In February, just before my birthday, I set up an interview with Vicki’s sister, Kitty Karn. Kitty held the same magnetism as Vicki—a beautiful family trait, it seemed. But while Vicki’s robust, overt love of the simple joys in life like good friends, good conversation and good books seemed to cause her to glow, Kitty’s joyful nature seemed to be gleaned from her love of music, yoga and animals.
Kitty Karn, MA is an Associate Professor of Musical Theatre and Voice at a state university. She also practices Kundalini yoga (which again I must admit, I had never heard mentioned before my journey).
I sat down to interview Kitty, computer-to-computer, on a Friday. My three-year-old son was playing on the tablet in the other room—an educational app he didn’t realize was part of the reason he could already sight-read a couple words. He was a factor in setting up the interview with a music professor.
At age three, he had already reminded me so much about how music shaped me. Whenever he heard a particularly moving song, he started to cry. Perhaps strange, but I could relate. I went through most of my life with tears prickling my eyes or hairs standing on end when I was surrounded by full, passionate music.
During my school life, I played three instruments, participated in several school bands, two choirs and lettered in high school music. I didn’t know my strong link to music was something that could be passed down to my children. Yet at three, my son has all the passion and pitch and fervor. Music moves him. Whether spiritual, emotional or some chemical imbalance of the brain thanks to my genes, I wasn’t sure. But because of the link we have to music and a spiritual feeling, Kitty was a perfect candidate for my next conversation.
Kitty was seated in her university office when we connected. After greeting one another and getting our cameras adjusted, I gave her the overview of the book. She adjusted her trendy glasses, causing me to smile at her jazzy scarf and dangling pearl earrings. She sparkled inside and out.
“So I’m just going to jump right in,” I stated. “Can you explain to me what Kundalini yoga is and what led you to it?”
Her smile beamed. “Well, I’m a child of the sixties,” she explained with a familiar laugh. “I grew up in small-town Minnesota in a Catholic family, as you know. And by the eighties, I was a voice student in Texas. By the nineties, I had started practicing yoga, where they specifically ‘warned’ us never to practice Kundalini,” she said, complete with air quotes and a touch of sarcasm.
I accidentally made a face. It sounded ominous.
Kitty continued, “Later, I was told Kundalini was the very thing that could change my energies and improve my voice through chakras. I began practicing and I could not believe my transformation!” She shook her head in continued disbelief. “I was hooked! As it turned out, there was a class that was mere blocks from my house. I began going four times a week. There was a misconception at that time that it was connected with drugs and people ‘flipping out,’” she said, again using air quotes. “But in reality, the guy who brought Kundalini into the states was trying to get people off of drugs by using a natural high instead. But if a person practiced it while they were high, it would take them higher and higher and become dangerous because it would work too fast on the nervous system. But that’s not a concern for me. So, for me and many others, it’s just the boost that is needed.”
I was nodding. “So out of curiosity, which do you find more spiritual—Kundalini yoga or music?”
Kitty leaned back and looked up for a moment. “That is a tough question… I guess I would say that they are inextricably linked.” She intertwined her fingers in front of her laptop camera. “I’m basing this on the science of mantra and chanting. Chanting opens channels to the most authentic you. The most you you can be… really show your soul as beautifully and authentically as possible. So I really couldn’t separate them. Together, they are an art form.”
“What a wonderful explanation,” I opined. “So as a form of art, do you think anyone could do this art form? Benefit from it?”
“Yes,” she answered easily. “Anyone could do this. Singing on its own is very healing and it can link us to community and fight depression. It’s an outlet to uplift us.”
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