Whatever our doorway to yoga—whatever our reason for going to class—as we practice, yoga wakes us up.
It wakes us up in a way that is intensely political; not in the old sense of the politics of left or right, liberal or conservative, but in a new sense that is exquisitely personal.
Yoga practice brings all kinds of stuff into the light—our physical and emotional addictions, our deepest fears and desires and the thoughts and energetic patterns that have a hold on us. Yoga works its subtle magic, and brings us to the only two questions that really matter. The two questions at the centre of a new politics: Who am I and how am I going to spend my time here?
A questioning—a waking up—that beats the heart of what the consciousness shift is all about.
Talk of a shift in consciousness is everywhere. From the yoga teacher down at our local studio to the leaders of big business, everyone is getting in on the act. But what do we mean when we talk of a shift in consciousness and how can each and every one of us make it real?
This boils down to three things:
1. The consciousness shift is simple: it is just a another way of saying a better world is possible. A world free of the striving, imbalance and dis-ease we see today. A world where we value flow, balance and harmony.
2. The consciousness shift is profound: to create a better world we have to change something fundamental. Underlying all the problems in our world is a very deep-rooted belief. The belief in separation—of you and me, of us and them, of people and nature, and so on.
It is a belief whose time is up, a belief that does not serve us.
The consciousness shift starts with exploring the truth that yoga and the traditions of the east have always proclaimed, and that parts of modern science are acknowledging: we are all connected, we are all one, we are waves in an ocean of being. A truth that states that separation is an illusion: a shift that starts with letting go of that illusion.
3. The consciousness shift is challenging: only we can let go of a belief that holds us. Only we can transform the truth of connection from an intellectual concept, from just another dogma, into a realization—into an empowered belief, into something that infuses what we do and how we do it.
Which brings us on to the power and potential of yoga. Because when we practice yoga we work and play with the only thing we have: our own experience. Experience that is colored by patterns:
> Thoughts we keep getting caught up in
> Things we do by habit
> Feelings we recycle
> Energy states we get drawn to
Yoga practice brings these patterns into the light where we can see them.
As we get up really close to our own patterns, we experience that they are related to each other. We experience that the things we had separated out and labelled with little words—mind, emotion, body, breath—are actually intimately interconnected.
So, through the practice of yoga we experience that the belief in separation just does not hold up in our own being. And as we dissolve the illusion of separation in our own being we begin to realize for ourselves the message of the Yoga Sutras: heal your self, make your self whole.
As our practice deepens, and the separation inside dissolves, this realization does not stop at the old boundaries of what we believed was us. It is an ever ongoing and expanding engagement with the first question of the new politics: who am I?
Yoga rises when we take the wisdom gained from our experience in practice out into our worlds. When we act in a way that is in alignment with our own experience of connectedness. Wherever we are on that journey.
Yoga rises when we engage with the message of the Bhagavad Gita. The classic tale in which Krishna basically tells Arjuna: Look – you are not what you think you are. You are however here in this big interconnected world and you’re always playing your part. Use your head and use your heart – act with intelligence and act through love. Then Krishna passes the ball to Arjuna saying: “you choose” – or, in other words, be a warrior.
Yoga rising is an ongoing engagement with the second question of the new politics: how am I going to spend my time here?
We don’t know how the consciousness shift is going to develop, how a better world will manifest. We don’t know whether the new politics will be evolutionary or revolutionary. And that’s ok – what we do is focus on what we do know:
1. We know that what we do and how we do it matters—this is the experiential wisdom we get from yoga practice.
2. We know that yoga gives us a perspective to take, a lens through which we participate in life and the ever deepening sense of connection.
3. We know we have the courage to resist buying into the values and systems of the age of separation—resist buying into self-centered striving, hierarchy and big leaders.
This is a grass roots shift and when we look around we see the green shots of yoga rising everywhere.
We see yoga warriors in all walks of life standing up, falling down, and getting up again.
Yoga warriors playing their part.
David Dodd is a life and business coach (www.awareness-and-change.com) and a yoga teacher with a passion for making yoga philosophy real. David works with fellow teachers to offer workshops and retreats focused on deepening and personalizing your practice, and using the tools of Yang and Yin asana practice, anatomy and individual & group coaching. David is still playing with—and occasionally working on—his first book!
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Ed: Bryonie Wise