love

Being a "Good" Yogi

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How do you measure the efficacy of your yoga practice? The answer to this question is often only thought of in terms of flexibility and strength but that is not a measure of a yoga practice, it is only a measure of an asana practice. Asana is only one branch of yoga and if that is all you are doing, I hate to break it to you, but you are not doing yoga, you’re just exercising.

 

The modern yoga industry sells this version of yoga idea to make it more “palatable” for the masses, more salable, more commercialized and easier to reap a profit. This is a gross appropriation of an ancient practice for the commercial industrialized world. A “palatable” yoga practice is as far from yoga as yoga can get.

 

Yoga is a spiritual practice. Spirituality like yoga is also marketed to the masses in a “palatable” way, as a thing that makes “life all good”. But calling life all good is just spiritual bypass. Life isn’t always all good. Sure, from the spiritual perspective it’s all divine, but that’s not all good. Sometimes the divine shows up in shitty ass ways. Take the 400 years of white supremacy that makes up the backbone of the democracy we call America; it’s shitty and it’s an invitation to doing great soul-searching work; it’s the divine showing up say look here and do the work here. Spirituality is not about transcendence of the world but deeper involvement in it. Spirituality is the act of recognizing our ego is not in control, something bigger is dealing the cards, and our response to the hand we get dealt is where the work gets done; that is where the human evolves, that is where a better world is created – internal and external. That means acceptance, accountability, commitment, awareness, forgiveness, compassion, and most of all love.

 

That awesome pose you can do doesn’t mean shit in the face of life – ugly, real, honest life; that picture of you in some awesome pose just means you can do some awesome pose. If you use the journey into and out of the pose as a reminder of how to face and dance with life off your mat, it means more. If you can use the pose to remember that life isn’t comfortable and the way you choose to perceive the experience you are having in your mind, a choice that may or may not disturb the resonance of peace and love in your heart, then it means more; to explore the boundaries of your fear and your relationship to courage while there, and to continue - not despite the adversity but in the face of it - then it means more; to explore the nature of your willingness to reckon with self-accountability while rumbling with the self-aggrandized ignorance of your beliefs, it means more. If you’re only striking some awesome pose for that great Instagram shot and more followers, it doesn’t mean shit; and it certainly does not mean you’re some advanced yogi.

 

Sure, I can do some pretty big asana poses but my ability to do those poses is not my measure of the efficacy of my yoga practice. I measure the efficacy of my yoga practice in my capacity to sit in the company of myself when I’m feeling fucked-up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional without asking those things to change, but rather addressing myself there with more compassion, love, accountability, courage, and forgiveness. I measure the efficacy of my yoga practice in my ability to be compassionate towards others who are living human lives; ignorant, self-aggrandized, shut down, and afraid. I measure the efficacy of my yoga practice in my ability to be more like my hero’s, people who have stood or still stand with love and courage in the face of adversity for the sake of the greater good. People who lead and have led the way for the rest of us to follow. The list is long and the majority of them are people of color.

Having flexible joints and muscles doesn’t mean you have a flexible mind; doesn’t mean you can rid yourself of a destructive belief for one that is life enhancing. Having strong joints and muscles doesn’t mean you have strength of character nor the ability to be in the presence of difficult people or experiences without getting taken out by them. Strong and flexible joints and muscles are not measurements of a strong yoga practice, nor a strong spiritual practice, they are only poor imitations. If like me, you are a white yogi and you want to be a “good” yogi in the world today it is time to educate yourself on white supremacy; have difficult conversations about your complicity and privilege with yourself and others; stand for something bigger and more life enhancing than your desire to nail that press handstand and do it in public. Let your conviction and commitment to a cause greater than yourself be a measurement of your yoga practice no matter how many followers or students you gain or lose; no matter how big your poses get; no matter how much anger and grief you have to sit through; let your flexibility of mind, strength of character, and spaciousness of spirit speak for you.

With Love, Allways, In All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,

Genevieve

Dangerous. Love.

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Dangerous. The world we live in. Dangerous. The thoughts we think. Dangerous. Ignorance. Dangerous. Awareness. Dangerous. Hate. Dangerous. Love. The terrorist attacks in Paris this weekend rippled an echo of danger around the world. Stirring a pot that is already boiling, on the verge of boiling over. Like rubbing velvet against the grain, even the most isolated of us feel something adverse, something that puts us in some camp regarding our position on the subject. It’s human nature after all to feel something after hearing about such an act. However, what we feel depends completely on what we believe, and how we perceive the world.

Helen Keller lived her life in the dark and in silence, such an experience could have resulted in her living life in a paralyzed state of fear. That kind of experience of living is such a stark difference of perception than most of us able-bodied souls experience. Rather than living in a paralyzed state of fear, Helen Keller adapted, and to her credit is known to history as a remarkable, resilient, powerful, and incredible human. We can attribute her life experience that created the wisdom in which she said, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

There is no point in arguing that these most recent attacks on Paris make us all feel less safe, and were nothing other than heinous. Yet, we like Helen Keller have an opportunity to take something more powerful away from this experience, something greater than fear guised in the superstition of security. Remembering that life is not only dangerous, but it is also short, we have the opportunity always to receive from our lives what we put into them. Does it serve to lock ourselves away in fear of what lurks around the corner? Does it serve to judge others based on a story of someone similar? Does it serve to hold steadfast in a belief that is rooted in separation? Ignorance only serves ignorance. The more awareness any of us brings to ourselves the more able we are to see others in a light brighter than fear, stronger than force, and as powerful as love. There is always a light shining into the darkness, now is our opportunity to rise to the occasion and shine the light of awareness into a world full of ignorance, one conversation, smile, and gesture of generosity at a time.

Danger will remain, but it does not have to paralyze, it can be overcome with every ounce of strength gained by acts of love. This is the power of unconditioned love, this is the power that creates clarity out of chaos, and stars in the black blanket of a dark night.  This is perhaps what makes love always dangerous, because true unconditional love will always win.

Prayers to all of those who lost loved ones on both sides of this heinous act.  Prayers to those who hurt and are angry. Prayers to the city of Paris for whose patron Saint I am named. Prayers to all who are lost in a sea of ignorance.  Prayers to those living in danger everyday.  Prayers and love to the world.

With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving,

Genevieve

Cast Away

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We all want to connect and feel like we belong, it is human nature. Over the course of our lives we wind in and out of relationships like strands of hair in a braid. From closeness to estrangement and sometimes back to closer than ever before. This is part of the process of personal and relational evolution.  While we explore the ever expanding perimeters of ourselves and our relationships it is important to remember that we all change and there is no harm in casting away from what once served and has become less lustrous or valuable. The same is true for those who cast themselves away from us. In the spirit of unconditional love it is valuable to remember that just because someone has changed, set sail, and gone on to new ways of being, does not mean they are outside the circle of deserving of love and respect.

Sometimes we deem such departures in relationship as a falling out, when in fact they are more aptly an opportunity to fall more deeply in. Anytime people come into or move out of our lives is an opportunity to reflect on what they came to teach us. Sometimes the teachings are directly related to interrelating, most often, however, they are related to inner-relating. 

As we evolve and change in external relationships, our internal relationship evolves as well. Knowing what serves changes from day to day and breath to breath. When we cultivate a connection to our deepest selves with a capital S, we cultivate the ability to not only cast our sails but also navigate through the stars or our soul lit sky. This is not merely human nature, it is the nature of our spirit and our soul. Connecting here deepens all other connections no matter how fleeting or everlasting into the heart and the heart of all hearts with love.

The wind of love is always blowing, all you have to do is open your sails.

With love, always, in all ways, for giving, Genevieve