I hold the thought they we can all learn from each other, that in fact we are all in this journey together. We share the same planet, the same water, the same air, the same desires for peace and happiness. That the vibrations we create affect all creatures, everywhere. Every breath we take has a spirit and in our practice we share those vibrations. They are our contributions to the health of the whole. The whole Body/Mind, the whole class, the whole community, the whole world!
And that this idea is central in the teachings and practice of yoga. “Namaste/Namaskara” reflects this. We "NAMA," bow down, in mutual respect for each other and in awe of the miracle that we all share!!! The difference between us all is not the important thing to focus on but rather the same-ness. This relates to this idea of "Sama!"
“Ahimsa” is the first principal of the philosophy! First do no harm! Do your best to reduce the injury, the violence, the suffering of all!
If we go deeply enough into that ahimsa (the 'Beginning!'), Samadhi (the 'last') will evolve spontaneously. Ahimsa requires an increase of our best human qualities! Kindness, compassion, intelligence! This is the culture we want to further, to support, to put our shoulders behind and gently, lovingly push! Within ourselves, and with each other!
Practices are great tools, primarily tools for Observation. They present us with an otherwise difficult to perceive view of ourselves. Who we are and how we relate to the world around us and to each other. They help to alter how we “Sit within Ourselves.” That is what the word “Asana” refers to, our "Seat."
We can change the way we accept the world's influences. We can receive the energies in different ways. Those differences result in different effects. This is our practice. We are students of Karma, understanding Cause & Effect. If we perceive in this way we respond (or react) that way... as we experience Yoga it changes us. We become more comfortable in our depth. We have less fear of the difference of others, less insecurity of our self. We feel less threatened, more open and more compassionate. It changes the way we receive and respond to stimuli. Thus we change the world! As we expand our consciousness of Self we naturally change our behavior! It is an organic process, once begun it develops a life of its own! This is the meaning of Culture! Not only art and communal activities but also like how we make yogurt, or kimchi, a living breathing, replicating organism of Culture. Where do we want it to go! Ashtanga Yoga is a Great Practice, not the only Great Practice, rather one of Many! I like to share this practice in as Authentic a way as I possibly can. Not “authoritative!” I hold the idea close that the real authority needs to be brought back inside where it belongs and become “Authentic” (Natural!) again! Relying on the “Traditional Teachings” I learned from my teachers, with Gratitude, a deep reverence and connection to the lineage. And I must include my personal experiences, readings from ancient and modern texts as well as 'feed-back' from students, friends and loved ones! The idea that the Truth lies within resonates with me. That the techniques we practice are superficial to the core, essential teachings. That the closer into the “Core” we can explore, and experience, the closer and closer we get to the Universal Truths. I think this idea is spoken of, written about in all Great Teachings and Practices. Practices and Techniques are many. Ideas, and Beliefs are many… Truth is One. This idea… Ashtanga Yoga, if it is “Authentic,” will help us in this! Can we meet each other in the place where we are all the Same?
And then support each other in our ‘unique and common’ journeys, without prejudice, bias, or judgment? I feel the answer is a definite “Yes, we can!!