By Anna J Anthony
Interview with Jenny Bergold of Focus Om Yoga
“Kundalini Yoga is the Yoga of Awareness. The power of Kundalini Yoga lies in the actual experience. It goes right to your heart and extends your consciousness so you may have a wider horizon of grace and knowing the truth.” -Yogi Bhajan
Anna Anthony: Jenny Bergold, aka Jagatjeet Kaur (light of the world), when did you start practicing yoga, and how were you led to the practice of the Kundalini form of yoga?
Jenny B: Yoga was prescribed to me by a doctor. I was suffering from horrible anxiety and panic. I was working in television at the time. I had struggled with this all my life, until I finally realized it was time that I had to do something about it. My first yoga class was at the Eastside Community Center, hosted by the Batavia Park District. It was magical because it was held in the old church, yet at the same time I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. I stuck with it, and now it has been 18 years. I gave birth to my son Michael eight years ago, and when he was three months old I looked at him and decided I was not going back to the work I had done before. I went back to my first yoga class, and my teacher said that I was really great with alignment, and had I ever considered teaching? My answer was yes; I had thought about it all the time, yet had just been limited by my previous career. She said, “great, because classes start Monday!” That coming Monday was my birthday, so I thought there is my sign right there! I received my 200 hour Hatha certification from “Heaven Meets Earth Yoga” in Evanston. Studying Kundalini was a part of this course. I absolutely fell in love with it! Next, I totally threw myself into going to what was then called “Spirit Fest” in West Virginia. I didn’t know what to expect. I arrived to 500 Kundalini yogis in white turbans, and thought, “this is where I am supposed to be!” I don’t understand it, yet I connect with it. When I returned to the western suburbs, I found that it was really hard to find a Kundalini class at that time that didn’t involve driving to the city. That’s when I found “Spirit Rising Yoga” in Chicago, and decided to start my Kundalini teaching certification. I had just started going thru a divorce, and everyone kept telling me this was not a good time. My response was that this is exactly why I need to do it. It was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. I felt like I was getting my MBA. I was really thrown into a group of people that changed my life.
AA: What should someone who is attending their first Kundalini class expect?
JB: I once had a student come up to me after class and say, “this is kind of wacky, but it’s exactly what I needed.” When I have first time students, I remind them that Kundalini is the Yoga of Awareness. It’s working with your body’s energy and the chakras. Each class consists of kriya, which means ‘completed set.’ This is most commonly a combination of pranayama (breathing), asana (yoga posture & exercise), and mantra (chanting). I always end with savasana (relaxation/meditation) with a gong. It’s about finding your truth and coming into who you are. It’s a profound experience of transformation. In one of my first classes, my teacher instructed me to sit and deal with myself for an hour and a half. It’s very much community based. It’s about family and lifestyle. It goes beyond the classroom. I can give you tools beyond the classroom.
AA: I love that focus of giving “tools beyond the classroom.” I know that this is a huge passion and focus for Charlene Vickery, the owner and mastermind behind the Focus Om studios. The class offerings for your studios are very unique. Charlene states, “There has been a trend to make yoga so much more mainstream, and remove the spirituality part of it. At Focus Om the focus is really about opening the doorway to a personal spirituality that involves yoga, as well as other types of classes about self-empowerment. We are about reconnecting people with their creativity and freedom. To do that thru yoga I think is beautiful!”
JB: When I am teaching I always say, “this is something that you can do at home.” I give medical benefits of each posture, and then go into emotional and spiritual benefits as well. I sometimes find myself getting home three hours after my class ended, because I like to create a space for discussion. Students can stay after class and talk about what’s going on. We offer classes not just for exercising the body; we offer classes that exercise the spirit. We are very open. If people aren’t finding what they need, they are welcome to call us and let us know what they are looking for.