August 29, 2011

From Homeless to the Studio. ~ Rashaad T. Thomas

Photo: ZenNomad

A beer case of spirits constantly watched over me as I drowned my fears and sorrows. My home was inside a vehicle that was consumed by an alcohol-embezzled heat and the odor of a dying man. Frequently, inquiring minds would press their faces against the window so hard that I could see their pores and fingerprints. Desperately, they did this to see if there was movement beyond the fogged windows. I was honored to be their priceless fish in an aquarium. It was a very lonely time period in my life where fear stretched my skin to its limits in order to protect me from my existence.

Photo: Chris Rooker

During this period, I was homeless and scratched and clawed to find the (pranayama) breaths to survive the unsympathetic streets of Phoenix, Arizona. I would look in the rear view mirror and see the past in my eyes’ reflection, each plastered with skepticism and anger. My anger would scream at how the United States Air Force had left at the Circle K just outside of the bases walls. I was left like a new born turtle, who is unaware of the home of protection on its back, to fend for myself against the evil tides of society. These tides filled with so-called predators that looked like me. They too had smooth brown and caramel skin that melted in the soot and grime of the street. Their beauty only to be seen by people that took the time to wash their judgments away. I only could hope that one day they would do the same for me.

One day, the Divine delivered me a selfless person on its breath in search of good karma offered me a helping hand and a door of opportunity to walk through. It hasn’t been easy, and from that day forth I have been consciously walking along an arduous path inward. This path of solitude is known to man as “Yoga.”
Currently, I am the only African American and one of two male students at a local community college’s yoga teacher

Photo: Jantik

training program. I am finding it very difficult to make it through an identified world with a yogic non-dual identity. I suppose my fear is I will be invisible and voiceless. Through mindfulness, I aspire to ignore the ignorance of the klesha of “identity” that manifests in the ego. My patience has guided me thus far to move dynamically (rajas), intelligent but with discrimination that Patanjali refers to in the Yoga Sutras. I have become more aware of this fact as I travel inwards past the sheaths.

Along this journey I have looked outward and noticed the trend among African American males. It is a trend I find very hard to ignore because I too have experienced the number of barriers I have had to

Photo: Gadget Dude

maneuver around to receive a college education, which is imperative to be successful today. I surrendered to the divine and dived blindly into the space of yoga and have been pleasantly surprised to open my eyes and enjoy the present of the moment. For attachment to the past and/or the future is an illusion that takes you to a social construct of nonexistence and I only want to exist to offer myself to those who also want to BE. But, the difficulty of studying yoga at a college is the bureaucracy and the red tape that comes along with it and I have come very close to allowing that tape harden into a wall in which I cannot move.

I have been studying the BKS Iyengar system of yoga for approximately one year and eight months. I have also made the commitment to the path of Iyengar Instructor Certification. My current yoga practice consists of both yoga Sana and yoga and Buddhist philosophy. I enjoy reading the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras of Patanajali, along with many other texts written by Sri N. Mahraj, Ramana Maharshi, and Sri Aurobindo’s “The Synthesis of Yoga.” I think that all sadhakas are God-like and they need not to be in the fourth stage of life as a renunciate, but can be achieved in the first and second stage as a student and householder. The yoga community does that make that easy. The yoga community offers the impression that it is only for the material successful. Then I find myself asking the question Ramana Maharshi offered in his teachings, “Who Am I?”
Rashaad Thomas is a United States Air Force Veteran and an aspiring Certified Yoga Instructor studying at Scottsdale Community College. He is the founder of a non-profit, 501 (c) 3 organization program called, “The Angels of New Hope,” that supports homeless youth and their education. He has made it a goal in life to share with the homeless community he once lived in through the love, compassion, and creative art and science of yoga and the Buddhist philosophy that has embraced his life. He has been practicing the BKS Iyengar Yoga method ever since he traded in alcohol for the mat and each day he continues to move and never look back.
Read 5 Comments and Reply

Read 5 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant journal  |  Contribution: 1,375,490