January 26, 2017

Why going Deeper into our Spiritual Practice is Hurting Us.

For me, yoga has always been where I’ve retreated—the part of my day where solace awaits.

I considered yoga to be my own physical prayer for all sentient beings. I believed my mantras would reverberate messages of peace throughout the world.

I felt that my practice in and of itself would help heal the world.

Lately however, I’ve felt my heart rendered desperate by my spiritual accumulation.

I found myself asking the question, “Why and how could such devastating things be happening around me, around my country, around the world, with all this positive energy being put out?”

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna, “Yoga is skill in action.”

In other words, it is a practice that gives us the fortitude to act.

Yoga gives us the skills we need to go out and about in the world as we face our personal and collective challenges.

Why, then, are so many yogis quite literally shutting their doors, burning their sage and just praying for peace?

I find myself engaging in conversations after my yoga classes about the maddening issues we face in these times. It seems almost inevitable to talk about the suffering that is happening around us, yet time and again the advice to “just go deeper into ourselves” resounds.

When we practice yoga, we are nurtured by the community in that space. There is a power to this community, and in this day and age, we need to use the power of yoga as a force for collaboration, creativity and most importantly action.

I am not saying we should stop improving ourselves and caring for our bodies. Rather, I’m saying that we must acknowledge that the work does not simply end there.

It is our responsibility to heal this world for all beings. This is the true yoga.

Our practice may begin on the mat but it extends far beyond that. And right now, this world needs us.

The consciousness, patience and stamina that are cultivated in practice are all valuable and practical skill-sets needed in activism and politics today.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “politics should be sacred.”

Who better to understand this sacredness than yogis, who know so well that true healing can only arise from love, union and from our sacred connection to each other?

And so I ask you:

Who better than a yogi to sit at the table during a negotiation, mediate and be the calm in the storm?

Who better than a yogi to be at the front lines of a protest and deliver the message of another perspective with kindness and grace?

Who better than a yogi to march with a sign in hand, in the snow or the heat? (Some of us practice in rooms heated to 108 degrees…willingly. If there is one thing we have it is stamina—we know how to deal with extremes!)

Our earth, our water, our food, our governments, and our humanity need you.

The practice beyond the mat is calling. I hope to meet you there.



Author: Michelle Pineiro

Image: Flickr/Nick Richards

Editor: Callie Rushton

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Michelle Pineiro