The practice that I “teach” can impact people’s lives greatly; what I teach is constantly evolving, has an uncertain and debated history that is often lost in translation and is increasing in popularity daily.
I teach a practice that is traced back to a single word from texts that were initially passed down verbally thousands of years ago in a place across the world from where I grew up, in a culture that processes thoughts and concepts in a way that my brain may not be able to fully understand. I teach a practice that the initial purveyors of in the West, thousands of years after its “invention” felt I, as a Westerner, would abuse in its full form.
I am naturally drawn to the liberal arts, to more spiritual pursuits, to activities than lean more towards emotion than organization. I think that the human desire to organize and define can repress creativity and alter one’s perception sometimes in a negative way.
However, in order to make sure that I am not teaching false ideas or facts, it is important to organize. My categories are as follows –
1. Feelings that I observe in myself.
2. Feelings that others have described to me.
1. What I know to be true.
2. What I know I don’t know to be true.
3. What I know has multiple ideas of “trueness” but does not have a proven definition.
My mother always told me that she thought I would either be an opera singer or a scientist. I like to look at yoga from the perspective of both a scientist and an opera singer. Everything is an experiment, be it an experiment in physical sensation, or an experiment in cross-examining facts. Like the opera singer, it is important to practice, to develop and experience your instrument which is in this case the body. Like an opera singer takes vocal lessons and sings with others it is important to share your experience and be open to learning from other’s experiences.
Like a scientist, it is important to take what you see, hear, and feel, ask questions, and analyze answers. We would never have many of the inventions that we have today if human beings did not ask “what if” or “how.” In that same vein, the yoga practice may never develop to its full (potentially endless) potential if we do not ask “what if” or “how” and even “is that true.” Finding answers may seem daunting but my approach is this – do not take anything that you hear for granted, question everything and everyone, always ask for an explanation, and cross-examine the facts that you find. Learn Sanskrit or find multiple translations from people who do know Sanskrit and then study the breakdown of the translation of Sanskrit words. Be open to the idea that changing the way you perceive the world can change the entire world around you and even sweep the ground out from underneath your feet. Breathe deeply and if you don’t know the answer, say so– no one knows everything and the people who say they do are too caught up with being “right” than finding truth.