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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Simrit Kaur: Music, Yoga and Returning

Apr 01, 2020 09:00AM ● By Sheila Ewers

Simrit Kaur (Photo: Ian Curcio)

On April 24, Simrit Kaur, backed by her world beat and ethereal wave band, SIMRIT, will play live at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. Simrit is a student, practitioner and certified teacher of Kundalini and Naad yoga. The band, known for its ethereal sound, is on tour with its newest album, When We Return, just released in December 2019.

You were born in Greece to a famous folk singer and adopted by a Greek American couple. You grew up attending Greek Orthodox services and found your way to yoga, specifically Kundalini yoga. Can you describe that journey? When did you first discover yoga?

Yoga wasn’t part of my lifestyle, but the Greek Orthodox Church was really yogic—the service itself felt yogic or “yoked,” especially in the music. I sang in the church choir from early grade school. When I went to college, I began practicing Hatha yoga, and it changed me. A year later, Kundalini yoga came into my life. From the first few minutes of the first class, I knew I would practice that style for the rest of my life. It can seem eccentric even to other yogis, but I love that it’s off the beaten path. It felt similar to what I was doing when I was chanting mantras in the church as a child.

Much of yoga nowadays has been divorced from sound and vibration as the emphasis has shifted to physicality, but the ancient teachings considered sound a primal component of our ability to elevate consciousness. Can you share a bit about the relationship between your yoga practice and your musicality?

In the first Kundalini class I attended, I heard a deep, mystical mantra music, and I was immediately drawn in. I don’t resonate with a lot of typical yoga music. It can feel watered down and cheesy to me, but in that Kundalini class I heard something that really got under my skin. I had been a musician since grade school. I studied piano and voice, and I had parents who honored that musical inclination. In high school, I studied classic Western vocals at the University of South Carolina, and in college, I studied classical eastern vocals, African drumming and more. All that time, I had no clue I would do this as a career. I was planning to be a naturopath. In my young 20s, after my son was born, I began to focus on music more.  My Kundalini community was asking for a recording, and that prompted me to make my first two albums in 2010 and 2013. In 2014 I made a decision to focus more intentionally, not just on yoga music, but on musicianship as a profession.

I read an interview that you did some time ago with Ali McGhee of in which you said that “real music is yoga.” Can you explain what you mean by that?

To me, just because someone is chanting or practicing yoga doesn’t mean someone is in the space of yoga because yoga means being merged with something. It means to yoke, or to be inside of something. You can practice yoga without doing asana. To make real music, something so superb that it moves and inspires, the musician has to be in a merged space. True musicians are definitely in a state of yoga. You could listen to a totally secular artist, and they can be totally annihilated into the sound. Nothing else is between them and the sound. In scientific terms, a person may have a shift into a different mind space or brain function, where the creative flow begins to take them over, and the song plays them like an instrument. That’s when the yoga is happening.

What practices do you use to prepare yourself to be in that space?

I practice Kundalini regularly. I ask for protection for myself and for the room. I ask that the most powerful and clear message come through and that I’m able to get out of the way. The words are secondary, the energetic vibration is primary. I’m always trying to figure out how to keep refining and going deeper to become more comfortable in my skin, because that is what allows for the transcendent experience. On a practical level, my band and I practice our craft every day. The more we practice, the easier it becomes because we don’t have to be in thinking mind.

This tour highlights your most recent album, When We Return. What does the title mean? To what are we returning?

I like to leave that up to the listener. It can mean many things. When I was a kid, I felt connected to my soul, to the universe, to God. I’ve been through things in my life, and I have a strong connection to my soul. No matter what, we all have that ability, a curiosity, wonder, a straight shot to God. So, for me, “When we return” means when we come back to the place we’ve always been. I thought I had to be somewhere else to be enlightened or grow in a certain way to advance myself, and we all try that when we get into healing arts or grow or do yoga. But the truth is that when we are young, we really know that connection. We find tools to bring us back to that space, and music is one of them.

What experience do you hope your music will inspire for your listeners?

What I’ve been told is that it inspires them to open to their creativity. It helps them to want more beauty in their lives…to be more of who they are, more genuine, and that’s all I could ever hope for. I think that is what good art does. I think good art helps us to connect with our souls, and as artists, that’s why we are doing it.
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