I return again to this topic for a few reasons. First and foremost because it is a practice I am truly working on incorporating into my every living breath. Secondly, and maybe more importantly because after having been here in the US for a short stint now I am noticing how few of us are actually in our bodies and connected to what we are feeling at any given moment. I watched a clip yesterday where a gentleman said that there is a pervasive energy of fear and distraction in the environment right now. That rang true on a visceral level for me, it's what I've been feeling since I've been back here. I've noticed fear creeping up over seemingly innocuous things that would have never created such a sense in my past and I know with certainty that fear was not my own but rather one that I was absorbing from the climate. I think this is such an important point that arises from one's ability to recognize sensation and awareness deep within the core. From this space we begin to uncover the layers upon layers of energies which may not be our own: layers we have absorbed from our surroundings, from our family of origin, from our particular societal and cultural waves, from conditioning and programming, from not questioning, from not being attuned to the frequencies that align with our highest knowing and an inability to decipher those that don't. All of these create a context in which our actual channel of truth and higher understanding may not allow the frequency of flow and divine understanding to move with ease.

Since I have been back in the States I have attempted to find a yoga class every day. Yoga is the practice that brought me back into my body and into the awareness of the energetic, emotional, spiritual, and psychological bodies that had been cloudy and blocked by my own conditioning. Yoga brought me inside to witness and observe and clear the way so that my vessel could open to this divine understanding. I am not a master of the practice. I have been to India once. I do not proclaim to know anything at all about the practice because I know that there are lifetimes of learning before I could even begin to grasp the wealth of knowledge that exists in it's canon. But I embody the practices. I have been studying this science for more than half my life and in that time I have absorbed the yamas (abstinences) and niyamas (observances) as my tenets for living. I am continually working with asana (physical posture) and pranayama (breath control) on a daily basis. Through my personal practice I have begun to touch pratyahara (withdrawal of senses) and dharana (concentration) though each requires continued practice as the world attempts to pull repeatedly in the opposite direction. While dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (merging with the divine) I possibly touch for a second here and there but are still very much in the field of awareness. Case in point, the practice moves through every cell of my being.

I've observed a particularly painful disconnect in the yoga rooms and in the "teaching" of yoga here in the States that I feel called to address. I have been to a number of classes where I have observed teachers who themselves do not seem to embody the practice. Where music blares so loudly that I can't hear the teacher's instructions. Where students are instructed to find the "good pain" and stay away from the "bad pain." Where there is no held space for exploration and safety and distraction and sensory overload seem to run rampant. It's confusing to me, what has happened and why we've taken such a simple and beautiful practice and altered it in such a way that it is no longer recognizable not only in shape but intention. In a world that is already asking us to look outside of ourselves for everything, why in the rooms of this practice that asks us to look within are we perpetuating the same energy?

Let me pause here for a minute and state a few things. I am not anti music or fun within the practice. Truth told I was once way too serious in my own practice and it wasn't until exploring it in another culture that I finally loosened the reigns and allowed myself to laugh and lighten up. This was when I really began to drop into my body and out of my head. Prior to that I was consumed with intellectualizing, and this is where I have an understanding for flow and power style practices, where you move at such a clip that you are constantly drawn back into the body and out of the mind. But, if we are a society that does not spend a lot of time in our bodies, if we are not taught from a young age about feeling, sensation, pain, how are we expected to deduce good pain from bad pain or to drop deep inside our own landscape when extremely loud pop music is blaring from the speakers? It feels like another means of distraction to me. This morning I was in a class where the music was so loud I actually had to tell the teacher I couldn't hear her, and I assume the woman next to me who kept looking around the room to see what we were doing also couldn't hear. The teacher, the holder of space, didn't seem to notice.

I have an awareness of myself and my own triggers, of my body and my limitations. I am able to step into a class and know what is for me and what I should leave behind. I am able to take an experience such as this morning and use it as a practice to explore my ability to maintain pratyahara and dharana while moving through the asanas, but if the "teacher" isn't bringing that awareness into the room, what are we actually teaching? How can we as instructors of this beautiful and mystical lineage hold true to the tradition and bring our students into the experience of embodiment? How do we provide the space for them to go deep within and unravel their own bondage so that they may find a little more freedom than when they stepped on the mat? How do we regain what we have fragmented and bring wholeness back to practice without fear that the masses won't want to consume it anymore? We are the ones we've been waiting for.


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