We caught up with Amanda Norgaard, model turned creative entrepreneur, Kundalini yoga instructor, meditation teacher, and writer. Since being scouted on the streets of Copenhagen in 2008, Amanda’s career has skyrocketed, having shot with leading photographers for titles like Interview, Harper’s Bazaar, Pop, 10, Dansk, Dazed & Confused, Vogue Russia, and V Magazine.
More recently, Amanda moved away from her modeling endeavors and launched Illumination, an online platform that provides Kundalini Yoga and Meditation classes. Her mantra is for human beings to come together and enjoy, explore, and deepen into all things sacred and true about the human experience.
Here, Amanda shares her personal transformation and how she took to teaching Kundalini yoga and meditation. She also contributes her wisdom and business insight for entrepreneurs guided by passion.
How did you journey from modeling to professionally practicing Kundalini yoga and meditation?
I’ve always felt naturally drawn to experience a greater intimacy with life. I began yoga at the age of 13, as the philosophy of the Vedas text made sense to me. I stumbled upon ancient mysticism and astrology a few years later, followed by Kundalini yoga, but it wasn’t until 2016 that I began practicing.
Back then, Kundalini yoga was a much more secretive practice. But once I started practicing, I knew I’d found what I’d been looking for. The first 17 years of my life were filled with a lot of loss, pain, and suffering, which continued to shape my reality well into my twenties. I believe this is essentially what initiated my yearning to experience life beyond the pain. The practice of Kundalini yoga and meditation definitely brought about healing and opened me up to a greater internal reality—a remembrance of who I was.
I moved to New York at 17 to model, but in reality, I just wanted to be free to explore the world. What I really enjoyed about modeling, besides expressing myself and being in front of the camera, was how I got to connect with people from all walks of life. I loved listening to stories from forgotten times and connecting hearts by sharing my stories too. Everything about the human journey fascinates me, and through the world of fashion, I got to journey with wildly creative, genius, and beautiful people.
Since childhood, I have always had a tender curiosity and openness toward the world, which has enriched my life. So in a way, I don’t see much difference in what I do as a model to what I do within Illumination. I listen, I share, I give, and I receive. I love mixing and merging worlds, which is why you’ll never find anything “like-minded” or dogmatic within Illumination. Illumination is my vision of a creative structure to experience and expand all this sacredness of life beyond duality.
What exactly is Kundalini yoga, and how does it differ from other types of yoga practices?
Kundalini yoga is a dynamic and powerful form of yoga that expands and deepens your consciousness, creativity, and chi (life force). In Kundalini yoga, you work with the four pillars: mantra, meditation, pranayama, and asana. Having done a variety of yoga practices, Kundalini yoga, to me, is a powerful self-therapy and healing medicine. Carl Jung was a student of Kundalini yoga and did a lot of research on it.
Every practice is different; one day, it may be incredibly etheric; another, you may experience a deep emotional release, while some days, it’s as if a mental fog has lifted and your energy levels are recharged. Through the combination of the four pillars, you create a powerful, adaptogenic self-healing medicine by working with your nervous system, where trauma is stored and released. Your subconscious mind and programming can be rewritten, as well as your physical and energetic bodies. In totality, this brings a profound expanded awareness for healing and energy within your body/mind system. My experience is that you become more vital, more creative, more grounded, more intelligent, freer, more connected, and in tune with your internal landscape and nature around you.
Who would benefit from this type of yoga?
Everyone can benefit from Kundalini yoga, whether you’re looking for a deeper spiritual and intimate connection with self or looking to rewire your subconscious reprogramming for a more exalted and aligned human experience. Of course, there are no quick fixes or hacks, but it is one of the most powerful healing modalities I’ve worked with alongside psychedelic journeys and therapy. The thing with Kundalini yoga is that you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
What have you overcome with these practices? How have they shaped you?
My first year of practicing Kundalini Yoga really initiated me into the space I find myself in now. What was most tangible was the immense amount of courage and creative energy that was awakened within me. I, like many, throughout my teens and twenties, was paralyzed by perfectionism and imposter syndrome. I always knew I wanted to write and share my creativity with the world, but the fear of not being good enough left me frozen. I chose attachment over authenticity over and over again.
Kundalini yoga and Meditation work on multiple layers of your being. One is rewiring and expanding your subconscious mind. Ninety-five percent of our life is perceived through the subconscious mind, which is also the place where our initial programming from our family, environment, and childhood is installed. So a lot of us are living through inherited filters and fears that most likely don’t align with who we truly are. When I began clearing these narratives, fears, and limiting beliefs, I began remembering who I was. When I started seeing through the illusions of my fears is when things started shifting. I started dancing with life in ways I never thought I’d ever be able to. Now I find myself in an internal space of tremendous love for self, anchored in trust in my sufficiency and the divine intelligence around me and within me. Life will be life; it’s beautiful, sacred, and full of wonder, but also full of pain, fear, and uncertainty. But how you respond to life is how it responds to you.
Tell us more about Illumination. What exactly does this virtual house offer and where did you get your inspiration to start this beautiful business endeavor?
I wanted to create a creative structure that allowed for sacredness, creativity, and connection to be experienced and expanded. Through educational and creative offerings such as virtual awakening programs, daily practices, love letters to my community, and bespoke retreats, I create a space where greater healing, awakening, and connection to the intimacy of self and life can arise. I believe we all hold a great capacity to heal and creatively impact this world.
With Illumination, we work with Kundalini yoga, but also with a variety of creative modalities because that’s how I personally boogie with life. I’m all about blowing up the framework in order to create a new one. Creating space for that not only makes us bigger-hearted human beings, but also creates a bigger-hearted world. So, for example, on this season of The Muses, we have space holders who work in the different fields of activism, healing, human design, psychotherapy, and fashion. Next year I’m working on gathering people in social services, children’s education, and ocean conservation to continue expanding the horizon of Illumination.
What is the biggest fear or limiting belief you’ve had to overcome in running and living with your business?
That I have to find a niche in order to come across as an expert. It turns out; my niche is being me, with all the colors, interests, and cycles I go through, and that’s my area of expertise. I have no need to uphold a calcified idea of what a “spiritual mentor” or “teacher” looks, sounds or acts like. I’m here to do my dance and share my heart and groove alongside the people who can hear the music.
What advice would you give to others who are intuitively trying to follow their hearts, like yourself, when it comes to business?
- Create a plan of security; hold on to your day job, start saving, and know your numbers. It sounds unsexy, I know, but when your foundational needs are covered, it’s going to be so much easier to let your business grow organically without worrying about your primal survival. Trust your gut.
- Healing work is business work and vice versa. In your professional endeavors, you’ll be as faced with your subconscious programming and limiting beliefs as anywhere in life. That’s why I always say that doing any form of healing work is an investment in your business. Many of us are afraid of being seen and choose attachment over authenticity. We don’t dare follow our dreams because we might be afraid of what others may think or say. This often leads to control mechanisms or people pleasing. But instead of trying to fix the outer world or how it perceives us, the only thing we’re truly in charge of is our inner world and how we tend to it. This is why I love my daily practice, online programs, therapy, and other healing modalities. How we respond to life is how life responds to us.
- Have a support group. I have a little group of lady friends who are in the same field as me. Whenever we meet, we share the joys and the crazies of being online female entrepreneurs but also tip each other on everything from the newest platform to the best webcams for teaching. Our little club started really organically, but it has been such a great support to have a space where you can bounce off ideas or ask for help.
What are some of your self-care rituals that you can’t go a day without?
Morning coffee, a good playlist, my Kundalini yoga and meditation practice, feeling my feelings, cuddles with my dog, making spaciousness for presence, deep talks and belly laughs with my boyfriend and friends, and playtime to be creative without a professional goal attached (but they often turn into the best ideas).
You have such great skin! What is your morning skincare ritual?
For years I was a really lazy girl when it came to skincare. I think growing up in the fashion industry had me overexposed to the constant consumerism. So to rebel, I decided not to do anything about my skin (which I somehow got away with.) After I started taking cold showers and practicing Kundalini yoga, the vitality and radiance of my skin has enhanced like loco. About a year ago, I started getting serious with my skincare routine as I discovered that I really enjoy taking care of myself as a form of devotion and ritual. Yet, it still needs to be fairly simple or I won’t get it done.
Every morning after I dry brush and take a cold shower, I wash my face with an enzyme cleanser, followed by a calming serum, brightening day cream, and eye cream. That’s it. I rarely use makeup, and if I do, it’s just a little brow touch-up and bronzer and maybe a tinted lip balm. For the past year, I’ve tried to use products from the same brand to get the full effect. I adore good skin because it really reflects not only my physical environment, but also my emotional environment. I can instantly tell with my skin if I’m going through a deep process, whether that may be physical or emotional healing—no need to cover up anything.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
All of you are welcome here.