There’s paradox with this whole yoga gig. The popular notion in our current self-absorbed, ab-ass-and-boob-obsessed society is that yoga is a work out. When practicing yoga in its entirety – and I mean the full meal-deal, kiddos. All eight limbs. Yamas to samadhi – we come face to face with yoga as a ‘work in’. And as our inner practice develops we experience a transformation of sorts and before long we’re off and running on the path of the spiritual revolutionary. As our ‘work inward’ leads us toward spiritual evolution, our work outward propels us towards a spiritual revolution. Let me explain.
The foundation upon which our entire practice is built are the yamas and the niyamas; the ethical and moral do’s and don’ts. It is here, before we ever step onto a sticky mat, that we begin to acquire, cultivate and nurture a new way of thinking and living. We clean up our thoughts, curb our words and keep tabs on our actions. It is also here in the beginning stages of yoga that we realize our interconnectedness with the world around us and we begin to share responsibility for our brothers and sisters. We dig up the truth that making others happy inevitably leads to our own happiness. For many, that alone is a revolutionary idea.
The very first yama, ahimsa, teaches us to make decisions that cause the least amount of harm – to the environment, to others (animal as well as human) and to ourselves. In that order. As we nurture this principle of putting the welfare of others before our own, we recognize that what is best for the individual is determined by what is best for the whole. And we begin to live accordingly. Revolutionary idea #2.
The time is just around the corner when we can really put this practice into action. Are you going to vote next month? What better opportunity to take your practice off the mat and into the world!! Revolutionary idea #3.
Not registered? Get registered.
Think you’re apolitical? Think again. You’re voting everyday with every dollar you spend. From kind of car you drive and where you buy your gasoline, to where your food is grown and what country your clothes are made in.
Think your vote doesn’t count? Don’t buy into it; that’s a pathetic excuse for laziness and apathy. And if that’s the case, don’t even think about complaining about the price of gas, the price of milk (which you shouldn’t be drinking anyway unless you’re a calf), or the state of our foreign affairs. If you care; you vote. It’s that simple.
Fortunately, our yoga practice doesn’t require us to move to a cave in the Himalayas (although there are times when that certainly sounds like the better option), but rather, read any of the yogic texts (The Bhagavad Gita in particular), and you’ll see that you are called to a life of action right here at home. You can’t avoid it. It’s your dharma.
Vote as a verb, means to express an opinion or make a decision. We all have opinions, don’t we? And who among us doesn’t love to express them.
Yoga as a verb means to yoke together or unite. By uniting our opinions, we can start a revolution, we can change the course. We are not without direction; we need not blindly go through life on a conveyor belt of redundancy. The decision we make in November will have a direct impact on those around us, near and far, brothers and sisters alike. We have a choice and together we can be the change.
Lisa Bracken owns and teaches at The Canebrake as well as at NSU in Tahlequah.