Kundalini: Transformation and Elevating Consciousness
Kevin Sapp brings a new awareness to the DFW Metroplex
Dallas Yoga Magazine is thrilled to have Kevin Sapp as part of the magazine this month. His story and the way he truly lives a yogi’s life in all part of his life is inspiring. Kevin is a person who just doesn’t talk the talk, but he walks the walk leading the way for others to follow a brighter, healthier life for themselves. Kevin’s yoga passion is Kundalini and is bringing more classes and Kundalini practices to the metroplex for everyone to experience. If you have not tried a Kundalini Yoga class, it has a unique uplifting spiritual side that will guide you to finding out more about yourself. Let’s hear more about Kevin and his teachings.
DYM: Are you originally from Dallas? If not, where are you from?
Kevin: I am from Fort Worth, Texas.
DYM: How do people react or what do they say when you tell them you are a yoga teacher?
Kevin: It’s a mixed reaction. Most assume I practice hatha or hot yoga. When I explain that I practice Kundalini Yoga, they are typically intrigued and want to learn more.
DYM: Do you have another career?
Kevin: In addition to teaching yoga, I am the co-owner and manager of Raja Yoga in Fort Worth. Raja Yoga is a yoga studio and teacher training center. We are in the process of developing a physician led yoga therapy school. I am also working with Dr. Stacey Harris and Dr. Kari Rollins at the Wellness Center in Fort Worth to integrate yoga into patient treatment protocols. The Wellness Center will be opening more locations soon and the plan is to have yoga therapist working at all locations. I consider teaching and running the business separate things. As a teacher I serve the students and as a business owner I serve the business.
DYM: Congratulations! That is so wonderful. We are fans of both of the doctors and know everything you do will be a success. What prompted you to attend your first yoga class? What were your thoughts about it at the time?
Kevin: I was experiencing a lot of stress, anxiety and depression working in a high stress corporate job. A friend of mine suggested that yoga might help so I gave it a try. My first class was a hatha yoga flow class. I enjoyed the class, but it didn’t resonate with me the same way Kundalini Yoga did. When I attended my first Kundalini Yoga class it was a little strange at first but intriguing. The emphasis was on transformation and elevating consciousness. They used sound, breath work, exercise and meditation to produce changes in the mind and body.
DYM: Do you have a preferred style of yoga you practice?
Kevin: I incorporate many styles of yoga into my personal practice, but Kundalini Yoga is my preferred style and much of my practice.
DYM: What led you to become a yoga instructor?
Kevin: Through my own practice I experienced profound changes in mind and body. I immersed myself in study and practice. The more I learned and experienced, the more passionate I became about demystifying the practices and teaching in ways that were practical and easy to understand.
DYM: Tell us about the certifications and training you have.
Kevin: I hold an E-RYT 200 from Yoga Alliance. My first training was in Street Yoga. Street Yoga builds capacity in youth through yoga and mindfulness to overcome suffering and cope with trauma. My second training was from Trinity Yoga led by Dr. Kari Rollins (Wellness Center), Shanti Webb Nolan (Keller Yoga) and Brynn Byrne (Elemental Yoga). I was trained and initiated in Kriya Yoga by Sri Mukerjee of the Swami Pranabananda lineage and Author of “The Original Kriya Yoga”. This fall I will complete my Kundalini Research Institute 220-hour training. In this training I have been blessed to learn from some of Yogi Bhajan’s original students (Yogi Bhajan was the one who systematized Kundalini Yoga and brought it to the west in 1968). Indra’s Grace brought in GuruMeher Khalsa, Gurutej Kaur and Simran Kaur Khalsa. I can’t imagine a better lineup of Kundalini Yoga teachers for this training. A big thanks to Sandra Vanatko, owner of Indra’s Grace, for making this training happen. Soon there will be over 30 new Kundalini yoga teachers in the DFW area that were trained by this team!
DYM: Do your family and friends support your yoga dedication?
Kevin: Yes, my family and friends fully support my dedication to the practice of Kundalini yoga. They have witnessed how much I have benefitted from my practiced. Many of my friends are yogis or in the healing arts in some way. Once you start practicing you tend to gravitate towards those that are on the same path.
DYM: What can someone expect when they go to your class for the first time?
Kevin: New students can expect to be greeted by a caring and compassionate community that will make them feel welcome. I have students of all ages and skill levels and a higher percentage of men than you typically see at a yoga class. Class sizes vary from 5 – 15 students. Classes typically include breath work, exercise, relaxation and meditation.
The Kriya (exercise set) will last from 30-45 min followed by a deep relaxation which usually involves the gong. There are thousands of Kundalini Yoga Kriyas. Kriyas are like recipes. They are designed to bring about a certain effect. Each class is different but follows a similar structure. Before or after relaxation we do a meditation. Kundalini Yoga meditations are much different than what people usually think of when they think of meditation. We use chanting, mudras and movement to bring about different states of consciousness. We teach a variety of meditations, so students learn lots of techniques to practice on their own.
DYM: What do you want your students to accomplish or “take away” from your class?
Kevin: I want everyone to be elevated in some way. I want them to learn from their experience that they have the power to transform themselves. I want them to receive enough benefit that they will be inspired to start a regular practice.
DYM: What advice would you give someone thinking about becoming a yoga instructor?
Kevin: Decide which style of yoga you want to teach and find a quality training program for that style. Consider your next steps after completing your first training. Some advanced training programs have pre-requisites for their program. For instance, if you want to pursue level 2 training from the Kundalini Research Institute, you must first have a level 1 from KRI. A Yoga Alliance Kundalini Yoga training doesn’t meet the requirement. If you want to be exposed to a variety of styles, find a training program that integrates multiple styles.
If your desire is to become a yoga therapist, find a program that will provide a good foundation for that path. Our physician led training at Raja Yoga is a good example. In addition to learning how to teach Kundalini and Hatha yoga, students gain a foundational understanding of the practical use of yoga in treating physical and mental illness.
DYM: What are the biggest hurdles you have had in your personal yoga practice?
Kevin: Learning to let go and trust the process of transformation. Practicing yoga wasn’t solving my problems, it was showing me their true nature and giving me tools to change myself. Embracing change and facing the worst parts of myself have been difficult but rewarding.
DYM: What was the biggest hurdle you have had as a yoga teacher?
Kevin: The biggest hurdle as a teacher has been my resistance to teach. In the beginning, I thought I needed to be further along in my own transformation before I had anything to offer others. I soon learned that it’s being on the path that’s important. Dealing with my own life challenges has made my teaching authentic.
DYM: What are some of the biggest changes you see in yourself since you started practicing?
Kevin: The biggest changes have been in self-awareness and intuition. When the mind/body complex is properly tuned it gives you more reliable information about everything. I’ve learned to think less and sense/feel more. I’ve learned that the mind is something for us to use not the other way around. The changes in my physical, mental, spiritual and sexual health have been immense. Once you experience higher states of consciousness and greater sensations in the body, your nervous system doesn’t forget. It will support you and drive you to reach your greatest potential.
DYM: Do you have other practices you add or incorporate with yoga to enhance your practice?
Kevin: I use other yogic practices like taking cold showers and eating a vegetarian diet. These practices provide health benefits that are worth developing the discipline and will power for. I am careful about what I listen to, what I read, what I view and who I spend time with. I’ve learned that we digest everything we take in not just food. I practice ahimsa (non-violence towards all living things) and spend as much time in nature and with animals as possible. I consider relationships with others to be the highest spiritual practice and bring this attitude into everything I do.
DYM: Beautifully said. If you had to use one word to describe yourself, what would it be and why?
Kevin: Passionate. I bring my whole self into everything I do. My passion drives me to gain knowledge, experience and to pursue things that have meaning.
DYM: What advice would you give someone new to yoga?
Kevin: Try different styles and different teachers until you find the right fit for you. Be open minded but a little skeptical as well. Do your own research and seek to find out for yourself what yoga is all about.
DYM: Let everyone know where you teach so everyone can find you.
Kevin: Raja Yoga is in Fort Worth and is located at 2483 Forest Park Blvd. You can find more information online at www.rajayogafortworth.com
DYM: What else would you like to share about yourself?
Kevin: I am passionate about furthering the use of yoga and mindfulness practices to help people recover from the effects of abuse and trauma. It would be great to have more yoga teachers spreading yoga to these underserved populations. We will be hosting a Street Yoga training at Raja Yoga the first weekend in August. There are 14 CEUs available. All proceeds go to the Street Yoga organization. There is a link to the registration page on our website so go and check it out.
DYM: We are so blessed to have you share your story, insights and talents with our readers. Thank you for your time and spreading Kundalini yoga in the metroplex. It’s a long-awaited aspect of yoga that Dallas and Fort Worth both need. We will see you in class soon!
Kevin Sapp’s Contact Information:
Raja Yoga is located at 2483 Forest Park Boulevard, Fort Worth, Texas 76110