We've been exploring freedom all month in our classes and in blogs. It's been making me think about yoga giving you the spiritual freedom to explore your own path....
Getting involved in yoga was the best thing that happened to me. Yes even better than the typical things that you should say are the best thing that happened to you- like having your baby and husband. This is because it has taught me to live in the present and enjoy those amazing things more. It's realigned my priorities to 'good' things and allowed me to work with interesting people from all backgrounds and give them a little peace as the try yoga.
So thank you yoga!
Anyway, because I'm a bit of a yoga evangelist...obviously I spread yoga through this charity and try and get as many people to try it as possible... (no pressure to make it your life's work but please just try it especially if you're homeless, in difficulty or very very sad!) So because I'm such an obvious yoga enthusiast, I seem to attract evangelists of other religions who try and convert me to their path.
For example, I tried to teach a toddler and mum (or dad) yoga class before a toddler group I go to. I billed it as donation to the charity only. Low key. The kids will just play with the toys and the (mostly) mums will get a stretch and a moment's peace. The only spiritual side would be that is is unashamably repecting yoga as a long spiritual heritage and we'd do pranayama, meditation and say 'namaste'.
Anyway, the toddler group is in a church hall and as Yoga is from a different faith base than Christianity I asked the female vicar whether we might use her hall. The answer was no. Adamently. It's a shame but totally fair enough because it is her flock I might be opening the door to yoga. So the 'Toddlers and Waddlers' group and I will have to find somewhere else to find a moment's peace then (probably the pub over the road!).
So due to this conversation, the vicar now knows I'm a spiritual-seeking-truth sort of person. I mean most of us who do yoga are even if we teach a very pared down, physically focused practice. So she has now made many efforts to convert me to the way of Jesus. Which as I think that any path that makes you 'good' is 'ok' I listen to politely. (my theological academic friends will sigh at this simplicity! but there it is!)
And this is what makes me think of my theme freedom. I like the freedom that the eastern philosophies generally give. They give freedom to follow your path in any way. I really appreciate that yoga is not prescriptive, it gives you the freedom to explore what works for you. It allows you to come to it as a gym practice, as a faith or as a sort of mish-mash of the two. It has 6 paths to yoga 'union' and depending on your personal bent you can choose which suits you. Bhakti is devotional (so love based a bit like dedication to a god/prophet) hatha is physical (so asanas) jnana is knowledge based so self study... and so on. This allows for many ways. I also LOVE that it (and buddhism) is about self-knowing. Its about not just taking the testomy of someone else, but seeing it for yourself. Testing it out for yourself.
I love that kind of freedom which allows you to explore what works for you.
Now, this open-ness made me see and 'pin' the Dalai Lama's pinterest quote (sources not verified!) where he tells you to mistrust any religion that puts itself above another. 'all religions are good except those that put themselves above the others' or words to that effect.
This open-ness has also means that I have gratefully received from these evangelical types Christian and Buddhist 3 books and counting! They are all about converting to their path. They are duly on my 'reading list' which is a pile of books on my desk (see picture). I will read them I'm sure and then put them down if they try and slag off another person's way.
I don't usually blog such spiritual stuff but it is our theme this month!