Recently there’s scant honor in identifying myself as a yoga instructor, studio owner or practitioner.
There has been unprecedented malice within the yoga community, in word and deed, yogi against yogi. And it pains me to think how an intelligent, non-practitioner of this ancient and revered art would perceive us. I see them shaking their heads with dismay, doubtful we’ll ever find our way to yoga.
I hesitate even as I write this article. I cannot say with words, I cannot elucidate via social media or through elephant journal the profound grace and beauty possible from a devoted yoga practice. On behalf of Vital Yoga, and because we see ourselves as stewards of this practice, our intention has been to restore honor to hatha yoga—if for no other reason than for the practice itself.
Because of what we tout, it has bestowed.
The real gifts of yoga are honed in silence and stillness, amidst a sea of breathing practitioners, with hope to become better and the possibility to evolve despite the state of the world. We are like islands, alone on our mat, with none but ourselves to be accountable to, and yet we practice alongside each other. How did we ever take this gift for granted? How did yogis begin to speak poorly about one another, to judge, to defame?
My answer: not enough awareness about our intrinsic interconnectedness. Not enough driving desire to become free of our judging and harming thoughts and actions. Otherwise, we would never have found ourselves here, in a combative, disheartening demonstration of ego and illusion.
My sister Desi and I developed a series of poses, a set sequence called “Vital Roots,” sometimes referred to as “The Roots.” We know its benefits. We’re fortunate John Friend helped make it more therapeutic and developed its efficacy. (Learn about John Friend’s involvement and history with “The Roots.”) We are committed to healing. What our yoga practice has taught us is that we’re all fallible and capable of compassion and healing in various ways, some in privacy.
I cannot judge how or where or in what time we heal. That it happens is crucial for humanity.
The true forum to explore Vital Roots is on the mat. We teach it at our studios. If our collaboration serves Hatha yoga practitioners, we’re grateful. John is teaching it next month when he returns to public teaching. We will not herald it as better or worse than another style. That’s for the practitioner to decide.
But it has offered us insight, an opportunity to explore this fascinating relationship between the body and mind, and one another. My life has become more joyful, freer from conditions and cultural/social expectations. I choose my thoughts, as opposed to being victimized by them. And my desire to cultivate a relationship to the Divine has evolved.
My friendships and understanding of community have matured. I have learned to be accountable to my inner wisdom, and to forgive my imperfections, as well as other’s. I feel good, and desire to share that with my students.
Regardless your style of practice, its name, its popularity or lack thereof; if you witness an enhanced life, an expanded capacity for joy, forgiveness and contribution, thank you. Some of you have remained quiet, despite the acrimony in pockets of Hatha yoga communities, a bitterness which has reflected poorly on us all. You’ve been on your mats with inner truth and faith as guides and I’m grateful to you. You are the teachers and practitioners whose sublime integrity will again inspire populations to practice.
Yoga is only one path to freedom and clarity, but it’s a good one.
Let’s stop harming and begin employing what we say we’ve learned, for yoga’s sake… because if our communities can heal, yoga will again be a compelling source of transformation in a world desperate for wholeness and wisdom.
Micah Springer, along with her sister, Desiree, co-own Vital Yoga Studios, a Denver-based business concerned with yoga asana, Ayurvedic nutrition and meditation. Micah began practicing yoga in 1994 and was first certified to teach in 1998. She has many teachers amongst which she considers nature, practitioners of body/mind disciplines, devotees of spirit and divinity, her students and nomadic cultures, as well as her life’s challenges. Her favorite poet: Hafiz. Author: William Faulkner. Inspiration: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai and the character Celie from “The Color Purple.” Her desire is to cultivate wellness-seeking communities whose intention is to be better stewards of the earth and each other, with a sense of humor, humanity, contribution, humility and simplicity. She is currently writing her memoir of her travels to nomadic Africa, as well as teaching Ayurveda and yoga at Vital Yoga.
Editor: Anne Clendening
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