Yoga Scandals, Light Chasers and Shadow Boxers – Part 1: Duality and Denial

Hello friends,

This week I feel the need to express some thoughts about recent press regarding scandals in the yoga community, in particular, regarding John Friend. The details of the scandals are not important to me, but the general reaction to them in the press more so. We are all flawed and beautiful as we walk this Earth together.

“Yoga and “scandal” seem to walk hand-in-hand these days. It’s a “union of opposites” that’s growing more comfortable with time.” – Stewart Lawrence, Huffington Post

It saddens me to see a beautiful life art-form and science-of-life misunderstood and misinterpreted. But I guess that is what we humans tend to do. If we are a people that can crucify a holy man, we can also easily throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

Scandals in the yoga scene are nothing new. We could cite here pages of stories depicted in ancient yogic texts such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana that illustrate the twisted acts of human folly while on a spiritual path. Yet the media, spearheaded by journalists that are clearly not impartial reporters doing thorough research, seems to proudly point fingers at seeming rot at the root of the sacred, while conveniently ignoring the fact that scandals are created by imperfect humans, not the eternal divine.

Human ignorance is as old as man. When we lift up humans to the realm of gods, they are bound to fall. We do it to our movie stars. We do it to our politicians. We do it to our spouses and friends. And we do it to our yoga teachers and leaders. If we make someone an angel, they will eventually become a devil. If we lift them up, the force of gravity will make sure that they will come back to Earth so that we make peace with shadows.

As the Nazarene once counselled, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” We all cast shadows. There is not one person on the planet whose darker side does not dot the Earth in some way under the light of the sun and the moon. The higher up we grow from the ground, the deeper the shadow we leave behind, the more humility we must have to embrace the dark, and the more likely our ego will try to go awry if left unchecked.

We live in a word of duality and opposites. We can see from nature, that what goes up also comes down; that if there is night, there is also day; hot counters cold; that which opens can also close; that which resists can also flow. Why then are people so surprised to find that those in the limelight have darker sides just as we do? Why do we hold such high hopes for people to only have light and be without dark?

It does not matter if a person promises eternal life, attests to be the best yogi ever or preaches the way of the holy. If they are not a fully realized master, they will cast a shadow. Whether or not they are in touch with it or in denial about it, it is there. And it is up to us to use our discernment to see only part of the picture, or look deeper to see more fully.

At our core, unless we are fully enlightened, we all are uncomfortable in some way with our shadow. There are parts of ourselves that we do not like, and certainly that we do not want others to see. When we are presented with the possibility that we may avoid doing the work in our own dirty basements by following a shiny leader on a path to the promised land without turmoil, we sign on the dotted line and project perfection on a limited individual in an imperfect world. We are bound to be disappointed. Disillusionment is just the collapse of illusions that we needed to humbly see beyond in order to evolve. Disillusionment is an act of Grace.

From an early age, our culture teaches us to believe in saints and saviours that will take away all our sins. We are persuaded that our sinfulness will be cured by another’s super powers that will magically remove them, while we lie back and avoid our responsibility for our own evolution. Like yearning children, we hungrily want to believe that some mystical big mummy or daddy will dissolve our pain and do our uncomfortable work for us. But we are not little children living in lack, but adult children of the divine who are fully supported to do our very important inner work and take responsibility for the shadows that we – no one else – cast and leave behind us. Yet we distract ourselves from our pain as we look to others for escape. We amplify their light, so that it may, for a while, free us from the darkness we fear.

I do believe that there are real Buddhas on the planet, true realized masters who have fully integrated their own shadow and live in the oneness of absolute, eternal love. But the light of pure consciousness is not a conditional light like that of day and night. The light we cultivate to embody in the practice of yoga is not about luminosity to outshine the dark, but about the ultimate dissolve of the ego’s need for duality into the eternal substratum that is the essential underpinning of all of creation. We are limited humans with limited words, so we call that substratum “light”. How can a finite word in a dual world ever capture the perfection of such a force? That is where mystical poets like Rumi take the floor.

Continues tomorrow with “The Light of the Satguru

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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PARVATI'S NEW SINGLE - MARCH 2016
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I AM LIGHT

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SHARE YOUR YOGA
I am light!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

© 2015 Parvati Devi
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