I have seen many posts recently on Instagram, on the back of the on going conversation about white supremacy, and cultural appropriation with relevance to anyone outside of practicing Hinduism, Jainism or Buddhism being a candidate for practising yoga.
Personally I believe that yoga, in its truest, well rounded form is about experiencing our innate spiritual nature and the practises have developed over time to lead us to a state of awareness of our Divine nature.
I believe that no matter our origin or geography of birth, our skin colour, family or religion we are born into, that we are global citizens living with many diverse experiences but essentially we are One and as without so within.
Surely our yoga practice is to lead us to this state of experience and awareness, so that we may open our hearts to all, clear our ancestral hurts and bring the Divine into a lived moment by moment experience of life?
We may first encounter the practice of yoga as a means of experiencing ourselves in a more harmonious way, but I have witnessed many times that special moment when the spark of awareness is lit and the practitioner is guided into a greater communion with their True nature, the body may have been the gateway, but truth reveals itself none the less.
When we encounter the spark of the Divine we are forever transformed.
As both individuals and citizens of the world I believe that despite the circumstances of our birth we are each uniquely seeking that which will set us free and therefore, we may need to explore spiritual practices and religions outside of our immediate conditioning to awaken our potential.
If we are fortunate enough to find a yoga teacher who is well versed in the study and experience of yogic philosophy and practice then we may well receive the transmission we desire.
I do not, however, believe that being able to make beautiful shapes with our body is in and of itself yoga. If we are looking to become more flexible or get a 'yoga booty' then the classes that are offering such things would be better off being clearer about their intention and renaming them, as to me this is not yoga in its true sense.
Being a yogi or yogini is not about the shape of our body, but about integrating the teachings on all levels of being, so that we may commune more deeply with nature and with ourselves; to move from a less reactive, survival instinct into an open hearted Spiritual Awareness, that all is One and One is all.
This sense of union can serve us in serving our planet and our brothers and sisters upon it, in becoming more resilient, open and clear and to live life fully attuned to the Divine.
Personally, I believe that this is what we seek, whether we are initially aware of it or not, when we commit to practising, whether it be in a community hall or an ashram.
Don't we all want to feel better about ourselves, to experience connection, not separation, and move from fear to the heart, to really know that we matter and that we are valid?
This I believe is universal, not only for a select few based on birth or religious origin. There are as many paths in and beyond as there are people and colours here on our beautiful planet, and if we can view ourselves as a global family of brothers and sisters, we may open ourselves to diverse experiences, practice tolerance and unconditional love.
What we learn to offer ourselves on our mat becomes the guideline for how we live our lives.
Life becomes less about the colour of our skin, geography, religious zealousness, possessiveness, and intolerance but rather we can embrace ours and 'others' vulnerability, see ourselves as the embodiment of the Divine and experience the truth of all existence.
When we understand the true origins of yoga then we can choose the right path for ourselves from a place of love not fear.
Love All Ways,