I’ve admired Ramdesh Kaur for some time now. She’s a person of great courage, passion, and knowledge who has been on a tremendous journey to overcome an eating disorder and a variety of other physical challenges, and to fall in love with her body, her greatest teacher. Ramdesh is a beloved Kundalini Yoga teacher, radio host, and author of The Body Temple: Kundalini Yoga for Body Acceptance, Eating Disorders and Radical Self Love. She writes about her own healing and shares techniques for gaining a positive self-concept, developing a healthy relationship with food, and repairing the mental and physical damage caused by eating disorders.
On Wednesday, August 9, at Sat Nam Fest Berkshires, Ramdesh will bring us a transformational workshop: Honoring the Body Temple: Radical Self Love for Radical Times. I recently spoke with her about her own self-love practices, the upcoming workshop, how bravely sharing her story has impacted her, and more.
Sat Nam Fest: Why do you think Kundalini Yoga resonates with you most, above other self-love and self-care practices and spiritual disciplines?
Ramdesh: I don’t know that I rank my self-love practices. I have organized my life to be an endless flowing stream of self-love and self-care now, so I just find that my Kundalini Yoga practice is an integral part of my life and one that is highly supportive of my well-being. It’s not a new practice for me. It’s more like an old friend that I value and cherish even while I make new friends or meet new people. It’s always there for me, and when I meet it on the mat, we know each other so well at this point that the love is seamless. I find Kundalini Yoga complements the other practices that I do by getting self-love deep into my marrow. It is a practice of incredible depth, so I use Kundalini Yoga to take self-love deep into my psyche and deep into my cells.
Sat Nam Fest: What does your personal Kundalini Yoga practice look like right now?
Ramdesh: Interestingly, my practice has changed quite a bit in the last year. I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis, and my doctor told me to stop doing any yoga at all. I wasn’t prepared for that, so I plowed straight through my practice and hit a major wall. While doing camel pose, I began to bleed and didn’t stop for 40 days. That kind of blood loss really made me pause and go even deeper into my relationship to my body temple, which remains the biggest teacher of my life.
I decided to explore the subtle parts of the Kundalini practice for a while, as my body focused on healing itself. We became partners in healing, dividing up the work. Instead of me trying to heal myself physically, I gave that job to my body temple, and I took up the work of subtle energetic support. So, my practice is deeply into the study of pranayama right now. I am discovering so much depth in the subtle practices of this tradition.
I do a minimum of 31 minutes of pranayama a day, and surround myself with lots of mantra. I stretch very gently, do a lot of massage and pressure point stimulation, toning, mudra, subtle movements, and meditation. But the king of my practice right now is Long Deep Breathing. To go deep with it, not as a part of a kriya or a default, but to really dive into it as a singular practice all on its own. Wow. It has treasures to reveal to us. And my healing has progressed very rapidly, so I feel I am learning so much more than I have ever known about my body temple and how it works. I’m so grateful to the process.
Sat Nam Fest: I listen to your radio program (Spirit Voyage Radio on Unity FM) all the time and gain so much inspiration and information that feeds my teaching. How did you learn so much about mantra and the practice of Kundalini Yoga in a relatively short amount of time?
Ramdesh: Oh, I just dove into the deep end of the pool. When I found mantra, it struck me so profoundly that I knew it was my path. I went from not knowing what it was to chanting six hours a day. I have a rather extreme personality, and I’m very academic naturally (I just finished my PhD!), so I began to study everything I could get my hands on. The study and practice of mantra were a huge part of my life for many years. So, even if it was “a relatively short period of time,” it was extremely intensive exposure to it and applied study. I just loved it and needed to know everything I could about it. I still learn new things all the time.
Sat Nam Fest: I’m really looking forward to your workshop Honoring the Body Temple: Radical Self-Love for Radical Times at Sat Nam Fest Berkshires. What experience are you hoping to create for your students? Can you share a teaser?
Ramdesh: I’m hoping to create a resonant field of love where the normal mind chatter, cultural programming, or negative patterning that exists within the average person’s mind is suspended, and the ability to love oneself becomes natural. In an environment like that, radical self-love becomes possible.
A teaser? Gurunam Singh will make an appearance to play music at some point throughout the day. I’m excited to bring his beautiful voice to the process of practicing the presence of love.
Sat Nam Fest: You use the term radical self-love in your book and for your workshop. Can you elaborate on what it means to you?
Ramdesh: Radical self-love is a state where every cell of your body is animated with love — every brain cell is vibrating with love, and every molecule of your being, every organ, every bone, every hair follicle, every single part of you feels its natural state of love. Love stops being something you do, and becomes something you are. From that state, all healing is possible and relief from negative thoughts is inevitable.
Sat Nam Fest: How can we move ourselves toward radical self-love and continually renew our commitment to it?
Ramdesh: It’s a lifestyle choice and a process. I do it very consciously. Before any meditation, I massage my feet and my body and my hands, sending love to each part of me. After any meditation, I run my hands over my entire body and my face and say over and over again “I love you! I love you!” I draw hearts on steamed up mirrors after showers and draw hearts of my body with essential oil rollers. When a negative emotion pops up, I shut my eyes and say, “I accept you just as you are.”
I work my own program because I know I have to hold that resonance for others, so my own practice goes deeper all the time. I make sure I have a self-love altar in my home, dedicated to this practice.
What can you do? All of these things and more. Finding ways to infuse your practice and your day with moments of self-love and self-acceptance add up. You can choose healthy foods to fuel your body temple and consciously prepare them with ceremony. You can choose a 40-day practice just for yourself and your body. You can take five minutes to go outside and walk on the grass barefoot. You can make the first thing you do everyday when you are still in bed be saying, “I love you. My body, I adore you. My mind, I honor you. My spirit, I am you. I am in love with all that I am and give love to all that I see.” Radical self-love never stops. It’s a river that flows through you and it feels so wonderful.
Sat Nam Fest: Has publicly talking and writing about your eating disorder history had an impact on your own journey?
Ramdesh: I think it has for sure, although I have been healthy for years. Part of eating disorders is shame and hiding. You don’t want people to know what you’re doing. So for me, I came out publicly, and I think it really healed that part of me that was ashamed of myself. I just refused to allow shame to have a voice anymore, and it went away. I am who I am, and I have been through what I’ve been through. There’s no shame in my game anymore. It’s just a part of me, and I have to say when shame goes away, so much of the grip of the disorder releases its hold. I’m not trying to be healthy anymore, I just am. Now, health and peace of mind is a nature state of existence for me. So yeah, I think for me the lesson is, whatever you are ashamed of or whatever lives in the darkness within you, bring it out into the light. It’s so much less powerful in the light.
Cate: Do you have any new projects in the works?
Ramdesh: I have another book brewing in my head that I really want to write, but I don’t have the publisher’s buy-in yet, so I can’t reveal too much. But, it’s a natural evolution of The Body Temple and deeply connected with the healing journey I’ve been on since publishing it. I also will have another guided meditation CD coming out of me soon, I’m sure. It’s time for new journeys and new visions. I’ll keep you posted! After Sat Nam Fest, I’ll be leading a Body Temple immersion retreat at Kripalu, and I am so looking forward to that!
Don’t miss Ramdesh’s Honoring the Body Temple: Radical Self-Love for Radical Times workshop at this year’s Sat Nam Fest Berkshires on Wednesday, August 9!