At the Opening Ceremony for the Jivamukti Tribe Gathering – the week of teachings by Sharon Gannon & David Life – Sharonji read a list of all the countries that were represented by students in attendance. It was a long and eclectic list, from all over the world. It seemed impressive to me at the time, mostly from the standpoint of “Wow, I can’t believe how long that flight must have been” or some other logistical theme.
It wasn’t until a few days later, just before my third class with Davidji, that I fully experienced what that meant. My mat was down towards the back of the room, and the scope of how many people were in front of me, how many people were practicing yoga became almost tangible. From there, I started to think of all the people in America who do yoga, and then started to think about the millions of people all over the world that do yoga.
Millions of people every day are doing yoga – and with time zones probably all day. All of these people working towards cultivating clear seeing of the self, working towards living the yamas, working towards compassion and peace, working towards cultivating flexibility inside and out, working towards being the best they can be in this lifetime, and it is by and large confined to the studio.
Yes, amazing things have transpired “off the mat” because of the efforts of yogis. But I was staggered to think of the true potential, and also how we as yogis are not living up to it. I finally understood – felt – what Michael Stone speaks of when he talks about horizontal transcendence. Because what is the point, of all of that work, of all of the millions of people cultivating yoga, if it only stays in the studio?
Imagine the possibility if everyone in the world who does yoga in the studio, practiced while they were outside the studio, if we had all those millions of people walking around with yoga as the first step they take in each moment, paying attention to the way that they breathe, the way that they speak… if the world were as filled with what people cultivated on the mat – in the world itself.
So here’s to an auspicious year of living into the potential of uniting outside the studio in our practice – the way we do on the mat. Because what we cultivate is too precious, too transformative, too amazing not to be shared. Not to do so is a waste– because we have the potential to transform, actually transform, what happens outside the studio, if we truly harness what we cultivate within and share it.
atha yoga nusasanam PYS I.1 – now is the practice of yoga