In a week I will be hosting my first yoga workshop. I know exciting, and kind of shocking that it took me this long to accomplish. Nonetheless, I am finally taking the plunge and leading a workshop surrounded by the question, “What Is Yoga?” I chose this topic after countless people have asked me that exact question when telling them what I do for a living. Every time I just kind of smile and answer, “well that is a question sages much more knowledgeable than I have been contemplating for thousands of years.” No one seems to be amused by that answer.
So I decided to create my current undertaking of a simple workshop centered around this exact concept. Nothing major, I thought, some history, some philosophy, and some comprehensive knowledge about what is currently out there for students here. Something just to enlighten the public a bit about how to pick the right class for them, nothing is more difficult than having a student so ill prepared for your class that they spend the whole hour in child’s pose, and to expand on the fact that yoga is more than just a sting of poses used to make you look better.
So as I started doing research there were two major things I found. One was the fact that although there is a surplus of knowledge out there, mostly physical, there is no real comprehensive way to string it together. Two I began reading a highly recommended book, “The Deeper Dimension of Yoga”. (I should note that before reading this book, I read Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester’s translation of the Upanishads, and it made me cry).
“The Deeper Dimension of Yoga” by Georg Feuerstein more than lived up to its recommendations; but more than that it also has put me in a deeply contemplative mood. Although he makes many good points, and gets into greater detail some of the finer points of yoga that can go amiss, there were two that have struck me most. Getting another deep look into Ahimsa, or the act of non-harming, and the concept of love with our world.
I like to believe that I practice the act of compassion well, though some would disagree. There is just something so awful about any creature being ill used, I can not help but cry. Still I am amazed at the amount of people that I find and have over heard that do not find that sense of compassion or empathy for other creatures. Some choose to turn a blind eye while others will just plain use the excuse that it does not affect them. I had a conversation earlier today with a friend around this exact subject. I concluded that I felt, sadly that most people had just lost their capacity for empathy.
Secondly Feuerstein’s book had me take a second look at the world around me and its capacity for love. Just as I have felt that the world is loosing its capacity for empathy, so too is there a sense that we are loosing our ability to love. Without a way to understand the suffering of the world we have a tendency to blame them, or get upset that they can not understand our own suffering. We have begin to fill love with fear and hate.
Now even with all this negative thought, it is not all bad. By re-examining my relation to these two concepts I was able to deepen my commitment to the practice of yoga. Not just the physical poses; but rather I was given an even deeper desire to continue the deep spiritual practice of Self liberation, so that I could in turn help lower the suffering of the world. Help cultivate greater compassion and love towards one another. I have in fact used the opportunity of teaching as a way to grow as an instructor and a practitioner of yoga.
It never ceases to amaze me the capacity we have as yoga teachers and practitioners to grow as people, and in turn help cultivate the growth of the world around us. I offer the same opportunities to you all as you go out to teach, or to learn, to take the chance to go above and beyond the call and give yourself the space to grow and deepen both your practice and your devotion.
Peace and Love
PS if you would like to attend my workshop, I am teaching at Greenleaf Bodyworks in Ferndale MI and you can sign up via Mindbody. Or, if you are not local or can not make the time, I will be hosting a second one on line at Immerse.com. Dates are January 28 and February 2.