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Read this amazingly told personal journey as a punk evolves into a multidimensional yoga practioner and punk. Read about some of the ills in modern yoga and some cures she offers. We’re hoping she joins the PRY crew very soon.
The Punk Rock Yoga mothership has landed in Montreal which means Canada Post prices on shipping. The bad news–shipping costs for t-shirts will be going up. The good news–shipping costs will stay right where they are through the end of the year. The web site reflects current sizes, colors, and styles available:
Get them now!
As the United States Federal elections approach labels are flying around. The contest is being framed as just that–a contest–with emphasis on winning and losing, and more disturbingly, “us versus them,” which is coming from both political parties.
It is right to be educated on the issues and to care about the outcome. It is right to show compassion for others and to care that people in need get assistance. It’s easy to get angry. I have found myself infuriated at times, and have needed to step back and observe my reaction.
The challenge is to not get caught up in the hatred, and in the labeling. It is difficult because there are strong sentiments of greed and bigotry in the dialogue. There is lots of labeling, which according to the teaching of yoga, is untrue. People are more than a set of labels.
My challenge to you, and to myself of course, is to try to practice the essence of the word “namaste” during this process. Remember that inside of everyone there is a common essence–you can think of it as a universal spirit, our shared humanity, or simply shared DNA.
Before engaging in debate, try for one minute to see inside someone with different views and try to find some sense of shared humanity or shared spirit. Work from the very basic level of “namaste.” If you can start from there, from a point where we all share a common essence, then maybe you can figure out some shared values and concerns. Or maybe you can recognize that many people are operating from a place of deep-seeded fear, and that the fear is manifesting in misguided, and rightfully objectionable ways such as prejudice.
I am not suggesting in any way that you will be able to persuade someone who disagrees with you. Instead, I am offering that you can maintain your emotional balance during this time by literally seeing through or seeing inside someone else and to perhaps even develop a sense of compassion. Again, I’m not suggesting you change your positions but to try and find for yourself a way to still recognize the humanity in others, and to rise above some of the ugliness we’ve seen so far.
Good luck and namaste,
London–it’s time is coming.
Classes starting in 2013. Join our mailing list to be notified when she kicks off classes.
We are thrilled to announce our newest teacher, Lindsey Ramirez, who will be teaching in Houston, Texas. Once again Lindsey will be teaching at Girls Rock Houston and will be offering regular classes as well. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the final of three posts based upon our forum discussion in NYC this June.
According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, one of the definitive texts on yoga, the final step, or limb, on the yogic path is liberation. This term can mean so many things, so let’s look at it.
In a classic Indian view, it can mean your soul is so evolved and so pure that it no longer has to repeat the cycle of reincarnation. It’s free to just be.
I have a slightly different view, as described in this excerpt from the Punk Rock Yoga Manifesto: “I view liberation in a much subtler way, and as more of a temporary state. This liberation, where we transcend every biological impulse and every mundane thought, is like a butterfly. It will land upon you for an instant, and if you are very quiet and still it may linger long enough for you to notice. I cannot describe what liberation feels like for others. I can only share my own glimpse into transcendence, which, frankly, is difficult to put into words. I perceive it as absolute serenity, quiet, peace, and joy, where my normal concerns, aches, and pains fade into obscurity.”
Some students in the discussion group described their view of liberation as being unbound and unrestrained. We can look at this in a classic sense of feeling so free that we no longer have the needs of the flesh, such as food and water. Another way I choose to look at it is that while we inhabit a corporeal body, we do have bodily needs–either we cook the food for ourselves or pay someone else to do it.
The challenge is–can we find liberation while undergoing our duty?
Can we perform tasks such as scrubbing the toilet, taking the subway, calculating taxes, etc. but view them without feeling retrained or inhibited by them? Can we view them as merely tasks–nothing more nothing less–and can we detach our negative view from them. We can perceive our tasks as nothing more than our participation in dharma, or the regulatory order of the universe. They are part of the natural order of things–neither good nor bad.
But even beyond, I believe we go so far as to cultivate a sense of joy in the day-to-day. Yoga can be this spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. A mindful practice, or true time for ourselves no matter the amount, can help us shed the negativity that surrounds our chores and develop a a more neutral perspective–perhaps even a joyful one. can help us cultivate that sense of liberation even as we fold the laundry.
This is an excellent challenge–take the joy you feel after finishing a yoga class and challenge yourself to find that same serenity and joy in a routine task, maybe by just doing some deep breathing and staying focused on the task instead of letting your mind race light years ahead. By first becoming aware and concentrating, we can in fact turn our day-to-day lives into a giant extension of our yoga class. This is difficult, as so much of the world–it’s loud noise, it’s ubiquitous anger, it’s flashing lights–causes us to disconnect and think about anything else. But starting small, such as starting at home, can help cultivate this freedom even in a small amount and help us find liberation in more of our daily life.
At our recent forum discussion in NYC we talked about yoga teachers taking things a bit too far in their lectures. We discussed some root causes of this and how to remedy it.
Unlike Pilates, which was developed as a regime for physical health, yoga evolved as primarily as spiritual and psychological development. So we have this confusion because most yoga teachers are not trained as spiritual leaders, and we have some odd perceptions of what a yoga teacher should sound like, so what happens–especially with newer teachers–is the teaching comes across as artificial.
Yoga also has a paternalistic and authoritarian past whereby some lineages the yogis accepted the guru’s teachings without question and when it came to the west, this absolute acceptance of what the teacher says was heightened by the reality that many yoga teachers have very little training in philosophy. We also see the other issue that teachers speak to their students with absolute authority and comport themselves as the expert with little more to go on than that’s what their teacher told them.
While it’s important to respect your elders, your teacher, and your teaching lineage, it’s also important to think for yourself.
First and foremost, teachers need to dig deeper and not just accept what their teacher taught them as absolute gospel. We need to go to the source texts, read for ourselves, read other philosophical works, and spend a great deal of time meditating, pondering, and contemplating these teachings ourselves. (Regarding the physical pose practice we absolutely need to stay current with exercise science research but that’s another discussion).
We need to practice truthfulness and tell our students that what we teach them is our interpretation, our viewpoint, and tell them it’s based upon what we’ve read and what we’ve heard. We need to then open the door that students should think about these points for themselves and should study further. I believe spirituality does belong in a yoga class setting, but it can be done in a very open way by giving students one thing to ponder for themselves, and not as a heavy-handed lecture. Also, some studios have yoga study groups which is an excellent way to bridge this gap.
Another issue that plagues teaching is that new teachers can struggle to find their voice. We have a perception in Western yoga that the teacher needs to be airy, poetic, etc. and new teachers try to live up to these images and what we see in the classroom is teachers pontificating about fairies or describing every pose as a beautiful lotus blossom blooming out of your heart. Students are smart, and they can spot insincerity a mile away.
New teachers especially should teach what they know, teach from the heart and from what they believe. New teachers need to do the work to cultivate the joy in their own practice, and if you teach from that place–a place of joy and a place of honesty–students will respond.
It’s daunting to think about and confidence is difficult, especially in areas where yoga seems highly competitive and some students walk out if their favorite teacher is missing regardless who is covering the class, but if you work hard on your own views and interpretations of philosophy, and if you work hard on your own yoga practice–your joy will carry over into your classes. You won’t need artificial poetry–though it comes quite naturally to some and that is their honest voice–all you will need is your honesty and your intention of helping students find their internal joy.
Trust in yourself, trust in your practice, and leave the rest at the door.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ― Oscar Wilde
We tackled some hefty topics at a recent forum discussion in NYC and will be posting a series of pieces resulting from that discussion.
There’s a differentiation between people who take yoga classes to feel better physically and mentally and those who want to really practice yoga and expand into the psychological discipline. If all someone ever does is learn to engage their core and breathe deeply, I say fabulous–yoga is meeting their needs–but for people to call themselves disciples or students of yoga means something more.
The goal of yoga can be described in two major ways, which in many ways are describing the same thing:
1) To unite yourself completely with something sacred
2) To achieve liberation
One can certainly argue these are two sides of the same coin, but there are so many ways we can look at what is sacred and look at liberation, and so we did. Here are some thoughts raised in the discussion:
Yogic philosophy does not require you to believe in any particular form or manifestation of a sacred power, but rather to believe that there is something eternal, something other, that transcends day-to-day existence. There are many tools to describe this sacred essence–some call it a universal frequency at which we all vibrate, while others call it a pure light. At some level, it helps immensely to believe there is something else that is shines brighter and outlasts a crisis we are having. This concept of connection with something higher, deeper, greater, purer, is a powerful psychological weapon that helps us weather emotional storms.
Now the question is–and this question has been debated for centuries in Indian philosophy–is this sacred “something” found in every molecule on earth or is it separate than. And if this something sacred is the truth, than is everything we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch just an illusion? These are excellent questions that every student of yoga should spend time pondering. There are different schools of thought, referred to as dualistic and non-dualistic, to back up each premise.
I see the answer in a blended form in that there is something sacred and eternal we all share. When I say “namaste” I am saying “The light within me recognizes and honors the light within you, and that is the place which our souls share.” If I say it to fellow students, I had better be able to back it up and mean it about everyone around me. It’s difficult when faced with enormous tragedy and brutality. How can we see the light hidden behind so much darkness in some people? Is it possible some people don’t share it? That’s a convenient way to answer the question, but it’s not really answering it at all. Perhaps there is something sacred there, but it’s buried beneath so much psychological damage.
So how do we break through? How do we live our namaste?
One concept is that by practicing our own yoga, and cultivating more joy, and connecting ourselves with what we consider sacred, we can that spread this to others. We are all connected and every action we have has some measure of impact. Simply holding the door open for the person behind you might have a tremendous effect on their day. Giving up your seat to someone on the subway might set that person in the right mindset to then spread joy to everyone their encounter. Conversely, selfish actions breed like a virus. It is an important start to practice and to cultivate our sense of joy, but then to carry that mindfulness into our interactions with others is where the true yoga lies.
Taking yoga off the mat has become a hot topic, and our challenge–maybe it’s a challenge we take on for just one day–is to say “namaste” through our actions with everyone we encounter–not just our fellow yoga students.
Want to rock some yoga in the open air as the sun sets over Manhattan? If this sounds like your idea of the beginning of a good weekend, come and work your body, unwind your mind, and detox your day away with me this Friday night.
I have a cool secret spot with room enough for some of my favorite students and friends. All you need is a yoga mat, yourself, and a willingness to transform.
We will meet a little before seven and climb the steps to rooftop bliss!
Fun yoga for real people. Great music, great people.
You’ll sweat, strengthen and stretch, then bliss out in shavasana with the vibrant sounds of NYC all around you! It’s gonna be really cool.
RSVP required as I have limited space!
I’ll post the location later this week. In case of bad weather, I will notify you all that afternoon, and will relocate to an alternate space!
It’s by donation, so just pay what you can. BRING YOUR OWN MAT!!!
I really hope to see you there!
RSVP TO: email@example.com