My 10 Yogic Reflections [Jason Crandell’s Instagram ‘Challenge’]

I’m very intrigued by Jason Crandell‘s unique approach to giving an Instagram yoga challenge! No apparel sponsor, no friends’ tagging, no obligation to perform asanas (well, you still need to post a photo to accompany the caption though) and thus no material or financial prizes to win, which I don’t mind.

It’s a reflection of yogic values, which entails us to go deeper to our conscience and awareness. So here I am, trying to give it a shot. ‎There’ll be 10 values.

‎#1 *Continue to Grow and Revise*

I once heard a piece of advice from a teacher around my circle that to be a competent practitioner of anything – be it yoga or any other fields – one is to possess the patience of a seed. In order to grow into a tall, large tree with roots that holds the earth, ‎there is no shortcut to take. One has to take the journey really slowly so as to let the knowledge and experience sink in and instilled into the very soul. Enjoy the process without complaining.

In my yoga practice, I’m a slow learner to be sure. It’s been 7 years of practice and I feel there is so much stuff to learn in many years ahead.

Continuing to grow and revise also means to me that the more I learn diverse knowledge and insights which sometimes conflict against each other, I need to firmly hold the principle of openmindedness. It is very essential because I need to stay that way if I want to be a long-life student of yoga or anything. ‎Once I go narrow-minded, I might as well end my journey of being a student. Because I feel content already with what I know and understand.

#2 *Be Critical Thinkers and Engaged Practitioners*

I am so lucky to have been born in a family of educators. With both of my parents working as teachers, they laid the foundation of my education. I took my first English course, for example, when I was a six grader. I thanked them for letting me in the course.

But my enthusiasm started way earlier than that. Armed with proper level of literacy and basic English proficiency, I read more and more books on various issues, ranging from fiction to culture. I can safely conclude that my third parent — intellectwise — is books.

And at a certain point in my book reading, I found some conflicting sources of ‘truths’. At first, it felt odd but then it became okay to me. Reading books with various contradictory ideas is much better than watching debates on television or reading pointless debates of some morons on social media. All of the arguments were served systematically and neatly.

That is why I always observe authorities — whether they be my parents, my boss(es), my senior colleagues, and also my yoga teachers. If I notice any behaviors or attitudes different from messages they convey to me, I challenge them in various ways. Most of the time, I don’t confront in person (I’m introverted, by the way) which is why I resort to writing. Writing a piece that deconstruct their opinion or mind construction. That way, I can get my messages across to other people without hurting anyone’s ego.

Being a critical yoga practitioner also means that I don’t solely dedicate myself to one teacher as a source of knowledge. Neither do I belong to a single yoga style or school or lienage. I humbly thank this invaluable lesson of non-attachment to some of my first teachers whose names I keep for myself.

Being critical also engages me more with my yoga practice. To study better, we certainly need a teacher to guide. But when a teacher directs us to an aim we don’t feel quite right for any reason, stop and take time. We’re not sheep to herd. We’re humans with physical, intellectual and spiritual independence.

#3 *Develop a Point of View Without Minimizing Other Points of View*

As a yogi, I learn so much not only from other yogis and yoginis (and books on yoga obviously) but also from people from diverse walks of life. Ones of them are politicians. We all know politicians are creatures that make most headlines in any countries on earth. They are highly influential, sickeningly controversial, horrifyingly smart figures. Yes, these folks, especially, showed what can happen when they utilize black campaigns for their own political gains.

But I also discover very few of politicians who stay true to their conscience despite this. As far as I can observe, they seem to disallow the use of black campaign. They focus on what their work, tasks, chores, and at the same time reacting to any efforts of disgrace shown by foes.

Because we humans are creatures (zoon politicon) that always have political structures and patterns when we live as a group, I believe also that yogis and yoginis are also like these politicians. Some are angelic, almost like saints. Some are still in their journey to get wiser. Some are getting into the wagon because of financial needs and power-influence greed.

So when Jason says yoga teachers should know how to be confident to defend their belief without condemning others, it really rings true to me. That in order to survive, you don’t need to wage wars against others. But guard your values and ideas like holding onto your last shreds of dignity.

It’s day 4 of @jason_crandell ‘s unorthodox yoga challenge. I’m no huge fan of challenges but if I do‎ take part in one, I want it to be meaningful and reflective. It’s pretty much my yoga diary.

#4 *Be an Advocate of Your Students*

‎On one particular occasion, my first guru stated that yoga is his ‘religion’. Yet, though he is so attached to yoga in some way, he also reminded everyone of the fact that yoga is one of myriad tools available in the universe for human beings to use for their best interest.

That being said, he never gets too bored to let people know this message:”If you get sick, go see your trusted doctor as well. Don’t just do yoga and wish you can recover tomorrow miraculously.”

I cannot agree more on his proposition. Yoga is good and awesome and healthy, but using yoga alone to‎ heal ourselves from acute or chronic pain, any disorders, terminal illnesses, is quite risky. Ridiculous even.

As complex as causes of illnesses that we suffer from, so are our methods of healing. This is in line with Jason’s openmindedness regarding various types of approach other than yoga when it comes to handling a problem of wellbeing. (*)

(Credit: Machfud Achyar)

P. S.: This post will be updated until completion.


Writers versus authors: Who wins? (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Dear beautiful souls,

I have a friend who is kind but sometimes likes to make a scene. I don’t mind all that because again she is basically kind.

One day she blurted out. “I’m no writer. I’m an author,” she rebutted. She claimed writers and authors are different. How different are they, besides the spelling? According to my WordWeb dictionary, the word “author” itself refers to “someone who writes professionally” and “writer” “a person who can write and has written something”. There is some overlapping between the two obviously.

Writers are, she argued, those folks with exceptional and versatile writing skills. They can write about anything they ‘wish’ to or, actually, anything their big clients want them to. It’s more about making a great deal of money through publishing and media industries.

In a tone full of pride, she declared:”While authors have more freedom. They are more independent from this marketing and sales factors. Writing for the sake of passion is what they more likely do.” We almost threw up. Luckily, we didn’t. We hadn’t had anything to eat so there was practically nothing to be thrown out of our system.

I remember how enraged she was when an editor told her to read a best selling book and ask her to revise her works based on it. “Why don’t you try to write like this man? He sells a lot,” the editor blatantly suggested. “Blahhh!!!” the thin skinned lady stealthily sneered at the editor. An epitome of pig-headedness she truly was.

Yet, in some way I agreed with her thoughts. Authors — compared to writers — have more authority over their literary pursuit. They are liberated creative souls that seems to be utterly fearless, intuitive, easy going and fun.

Apart from that innate talent of picking best words to convey messages and knack for playing with words and sentences and all those literary tools, in the word of “author” lies also a meaning of the power or right to give orders and make decisions  not only in one’s literary journey but also life in general.

Be the author in our own life. And let God edit the drafts. And no matter how ruthless the editing process may become, promise ourselves we don’t quit writing and rewriting.

Happy new year and may we all live a year of more authority in 2016.