One of the most striking things about Yogi Bhajan’s perspective on women is the place of respect and reverence he says is woman’s God-given right, and his insistence upon the nobility and invincibility of woman when she claims her rightful power and majesty as Shakti, the feminine aspect of God, the power through which creation was created.
Sometimes newcomers to camp wonder how a man can know so much about women. For one thing, as a child, Yogi Bhajan had the unique experience of attending an all-girls Catholic school, as it was the only school available in the area of India where he grew up. Also, he never forgot the values his mother – a very powerful, righteous woman – taught him.
But Yogi Bhajan’s understanding of women goes far beyond any male perspective. He never forgot that we are primarily souls, paying our karma and learning our lessons in the two different forms of women and men.
The Purpose of Women’s Camp
“I designed this camp to give women a standard of security, grace, and purity of thought… It is not a yoga camp. It is not a meditation camp. It is a woman-in-training camp. It is totally to train the whole sum of the woman, not just one part of her…This camp is not designed to create yogis. Our purpose is that you should [learn to] confront the world as a saint, but live as a soldier in your readiness.”
-Yogi Bhajan, August 21, 1978
Excerpts from a lecture by Yogi Bhajan, June 27, 1976
Come join us at Women’s Camp to realize and remember your true value as a woman…At Women’s Camp, we are asking you to look at yourself, patch up what is torn apart, leave what is excessive, and fill in the gaps. You can do it. The idea is that all of you who believe in one reality, one thought, who have one goal to achieve and a common spirit to live righteously, should get together and help each other create a new energy. The energy should build up character one by one, micro-consciousness and macro-consciousness. That is what our future is based upon.
Women’s Camp is totally for your positive development. There is no silence. You can talk to everyone, befriend everyone. Here we want to build a family of equals who are honest, disciplined, virtuous, can give up negativity and share their positive qualities. The first fundamental criteria for this camp is to offer an open and honest invitation for you to become what you want to become, to have the chance to overcome your difficulties, and improve your capability to handle time and space.
A spiritual person learns and disciplines herself to use the positive mind, and the unspiritual person lives by the negative mind. Both powers are there, don’t misunderstand. Women’s Camp is to build in you the positive character of a woman, so that you do not act for profit and loss, because grace cannot be purchased or sold. Any human being who has a price is a commodity.
The purpose of Women’s Camp is to learn to ride on your thoughts. Do not let your thoughts ride on you. Thoughts ride on you to become desire, but when you ride on your thoughts, then it is your choice. That is the difference between a free man and a slave. So this is a direct opportunity to direct yourself. Let your weaknesses fall flat before you. Experience it; it will work.
The purpose of Women’s Camp is to create one intelligent, honest, creative woman who can discipline herself through every thick and thin of life; who can kill her own negativity and thus give birth to a positive child. Everything I do is based on this one thing only. Your future generations, your children are the by-product of your mind and only your mind. They learn by watching you.
Many of you are unfulfilled. You are unfulfilled as children and you experience that gap in adulthood. A fool picks up the goodness of the past and the devil picks up the evilness of past days; both are picking up negativity. An angel picks up goodness of today and lives with it.
Understand that it takes much less force to go down from the top of the mountain; it takes a lot of courage and power to make it to the top of the mountain. Those who make it to the top of the mountain are those who put everything into it and are very together.
We want each person to learn every facet of life; not total mastery but some knowledge so that you are confident and wise in the face of time and action.
© The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan
International Women’s Camp History
Recognizing the need to educate women about women, Yogi Bhajan created a special summer intensive training program for women. The first Khalsa Women’s Training Camp (KWTC), the precursor and foundation to today’s IWC, was held in 1976 in Española, NM. Men’s courses were much shorter. Yogi Bhajan explained that women are far more complex (and powerful!) than men, so in the long run, men would benefit more if there was a greater focus on teaching women how to be radiant, strong, and effective.
Camp ran for eight weeks and included everything from martial arts and marching, to music and meditation. Yogi Bhajan personally lectured and led Kundalini Yoga classes every day. He was determined to elevate and transform woman from “chick” to eagle, emphasizing the nobility, strength, and grace of women.
Yogi Bhajan taught special meditations for women and shared ancient secrets on health and diet for women. He lectured on virtually every aspect of a woman’s life including love, romance (versus reality), marriage, and child raising, always building our self-esteem and reminding us of the divine nature of women.