Tuesday, November 02, 2010

This was my LA YOGA Editor's Note from the July/August, 2010 issue. I received a lot of great feedback and today, Arthur Klein asked me if I have this posted on the web, so I'm posting it today.

We are the yogis on the planet and now is the time that we must practice. (I’ve paraphrased an oft-quoted and sometimes varied line by Erich Schiffmann for this opening.) When I hear him say this, as I did recently, it gives me a moment to pause and think about what it really means.

Right now, there are more people practicing Yoga than there have been at any other point in history, at least that we know. This is probably the case if we also consider the percentage of the population, in addition to sheer numbers of people.

Anyone reading this magazine, or at least this editorial note, probably has some belief in the transformative, centering, healing power of the practice, or at least a curiosity. (Otherwise why would you have even picked this up?) If we believe, the next question to ask ourselves is: Are we practicing? And the next question is to ask ourselves: Are we really practicing?

It’s been a question I’ve been asking myself every day lately. Am I really practicing? Am I practicing beyond my personal time on the mat, beyond sharing space with others in class, teaching, chanting, meditating or praying? Am I really practicing? Am I taking the time to pause before I react? Am I treating others with respect? Am I choosing love over fear? Am I following through on my word? Am I paying attention to my family, friends, coworkers, students, clients, people I meet in line at the market? Am I being mindful in the kitchen, on the road? How am I participating in the world we all create?

As the oil continues to spill in the Gulf, are we all really practicing? What choices are we making as we shop, drive, consume or invest? I believe that there is some part of this tragedy that is confronting us, that dares to ask us where are we unconscious? Where are we just going along with the status quo? How are we perpetuating what came before? In what actions are we riding the momentum of something? What decisions do we make because we are worried about economic factors rather than thinking about how we can shift the very bedrock of our economic assumptions to embrace creativity, and community, to truly taking care of each other and support and value long-term solutions and sustainability rather than short-term profit, exploitation and violent gain?

When I think about our practice and the impact on ourselves, our relationships, our communities and our society, the role of education is profound. This is where introducing our children and young people to self-inquiry and self-respect along with providing tools for utilizing the resilience-increasing, stress-reducing, performance-enhancing techniques that are inherent in the Yoga tradition are all vital to transforming our lives and our culture.

These impressionable years of childhood and the time spent in school make a difference. I can still sing the lyrics of songs popular when I was in high school (popular at least among my group of friends). Years of competitive athletics combined with Yoga and meditation has set the tone for my life decades later.
Throughout the Yoga community, people are putting forth the effort, through curricula, multi-media, teacher training programs and seva to reach young people and find ways to introduce the practice. Abby Wills is one of those, and she speaks to several others in this issue. It still seems to me to be a burgeoning movement, with room for growth, the potential and the need for greater and deeper connections and more ways that we can come up with cohesive efforts to make a difference and to work together. Dare we take the challenge? Dare we practice? After all, as Patanjali says in the first of the Yoga sutras:

Atha Yoganushasanam

Now is the time for us to practice Yoga.

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