In my experience, yoga always boils down to relationships. Perspective is no exception. Our perspective on a situation depends on how we're relating to that situation. The first two limbs of yoga - yamas & niyamas - are all about our relationship to self and others. I often find my yoga practice mentoring me in my relationship with my partner, with my family, and with my friends. Really, with anyone I relate to.
Ānanda is a Sanskrit word that means bliss or joy. One of my teachers, Manorama, refined this translation for me when she said that the Ā in Ānanda means "on all sides" so the word Ānanda means "joy on all sides."
This translation opened up new notions around how perspective is literally everything. The way we see the world, the way we see ourselves, the way we see others, forms the structure of our experience. What if we took that translation of ananda and applied it to our perception of the world? What if we could see a situation, another person, ourselves, on all sides?
Take a loved one. We often see them within the context of how they relate to us. But what if we could step back and recognize all of their roles? They could be a sister, friend, daughter, mother, librarian, runner, musician, lover of poetry, coffee bean roaster, chess champion. They could be a whole host of things. And if we can make space to appreciate all of those roles, we can see them on all sides.
By doing that, we let that person shine. We open up possibility for them to share their gifts, their art, their passion projects. It can help us reanimate a part of a relationship that has gone numb. It can motivate us to turn to them and say show me your art or ask what do you love right now? Even if we don't understand that thing at all, the curious undertones of our question will alight a deeper bond.
Here's an exercise for you: take someone in your life and write down all the roles they play in life. Then pick one you might not know as much about and ask them about it. Ask them to show you more of it.
Do this exercise with yourself. Watch your imagination oil itself loose as you expand the boundary of what you know about yourself. As you remember the colorful spectrum of yourself, your interests, and your desires, your perspective will naturally grow and stretch. You'll begin to inhabit your potential and maybe even dig deeper into an important area of your life that wants attention.
When you feel stuck or doubtful, take space to see on all sides. This allows us to step out of the confines of one conclusion - and really, of separation - into the more boundless horizon line of choice, of option, of freedom.
Here's to the multitude of you & all you have to offer this world.
Be a part of our next 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training!
Applications are now open for both of our upcoming teacher trainings at Sangha Studio in Burlington, VT! We're offering a summer immersion program that starts June 24th as well as a longer format training starting in November. Here is a general idea of what we will cover in this summer's training:
Philosophy of Tantra
Yin, Restorative Yoga + Yoga Nidra
Teaching Methodology [all of the components that go into teaching a group class]
The Business of Yoga
Adapting your teaching for different types of students
All of these topics, and more, will be presented through lecture, group work, dharma discussion, practice teaching and practicing yourself. The summer immersion will give you a chance to dive deep into the teachings and be a total student for 5 weeks so you can soak it all up.
If you are interested, read more details here. And if you have any questions, please feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'd be happy to talk more about it. If you are a resident of Vermont, you can apply for VSAC to receive funding for the program.