The first time I practiced with Seane Corn, I immediately noticed her intensity.
If I didn’t know who she was, I would probably take her as one tough chick who could hold her own in a fistfight (she probably can) instead of a renowned yoga teacher. When I took her “Off the Mat, Into the World” workshop a while ago, she mentioned one thing in particular that really stuck with me. She was telling us that she had recently come across a picture of herself in her youth, during a protest. The image captured a young Seane standing on a platform screaming into a megaphone, eyes closed, one hand raised in either triumph or obscenity. Below her stood a group of people – eyes closed, mouths open. Now older and wiser, she realized that protesting in anger isn’t activism – it’s the blind and deaf preaching to the blind and deaf.
She said, “If I’m not praying for George Bush, I’m part of the problem. If I’m perpetuating this negative image of him, I’m not helping anything.”
Activism is the conscious act of being willing to transform any situation into an act of love. In this way, activism is directly connected to the practice of yoga. As yogis, we learn to practice activism on our mats – by pushing through a challenging core series, or trying to find balance in tree pose. Regardless of the difficulty we may feel in that moment, we breathe and feel and turn the challenge into an opportunity for growth.
Though it can certainly be much easier to think peaceful thoughts while flowing through a Hatha class, yoga isn’t confined to the edges of a rubber mat. The real yoga shows up when you step off the map and jump into the world. Imagine your mat extending beyond the studio to your family life, then maybe your personal life, and your work life. Everybody shows up in your life as a teacher; to hold a mirror up to your reactivity.
Getting angry about people like George Bush isn’t activism – it’s anger. So start praying for George Bush. Then see where your yoga takes you.