Snatam Kaur travels the world, playing concerts and teaching Kundalini yoga and meditation. She recently released a new CD, Sat Nam! Songs from Khalsa Youth Camp, and she graciously took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to Spirit Voyage.
Question: Snatam Kaur, thank you for taking the time to speak with Spirit Voyage. Your new CD, Sat Nam!, consists of songs by and for children. Can you tell us how this CD came about?
Snatam Kaur: I started working at the 3HO Khalsa Youth Camp couple years ago and I noticed how the kids loved to sing. About half of the songs on Sat Nam! were written by the Camp Director of Khalsa Youth Camp, Siri Nam Singh. He’s been the Camp Director for 30 years now. I asked him if he’d be interested in doing this project together to benefit the camp, with the kids all singing together.
With this music it’s all about creating community and hearing the voice of the community, so we thought it would be really fun to reach out to music listening community and ask them for song submissions as well. We got 120 submissions! We were planning to only pick one, but there were so many good entries we had to pick 3. We picked “All the Colors of the Rainbow,” which was submitted by Christopher Oscar, who is the father of two children. He heard his older son singing it to his little sister, and that’s where the words came from. The other two are “Share it All” by Michel Dinesh, and “Peace and Harmony” by Lana Maree Haas.
Q: Can you talk about why you enjoy working with children so much?
SK: I know that for children to receive these kinds of songs with positive affirmations is a very beautiful gift. There are a lot of fun songs and some slightly goofy ones. All of us as teachers and musicians are looking to expand the teachings and looking at the core concepts of Kundalini Yoga and sharing with children.
I was given a lot of great energy as a child. I learned a lot of songs and yoga for children through my parents and teachers, and it was a beautiful thing for me. Maybe because of having that experience as a child, I can zone back into it. I see children and really connect with them. I know I can do this for them, sharing these songs and teaching yoga.
Children learn through songs. There are some concepts that I didn’t learn till my early 20’s, like what are all the Tattvas. But these are simple yoga concepts and children can figure it out. That’s why we have the “Five Tattvas” song, for example.
Also, look at the song “Driving with Aad Guray Namey.” Yogi Bhajan told us that if we chant this mantra before we drive, it changes the time and space and aids you in avoiding accidents. On a practical level it calms you down before you drive. We do this with our daughter and this song is a lot of fun.
Q: A lot of this music is appropriate for adults as well, isn’t it?
SK: One of the things I learned from Yogi Bhajan is that a child is a soul. I remember him talking to children as if they were adults, soul to soul. He didn’t use baby language. He spoke to kids as if he was in a class with adults, and the kids were totally responding. We don’t need to talk down to kids in any way. When I teach children, it helps me in my classes with adults. If a 5-year old child isn’t going to understand something, most likely an older person isn’t going to understand it either. I think adults relate to this music the same way as children and vice versa because we’re all souls.
Q: Are there any particular messages or themes on this CD that you’d like to share with our readers?
SK: One that stands out is the song “I’d Rather Be Me,” whose words are “I’d rather be me than watch TV”. I’m very passionate about that. With my own daughter, we took television out of our life about a year and a half ago, and our family time is so much richer without that. It’s amazing to see how creative she is and how much more creative we are as a family. I hope that message gets out.
There’s another song called “Share it All.”That’s a great concept for both children and adults.What the song comes down to is that you’re actually sharing everything with God, with the Divine, and not to hold back. To show how much you care, share. Even your smelly socks! It’s a very fun song.
“Standing Like a Tree” I learned from a friend of mine who runs a children’s camp. I saw her teach it to my daughter and a small group of kids, and the children loved singing it. I saw that it was such a powerful message not just for kids but also for adults. It was written by a woman named Betsy Rose, and it’s sung by choruses all over the world. It’s about being rooted in the earth and in your life, but reaching to the heavens to allow the heavens to bring in the will of the Divine.
Q: The voices of the children on the CD are wonderful.
SK: Children pick up songs and chants very easily. Like in the song “Ask Your Intuition,” when they hear the chant Wahe Guru, they just start singing. Plus most of these songs are very well tested through the Khalsa Youth Camp. So it’s like a Greatest Hits of children songs.
We recorded these songs at the camp. We had about three days with kids in the studio and different groups that came in and sang on the CD. The kids were totally into it.There’s some nice video footage people can watch about the making of the CD.
Q: You are very accomplished yoga teacher as well as musician, and you frequently teach with your husband. You also live a very spiritual life. Can you tell us about that?
SK: I try to set an example with my teaching. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how much yoga and meditation you’re doing, if you’re serving and uplifting people, that’s the greatest gift you can do.
My husband and I are really focused on delving more into the teachings of Kundalini Yoga, the mantras and the lifestyle. We look at things that have really transformed our lives and we look for ways we can share these things with others. It’s very exciting for me to me moving more into the teachings.
My concerts are shifting too.At the end of the concert, are you going to go home and have an experience with your soul? I lean on the teachings of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation because they’re so powerful. Then I weave them into the music. This technology is really really effective. I’ve watched and heard stories of people with really serious emotional issues, including myself, being able to use this technology to find an opening and a way into their higher consciousness.
Q: Do you have any advice for other families out there?
SK: I feel that being a spiritual family is a practice in and of itself, and it’s a beautiful way to live. Incorporating spiritual things into our daily lives in a way to connect with our daughter and empower her. My daughter has been observing this and now is incorporating things into her life. You create this beautiful connection and environment together no matter where you are.
We try to make this a part of our community life. This works to serve other families as well. When you have children, you have to connect and be social. Children are so lively and bubbly, and you can’t handle the energy yourself. You need to reach out to the community. So this becomes a community-based movement in raising children.
Please see www.3ho.org/youth-camp for more information!