Late in 1969, Yogi Bhajan started teaching Kundalini Yoga classes in Los Angeles, CA. Being a Devout Sikh as well as a Kundalini Yoga master from India, he used stories from the lives of the Sikh Gurus to illustrate his spiritual principles, and taught his students Sikh practices for the elevation of consciousness in addition to yogic practices. From the beginning he stated that his mission was to create teachers, not collect students. To this end, as early as 1970, he established the 3HO Foundation and began sending out teachers to various parts of the U.S. and beyond to start Ashrams, or spiritual learning centers. One of the very first teachers to be sent out was Don Conreaux, Babadon, who established an Ashram in Phoenix, AZ; thus, Guru Nanak Dwara Ashram was born.
In the early days, many of those attracted to Guru Nanak Dwara Ashram were the disaffected youth of the consciousness revolution. The Ashram was fundamentally unlike other group situations such as communes, however, because it provided a drug-free, alcohol-free environment where spiritual discipline, daily sadhana, was the means for attaining a natural high. Bonds of support were formed through hours of karma yoga, meditation, singing, and cooking and eating together. In time, the group settled into a large building on McDowell Road, decorated with two-story high paintings of Guru Nanak and Guru Ram Das. At its peak, the Ashram on McDowell housed over 100 people.