Recent newsletters I have received from well-known yoga teachers, in addition to sharing their wonderful offerings and teachings about yoga, have included references to the Gulf Oil Spill, the on-going economic crisis, and the humanitarian tragedies in Chili and Haiti and elsewhere. The information is presented as showing what yoga can do to help us better serve those in need, seek change in ourselves and the world around us, and find our own light in the face of things we cannot change, but these teachers are no longer keeping quiet about the presence of serious turmoil and tragedy.
As one who has been outspoken (perhaps too much so) about such issues in the context of yoga, as those of you who follow my blog know, it seems that it is no longer possible to be silent. We are all familiar with adages, “silence is golden” and “silence speaks louder than words.” We are also invited, as yogis, to observe the four gates of speech to the best of our ability, on and off the mat: (1) is it truthful? (2) is it necessary? (3) is it the right time? and (4) is it said in a kind manner? These gates are important for evaluating individual utterances.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been thinking about turning the “four gates” on their head, turning them upside-down in the tantric tradition, and asking how they apply to silence. When we are silent on an issue, on something that moves us, on something in a relationship that is important to us, are we being true to ourselves to be silent? Are we being honest by saying nothing (for saying nothing is, indeed, saying something)? Is staying silent timely or is it truly timely to speak up (using the four gates as guidance on how to speak up?); is being silent kind–we’ve all done it ourselves or experienced cold or hostile silences?
For me, more than ever, it is no longer the time to be silent. We must speak for the light, for action, for aligning better with nature, for deepening community, for enhancing the subtle energies that will help us heal and grow and shift society. As long as we are not practicing true “renunciate” yoga–giving up family, friends, shelter, and creature comforts, but instead are practicing the yoga of those still engaged in “regular” life, then we need to become more and more sensitive to how we can joyously affirm life, but passionately engage in seeking change that makes the light more available to all, while still going about our daily business. This is a razor’s edge balance. It can be so difficult to live consistently with our ideals, to speak and act in truth and kindness for ourselves and others the ideal all of the time. Our yoga invites us to cultivate and celebrate our strengths, to affirm ourselves and then to expand. Expansion can be intensely challenging and sometimes as much painful as exhilerating, but I think it is worth it.
This summer, in classes, I will be inviting all to join me in the questions I am exploring for myself: what is my intention? How can manifesting my intention make life sweeter for myself and those around me?
Join me for both class offerings and a special workshop up at Willow Street. William Penn House classes continue with special pricing for public interest workers, students, seniors, and those with other challenges. A portion of the proceeds from every student goes to support William Penn House’s work.
At Willow Street, the Saturday morning class has changed: it is now a “Fusion Flow” from 8:45-10. What’s the difference between the flow class and Level 2? We’ve already been doing a slow flow, but there will be fewer breaks, and more time for silence (a timely, nurturing silence), for students to get into their own groove to work towards manifesting their intention. We will have music most times to bring in a stronger sense of the dance, but I will continue, as always, to emphasize healthy alignment for the class as a whole and be responsive to questions. Gentle/Therapeutics is at noon as usual. There’s a free class weekend up at Willow Street where I will be teaching both types of classes on July 17th in the Takoma Park studio and Gentle/Therapeutics in the Silver Spring Studio on Sunday July 18th. The summer session starts on July 24th. Those who sign up for a class and a workshop simultaneously, get a $20 discount. For more information or to register on-line, please visit www.willowstreetyoga.com.
Want a siesta-like retreat from the heat? Ready for some relaxation and self-nurture? Treat yourself to two blissful hours of restorative yoga poses for a sweet afternoon retreat without all the travel! All levels welcome at the: Summertime Restorative Extravaganza, Saturday, July 31, 2010, 2:30pm-4:30pm, Willow Street Yoga Center, Takoma Park. $35.
As always, feel free to email me with questions or comments or join me on the blog: www.rosegardenyoga.com. Just FYI, we’ve fixed the issues with subscribing to the blog. If you haven’t already, just hit subscribe on the home page, follow the instructions, and then get an email in your inbox the day after I’ve posted a new blog entry.
Hope you are all having a great start to your summer and look forward to seeing you soon.
Peace and light,