Unity, Yoking, Remembrance and Yoga

I drove home last night from being out of town. I left the rental house a night early, but was rewarded with a magical sunset and minimal traffic on the road.

By chance, 20 years to the date, the podcast queue spit out a profoundly moving episode (about a blind man’s experience descending from the 78th floor of World Trade Tower 1 guided calmly by his seeing eye dog on September 11th, 2001).

My drive became an unexpected and personal vigil honoring the lives lost, the timing extraordinary.

Then, as I neared my city, huge beam of blue light rose vertically from the spot where a commercial airliner hit the Pentagon 20 years before, where hundreds lost their lives in an instant. (I moved to DC 6 days after 9/11.) 

The blue beam was simple and beautiful.

It shone brightly, heavenly, visible from many miles away, and weaving to the left and right of our borrowed car’s windshield with the curves of the highway.

I reflected, partially based on the podcast episode from earlier in the drive, on how an event so deeply monstrous and scarring was also full of miracles: the lives of those that survived, the strangers that worked cohesively (and tenderly, patiently, and lovingly) to escape a doomed building from a quarter mile high off the earth.

That grievous day also temporarily brought Americans together in a collective unity not seen since.

The word “yoga” is sometimes interpreted as “union”, and typically translated as “Yoking” to bring together.

“The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’.”

Dr. Ishwar V. Basavaraddi

It’s safe to say that Americans are experiencing an ongoing and collective heartbreak about our lack of unity. The unfolding tragedy of the pandemic we are currently experiencing is not unifying.

And I wonder if what we call yoga is bringing us together these days?

We are in another grievous moment, but with less sudden impact, and seemingly less unity, less yoga. I don’t have an answer to my rhetorical question, but I can share a beautiful quote (that I believe rings true to the essence of yoga) that spoke to me, and which honored that dreadful day:

“The most meaningful way to honor those we lost is to live with honor.

Choosing compassion over callousness and dignity in the face of distain.

Upholding your principles when others compromise theirs.

Being grateful for precious time that too many were denied.”

Adam Grant

(May these words support you. May they continue to be amplified. May they shift from thought to action in the hearts of many.)

One thing that I believe has potential to unite us more in yogaland is a deeper respect for science and the scientific process. 

Developing a scientific lens in our yoga realm might look different / something like this:

no “universal” alignment cues
no black and white answers or “As” in alignment
honoring and welcoming the joyful biological variance of bodies (biodiversity!)
laughing at ourselves more, especially when we start to think we really know the answers
* quickly running from the all-too-common arrogance of “I figured this out for myself so let me charge you to tell you the answer in my new trademarked method” 
being willing to do the work to understand human anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, neuroscience and movement science 
being willing to change when new information emerges

It will take a culture shift that will require a LOT of us consciously de-coupling from the cornucopia of unqualified “gurus” and unsubstantiated statements.

A quote that resonated me over the last few years is this “We are the culture makers.” (Kelly Diels). We are. You and me. In how we relate, speak, do and be. 

I want to be a culture maker in this yoga space. I want to help honor the roots of yoga, and bring scientific understanding into our movement practice. I want to spread the value of evidence-based approach to asana, pranayama and meditation and show that it can be in union with yoga philosophy.

I am doing it, quietly (but I welcome help spreading the word). I have been teaching all of this in my Online Yoga Anatomy Mentorship since 2015.

The mentorship a extraordinary 12 module course and community with live office hours (with me!) for as long as the mentorship exists. Enrollment for the fall cohort is now open — and if you join before Friday (when Module 1 drops, so don’t delay), you’ll get a free month of membership (live + recorded weekly classes) in the Yoga Anatomy Academy online studio

  • 12 Modules covering fundamentals of anatomy and physiology as they relate to yoga
  • 30 hours of evidence-based continuing education credit
  • Access to past live office hours
  • Monthly+ live office hours with me
  • Lifetime community access where you can ask questions any time, as they come up
  • True support for you on this yoga path 

Enroll by Friday September 17th for your bonus studio membership month. First module drips Friday afternoon.

Read more about the mentorship here.

See some of the silly ways I’m calling out non-scientific information on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17898931874125835/