Yoga West LA
Meet Teacher Dhanpal Donna Quesada

Dhanpal Donna Quesada
How did you find Kundalini Yoga (or how did it find you!)?

I took my first Kundalini Yoga class at the original Golden Bridge on 3rd St. in the 90s. When I moved, with my husband and son, to the West Side, I serendipitously found Guru Singh’s picture in Yogi Times magazine, next to a description of his class. Something about that picture, or perhaps the class description, called to me. I knew at that very moment, I had to go to Yoga West and take his class. But, on the day I went, there was a substitute. So, I went back the very next week and that was the beginning of a more profound relationship with Kundalini Yoga.

What is your favorite Yogi Bhajan Teaching?

The idea of the teacher as a forklift. He says, “The forklift fits my definition of what I understand is a teacher. The guy goes to ground-level with his prongs, picks up the thing, puts it on the line, gets hold of it, burns his own gas, keeps his things moving, oils his pulleys, levers, and chains, and gets the job done.” This completely changed the way I approach teaching, both as a Yoga teacher and as a college professor. What it means to me, is that I’m not there to take anything personally, to worry about being perfect, or even to solely deliver information—which is the common way of thinking about teaching in the West. Rather, I’m there to elevate those souls who have found their way to me. What a precious gift!

What do you love about teaching at Yoga West?

Since it so happens that part of this answer comes through in the previous response, I’ll focus on my huge love for Yoga West, here! When people walk through these doors, they often say they can feel something special as soon as they enter. They’re not sure what it is, but they get a “good vibe.” They wonder if it’s the smell of Yogi tea wafting through the air, or the beautiful mantra music playing in the background, or perhaps the decor and twinkly lights. I think it is all of those things and more. You know you are in the company of like-minded, peaceful people, as soon as you walk in - and the practice, itself feels kind - there’s never a competitive air here; only supportive, loving, fellow practitioners. And on a more subtle level, this is the only studio Yogi Bhajan, himself, called home. Somehow, this permeates the atmosphere and lends a deep sacredness to this precious space. And we all come to call it home.

What else do you do in your life that we might not know about?

Although many people may know about my book, Buddha in the Classroom, they may be surprised to know that my first published writings were on music. I have always been a huge rock and roll fan and music lover. So, one day I sent a write-up to a local paper on a new CD, by my favorite band at the time, Stone Temple Pilots, and got hired to contribute a regular column. They also sent me to review live shows, from time to time. At some point along the way, I got to interview the guys from Guns and Roses, and I even appeared in a couple of music videos!

Any upcoming yoga projects?

I love leading guided meditations. Before I found my way to Kundalini Yoga, I spent many years in the Zen monastery, so I’ve become familiar with the many styles of meditation and how valuable a regular practice is for peace of mind. It is very fulfilling to facilitate this practice because - as even seasoned practitioners know, it’s not easy. In fact, I’d say that sitting still...truly sitting still, for just five minutes, is as challenging as climbing a mountain! I so enjoyed making my first CD of various meditations, that I hope to follow that up with a second CD this summer.