New York City Conscious Empathy On Yoga
It has been very interesting the interactions that I’ve been having on yoga since coming back to the US. But it all began to my surprise in Rishikesh, India. When I walked along the streets in Rishikesh, the locals thought I was a yoga teacher. Back then, I wasn’t a teacher and I didn't know what drew that conclusion to the locals. Then when I reached the US when I was in California people will stop me and just asked me if I was Hindu or a Buddhist. Even, in New York City people have asked me randomly on the streets if I'm Hindu or Buddhist. I’m just wearing normal clothes and that is all. But after they asked me the question, we begin to talk about yoga. Today, a young guy asked me if I was Hindu or Buddhist, and I said to him that I’m neither Hindu or Buddhist. I said to him that I teach yoga. Every day, I speak to people and I truly enjoy hearing their stories. And it has been my interaction with so many people that I decided to open myself and teach. I'm still in Sadhana (spiritual path) but along my conversations with people, I hear their stories and I truly feel we can take control of our lives. But I also feel compassion because I see the suffering and I was in that position before. Whatever we are living it is our making and that is all. What we make, we can also destroy, and create the new. When you take life under your arms, you are not bound by the Universe. The Universe is you and astrology not even plays a factor. Sadhguru says that if an Astrologer knows that you are on a spiritual path, he/she would not even dare to read your astrology because they know you have taken charge of life under your arms.
So here are some of my interactions (or call it Empathy using the Human-Centered Design steps) with some New Yorkers on yoga:
Location: Lincoln Center, New York, NY
I will call the person who I interacted with Shiva.
Shiva: Hey are you Hindu? or Buddhist? What is going on?
Zammai: No, I’m not Hindu neither Buddhist.
Shiva: Interesting, but your appearance makes it look like you are in yoga or something spiritual?
Zammai: I teach yoga.
Shiva: Are you like on a spiritual path? I mean the hair, walking in sandals in this weather, how you wear your pants, it makes it look like you are in something spiritual.
Zammai: Yes, I'm.
Shiva: My parents are from India. Hey, so what is yoga?
Zammai: Yoga is way of being. Is been alive.
Shiva: So is yoga hard to do? Men, I would like to do the moves but it looks hard. Is that what yoga is about?
Zammai: No, and unfortunately that is the misconception of many people. They think yoga is only the physical. So right now, you are doing fundraising for a good cause, then that is Karma and Raja yoga.
Shiva: Wooh, What! Really! Crazy!!
Zammai: So when you go back home you can tell your friends and family that all day you have been doing yoga.
Shiva: Damn that is awesome brother.
Location: Chelsea, New York, NY
I will call this person Parvati.
Parvati: Oh my God, just looking at your retirement funds, makes think of retirement. I can't wait to retire. I' m so tired.
Zammai: Why is that?
Parvati: When I retire, I can do so many things and have no more worries.
Zammai: Why wait until you retire, you can do many things right now.
Parvati: But I'm so tired, Goshh!
Zammai: Have you thought about yoga?
Parvati: What? Yoga? Why?
Zammai: When you do Yoga, it can boost your immune system and you will begin to see life from a different perspective.
Parvati: I can't do those crazy poses! They look so difficult!
Zammai: Yoga is not only the physical.
Zammai: Yoga is more than the physicality. There are more dimensions. I will be more than happy to teach you.
Parvati: Is it expensive?
Zammai: Yoga is not supposed to be expensive but unfortunately mainstream has made it look like is a fashion trend.
Parvati: Humm, let me think, I will give it a try.
Location: Chelsea, New York
I will call this person Lama.
Lama: My back is killing me. I don't know what to do.
Zammai: What are you doing about it?
Lama: Nothing but I wish I could be more active.
Zammai: If you practice some yoga poses, it can probably help you.
Lama: Yoga!? No way, it is too expensive and I can't afford it.
Zammai: No, yoga is not supposed to be expensive. Unfortunately, mainstream has segregated yoga from many people. I don’t charge and my teachings are offerings, thus, if people want to donate, they can do so, but I don’t expect a financial return from my teachings.
Lama: Humm, I might take you on that.
Now, all of the people who I interacted, I don't know if they will ever practice yoga but one thing I know is that there is a neuron in their brain already after our interaction and memory is sitting permanently in their body and maybe in the future, they might give yoga a chance. Yoga can make a tremendous impact and I'm making "A Call for Action" to bring Yoga to the masses. There are many people who are ready to jump the ship to yoga but unfortunately mainstream had made it difficult for them. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian, and other Ethnicity, yoga is not well understood by the many. Yoga is not supposed to be chic, a fashion trend, expensive, acrobatic, and so many other things that we are taking away this great science from the many. I do believe we can educate the many that yoga is not only the physicality but there is more to it. Yoga is not about experimenting with "This and That" or wearing expensive clothes. All of us are practicing yoga without even noticing it. Yoga is a tool to reach union with God and for this reason, their dimensions must be kept "As Is" and not experiment with it. The Yoga Masters spent years studying our mechanism and found ways to go inside and reach the ultimate - Enlightenment. Sri Ramana Krishna said that unless you have attained Enlightenment you should not experiment or even talk about Enlightenment because you cannot speak or do something that you haven't experience. Reaching enlightenment is the ultimate purpose in yoga. It is not about bringing joy and get rid of the anger or take away a pain in the body. Along the way in your practices, you will see many benefits but eventually, if you are a serious practitioner you go all the way to Enlightenment. Otherwise, if you do yoga only for the physicality like what the many on mainstream are doing, you will only see temporary benefits. Temporary benefits mean that feelings of joy or happiness last only for a certain period and then you are back again in survival mode. Living in survival mode is a primitive way to live. That is how our ancestors live but we are not living with dinosaurs anymore. But for our animal brain, it thinks so and in an unconscious state, we can still behave like our ancestors. Yoga is a way to go beyond the survival mode. For this reason, yoga must not be a source of experimentation. Unfortunately, I read articles on how yoga teachers are experimenting with poses and some entrepreneurs are trying to bring technology to yoga clothes by inserting chips. It is very concerning to see this experimentation because when you practice yoga you are moving energies and when you put a chip in your clothes while you are doing Asanas (yoga poses) you create a misalignment with your body, mind, energy, and emotions.
If you are reading this article and think you are not doing yoga, think about it again. You might already be doing yoga for years without doing the Asanas. Doing Asanas will provide a tremendous benefit to your system but there other ways to bring balance to your system. Yoga is a humble practice available to anyone and it doesn't discriminate. Being a human being is a beautiful thing and yoga allows you to explore an inner dimension and discover many potentials. So, if you are doing community service, go to church, do charity, go the extra mile to assist those who are in need in your circle, and stay doing good things for the benefit of others, you are are purifying your heart. When you purify your heart, you begin to bring balance to your body, mind, energy, and emotions.
I encourage you to give yoga a chance and embrace it as your caring friend. It will do miracles for you. Wake up every morning with a joyful smile and say that today is another moment to live life to its fullest and I will do whatever it takes to make every moment memorable. It is here when you begin to operate at a higher vibration, thus, things will begin to flow to you effortlessly. And that is life, it should be effortless and pleasant. It is a way to begin taking charge of your life and be your own master. Be well and become an explore of life.