Unleashing Shanti


 By Kyrsta Close CYA-RYT200

Prana and Apana — those of us who explore our world from the mat have likely become well versed in this Vedic equivalent of Yin and Yang. The ebb and flow which keeps our goal of “perfect” equilibrium always just a touch elusive...  As an acupuncturist, I have years of studies supporting the theory that “perfect” balance is not maintainable. We can get very close, but typically we simply pass through that golden threshold on our constant journey from one imbalance to our next. The futility of our goal is not an argument for its abandonment. Excellence is not the enemy of perfection, complacency is. The same is true off the mat. Apathy to the destructive imbalances around us will not shield us from their disastrous results. 

Yoga has been a powerful vessel for change across eons, as well as continents. The practice itself wouldn't be thriving around the world if the long-accepted social norm of denying women and foreigners access to our transformative practice hadn't been torn down. Elimination of those long-held “moralistic” views on who met the requirements to partake in the study of yoga has made way for a brilliant present, planting seeds for an even brighter future. 

As a global community, the problems we are facing are not new. Rather, it is this age of information accessibility, which is enabling us to finally see the truly crushing results born of social (racial/gender/economic) inequality, poverty and environmental destruction. These cancerous barriers to our equality and progress are intricately interwoven, each one feeding the next. Geo-social atrocities and egregious international policies are too numerous to count and far too massive a topic to grasp without first dissecting them into manageable pieces. It is ok to not know how or where to begin. It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the need for change that exists across the globe. Remember, you are not alone in thinking that we could be much closer to the incredible potential that our planet offers. 

The practice of activism can be approached in much the same way as our initial, faltering steps into yoga were. Slow. Tentative. We didn't leap onto our mats for the first time as masters. We found teachers, watched videos, read magazines, experimented and found a style that “clicked” with us. Activism, like yoga, is made up of many branches, each with its own focus. Each working to drag society an inch closer to civility, inclusivity, accessibility and equality.

How to begin: 

  • Find a cause that resonates with your spirit. Animals, environment, social inequality — the list of those waiting for our help is endless.
  • Be open to new ways of thinking. We cannot ask the future of our dreams to try to squeak out its existence among the limitations of our flawed past. This is not to say we won't make mistakes, but let them be new, vibrant mistakes. Let us set down the patterns that we know will lead us toward social structures which serve only to make the most vulnerable among us even more invisible.
  • Research. The responsibility for educating ourselves, families and communities rests on our limber shoulders. There are mountains of data, waiting for the willing reader, compiled by scientists and sociologists over centuries and it would be a mistake of massive proportions to ignore them. 
  • Decide what your activism looks like. It can be as subtle or as blatant as you'd like, but it must be rooted in research. Allow your new practice to integrate into your life peacefully. Extinguish your complacency gently, by defining clearly what you are willing to tolerate. This can mean everything from correcting loved ones who perpetuate the use of demeaning “jokes” to becoming the champion of your cause, and anything in between. 
  • Take the leap. “Someday” is not a day of the week. Start now and the world around you will be a better place for it. It is great to recognize, with deep gratitude, those who have fought before, but the greatest display of our heartfelt appreciation is to pick up where they left off. 

Let's take our “Shanti” off the mat and unleash it on the world. 

Krysta Close

Krysta Close