Note: I was reminded of the conversation below when I attended Global Mala at Newark Schools Stadium yesterday. The event was attended by hundreds of yogis (veterans as well as newbies). The brainchild of popular yoga instructor Shiva Rea, this global peace event has grown wings since it was first introduced, and this year’s New Jersey event was bigger and better than ever. Even though Newark Mayor Cory Booker couldn’t make it this year, he sent an inspiring taped message (word was he was hanging out with a certain Mr. Obama so he had a good excuse!).
Shiva Rea was there, though, and she was spectacular. And there were lots of other awesome speakers and yoga teachers. Weather-wise, the day couldn’t have been more beautiful if Debby Kaminsky and her “co-peace igniters” had mail-ordered it from the Universe (and maybe they did!). The sun couldn’t have been brighter or the sky more blue—it was the perfect day for outdoor yoga, and the experience reminded me once again, that yoga can and is changing and shaping the world for the better. Here is the blog I wrote, inspired, in part, by Global Mala NJ 2012:
The other day, while my husband and I were taking our morning walk, I casually mentioned that maybe yoga could save the world. He looked at me like I was more than a little nuts and said, “Come on, now. You’re sounding like some kind of religious zealot.” (I admit I do tend to go overboard sometimes when waxing about my favorite pastime.)
But this time I was serious. Why can’t yoga save the world? After all, if everyone practiced yoga (excluding babies, but they are actually born yogis some say), the world would be quite a different place. For one thing, if everyone practiced ahimsa, or non-harming, there would be no wars. And the planet would certainly be better off, because no one would be harming Mother Earth, either. Most likely, a number of diseases could be healed as well. We’d all stop chasing after the demands of our egos and try to see things from a more balanced perspective.
Maybe it’s silly to think that yoga could save the world, but on the other hand, yoga does keep spreading, and I’ve yet to see the negative consequences (other than the fact that the Whole Foods parking lot is always full.) There are yoga centers everywhere these days, and it’s not uncommon to find even the most unlikely candidates pulling out their mats. Twenty years ago if someone yelled “downward dog!” in a crowded movie theatre, no one would have known what it meant. But today, I’m sure at least a third of the folks would know exactly what asana was being described.
Yoga is infiltrating grade schools and churches, libraries and senior centers, police departments, corporations and football teams…so why shouldn’t it get to the point where a giant, cosmic, yogic shift starts to take place? Some say it’s already happening.
I may be a dreamer, and maybe I’m a yoga zealot, but it seems to me that following the tenets of yoga may indeed be the only way for the planet to survive. To be strong yet peaceful, to be compassionate yet disciplined, to be respectful of the natural environment, the self, and others seems the best way to ensure future survival. Of course, you don’t have to be a yogi to believe in these things (any more than you have to be a church-goer to do good deeds). Some of my best friends, after all, would not call themselves yogis (even though they live as yogis do).
Still, I suspect it’s only a matter of time before yoga takes over the world. And when that cosmic shift happens-- when there are more people who can stand on their heads than people who can’t-- humanity is going to see life from a very different perspective. Like it or not, yoga is on a roll, and you might as well pass the granola bars and join us!