A Time for Yoga

[Initially this was a 2000 word incoherent rant, but on revision we’ve decided to keep this short(er) and sweet blunt.]

Some stuff happened in the United States this week, and while it is the catalyst for this post we think it’s certainly not the only thing this post applies to. We’re not here to preach at you, as yoga teachers or Canadians. Canada may seem great to some right now, but it has its own share of problems. And this horrifying article from Maclean’s just shows how eager some of our politicians might be to jump on this merry wave of intolerance. If you’re wondering, either as a teacher or a practitioner, how to use your practice to navigate your way through what might seem like an overwhelming, impossible amount of s***, we have some thoughts.

Start with yourself. Times of change are when people most often neglect their practices. Things like new jobs, new relationships, divorce, deaths, an election where a shouty, hateful, orange man becomes the President of the United States, all cause people to spend less time thinking about their own wellbeing- when really this is exactly when you should be digging deeper and recommitting to yourself and to your practice. It can be hard during these times to look at yourself honestly, but confronting your own feelings (and baggage) is crucial to moving forward.

Whatever you were left with in the aftermath of this election: confusion, despair, total apathy etc., your practice can be a valuable asset in informing you where you need to go and what you need to do. Let your practice test you, challenge you and be a solace when nothing else makes any f***ing sense.

Now how does your practice help in the real world?

We (Practically Yoga) have always had the luxury of knowing that our practice was safe; our studio a place where anyone could go to meet themselves without judgement. Not everyone has this privilege. If you are able to, take the spaces you occupy; your yoga studio, your gym, your classroom, your office, your church, your home, yourself –your heart and mind- and make them safe and accessible to everyone. If anyone tries to stop you, challenge them (or just tell them to f*** off).

Listen to people. This is why the first part of this post is important (get your svadhyaya on, people). Your practice-being able to move from one feeling to another, without grasping on to it or attaching meaning or judgement- can help you to hear other people without the immediate need to react. The ability to notice how you’re feeling without having the kneejerk need to correct, contradict or even jump to agree with someone who is voicing their experience is important. Especially if you are seeking to be an ally to any marginalized group of people.

Will your personal yoga practice (or teaching) end bigotry, poverty, and foster world peace? Unlikely. Will it make you a perfect person? Also unlikely. But that is not the ‘purpose’ of yoga. The point of your practice is to help you relate to yourself and the world in a kinder, more meaningful way. And kinder humans are something our planet could always use more of – this week and every week.

-Bee & Elle

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