It was a pleasure to sit down with Amanbir after he taught his class entitled “Active Bliss” at Sat Nam Fest Berkshires. A Kundalini Yoga teacher, teacher trainer, yoga therapist, and acupuncturist, he is a busy guy with a whole slew of skills. He teaches Kundalini Yoga at Golden Bridge in New York City, where he has lived for 15 years. Adorned in a lovely yellow turban, Amanbir shared his thoughts on his multiple roles, his love of 80’s synth pop, and more!
Sat Nam Fest: You have a degree in engineering, which is not necessarily a typical background here in the Kundalini Yoga community. How do those studies impact your Kundalini Yoga? Is there a connection with your Kundalini yoga practice?
Amanbir: There is so much connection because there is so much science within Kundalini Yoga, so much technology. Systems are so important to Kundalini Yoga. The results are just more about a certain experience that is created, though, rather than something that is more quantifiable. Those in the science and engineering community could certainly benefit from Kundalini Yoga. I actually had an offer to go back and teach at my engineering school, and I should take it to go and help those engineers and architects.
Also, they complement each other. For the scientific mind, Kundalini Yoga helps to open up the creativity, which is a key component of science. To be creative within a system. But Kundalini Yoga practitioners without such a background can also really benefit from the systems focus that comes from understanding science, because it can help you to implement this Kundalini technology into different areas of your life systematically.
Sat Nam Fest: How do you integrate Kundalini Yoga with your other healing modalities like acupuncture? How do they complement each other?
Amanbir: I would say that at first, though I am still working on it, I kept them pretty separate. I am an acupuncturist. Separately I am also an astrologer. I am also separately a Kundalini Yoga instructor. And I am doing Kundalini Yoga teacher trainings, so I am separately a teacher trainer. (Laughs.) It is all kind of segmented. I know they are all connected, but I also feel like they should be separate. They are all tied in and flow into each other. It makes me think about the mastery of Yogi Bhajan who was able to weave so many different things together.
When I was in Chinese Medicine school I had a lightbulb moment when we were studying about the lung meridian. There is a kriya called “New Lungs and Circulation”, which kriya starts with Qi Gong like exercises that open up the chest, but then the middle of the kriya focuses on the navel. Why are we working the core when working the lung meridian? To give energy to the navel? But when you understand the lung meridian, you know the lung meridian starts above the navel. So the kriya with its navel and chest work addresses the whole lungs as well as the lung meridian, which goes from above the navel, through the lungs, through the arms and all the way into the thumbs. So that whole kriya, when looking at it with this alternate perspective, is very comprehensive.
Ultimately, I am still growing and learning more about how these modalities all interact.
Sat Nam Fest: In your class here at Sat Nam Fest, you played some amazing spoken word mantra songs with your voice. I know you have some albums. Tell me about your music.
Amanbir: I have two albums, Akal Groove I and II. I produced them with Ferenz Kallos, who is really fun, powerful and eccentric. He produced a lot of the early albums by Gurunam Joseph Michael Levry. Ferenz kept telling me, “you need to record”, and I said no, no, no. I sang in choir when I was young, but recording a mantra album, that is for amazing people like Snatam. (Laughs.) But one day, he said to just sing, and I did, and he made the pieces into a recorded song.
So then I came up with an intention for my album Akal Groove. I wanted to make mantra music to reach people who would not typically be into mantra music. For the first album, we were really inspired by the music of Bronski Beat (an 80s synth pop band), and were really grooving. Ferenz introduced me to them and I was like, “I love this and want my album to sound like this.” Really synthy, poppy, uplifting mantra music.
Sat Nam Fest: The vibration of your voice on the recording with you teaching at the same time – with some voices that could be a really jarring experience for the listener. But it was anything but that in your class here at Sat Nam Fest. It was very soothing. I really enjoyed the sound current in your class from your album.
Amanbir: That is something that I am learning to cultivate. Sukhdev sometimes asks me, “Why don’t you ever perform, Amanbir?” But it is again my segmented roles – teacher, acupuncturist, mantra artist… But the process is getting me to relax just a little bit and deciding OK – I will sing a little bit today and then get back to teaching and acupuncture. See, I can still hold space! (Laughs.) Who knows what the future holds…
Sat Nam Fest: Now about the teacher role, you are a teacher trainer and teach at Golden Bridge in New York?
Amanbir: I was first inspired to assist with teacher trainings by Hari Kaur in New York City. She saw my role was something where I would continue to grow on this path and as a teacher and she really helped to challenge me. She told me that if I wanted to really step up as a teacher, I would need to go deeper. One of the ways to go deeper is by assisting in teacher trainings because it is about re-learning and immersing yourself again in the teachings. It is also about immersing yourself in the energy field that is the training environment. If you want to have a deeper experience as a teacher, find a teacher training and assist in it. I always find that the right training will find you – even when it may be really challenging.
I was about to ask Gurmukh to assist in her training, and before I even asked, she asked me to assist, which was great. So then I started to assist in 2009. It was an amazing experience. But then moving forward, Gurmukh would be like, you know anatomy — teach it tomorrow! She is now my mentor in the Aquarian Trainer Academy.
As my mentor, what I love about Gurmukh is that she encourages people to go with the flow. For example, when training in India, we have a printed schedule to make people feel comfortable. But we always tell them, “This is just a piece of paper that can be ripped up easily.” You have to allow yourself to go with the flow. Some days she will wake up and say, “Amanbir, I know we said we were going to do something else today, but let’s give them their exam today. What do you think?” And then I said, “Yes, they’re ready for it.” (Laughs.) And the same as a trainer, Gurmukh would sometimes say, “Amanbir, I don’t want you to teach anatomy today, but I think you should teach about the chakras, they need to learn about the chakras.” And so, with no prep, I just had to do it, and allow the flow to come through.
Sat Nam Fest: Wouldn’t that be a really good process for you since you said that typically have a more rigid, systematic and compartmentalized way of dealing with things?
Amanbir: It is all about finding the system within the flow. That’s the fun part.
Sat Nam Fest: Tell me about your upcoming teacher trainings.
Amanbir: I will be teaching in two level two trainings in India in November 2017; Vitality and Stress and Conscious Communication. I will teach as part of the level one Immersion in India between March 8 and April 1, 2017. And then, also as part of a six-month format level one course in NYC starting on Sept 28, 2017. A full and fun schedule!
Sat Nam Fest: What do you hope that people took away from your class at Sat Nam Fest?
Amanbir: I hope that all of you did not think I was joking when I said there was homework. The words I asked you all to write on a page are “I commit to bliss.” I want everyone after the class to sit down and really write out your path to bliss. Let those words be your manifesto to move forward. It is an Aquarian manifesto. Write it down from your highest sense of self. You can refer back to it in challenging times and be reminded – “Oh yeah, here it is!”
Remember that within yourself is the bliss, within yourself are the answers, the keys to move forward.
Photo Credit: Teg Gian Singh