Over the past several months, we have seen the fall of another great yoga teacher. Along with it we have seen many of his most senior students/teachers jump ship and renounce him as a teacher and their “brand” of yoga. This is not the first story of its kind. For as old as time humans have built up great teachers only to tear them down as soon as they disappoint. Unfortunately, the disappointment is inevitable. If any of us were to have a magnifying glass held o ver our lives, there would be behaviors, thoughts, or conversations we would not want others to judge us for. Not because we are intentionally trying to hurt others or ourselves, but because we are human.
In Baptiste Yoga, Baron Baptiste organized a set of alignment principles called “True North Alignment.” On the mat, these are simple cues that align our bodies with integrity for maximum support and stability. Off our mat, “True North Alignment” is about being in alignment with our personal integrity. Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
But how many of us actually live this way? How often do we have a feeling and deny it? How often do we think something, but not say it out of fear? How often do we react instead of respond? How often do we behave in a way that we know does not honor our highest potential?
This is part of the human condition. No one is able to live in true integrity all the time. If we were, then the Yamas and Niyamas would be obsolete. Instead, it is our yoga practice to continually cultivate awareness of ourselves – to recognize when what we think, what we say and what we do are not in alignment. Then we take accountability and right action to reset our inner compass to our “True North”.
In yoga class, we are asked to practice acceptance and be nonjudgmental. The reality is we judge others all the time by skin color, financial status, political associations, accents, religion, etc…. When someone disappoints or hurts us, we are all ready to jump on the bandwagon and help bring them down with our own righteous views and judgments. We gossip and seek agreement from anyone who will support us. As a species it is imperative that we cultivate compassion for ourselves and everyone else. This does not mean that we ignore hurt feelings and anger, but that we express it in a way that honors our highest integrity and the integrity of others. This is about taking a stand for others – not holding them on a pedestal, but in our arms – showing them the kind of love that we would want in our darkest hour.
We all love our teachers when they are inspiring us and saying great things. But some of our biggest teachers show up in situations that challenge us to dig deep even when we feel we are wronged. Don’t let the practice of yoga get lost in the humanness of the messenger. Respond with love and compassion. Hold yourself accountable to the standards of integrity that represent your highest self. Be in forgiveness.
Truth is not something we know in our heads, it is something we feel in our hearts. When we come from the heart, we are in true connection to ourselves and others. We create True North Alignment on our mat through awareness, sensitivity, and generous listening; and through this, we cultivate the tools to create “True North Alignment” in all areas of our life.
By Debi Grilo, Courtesy of Bala Vinyasa Yoga.