Meditating on the InfiniteJul 07, 2022
by Jivana Heyman
As a cisgender gay man, I don’t have a lot of personal experience with abortion. But that doesn’t make it any less horrible when one of our basic human rights–the right to bodily autonomy–is stripped away. Plus, I have a sixteen year old daughter, and I struggle to imagine the world she’ll inherit, and how this country’s slide back into the Stone Age will impact her life.
Honestly, ever since the news was announced that Roe v. Wade was overturned, I’ve been so dysregulated. I’m feeling a combination of anger, disappointment, and fear for my future and for our collective future. In order to process all these emotions, I turned to my practice.
This doesn’t mean that I’m using yoga to resolve my feelings so that I don’t turn my anger into action. It just means that I’m finding ways to practice self-care so that I have the stamina for a long fight. This is a key difference between spiritual bypassing and yoga as self-care. The real question is: What do we do when we feel better?
A few days ago, while I was stewing in my feelings, confused and disoriented, I decided to go for a bike ride. As I was riding, the physical exertion started to shift my energy. I looked up at the sky, and in that moment I felt the expansiveness of space and how small we truly are. It reminded me of one of Patanjali’s sutras about the calm that comes through reflecting on the infinite.
In Sutra 2:47, Patanjali explains that the way to master asana is by lessening our natural tendency for restlessness and meditating on the infinite. I’ve always loved that teaching because it gives such essential information about not only the way to practice asana, but its relationship to the larger goal of yoga.
When I’m practicing asana my mind wanders just like it always does. But occasionally, the practice brings me back to the present moment, and I notice where my mind has gone. Sometimes discomfort brings me back. Or It could be that I’m feeling a lot of sensation, or I notice a sense of relief, or a calm comes over me for no reason.
Sometimes, when this happens, there is a sense of spaciousness in my mind. I’m reminded of the limitations of my mind, the expansiveness of space, and the fact that part of me is bigger than my worries and my fears.
Now that I’m feeling a little better, it’s time for action. I’m trying to figure out what we can do through Accessible Yoga, and what I can do as a parent, a voter, and as an activist. My first thought is to support those who are already doing the work.That’s why I’m starting by donating to the National Network of Abortion Funds.
What are you doing to help reclaim our humanity while we’re here together for this moment floating on this little speck of dust in infinite space?
Jivana Heyman (he/him), C-IAYT, E-RYT500, is the founder and director of Accessible Yoga, an international non-profit organization dedicated to increasing access to the yoga teachings. He’s the author of Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body (Shambhala Publications, November 2019), as well as the new book, Yoga Revolution: Building a Practice of Courage & Compassion (Shambhala Publications, Nov. 2021).
Jivana has specialized in teaching yoga to people with disabilities with an emphasis on community building and social engagement. Out of this work, the Accessible Yoga organization was created to support education, training and advocacy with the mission of shifting the public perception of yoga. In addition to offering Conferences and Trainings, Accessible Yoga offers a popular ambassador program with over 1000 Accessible Yoga Ambassadors around the world.
Jivana coined the phrase, “Accessible Yoga,” over ten years ago, and it has now become the standard appellation for a large cross section of the immense yoga world. He brought the Accessible Yoga community together for the first time in 2015 for the Accessible Yoga Conference, which has gone on to become a focal point for this movement. There are now two Conferences and over thirty-five Accessible Yoga Trainings per year, as well as a strong underground yoga community supporting them.
Over the past 25 years, Jivana has led countless yoga teacher training programs around the world, and dedicates his time to supporting yoga teachers who are working to serve communities that are under-represented in traditional yoga spaces.
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