Jivana Heyman 0:05
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. We'll 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, I'm so glad you've joined me, this is my first episode of the yoga revolution podcast. I'm really so appreciative of you being here and listening to this. I'm excited for this new project. And thanks again for joining me on this journey. I want to tell you a little bit about what I have planned for this podcast and what this project has grown out of, you know, I just finished writing my new book, and it's going to be published in November 2021. And in the book, that's the book yoga revolution. And in the book, I have all these incredible contributors, I think there are something like 16 of them. And each of them shares a little bit about their practice and the intersection of their work with yoga and social justice. And no one occurred to me that the book only shares a little snippet of their work, and that this podcast is a platform that would allow me to go deeper with them. And so in each episode, I'll have a conversation with one of our contributors. And they'll get to share more about their story about their practice and about their activism in the world. And it's such an incredible group of people, I'm really excited about sharing their stories with you. And I'm sure you'll enjoy them too. I also wanted to share a bit about the book and how I came to write this book and what it what it's about, I you might be familiar with my first book, Accessible Yoga, which really focused on how to adapt the practice how to build a practice, no matter what your background or ability is. And for teachers, it also is a resource about you know, how we can share yoga more broadly. That book, and the new one yoga revolution both really came out of my, my activism, you know, I came out of the closet and in the 80s, right in the middle of the AIDS epidemic, and it was such a devastating time. And you know, I I had so many friends and lovers who got sick and died and and I really tried to channel my anger and grief into service through activism. At that time I was really involved with act up, especially in San Francisco, in the mostly in the 90s, I would say. And at the same time, I was getting really involved with yoga, I had actually started doing yoga when I was a child, my grandmother taught me but then I started again, after college in my 20s. And yoga was helping me to deal with my challenges, you know, with the grief I was experiencing and the anger. And both things were growing in my life, right? The activism was happening and the yoga was happening. And I was just not loving both but really engaged with both. And over time, they began to become more and more integrated for me. And that's that's the story I want to share with you. In the book yoga revolution. I'm really interested in that intersection of yoga with our real life experiences. You know, how can yoga address the suffering in our own life, and in the lives of those around us, not only our family and friends but our community and, and the world at large. Yoga offers such incredible universal, powerful teachings and I really feel like if we practice them and understand them clearly. And I guess I'll speak for myself if I practice them and understand them. They inform the way I live in the world and that the form that my practice takes is mostly service which means that I serve myself, my mind and My body. And I also serve those around me, not only my immediate family, but also the greater society. And that's what that's what I'm trying to understand the relationship between our practice, the way we care for ourselves, and the way we love and care for others. And I think there's a real tension there within the yoga teachings, you know, the tradition of yoga is much more inwardly focused. In the book, I spend a lot of time exploring the yoga sutras of Patanjali. And the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is the Gita especially explores this question of action, and inaction, you know, when do we act? How do we take this internal practice? and
allow it to inspire and speak through our actions in the world? That's the question I really have for you. And for myself, in my practice, and that's what I challenge. That's what I challenged the reader of this book to consider. I have lots of questions in the book, not so many answers, I don't think but lots of questions about how do we live this incredible practice. I have great respect for the yoga tradition, I'm not trying to change it. In fact, I feel like there might be a misunderstanding. I'm not trying to revolutionize yoga, I'm saying that Yoga is a revolution, it's a revolutionary approach to, to life. And if we're going to live the teachings, at least if I if I'm going to live the teachings, the way I understand them, they are revolutionary in the midst of a capitalist and white supremacist system that is really meant to put people down. And is not the system is not designed to love and care for everybody. And I think that's what the teachings are all about. How to expand the heart, you know, compassion, and also courage, you know, like I say, in the subtitle of the book, the courage to actually act on that love. What does service look like in the world when you're moving from love and care? Right, and I actually think activism, can be that loving service. Social Justice is that loving service in the world? Making sure that everybody in the world has justice, right? Has love. I realized that. Yeah, how do I say it? There's some controversial ideas here. But I thought I just want to share my my perspective. And I imagine if you're listening to this, you probably have a similar way of approaching these teachings. I think that the question of the book is simply how do we live yoga now? And that's something I've been exploring, really my entire life, at least my adult life, I should say, and I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm really hoping these conversations with the contributors will help. Like I said, these are some of the most incredible teachers I know. They're doing amazing work in the world. And in each episode, we get to speak to one of them and explore that question with them. How do they live yoga now? And what are they doing in their lives? How are they moving out into the world? In a yogic way? I think one of the things that is confusing is that the teachings are often or were probably created for monks, you know, people that had renounced society and moved inward, right? They they've dedicated their lives to spiritual enlightenment. And I don't think that's the case with most contemporary practitioners. I don't know many people, I actually do know some monks, who I admire greatly. But I think for those of us that aren't monks that are living as householders, we have different challenges, right? And the teachings need to present themselves differently in our lives, and that that's what I'm interested in. How do I live yoga as a householder in an honest way. I thought maybe I could read a short section from the intro to the book that shares some of these thoughts probably more clearly, because I spent time writing and thinking it through. Let's see, I'm gonna read a small section here from the introduction of yoga revolution. After decades of practice, I feel like I finally reconciled my yoga practice with my activism and I found the share the shared root of both love and compassion, I see that there is no separation between the personal and the political. And in practice, yoga takes the form of service and social justice, or personal liberation is tied up with the liberation of our entire community. In the liberation of all beings, it's time to let go of the image of a yogi meditating alone in a cave, divorced from society. and examine the ways we are practicing right now. And the way it impacts not only ourselves, but the community around us.
Our yoga practice isn't going to solve the ills of the world, I realized that, but we can allow yoga to reveal the truth of our own mind and heart, we can allow our heart to expand with compassion for those who are suffering, starting with ourselves. In fact, if we are the ones suffering and feeling disempowered, we can use yoga for self care and empowerment. Or, if we have privilege, we can allow yoga to expand our thinking to reveal the ways that we are benefiting from the inequities in society. Either way, yoga can support us and stepping up or stepping back. If we engage with our practice effectively. We can't pick apart, pick yoga apart and only use the physical practices without understanding their meaning and context. Instead, we need to look at how the philosophy of yoga speaks to the challenges of our contemporary society, and the pressing issues that we face. In particular, we need to open our eyes to the ravages of white supremacy and all its many names and forms, racism, ableism, environmental degradation, xenophobia, ageism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, fat, phobia, and so on. These all represent what Yoga is not. This connection between the personal and the political is generally overlooked in contemporary yoga communities taking the form of spiritual bypassing. It is another incarnation of white supremacy that allows those with privilege to use indigenous practices without consideration or compassion without concern for others. Personally, I'm interested in finding a way to practice yoga that is respectful of tradition, and still appropriate to this moment. It's a balancing act that relies on constant learning, and humility. This book is an effort to learn as much as to teach. And I hope you're open to learning along with me. And that's the end of the section I wanted to read to you. And I really mean that last part, I feel this way about the podcast to this podcast is an effort to learn as much as to teach. I'm excited to learn from the guests that will be joining me each week, and also from you. So I hope that you'll ask questions or write comments, and let me know what you think. I have questions for you. You know, I want to know, how are you applying the teachings in your life? If you're a yoga practitioner? Does that mean more to you than just practicing Asana, even pranayama? and meditation? does it impact the way you are in the world? The way you live? And if so, how? What does that look like? You know, that's what I want to know. In the book, I have lots of prompts that are like that, lots of questions for you. And you know, in the book, I don't get to hear your answer. So maybe this format of a podcast will give me a chance to hear from some of you and you'll share your thoughts. And I really hope you will. I had one other image that I wanted to share with you that keeps coming to my mind. Because I want to describe another piece of this puzzle. And that, to me is the balancing act of the dance. It's a dance that we do. When we talk about spiritual practice and how to live spiritual teachings. There's the internal aspect. And then the external aspect. And actually, the book is divided into three sections. And the first section is inner revolution, right? How do these practices apply to our life and change our internal world? The second section is outer revolution. How can we bring this yoga into the world in the form of service. And the third section is actually building a practice how to nourish ourselves with the yoga teachings. And the reason I set it up that way in the book is because it's this constant dance of going in, going out going in going out and I want to describe the image that keeps coming to me is of the beach and the ocean waves. And I always think of how the waves are breaking on the shore. out into the world. But then they recede, you know, on the beach back into the ocean, which is our turning within, connecting back with ourself. And then the wave crashes on the beach again, you know, connecting back into the world through action through service. And then it recedes again back into the ocean, where we turn inward, through our practice, connecting with the source within us. That source is so powerful, like the source within us is pure love, right? We
have so much power there, if we can connect within. And then from that source, we get to move outward again. And the wave crashes on the beach, as we act, right. We're constantly acting in the world. I hope that image is helpful for you, it's, I find it useful for me, it's constant dance, in and out. And I also hope that you're interested in joining me for these conversations, and that this is something that you're exploring as well in your life. I think there's so many teachings that we can apply directly. In the book, I talk not only about my AIDS activism, and some of my experiences teaching yoga over these years, but also, some of my personal struggles. I, you know, my husband and I adopted two kids at birth, and now they're in their late teens, and it's very challenging. I talk a bit about parenting. I hope those universal teachings even if you're not a parent, I think you might enjoy that. The lessons that I've learned or tried to learn through being a parent. I've also had a struggle the last few years, my both of my parents died in the last three years. My mom died three years ago. And my father died last year. And that's been a painful lesson again, you know, going back to going back to the lessons of death, and grief. And I've learned so much through that struggle. I'm still learning, still learning. So I think I'll leave it there. Thanks again for joining me. I hope you'll join us next week. When we have our first guests and you know, the book comes out in November, I hope you get a chance to read it. Then I realized this episode is coming out before the books available and I appreciate your patience. You can pre order the book if you like. And I appreciate your support. 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
Transcribed by https://otter.ai