Originally from Lancashire in northern England, Dawn Harlow now spends her time between London, Rome, Umbria, Tuscany, Los Angeles and the Maldives sharing Kundalini Yoga — a practice that powerfully transformed her own life — around the globe.
Dubbed the ‘Queen of Kundalini’, Dawn Harlow is passionate about sharing and teaching her beloved Kundalini Yoga, a practice she has enjoyed and taught for 18 years. “I would like everyone to know the benefits of Kundalini Yoga and how it can help them,” she tells OM. That includes teachers and students from all other yoga disciplines as well. “It’s so powerful to practice as a personal student and also to learn to teach it. If you’re a teacher of other yoga modalities, it’s a wonderful science to incorporate into your work.”
To spread the word, especially in the wake of covid-19 shutdowns, she established a new Kundalini Yoga online academy to run in conjunction with her regular courses, classes, workshops and retreats, running in locations that include London, Rome, Ibiza, the Maldives and Los Angeles.
The New Dawn Kundalini Yoga Academy is now up and running and with a busy schedule of events lined up for 2024 and beyond. That includes a debut book and an album of mantras; the key elements of sharing a practice that’s very close to her heart. It is part of a strategy to help people emerge from what she calls the “collective trauma” of the pandemic and profound global change.
“Not only did the world change, but people changed, their emotions changed, and also how we think and behave, there’s a lot of collective trauma. And as a yoga therapist, what I’ve seen is how the practice of Kundalini Yoga and yoga therapy are really helping people through this transition into the new world. And I want them to understand that by learning and experiencing these techniques they can not only change themselves but as teachers they can serve humanity in a powerful way in assisting people transition to a world beyond what we have known before.”
OM spoke to Dawn Harlow to find out more about the academy and what makes her tick:
How did you first get into yoga?
My first yoga class was Kundalini Yoga. I was in a challenging relationship living in London, and on the outside had everything — but inside I literally had nothing. I had lost my power, my voice, my identity and destiny in this relationship. I really lost myself, I was at the point of feeling suicidal which was just not my natural state — my nickname is ‘sunshine’ and I always lead with love and light everywhere. It got to a point where I didn’t recognise myself anymore, yet in the realm of success I had everything.
So I flew to the Maldives, and sat perched by the water in the early hours of the morning, and experienced pure stillness watching the sun rise. I started to cry because it was so authentic, it was so full of light, it was so beautiful and natural; it reminded me of the woman I once was — but I was no longer her. I was in tears grieving who I once was. So I just put a powerful prayer out there that I wanted to be that sunshine again, to be that Dawn that was the bringer of light and love. I said please send me a practice for me to regain my power, identity, joy and inspiration for life.
That morning, I opened the spa book and the first thing I saw was Kundalini Yoga and it stated: ‘The yoga for empowerment of women – unlock your creative potential, fulfil your full destiny’. I had goosebumps and tears and took it as a sign. My life was never the same again.
What happened during that first class?
It was my first time doing these practices. I thought it was a bit strange! I was on all fours with my tongue hanging out, performing breath of fire, I kept laughing and felt silly. I didn’t really understand it. I thought: what am I doing? But it also felt so amazing! And then I just had this feeling that I had come home; I started to feel me again, my senses awakened, it felt like me again. At the end, I started to cry. The teacher there told me I’d come home to myself, that I was releasing the past and that I was ready for Kundalini Yoga because she said ‘when the student is ready the teacher shows up’. That moment, my life changed forever.
I walked across the sand but I felt and looked different; I felt stronger, more radiant, happier, more peaceful. I said to myself: I am going to share these teachings with the world. I didn’t know how, of course — it was only my first class and I had lost so much confidence. But I knew I had found something beautiful in life and wanted everyone to experience this magic too. This is where my journey began.
Can you tell us more about your teaching style?
I’m a heart-centred real non-hierarchical empowering teacher who deeply cares and wants to train teachers of the highest accolade yet they are grounded in their own uniqueness, embodying the perfect exquisite science of yoga, but leading in their own pioneering, unique heart-centred way of helping people. Sometimes the world of yoga can be very ego-based and competitive and, in a sense, we’ve lost the true meaning of yoga, which is union with yourself, with all parts of yourself - your shadow and your light, your pain, suffering, sadness and grief. It’s about healing that, so that you are able to accept and surrender into that beautiful imperfectly perfect human that you are and actually enjoy life and contribute to making this world a better place so that people do not suffer, that they embrace life with vigour, vitality and victory
What would you say to encourage people to try Kundalini Yoga?
Firstly, have the courage to try something new and understand that when you're afraid, feeling imperfect, not the right size, not flexible, not fit enough, whatever it is, everyone in the room that day is also fighting with something. Either a divorce, depression, body or confidence issues. When you are afraid of something, in my experience that is always a guide that you should be doing it! People are more afraid of their healed, fulfilled, amazing self, than they are of their small self.
Understand with Kundalini Yoga, we don’t stand on our heads, you don’t have to bend like a pretzel, the practice invites you to be your imperfect perfect beautiful self. Please remove the outdated notion that it is a religion and that it is dangerous. It is a beautiful science of technology for a human to experience self-healing, self-knowledge, self-exploration and self-acceptance. This practice allows you to re-create your own story your way. You start at the beginning, and if you keep showing up, your thoughts will shift to a more positive neutral mindset; these initial perceived ‘issues’ will dissipate and you’ll experience a sense of emotional freedom.
So I say do it scared, show up imperfectly, come as you are, come depressed, come angry, come worried and we'll use that energy and we'll shift it and at the end you won’t feel like that. The key thing is that you have to ‘keep up to be kept up’, so showing up consistently, and having courage, because what matters in life, truly, if you ask me about fulfilment in life, is the courage that you can bring to it.
Can you tell us about the new academy?
My school is an all-women academy, although we are starting to integrate men as well. The New Dawn Kundalini Yoga Academy is a play on words obviously, but what I mean is that we are bringing new light to the practice of Kundalini Yoga for the modern-day teachers in this current state of modern day suffering. I call it the ‘Future school of the modern-day Kundalini teacher’, which is leading teachers of exceptional capability, to unwavering love and integrity and to really be of service to humanity and leaving a legacy and leave this world a better place. My further tagline is: ‘What if the master is a woman?’
What can students expect from your trainings?
Although we are now including men on some of our courses, we started with building a women-only training. I did this because I have a passion for empowering women to give them an opportunity for a new vocation, a new opportunity for them to grow, to become strong and enjoy a spiritual journey in the process. I want them to use their unique talents and gifts to serve humanity. But it’s also very much linked to the empowerment of women in building their own financial independence and building a conscious business. I have a real passion for that. And then that helps them to help their sons and their husbands, so as the woman rises when the woman is empowered, she is ultimately that true, subtle leader within the family. It elevates the rest of the family. Within the academy an extensive, detailed syllabus is to be studied with a focus on yoga therapy and one that is relatable to the modern-day suffering that humanity is currently facing.
What can you tell us about your new book?
My first book, Permission To Shine, will be released this year. It is a book based on my own personal journey and the lessons and the magic I experienced along the way. It is a book that is ultimately my hand holding another person’s hand and saying that ‘you can do this, life can be different’. It’s a book about an inspiring journey with a lot of pain along the way. The purpose was to inspire anyone that you can come through anything particularly what I ultimately experienced on my own Kundalini journey. This is basically about not asking for anyone else’s permission, not from a guru, not from me, but through self-initiation and honouring your unique talents and gifts through the Kundalini Yoga journey, serving humanity and leaving a legacy. Oh, and also my mantra album will be released this year as well.
What do you do when not doing yoga?
I spend quality time with friends and family. I travel, I swim, I run, I hike, and I have a passion for the hamman and spas! I also like cold water swimming, and I create — I write a lot, I sing my mantras, I love to create new exciting events for my people.
Any favourite quote or motto?
Always remember: never give up, because you are always three feet from gold! Keep going, keep up and you shall be kept up. Act, do not react. If you're upset, go neutral, stand back from the situation, sleep on it, respond the following day.
Any yoga life hacks for people?
If you’re in an office or at a desk, take time to breathe. Long, deep breathing, nose breathing, in a quiet space, or outside in nature for 11 minutes is a phenomenal reset for the nervous system, it’s very simple, it will calm you and will stimulate energy and focus. Also, if you’re working from home, playing mantras is just as effective as chanting them, because the repetition of the sound, interrupts and pauses the monkey mind, addictive thoughts, rumination or intrusive thoughts. And in that pause the neutral mind is accessed, that means more energy, more harmony, more peace and more productivity. If you are in a private place, then reciting the mantra too is very powerful too. But if you can’t do anything else, do your breathing! Reciting mantras whilst walking is also an extremely powerful tool.
Finish the sentence: I am happiest when…?
I am happiest when I am sat with a beautiful soul, teaching, uplifting, inspiring and being the vessel to elicit transformation in lives. I'm happiest when I’m serving people and seeing their lives changed, that’s when I’m happiest beyond anything. I love to serve, I love to teach. Beyond that nature and my loved ones are my greatest assets.
If you would like to work with Dawn Harlow personally, or join any of the amazing retreats, seminars, and the Academy in 2024, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org For further information on these and other events please visit: dawnharlow.com