June Newsletter: Yoga As A Practice For Radical Self-Acceptance
I hope you all continue to remain safe & healthy. As we near the end of spring, Pitta season is quickly approaching us. In ayurveda, pitta is an expression of the fire element linked to the cosmic guna of Rajas. In its sattvic essence, pitta's positive quality is called "Tejas," the illuminating fire of intelligence, Right discernment, and mental clarity. However, when pitta is in a disturbed, aggravated space, that fire can ignite into an destructive rajasic blaze, eventually smoldering into tamas--darkness & inertia. In the Yogic philosophies that explain the energetic procession of universal cycles, this time is considered the "Kali Yuga," a tamasic period clouded with ignorance, violence, greed and hatred.
The turn of events over the last week is that very rajasic pitta reaction descending into a tamasic expression of violent rioting.
As a black woman, I can empathize with the desperate explosion of protests erupting across the US; I can empathize with the aggression and even the violence; I understand the suffering and struggling us of the African Diaspora continue to endure at the hands of law enforcement and the judicial system; I see the disenfranchising & undermining of us black folks through systems of institutionalize racism, white privilege & dominant cultural narratives.
Fire is a catalyst. In the body, Agni is not only the digestive power to break down & transform food into nutrients, but it's our mind's ability to digest new ideas & assimilate them into knowledge. Fire is also known as Tapas: the transformational power of discipline to forge our strength, focus, determination & willpower.
Fire purifies. Fire is the sacrificial medium. Fire creates.
Yoga quite literally means "union," and is a practice of transformation--a practice of fire. Through yoga, we are able to cultivate the various forms of fire within the mind-body to burn away the negative impressions that can lead us down the path of avidya, the root of all mental afflictions. Avidya, meaning "clouded perception," weakens the positive qualities of Tejas and snuffs the fire of Tapas.
We can use this knowledge to skillfully use our practice for radical self-awareness, self-acceptance & self-expansion. When we can radically, spontaneously cultivate a higher sense of SELF, we can start to clear the clouded fog of avidya to see that we, as a human family, can collectively elevate ourselves from suffering. With the practice of yoga, we can purposefully question the current social paradigms & free ourselves from the delusions of the world process. Through yoga, we can re-discover a profound union of SELF & all elevate human consciousness.
This radical practice begins with each of us as individuals.
This is a call to action for my white friends, allies and students: How can you ignite the fire of Tejas in your mind and the minds of your fellow white community members? Through your yoga, what skills & tools can you embrace in the journey of addressing & unpacking hidden racial biases with honesty, strength & radical self-acceptance? How can your yoga prepare you to not only have conversations with fellow white friends & family members about institutionalized racism & white privilege, but also fortify your courage to call out all forms overt racism & racial violence, plus shine light on the shadows of subtle racism & racial microaggressions when you observe such behaviors happening?
One practice that can strengthen your mental & emotional resolve is mantra. Meaning "resolution," mantra chanting can help to mentally & energetically plant the seeds of intention to create so something greater that what we think is possible. A simple mantra that you can use in your practice is the universal mantra for peace, the Lokaksema Mantra:
लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः
Lokāḥ Samastāḥ Sukhino Bhavantu
Oṃ shāntiḥ shāntiḥ shāntiḥ
May all beings everywhere be happy & free,
and may my thoughts, words & actions contribute to the happiness & freedom of all.
Peace, peace, eternal peace.
You can use this mantra as a stand-alone practice for japa meditation, or you can incorporate this into your asana & pranayama practice with guidance from an experienced teacher. Scroll down for a special video from me sharing the Lokaksema Mantra with harmonium. As you learn to memorize the mantra, please chant along as often as you'd like. Eventually you may notice the vibrations of this mantra resonating within you even if you're not actually chanting it. This is the essence of Nada Yoga.
Ready to take additional action now? Please consider donating to or joining one of these these Nashville community anti-racism activist organizations:
Virtual Workshop This Saturday 1-3pm CST!
Sacred Traditions of the Home Practice: Sadhana & The Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Want to explore the classical yogic texts PLUS strengthen your home practice? This virtual workshop is for you!
Join me for this beginner-friendly workshop through Kali Yuga Yoga exploring the tradition of sadhana--the home practice--through the wisdom provided in the 11th c. Tantric text, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. You'll walk away with the awareness of how to cultivate your sacred practice space plus a foundation for your sadhana through empowering knowledge of different “namaskaras,” and various postures described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika to grow YOUR home practice.
Explore connection to the roots of yoga through studying the classical texts. Expand into the sacred tradition of your home practice :-)