Yoga is a deeply liberating activity. I personally practice yoga because I plan to realize my goal of seeing the liberation of all beings in my lifetime and the elimination of oppression. I teach yoga, for the same reason.
Here in the west, we have a few dominant patterned tendencies that I have noticed and they are:
- excessive stimulation
All of these behaviors keep our whole selves pretty bound up in activity that has not much to do with our real selves. It is easy to become bound to the pace and requirement of society.
Our yoga practice always aims to put us back into homeostasis - balance. The first thing that we do in yoga is “Chitta Vritti Narodha” - the sessation of the turnings of thought.
Really, to paraphrase, the first point of yoga practice is - still your mind and the rest will follow
Never underestimate the powerful and radical nature of this instruction. By stilling our minds, we are basically saying, not today oppressive forces, this is my mind, and it is not working for you.
Then we focus on our breath. That is our second act of rebellion. That is when we say this is MY OWN life force, it is not serving anyone else’s purpose.
Next we take notice of our bodies and move them in a way that honors their strength and their struggles. Again, this is not for the agenda of “the man”…whatever that is to you. This is for us.
If we want to we can take all of these efforts and just take note and bask in our own joy. OR we can offer them up to God, offer them to each other, and amplify our liberation.
Bonus liberation tip, we also get to let go of the outcomes of our liberation. We can simply enjoy our acts of Joyful rebellion.