Yoga + Social Justice: The Preliminary Inner Work

YogaSocialJustice-HomePage4.jpgAs part of the Yoga + Social Justice training that I am thrilled to be able to participate in at Laughing Lotus San Francisco, I was required to fill out a detailed and thought-provoking questionairre. As part of Radical Self-Care for Radical Action (#RSC4RA), I am documenting every element of this training for this blog! I am writing this now from San Francisco, two hours away from joining the training myself. I missed the first day and, unfortunately, Jasmine’s class this morning because of train troubles and needing to be in NYC an extra day, but such is life. In the spirit of this training and RSC4RA, I am setting an intention for the day: gentleness + calm.

Anyways, I want to share with you some of my answers to the deep questions asked of me by the organizers of this training. Here goes…

What is social justice to you?

Social justice is a collective understanding that all members of society deserve to and should be treated with dignity and respect. It is the belief that all people deserve everything needed for physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Yet social justice does not stop at that understanding. Rather, that understanding translates to direct action that bridges gaps so that individuals become closer to obtaining all that they need to be Whole and have their existence in the world affirmed.

What is your understanding of privilege?

To this day when I think of privilege I still think of the Peggy McIntosh article on “invisible backpacks” that we all carry. I probably read it for the first time when I was in middle school and realized that my own backpack contained within it the fact that I’ve never been in a situation where my basic needs were not filled. With that privilege comes a complete lack of understanding for what that is like for others. I remember when I filled my first emergency food box as part of my AmeriCorps work and was told that I filled it with the bare minimum. My supervisor told me that when people are in crisis – when they lack in their basic needs – we need to approach our service work from a place of abundance. That was when I realized as well that my own privilege informs my biases. In this new year, my primary intention involves learning when to listen versus when to speak up, and in doing so, to call myself and others out – in the most gentle and implicit ways – on our privilege.

How do you navigate privilege and/or social justice as a yoga instructor?

I want my yoga teaching and practice to mirror my overall philosophy on yoga: that it is a bridge and a way of life. Yoga is a technique for getting to higher practices…like doing the work and actually serving people and causes. So, for me, I navigate social justice as a yoga teacher by not teaching yoga full time. I don’t yet know if that is the right decision for me, but what it does mean is that I get to infuse my day-job as a third grade teacher with as much yoga (both the asana and a yogic attitude) as I can. This comes with practice. Through practicing at Laughing Lotus NYC I am able to refuel so that I can give to others. I have had times when I’ve had very little to give because I wasn’t refueling. This is a tension I find in my activist and teaching life in general: taking the time to fuel up so that I can respond rather than react to all the various chaotic life that comes up when immersed in service.

What is the relationship between yoga and social justice and privilege?

During this new era, I believe that we need to keep activism and social justice efforts continuous and sustainable; we cannot afford burnout. While burnout and activism have had close relationships to one another, so have healing practices and social change methodologies. We need to learn how to systematically refuel during these trying times. Yoga is a thoughtful, spiritual, emotional, and physical way of refueling so we can approach Social Justice Work from a place of intentionality and responsiveness.

What are three Yogic teachings or practices that bridge Yoga and Social Justice?

  • Tapas – steady discipline (this means writing down actions – representatives to call! – in my planner, and carefully planning out the lessons I’ll teach).
  • Aparigraha – non-possessiveness – as a way not to hoard conversations around social justice. As mentioned previously, my intention for the new year is to gauge when I need to listen versus when I need to speak up. Also, determine when I need to speak up and do so thoughtfully. And then, I intend to act from that space. I think it is imperative to act with intention. To act unintentionally is to act carelessly, and we can’t afford carelessness. I also want to acknowledge my own privilege and my own unique experiences. I want to use them to be a better listener anda better activist…which are really one in the same.
  • Setting an Intention – As a yoga teacher and a practitioner, the asana practice offers me a specific time and ritual around intention-setting and asking myself (in the post-election words of writer Elizabeth Gilbert), “Who do I want to be in this situation?”

written from stanza coffee in san francisco’s mission district, a convenient 1/2 block away from laughing lotus sf

 

Summer Online Yoga School: A Preview

In the midst of the sheer bummer of a month that is February (i.e. the ultimate threshold between a post-holidays winter and the newness of spring), I cannot help but feel extremely excited for summer. Recently, I decided to do something I’ve never done before (at least in recent memory). I decided to forgo overworking myself this summer. At least, I decided to not overwork myself for anyone but myself. So, I am blissfully anticipating a summer of travel, yoga, yoga teaching, graduate school, and adorable cafes.

Summer for a school teacher + yoga teacher feels like the perfect time to pursue my own projects…musings that come to me on the 1 train first thing in the morning that I jot down in a journal but forget as soon as the work day begins. There are two offerings that have been a long time brewing that I am very excited to bring to the interwebs world this summer: one for educators, and one for anyone. They both have one thing in common: YOGA.

Here are some quick elevator-pitch previews of these two courses. And that’s exactly what they are: elevator pitches. These courses haven’t been even close to finalized yet so if there’s anything YOU would like to see in either of them, please say so by commenting on this post.

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 E-Course Offering #1: Yoga U Summer School DIY Home Practice

Have you ever wanted to lead your own yoga practice…from the comfort of your own home…but just didn’t feel knowledgeable enough? Are you a bit mystified by all the knowledge your yoga teacher seems to know about how to sequence a practice that feels complete? Over 8 weeks, this course will explore through video, audio, writing, journaling, and outside resources, what your ideal and – more importantly – sustainable home practice looks like. We’ll break down the fundamentals of sequencing, anatomy, music choice, and inspiration. You’ll leave this course with oodles of resources to use over and over again, as well as with a full set of knowledge to feel comfortable practicing yoga on your own…wherever in the world you are!

 E-Course Offering #2: Yoga for Educators

Do you want to use mindfulness to create a more present classroom for you and for your students? Are you interested in learning manageable techniques for practicing self-care to help you better serve others? The Yoga for Educator e-course introduces the wide-reaching practices of yoga in ways that make sense for educators: society’s day-to-day warriors. This e-course is designed to empower educators with self-care tools for themselves and professional development tools on mindfulness in the classroom.

Like I said, I’m extremely excited for summer. These two offerings have been a long time coming, and they are still in the works. I look forward to hearing your feedback!

Oh, Mindful Day!

Even though I am a yoga teacher on the side, as a first-year elementary school teacher it is rare that I can and the day feeling like I am truly practiced a large amount of mindfulness. But today was different.

I did what I usually do in the morning. I woke up, showered, made and eat breakfast and got to the school that I am an assistant teacher at. In the morning I put my lesson plans together and even got the flat ladder ready for when I would teach health last period.

Health Class

Fast forward to the health class I teach to the whole third-grade. I am constantly gratified but the freedom my house around the curriculum. It allows me to fused together a wide variety of passions: pedagogy, curriculum, yoga, overall health and well-being, and the work I did all year in physical therapy that made me oh-so-aware of where my body stands in space on a daily basis.

For these two weeks my lessons are about proprioception. I begin by teaching the kids that large, impressive word. Then we do our first routine of health class: the check-in. For this check in because we were talking about how we move in the spaces we are in each student has to call out to an emotion word that represents how they’re feeling and Perritte with an action physically that also represents how they’re feeling. As the check-in progressed, we each acted our emotion in motion plus all the emotions that preceded them in the circle. When I was in my kids yoga teacher training I believe we called this “mudra vinyasa” and that term has stuck with me to this day.

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Our second routine of health class is the yoga deck. The yoga deck, formally called “Yoga Pretzels,” is definitely the kids’ favorite part. The most well-behaved student (oh, hay positive reinforcement) gets to come up to the front, close their eyes and pick the card we use. Then, we all do the pose / breathing exercise / meditation / yoga game together. This week, the kiddos were being particularly rowdy so after they chose their card from the yoga deck, I chose one for them as well: Rainbow Meditation (i.e. a guided savasana). And wow, did that work!

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The third routine we have in Health Class is Freewriting! I introduced Freewriting on the first day by saying that me and one of my best friends from middle school, T, freewrite together every Sunday night. We’ve been doing this for over seven years and create our own prompts and our own rules. I wrote those rules into this poster that I carry around with me everywhere.

After Freewriting, we do our activity. This lesson, on proprioception, involved me leading the activity I did for months and months for physical therapy. The thing with breaking your leg is that you kind of regress in terms of remembering where you are in space. The thing about physical therapy is that not only do you re-learn it, but you get even better at it! The thing about Third Grade is that these kiddos are constantly growing and their relationships to the spaces they occupy are constantly changing. Teaching proprioception as a skill is hard work. To make it easier, I snagged a floor ladder from the high school football coach. The name of the game? “Quiet Line.” Students couldn’t touch the ladder with their feet while doing a repetitive movement. When I said LINE, they had to freeze. It was the most fun I’ve had teaching health so far!

Mindfulness 101

After teaching Health and dismissing all the kids on their buses, I headed downstairs to the cafeteria for some scheduled professional development. We had a woman from The Mindful Classroom give us a mindfulness 101 presentation. Here were my main takeaways:

  • Do body scans with the kids lying down / with heads on desks.
  • No one pays attention by being told “pay attention.” Instead, we can teach kids how to pay attention and that is profound.
  • Tell kids that mindfulness is paying attention with awareness, curiosity, and kindness.
  • Mindfulness is a set of skills.
  • Hourglass timers can give kiddos a point of focus.
  • Do Metta meditation with the kids! Have them develop their own lovingkindness mantra!

I highly recommend taking a workshop with this fantastic educator. All the teachers left feeling so relaxed (it was like an extended savasana). I’d take that over a regular old faculty meeting any day.

Lotus Flow

I walked to the subway stop with the school guidance counselor, so I had a chance to debrief our PD workshop after it occurred. A lot of it had to do with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). unfold, the Portland studio I worked at last year, focused heavily on MBSR. I struggled with that focus because I de-stress at times by moving so fast that I forget what I was worrying about before I started moving. And this very reason is why I love Lotus Flow. This very reason is why I became a member at Laughing Lotus this year, my first year as a full-time teacher. It is the antidote to my brain at times. That night, I went from the beautiful stillness of the mindfulness workshop to the gorgeous fluid movement of Lotus Flow vinyasa with the fabulous Sheri Celantano. She centered the class around Mary Oliver’s latest poem. Let us end this post Mary’s mindful words:

I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t. That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

DIY Yoga Continuing Education Binder

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After that initial 200-hour yoga teacher training, the desire for more and deeper information drives many of us yoga teachers to pursue a wide variety of continuing education. From workshops to retreats to 300-hour trainings to 50-hour modules to lectures and professional development through the yoga studios we work at, the information comes at us from many different angles. Unlike a 200-hour where most of the information is likely contained in one singular manual, the continuing education information comes in many different packets, books and leaflets.

This is what I would love to make clear through this post: There is vitality in keeping all that information in one place. When I started taking 50-hour modules through Laughing Lotus, I also had trainings under my belt in yoga service (Street Yoga) and kid’s yoga (OmSchooled). Decorating the messy floor of my bedroom were handouts from guest teachers and notes taken in workshops. I made a decision one day my senior year of college, mid-way through doing that 300-hour comprised of 50-hour modules and the random classes I took along the way. I went to the campus bookstore, bought the widest-rimmed binder I own, and started three-hole-punching.

While this might seem like an office-y blog post, there was a metaphorical relief that came out of putting all that living, breathing information on what yoga is and what it can do for us and the philosophy behind it in once place. It integrated all this knowledge so that, rather than being disparate pieces of information, each one confined to its own lineage, it was part of one beautiful whole of the meaning of Yoga – Union, the yoking together of various ways of getting to the same point: Wholeness. When you make your own continuing ed binder, you actually have the opportunity to define and own what yoga means for you.

Here is a brief how-to:

  1. Buy a large binder.
  2. Start 3-hole-punching all manuals (go a Staples or OfficeMax if you have to to hole punch the larger ones).
  3. Insert these paper pieces of wisdom into the binder. Insert them either in chronological or categorical order (i.e. kid’s yoga info goes with kid’s yoga info, yoga service grouped together, etc.).
  4. If there are poems that have resonated with you as you’ve pursued your yoga teaching career + education, photocopy them and insert throughout.
  5. Decorate the cover with stickers from yoga studios, poetry, quotes, whatever makes your heart sing and return again and again to refer to what got you to where you are!
  6. Write your name on it! Own it! Because when it comes down to it, this amalgamation of texts is what gives you your own unique yoga teaching voice, through honoring the wide variety of places you’re coming from.

Yoga for Educators

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As you’ve likely heard (because let’s face it; if you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’ve been to a yoga class or two), the Sanskrit root of the word yoga – “yog” – means to yoke together, or to unite. Yet oftentimes, as someone who works at an elementary school by day as a part-time yoga teacher/glittered, bindi-wearing vinyasa practitioner by night, my professional identities can feel rather separate. This distance between the two aspects of where and how I spend my time makes it all the more exciting when I find ways for these two to yoke together.

My Yoga for Educators workshop and series is just that! When I spoke with Leigh, co-owner of Unfold, the yoga therapy studio I’ve been teaching at since I moved to Portland, we discussed what my “ideal client” might be. After I explained to her the joy I’ve experienced in teaching staff yoga at the school I serve at and teaching to AmeriCorps members through my AmeriCorps Yoga workshops, she informed me that it sounds like I love teaching to the “unsung heroes” in our society. I think she’s right.

So it is with same great joy I teach from and to that I bring you the announcement of the Yoga for Educators workshop and series at Unfold. In the workshop happening in two weeks, I will cover:

  • DIY Yoga: creating a sustainable home practice that works within those unique educator schedules
  • Yoga for the Classroom: using mindfulness, meditation and stretch breaks to cultivate more engaged teachers and learners, and
  • Breathwork: to balance our parasympathetic nervous systems in the path to being more present

The series will be a lot like the workshop – just WAY more in-depth. The Yoga for Educator series introduces the wide-reaching practices of yoga in ways that make sense for educators: society’s day-to-day warriors. This series is designed to empower educators with self-care tools for themselves and professional development tools on mindfulness in the classroom. In this series, participants will:

  • Reflect on the importance of the mind-body connection and parasympathetic nervous system
  • Create your own yoga practices for different times of the day and schedules
  • Learn different breathing exercises for both students and teachers; learn how to harness students’ attention through mindfulness and
  • Relax! And develop a whole toolkit for relaxation that can be practiced during the summer, and easily transferred over to the school year!

If you know of any educators in the Portland area, please let them know about this offering (I will also be blogging the highlights so stay tuned) and check out the below links:

Unfold Website (scroll down! sign up!)

Facebook Event for Workshop

Facebook Event for Series

Personal Website ShiraEngel.com

yoga for educators2015 (flyer)

written from dragonfly coffee house in portland, or

2014 in Review

I am inspired by bloggers Kimberly Wilson, Gala Darling and Chris Guillebeau to, in Kimberly’s words “tie a bow” on the year to make room for the presents the presents can bring. And heck, if Facebook is making one for me, I might as well make one for myself!

2014 was a huge year. I wrote a book thesis. Graduated college. Moved across the country. Began an AmeriCorps service. Started biking everywhere. Began paying rent. The list goes on…below (in chronological order).

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2014 was filled with
laughing lotus FLY skool + hands-on 50-hour intensives
• co-directed + passed off the middle school tutoring program in middletown
• taught diy yoga workshop
• participated in iron chef experiment with dear friends
• co-taught kids yoga class w/ the fantastic a
• taught radical vinyasa + fierce flow w/ wesBAM
• passed on wesBAM w/ partner-in-crime r
• attended NYCORE conference
• worked on friend’s senior architecture thesis
• wrote senior thesis on the cuban literacy campaigns
ayurveda + bhakti laughing lotus 50-hour modules
• participated in all senior events
• graduated from wesleyan university
tied a bow on story of a college yogi
• started new blog growing up on om
• spontaneously traveled to chicago for a day to be w/ friends
traveled to italy w/ mom + sister: rome, florence, venice
• romantic vacation on nantucket
• worked as a summer teaching fellow w/ the pase summer learning teaching corps
• had my own first middle school class
• taught a three sisters yoga alumni class
• taught yoga privates
• taught at harlem yoga studio, a new hOMe
• beach + lighthouse tour weekend in maine w/ old roommates + paris friend
• rekindled byfi friendships
• traveled to washington, dc for yoga weekend + to tie a bow on passing on wesBAM
• practiced at laughing lotus nyc a bunch
• returned after a few years to laughing lotus sf for inaugural courage + grace advanced tt
• continued shakespeare in the park tradition

* assisted ali cramer at gigantic yoga class in times square
said goodbye to nyc w/ summer streets + governor’s island

* took boxing course
• successfully completed 250 out of 300 hours of my advanced yoga teacher training w/ laughing lotus
moved to portland
• moved into tiny apartment
• heaps of happy hours
• began americorps service at the best elementary school imaginable
• turned 23 w/ a fabulous birthday party + day of service
• attended chris guillebeau reading
• trips to seattle to visit aunt

* camping trips + visit to oregon coast

* participated in and “won” national novel writing month

• began teaching at unfold yoga studio
broke leg + had surgery
• began healing process
yoga + social change training @ unfold
• home to nyc for the holidays

Here is to a 2015 filled with Metta: Safety, Happiness, Joy + Freedom!

Namaste,
Shira

Yoga + Social Change: Diary of a Training

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.
Gloria SteinemRevolution from Within

Day One

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For the past four years, I “worked” my toosh off as a Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies major studying the theories behind social change. Gloria Steinem, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga – you name it, I’ve read it. But it is only now, half a year out of college, that I am doing what I studied. As a Community Involvement Specialist (I LOVE my position title!) at a Title I elementary school, I am doing so much of it that I forget what I studied. There is, I am realizing, a dire need for praxis in basic needs work: action and reflection working in constant dialogue with one another. This I learned from Paulo Freire.

But I today I learned from Molly, the director of the Samarya Center in Seattle and a pioneer in creating a field out of yoga therapy. Her words were praxis embodied. She gave us concrete things and actions to reflect upon as we discussed social change, our own biases, defined our terms rigorously and truly thought about what effective action means. With everything that has been going on in this country, I could not imagine a better time to do this training. But then again, sh*t is always happening. It is always a good time for a training like this.

Molly’s words felt like college. They felt like academia, but they also felt real. The “yoga” component of the training was hardly addressed; it was implicit (which was good because in case you forgot I attended this training with a broken leg. As it should be. This training reminded me that I want my yoga teaching and practice to mirror my overall philosophy on yoga: that it is a bridge and a way of life. Yoga is a technique for getting to higher practices…like doing the work and actually serving people and causes. Yoga is not a full time job; it is not its own “yoga world,” as many blogs and clothing stores and studios talk about. Yoga is fueled by real experiences. Experiences of social change and action and reflection. This is the work.

This is the time, as much as ever, to become engaged. Not surprised, not despairing, not unhinged. Engaged.

Participate in the everyday possibilities all around you. Gain and hone the practice and skills needed to co- create, to share a burden, to have your voice heard, to put your money where your values are, to let others’ voices be heard, to encourage inclusion and open mindedness and heartedness.

You can practice these things every single day. Become engaged.

Practice in the straight away what you’ll use in the curve. You say you want a revolution? The revolution begins within. – Molly Lannon Kenny

Day Two

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On the second and last day of this training, I thought a lot about the ripple effect of change. As Molly and others talked, I reflected in my notebook about how we see ourselves change gradually through these practices. When I first started going to Pure Yoga six years ago, for example, I would go to a yoga class every Tuesday night that made what Molly labeled yesterday as “boundless compassion.” When we chanted, I literally felt my heart physically expand. I dedicated every wheel pose to being of greater service in the world. Then, I owuld walk the five blocks home and start yelling at my mother for “messing up” dinner.

I was sixteen and angry. But a seed of mindfulness had been planted.

Fast forward five years and my mother grew so inspired by how, after more time of letting the yoga integrate itself in my mind and heart, I became actually more compassionate and tranquil at home and school. And with with my friends. And in the activist groups I became a part of. In short, I became less angry. But more importantly, my mom now goes to yoga every day. She feels better because of it. The irony of this whole ripple effect phenomenon that I am describing is that I thought I was so incredibly, utterly (I only half-apologize for the adverbs) selfish to be doing so much “for myself.” At my first yoga class with my skewed chatarangas, I had no freaking idea that I would become a yoga teacher. Or work in the service sector in such a hardcore way. Or teach hundreds of people. Or teach students their first wheel poses…students hwo would then go on to become yoga teachers themselves. I did not know then just how unselfish these practices become when we keep doing the work.

This, to me, is where yoga and social change come together as a natural pairing, lovers that birth revolution.

Inhaling & Exhaling: Courage & Grace Day Five

our lovely vegan cake celebration of our week together before we chanted each other's names as we collected our diplomas

our lovely vegan cake celebration of our week together before we chanted each other’s names as we collected our diplomas

dancing to keith's kirtan

dancing to keith’s kirtan

As tends to happen with these trainings, the question on the last day is about integration. For five days, we had inspiration at our fingertips with master classes in both the mornings and afternoons, chanting right after lunch, and one-on-one mentorship from two of the best teachers I know. You may notice at this point that I have italicized the in in the words that contain it in this post thus far (sorry for being redundant; I was an English major and linguistics fascinate me!). When I taught fifteen minutes of a class to teachers I have utmost respect for in the afternoon on our last day, I centered the practice around a quote I read years ago from a rather funny source: The Burlesque Handbook:

Inspiration means ‘to breathe in.’

And so this week we did a lot of inhaling. Upon leaving this training, I learned quickly, it was time to exhale the knowledge we gained and to harness it! I left with my heart feeling full and abundant and grateful and with concrete ways to integrate this practice into all my affairs. It was time to allow for the expansiveness of the exhale.

Pratayahara & Amtrak: Courage & Grace Day Four

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Today, our focus was on Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. Naturally, for my limb-du-jour (I know that sounds strange), I chose pratayahara, the withdrawing of the senses. To be honest, I think that this was such a natural choice for me because I had just arrived in the West Coast from NYC, a place where my senses were constantly on overload. 

When I think of pratayahara I think mainly of being in transit. This summer, when I was really overwhelmed with a teaching job, I would take the long subway ride home in NYC. I would get on the train, put in my headphones (physically blocking off one of my senses and connections to the sounds outside myself), and close my eyes for the duration of the ride. I needed to go in, in order to move outward. 

Recently, I became obsessed with a new program Amtrak (the train company) offers: a writer’s residency. From their website:

Amtrak Residency was designed to allow creative professionals who are passionate about train travel and writing to work on their craft in an inspiring environment. Round-trip train travel will be provided on an Amtrak long-distance route. Each resident will have use of a private sleeping roomette, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Onboard meals will also be offered to all residents in the dining car aboard the train.

There is so much we can accomplish when in that liminal space…so much creativity we can harness when we go inward (inside a train car, a subway track, a plane) and withdraw temporarily from the outside world with all its demands. This real-life application of this ancient yogic limb was my “little nugget,” as Jasmine says, that carried my Dharma Talk through.

Progress was being made.

Reclaiming SF & Bhakti: Courage & Grace Day Three

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Today, the theme that Keith wove into our morning practice and that we were expected to weave into the afternoon practice was Bhakti, the Yoga of Devotion. I did a whole Bhakti training at Laughing Lotus NYC, but the bhav (devotional mood) was inherently different in this training. That is because Keith’s voice provided one of my first experiences of Bhakti. 

Two summers ago, I spent a very challenging and uncomfortable summer in San Francisco. My first time in a new city by myself, I was honestly shocked by the transition from having a sheer abundance of friends in school to having only a couple in a city that felt totally foreign to me. One night, feeling particularly lost, I walked into a kirtan at Laughing Lotus with Keith Borden and the Soul Sangha. I was so surprised when Keith’s rendition of the Maha Mantra made my heart swell in a way I did not know was even possible. 

Today, after lunch, Keith welcomed us back to the Shambhala Center with mantra…with that mantra and my heart swelled in that familiar yet breathtaking way and I was reminded of why I teach in the first place: to give the space for the feeling of wholeness that can come as a result of the multitude of practices Yoga encompasses.