Hey there. My name is Mya. I am an earth loving, tree hugging, talk-to-the-plants-and-the-animals kind of punk rock yogi witch activist, and I’d love to take this space to share some thoughts with you about my current adventures in yogic study.
So first off, I want to acknowledge that I write this from unceded Coast Salish Territory, specifically the land of the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, and Squamish nations. I give thanks for the ability to be here on this land while realizing that there was no permission given for settler presence here, and as a settler here I give my commitment to participate as fully as I can in anti-colonial struggles that seek to bring harmony back to this land and her people. I also want to state that I am not an academic, I’m someone writing just from the heart, and though I do know very well the limitations felt under sexism and classism, I can only attempt to understand other struggles and the interconnections of oppression that they face, so if I say anything here, please know that I’m still in the process to know more / do better / be better and am open if you need to let me know about something, k? Thanks.
So, right now, I’m participating in Love Light Yoga’s Yin immersion, and it is PHENOMENAL. I’ve been a student of yoga for about 9 years, and a teacher / guide for the past 2, and one thing that is always super important to me is that we pay tribute to the incredible roots and culture of the lineage by learning everything to better serve in every way possible. Another thing that’s really important to me is accessibility to yoga. Yes, the practice of yoga was indeed shared with the west multiple times in the hopes that we could better find our centres, quiet our minds, and find that oneness that is all pervading instead of being so disillusioned by the ego. The yogis that brought the teachings here certainly wanted folks here to adopt a more in-depth practice, as the practice of yoga in it’s full form (think 8 limbs of Patanjali) is incredibly healing. And holy cats, will it change your life. But... what’s happening in the west is the commodification of yogic study that alienates many folks. So for me, a lot of my work as both a teacher and a student is to listen to voices who are being marginalized by a practice that is supposed to teach us to love all/serve all, integrate everything I learn into my own practice and teaching, and then seek out (or create) those safer spaces where yoga is still accessible for folks facing multiple barriers. It’s often a challenge, but when you meet those folks who are doing BADASS work to welcome all, to serve all, to bow and respect the needs of ALL BODIES, then I feel like it’s not too late.
So here’s where I get into Danielle Hoogenboom and Love Light Yoga. Granted, she’s been a friend for years, so I’m a bit biased as I talk her training up, but here’s the thing: I’ve always found so much healing work in the practice of Yin, especially coming in with a lot of past trauma. But I had no idea that this training would be so freakin’ revolutionary. First off, the training is packed with amazing, amazing people talking about amazing stuff. We’ve had social justice activists talking about white privilege in yoga, Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors teaching us about meridians, Doctor musicians making connections between meridians, elements and music, body workers, healers, etc… they all make appearances, setting this beautiful tone for everyone to learn as a community.
When Danielle is teaching us, she is on FIRE. She brings social justice into every bit of the teachings, and draws the most phenomenal metaphors between interconnections in the body - think fascial tissues and how they connect and link so many things - and those same interconnections in our society. When one part of the body is stressed, how the rest of the body feels it. And so with our society. You know that saying (it’s one of my favorites…), “until all are free, none are free”? Well we’ve spent all week talking about how this statement is a reality, both inside the body and outside in the world today.
I’ll get a bit anecdotal here for a minute…. So on our first day, we were talking about anatomy and the idea that everyone’s bones are different. Now that sounds pretty common sense, right? But this is a fairly new discovery for the medical community. Anyway, as we gazed at photographs of bones, and thought about how they connect and move, we segued right into body politics and now so many teaching styles aren’t honouring the fact that all bodies are super unique and move in their own specific way.
And so it goes with every bit of the training. The teaching is done in a way that works for all the students, not just some. So many different options are offered so that each student gets what they need, and we all have a chance to see how to do this for our own students. Everyone has space to talk or not talk, space to move, space to rest, space to get up and leave if something super intense has come up, and space to be themselves and to be loved and appreciated for bringing their awesomeness to the table. We’ve learned and are continuing to dive deep into the fact that Yin is badass as hell.
Yin yoga breaks all the rules, is doesn’t conform, it offers options and space and choices, and it heals. Oh geez, does it heal! Yin gives us the chance to face our wounds and use them as weapons (Danielle’s words, not mine, hehe) as we learn to sit with what is uncomfortable, burning through the dust that keeps us from shining the brightest. And isn’t that a metaphor for life? If we run every time the going gets tough, then we don’t get the opportunity to grow. Now acknowledging the fact that often we do need to run and fast, Yin gives us that safe space to “sit in our shit” (thanks, D) and work through everything that has been harming us. And from there, who knows? The best part of Yin is that there’s no expectation, so we each take what we can from the practice. And to have a space where we can be ourselves, do our own thing, work at our own pace, learn in whatever way we learn, and not have to achieve something dictated to us by a governing body? That is revolutionary, indeed.