for the last 2 weeks i have been working on preparing my gender studies course for 2nd year university students. I’ve been reading about feminism, feminist history and inspirational writings by audre lorde…two in particular poetry is not a luxury and transformation of silence into action struck me.
for as far back as I can remember I have been a fighter. I fought from a place that automatically knew that some things were not just and that i had to say something about it or I wouldn’t be in peace. this natural instinct led me to all my pursuits- social work, social activism, counseling, meetings, writing, and a wonderful world of brilliant women who represented everything that is right in this world, while fighting against all the things that are intrinsically wrong.
but for over a year that part of me had become silent. it had gotten tired of fighting. and i had received a personal sentence that my fighting was “not good”. was what got me into my mess – divorced, confused and insecure. so when i found yoga, i stopped looking for the things that dissect us and instead focused on the bigger picture, the universality of love, peace and so simply the breath. and for that i am eternally grateful, because now with that centre I realize I can fight from a much more profound place. a place of peace and not a place of perpetually draining anger. there was a time in my life where there was no line between where I started and where my anger ended. it was all consuming and it ate me up. and now that i have started to feel the familiar passion rise in me again, I can’t say that I have been wholeheartedly excited. in fact I thought I had buried it or conquered it. or moved past it. i’m still scared. what does this mean? will i know (and my heart says yes i will) how to better balance the juggling act between peace and activism?
So now there is a fire inside of me again that I feel like I can’t stay silent any longer. And this feeling has everything to do with my purpose, my natural self and not with “ego” or my “personality. I am trying to find the words to say what I know someone needs to say about yoga in our modern world. yoga has been co-opted, albeit by beautiful loving human beings that i truly respect and admire, but nonetheless it is another example of how knowledge is taken, re-packaged and then sold to the mainstream. yet i accept it unconditionally, and realize in some part that perhaps why I have to be part of this conversation.
the intellectual academic in me is tempted to dissect yoga in this post. to point out how the yoga movement is limited and how it is not inclusive of so many living realities – race, gender, class, ethnicity, religion, ability, sexuality. how yoga seems to be entrenched in a permanent patriarchy though it is practiced by more women than in men in the current context. how in so many ways we don’t even know what yoga is or what it was supposed to be. and yet because it is simplified, because it is movement and breath, its impact has the potential to dramatically alter the lives of all kinds of people. yoga triggers all the questions about ownership, knowledge production, globalization, capitalism, that in some ways I wanted to believe I could escape. but ultimately in anything we do, if we are conscious, we see, feel and respond accordingly.
so today i started with a simple step, picking up the phone and connecting to others in my community who also teach yoga. to not just write on a virtual page but to move, to perhaps even incite when i can the parts of us that make us uncomfortable enough to act, to change, and to inspire.