It's true. I don't like exercise. If you ask me to go on a treadmill and run in place for thirty minutes, I'd feel like a hamster inside a wheel. I might build strength and muscles along the way, I might look cute to spectators, I might even amuse myself, but at the end of the day I would still be trapped and I would still be going nowhere.
Yoga resonates with me because I get to go to the most challenging place there is- inside. And the path to inner peace, to self-transformation, and ultimately liberation is one that starts somewhere and has to end someplace else. It could be a roundtrip travel from self to Self, but movement along the way is necessary. The asanas give me a backdrop and my physical body a prop for me to safely experiment with my reactions and sensations.
When I was in college, I thought I understood the concept of a life examined. I thought the intellectualization of my choices was it, the beginning and the end. Now I realize I had it wrong. A life examined means to me now that I go to the most molecular level, that I start with my breath and my body, that I examine this moment as it is, not the collective of moments after they are long gone.
Jivamukti Yoga in particular is what I fell in love with because it taught me and continues to teach me to see all beings as whole. It means that as a practitioner, I connect to the light of others rather than the darkness that they may currently be trapped in. It means that I also keep my ego in check. Am I in this world to be in competition with other beings- to put them down, judge them, manipulate them, abuse them, or am I in this world to understand that I am amongst them?
As a Jivamukti Yoga teacher, it means that I see students as infinite potential. As Sharon Gannon advised, the most important job of a teacher is to speak to the highest in each person. And it is from this place that I draw courage to talk about veganism, environmentalism, materialism, and all the other topics that are not exactly "fun". Some will not like it. Some will complain about it. And it is perfectly okay. Perhaps they have a different path, and it is a voice other than mine that will guide their growth in consciousness.
It is from this same principle of seeing students at their highest that Jivamukti Yoga teachers are taught to give assists. When you give your time to help a student into a pose- any pose- it is a practice of the teacher to see where the student can go. It is a practice of understanding the growth process of the body as well as the spirit. If the teacher will just give up on a student because the student is "not ready", when will the student ever be? I feel that students of yoga, whether consciously or unconsciously, are all seekers. It is not my right as a teacher to say no, you do not deserve to seek. If you want to come to a wheel or a handstand or a twist, Jivamukti Yoga teachers will help you get there. You know why? Because we are activists. Because we believe in change. Because we are convinced that when students start to realize their power, they will use it for compassion. So we put all of our faith in that moment that we move as one unit, where you try your best and we also try our best, and we move a little closer to where we want to go.
As I said, I don't like exercise and repetitive actions devoid of meaning. Life is full of meaning everywhere I look, so I refuse to settle for anything less than ecstatic growth. When I move my body, I want to do so because it also moves my spirit. When I come to a physical pose, I want to do so because it connects me to the struggles of all those who exist before me and with me, so that I may develop more compassion and understanding, so I may let go of my need to look good, so I may understand that yoga is not just about me, it is never about me, and that it is never ever static.