December 17, 2011

OccupyYogaClass. ~ Emma Dines

Photo credit: Justin Bale

Every Thursday night at Queen Street Yoga there is a one hour pay-what-you-can community class. We offer this class to make yoga accessible to everyone regardless of income. I have had the delight of teaching this class for the past year.

I did not teach the community class the other night.

I was there. I was at the front of the room, and walking around. I was calling out instructions, moving people through sequences, giving adjustments. But I was definitely not teaching. I was being taught.

When the class began and I opened my mouth to speak, I could feel myself shaking. I knew that the theme that I had planned was deeply significant to me, deeply resonant. And I knew, within the first few words that came out of my mouth, that what I was saying was connecting. Eyes brightened, smiles opened, one student began poking his girlfriend in the ribs with excitement.

I was talking about Occupy.

I was talking about the excitement that was building around the movement. I was talking about the creativity exploding out of the camp-outs. I was talking about the strategy, the complexity, the necessity. I was talking about the new world that was emerging.

I shared with them a sign that I had seen pictured in the news, a cardboard placard that read “Do not mistake the complexity of this moment for chaos.” Heads nodded deeply. I explained that in yoga, one way to talk about the different energies that move through the world is to name them as deities. And that the deity who looks like chaos, but is really complexity, is Kali.


Kali, wild hair, red lolling tongue, dark blue skin, bloodshot eyes. Kali, whirling through the universe, destroying demons. She is the openness of all possibilities. She is the primal beginning of creativity. Kali, chaos. Kali, complexity.

We began to move together. We made our breath audible. With our hands and feet on the floor in downward dog, we pulled that chaotic energy up out of the earth and into the back of our hearts. Still breathing, we let it cook there. And then we began to expand. Powerfully, creatively, rooting ourselves back down into the earth. Drawing this new world into us and radiating it back out.

We gathered in the middle of the room. Feet wide, toes turned out, deep squat. The stance of Kali. We reached our hands up, fingers wriggling, breath surging. We pulled this new world down from the sky, into our hearts, into our bellies. Legs burning, bodies roaring, we trembled with presence.

The room was hot. Twenty six pulsing hearts huddled in the centre of the room. We took utkatasana powerful pose, three times. In our final pose, we dedicated it to the 100 Percent. One hundred percent of beings living together on this planet. One source, one light, one universe.

A passage from political writer Arundhati Roy had come to me during the day and was echoing in my head. I spoke it aloud to the room. “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. And on a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

As we cooled and settled into savasana, I could feel the power in the room. I could feel palpably the desire and the capacity for this new world. I could feel it in the breath circling through the room. I could feel it in the silence that settled over us in the dimming light. I could feel it in my throat as I began to chant.

I could hear her breathing.

Emma Dines is a poet, gardener and keeper of chickens based out of Waterloo, Ontario. She teaches at Queen Street Yoga and loves writing, tending to her flock, and making soup.

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