moving forward.
Phew…Sukhdev is a busy lady! I love seeing her creative process, which is very inspiring and so authentic. Be sure to check out her Shakti School coming up this fall and Aykanna’s new album next year.