One of the meanings of the word yoga is UNION, derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means ‘to yoke’. When oxen are yoked, they must work together for a common purpose. In contemporary yoga, the union is often described as the process of integrating the body, mind, and spirit. This view of the union looks inward toward the work each individual can do to become a healthier, happier, more fully realized human. The internal side of union is valuable for each person but also for the collective because healthier, happier, more fully realized humans make a better society.
Union also has a more overtly external view, in which people willingly yoke together for the greater good. Getting our world to a place where all living things can be happier, safer, and freer from suffering depends on the unity of people of conscience.
When we unite first with ourselves and then with others - we can help to change the world one action at a time. When this happens, we can “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi.
Each person actually CAN make a difference.
Yoga inspires us to make better personal choices that improve our own mental and physical health. But that’s not the end of the story. Once we feel right within, we naturally start to look for ways to expand the positivity our practices bring. Each person on a mat in the yoga room during class stands at the centre of their own circle of influence. Their commitment to union ripples out in ten thousand directions.
Union means seeing every person as a member of our family. It means coming together and showing solidarity when it’s time to be counted for social, environmental, and political change. It means re-engaging again and again instead of dropping out in frustration or exhaustion. Finding the energy for this kind of participation takes a deep well, the kind that a consistent yoga practice helps sustain. In this coming together and widespread union… we can make great changes together.
I truly believe that yoga is part of the solution. It’s a state of mind. As we serve inward and outward, we are filled with compassion, gratitude, and empathy. I know that when we serve - we get back in return much more than we give.
My older sister sits on the board of a foundation for an orphanage in Africa. This past month I was fortunate enough to join her and my other sister with a few of our children. We built a mud house for one of the teachers at the orphanage. We painted another house for a dear friend of the director. We spent days reading, making bracelets, singing songs, handing out clothes and shoes, and getting to know these children on an intimate level. These 52 orphans had next to nothing, yet they were among the happiest, most joyful children I have ever met. They were so full of love and light, and it shone and radiated out from inside them. Many of them had been abandoned or had their parents pass from disease, yet they still could find the beauty in all that remained around them.
I definitely left a piece of my heart in Africa with these children. My heart is overflowing with love for each and every one of them. The world is not such a big place after all and there is one VERY big common denominator. Love. We all just want to be loved. And the magical secret is… the more we love others, the more love we receive in return.
To me Yoga is Love. Yoga is where I learned to love myself again after years of being disconnected and separate from myself. Yoga is where I learned to love my Heavenly Father more deeply and meaningfully. Yoga is where I learned that when I open my heart to others in a vulnerable way… love has no bounds.
One of my favorite sayings is. “First we go in and then we go up. Once we go up - we go out.”
I have so much love for all of you. Every person that walks into the studio brightens my day. I am so thankful I get to share this space and this practice with you on a daily basis. I know that together we can do great things.