As I write this letter to you, I’m preparing for our second weekend of Yoga Teacher Training (for more on those happenings...there may be something to listen to soon!). I’m reflecting on our oh-so-special first weekend together, the timely conversations about world events, and my stomach is also back to being twisted up in knots. No, it’s not because of something that I ate, but of something I referred to in last week’s letter. My body is hearing everything my mind is saying. It’s internalizing everything I see and read. And, lately, the news is shocking.
As students of yoga, we delicately balance getting our bodies and minds to a place of ease, while also being cognizant of what is going in the outside world even when it isn’t pretty. In our first weekend of training, we discussed the concept of “emotions” at length. That we are not our emotions. That we are not our sadness, or the pain we feel, or even our highest joys. We talked about knowing that we have the ability to create our thoughts, which shape our emotions and our reality. But, that doesn’t mean that on the path to contentment and acceptance that we turn a blind eye to the pain around us. In stabilizing our inner world, it is also our responsibility as yoga students to know what’s going on around us and to help affect positive change.
My stomach is in knots again because of the pain I feel from the stories of school shootings, sexual harassment, blatant racism. It almost seems that our country is teetering on the precipice of something major. Our news is full of these stories, the tears, the blame, the anger, the frustration. And, while I’m not the type to have a news network just rolling at all hours of the day, I pay attention. And, my body notices. Maybe yours does, too? Maybe you feel a sinking in the pit of your stomach or the anxiety is making your neck and shoulders unbelievably tense. Maybe the stress of it all is creating pain in your low back. And, why? Because you, dear yogi, are experiencing this:
“Consciousness is when we feel the suffering of every creature within our own hearts.” - Bhagavad Gita
So what are we to do about it all? As I write to you, I think of the first Yama of yoga, which is ahimsa, meaning practicing peace and non-violence. It’s fitting because this is exactly the sort of thing we’ll also be covering at Teacher Training this weekend. Ahimsa means first taking a good look in the mirror. How you treat others is a reflection of how you treat yourself. We cannot know hate unless it lives within us first. We cannot know blame and violence and judgement unless it dwells within us first. So, start there.
Your actions, what you say, how you say it, how you react perpetuates to those around you. We are walking ripple effects. Practice non-violence towards yourself. Take a deep breath. Get clear with your own values and how you show up in the world. Let that drive you to make change. And, then hold someone else's hand on the way there. We all want to feel seen, to feel heard and in doing the work on ourselves we can extend our arms to another. That work means using our yoga to calm the mind, using the physical poses to break up tension in our bodies, using our spiritual practice to recognize that we are all connected. Will this alone lead to stronger legislation or less harassment or eradicate all the violence in our world? No. But, it damn sure will bring more peace. And, that's a step. Wouldn't you agree? This is why I do yoga. This is why I teach it. I hope to hear how you're doing, what you're doing, and how you're working through it all here or in class.
P.S. As I reflect on my own values (see above), I realize that it's time to dedicate more of my work to this prenatal & postnatal yoga world that I so love. Soooo...I'll be teaching and hanging out with expectant mamas on Saturday mornings starting March 17 at 10:15 - 11:30 a.m.! Prenatal Yoga will be held every other Saturday until our Teacher Training program concludes in mid-June. We will move to weekly Saturday Prenatal classes from there and I couldn't be more excited about it! We're also offering Prenatal Class Passes now, too! Visit this page to get all the Prenatal Yoga details.