My Secret (& Now Not So Secret) Yoga Name.

get elephant's newsletter

I started practicing yoga in the late ’90s and within a few years found myself eyeballs-deep in a popular yoga club. It was cliquish and hypocritical, but I didn’t notice at first. I was too distracted by my desire to find my inner truth, grow, change, and become a better person.

As time went on, I observed similarities in other yoga communities, which consequently shifted my opinion of the Westernized yoga industry at large. My conclusion, expressed in a mathematical formula, looked something like this: celebrity-esque yoga leader + starry-eyed, blind followers clad in Be Present pants = frightening yoga cult most interested in posing to be something it’s not. I wanted out.

I found my out, unexpectedly, through another type of yoga: Kundalini. And ironically, of all the yogas, Kundalini is the one that an innocent bystander would most likely mistake for a cult. According to Wikipedia (the source of all that is good and true), a cult is “a group whose beliefs or practices are considered strange.” Um, check. There’s nothing about Kundalini yoga that isn’t strange.

In the Kundalini tradition, devotees take on a spiritual name.

I didn’t decide to take that step until I was entrenched in my teacher training program. I figured I’d already acquiesced to wearing a turban on my head and white pants on my ass—so what more could they ask of me?

But, everyone in my class began getting their names and I started to feel a little left out. So, I requested mine. It’s Sat Karam Kaur, which means “the Princess/Lioness of God with the destiny to act in harmony with the truth.” I’m still not sure what princesses and lions have to do with anything, considering I don’t live in Narnia. But, I am interested in the truth.

At this point in my life, I’ve found that I’m comfortable with having a spiritual name in theory, but not so much in practice. When it comes down to it, I just honestly feel a little silly referring to myself as Sat Karam. To Vanessa’s point, maybe if I liked the sound of it a little more and liked my given name a little less, I’d be more apt to throw it around from time to time. Hell, I might even sign an email with it. But for now, I only occasionally reference it during an introduction to a senior teacher or at a White Tantra workshop event. Regardless of my hesitancy, the message behind it really means something to me. It says that when I’m connected to my soul, my actions vibrate truth. And that’s what it’s about for me now – consistently striving for my actions to be a loving expression of my truth. And that speaks to me. So I’m rolling with it for now.


About Leslie Munday (Recovering Yogi)

Leslie Munday has been on the yoga scene (albeit the far, far reaching corners) since the late ’90s.  She’s experienced her share of foibles, inconsistencies, and hilarity in the industry as a student, teacher, and studio owner, which inform her contributions as one of the founders of  You may also find her on her personal blog, Flirting With Grey Gardens.


9 Responses to “My Secret (& Now Not So Secret) Yoga Name.”

  1. athayoganusasanam says:

    love it.

  2. dharma_singh says:

    It's fun to read someone else's experience with this tradition. I began Kundalini Yoga almost 25 years ago, before other styles were very popular. I was young and always questioned the white garb, early mornings, spiritual names and so on. When Yoga emerged in the mid-90's with all the different varieties I explored everything I could. I took 2 other teacher training programs – in addition to Kundalini and enjoyed the differing perspectives. Somehow though, these other styles, although very popular tend to lack something that I can not quite put my finger on. So I keep returning to the practice that I questioned so much when I was a bit younger. Now I appreciate all parts of this cult/tradition in a whole new way.

  3. Kundalini is the cat's pajamas! Thanks for your comment.

  4. Megan Shaw says:

    Mine is Guru Mittar Kaur – given to me by Yogi B himself back in 2000, the same day I received word I had passed the CA state bar. I remember Gurmukh called me that day to congratulate me. It means "one who leads others from darkness to light through friendship". 🙂

  5. I love Kundalini yoga too although at first I was concerned that it seemed a bit cultish. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Loved this! I remember my first Kundalini class years and years ago – I had NO idea what it was about. I showed up in black Adidas track pants and a black tank – OMG. Afterwards the teacher told me in such a loving way that I should consider wearing 'white' next time. I never made it to the part where you get a spiritual name though! Love it!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  7. Leslie says:

    Thanks Tanya!

  8. Leslie says:

    What an awesome name and mission. Thanks for your comment.

  9. News And Fun says:

    You are actually a good webmaster. The web site loading velocity is amazing. It sort of feels that you’re doing any unique trick. Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve performed a great job in this matter!