Building a joyful environment with your yoga practice
By Daniela da Silva
On 26/12/2012 a young black man got shot in my hometown, his name was Giovane R., My little sister, at the time twenty-one, saw it happening. He died on the spot. Statistically, that was not a big deal, black guys, as we know, are likely to die as victims of violent deaths. Yet, personally, that was very significant in my life, because this young black man happened to be the father of my beloved niece.
I filter to the maximum the information that I consume and post. I am careful not to escape so much from my main subjects and I expose very little information about my private and family life, but today is an exception. I am sharing things that are most personal because I believe that given what I do (teach yoga) to remain silent would be unethical.
The Sanskrit word Yoga means to yoke, as in harnessing a wild animal to a vehicle. In this analogy, the 'animal' is the unconscious mind in it's primitive and brutal nature, and the vehicle is then the awareness or high consciousness. Thus, the practice of yoga is aiming to bring awareness to our habits, impulses and thoughts. Yoga is an open invitation for the practitioner to become 'aware' of his beliefs and of his impact in this co-shared universe.
Therefore, despite welcoming clients who come to the class to unwind, learn new skills or to shape up their bodies, I ultimately know that the reason why an individual comes to a yoga class is not going to be the same reason of why they decided to stay. At the deepest levels, the practice of yoga will take us to an inner-recognition of not only ours but everyone else's divinity. The physical aspect of the practice is purposeful and it is true, but sooner rather than later the deep changes in the practitioner's perception will occur what will lead them to recognize their divine nature. This can be referred to as Ahimsa, it is the first limb of yoga which stands for nonviolence and non-harming of other living being.
This week, we as yoga instructors and students must remember ourselves of our responsibility to promote global peace. Other forms of exercise can most definitely promote relaxation of the mind but they don't provide inherited philosophies and spiritual teachings as yoga does. Despite the adaptation that it went through, the yoga essence remains unchanged and therefore it holds the potential to directly impact actions.
A gym-goer cannot be offered an explicit framework to understand their experiences, but yoga can give meaning to everything we do, hence is ethical at least to raise awareness in the mat and offer our collective practice to the memory of the many black lives lost since the beginning of times.
Our practice survived to this day so we can be aware of our interconnectedness. We are a co-creators of divinity, acceptance and love. We are destined to reflect a universe designed by our collective thoughts, actions and feelings. So I invite you this week to perceive life through the lenses of this highly sophisticated ancient philosophy, seeing this journey as a 'supreme gift', in which we have as a choice to become a refined version of ourselves, acting from an infinite not hateful perspective.
Your practice has transformational power and ultimately it has a positive influence over others. In the next flows, we will be dedicating our practice to the creation of a non-violent world because I want to live in a world where more children, like my niece, get to know their fathers and are empowered to feel safe into their skins.
No matter the colour.