Young Yogi, Old Soul, Rajen Palsingh
Over a round of lattes, the tall thirtysomething Rajen “Raj” Palsingh reveals that it may have been karma that he started Kundalini yoga—a result of his hardcore football–playing injury. Honest with his answers and nonchalant in his demeanour, he says he was hooked after the first session and, within three years, went from learning to teaching. Raj works at his family’s PVC manufacturing company while making time to practise this 3,000 year–old science, faithfully. Currently running two classes weekly at Asa Garden, he is an advocate for this much-underestimated practise. With laughs and pardon-my-language one-liners, he shares his passion for yoga and thoughts on teaching.—REENA KARIM
When did you start yoga and why did you decide to go with Kundalini?
I have been practising since 2009. Yoga is essentially a practice, and you take that with you as honestly as you can. In the other [types of] yoga, we didn’t meditate this intensely, and Kundalini allowed me to put the physical, mental, and spiritual in alignment.
What is the greatest challenge you have overcome because of yoga?
[When] I started yoga, I wasn’t sure if this was what I wanted to do. There was a hesitation that came from knowing too much. That fear [is the reason] why most people don’t want to get into yoga. It took me some time to adjust to the spiritual awakening aspect of it. But when it did, it was amazing.
What was the thought behind teaching yoga to others?
I went to the Kundalini Yoga Asia Festival and by chance met the medical doctor of Yogi Bhajan, the founder of Kundalini Yoga. He said to me, “If you really want to master it, then you have to teach it.”
What do you find rewarding about being a yoga instructor?
There is no feeling that can describe it; it is a sense of fulfilment that comes in the beginning and the end of every session.
What did your family think when you decided to start teaching yoga?
My family has been extremely supportive of the changes they see in me and overwhelmingly supportive of my practise.
How has yoga helped you in your personal life?
Yoga makes me a more connected person to myself, more mindful, and more loving.
What are some of the myths of modern day yoga?
People usually think that they have to be physically fit to do yoga. No, you use yoga to get fit, to align yourself.
What are your views on people’s perception that yoga is feminine?
I generally attract both males and females in my class. But sometimes it could be all females, one of them actually asked me this question, and my reply was, “Go to India in the mountains and find me one female yogi.”
So are you saying women can’t climb mountains?
The original practitioners of yoga were all men. The yogi man is more connected to his feminine side than a regular man. There is masculine energy and female energy. The world today, with corporatism, is with a lot of male-dominated energy. We are embracing everything with masculinity. But the world as a whole is losing its femininity.
Published in Masala Lite magazine, November 2012