“By becoming conscious of every breath, every expression, even the intensity and focus of the gaze, there is a true key to expanding awareness. This awareness begins with the physical body and moves into the mental consciousness and from there how we interact with one another and the world around. If we are to confine our definition of yoga as a purely “personal” practice then we are limiting its potential and true meaning which is that of Union. Not only that, but as we increase our awareness there is a positive correlation with responsibility – the personal is political. The food we eat, the places we live, the kind of society we are collectively coming together to form. Our yoga practice also reminds us of our importance of following our passions – whatever that may be. For me it is working of peace and truth – Ahmisa and Satya; the two founding stones of Patanjali’s 8 limbed system of yoga.”

This leads into the topic of “Spiritual Activism” which instead of bowing down to the flow of the majority, makes the effort to stop and question, to explore, to look within and around and then to take courage to stand up and speak up in solidarity with those who are struggling each day to have their daily needs met. We are living in serious times, and times which demand attention from all aspects of our community – yogis and non yogis alike! Think of the human body: If one part is injured or ill the whole being is affected. Likewise, if one group of people are suffering how can the rest of us pretend to not be effected? Yoga shows us the illusion of separation, and the necessity in opening our eyes more rather than closing to what might be uncomfortable;

The Global Yoga Movement (GYM) was initially set up to support a team of facilitators to teach in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) which is an area of the world where actual physical freedom of movement is severely limited by the Israeli Army. However, despite the conflict, yoga is a practice which is growing rapidly. It provides a means to connect to centre (in a place where there are so many daily challenges) a means to maximize physical health (in a place where so much is sacrificed for the fight for actual freedom) and ultimately to find a source of strength to handle the stresses of living under occupation. However, the reality is that these yogis are living behind an 850km wall which is over 6 meters high in some places. What is really needed to support them is a lifeline with the international kula – in solidarity with all that yoga stands for and to put its beautiful and transformative philosophy into practice.

In 2013 the GYM made two trips to the OPTs teaching yoga, acroyoga and art in the towns and refugee camps of Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus and Tulkaram. Students of all ages, male and female, Christian and Muslim attended and vital bonds were formed with our teachers and local teachers and practitioners. The classes were all taught on a voluntary basis and our intention was simply to share more techniques and skills. We had fantastic feedback while being incredibly inspired by the wisdom and dedication of the Palestinian teachers who are working under such challenging conditions. We are committed to supporting them as requested by continuing to offer regular workshops and trainings, and connection with the global yoga kula.

Our next project will be a trip in October 2014 to take yoga teachers and serious yoga practitioners to the OPTs on a 10 day yoga tour. We will practice alongside Palestinians while experiencing just a little of the daily challenges of their life. It is aimed at increasing awareness not just of the physical body but of the physical world and really examine what we mean when we talk about yogis are being “all one” and how easy it is as yoga teachers living in areas of the world where basic human rights are respected to talk about true freedom when we already have political and social freedoms. The trip will be transformative for all who are involved.

Our second project is to return to Kolkata in India and run a mini teacher training for the young women of “New Light” an organization which serves the children of sex workers by providing them with a free education and health support. We are currently raising funds to make this project happen.

So far SOSA and ex-SOSA students have been a big part of the GYM. SOSA continues to delve deep into the true meaning of yoga and what it is to “practice” and each of the team (and each student) is committed to following their own truth, passion and interpretation. This is a growing community of Spiritual Activists to-be!

If you would like more information or would be willing to support for the fundraising efforts to make yoga accessible outside of the more mainstream (and often fairly exclusive yoga studios) then you can contact Bex directly at The vision of the GYM and how it fits into Spiritual Activism and Karma Yoga is also an intricate and central part of her classes.

Love & Peas