A Kundalini Yoga Teacher shares her wisdom about the combined powers of summer solstice, nature and meditation
From Hljómskálagarðurinn park, she takes me on a meditational walk around the pond. Our steps are perfectly in tandem and I feel separated from the rest of the world, jogging happily past us in the sun. She chooses a mantra about the circle of life and shows me how to synchronise my steps and my breath whilst making my fingertips touch each other and chanting the mantra within. She tells me to focus on my breath, because a calm breath means a calm mind. It might just be my imagination, but I detect a vague electric sensation travelling through my body to my fingertips.
After having thus centred ourselves we sit down on a bench in the park, feeling quite Zen and calm, and Gyða tells me about the upcoming yoga festival, which will involve longer meditational walks in nature.
So Gyða, tell me a bit about yourself.
My full name is Ingveldur Gyða Kristinsdóttir, but when you become a Kundalini Yoga teacher you also receive a spiritual name that’s calculated from your exact time and place of birth. I was given the name Karandeep Kaur. ‘Karan’ means the one who practices, ‘deep’ means light, and ‘Kaur’ is an extension given to all females.
You’re one of the organisers of the Sumarsólstöður Yoga Festival. How would you describe the festival?
Well, the festival is held annually around the summer solstice. This year it will take place in Varmaland in Borgarfjörður. The accommodation, which includes a big swimming pool, is set by a flora-covered rock that is believed to be an elf’s church. The surroundings are beautiful and we focus on providing healthy food that is both organic and vegetarian.
It has to do with Yama and Niyama, the two moral backbones of yoga. One of the ethical precepts of Yama and Niyama is that you shall not kill—including animals. This isn’t limited to just Kundalini Yoga—all types of yoga share this attitude towards eating meat.
Do you feel any difference in your ability to meditate and practise yoga on this specific diet?
Yes. During the festival I always feel extremely good. I think that getting rid of sugar also helps a lot. The sugar craving disappears and you even start to notice a difference in the odours your body emanates.
The festival is always held during the summer solstice. Is there something special about this timing?
Well, yoga is all about connecting with nature and during this time of the year the energy in nature is extremely powerful.
How does being surrounded by beautiful nature factor into the programme?
On Friday we will go for a trip to the waterfall Glanni and afterwards we’ll have relaxation and meditation in Paradise Hollow with a gong. If people haven’t had enough of the outdoor activities by then, they can climb the mountain Grábrók or just do whatever they want. On Saturday, the day of the solstice, there’s a trip to Reykholt. The solstice will take place at 10:51, then we’ll be practicing yoga and praising the sun. Afterwards we’ll move on to see the Hraunfoss and Barnafoss waterfalls.
What are the benefits of attending the festival?
First and foremost, it’s wellbeing—eating healthy food and spending time in nature. Yoga strengthens you both physically and spiritually and alcohol is strictly prohibited. When you decide to become a Kundalini yoga teacher, no one tells you to stop drinking—it just happens. You lose interest in alcohol.
Why do you think people seek this kind of get-away in modern, Western society?
I think it’s the speed—the speed in our society, the strain and the stress. Also, now we’re in the Age of Aquarius, which started in 2011. It was predicted thousands of years ago that the Age of Aquarius would bring increased interest in spiritual matters—the prediction is coming true.
Where can I sign up?
Check out our website sumarsolstodur.is. You can also register or send enquiries to email@example.com.