For men to fully experience the right to great respect, or to any expression of such recognition they have to practice encountering powerlessness. It is only when someone is intimate with powerlessness that they learn to respect power. When a man embodies power with humility and compassion, then he feels worthy. Worthy in a way that makes him feel calm and soft, open and available to life. He is present in a free and spontaneously joyful way.
I have worked with men as a social worker; a lecturer within a university setting; as clients in the family court counselling system, and as an Iyengar yoga teacher. I have also lost a brother and nephew to drug overdoses and my brother in law recently as a “joke” told me as I was about to walk home at 9pm at night, “If you are lucky you might even get molested”. What sort of pain and confusion and ignorance must he be afflicted with to think that a statement like this can be a joke. It is shocking and confusing. My father was violent and he was an alcoholic. I loved going fishing – standing waist deep in the ocean for hours on end – being held in the silence and beauty of nature, alongside this complex and deeply unhappy man. So many ways in which life asks that I form a relationship with my own fears and desires about men, violence, nurturing, trust. The list goes on. Each time I encounter my own sense of powerlessness in a society shattered by internalised and externalised violence I practice accepting the situation as an opportunity to heal my self so that I can be my Self.
Recently I have the privilege of welcoming Russell into the teaching body of the school. Day to day, week to week over the last 5 years I have watched and walked alongside him. Yoga as pilgrimage is the phrase that comes to mind. When we go in search of new or expanded meaning about ourselves, or a higher good - through experience - the journey is called a pilgrimage. When we learn the practice of yoga as pilgrimage it is a journey of encountering powerlessness and at the same time inner strength, confidence and great clarity and purpose.
Russell is teaching an introductory course on Tuesday nights at 6pm commencing 15 October. Book now
“As soon as there is stopping, there is happiness. There is peace. When we stop like that, it looks as if nothing is happening, but in fact everything is happening. You are deeply established in the present moment, and you touch your cosmic body. You touch eternity. There is no more restlessness, no more seeking.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Until you experience it, you can’t believe that pressing into your feet in dog pose can affect your mind – in a calming way!