Introducing the new “State of the Union” blog series where yogis discuss how to approach the circumstances of our world from a yogic perspective.
WHAT CAN I DO
Rama Jyoti Vernon
shared with permission from: https://www.rama.yoga/blog by Alumni presenter and lifetime world peace activist Rama Jyoti Vernon
June 16th, 2018
It is three o’clock in the morning.
I was awakened by vivid images: children being ripped away from their parents on the borders of our country; a baby pulled from its mother’s breast; two and three year olds weeping and wailing for their parents. For the rest of their lives, the endless pain of lack of trust will haunt these children and their parents. There have been repeated inhumane acts throughout history that have demonstrated the inhumanity plaguing the human condition. As Pete Seeger wrote, and many have sung, “When will we ever learn?”
How can those of us in Yoga, who understand the law of cause and effect, be silent and allow this situation to continue through the support of our current leaders who are deaf and insulated to the pain and suffering of others? Are they our representatives? I think not!
We become part of these decisions when we are born into a country of origin. We are part of the dharma of the laws of that land and if that law of dharma, which is supposed to bring order, social stability, and organization, creates chaos, instability, and suffering, it is no longer dharma but adharma. Adharma goes against the grain of the laws of nature and humane social conditions. It destroys instead of builds, and we become part of its destruction if we acquiesce in our silence.
In the scriptural studies of Yoga philosophy and the law of karma, it is believed that if we are born into a country that unjustly makes war upon another and we do not protest, at least in our own hearts, then in another life we will be born into a country that is made war upon.
What can we do? It is the eternal question wherever people feel helpless in making changes. Yes, in Yoga it is possible to rise above the sea of samsara, the sea of endless pain, to experience in consciousness a place beyond the duality, separation, and forgetfulness of the unified soul consciousness. However, in Yoga, even if we
have a glimpse of this paradisiacal state, does it mean we cannot try to alleviate human suffering on this earth plane?
Swami Vivekananda would say that the world (and its problems) is like the kink of a dog’s tail. As long as we are holding it we think it is straight. But the moment we let go, it will just kink up again. Does this mean we can never effect change? Is this the difference between pragmatic action and static inaction?
When we see injustice do we remain silent, thinking someone else will do something or do we go into our meditation and practices asking what our dharma, our destiny, our life’s purpose is in this instance? Do we shed our own tears for the suffering of others? Do we go to the border to light candles, participate in a “sit in” or go on a
hunger strike? Do we write our government representatives or participate in a march on our state and/or nation’s Capital? Or do we continue to turn a deaf ear to the lies told by leaders that thrust the blame on everyone else but themselves? Do we continue to share our thoughts with those who we feel are lacking in discrimination due to
radical political choices they are making?
I awakened in the middle of the night asking the invisible Masters what I can do, and wondered if Germans in l930s Germany did the same. It is always difficult to know when the tide of human decency turns into a cruel regime that conditions the minds of its people while insidiously stripping away the freedoms they are accustomed to. Why is it that so many leaders come to power only to have power over others, but not to serve the needs of their people? Are we being lulled into a hypnotic slumber until it will be too late to awaken? A frog when dropped into a boiling pot will jump out. However, if the heat is turned up gradually, it will be too late for him to escape the boiling cauldron. Is this the acceptance of the abnormal becoming the “new norm?”
Dawn is breaking, the birds are singing, and now rain is softly falling as my tears fall with it. Some might say this is not yogic thinking. We are to be unattached. However, there is a very thin line between non-attachment and indifference. As the Masters say “until we know attachment, we will never know true non-attachment”. I arose to sit with eyes closed, holding the people in all war torn countries in my consciousness. I felt the mother’s grief of the loss of her children, and the children’s loss of the parent. I felt the pain of the wounded in body and in heart. I felt the loss of those who will never return to their homes and lands wandering to seek refuge wherever they are accepted. I held the children and parents fleeing violence and persecution seeking safety and protection in the embrace of Universal consciousness.
That is what I can do! What can you do?
Now is the time to arise from within, like a spiritual warrior guided by the power of compassion, and discrimination, in whatever way we are called. Perhaps for some it is a time not to be silent but to speak out, and stand firm in the winds of growing tyranny and divisive policies that separate nations, states and people. For others, there may be a call for inspired, transformative action, or some may wish to offer the power of silence, prayer and meditation.
Yoga means Union, transcending the allusion of separation to see the Oneness of all humanity and human unity. Together let us hold a vision of a world where peace can prevail; where our thoughts, words and actions are no longer weapons of destruction but are divinely guided to lift the hearts, minds and spirit of others. Perhaps if enough of us hold this vision we can reach a critical mass to impact the collective consciousness of all humanity.
Rama Jyoti Vernon is a Yoga teacher and peace activist, and one of the founders of Yoga Journal. She founded the California Yoga Teachers’ Association, and the California Institute for Yoga Teacher Training, which later became the first U.S. Yoga Teachers’ Training program for the work of Mr. B.K.S. Iyengar. She hosted and organized programs for Mr. Iyengar and started his first organization in the U.S. She is considered one of America’s yoga pioneers, and one of the first yoga teachers in the U.S., beginning in the 1960s.
Her mother, a student of Swami Paramahamsa Yogananda, took her to her first yoga class at age 15. As an adult, Rama Jyoti was one of the earliest students of B.K.S. Iyengar in North America, and hosted him for two of his first workshops in California in the early 1970s. She founded the American Yoga College, and Unity In Yoga International that eventually evolved into the Yoga Alliance. Under Rama Jyoti’s direction in the 1990s, Unity In Yoga sponsored seven national and three international conferences in the Soviet Union, the Middle East and Central America. Richard Miller and Larry Payne, founders of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), have frequently acknowledged Rama Jyoti’s contribution to the creation of IAYT through the connections she fostered at the Unity in Yoga conferences. Rama Jyoti established the Center for Soviet-American Dialogue in 1984 to help connect citizens of the United States with those of the Soviet Union during the Cold War years. She served as a citizen diplomat, bringing groups of grass roots citizens to dialogue across borders, and was interviewed numerous times by U.S. media and Soviet television and radio. She later simplified the name of her organization to the Center for International Dialogue and expanded its out-reach of dialogue and conflict resolution trainings into Afghanistan and the Middle East, visiting Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza, China and Cuba, with American citizens.
Rama Jyoti, mother of five children, twelve grandchildren and one great-grandchild, continues to travel nationally and internationally to teach Yoga and Yoga teachers. Her work is codified in the ultimate yoga practice book, Yoga: The Practice of Myth and Sacred Geometry, and her yoga philosophy commentaries, Patañjali’s Yoga S?tras, Gateway to Enlightenment.
Learn more about Rama Jyoti: www.rama.yoga
Photo: Alan Alcid Yogi’s Vo Vera & LaMonte Goode Inverted in the Vortex
What can you expect at SYF2017…?
Photo: Alan Alcid Yogini Taylor Kurz
Well, the conference and festival itself evolves each year so there’s lots we will be unfolding in late September about the Who, What, When,and Where of it all. But the WHY remains steady. We create and nurture this platform and the relationships built within and around it for the purpose of uplifting and expanding human consciousness and providing Sedona transformations with a focus on yoga and meditation.
SYF is accessible to all, and there is truly an access point for the newest beginner as well as in depth networking, studying, practice, and continuing education opportunities for the professional. We believe this intermingling leads to authentic and powerful interactions.
Photo: Alan Alcid Taylor Kurz @ Bell Rock Vortex… Flying.
Have a look at the SYF2016 pages to get a taste of what’s to come in March 2017. We hope you will join us in Sedona, where the magic happens…
If you’re curious how we’ve evolved over the years, there’s a complete archive menu over on the “About Us” page.
Stay curious, friend.
Team SYF, on the ground in Sedona, reporting. The weather is perfect, the surroundings spectacular, the details in place. We await you to complete the experience!
This message is chock full o’ details so relax and get ready to picture yourself in Sedona! At ease, filled with shakti, and most of all… connected.
Registration opens at 3pm Thursday and will be open until 10pm. On Friday and Saturday registration is from 6:30am-9:30pm, and on Sunday from 6:30am – 4:30pm. Make registration your first stop! You do not need to print your ticket, simply state your name and show ID when you check in.
Registration is located in the Tequa Ballroom of the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock. The Ballroom is a separate building “downhill” a bit from the main building, and at the end of the parking lot (bear right) that you enter from. Overflow parking is at the Collective Sedona, closer to the roundabout than the Hilton.
Tequa Ballroom is our Heart Center of SYF2016, filled with vendors, a classroom area and ChocolaTree Organic Eateries conscious cafe. Chocolatree serves organic, non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, processed sugar-free deliciousness to keep you fueled throughout the weekend. We have created a “Where to Eat” guide in the program and on the website, as well, for your convenience. Most of the Village of Oak Creek (our neighborhood for the weekend) is walkable. (Sedona restaurants close early so plan accordingly).
And… it is a new moon! Sedona/VOC is an international dark sky town. Please bring a flashlight, a headlamp, or keep your phone charged because you will need something to light the way when the sun is not up. Which… is perfect for stargazing!!! Join us Thursday night on the deck at the Collective Sedona (right next door) where Sedona Stargazing will point us to celestial objects. Jupiter is in the sky!
6am classes: If you arrive late and are unable to check-in at registration prior to a 6am class please simply print your ticket and be sure that your name is on the list for that class – our Angels are instructed to let you in without a wristband in this case. In all other cases you will need your wristband – which we will give you at registration along with a few other things to get into classes, workshops, and events.
Not preregistered for a class or its showing as full on our schedule? Arrive at the class early and join the “rush line”. If all preregistered attendees have not arrived by 5 minutes into class time, the rush line will be let in. So, turn that over and what do you get? Be on time! Please also be mindful not to stay after and chat in the classroom as there are only 15 minutes between most classes. And please refrain from wearing scents, many people are sensitive.
Driving in Sedona can be a bit tricky – what with no streetlights and the roundabouts. For roundabouts, you wait for an opportunity to enter them, and once you’re in you have the right of way so keep going! Be very mindful of other drivers as not everyone gets this simple formula… Getting here and around.
We do hope you will join us at the general plenary sessions every day – AMPLIFY sessions are our one opportunity to gather together in a single space and set a shared intention. We have amazing speakers lined up for these and will have Q&A. We are having our first gathering at the Opening Ceremony on Thursday, and will meet both Friday and Saturday mornings in the main ballroom. Sunday morning we are so blessed that World Peace Initiative will lead us in a meditation for world peace, something they do all over the world – Sedona is their first World Peace Meditation in the US! We will all have plenty of opportnities to Release, Gather and Integrate throughout the weekend, learn meditation practices, and juice up our vibe. With Sedona’s charged vortex energy we have the opportunity to AMPLIFY some big waves of peace and healing to the world on Sunday morning! Be there!
If you are wanting to gain CEs for NCBTMB or Yoga Alliance you can visit Sedona Wellness at registration and they will assist you with the process. Yoga Alliance also has a booth and are eager to answer any questions you may have about their CEUs or anything else!
We have added a couple of post-conference opportunities on Monday so be sure to check them out! The Yoga for PTSD pre-conference is already underway and we are so honored that yoga teachers from all over the country have come to learn from the outstanding faculty we have assembled! There’s still time to sign up for Tymi Howard’s Yin Immersion on Thursday and Stephanie Spence’s Secrets of Social Media Thursday at noon.
Which reminds me! Follow us on social media! We will have plenty of cool prizes from our sponsors, partners, and vendors to give away throughout the weekend for playing with us on instagram, twitter, and facebook. (Yes, we have heard of snapchat, no we don’t know how to use it yet!).
We already told you how great the weather is – blue skies, clean air, warm sun, birds chirping – but you do need to know it cools down significantly at night in the desert. So while you may be down to shorts and a tanktop during the day with hat and sunglasses on, you will want layers for before the sun comes up and after it goes down! And drink lots of water! We are in an arid climate and at elevation, this is important.
Recommended to bring:
- hiking shoes, hat, sunscreen, water bottle, cushion, any props you love (a strap in particular is something we won’t have very many of). We will be using Three Minute Eggs throughout the conference, those cool yoga props that work as a block and a bolster and have nice curves… Bring your yoga mat but don’t worry, we will have some travel mats for sale and a limited number to rent if you are unable to bring yours/don’t have one. Bring a notebook or journal and an open mind.
A few more details that may be of interest:
- We have a Kids Yoga program all weekend long! Can be drop-in or half day passes, or weekend passes. This is a family affair.
- The Conscious Expo is free and open to the public so tell your friends to come on by and do some shopping and maybe stay for an evening kirtan (single tickets are available).
- Wasa crackers (have you not had them? Their catchphrase is perfect: Surprisingly Satisfying!) will be offering us some yummy options at morning and midday break times every day. They are non-GMO and Marc and I have been eating them for years. Super yummy and good in a million different ways. So be sure to stop by and say “hi” to Tanya while you snack.
- Robert Sturman has just agreed to do a yoga photo shoot on Sunday morning at daybreak! We are so grateful for his support of our trauma-sensitive yoga programs and this fundraiser event. And you are sure to be super-shaktified by then. Limited space available. Book now!
With performances by Lamonte Tales Goode, Vo Vera of the Sacred G’s, White Lotus Bellydance, Joanna Mack, AcroBody and more we have a fun-filled weekend planned for you above and beyond the sessions you choose. We are so grateful you trust in us to usher in a transformation of sorts, and we thank you for being willing to explore your own self and to show up in the world from a place of cultivated ease.
We will see you shining soon.
In service & joy,
Heather & Marc Titus and the SYF Team
Still have QUESTIONS?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
PS – We have a FAQ page 🙂 Here’s one:
How do I find the schedule that I created?
Navigate to the schedule page of the SYF website, there is a login option at the upper left. You can either view the check marks next to the classes or you can click on your profile icon and select “my Sched”