Today is International Yoga Day! (Of course, every day is “yoga day” around here.)
Too many people see yoga as a luxury item -- something to be disposed of when finances or schedules are tight. If there’s one thing I want you to know today, it’s this:
Practicing some form of yoga is not only essential to having a meaningful life, it’s absolutely necessary for a large number of us to practice if we’re going to create and maintain a peaceful, just society.
Practicing yoga is not like other forms of “self care” it tends to get lumped in with. Yoga is not like getting your nails done, taking a bubble bath or even having a massage (though I’m not knocking those things!)
Yoga is not about yoga postures.
When you practice yoga (raja yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, karma yoga, mantra yoga and hatha yoga-- which Bikram Yoga is one style of-- are the 6 main types of yoga) you cultivate Faith, Self-disicipline, Determination, Concentration and Patience within yourself.
If you’re doing hatha yoga, you’ll get pain relief, increased flexibility and strength and a litany of other physical health benefits too. You’ll improve the quality of your life. Which is amazing! But that’s not all you do.
The ultimate goal of any yoga practice is Self-Realization.
That’s Self with a capital “S.” Your highest Self, the greatest version of who you are. The word realize (v.) means "bring into existence," from French réaliser "make real" (16c.), from Middle French real "actual.")
Self-Realization means then, bringing your highest Self into existence.
When you practice yoga, you become able to pull the BEST version of yourself out of your pocket when you need it most:
If you keep practicing yoga, that Best Version of You appears more and more frequently. Eventually, the way you live begins to align itself with your full potential. You behave like your Self more often than not. Your Self is the part of you most in tune with nature. It’s the part of you which is connected to all other parts of you, which feels connected to all of humanity and even all of the cosmos.
Yoga comes from the word “yuj” meaning “to yoke together.”
When you access a place inside yourself where everything is united: mind, body and the rest of the world, that is Self. Because you become aware of the connection between you and all of humanity, Self is where your compassion for others lives.
If you still think that yoga is something to do:
How would this Father’s Day have been different for George Floyd’s family, if Derek Chauvin had been able to access the Best Version of himself for 8 minutes?
Yoga is not about yoga postures.
When you step on your mat today-- remember that the important work you are doing inside yourself has the power to change the world.
I've been writing this for 2 weeks, trying to get it just right. But (like yoga) done is better than perfect when it comes to speaking up. So here we are.
Racism and injustice are NOT new.
But it's true that (while these issues have always been important to us) we’ve never used the studio's platforms to speak out in a significant way about them before.
(That's about to change.)
Before I go on, I want to (1) acknowledge that we know we are late to the party, and (2) to ask that you please do not congratulate us for saying something now. We don't deserve any kudos (though we would love to listen to any feedback you have about how we can do better!)
At Home Hot Yoga, we support the Black Lives Matter movement.
If you've been to the studio, you know: we welcome and respect all people of all colors and backgrounds. We are firmly anti-hate, anti-racism, anti-injustice and anti-harm.
Which is why I'm writing, to add Home's voice to the sea of voices who've just starting chiming in, because it's better late than never:
Black lives matter. They have always mattered. For too long, they have been treated as if they don't.
And that's why it needs saying now. Over and over until someday it hopefully won't need saying anymore because it will just be something everybody understands.
We know that no email, no post on social media, no sign we put in our window can "fix" the atrocities inflicted on human beings because of racism.
Demonstrating our support is important, but on its own cannot stop the terrible injustices which are still going on today.
We understand that action is needed. One of the first actions we need to take is to begin intentionally engaging in respectful, open-minded conversations about the issues of social justice and race.
Talking to each other is the place to start. We're committed to having those important talks.
IN FACT... keep your eyes peeled for a super special event coming SOON that is all about just that...!
Some resources for now:
If you don't know a lot about race issues yet, it's time to start learning. We're so lucky to live in a time when resources are EVERYwhere. Here are just a few:
What does this have to do with yoga?
Stay in your lane, right? We are.
We started a business because we know that business leadership is the most important leadership of our time, and we wanted to make a difference.
We chose to build our business on Bikram Yoga because we know that not only can ALL people practice and benefit from Bikram Yoga, but this yoga has the power to bring people together like nothing else around.
Yoga means "union," and we are all about super-sizing the amount of unity in the world.
Our work in the hot room (and in our online classes) gets us closer to this end.
You can now expect to see us putting our yoga into action "off the mat" even more from here on out. We're so excited for you to join us on this journey.
If you have any ideas about ways that Home can be of service in the cause of racial equity, please reply to this email or reach out to us by phone at (503)505-9805.
HHY Founder, Yoga Business Coach, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay Afif!