Monday, July 6, 2009

Connecting the Individual with the Collective

Feminism strives for a balance between individual experience and systematic, large scale patterns of oppression that pervade society. Change, then, needs to begin at home, but it also needs to be a collective effort if it is to create structural transformation. Ultimately, we realize that we are integrally and inevitably connected to both.

In yoga, our front body represents the individual, our back body the universal. Most of us lead from the front body, particularly in the U.S., where individualism runs rampant. Try it: take a good Tadasana (Mountain pose) and bow forward into Uttanasana. Which part of you leads the way?

Now, imagine infusing your torso with the support of your entire community. Get really tall and full. Take your shoulder blades down on your back as though it were cradling your heart. Then bow forward, leading with your heart, knowing that you are fully supported by the greater good. In yoga, as in Feminism, individual empowerment is strengthened when we collectively engage to create a more socially just society.

Finding the Collective in Twist:

Often, we lead with the front body in twists, wanting to reach our full extension as quickly as possible. Instead, try leading from your back body. On each inhale, lengthen the spine and extend out through the top of your head. On each exhale, twist a bit further from the back body. Allow the larger universal good to guide your individual actions.