Desiring Freedom

Updated: May 18, 2019

If yoga means union, then in a way, it is actually the opposite of complete freedom. "Yoga is a path of exquisite bondage," - Douglas Brooks

What Boo-boo??! I thought yoga was always talking about freedom, and liberation and nirvana…

Yes Yogi, that’s true but as D. Brooks tells us, “freedom doesn’t come from freedom.  Freedom comes from bondage.

Let’s think about this –

A yoga practice, in practice, is a commitment.  We get on our mats in the morning, even on days when it’s hard to roll out of bed because we know that the benefits come from sustained and regular time on the mat.  That commitment is a restriction on our freedom; its a type of bondage.

We tend to think of the word freedom all wrong, as if it means the freedom to choose (whether or not to get out of bed, what to eat for dinner, where to go and when, who to love and how.)

But this path is no “free-for-all” (even though that’s exactly what we ultimately want: Freedom For All).  It’s filled with pacts and promises and commitments.  And it is through binding ourselves (to what we truly value!) that we experience more freedom.

listen up.

that's the golden ticket:

what do you truly value?

I witnessed the eloquent transmission of this  very teaching by David Life two summers ago at his home in Woodstock.  We were moving through a practice filled with arm binds as he pointed out how restrictive, especially for the shoulders, bound-arm postures are.  

arm bind

Not an arm bind

We intentionally make it harder for the shoulders to open in order to open the shoulders…

The catch: what is your desire?  

  • a) is your desire to be free? Great. This is where we want to move from.  When we do, “the pose” feels like it adds MORE freedom.

  • b) or do you desire to nail the pose even though it hurts, even though you heard your shoulder make a funny noise in that last chaturanga, even though you know you’re not warm enough yet.  We don’t want to muscle through any type of bondage just to prove we are capable.  Here we end up physically and/or emotionally injured.

“the pose” —

We complicate our situation with tons of things in life that prove to be worth it (think: relationships, pets, children, a career).  As we know, these things require a great deal of restriction of our freedom.  We sign up for this stuff though, thereby intentionally complicating our situation, because it is liberating to be unshakably sure of our desires, our loves, our choices… to know you are exactly where you should be and at exactly the right time.

Embodiment itself, the human condition, is already a type of particularization of consciousness.  These are our terms.  

So as we move forward in this month that is all about giving thanks, here is our prayer:

let us be abundantly grateful for anything in our lives we love enough to commit to:

our non-negotiable, self-care/spiritual practices

teachings that we take refuge in

and the loved ones that we so deeply cherish

May all beings be truly free.

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