The Story of a Sacred Gift
In Tibet, under the blessings of Prayer Flags at a high mountain pass.
Today is a very special day.
For two years a precious gift has sat coiled on a desk in our KOOSHOO home office. It's a most sacred gift. So precious in fact that we’ve waited two years, unsure how to display it in a fashion that would do it justice. Until today, that is.
Here’s the story...
Four years ago Rachel and I wandered into the town of Rishikesh in Northern India while on our year long journey through Asia. Perched on the edge of the Himalayas where the sacred Ganges River spills from the mountains onto the great plains of India, Rishikesh is recognized widely as the home of yoga and one of the most holy towns on earth.
We spent a week meandering through the old streets, attending yoga classes and taking in the special living energy that exudes from a holy town in India. On the eve before our planned departure – onwards to McLeod Ganj, the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama – we wandered into a beautiful ashram.
As we took in the grounds and the occasional parade of residents shuffling from one building to the next, we came across a large banner strung between two buildings, the contents of which forever changed our lives. The banner read “Sat Nam, Welcome” and featured a radiant image of Gurmukh – one of the world’s great kundalini teachers.
A little context...
A few years previous Rachel had attended a workshop with Gurmukh at Semperviva Yoga in Vancouver. The workshop had been the most powerful yogic experience of Rachel’s life and though she didn’t know what form it would take then, it was clear from that moment that Gurmukh was destined to play a powerful role in her life.
Back to India...
Seeing the beautiful image of Gurmukh, hovering on the banner overhead seemed like a message placed just for us, a sure sign from above – both literally and metaphorically. Digging a little deeper, we learnt that Gurmukh was in Rishikesh leading a Level 1 Kundalini training and that she would be leading a public class a week later on the shore of the Ganges. The message was clear – we postponed our departure tickets and busied ourselves for another week, waiting for Gurmukh’s public class at the end of the week.
Post yoga bliss with Gurmukh after that life-changing class on the Ganges
I will never forget that yoga class. It was held outside on a grassy bank overlooking the Ganges. The class was a euphoric blend of movement and chanting that left everyone in attendance in a state of sweaty bliss. Throughout the class a very deliberate message was woven: the greatest thing you can do in the world is become a teacher. I knew before the class had ended that Rachel had made up her mind – she would become a kundalini yoga teacher and study under Gurmukh.
The next year Rachel enrolled in her Level 1 Yoga Teacher training at Golden Bridge Yoga in Los Angeles, Gurmukh’s studio. The course was 1 weekend per month over 8 months and Rach would fly to LA for each of those weekends. It was over those 8 months that the idea formed to create a company - KOOSHOO, as it turned out - making organic yoga headbands and accessories.
Rachel with Gurmukh, graduating from her teacher training
On one of Rachel’s final weekends to Los Angeles a big event was happening at Golden Bridge: they were closing their much-loved older studio in favor of a custom-built space a few miles away. On the final day of that weekend the teacher training students participated in a musical-chairs-inspired meditation that was more like musical yoga cushions.
When the idea of a prize for the winner came up, Gurmukh looked around, spotted the Tibetan Prayer Flags that had hung proudly behind the main stage of the studio – absorbing the incredible energies of the thousands that had experienced openings and awakenings in their presence – and declared the winner would receive them as a gift.
Photo of the old Golden Bridge, Prayer Flags soaking up the goodness.
From what I know of the story, the final two standing in the game were Rachel and another student. As they moved around the circle to the live mantra music being played, they knew that the first to the meditation cushion when the mantra ended would receive the prize. Eventually, the music seized and like a baseball player stealing home base in the World Series, Rachel at full speed slid head first into the cushion, claiming what has now become our most sacred possession.
Today, roughly two years from that fateful slide and almost four years since the class on the Ganges with Gurmukh , we put the Tibetan prayer flags up in our KOOSHOO home office.
Prayer flags are covered in mantras and symbolic images and typically include five colors, each of which representing an element. They have traditionally been used in Tibet to promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom. Most often they are set in the wind where the breeze carries the blessings of good fortune and compassion from the mantras to beings throughout the world. Over time, exposure to the elements fades the mantras and images. When that happens it is believed that the blessings have gone on to become permanent parts of the universe.
It was in recently reading further about Tibetan Prayer Flags that we finally knew they had to be put up in our offices.
Our goal from day one with KOOSHOO has been to uplift people by helping them feel good. In other words, much like a Tibetan prayer flag, our business is really a front for spreading good fortune and compassion. With that in mind, it only made sense that the prayer flags be mounted in our KOOSHOO home office – until such time they can be in a more public space (our own studio perhaps) – gently fluttering in the breeze, helping to carry our goals further and farther.
A final aside...
In a beautiful example of coming full circle, KOOSHOO today is available and doing really well at both Semperviva in Vancouver – the studio where Rachel first met Gurmukh – and Golden Bridge Yoga in Los Angeles.
KOOSHOO on display at Gurmukh's Golden Bridge Yoga in Los Angeles
With our products in both those studios, and a host of other inspiring studios and boutiques throughout North America, I look at these Prayer Flags in our office today and can’t help but think that the reason they are here is because we made a decision four years ago to listen to our intuition and wait in Rishikesh for that class with Gurmukh. As we move forward with KOOSHOO, I can see now that the Prayer Flags will not only serve to carry blessings forward but also keep us ever conscious of the power of our intuition.
For the kundalini yogi's out there, here's a blog post we wrote about finding the perfect Shades of White for your head covering.