Kundalini Yoga and the Art of Living with Adam Fazlur

yogi

Ionearth is pleased to share an interview with Adam Fazlur, where he talks about Kundalini yoga practise, touches upon life skill courses for children and young adults and shares his wisdom on achieving our higher purpose , along with his life story on an extraordinary path.

Vijaya- You have been teaching yoga for the past 10 years. When and how did you decide to take up this path of teaching after having studied in Europe and worked in the US to be in the Hospitality and Tourism line?
Adam- The seed was planted by my father, who was very interested in yoga and spirituality. He had an exceptional bookshelf full of books on yoga and spirituality. I would get drawn to these books and especially to a particular book on Kundalini yoga by a well known Kundalini master. (I was around 12 years old then). When I was a bit older (about 16 years), I asked him about the book and he said that he had just started learning Kundalini yoga. I wanted to go and learn also, but he asked me to wait until I was older. That was my earliest inclination. My father used to meditate (he even had a deer skin for meditation!) He used the word Kundalini a lot and with that word, something lit up in me, and I did not know what it was.Though I did not follow any particular practices, I used to read a lot of books. Around the age of 20 years, I had already read a lot of books. People who were respected or revered  had given me a hint and also highlighted that I would be a teacher of some sort but  I never understood the implications..

Then in the year 1996, everything changed. I was living overseas and had come back to Singapore in 1996 (after studying in Europe and working in the US for a while). My dad passed away that year. That was a big trigger for me, and I began my journey in a different direction. I had worked for one year in the hotel line, but now (probably with the issue of dad passing away); the urgency to do something different was strong. I realised that if I continued doing the work I was doing, I would end up being pretty well in a white collared job, probably as a manger in a high post and comfortable but could foresee misery in the future!. Within that year, I put in my resignation,  terminated my bond with  the hotel and went to India to stay at the Osho ashram. I stayed there for one and a half months. Through all these decisions that I made, my family never stopped me. It was a blessing. That initial setup was given to me for a purpose!
After staying in the ashram for a month, I realized I wanted to do something holistic, but did not have a clear idea. Ideas kept flashing and messages kept coming. I started attending more meditation classes. For the next one and half years, I did nothing but read and meditate. In 1998-99, I found a mentor group – we meditated with a teacher from India. I was getting a lot of clarity, was putting up new intentions. I used to take every opportunity to meet swamis, gurus and monks and take their blessings. In the meantime, I also learned the Sudarshan Kriya (Art of Living). We also used to work with children through my mentor group. Around that time, I came across a book “The 8 human talents” by Gurumukh Kaur. When I read that book, I was totally inspired and felt like the book was talking to me at some level. I decided on an instinct to share what I had learned through the book with my mentor group and they absolutely loved doing the yoga (we usually did only meditations).
I realized this is what I really wanted to do! For nearly a year before that I was trying to figure out- What is my expression in this world? What have I come here to do? and this voice inside me said “Go and teach this”. Until then, I had not thought of becoming a yoga teacher because I thought yoga to be very crude. But, Kundalini yoga was very nice- it had postures, breathwork, mudras, chanting and different meditations. That one session of Kundalini yoga that I conducted on impulse ignited my path to teach. While I was wondering as to how to go about becoming a teacher, a funny thing happened- within a week of the yoga session that gave me clarity about my path, I was walking down the road wondering about where to learn to become a yoga teacher, and I saw a flyer on the ground. I picked up the flyer- it was from a yoga school, about a five minute walk from our house. So I walked straight to that place and signed up for the yoga teacher’s course starting next month! Close to graduation of this course, there was a group of  students waiting to take lessons from me, though I had barely finished the course myself!

It was a sign from the universe! I conducted the course. Straightaway I recovered all the money I had paid for that course for my training. Few months later, Gurumukh Kaur (renowned Kundalini yoga teacher) came to Singapore and I went for her workshop. So, this was another confirmation. Things were happening so fast. This started me on my yoga learning and teaching journey.
During this time I met Sri Sri Ravishankar . He suggested that I do more work with the Art of Living. When I saw the work he was doing, I was totally inspired. I then went to India for the Teachers training for Art of Living. As soon as the training finished, the same thing happened- there was a course waiting for me in India itself! My first Art Excel (children’s course)  was with 78 children. Though I was wondering how I would handle so many children, it went very well. I had such a blast! And that confirmed that I was meant to work with them-and they would help me in my growth too. They could bring out the goodness, innocence, joy and playfulness within me. I had lots of energy with them around. Also around them, I learned to simplify things, be more innocent, be more curious and accept things. Ok, this moment you cry- you cry and the next moment you laugh, you laugh.

So, at the moment I have different yoga classes, the art of living children, youth  and adult classes going on now, working with  the whole spectrum of of people.

Vijaya- What is Kundalini yoga?
Adam - Kundalini yoga is the yoga of awareness. It helps to increase the awareness that we have a body and energy is flowing inside us. The yoga classes also helps us realize that if we can modulate energy, control it or play with it, we can actually enhance it. As we are able to control the energy, we are also able to control our emotions, so that the emotions don’t run us wild. Many a times we feel helpless (in different life situations) .We look at external avenues for answers (psychics, astrologers, books). Although it is a good thing to seek help, we over rely on certain things and our projection is always outwards. There is something within us that we don’t trust enough. Not only that we don’t trust,  many of us don’t even know of its existence due to lack of awareness . So, we need to wake up and be confident about ourselves. We must believe in ourself. To get this belief, we need to tap it and that is exactly what Kundalini yoga helps to do.
One of the main teachings of Kundalini yoga is “Vibrate and the whole cosmos will vibrate with you”.  When you raise your vibration, the whole cosmos will vibrate (tune in) with you. Change will happen on its own. The initial step has to be the readiness to change, that comes from inside. Setting the intention and beginning the practice without expectation is the best way to go about it. Once you stay on this path for  say 40 days(such a short duration) , you will start reaping the benefits of who you are as a human being.

Vijaya- What is the history of this yoga? What are the various processes?
Adam- Kundalini yoga is an ancient practice, passed on from the Guru to the disciple in secrecy. In the 1970’s, Yogi Bhajan was given the permission by his Guru to share this with the world. He propagated it in the West, Europe and Asia. The tradition is interlaced with the Sikh culture (people who have embraced it wear all white and a Sikh turban). The mantras from the Guru Granth Sahib are invoked. There is a morning chanting of the Japji Saheb. Besides the mantras, the practices are yoga based. There are yoga postures, mudras (hand), breathwork(pranayamama) and meditation(kriyas) for specific needs. .

Vijaya- Does Kundalini yoga help to raise the Kundalini shakti through our chakras?
Adam- Kundalini is the dormant coiled up energy or the creative energy that is lying within. Through Kundalini yoga, we are awakening the energy in a very practical manner. This yoga is meant for householders, for people who don’t have hours on end to spend. In an hour’s session they are doing some yoga- moving their body, working with their breath, meditating and chanting.
Basically this cleans up the energy centres, cleans up the nerves. In yoga we generally say, there are 72000 nerves (nadis) ,so these nadis or nerves are purified, the energy starts flowing. You start perceiving life in a different manner, you get clarity and you are in the flow of things. So, in this tradition it is not just about bringing the energy to the third eye (chakra). It’s more of purifying, balancing the energy and as per Yogi Bhajan, when you keep on doing this, automatically the dormant faculty or the creative Shakti (feminine energy) opens up, your dormant siddhis/ innate gifts are revealed and you begin seeing things in a broader perspective. You begin to live your life more fully, in a more joyful manner.

Vijaya- Are there any variations of Kundalini Yoga?
Adam-It’s basically yoga postures, breathwork, chanting and meditation but it works differently for different people. Sometimes chanting works for some people more effectively, sometimes breathwork, because we come from different temperaments. Within a class, we will be working with group dynamics – somewhere we will start harmonizing and regardless whether you are high or low, somewhere you will find a balance in between and everyone is benefited.

Vijaya- How do the mantra sounds help?
Adam-A big component of the Kundalini yoga is the “Shabad” – the sound current. The sound current changes the energy system in our body. The sound breaks up stagnation, limitation and raises vibration, we go into higher frequency. So, what we can’t change in our life, through sound and light, it can change. Sound has a different dimensional quality of changing energy .It changes the structure. Similarly light. We have the light within us, but we have forgotten about its presence. So, we are recalling, reminding and re-experiencing this and working with Agni- the fire within us. This fire has the ability to transform us .Similarly sound too. If you look at every tradition, sound and light  is mentioned even in the bible (“Let there be light!”- was spoken first) and the vedas (Aum). First there was sound. So, when we use the beej sounds or seed sounds, they have a potency- they have information inside them that works on a very subtle level. So, they are very effective in changing our energetic pattern and they also align us to our higher self.

First sound will bring your mind to oneness, one attention and then when you get absorbed in the sound, the information in the sound will heal. So, each sound has a quality, a certain information. For e.g. the mantra “Satnaam- “Sat” –means truth , “Naam”- means my identity. The mantra points to our identity beyond the physical body. We are more than that. So, when we align ourselves with the mantra sound, its like putting out an intention. When we set an intention, we are guiding ourselves to achieve our highest potential; it’s like tuning the mind  just like a musical instrument. That is why intentions are so powerful. Along with the intention, the sound is guiding us. And after a while, as the sound takes over, the mind dissolves. You go into another zone (dimension), where you have felt beyond your mind, your body. You will experience in that moment that you are very much a part of the whole existence.

Vijaya- Over the years of being a Kundalini Yoga teacher, what transformation have you seen in people practising it?
Adam- The physical movement /asana practises assist in keeping the body supple and facilitates better circulation. Like you keep a car but don’t maintain it, it becomes rusty and all. So, with postures and physical movement, it’s like doing maintenance, lubricating and  increasing circulation. But beyond that when you work with intention, with purpose mindful movement, breath, mantras- you are working directly on a subtler level of consciousness.
Many a times, our emotions and feelings control us. All of them do not belong to us. They come from the environment that we move around in, wants and desires are being pushed to us and we are also bombarded with information from everywhere.
In Kundalini yoga we say that the present time  is the Aquarian Age moving out from the previous Piscean age. So  the characteristics in the Aquarian age are, information will be all over the place and anything and everything will be available, no sercrets will be held. The challenge here is how do you discern what is right, or what is right for you for that matter? Clarity is possible only when you are strongly grounded in yourself, in who you think you are and have that faith that you can ride through any experience whether good or bad. Reaching this point is where you have achieved something in life. Many a times you are like a vessel- a small boat in the sea and the fancies of the waves pushing you in all directions. So, when you are not clear, you feel helpless.
The practice of Kundalini yoga centres you, grounds you, brings about the realization that you are more that what you think you are. If you are able to commit to the yoga only for 40 days, you will see a different you.
It definitely helps to reduce stress. It creates an inner bonding that expands out. Practioners will  have more compassion for other people, whether they are family, extended family, colleagues or acquaintances. A sense of belongingness arises  that everything is Ok and we are all here together collectively. Everyone is struggling at some level, but we don’t need it to be a painful experience. If we have the inner strength,  belief (faith), and certain tools eg kundalini yoga, we don’t have to identify with pain. It’s like you have a key and you can open the lock. You know you can open, and walk to the other side. But if you don’t have a key (the tools), you will always feel like I am banging against a locked gate. So, the tools are what will help you.

Vijaya- Have you seen any physical change or healing happening among your students?
Adam- Yes. During the years, I have seen and  heard many people that we are relieved from psychosomatic stresses and some challenging life situations. Some just say, that they had this healing or this  release happened which they have had for years. So, there have been many, but the healing topic is subjective. If it happens, we just say- it’s good for you, and if not,  just keep practising. Beyond eradicating pain and releasing a disease , the real healing comes about when we can have a union or “re-union” with the body, mind and spirit which is the true essential teachings of  Yoga. To get back to your true nature, the Original Self.

Vijaya- What would help people to become more aware of the fact that they are not just the body but they have a higher purpose?
Adam- Probably misery! Normally its misery or some kind of setback in life, or problems coming in their direction. So, usually this is how it works. Life teaches you. Pain is one of the best motivator! When you have some kind of discomfort,   intelligence is sending you signals for a change in the way you are doing things. This change is not something that can be intellectualised. People think that by talking about it, you can change. It is not so,  in the bigger picture of karma, the past  impressions and vasanas, there are many dimensions that are working with or against you.. This all part of the growth experience required for the being to undergo.  When you don’t have the maturity, you look upon it as misery and look upon it as “I am suffering, I am the only one suffering. Why is God unfair to me?”- And so on and so forth playing a victim role..
The other way is to became aware of  impressions and though patterns that are limiting our full life experiences. We can change them through the practises of  different modalities such as past lives therapy, healing practises, meditations and yoga practises. Many people are aware of so many tools, so many modalities, so whenever they are feeling that they need them- like when facing a mid life crisis, feel that something is not working for them, they use such tools. You have to go through it(the suffering) either way; you can’t run away from it. Even in the Indian context, if you believe in astrology, there is a time when Saturn comes in your life to teach you the reality of your life, there is period of seven and a half years. He is supposed to put you on a learning curve and he leaves with  gifts  for you at the end of that period. But during that period you have to go through the pain, discomfort or misfortune. But pain is not the only way  to realise your higher purpose, there area people who come with a certain knowing and when they are fortunate enough to associate with other such like minded people their divinity gets ignited easily and follow the path of beauty, bounty and bliss.

Vijaya- What would you say about the year 2012 being a special time for us to awaken?
Adam- Actually, not just at this time, it is special just to be born as human beings- in the bigger context of everything. Sometimes, when we go into micro detailing, not everyone is able to grasp things. So, in the bigger picture, just to be born as human being is a major gift. So, many traditions, esp. the Indian tradition say that you are blessed if you have taken human birth. That means you can reach your highest potential. And you are a being who can experience the polarities of life. And also, love in its purest form. We are all yearning for love. And the human form presents a possibility to experience this to its highest form and beyond what we can conceptualize.
This age and day and time, there are many stories that the world is ending or we are in kaliyug , and is it a good year? Some people say that 2012, everything will be over and some say actually it’s a golden era. Great things are going to happen. So, everybody has their view points. I am very optimistic and would say this year will be fantastic. People have acceptability towards many things. Technologically we are advanced, there is general comfort and knowledge is available at the fingertips. Again, everything is available but how are we going to use it? How are we going to discern it? How are we going to utilize it so that it will benefit us not only as an individual but benefit us as a community , benefit us as a global identity? That is the bigger question. It doesn’t matter what the time is. So, coming back to ourselves- what are we going to do? Everything is available now, more than any other time. But if you don’t have the clarity, you won’t be able to use the opportunity. It’s just like using a computer. You know they have  quad or dual core processor , but some people are still using 528. So if you know how to make use of the available resources, good for you! If not, you will lagging behind.. So, I think in the end the message is -it is available. Things might be very conducive;  if you want to have higher aspirations or higher realizations. With the right tools, right education and right attitude, all that is achievable. But without that it is nothing but like playing with your 528 and saying that it’s slow and messed up. You can complain or glorify the time according to to ones understanding and intentions. So if you ask me “Is the world going to exist?” I will say yes, it is. “Is everyone going to die”- I don’t think so. “Are people going to suffer”- yes, they are many who are going to suffer. One way or the other. People will go through their own thing. We have to experience the choices that we choose to make . These laws of cause and effect won’t change. They will have to go through it. But we have choices too and we can individually and collectively create changes accordingly.

Vijaya- Please tell us about the Art Excel program (from the Art of Living) for children?
Adam- Art Excel is All Round Training in EXCELlence. The whole program is geared towards the children, the younger generation (between the ages of 7-12). You know, children have a universal presence. Children are naturally innocent, open. There is nothing much that we can give them actually. There innocence is diluted by our education system which doesn’t start in school, but as soon as they are born or rather when they are conceived. If you look at it traditionally, the idea of conceiving a child would be very sacred. You are bringing a soul in with the idea of creating a better society- we talk about educating, making a better society so that people are more compassionate, people are helping one another and reaching God. A utopian society of some sort.
Our system creates a negative atmosphere, when we keep on saying no; it creates an imbalance in their thinking process. “I do this, I get this”. “If I don’t do this, I don’t get this”. “Either I get rewarded or punished”. So, that is the imbalance. We (family, society) start manipulating them, they start manipulating themselves and then they start manipulating other people. So, there is no more openness. We give them the message that they should guard themselves. They should protect themselves. So, we are teaching them that the world at large is very dangerous. We tell them that they need to be alert or someone else is going to cheat them or harm them. Children do not come with that. They come with an open slate. So, first seven years, they have taken everything in from the environment (parents, the media etc).
In Art Excel, we work with their innocence. We let them be who they are. We do give them the universal truths, tell them about good values to imbibe and prompt them to think how these values can be a part of their lives. We also teach them yoga and breathwork to help them learn to work with their body, and control their emotions in a positive manner. We use stories and games to help them learn group work. We teach them that happiness depends on their attitude. We also explain to them the importance of good communication with parents. Generally children naturally accept these teachings.

Adam Fazlur teaches Kundalini yoga and the Art of Living courses (Art Excel course for children and Yes! for youth). He has been teaching yoga full time for the past 10 years . He conducts courses, talks, events and retreats related to yoga and environment in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and India.
We also interviewed a few course participants from the Kundalini Yoga course and parents of children from the Art Excel course,  and their responses were amazing.  It was heart warming to see the bonding between Adam and his students!


For more information on Adam’s work, Kundalini yoga, and art of living courses for children and youth, please see the resources below.

Resources and links-

Adam’s website - www.inneryog.com
Adam’s blogadam-faz.blogspot.com/
Art Excel- More information about the Art Excel and Yes Plus courses is available on the Art of Living website- http://www.artofliving.org/art-excel and http://www.artofliving.org/youth-empowerment-seminar-yes
Kundalini yoga – Adam conducts Kundalini yoga courses at the Gallery Helios, Singapore – www.galleryhelios.com

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