Bhagavad Gita 3.21: “Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.”
A leader cannot tell people not to smoke if the leader themselves smoke.
Acting on beliefs makes someone great and memorable, it is when one’s ideas are manifested into reality through their actions that the person steps into a leadership role.
Are we wolves or sheep? Taking responsibility empowers you, whereas accepting that you are a product of your society or environment robs you of your power. You are a leader. Every person you interact with is influenced by your decisions, so act great. Be great. And others will be inspired to follow.
Eco Yoga is a heart-felt asana class dedicated to serving our miraculous home, the only planet with life, in this crucial tipping point of climate change. Rainforests are massive carbon sinks, yet continuously they are burnt down to grow palm oil or raise cattle, returning the carbon back into the atmosphere. By stepping onto your mat, you fulfill your dharma to prevent another rainforest from burning; proceeds from each ten-class package are donated to prevent one metric ton from polluting our atmosphere and furthering our commitment to climate chaos. Eco Yoga is about connecting within and to Oneness, and realizing that Earth’s wellbeing translates to the wellbeing of one’s self. Dedicating your yoga to something higher than you empowers you as a channel for that higher energy. Eco Yoga transforms consciousness and karma as we start to see and treat the universe as an expansion of ourselves. The asana is creatively sequenced to challenge, with pranayama and options to play with arm balances and inversions. (Level 2-3)
This class is offered each Sunday at 10AM – 11:15 at the Pink House Studio on the intersection of Booth and Wright in Riverwest, Milwaukee, beginning April 30!
Humans are conditioned to suffer; suffering seems normal and we just accept it as part of life. We continue destructive behaviors even after we’ve been shown the harm we are inflicting on ourselves and others. Once we see the harm we cause, we feel guilty and the cycle is complete, we’re suffering again.
Often the ego tricks us into believing we are the victim, when we’re perceiving from the center, it seems things are happening to us- watch out for this voice! In an early part of our journeys, victimhood holds some truth. We can fall victim to unconscious thinking and acting. Once we recognize that we are free to choose what we think and do, we free ourselves from suffering. Pain is there and will arise- how do we react? Do we complain, or with awareness realize it as a passing moment. It’s not immediate, but it’s a challenging process of recognizing thoughts and impulses as they arise and choosing – do I go with the impulse? Where does the impulse come from – my True Eternal Blissful Self or the false self? (Hint: the false self usually wants to keep us suffering – stuck in the illusion of self as center; the True Self wants to serve the center.)
There are three ingredients in the recipe for success for relieving suffering, according to Sri Prem Baba: svadhyaya, or self-study and the study of sacred texts, humility, and sadhana, or spiritual practice.
Svadhyaya allows us to discover ourselves – what is ego, or the false self, and what is our True Self? Notice your thoughts, daily patterns and choices this is your starting point. Sacred texts are helpful in describing the true self. Sat chit ananda, your true self is eternal, unchanging, blissful. My suggestions for useful texts: Light on Life by BKS Iyengar, Sri Swami Satchidanda’s commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Swami Vivekenanda’s Jnana Yoga. As you read these helpful texts, now observe yourself in light of the texts- what would Iyengar, Vivekenanda, or Satchidananda say?
Humility attracts wisdom, and pride or arrogance chases wisdom and divinity away. Humility also keeps us on our toes. When we’ve think we’ve gotten control of our senses and emotions, they can more easily sneak up on us. Pride also makes us feel like we know, so in a way it makes our cup full; humility is like an empty cup in which lessons from the divine can flow in and further fill us up.
Sadhana keeps stripping away the false self and brings us back to the present moment to check in with ourselves. Sadhana is like an internal cleanse, all day long we are collecting impressions, like a house gathering dust. Sadhana is our way of directing the impressions for a set amount of time in order to keep a cleaner house. Sadhana is making a conscious choice about what we’re doing and what we’re focusing on.
If you feel like you’re being used, it’s because you are. You are an instrument of the divine. Your voice, your actions, your deeds are all in service of the highest. What the highest is, or what is divine, that is up to your beliefs, only you know for yourself. All I can say is that you are powerful, especially if you recognize yourself as a channel or pathway of divinity.
In our time of feeling politically disenfranchised, in our time of feeling so small as individuals in face of climate disaster, in our time when we feel pitted against one another, as a yogi, as an instrument of divinity myself, as a teacher, a friend, a lover of you, I must say that you have the power of the universe, of nature, of God, of the divine on your side. We all do, it’s just that many forget. Even I can forget as I wallow in self pity over conflict.
What does the divine want? How can you serve this higher purpose? Well, you are divine. So what do you want? What are your goals? And then, what is your starting point? How can you connect where you are in this moment with where you want to be? What’s your first step? And then the second? Don’t worry about filling them all in, one step at a time.
Empower yourself and others by believing and seeing the highest in yourself and in them too. Finally, let yourself be used. It’s a lesson in humility for sure, so the ego will want to fight it. This is ishvara pranidhana, the last and most difficult of niyamas, or observances in our foundational yoga practices. Ishvara pranidhana is the surrendering of our small self to our highest Self, the Self that is in all other beings.
Dear Yogis Around the World,
I write as a concerned yogi that shares the planet with you. It is up to us, you and me, and our friends, to choose environmentally sound modes of transportation and fuel. We can reduce the miles driven in fossil-fueled cars in order to ensure that all of the organisms that we share Earth with can thrive in the coming decades and centuries. We are at a tipping point that doesn’t require terribly in depth research to understand the consequences of for yourself and all living creatures. At the tipping point, every decision is crucial. Empower yourself with tools of activity that slow down climate chaos! One solution out of many? Ride a bike or walk instead of sitting in the car. Not only does your fuel switch from petroleum to your yummy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, but you are also pumping your heart, moving your body in an era of sedentary lifestyles, thereby preventing chronic mental, physical and emotional illnesses! Let’s bike our way into the futures of sloths, tigers, and toucans and humanity!
This relief print is made from recycled styrofoam used for food packaging and printed with acrylic inks that were taken out of the trash pile left by art students moving out of their apartment!
It is 5 by 8 inches and only $10 (plus shipping). Email email@example.com if you’d like to order one!
200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training changed my life. It was within my training that I deeply examined my beliefs about myself and the world. I had been doing this for years already, especially within my BFA studies at UWM, in which I put my relationships to myself, each other, and to Earth under the microscope lens of art and womens’ studies courses. In yoga teacher training, a fraction of the time required of a student within the university, I had the opportunity to look through the lens of a yogi at my life and how I interact with my world.
I grew up a critical thinker, always distrusting the mainstream ways, and I would critique the mindless day to day life of consumerism that the American Dream encourages. I thought by being a producer of thoughtful images and objects, I could begin to inspire art viewers to question their own relationship to the American Dream, to the blind consumerism, to the disconnections we have with each other and our planet. I was frustrated with humanity.
Yoga Teacher Training showed me a new way. The way of the yogi. Love is power. Frustration is not a way to inspire others, but love is. I changed my relationship to myself and to my community. Anger has been replaced with acceptance, understanding, and most importantly love, and from this nourished rather than frustrated source of energy, I now address the issues I always have been in a far more effective manner.
Profoundly humbling, and from my deepest source of love, I am now leading a 200 hour teacher training through the Third Ward’s Institute of Beauty and Wellness. Who knows how Yoga Teacher Training could change your life? Sign up here: http://ibw.edu/programs/yoga/
Photo credit: Nicole Sheldon
The Yogis have been saying this for a long time, and what do you know modern science is catching up these days. Modern scientific studies, to be found here: Breath Could Change Your Emotions, are proving that deep, slow breathing reduces the stress precedes a presentation, concert, performance, event, and mindful, deep, slow breathing reduces chronic anxiety and PTSD. If you want to work on it, come to a yoga class or Autumnal Equinox Nidra, to breathe and relax!