Every time I turn on the news or log onto social media, there’s a new story of tragedy and violence. People often shake their heads and talk about how regrettable the state of the world is today. But if you’re like me, you probably want to do more than just think about how sad it is. You want to change things. I get mad, sad, desperate, and every other awful my-chest-is-actually-hurting emotion that you can feel. And it often leaves me with the question of what I can do to change things. Maybe I’m just a young, naive yoga teacher who believes that if everyone got on their mat everyday, the world would be a more peaceful place. But I do, in fact, believe that.
Here’s why: Following one of the recent tragedies that had millions of people praying and countless American flags flying at half mast, I did all I knew how to do. I went to yoga. It was a Friday night class that I take every week at a CrossFit gym that I teach and train at. The instructor is not only an amazing teacher but also one of my favorite people. It was full of athletes that I am lucky enough to CrossFit with during the week and teach yoga to on Wednesdays and Sundays. A lot of them are military veterans and all of them are absolutely amazing humans. Our instructor began the class by simply saying that she wanted us to focus on giving energy to love based on one of her favorite sayings, “What you give energy to will grow.” She didn’t talk about all of the recent tragedies, because she didn’t have to. We all knew that the reasons for cultivating love went so far beyond our mats.
A class full of CrossFitters and veterans usually makes for a bit of a rowdy crowd that isn’t exactly enthusiastic about chanting. But on this night, for the first time in countless classes, our instructor led us through a unified “om.” It was quiet, a little hesitant, but still absolutely beautiful. We moved through our practice amidst the usual jokes, and laughter. At one point during our balancing poses (warrior 3) we decided to hold hands so that everyone would be able to balance together. For someone who once thought she would never practice yoga outside of her bedroom, it was truly an amazing experience. You could feel the love filling up the whole gym.
Amidst a wave of horrendous tragedies I experienced the most powerful practice of my life and it’s simply because I took an hour with people I cared about to give energy to love. I would never suggest that action against violence should not be taken, or that things should not be done to stop these tragedies from happening. But for those of us who feel helpless, hopeless, and lost sometimes just getting on our mat and loving the people around us as hard as we can is all that we can do.
“What you give energy to will grow.” Now imagine if we all gave a little more energy to love. I believe that the love in the world would grow. And I know that most of you believe that too. So this is my call to action for all of the Bad Yogis, practitioners, teachers, and humans: Carry a little more love in your heart when you step on your mat, when you look for a theme for your classes, or when you leave the studio and head out into the world. We can make a difference. The light in me sees, honors, and UNCONDITIONALLY LOVES the light in each and every one of you. Namaste, my beautiful friends.