As we enter the RA MA Institute in Santa Catalina on a sunny winter afternoon the studio space is full and the atmosphere is abuzz. We remove our shoes and find a place on the floor, surrounded by a crowd of devotees – many clad in the flowing white robes and headwraps of the spiritual seeker – listening intently to the speaker sat cross-legged on the raised platform. On stage is Guru Jagat, the US yoga star behind a string of RA MA studios and the charismatic ambassador of a lesser-known form of the yogic practice: Kundalini.
She is flanked by bunches of flowers and overlooked by portraits of Yogi Bhajan, the spiritual teacher and entrepreneur who introduced Kundalini to the US in the 70s, and with whom Guru Jagat studied. Clutching a laptop in one hand while addressing the room, the Colorado-born orator is relaxed, informal and magnetic, the tone is casual conversation rather than sermon. She drifts between espousing the benefit of cold showers to watching Netflix with her boyfriend, before slipping into the New Age language of psycho-spiritual analogy to illustrate an idea. She takes questions freely, while her spontaneous digressions often illicit ripples of laughter amongst the gathering. It feels a world away from the puritanical asceticism and earnestness often associated with spiritual pursuits – but that’s the point.
Referring to a spiritual energy rooted in the base of the spine, Kundalini is a form of yoga that has been described as a technology that can bring positive energies to all aspects of your life. “It uses breath, body and concentration to create fast effects in health, wellness and creativity,” Guru Jagat explains. It’s less about spirituality in the traditional sense and more about empowerment and achieving your full potential through “living in positive, creative cycles within yourself, society and nature on a daily basis.”
Wealth and abundance are positively encouraged in Kundalini; their pursuit is not considered taboo but part of the journey of self-realisation. Sex too is seen as a positive energy that is part of a balanced life. In the RA MA studios sheepskins are favoured over mats, comfort over austerity.
Guru Jagat continues, “much of my time as a teacher has been about brass tacks practice and cutting through the spiritual mystique. We can be everything we are. We can be artists, people who are embodied, people who are living all sorts of different types of lifestyles and all sorts of different types of destinies.”Already with a presence in New York and California – and with celebrity clients who include Alicia Keys and Goldie Hawn – why did she choose Mallorca to open a yoga studio? “It felt like the perfect home for a RA MA Institute, a place where yoga, meditation, poetry, fashion, community exist in an alchemical way to inspire those who are ready for a more amplified version of themselves.”
She makes sure to visit the island several times a year, hosting retreats, residencies and ‘immersion’ programs, although the next time will be for the summer RA MA Festival: “a multi-stage event where the worlds of music, art, wellness chic, social experiment, and thought collide in a radiant and restorative cultural experience.”While she considers herself a teacher, ‘Guru’ is not her title, but one half of the name given to her by the Sikh Dharma ashram. “The sound guru,” she explains, “when said out loud, changes the shape of the brain to be able to comprehend something it was not able to see before. It’s very much about discovering something more powerful inside of you!”
Note: Guru Jagat sadly passed away in August 2021 but her inspiring energy lives on through the teachers and students at RA MA Institute.
Photos by Sara Savage, Jaime Kowal & Manfred Hamm