Hello, and welcome. This is the yoga Revolution podcast. My name is Jivana Heyman, my pronouns are he and him. This podcast is an exploration of how we can live yoga right now. And how we can apply the yoga teachings in our lives will discuss the intersection of yoga and social justice, as well as how to build a practice that supports our activism. All my guests are contributors to my new book, yoga revolution, building a practice of courage and compassion. Thanks so much for joining me. Let's get started.
Hi, it's me Jivana. And today, I'm here all by myself. It's weird to not have a guest to talk to, to just be talking to myself, but I'm excited about this episode. And to get a chance to talk about my book Yoga Revolution, kind of in general. This is kind of a wrap up episode for this podcast or this season of this podcast. You know, I had designed this series to be interviews with all the contributors to the book. And that's what we've done so far. Plus, we had that one episode last time with my editor, Beth Frankl, which was really fun, just to give you some insight into book publishing. But I thought today, I just kind of wrap up with my thoughts about the book and share a little bit about why I wrote it. And yeah, what's on my mind. I'm kind of sad to end this series, because it's been so much fun, much more fun than I even imagined. Actually, I love the I love the conversations I got to have, with all these incredible contributors, some of them really surprised me actually just their depth and wisdom just kind of blew me away. So if you hadn't had a chance to do it, I would suggest you go back and look through all the past episodes of yoga revolution and pick out a few that you like. No, and I keep doing my podcast over on Accessible Yoga, the Accessible Yoga podcast with Amber Karnes. So I hope you'll join me over there. And you know, eventually, I might do another season or this or maybe, maybe it'll be for the next book, who knows, I have started working on another book, actually. But I don't really want to talk about it yet, because it's just happening now. But you'll be the first to know. Ya know, I don't know how you'll be the first to know I'll share about it on social media. So if you follow me over there, you know, you can learn about my next book, it'll be at least a year, a year before I get something out there. Anyway, so let's talk about this book, yoga revolution, building a practice of courage and compassion. You know, it's, it's kind of funny, I, I really enjoyed writing this book. But it was also really challenging in many ways. I tried to be as honest as I could, about my own journey and my own struggles, and to share my thoughts and reflection, reflections on the yoga teachings and what they mean to me. Um, I'm loving seeing people posting about the book, and especially when they post like a quote, or a page that they like, because that's, that's what I was curious about. I want to know what you think. And, you know, I put all these prompts in there, like every section has a prompt pretty much. Because to me, these are not it's not a one way conversation, you know, yoga is very much alive. It only exists in practice. And so I think it's kind of dangerous to write a book about yoga, you know what I mean? Because it's, it's like, as if this is the end of the conversation when it's just not, it's just just just not how it works. So I, you know, I had to overcome some fear. And, yeah, a lot of fear, actually, when I wrote this, but I, you know, I hope it was useful to you, and I would love to know your thoughts. So find a way to communicate with me if it's on social media, you can tag me. I'm mostly active on Instagram and on Facebook. And, yeah, I'd love to know your thoughts. I am going to have a few book clubs. I'm doing a joint book club with Jacoby Ballard to really talk about the intersections of our books, which are really connected in many ways. We've decided not to be in competition, but to be in community around the publication of our books, and I really enjoyed that. and I look forward to that three part series coming up. Probably february, march. And then I'm going to do my own book club after that. So probably starting the end of March, although a book club, and I'd love to have you join me. So, just to kind of summarize the book quickly, I just want to say I mean, this is an effort to share my thoughts about your yoga teachings. I'm not a scholar, I'm merely a practitioner, and a teacher, and, but I've been doing it a long time, you know, and I even learned, I can't talk. I learned yoga from my grandmother. And she was incredible. And it meant a lot to me to
have her share it with me, I remember feeling so special to get to be with her in the mornings when she would practice and she was really ahead of our time. You know, she was living in LA. And then she would come and live with us. I was living on the East Coast, actually, but she would come and spend months with us at a time. And then she'd go back to LA and she would study with actually Swami Satchidananda and J. Krishnamurti were her main teachers. And I feel like lucky that I had her as my first exposure to the teachings, it felt very comfortable to me. yoga always felt welcoming. And my first image of a yoga practitioner was of her, she's probably in her 60s, back then, when I was young. And then she kept practicing through her 80s Before she died, and she was really something. So I feel like, in a way, this book is dedicated to her, although the book is actually dedicated to my husband, Matt. So he probably won't listen to this. But let's also say it's dedicated to my grandmother, and she, you know, I hope she's out there. You know, I think she would enjoy the fact that I'm still practicing and teaching. Anyway, yoga helped me through my eight activist days, when I was really struggling with grief and loss. My best friend, Kurt died of AIDS in 1995, which was the same year that I finally finished a teacher training, and he encouraged me to do it, you know, he wanted me to take a training and share yoga, he was very passionate about philosophy in general. And we were talking about philosophy all the time. And then, you know, my teaching just kept growing and turned into Accessible Yoga, the nonprofit, and the training school. And, you know, I just feel like, it's been such an amazing journey. And I wanted to share some of my experiences along the way. So that was part of what the book is about. I also would say the main impetus was that I had that anxiety attack after my mom died, which is now gosh, almost five years ago. And you know, it really kind of men stopped me in my tracks and made me really think about what was I doing? I thought I am I doing this right now, like, how could I be a yoga practitioner for so long, and still have such intense anxiety and I felt like a total failure. And, you know, I think, restarting my practice after that was really great, because it helped me kind of bring a whole new perspective to it. And that that's probably the main driving force behind this book was just like really wanting to look at these teachings in a way that was effective and useful. And yet still, you know, respectful to their ancient tradition. And I, I think the way we can be most respectful to this tradition is by authentically practicing, and really looking back at the scriptures, especially and trying to interpret them and apply them in our lives now, and I speak for myself, that's what I want to do. I want to be respectful to the yoga tradition by applying it in my life now by actually engaging as a yoga practitioner. And reflecting on what these incredibly ancient teachings are saying to us today and how amazing it is that something that is 1000s of years old could still be applicable in our lives today. I mean, it's kind of incredible that humans don't change, you know that we're the same over centuries or For millennia, it's mind boggling to me. Anyway, I, I love reading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. And the Bhagavad Gita, they've just been so important to me in my life, I go back to them all the time. To me, there's so much they're around how to work with our own mind, and how to live a happy life. More than happy, I would say, a peaceful or joyful life, I think that's really the goal of the practice, to move beyond just the momentary happiness that pleasure can bring and look at what can joy be like? What's the potential that's there for us?
I'm very intrigued by that question. Mostly, I'm always amazed that the teachings take such a different approach than we generally, then we generally take in the West, in the contemporary Western yoga culture. I mean, the teachings are so clear that we have what we need inside like, That's it, we have what we need inside our job is simply relax. Well, I shouldn't say simply, that's maybe the hardest part. Relax, the body, the breath and the mind. So we can allow the truth of our heart to be revealed. I mean, it's sounds very simple. But I know it's not. And I don't mean to laugh, because it's my life's work. But, you know, it's very important to me that the teachings are offered in this positive way. Right, the teachings begin with fullness, that we are whole, we're full, we're fine. Our essence is perfect, unaffected by anything that goes on in our lives. And yet our lived experience is also real and important. And it's not I don't think it's a matter of, you know, one or the other, but rather, how do we straddle that world? between spirit and nature? There's my my dog may barking? She must have liked that part. So yeah, how do we struggle to the two realities, you know, that yoga explores spiritual reality, our spiritual nature, our heart, and our hearts work with the lived experience of our day to day challenges that affect us physically, emotionally, and mentally. I mean, isn't that the point of the practice to find a way to make them work together those two sides so that we can find some, some inner peace, it's like that battle is between our heart and mind, maybe that's the battle from the Gita, you could say, between the heart and the mind. And we want to have a truce. I was really excited to see a number of people post a quote that I liked, also in the buckets in the beginning. So if you've read the book, you know, the first there's three sections, the first section is called inner revolution. And that's really an exploration of some basic philosophy, basic yoga philosophy, ideas, and how transformational they are. You know, like I said, this is an incredible philosophy that starts with the idea that we're full and whole. That's very different than we're trained in capitalism, where we have to get stuff and earn stuff all the time and become something. yoga is more about undoing, right. Returning back to our essential nature, connecting back remembering, remembering who we are, who I am, I should say. So on page 32. I'm going to read a little bit about this. So I thought today, I would read a few short sections and talk about them. This part is called learning from our suffering. Patanjali begins his discussion on how to practice yoga with the word tapas, and he's not talking about Spanish cuisine. He's talking about purification or self discipline. Sometimes topless is translated as learning from our suffering, but it basically means to burn in the way that you might burn away impurities by hitting gold This is why I often call yoga a form of alchemy. Patanjali explains kriya yoga. The path of action consists of tapas self, self discipline. svadhyaya, study and Ishvarapranidhana, dedication to the Lord. Patanjali is making a life altering statement about the value of our suffering. We can transform our pain through the alchemy of yoga. That doesn't mean we use spiritual bypassing to avoid suffering. It means that by experiencing the pain and understanding why we're suffering, we can become wiser and eventually have more peace.
I have a quote here from Lama Rod Owens. There is great violence when we avoid our pain, because we become trapped in reacting to it. As we target others as the reason for our hurt. This is why our anger and rage or dangerous it's not the experience of anger itself. But our intense reaction to it. The reaction is also the avoidance of experiencing the experience of anger. I think this is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the yoga path. It is a path through suffering, not around it. yoga practice begins with a willingness to learn from our pain and suffering. To feel it. The yoga begins when you lie on your mat and cry, not when you're doing some fancy pose. Or yoga begins when your partner says something that hurts your feelings. And you pause before snapping back with something hurtful in return. So don't tell my husband, that part.
It's true. It's true. yoga begins when your partner says something that hurts your feelings and your pause before snapping back with something hurtful in return. I mean that's practicing tapas, right, it's like, tapas as an opportunity to figure out what it is that I think I'm going to get from outside of myself, that will make me happy. And that's literally the purpose of suffering and pain is to show us: don't go out there to stop looking outside of yourself for happiness, you know. Turn turn within, that's the message of tapas. Alright, so I thought I'd move on I talk a bit about rainbow mind in the book. And that just came out of like, my sense, my struggles with meditation actually, you know, to be honest, I was struggling with meditation and thinking about how we often teach meditation as stilling the mind and getting quiet. And that's probably true. That's probably what meditation should be like. But I had an experience one day, I was realizing that my mind doesn't need to stop for me to practice yoga. What I need to do is to just see it clearly, in a kind, loving way, like, just allow it to be a like, you don't I'm saying like, it reminds me of myself, like coming out as a gay man, as a queer person. It's like, I just want the world to accept me, like, let me be myself. You know, like, accept every part of me. And I think that's what I was feeling about my own mind is like, why am I trying to change the mind to fit in some structure that I've been told is what is best? I have a sense that there's deep acceptance of myself, and all of my problems and faults and everything, that that would bring peace. And actually, it doesn't mean that I don't still want to change and do better. You know, I don't think accepting myself means that I am perfect or something. I think it just means being honest, and and like a deep truthfulness about the reality of my situation here. You know what I mean? I don't know if you do but anyway, it was making me think about I was thinking about this section on Rainbow mind. And this idea of kind of embracing the fullness of my mind, rather than trying to shut it down. I'm not sure which part to read. I think I'll read this section here is called the goal of yoga and page 62. If the first rule of yoga Ahimsa is engaged love, then what is the goal of yoga? Often the goal of yoga is described by one word samadhi. The word is often translated as enlightenment, a kind of transcendent meditative state that to be honest, most of us don't even aspire to, at least not in the way it's currently understood. Patanjali explains that quote, when the object of meditation only shines forth in the mind, as though devoid of the thought of even the self who was meditating. That state is called samadhi, or concentration. And quote, The Original commentary on the sutras expands further on this teaching quote, when the state of meditation dhyana become so deep that only the object stands by itself. obliterating as it were all traces of reflective thought, it is known as samadhi uncorked, this basically means that the ego mind has disappeared. The object is shining because it has because it can be experienced in its truth, its essence is revealed, the mind is no longer interpreting or translating it. It's similar to the experience of listening to someone speak through a translator versus listening to them speak in a language you are fluent in. You have to wonder how much of the translators mind is being shared? Is it possible to completely understand what the original speaker is saying? Can we experience reality without the ego mind filtering it? What would it be like to experience life objectively rather than subjectively?
Patanjali explains that we are experiencing the natural world through the colored lens of our attachments. We are constantly interpreting and deciphering the messages we get through our senses. But samadhi is a neutral state where our minds influence disappears. It's it is perfectly clear vision. This is what I like to call rainbow mind pure clarity and neutrality, accepting all and loving all without prejudice. This is a mind that is so expansive, it's as wide as a as a rainbow. And also willing to accept and celebrate difference. And then I made a practice actually on exploring rainbow mind. I guess I just wanted to show that part that I, you know, I wanted to look at why are we practicing? And how can we get to this place of acceptance, deep compassion that I think is really at the heart of yoga and also at the heart of social justice.
Okay, so I'm going to move on, I want to talk about the section on embracing failure. Still, I think it's still in the first section, but still, it feels really important to me. It was kind of like the heart of this book is my revealing my complete and utter failures in the world. So I'm gonna read this section on failure that starts on page a one.
Okay, this starts with honestly, a bigger problem was that having anxiety made me feel like a failure as a yoga practitioner and teacher? How could I have anxiety if the focus of my life has been learning to calm my nervous system and control my mind? Well, I think the answer lies in the latter part of that statement. controlling the mind is a dangerous game. Since my anxiety attack, I've been exploring new ways to approach my mind with kindness and a new understanding of what I need. Instead of controlling my mind and working on repairing my relationship with myself. Kabir describes it well, this is a poem. This is a poem I quoted by the great poet Kabir called the failure. I talked to my inner lover and I say, why such rush? We sense that there is some sort of spirit that loves birds and animals and the ants, perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you in your mother's womb? Is it logical, you'd be walking around entirely orphaned now? The truth is, you turned away yourself and decided to go into the dark alone. Now you're tangled up in others, and have forgotten what you once knew. And that's why everything you do has some weird failure in it. I love computers premise that you turned away yourself. And that's why everything you do has some weird failure in it. He gets right to the heart of the issue of identifying with ego mind instead of Spirit. I also love the idea of normalizing failure. Isn't that what it means to be human? Isn't life a succession of failures that we learn from? How can you learn if you don't fail. Failure is the direct outcome of practice. Failure is what you we get to do every time we get on the mat, we get to fail at this pose or that pose, we get to fail at relaxing when we lie in Shavasana. And our nervous system is buzzing with caffeine. And we get to fail at meditating every time our mind wanders. I've never practiced yoga and not failed. And that's exactly the point. Failure is the key to yoga. It's like that expression, the broken places where the light shines through. The failure is where the light of yoga shines through to expose our most tender places, our wounds. It illuminates the limits of the body and mind. Not so we can overcome them through sheer force. But so we can love them more. How else can we become whole healed without completely embracing our mistakes, and our failures? So I'll stop there. So I'm curious what you think about that. And I keep thinking about this other section, I'm going to go back for a minute, I'm gonna go back to rainbow mind.
So earlier, I was talking about rainbow mind. And I just think it's really important think that when I talk about embracing failure, it's part of what I mean, can we embrace or accept every aspect of ourselves, even the parts we don't like? Right, the ugly parts, the parts that we're ashamed of our job is not to empty the mind. But to expand it so widely, that it can embrace the entire universe. And that's what I keep thinking of, I keep thinking of this idea of embracing ourselves versing versus pushing parts of ourselves away. And I think that's, that's also reflected in social justice in this idea of embracing all of us embracing all beings in the world, right? We all have equal rights equal. Reason for being right, like we all have, as much right as each other to be here on this planet. And I feel like social justice is simply saying that saying that everybody deserves justice, everybody deserves the same rights, right? Everyone deserves this potential for happiness. Yeah. You know, the essence of yoga, like I said, is this idea that we have this piece of Spirit within us that we need to uncover it. What's also beautiful about the philosophy is it says that that spirit is the same in all beings. Which means that as a yoga practitioner, our job is to see the same spirit in everything. And in everyone. No, and I think that's the challenge of social justice is to speak up for others, to find a way to be of service to the world, to speak up when we see suffering happening. And that's what I tried to cover in my, in the second section of the book, outer revolution. I tried to explore how you can apply the teachings or how I apply the teachings in my life, I talked a lot about my kids, and how apparent how challenging parenting was and trying to use some of the teachings in the yoga Sutras really helped me and I explore service, and self care, and how we you need to find a balance that works for you according to your individual place in the world. Right? Like, if you're struggling, if you have a marginalized identity, then you can focus on self care. If you have access to power and resources, then your energy can be used to serve others. And that can change day to day. But I think that's what yoga can help us with is that inner reflected reflection on where am I at today? Where can I focus my energy? Do I need to focus on serving myself through self care? Or do I have enough energy today to serve others? And when I'm full, through my practice, whatever that looks like, whatever form that practice takes, right? It doesn't have to be just being on the mat. It can be thinking about these things. It could be meditating it can be I'm chanting, there's so many forms the practice can take. But when I'm when I can find a way to fill myself, then I'll cause less harm in the world. It's not about changing the world, or reshaping it into the form we like. Because suffering and death are unavoidable, but it's about causing less harm and reaching out to others when they're suffering. I think that's what yoga is asking us to do. So I thought I could read another section. This is actually the summary of part two, I thought it could kind of help us summarize helped me summarize what I was trying to say in this section. I realized that writing a book about yoga and saying that it somehow can change the world may seem a little far fetched. I'm not suggesting that practicing modern postural yoga necessarily creates social justice in the world. What I'm saying is that the philosophy of this practice is based in equity and justice. Revolutionary yoga is about seeing ourselves in others and living a life of service. These two elements, which I'm summarizing as courage and compassion really can change the world.
Contrary to popular opinion, a yoga practitioner isn't always peaceful and unemotional part of that of the courage that yoga brings us the courage to engage with our emotions in an effective way. Anger can also be based in love and compassion, expressed skillfully, righteous anger is the ethical response to witnessing someone causing harm. This is the result of compassion. If you feel the pain of another, then it's natural that you would feel anger when they are being injured, especially if they're being bullied or oppressed. This type of anger gets the minds attention so we can respond appropriately. Which could mean speaking out or defending the one who was being harmed. According to Gandhi, use your anger for good. Anger to people is like gas to the automobile, it fuels you to move forward and to get to a better place. Without it, we would not be motivated to rise to a challenge. It is the energy that compels us to define what is just and unjust. We need to be careful about trying to control our emotions and yoga. Instead, our emotions should be experienced, even appreciated and embraced. The energy of our emotions are the vehicle that our heart is using to express itself. You could even say that emotions are the language of the Spirit sending us messages from a deep part of ourselves beyond the mind, embrace those messages. This doesn't mean we act on our feelings. We can completely embrace our emotions, and then use our practices to come back to balance so that we act in conscious and conscientious ways. The process works like this, we see harm happening in the world, we have an emotional reaction and process those feelings. That means we feel whatever is coming up without acting on it. But we pay attention because our emotions carry important messages. And we follow up with a question How can my response contribute to reducing harm and suffering in the world. In this way, we cultivate Ahimsa by focusing on service, our service is embodied compassion. service demands that we get our personal motives out of the way and do our best to be present to the needs of those around us. Can our actions our very lives, be offerings, dedicated service to our own Sacred Heart, and to the heart of all humanity. And I just I want to end with a moment about building a practice as, as you know what I called yoga in practice the third section of the book, it's maybe the most important part, which is to say that I know for myself, I need to practice I need to constantly connect with myself. To find my ground again, to find solid ground is that the expression you know, life is challenging, and something is always going on. That that gets me off center. And yoga practices help to bring me back and the more I find a way to come back to center, the more effective I can be in the world, the more service oriented I can be, the more compassionate I can be the more loving and caring and the less hormone costs. So I think that's kind of the point of that third section is really exploring what your own practice can look like. How can you build a practice that really feels helpful and supportive of your life? You know, not just what someone told you to do. Building a practice of courage and compassion means finding a practice that works. And it may not look like anyone else's practice. You know, I'm really letting my practice my practice evolved personally. I mean, I do all kinds of things. I do a lot of asana meditation. I probably do. I'm ah, it's been hard for me actually, after my anxiety attack to get back into those subtle practices, but I'm finally feeling more comfortable there. But I also do a lot of, you know, strength training and dancing around and riding my bike and caring for my family, and listening to people who are struggling. And that is my practice to. Although the last part sounds like the service again, so maybe I'm getting confused, I want to say the practice is the part that's going to fill me up, fill you up. So I'm just encouraging you to find, find that practice if you don't have one, taking just a few minutes every day, to connect with yourself, injoy, or fun or silence, whatever works for you. Anyway, thanks so much for joining me for this conversation. And I hope that the book has been useful to you, if you read it, I'd love to hear what you think please reach out to me. And it means a lot to me, that you spent this time listening, I appreciate your energy. And I know it's very valuable.
I really hope that these teachings have been useful to you. And this interpretation that I'm offering can help you explore yoga, and spirituality in your own life. So that you can find peace and joy in the world and that you can be of service as well. So thank you so much for being here. Okay, take care, everybody. Bye.
Thanks so much for listening and joining the conversation. yoga is truly a revolutionary practice. Thanks for being here. If you haven't already, I would love for you to read my book, yoga revolution, building a practice of courage and compassion. It's available wherever books are sold. Also, you can check out my website JivanaHeyman.com. There's some free classes on there and a meditation and you can find out more about my upcoming trainings and other programs. Hope to see you next time. Thanks. Bye
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