There lies within all of us a deep powerful place. A place of all knowing. A place of unconditional, unparalleled love. It has no names, no faces, no gender, no political beliefs, no skin color, no Facebook, no smartphone, no calendars, no to-do lists. A place that has no pain, no time, no space, no connection to a particular city, country or planet, no sexual identity, in fact no identity at all. It is pure, wholesome energy. It is our light. Some would say it is our soul. We access this place by embracing the mind, inspiring the heart and bringing the body into stillness. We access this place by practicing yoga and being with ourselves in meditation. The world is filled with yoga studios yearning for connection, for community, and a safe sacred place.
If yoga means to yoke, to bring together, to unite then it is fair to say that people often enter a yoga space disconnected, unaware, and imbalanced in energy. One of the jobs as a yoga teacher is to help bring people into balance as well as help bring them to their highest state of consciousness and awareness. The fundamental notion of Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga) is to learn how to balance ourselves within our own environments.
As yoga teachers, we have many roles and have been given beautiful gifts. Our job is to teach how to keep the body safe while practicing, to inspire with the gifts that were given to us as individuals and to uplift with stories of modern day or ancient heroes. The tools and techniques of connection that the students learn on the mat are valuable skills that they can access when confronted with conflict in their daily lives. As best as we can give the structure of the asana practice, we interlay the philosophy of yoga from ancient texts that were written specifically on what will happen on the way to the path of consciousness, when we are growing, learning, and evolving.
I would be doing my students and myself a disservice if I spoke from my earthly self or brought my ideas, views and my emotions around politics in the sacred space of a yoga room.
As teachers we teach most what we ourselves need to learn or be reminded of. I teach how to move with grace, how to pause with patience, how to stand in compassion. I teach how to practice with the awareness of consciously keeping the chest open because energetically it is easier to shut down, that if we can do it manually on our mats then we can feel when we close down in our everyday lives. I teach this because I, too, am learning it myself.
In essence, we all come to this sacred place, teachers and students, as an offering to the community. The energy we bring can make a difference in our environments and ourselves. We can shift consciousness by coming together, by being together and by breathing together. So that no matter what is happening in the outside world that we can turn to our practice as a sacred place.
From the Yoga Sutras 2.46, Sthira sukham asanam, we learn about the steady, stable foundation of Sthira and the ease that comes from putting ourselves in the “good space” of sukham. We then let our insights from the mat infuse our being so that we are more positive, more open and able to make better decisions so when confronted we will call for strength when it is time to stand up for what is right and we’ll surrender to softness for when we need to listen with our hearts without judgment. When we are in balance and harmony, we speak, act and operate from a place of love.
Each of us as teachers was given the gift of service as well as our individual gifts that we will turn to when trying to figure out how to best serve our community in this particular political climate in the world.
We all come to this sacred place of a yoga community when the world seems dim to support each other and to remind ourselves that we are the light keepers – we come to the practice of yoga to ignite our flame in our sacred place within.