Ishvara Pranidhana: Humility, Faith, and Anusara

It's been a while since I've made an entry. It's not because I haven't wanted to - but sometimes life and responsibilities get in the way, and sometimes our attention is called elsewhere... I've had family matters to attend to, losses to address, and so forth...

This week, I have worked with backbends in my classes and have emphasized the engagement of "Kidney Loop." I chose to link these with a theme of "Ishvara Pranidhana, one of the niyamas from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, which is often translated as "Devotion to the Lord."

Nicolai Bachman, in his book, The Path of the Yoga Sutras, which I have been using as a primer for my themes this session, describes this niyama, or observance, as the cultivation of humiity and faith.

Anusara Yoga emphasizes the importance of beginning our practice from the back body because it is there that we connect to the universal - to something bigger and greater than ourselves. "Kidney Loop" enables us to this. For me, initiating the practice from the back body is about connecting to the Divine. And if we connect to the Divine, we must listen to what it says to us. Sometimes those promptings lead us down very different paths of life than we originally envisioned.

Twenty years ago, I was completing my doctorate in Salesian Spirituality and education. I did not start practicing yoga until five years later. If anyone had told me then that I would have left the comfort and safety of academia to teach yoga, I would have thought them crazy. After all, I was the person who loved the articles and interviews in Yoga Journal in early 90's, when it was much better than it is now, but was annoyed by all the asana articles!

Four years ago, I left the studio I had taught at for nine years. I made a comfortable living. I had packed classes. If anyone would have told me when I began my certification process in Anusara that I would leave this studio and venture into the unknown, I would have laughed.

I love comfort. And I dislike change... But on both of these occasions, I heard an inner prompting that began as a slight nagging, then became more like a nuisance, until I was finally open enough to listen to the message and the Voice within. All of a sudden, everything became clear. There was a deep inner knowing. I simply KNEW I had to move on.

In the first instance, I left the stability that a regular paycheck brought. I also left the prestige of being the Chair of my department. In the second instance, I left a very cushy situation: a decent income for a yoga teacher, students I had taught for years, and everything I expected to be there for a long time. It was gone shortly after I turned 50.

I bring this up, because in the last week, three highly respected Anusara Yoga teachers have resigned their certification. Many are quite upset over this. But the thing is, I respect all of these people even more, because they dared to listen to their inner promptings and follow their hearts. This takes much more guts to do - especially when you are not quite sure what will come next.

I have tried to quell all sorts of rumors, emotions, and so forth.

None of us can really say we will always do this or that. Life is impermanent. If we are true to ourselves - if we connect with the Divine - and we listen and trust what we hear within, we might be led down a very different path.

I have tried many spiritual paths. And I retain elements of all of them in my practice, my worship, and my life. If we don't change - we don't grow, and as John Henry Newman once wrote, "Growth is the only evidence of life."

We are all the sum total of all the people and teachings and paths we have encountered. We should always be glad and supportive for those who choose to march to their own drum - because in the final analysis, we are all enriched because of it.

Comments

Elena said…
Olga, you are so appreciated. I will always be connected to the community, I will always be John's student, and I will never lose sight of that Universal connection. Your writing and your thoughtfulness really lends a sweet voice to this conversation and I'm super thankful.
Elena Brower said…
Olga, you are so appreciated. I will always be connected to the community, I will always be John's student, and I will never lose sight of that Universal connection. Your writing and your thoughtfulness really lends a sweet voice to this conversation and I'm super thankful.
Olga Rasmussen said…
I have been so enriched by you Elena, and Christina as well! I know our paths will cross again, and we are all - at our Essence - ONE!

With love and respect,
Olga
Tammy Sullivan said…
Thank you so much for your words of compassion and wisdom. They are timely and lovingly said. Namaste!

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