“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama
I’ve practiced yoga for over 15 years. I’ve taught more than 12,000 hours and since my very first teacher training, my goal has always been to teach what I practice and to practice what I teach. Through the years of practicing with different teachers, it has become clear to me that creating a compassionate yoga community requires that we take responsibility for ourselves.
After all, our actions, thoughts and words impact the connections we have with those around us: just as positive energy creates more positive energy, the inverse is also true. Our bigger American Yoga Kula is strong in love but we diminish our power by publicly degrading other styles of yoga that are not our favorite. Picking on Bikram or Anusara doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t end there. Bad mouthing other teachers, facebook smack talking yoga articles, by focusing on different points of opinion in yoga videos or naked yoga ads, instayogi shaming or by promoting separation of any kind.
Instead, I challenge us to soften to the diversity amongst yogis and the varied ways we practice. If, in a well-sequenced class, we can thrive in movement through forward folds, backbends, twists and balances, why can’t we find compassion to get along with different groups of yogis as well? Compassionate community brings power through connection. And if we lose our compassion, we lose what it means to be human. Yoga is always about union and bringing us together.
It doesn’t matter how many hours you practice yoga or meditate by yourself, the union of being in relationship with others is what heals the world. Yoga teaches us that isolation is the root cause of suffering and connection is the essence of healing.
In the Yoga Sutras, Pantanjali gives us a four-part process to help us clear our hearts of any negative energy. It becomes a means for quieting our minds and reconnecting to the deepest reservoirs of unconditional love and compassion. The sutras advise that we:
1. cultivate maitri (friendliness) toward pleasure and friends;
2. karma (compassion) for those who are in pain or suffering (yourself included);
3. mudita (joy) toward those for whom you are happy and whom you admire;
4. and upeksanam (equanimity) toward those who have hurt us, or you disagree with.
Starting now, apply these Keys to Happiness and see for yourself how this changes your life! Within the next 24 hours, choose one tangible action you can take to endorse compassion and decrease turbulance in your local yoga community. From that spark of momentum let this set the intention for you to keep taking positive action after action to encourage peaceful union in American Yoga! This year, let’s work together more than ever to be the Best Example for the Yoga World.
Love yourself, love your day, love your life!