December 4, 2016 Fortitude on the Mat. Take Action off the Mat.
In the current political, cultural and societal climate many people are coming to class with heightened emotions and a desire to take action. As I have witnessed tears, frustrations, confusion, feelings of powerlessness in some students I have been thinking hard on what we as teachers and practitioners can do to stabilize, center and empower ourselves.
The first step is to come to the mat in order to nurture ourselves, to find fortification. It is through healing that we will have the strength and clarity to move off the mat with mindful action. There are a few specific practices that I have been teaching to help bridge this gap.
The potential for us to self identify as compassionate, heart open beings. This occurs when we bring Angali Mudra (prayer hands/ balancing seal) to the heart. The placement of the thumbs - said to be the "seat" of the Ego, meeting the Heart Center - said to be the "seat" of Compassion. This begins the conversation between the Ego and the Heart- a very powerful manifestation.
The potential for inspiring Heart-Centered action when we place one hand on our heart (Anahata Chakra) and the other on our navel (Manipura Chakra). Manipura - the chakra of the will being energetically drawn to Anahata Chakra - the chakra of kindness, forgiveness and love. When the power of the Will guides the Heart we find strong action rooted in love.
The understanding that the deep mindfulness of body placement, breath & alignment on the mat can inspire and dictate acute mindfulness of words, actions and thoughts off of the mat.
The importance of intension and commitment. It is through clear intention & consistent follow-through that our actions create change. This can be exhausting work - physically, emotionally taxing and can dampen the Spirit - but hold firm - It is through the Fire (Tapas) that transformation takes place.
I encourage you to commit to one or more of the above practices on the mat, again to help stabilize, nurture and fortify yourself. Once you are feeling steady perhaps you would like to take more concrete action off the mat.
If so, Eleonora Bartoli's, a friend and Blue Banyan yoga student has begun a blog in the wake of the elections. The last two posts contain a quick/easily reproducible bystander training and a guide to political activism. Fellow yoga teacher Emile Sorger wrote the perfect endorsement when I shared the blog with him "I appreciated how straight forward and pragmatic the blog was without losing touch of the underlying urgency of action" justiceforhealing.wordpress.com.
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,
Engage the physical to experience the energetic so that we might encounter the divine.
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