Sunday, September 7, 2014

Are we using yoga to regulate our affect so we can accept more unacceptable behavior?

I feel pretty peaceful after a yoga class and I know this is a good feeling for me to have sometimes, for my healing, for my well being. I teach so I can support people in getting to know their processes and so that they can feel peaceful like this sometimes. I see people everywhere carrying their yoga mats around so I know yoga has gotten very popular. I am hoping it has not become another opiate of the masses.

Bessel van der Kolk, MD, who has done the research, touts its capacity to heal trauma of all kinds more effectively than drugs or therapy. And I believe this is true: another reason why I teach it. But does it also increase our resilience in such a way that we have an increased capacity to tolerate behavior that is not yogic. In yoga we practice ahimsa or non-violence if we have chosen to contemplate the yamas and niyamas or ethical precepts first (before engaging in asana or postures) as Pantanjali suggests. In this way we may learn to have a nonviolent response to a violent behavior. Ideally this leaves room for more creative approaches to issues and problems.

But we must move on to Satya, which means truth. Practicing Satya we embrace the truth of our experiences which can include our own limitations as well as our perception and interpretation of the behavior of others. Hopefully, at the end of a yoga class we are relaxed and can see ourselves clearly and perhaps we have taken responsibility for our own stuff so we are not projecting it out onto others.  But hopefully we are not so calm that we ignore abhorrent behavior such as mistreatment and exploitation of the poor, classism and racism.

Since yoga has been more popular for twenty years, is it and it's relaxing effect contributing to how we are allowing Wall Street to rip us off, millionaires to buy politicians and resources to get plundered while the environment suffers? Yoga itself has become ultra commercial with the sale of products. When I started back in 1978 any old household towel or blanket would do for practice.

Are we getting stuck in the blissed out state at the end of the yoga class and not remembering Satya, bramacharya (balance) and asteya (non-stealing). Gandhi spoke about how when people have more than what they need they are stealing from people who do not have enough. I would like the yoga I teach and share to relax people so they can heal in their nervous and other organ systems but to also energize them so they will address, in a small everyday way most of the time, the challenges we all share as humans, on Mother Earth, Divine Mother Kundalini Shakti and all her beings, from whom all blessings come. If it continues to become another tool to release narcissist fear and guilt that is not so good.

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