All That Matters is excited to be sponsoring a grass-roots effort in Providence to bridge the practice of yoga on the mat with the practice of bringing yoga off the mat and into our relationships. Community Matters is a Providence-based program fueled by teacher and community collaboration and sponsored by All That Matters.
The following is an excerpt from the Community Matters blog. We'll be dedicating space on the All That Matters blog to bring you news and updates and how you can support this yoga-based program. Our hope is that by making it easier for our All That Matters community to get involved, the ideas inherent in "seva" (selfless service) will seep out into the greater RI community and start a wave only grows with time.
You can read the full post HERE.
"The Link between Yoga and Community"
by Sara Flanders (December 9, 2017)
When most folks think about what yoga is, what most quickly comes to mind is the image of people moving on yoga mats in poses, breathing consciously. Sometimes the idea we have is someone meditating, engaging in the vast depth within. The Bhagavad Gita, a text dear to my heart and one I’ve been studying for over a decade, shares that yoga is really a triadic path of practice: the path of Wisdom (Jnana Yoga), the path of Love and Devotion (Bhakti Yoga), and the path of Action (Karma Yoga).
Karma has many meanings. One definition is Action. So Karma Yoga is the yoga of action, of doing, of being in the world and being part of its workings. Karma also has to do with our past actions, thoughts, conceptualizations, experiences and their effect on others and ourselves. Karma in this definition is not limited to individuals, but also communities, countries, even the planet.
The Path of Action, Karma Yoga, is the practice of walking your talk, aligning your actions and choices with your values. It is a path where one operates under the deep knowing that everything we do or say has an effect on the world.
When we engage in the practice of yoga in the studio or workout space, we are immediately learning how the shape of the body has an effect on our mind, our emotions, our well-being. So, after a strong warrior pose, there is often a strengthening, a building of endurance, with an effect on the mind of being challenged and yet also knowing one’s capacity to deal with difficulty. In another example, after and during a big heart-opening pose, we may feel shifted into more ease of breath, a sense of spaciousness internally, a lightness of being.
As yoga practitioners, we learn that all the parts of our body are interrelated. As one example, if the pelvis is tucked under, the outer hip muscles tighten and can affect the stability in the knee or lower leg. The tucked pelvis can impact the low back and the rest of the spine to create tightness or impaired mobility. This can lead to the shoulders rounding forward and the neck jutting forward, contributing to strain in the neck and shoulder muscles or even headaches. Conversely, when the pelvis moved into a neutral position, it can create more space and clarity internally for the organs to optimally operate, more balance and ease through the legs and upper body, and often beneficently affects the state of the mind as well. This is one of the reasons yoga asana is used to shift consciousness. When we start to feel how every part of ourselves is related to every other part and one shift can create either challenge or ease, we attempt to bring more awareness of our patterns. As we Act to shift them, we uplift the whole system of our body/mind.
To this aim, a teacher-led committee at All That Matters is launching a Karma Yoga program, a Seva program where teachers, staff, students, are supported in all working together, gathering our intentions to serve the greater community. Seva means selfless service. To move the teachings off the yoga mat into integration in our lives, we choose to create actions in alignment with our values, intentions and hopes for humanity. We choose Love in the way we relate to those we love. And together, we choose Love and support to those we wish the best for, but aren’t sure how to uplift. Together with these programs, we can make a difference. Together, with pooled resources, we act. We may not relieve all suffering and pain and need, but we make our effort. And together, we lift each other up. Together, things shift. Together, we are stronger.