“When I read I get lost, willingly, hopefully, I beg of thee, book, take me away from this reality and flow my imagination to a playground where dreams come true.” – Lawrence-Jacob Milman
Freedom Yoga Project Blog #2
When time frees up what better, then get a book to let your mind grow, fill it up with mystique. And when a long haul flight to JFK airport in New York is ahead, 15 hours in a sky steeped tube will grant you a head start. Books don’t usually tie me up or render me helpless, but when they do, the pages smother my existence, as they did this time.
On May 10th sitting on the runway moments away from lift off, I put away my cell phone after sending text messages to many that touched my life in the past year and a half of my HK experience. I felt I was preparing on something to shift. I was committed to returning to the Asian island different, reinvented, fresh. The text messaging was as much a “Good Bye” as it was in appreciation. In fact, simply those two words graced one particular message, “GooD ByE”.
With one ending, many beginnings were about to be born. I’m a descendent of Russian Jews, my Mum, and Dad, both from the Ukraine met in Canada, married in Toronto, and had three Canadian children, we are the first generation, I’m the eldest, middle sister Jax, and eight years my junior Mark, our name is spelt Milman, one L. It was a book that has been brought to my attention various times over the years, and it only really stuck due to the author’s name, he phonetically shares my family name. It’s called “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”, by
The book was made into a Major Motion picture. While still living in Vancouver B.C., I connected with the big screen version. I very much have a system when embarking on any journey: 1. Choose a book that will color my perspective, and 2. Write, in fact WRITE NOW, which happens to be my personal mantra. This time, the book chose me. A new yet keen student offered to lend me the sequel Millman book “Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior”, she said it helped her get through a loss of a friend. It turned out that the book prepared me for the shift, as I was going to spend nine intense days with Ana Forrest, an unconventional master of the art of yoga, in the unconventional yogic setting of Cranston, Rhode Island.
I’m a Poet. No question about it, everything that leads you to this point is part of who you are. I came into teaching as an Anusara-Inspired yoga teacher, meaning, I jumped through the hoops to get my name accredited on the
Company website. Hoop jumping is a huge part of what everyday life is, the hoops that Anusara led me through were truly heart opening, empowering and nourishing. It’s a system and philosophy that is both bio-mechanically and spiritually elegant and since I decided to live a life of elegance, the flavor was satisfying. The lines are sharp, the physical benefits are sleek, the performance visually stimulating and intellectually challenging, a high performance vehicle, somewhat like a Cadillac. BUT…. I’m a Poet – and in being one, it’s where my heart hijacks my mind, and takes it on a joy ride into my gut. I see yoga as the breath that links these three, The Mind, The Gut, The Heart.
Ana Forrest stands in all her shit and, like a lotus flower, rises above it. The depth and darkness of her story frames the context in which the use of the word “shit” is appropriate. Against her story, that word carries sweetness in the images that she has passed through. Forrest Yoga is flavored in a way that’s more like my time studying theatre; sharing the commonality of feeling. Ana’s mantra is “mending the hoop of the people”. To heal we must surrender to the disease, and the discomfort would not be pretty, in fact the demons inside of us are dark. How do you make come to terms with your monster? By creating a safe space, and believing in its ability to heal its hoop. It’s not swatting the cockroach but surrendering to its quirkiness.
In the book, Dan Millman’s journey has him striving for an opening beyond the third chakra, into the heart. It is said that the journey from the third to the fourth chakra is the biggest leap any individual can take. The shift from manipurna to anahata is as huge as if you’re taking off on a long haul flight to JFK, it’s like flying. Or like in the movie
The Matrix, where Neo had the ability to leap like superman, but still had parts of his identity to let go of before he was ready to feel the depth of his ability. That giant’s leap, that was the shift; that was my shift!!!
Ana’s hoop imagery is inspiring to me, so much that I recognized it in Leonard Cohen lyrics-
Healing is the ultimate acceptance of the monster, and the monster when looked at through the eyes of possibility, through the fourth chakra, Anahata, is the window to the light. The crack is nature finding an artery to shine the light in. Mending the hoop doesn’t need to look like a car with a brand new body, as it’s perfect already as it is, as a vehicle with a dent in the fender and a rope holding the door closed. In these creative moments we discover character, grit and authenticity. This is the seed of Freedom Yoga.
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