#MeToo Healing Part 1: Paradox

The true testament of any practice (spiritual, physical, mental, etc) is what life experiences it can help you to work through. What does it help you to move through, to get unstuck from? My yoga practice (particularly, Ashtanga Yoga – in synergy with other elements, which I will also discuss in future blog posts) has helped me to work through the experience of rape/sexual assault/violence, trauma, and PTSD.

Ashtanga yoga practice helps me to get unstuck. Getting unstuck doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of something, like karma – though it could be interpreted that way. What I mean by getting unstuck is getting space between “you” and your “experience” or “story”. It means getting a greater sense of freedom to choose. It also means being present. This journey of unsticking, to put it lightly, is one that perhaps other survivors can relate to, despite all the differences in the details of our journeys.

The worldwide Ashtanga Yoga community is today reckoning with accusations of sexual assault against its beloved founder-guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (as are many other students with controversial gurus from many other yogic and spiritual traditions, such as in the Shambhala Buddhist community). This compels me to discuss my paradoxical experience at greater length.

The paradox that I and all people who share my scars must confront is: how can the founder of a yogic and spiritual tradition that has helped me to heal from sexual violence be himself a perpetrator of sexual violence? Can I still spiritually bow to him and his teachings with true respect? Can I carry on my practice without feeling confused or even complicit in some kind of contradictory value system, and thereby compromised in the healing process?

I tend to agree with the founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, that we must speak out from wherever we are. It can be risky – but so is the alternative, to carry on as if nothing happened. We help to heal ourselves, each other, and our world by acknowledging and exposing pain while aligning this pain with the purpose of social justice and spiritual growth.

More in the next post.

Courage,

Sandi

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actually, it’s ours: in this together

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Yoga practice can transport us out of the suffering of conventional reality and reveal to us a kind of indestructible personal universe, a playful spaciousness within our own mind & body – but – that – is – really – only – a – beneficial – experience – if – the yoga practice also calls us to return to the conventional, collective, shared experience of suffering, the daily realities of this planet. We have to face all the HALAHALA! In yoga mythology, halahala हलाहल is the poison that arises from the churning of the ocean of samsara in the battle between the gods and demigods (perhaps a battle of our own intentions) for Amrita, the nectar of immortality. We seek the way out of the suffering in order to get back into it, we practice and non-attach, not to escape nor disconnect from the world, but to re-turn and re-connect with greater contentment, compassion, calmness, courage, purpose. ✌️💕🚀 Music: That Day Musician: Jef 🎶 #yogawithsandi

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save our oceans: free screening this thursday!

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“Described by naturalist, Sr. David Attenborough, as ‘one of the most important films of our time,’ A Plastic Ocean is the documentary that has captivated audiences and incited positive action around the world. Through stunning underwater shots and disturbing footage of plastic pollution, the film investigates the damage caused when plastic consumption goes unchecked.”

Refreshments provided. Zero waste event. Click here for the FB event page details.

DATE: Thursday, January 31st

TIME: 6:30 – 9:00 PM

LOCATION: Ocean First, 3015 Bluff St., Boulder, CO

COST: Free!

Photo and Info shared from: https://www.oceanfirstinstitute.org/events/a-plastic-ocean-film-screening/

unleash your inner unicorn

semideaf: ashtanga updates from #yogawithsandi

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May we balance the levity of change with the gravity of promise. Life is unpredictable. Death is certain. Our power in between is to navigate this ocean with purpose. 2019 feels like a pivotal year already! I’m listening to a book right now called, Staying With The Trouble by Donna Haraway. She talks about the urgent need to conjugate and yoke with each other, with our environment, with our intentions. May we do so this year – with our most creative inspiration, our power to create, to create more than babies, to create kin. Love for 2019 and beyond. 🐢💖🐢 #yogawithsandi #stayingwiththetrouble #donnaharaway #feminism #fabulism #writing #creativity #plantbased #yoga #kindredspirits #2019aspirations

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In Hindu iconography, the Tiger is the vahana ( वाहन ) – the animal mount, vehicle, transport, energy – that carries goddess #Durga in her most ferocious form. In Tibetan Buddhist iconography, the Tiger can also be seen carrying #Mahakala, the wrathful dharma protector. The many Hindu and Tantric deities have different vahanas that can vary according to the time and place of their depiction. The vahana can remind us of the qualities/energies/propensities that the particular deity harnesses, whether by enhancing or restraining them as needed for the preservation of dharma, of balance. 🐯 Music: Libre Musician: @iksonofficial 🐅 #yogawithsandi #durgama #kalima #dharmaprotectors #hinduism #buddhism #tantra #ashtanga #yoga #tiger #vahana #kapotasana #mysore #ashtangayoga #meditation #yogadaily #selfpractice #8limbs #plantpowered #vegan #veganflexy #veganstrong #pbwf #healthandwellness #shiva #shakti #om

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Maybe I have always been “half-deaf,” meaning, half completely tuned in to the sound of my own thoughts, my own brain (and our brains do make noise believe it or not), at the expense of really hearing others. “Hey, I’m half deaf, so I can’t necessarily hear you” is what I’ve been having to say to people these past two weeks and it has felt so very true, on a level even beyond the physical. The physical experience of being half-deaf, which is what I am still experiencing after an ear infection crisis on Christmas, is humbly reminding me that we are all potentially experiencing a very different reality. We each have a different set of (changeable) limits, biases, injuries, handicaps, etc. that frame the perception of our reality. Sometimes we are not even aware of that framework. The upside of injury – perhaps even its raison d’être – is that it draws our attention to what we previously took for granted. This is insight, and all insight is a new vista. 🖼👂✨ #ardhamatsyendrasana #yogawithsandi #insight #hearing #perception #newparadigms #twist #ashtanga #vinyasa #yoga #yogadaily #cacboulder #boulderyoga #8limbs #poweryoga #vegan #plantpowered #meditation #contemplation

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What is Liberation if not the freedom to choose? How long should we practice on our mats -or- how long should we not practice/i.e. take rest? How long should we meditate -or- not meditate/i.e. do something other than sitting and concentrating on our breath? I feel we should do so for as long as we feel it is a choice to continue or not to continue. If what we are doing is not a choice it seems unlikely to lead to liberation. What is Liberation if not the freedom to choose? 💜 1st 🦂 since my ear infection, still healing, still learning, still seeking liberation… Xo s Music: Alive Musician: @iksonofficial #yogawithsandi #vrischikasanA #mysore #ashtanga #yoga #vinyasa #asana #inversions #handstands #backbends #peace #joy #healthandwellness #choice #agency #action #liberation #gobuffs #gogogobeyond #gategateparagateparasamgatebodhisvaha

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If you’re gonna kick, kick with joy. 😉🏊‍♀️🌊 Saw my new doctor today and she said I can handstand away – no need to fear inversions for my ear because it is healing well, even though post-infection, the not-hearing and ringing-in-the-ear can be expected for, potentially, even a few weeks. She advised that I don’t get underwater again for another week. So I taught my Aqua Yoga Play class tonight from pool-side, which I haven’t done in a while and appreciated the difference – mainly being able to see everybody from a wider perspective. Thank you water spirits. Don’t forget to love and care for your ears! Xx S 🙏💕👂✨ Music: Other Rivers II Site: https://icons8.com/music/ #yogawithsandi #aquayogaplay #fortheloveofwater #earinfections #healing #yoga #play #handstands #joy #healthandwellness

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“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.” N. R. Narayana Murthy Perhaps finding our sense of Belonging, in any walk of life, is similar to finding the state of Asana: sthira & sukham, steadiness and sweetness, or ease. Asana is a practice. Belonging is a practice. Normally I would fold forward in this asana, #ardhabaddhapadmottanasana , bringing my hand to the floor beside my foot, but today I was being cautious about bending and inverting due to a severe ear infection. And instead, I found it refreshing to focus on reaching up through the raised arm, which equally implies grounding down through the standing leg. Asana, Belonging, both are also a changing reality, a constant discovery. 👌 #yogawithsandi #sthirasukhamasanam #growth #pain #change #belonging #asana #yoga

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“What if I were in your condition?“ Sometimes I wonder whether the origin of all yoga asanas rests somewhere in this question…. We have so many asanas named after animals and insects and gods and sages: was it through the observation and contemplation of all these other beings that the first yogis developed these poses, these asanas, this whole science of the malleability of the human condition – our form, our consciousness, our realities – in order to more clearly connect and relate will all other beings? Putting ourselves physically – as we do in yoga – into different poses/conditions can palpably help us to contemplate different realities – to recognize that there are so many other states of being. These other realities are ever in flux all around us. It is this very knowledge of other experiences occurring in the same space-time continuum that expands our consciousness. This awareness can also beneficially render us more compassionate towards the realities/forms/conditions of others. On the other hand, it can also detrimentally affect the integrity of our own – the boundaries by which we understand our own experience – because suddenly we are able to perceive that our own “I” could be any other “I” – that we could be any one of these other experiences. This is a powerful realization. The downside is that suddenly everyone else’s problems feel like our problems. HOWEVER: just as we cannot do every asana at the same time, we cannot be in every other condition at the same time. We have to be in our own in the time that it is what it is. Nevertheless, contemplating other forms/realities is helpful so that we can create better relationships. Circumstances can be blown away by the wind but relationships can root deep into the ground of our being. As the wheel of samsara turns (which is its nature) and as we inevitably change realities/forms, practice helps us to remain calm. Calmness can be the kindest compassion, towards ourselves and all others.✨☸️✨abhyasa vairagyam tat nirodhaha✨practice and non-attachment settle the fluctuations of the mind✨🐍 p.y.s 1.12 #yogawithsandi #yogasutras #patanjali #yoga #backbends #compassion #samsara #vegan #empaths #heart

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come aqua yoga play with me!

What does it feel like to move like a manta ray, to float like a starfish, to bend like seaweed, or to hold Warrior 3 in the water? Created by yoga teacher Sandi Higgins, Aqua Yoga Play combines vinyasa yoga, physical improv, and aquatic fitness to bring you an original and playful shapeshifting experience. We switch our yoga mats for the water and find the meditative movement of yoga in the buoyant aquatic realm. Connect with your inner ocean animal! Register here.

 

 

3k happy joy: ashtanga updates from #yogawithsandi

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3K happy joy (that was the auto spell correct for “Sri K Pattabhi Jois” when speaking his name into my phone here 😂), Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the great and in some cases controversial guru of the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice, often considered “the original power yoga”, is said to have said that he really did not like to use the term “Power Yoga“ because Power is related to the human ego, where as Yoga is meant to take us beyond the Ego to union with God or the divine, or the supreme energy of the universe – however you understand this to be. It is indeed empowering to cultivate strength and flexibility through yoga practice, and with that, a greater sense of control and deliberation with our bodies, minds, lives, but perhaps there is a further step in this process: to surrender the effort, the fruit, the whole process, to dedicate all one’s experience to that which is greater than one’s self. What does that mean to you? 🙏🔥 Heated power Yoga with me today at Colorado Athletic Club Boulder @cacboulder 🔥✨ #yogawithsandi #cacboulder #3khappyjoy #srikpattabhijois #poweryoga #ashtanga #vinyasa #yoga #strength #flexibility #wellness #liberation #backbends #empowerment #surrender #ishvarapranidhana #8limbs #vegan #plantpowered #gogogobeyond

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Shortly after returning from studying with Sharath Jois in Mysore, India in 2016, I moved from NYC to an area in NJ where there was no Mysore studio within a 45 min drive. 🔹 My time in Mysore, and the years of practice in NYC before that, nevertheless empowered me to continue practicing the sadhana on my own – and to share the practice. 🔹 I’ve maintained a regular self-practice for over 2 years (including intensive Ashtanga workshops and week/weekend classes with Sharath and Saraswathi) and I’ve discovered in this time how valuable it is to have the self-practice/ home-practice that the Ashtanga sadhana empowers us with. 🔹 That said, I’ve also come to see how valuable and of great merit it can be to connect with a community and a teacher to practice with and to continue learning from! 🔹 It can be challenging to show up, whether to oneself or to a group, but ultimately we can only understand so much on our own. And it’s awesome to be a yoga student, especially if we consider ourselves to be yoga teachers too! 🔹 Big thanks to @tylandrumyoga and the @yogaworkshop for the community and learning here in Boulder. 🔹 Just a few days ago in practice I was saying that “it’s impossible for me to go into handstand with straight legs” and thanks to Ty’s encouragement and guidance, I am starting to do so. 🔹 Join me for a taste of this transformative practice tomorrow morning 6am-8am at CAC Boulder @cacboulder 🔹 #mysore #ashtanga #vinyasa #yoga #shanti #yogasadhana #health #wellness #liberation #tictocs #handstands #backbends #vegan #veganflexy #veganstrong #plantpowered #8limbs #yogaworkshop #cacboulder #yogawithsandi

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