Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sweet Dharma

The Bhagavad Gita constantly inspires and illuminates my path of yoga.  I often return to its pages and contemplate its relevance. 

But…it wasn’t always so. 

The first time I read though the entire Gita beyond the inspiring passagesI had always read...well...it discouraged me.   The outline of how to live and walk upon the yoga path seemed heavy, a burden like so many other sets of rules and regulations, all unattainable on my own actions, especially the goal of releasing the fruit of all actions.  

How was one to do this on one’s own?  I didn’t believe it possible. 

I had missed an important element in reading and contemplating the Gita, the sweet truth of Dharma.  The Dharma is the yes behind the Gita.  As Arjuna stands upon the field of battle, he is challenged to affirm his path and move forward knowing that there is a greater truth at play.  He had to accept his Dharma and walk upon it.  This is not a path of going against one’s nature but actually choosing to be in one’s deepest desire and most natural course of existence.  The Dharma is the bliss that makes us smile, the thing that we long to do with our lives.  

I see Dharma as the path we are meant to walk.  This is the bliss that many wise sages speak of, the thing we agree to do and one that is our unique journey to wander.  Prior to discovering Dharma the teachings of yoga and the goal to be free of expectation is a heavy yoke with constant inner tension and strife which probably will bleed into the external story of one’s life.  

Even if one travels the path of yoga and attempts wander through its manifold ways but holds on to a limited view of dharma as obligation then one is bound for disappointment and hardship  Karma, Jnana, Raja and Bhakti all lead to despair without the inner path of Dharma.  How can one act in service to another when one is trying to generate the power for himself?  How can one study wisdom and gain knowledge, then believe in the truth of reality without the joy of doing what one loves, the dharma?  How can one meditate and find the still Self below the surface the waters without the sweet nectar of dharma?  Again how to devote oneself to love and the highest power without the objective experience that all is happening as it should?  

Dharma is that nectar, the amrita.  

When I think about my own path, I knew the truths of life, I had studied them, sought the stillness of the void and laid in prostration before the gods, but I was miserable.  I kept doing what I knew, wondering if I would have success, peace of mind or some sense of happiness.  I started practicing yoga because I wondered if it might help, even that took some time.  I tried different kinds and found nothing but had this draw.  

Finally, I set foot within a particular style of yoga practice that fit my path, my dharma, the thing that sings within me. Through this practice, I find peace and joy with naturalness   I can serve and feel great inward truth when saying, “how can I serve” when before I felt resentment and having to work.  I can study knowledge of how the cosmos really works without an inner discontent, then practice mediation and stillness without all the turbulence of the mind and most of all I find great devotion in the world because it has become beautiful and full of possibilities now that I accept and devote myself to this path.  

The Dharma of Cycle

Beginnings, always the hardest part of writing anything.

Ok, let's start with me just introducing without any bold bragging  that I am a yoga teacher at a thriving yoga studio at the end of the world in Anchorage Alaska.  I love this place immensely and the community surrounding it. This is my path, career and I believe what I was meant to do; let’s say my dharma.  Disclaimer! I can’t say that I am the best at asana or probably don’t seem very yoga if you met me but this is a magic life for sure.  When I was fortunate to start working as one of the studio’s yoga instructors I began to write an affirmation every morning, “I earn my way as a yoga teacher and with everything that comes with it.”  That was some years years ago.  

This journey into working at this studio is the theme of this streaming consciousness attempt at a paper, more precisely the dharma and how it rolls out before me. 

Fast forward to the immediate…  

One year ago my yoga studio opened a second venture, an indoor cycle center and put together a team of top notch instructors.  Since I taught spin and group fitness classes on the side already in local gyms it seemed natural for me to want to be part of the team.  I went through the process and became not only one of the cycle teachers (which we call Motivators) in addition to my yoga instructing but in the end the lead cycle instructors with many duties that support the studio’s operation.  So, here I am a yoga instructor (that being my first love) still teaching asana then everyday going from this realm to the cycle studio where I wear a different hat for the same mission.   

At first, it seemed like a contrary activity and sort of  conflict of interests since it seems very different on the surface.  But on a deeper and more insightful level it is the same path and a furthering of my understandings of yoga as one might traditionally understand and its connection to the larger word.  Since we are owned by a yoga studio we joke and say that we are yoga on a bike. In fact, we dangle a mula from the center handle bar mast of the instructor bike on stage in front of the cycle room. But in all honesty, the yoga theme is kept a little covert since most people who come to a cycle are looking for a different external experience than those seeking the mat. This goes for the instructors as well.  They too don’t want to hear about the yoga symbolism or philosophy behind what they teach very much, instead they are seeking something that is the same but in a far different colored package.  


So, here comes my intention in full throttle-I do earn my way as a yoga professional in my life but the interesting thing is that more than two thirds  of my day is involved with indoor cycle.  Yet, if I go deeper past the surface, it is just a vibrant extension of my path as a yoga teacher and the intention “to earn my way as a  yoga teacher with everything that come's with it” has come true, especially when I think about the practice yoga beyond asana.  Dharma continues to unfold as it will before me!