“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
“Now begins the practice of yoga.”
-Yoga Sutra 1.1
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.”
“The meaning of life is not out there but in between our ears. In many ways this makes us the lords of creation.”
“Oh Lord of all creatures! None other than you excels all these and other created things. You are above all. You are supreme. May you fulfill our cherished desires and may we possess bounteous wealth and other things of the world”
-Rig Veda 10.121.10
Whether you’re talking about Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or Atheism there are roots of truth to all faith (and non-faith) backgrounds. Whether you’re seeking the science or the mysticism, yoga has the ability to pertain to all.
At Practice Indie we strive to share the totality of the yoga practice- not just the “workout” portion, but also the work IN portion. Yoga is an 8 limbed path, as told by the sage Patanjali, and its roots are in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. To deny the roots and ignore the other limbs of the path (‘asana’ or the yoga poses is/are just one of the 8) would be appropriating and not sharing the full story.
With that in mind, this week we are focusing on Brahmā, the Hindu God of creation. Brahmā is the Hindu god of creation. He, along with Vishnu the sustainer and Sīva the god of destruction he makes up the cycle of birth and death and the supreme deity known as the trimurti. Brahmā has four faces, one for each of the Vedas (ancient spiritual texts)- the Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, Yakut Veda and the Atharva Veda.
If you read the Yoga Sutras, however, while they have their roots in Hinduism it is NOT a Hindu text. In fact, many of the specific to yoga texts (Hatha Yoga Pradipika for example) while have philosophical roots in Hinduism, are not specifically for Hindus. There’s a large movement to modernize yoga and make it more accessible for non-conformist bodies, the gender spectrum, socio-economic backgrounds and more. We are loving this movement, AND if we believe in the life changing practice that is yoga, and the ability to transcend so many boundaries we also believe it needs to be accessible to all FAITH backgrounds. We understand this can be hard to digest/ decipher how it’s not appropriation, so for your consideration check out this podcast:
With the focus this week being on Brahma, the god of creation/ beginnings, how can you expand this to encompass YOUR understanding of beginnings and creation through the lens of YOUR faith background? Spring is around the corner which means Easter, Passover, Mardi Gras, Ramadan and several others. How do these celebrations encompass beginnings? As the Gregorian calendar new year burns off, how do we redefine these new beginnings? In order for a beginning to occur, what is coming to an end? The honoring of Brahma is really an honoring of cycles, and the most optimistic of the cycle- the beginning. How can you practice beginning this week?
A great song to throw on while you ponder:
Two years ago, we wrote about the controversial word that is ‘God’. For some, it brings you home. For others, it makes you squirm. Consider how faith factors into your life. How do you bring it on and off your mat? How can we speak from our lived experience while allowing others to experience theirs and meet in the middle? This is where we truly see the practice of ‘yoga’ stepping in. Enjoy!
Growing up amidst mixed religions and in the heart of the Bible Belt, I was raised to only bring up God at Church, Temple or in the confines of our own house. My dad is Southern Baptist, my mom is Jewish, and I thought I was a Hindu from about the age of 12 (until I found out that you can’t really ‘decide’ to be a Hindu). Being raised in Alabama, there wasn’t a high tolerance for other faiths. I became very resentful of the word God because it had social implications, not spiritual references. People would bring up God to validate themselves, to manipulate others and to shame those that they consider lesser because they have different beliefs.
We live in such a chaotic, fast paced, self centered world. Without the concept of something greater than us all, we would surely fall a part as a society. I turn to the idea of God, a higher Self, the Universe, or a greater consciousness daily. I’m incredibly spiritual, and incredibly private about it. I feel so grateful for the gift of life and so blessed for every day I get another chance at it, so why am I embarrassed to talk about that out loud? I notice when I teach that I tread lightly on mentioning God because people have placed it so far into their understanding, that they take great offense if you imply that there are multiple ways to look at this HUGE concept.
How can we make the word God a safe word? A word that just reminds us all of the greater whole? Something omniscient and omnipresent. That we all experience birth, life and death. That none of us, no matter what we do, are exempt from death. Any way we look at the concept of God, those simple truths are there, and they make the taboo word that much more important to discuss.
So however you view God- as a supreme power, Higher Consciousness, Ultimate Self, the Universe- use the word more often. Share with people you are spiritual, that you believe in something greater than yourself. The more we share, and the more we are open to the fact that other people have different views, YET we all believe in something greater than us that just might even bind us all. Approach the topic with kindness, mindfulness, tolerance and truth. What a world this would be if God was not what started wars, but what bound people together and fostered conversations.
Yoga Sutra 1.23 : Isvarapranidhanadva
In our Yoga Sutra this week, it states that contentment can be obtained by devoting to the Ultimate Consciousness or God.
So if you don’t believe in God, start with yourself- can you believe in yourself? If you do believe in God, consider becoming more regular with a practice of devotion. Consider practicing using the word God more often, or your version of that word. Maybe devote a daily silent prayer or mantra to that power of understanding. Try some daily silence to honor a higher power. If you aren’t a higher power believer, take time for self reflection and see if you can relate to a greater good of some sort.
Namaste, and God bless 🙂