Soka is a Sanskrit word that means sorrow. The end of the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita finds Arjuna, the greatest warrior of his time, sitting in his chariot under the weight of despair. He is facing a situation that has no end, which is free from sorrow. All around him is the prospect of death, including his own.
After more than two years of a global pandemic, amid mounting climate collapse as part of the sixth mass extinction phase, we may all feel like Arjuna, defeated by the enormous magnitude of what is before us, ever burdened with a sense of impending doom.
This workshop will explore how to use both the philosophy and physical practice of Yoga to resist the inertia of existential overwhelm.
We will look at the psycho-emotional tenants of soka using Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s mapping of the five stages of grief for there is much for us to grieve, an entire planet and its inhabitants worthy of our grief.
But the Gita has a striking verse, “You grieve for those who are not to be grieved for. Yet you speak words of wisdom. The wise do not grieve for those who are gone and who are not yet gone.” – Chapter 2 verse 11
Because, “There was never a time I did not exist, neither you nor these kings. Nor will any of us cease to exist in the future.” – Chapter 2 verse 12
Yoga has something for us to discover about our nature, our very existence. Understanding your self-reality gives you the freedom to face the world without succumbing to the despair implicit in its finitude.
Yoga also urges us to act. The covid crisis has exposed life threatening disparities that exist between the global north and the global south, but global north colonial supremacy has determined world-wide health and wealth distributions for hundreds of years.
Inhumane immigration policy and climate inaction further serves to protect global north ethnocentricity. Those of us who live in the global north have a responsibility to confront xenophobia, anti-blackness, Hinduphobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, patriarchy, sexism, speciesism and all notions of racial or ethnic dominance that are products of colonial-imperialism.
This workshop will use the somatics and philosophy of Yoga to ease the existential fears that cause so much anxiety and prejudice. Through bodywork, breath-work and meditation we will settle more deeply into our own shared humanity. From there, we can act and break the spell of despair.Sri Louise